Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Short Straw Gambit – flatter him! And more post mortems

I'm about to offer a very important possible/practical strategy for the opposition. A tactic of which I've seen no sign, so far.

Before that, though, may I make a point about the chaotic and crazed ructions that have ensued from the Keystone Kops shutdown of refugees and normal travelers from several Muslim countries? While millions march against the injustice of this awful and sweeping ban -- and some criticize its incompetent execution, with even the Homeland Security Department taken by surprise -- I must point out something else.  That it shows a dullard inability to distinguish between actions of calm policy and those made in an emergency.

Elsewhere I show how the first Iraq War - expelling Saddam's forces from Kuwait and rescuing the Saudis - might have been an intervention of urgency. But the second one could never be justified that way. I show how - even if Saddam had WMDs, there was no imminent excuse to call up (and ruin) the US Army reserves in an intervention of policy.

This distinction relates to the Muslim ban quite directly. The rushed, ill-considered and ill-planned nature of this executive order might have been justified if radical islamic terror cells were slaughtering Americans by the tens of thousands. But given the complete lack of any sign of imminent threat - plus the fact that ZERO refugees from any of the countries included in the travel ban have ever killed anyone in organized terror attacks on US soil... the sheer rush to implement a clumsy ban reflects poorly on the skill set of those who made it. The betrayal of US friends in Iraq and Iran - by failing to craft calm exceptions - is just more evidence for stunning unprofessionalism.

This distinction - between actions based on emergency vs policy is one that may escape average voters.  But we have professionals who should grasp the difference and strive to make it clear. (It is only part of the stunningly clear difference between Democratic or Republican styles of waging war.)

Woe unto us, if those pros are being ignored by keystone amateurs.

== What tools do the opposition need? ==

The Democratic Party is soliciting ideas on the future of the party on their website.  And sure, go ahead, offer your input. But seriously, they ignored the advice of George Lakoff. So what are the chances they’ll listen now? My initial suggestion? Fire the dunces who ignored George Lakoff. (More on him, in a coming posting.) 

This time, I want to focus on what may be the most critical lack in our arsenal.

Clever manipulators.

== All the varied autopsies ==

Probably the most-telling difference in reactions to the election that I have seen, between red and blue media and politicians and even voters, has been the countless liberal and moderate hand-wringing evaluations, as to why so many less-educated whites, especially males, seem so filled with rage.

One could hope for similar introspection on the other side, over the fact that their presidential and Congressional victories over-ruled large majorities of fellow citizens, including nearly every member of the fact-using professions, in all but one of the last eight elections. Elsewhere, I describe ways that Trump and Ryan might have reached out to the American majority, with peace offerings. (Inaugural day platitudes don’t count.)

Indeed, that might have happened, if clever Democrats had reached out to stroke Donald’s easily provoked ego. A notion that need explanation.

Look we are in a fight for civilization. And in a battle against immaturity, we cannot afford the kind of self-indulgences that so many marching liberals display. For starters, we need to know the word that best describes our president is not ‘immature,’ or ‘egotistical,’ or ‘right-wing,’ or ‘oligarchic,’ or ‘solipsistic.’ As pertinent as those may be, they pale in comparison to ‘reactive.’ 

Peter Wehner, a longtime conservative stalwart and senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, served in the previous three Republican administrations. His dissections of the President’s personality are especially caustic. “Donald Trump is a transgressive personality. He thrives on creating disorder, in violating rules, in provoking outrage. He is a shock jock. This might be a tolerable (if culturally coarsening) trait in a reality television star; it is a dangerous one in a commander in chief. He is unlikely to be contained by norms and customs, or even by laws and the Constitution. For Mr. Trump, nothing is sacred. The truth is malleable, instrumental, subjective. It is all about him. It is always about him.”

== The core truth about Donald Trump ==

History shows that if you make yourself seem to be his enemy, he will attack. If you seem pleasant toward him – even just for an instant – he will make nice. And the switch can be almost instantaneous. Hence, after his one transition meeting with President Obama, Trump kvelled about what a “nice man” and a “leader” Obama was.  All of this has been transparent for a long time. And I can see in the eyes of Paul Ryan and his pals on Fox their delight that Democrats cannot act on this, seizing the opportunity it presents.

The blatantly obvious strategy for Democratic politicians and leaders would be to hold a meeting and draw straws… whereupon the short straw folks would have to make nice-nice with Donald Trump.   

Sure, limit this to public figures who have perfectly safe seats, and strong stomachs! Adults who are capable of immense self-control and savvy word-use. But from then on, those volunteers will reach out to “P45,” with compliments and gestures of friendliness.

Not knuckling in on policy matters! “I disagree with that policy” is just fine.  Trump does not internalize policy as a reason to hate; but he boils toward those who dislike him.

Moreover, it can be plain to all, what these folks are doing. With a nod or wink, or with some pundit calling them the ‘short straw sacrifices.’ Hell, it will be plain to Bannon, Conway and company what’s going on. They will rail about it to Trump… and that won’t make any difference!  We now know that if you are nice to him, it doesn’t matter what’s beneath. He will react. He will answer expressions of dislike with nuclear hate. And if you compliment him over anything, he will gush appreciation.

“I disagree with almost everything he says… but boy is our president good-looking for a man his age. Perhaps one of the most-handsome presidents in history.”

Or even better?  "I'll vote against the bad things that racists and the Kochs and Saudis are forcing on President Trump; but he's a very savvy fellow and I'll bet he's just giving them plenty of rope, biding his time, and he will come around."

As transparent as this might seem, if it is delivered with manifestations of sincerity – not sarcasm – you will likely get lunch at the White House, and thereupon have a chance to slip in slivers of wisdom about policy.

Will liberals attack the flatterers? Sure. But word can spread, along with the openly known code-word -- "Short Straw." They will survive, and some of us will know they are heroes.

Given this obvious fact about P45, there is only one explanation for the democrats’ complete inability to exploit it.  Stupidity.

*Late Note: At least our previous President seems to be smart enough to know how to handle Donald Trump. Here's an ABC news video of President Trump gushing over the (traditional) letter that President Obama left him on his last day in office. The Lesson? You can give in to the seductive-addictive poisons of indignation... or you can focus on how to win for your side... or you can dial in, with fierce practicality on what might accomplish the most good, overall..

== What might have happened ==

Nothing could possibly have proved my case more than Trump’s transition to the White House, appointing by far the most right wing and confederate cabinet in U.S. history. This does not actually benefit him, in any practical way. This excessive and extreme reaching out to pick the most unpalatable folks possible can only be explained by the reactive syndrome I discussed above. There is only one motivation at work here – to gall those who dislike him.

Elsewhere, in “Honoring the Losing Majority” -- I spoke to what a decent person would do, if you were the one taking office so disliked by a large minority – in this case majority – of the American people.

As a businessman, he might have accepted the notion of consulting over mainstream cabinet appointments, or my idea of letting democrats control his meeting agenda, once a month. But that proved emotionally impossible. Again. Flatter him and he can be your friend, in an instant. Confront him, and he’ll do the opposite of what you want, to spite you. So far, it’s entirely the latter.

Yes, someone as smart as Al Franken may learn the trick of using reverse psychology. But it won’t come easy to American liberals or moderates. I’d wager they’ll never get it.

To be clear, I am not saying don’t fight! Indeed, I fizz with ideas how Americans should switch from sumo – which the confeds want – over to judo. Indeed, in What Went Wrong with the Democratic PartySean McElwee attributes the Democrats’ debacle to one big failure - a continuing delusional tendency to reach out to opponents, in expectation they’ll be willing to negotiate. That this isn’t – pure and simple – war.

Alas, though, political war calls for a wide variety of tactics. Moreover, if you cannot see the difference – and compatibility – of having a few assigned flatterers while answering the confeds policies as they deserve well… then you aren’t thinking it through.

== Lagniappes ... ==

There are always codas. A shotgun splattering our sensibilities. For example:

Within a week of the DT administration and days after Steve Bannon takes over national security, some of our top assets in Moscow get ratted out.

is will make you laugh and cry at the same time!  The Netherlands appeals to Trump to make them "second"!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Want to Investigate Electoral Fraud? Start with whistle blowers and judo!

== Calling all henchmen! ==

I’ve called for this since way back in the last century, illustrating it in The Transparent Society and in novels like EarthWe must unleash whistleblowers on the world. Envision Edward Snowden and the Panama Papers revealer, only far more extensively, with protections and rewards that lure secrets out of shadows. 

Basics are already in place – Whistleblower Laws that offer big commissions to tattlers in certain circumstances, for example, but these are far too limited. Expanding such protections and lures could be more important to our planet and civilization than any other matter.

Remember, our kind of society is almost never seriously damaged by revelations or leaks. Spills can be irritating or irksome and even tactically harmful in the short term. But we generally find the light bracing and adapt quickly, as our services did, after Snowden. 

Our deadly enemies, in contrast are all – every last one of them – lethally allergic to light.  

Sure our Protector Caste needs some tactical secrets. Still, there is one and only one long range victory condition. In a world that moves progressively toward light, we win. “We” – enlightenment civilization – just win. In part because none of our enemies can endure light.

As illustrated by most of the wildly diverse stories by brilliant authors in Chasing Shadows, illustrating all sorts of ways that people and societies will have to cope with an increasingly transparent world. And yet, for all its irritations and disruptions, such a world will be more just. Less rife with evil.

And this applies to... the Trump Era? Especially and spectacularly so. 

Like Bushites, he and his team will lay the hammer onto whistleblowers. But some billionaire might solve this.  By offering incentives outside of government for the kind of revelations that cleanse and invigorate our kind of society, unlike any other.

See how far back  I’ve been making this call.  Especially, asking that rewards be offered to bring out information about electoral fraud.

== A little Judo ==

Take President Trump's call for a major investigation of voter fraud. By reflexively opposing this, foolish liberals play their game - which is sumo... grunting against each other, chest to chest... when democrats should instead be practicing judo.

By opposing an investigation, liberals look like they are opposed to getting to the truth! And thus they fall for a trap. Instead they should say:

"At last you are offering something that's not about delusion, but about getting to truth! Fine! Let's agree to form a top level, blue ribbon commission, drawing from the finest statesmen and stateswomen! Start with retired US Supreme Court Justice (and Republican nominee) Sandra Day O'Conner.

"Only the commissioners will look into more than just the voting-dead. They will also examine rigged voting machines. And states that deliberately make it hard for women and poor people to get ID. And gerrymandering.

"Let's go! Let this be our first joint project with the new president. Meet our reasonable offer and let's get started!"

And yes, the heart and soul of any such investigation should be whistleblower prizes.

In the long term… this matters far more than just the results of one election. Out of a dozen major “suggestions” I have offered, over the years, none is more important than making it harder – ever-harder – for conspirators, would-be lords and other elites to trust their own henchmen.  Think on that.

Then ponder how this is not a uniform effect. The Koch brothers offered lavish rewards for scientists who would sell-out, regarding climate change. The tactic worked a bit in the pharmaceuticals and tobacco industries, biasing some reports. But almost never do top researchers accept the bribes. As I said, the forces of enlightenment can withstand light, but not their enemies.

So what I really want - what's needed - is some non-governmental Henchman's Prize. A big reward for whoever reveals "the worst thing" in any given year. Prize competitions are all the thing, right? This one could cost some real money.  But nothing else I can think of would more efficiently and effectively tip the balance in favor of a true... civilization.

== Siberian candidates ==

Hillary Clinton blames  Russian President Vladimir Putin for meddling in our election, as confirmed by the FBI, CIA and other agencies who will soon feel the heel of Putin’s revenge.  But Clinton attributes Putin’s grudge to have been due to her own past criticism of Russian elections

Really lady? You don’t think he might hate you for something more tangible?  Like the huge coup that you and President Obama are credited for, in the Russian Press and by Putin’s own words?  They accuse HRC and BHO of cleverly and aggressively “stealing the Ukraine” by stage managing the Velvet Revolution that ousted Russian puppet Viktor Yanukovych, in 2014.  I give far more credit to the Ukrainians, frankly. But it helps to put Putin’s later, “brilliant” moves in Crimea etc in perspective as very small nibble-backs from a geopolitical catastrophe. That is what he hates you and Obama for, Hillary.  Learn to take some credit. 

No wonder DT  would refuse even to look at evidence collected by our professionals, that a foreign power has waged acts of war against us - or even accept standard security briefings.

But seriously, what do you need? Could the Kremlin have picked a more favorable U.S. cabinet than Donald Trump has, including Exxon head Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, who has received lavish honors - and billions in favored contracts - directly from the Putin Administration and who hangs with Russian klepto-oligarchs? When the U.S. imposed sanctions against Russia in 2014 pursuant to the invasion of Crimea, one of the items put on indefinite hold was a contract between the Russian government and Exxon to exploit a wide variety of off shore drilling zones off Russia's Arctic coast. Estimates made the contracts worth up to half a trillion dollars to Exxon, and even more for the Russian government.

So? All is symbolism on the right.  And hence, President Putin has ordered officials to start planning a celebration of next year’s centennial of the Russian Revolution. It will be awkward, since Putin has simultaneously encouraged restored adulation of Joseph Stalin and the toppled Romanov Czars… both the lamented Soviet Union and the Russian Orthodox Church. 

Sound a bit like Putin’s biggest western fans – Republicans? Who simultaneously declare adoration of the Greatest Generation of the 1950s while pouring hate upon every aspect of the nation that generation built -- from strong unions and high taxes on the rich to the living person those folks adored, above all others, Franklin... Delano... Roosevelt? 

As in Russia, it seems the central goal is to use emotion to drive out logic.  And hence, the outright war – in both nations – against the scientists and other fact-professions.

Oh, while we’re peering east. An interesting revelation about a Russian weapon that purportedly could sneak bombs underwater into American seaports. I would be wary of this article, though, as there are some telltales of exaggeration. Example.  There has never been a 100 megaton bomb.  One was planned but that method is probably long lost. The tsunami thing and the Cobalt thing are likely lurid arm-wavings. Their aim would be to cripple us, not to poison all our children, triggering a spasm to kill all of theirs. A ten Kt drone-mine in each harbor would leave us impotent at sea while leaving the main California cities still available to hold hostage.

== Political miscellany == 

More perspectives on how China feels about TrumpAnd why DT has so many fans in China.

The New York Times notes that, “As recently as last year, Breitbart published an op-ed article urging that “every tree, every rooftop, every picket fence, every telegraph pole in the South should be festooned with the Confederate battle flag.”  

One of the leaders of a recent alt-right convention quoted Nazi propaganda in the original German. America, he said, belonged to white people, whom he called the “children of the sun,” a race of conquerors and creators who had been marginalized but now, in the era of President-elect Donald J. Trump, were “awakening to their own identity.”  As he finished, several audience members had their arms outstretched in a Nazi salute.

Someone at the podium shouted, “Heil the people! Heil victory,” the room shouted it back. Later: “Mr. Spencer suggested that the news media had been critical of Mr. Trump throughout the campaign in order to protect Jewish interests. Mr. Trump’s election, Mr. Spencer said, was “the victory of will,” a phrase that echoed the title of the most famous Nazi-era propaganda film.” These are exultant times for the alt-right movement.

And finally some ironic quotations:

“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”  -- Ronald Reagan

“We’re going to build a beautiful, huge wall.”  -- Donald Trump

“Moscow’s evil empire…” –Ronald Reagan

"I looked the man (Putin) in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy.”  -- George W. Bush

"Will he become my new best friend?" Donald Trump asked of Putin in a tweet before bringing the Miss Universe pageant Trump to Moscow.

Consistency? Confederates despise consistency.  The only thing that matters is whom do you hate? If you hate the same folks they hate, then you must be okay.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Changing Face of Earth -- and back to the sea?

There may be a silver lining to what's happened; the War on Science is now explicit. And defections to the side of science will turn into a flood. Stay tuned for info about the Scientists' March on DC. Organized by 314action.org. Meanwhile, get informed. Starting with the biggest picture:

Why Most Planets Will Either Be Lush or Dead: The Gaia hypothesis implies that once alien life takes hold, it will flourish. In this excerpt from his new book Earth in Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet's Future, David Grinspoon offers an insightful and – at times – inspiringly poetical view of the Gaia Hypothesis… that life inveigles its way into most of the observable properties of a living world, like Earth, much as I described in a novel called … Earth.  

A small quibble – or two. David Grinspoon suggests that the collapse of Gaian homeostasis on Venus and Mars was a matter of luck or happenstance. But the famous “Goldilocks” or Continuously Habitable Zone (CHZ) around a star has its limits. James Kasting has shown that life can adapt liberally and our star’s CHZ  extends beyond the orbit of Mars… that is, it would have, if Mars has been much bigger and able to retain a dense, CO2 rich atmosphere. For, out that far, liquid seas would need a thick-warming greenhouse blanket.

Down here where we are? Well, Earth skates the very inner edge of our sun’s CHZ, according to Kasting. Our Gaia balance depends upon an atmosphere so transparent that it can allow almost all stray heat to escape. We can afford only enough CO2 for plants to survive, and no more. (Which helps explain why our politics are no longer “left” vs. “right.” Rather, they are “science-heeding” versus "Idiocracy.”) 

Alas, poor Venus – farther in – never stood a chance. Indeed, as the Sun continues to grow warmer, neither will our Earth. Unless, over the course of the next few hundred million years, we become smart and mighty enough to move our beloved mother world. (It can happen!)

Earth: Evolution of a Habitable Planet: A cool site shows what Earth looked like, at intervals across 200 M years… also the percentage of land and ice area, indicating that we actually have an anomalous amount of land right now and global warming seems likely to end that phase. 

It makes you ponder. The human past must have been one vast desert of wasted potential.  In fact, I believe this is one cause of our prodigious intellectual overshoot.  We had to develop vast and multiple routes to sapience, just to get a little of it, now and then.
 == Castle Sovereign Redux ==

The idea of ‘seasteading’ – escaping the laws, regulations, and taxes of life on terra firma by establishing an outpost in international waters – has long enchanted Libertarians.  I got to see some of the early plans being touted by Internet mogul (and now Trump adviser) Peter Thiel, along with Patri Friedman and others, whose Seasteading Institute planned a floating 'start-up country' off the coast of San Francisco -- built on oil-rig like platforms in international waters. Back in 2011, I published a critique of their plans, pointing out a number of flaws and ways that they might be improved…

 … though now it seems that their new venture is taking most of my suggestions into account! Instead of floating or anchoring in storm-tossed international waters, prey to violent weather, pirates, mutineers and/or any legacy nation with a Navy and an excuse, they now plan to build a floating techno-libertarian city in a French Polynesian lagoon, protected by a surrounding reef and by one of the world’s 200 vested sovereignties.

This NY Times article offers a bit more detail, while leaving out all the libertarian and oligarchic implications. 

In fact, from what I can glean, the plan is almost perfectly cloned from a future seastead-resort-refuge that I portrayed in Existence, perched atop the drowned remnants of a fictional Polynesian country called Pulupau. 

(And yes folks, that’s the modern economy.  I cannot count the number of technologies and solutions that I’ve given away, for free. You’re welcome.)

Speaking of civilization at sea, shouldn’t we prove we are civilized?  By not murdering the smartest, topmost species out there?  A steep decline in Orca population in Puget Sound is directly attributable to harassment by whale-watching boats.  A modest expansion in a motor free zone next to San Juan Island could let these majestic creatures raise their young and hunt salmon in peace. Learn more at www.orcarelief.org.

== A Changing Climate ==

The polar vortex is slipping south again as our climate shifts. Record cold will strike middle America.If you are curious and sapient, read this informative article. If not? If you are a member of the hate-science cult? Welcome to the world you helped create.  See The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics and Driving Us Crazy! by atmospheric scientist Michael E. Mann and Tom Toles.

Earth sets a high temperature record for the third straight year. The breadth of warmth is unparalleled

"Every single state and every single city in the Lower 48 states was warmer than normal in 2016. For the nation, the year ranked second-warmest in records that date back to 1895." 

Why is this good news for the cult? Because 2016 was not warmer than the spectacular record-breaker, 2012. And so, they can claim, as they have done before: "You see?  There's been cooling!"

They used this lying sophistry ever since the previous El Nino spike -- 1997 -- even though excluding that spike, each year was warmer than the one before. Watch as they do the same now, with 2012. Only now we know better than to try to argue reasonably with the dogmatically unreasonable. Now the answer is simple. You are science-hating betrayers of our children. Period.

Bumblebees are endangered! I have three honeybee hives and will be setting up our first bumblebee house for Mason bumbles, purchased from Crown Bees. Consider this cool – and patriotic – hobby. Here I am in my bee suit... 

== More science! ==

Elsewhere I tell of my own, small role in the historical wisdom of getting the lead out of gasoline, which we now know to have been a paramount reason for rising crime rates through the 90s -- and their plummet since. Now ponder how many other avoidable tragedies we need to address....

Like the economic, criminal and even terrorist effects in areas where there is little iodine in the diet, typically remote inland areas and semi-arid equatorial climates where no marine foods are eaten. Iodine deficiency gives rise to hypothyroidism, symptoms of which are extreme fatigue, goiter, mental slowing, depression, weight gain, and low basal body temperatures. Iodine deficiency is the leading cause of preventable intellectual disability, a result that occurs primarily when babies or small children are rendered hypothyroidic by a lack of the element. The addition of iodine to table salt has largely eliminated this problem in wealthier nations, but iodine deficiency remains a serious public health problem today in the developing world. Iodine deficiency is also a problem in certain areas of Europe. Information processing, fine motor skills, and visual problem solving are improved by iodine repletion in moderately iodine-deficient children.

Oh, you simplistic folks who think the solution to "terrorists" is bombs.  Oh, I do not deny their last resort necessity. But how about a few ounces of prevention? Your first, pragmatic -- (and Jesus-like) -- reflex should be to reach out and help.

== Fake News, new and old ==

When Edward Jenner developed a cowpox-based vaccine that proved effective against smallpox, what ensued was a series of spectacular successes in humanity’s age-old struggle against disease, with hundreds of millions of lives saved. And yet, the mystical “vaxxers” of that era fought progress at every turn, as related in this article.

 In 1800, Benjamin Mosley of the Royal College of Physicians alluded to the story of the Minotaur—offspring of Queen Pasiphae and a Cretan Bull— warning “the human character may undergo strange mutations” thanks to exposure to cowpox. He suggested “some modern Pasiphae may rival the fables of old”—that vaccinated women might be driven to run madly in search of the nearest bull to copulate with. Soon enough, a different British doctor reported the birth of a “cow poxed ox-faced boy,” and the newly formed Anti-Vaccine Society published a cartoon titled “The Cow-Pock or the Wonderful Effects of the New Inoculation!” It featured miniature cows growing out of the arms, faces, and buttocks of the vaccinated. By the mid-19th century, the next generation of anti-vaxxers had a whole body of pseudoscience behind them, including faked and fraudulent statistics showing that vaccines failed to prevent smallpox—or even increased smallpox risk.”

So… Fake News isn’t new.  It’s just faster and more dangerous, today.

Finally, a few words from my hero. 

 "...I therefore imagine that the internal parts [of the Earth] might be a fluid more dense, and of greater specific gravity than any of the solids we are acquainted with, which therefore might swim in or upon that fluid. Thus the surface of the Earth would be a shell, capable of being broken and disordered by the violent movements of the fluid on which it rested."

That figure was shrugged off as a silly old man, a Romantic scientific has-been. It would take another 180 years or so for Benjamin Franklin's conjecture to be proven to be accurate.
Why mention that now? I need no excuse to mention anything uttered by old Ben. There is one reason, above all others, to save the civilization that he fathered -- along with a lot of other dads & moms. I want to make him... and them... proud.

You should, too.