Dec 1, 2017

This thread has been created for open discussion on themes relevant to Reason and Science for which there are not currently any dedicated threads.

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365 comments on “OPEN DISCUSSION – DECEMBER 2017

  • Reposted (from Nov OD):

    Arkrid #188

    They need to give back to their mega rich donors and that’s all that
    matters to them.

    I hear that a lot, and agree–to an extent. Our ‘representatives’ are also in the bracket that reaps the most, and also benefit greatly from this tax bill.

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  • Reposted (from Nov OD):

    Alan #193

    I think I’ll have a t-shirt made that says:

    Donald Trump: Pissing off the planet, one country at a time

    *Mods, you can delete my two last minute, under the wire posts from November!

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  • Vicki,

    Tshirt logo

    Donald Trump: Pissing off the planet, one country at a time

    I think a front and back logo is called for. Same sentence only flipping the preposition from off to on.

    I thought I was going to be rich. I invented the Trump urinal target only to find I had been beaten to it. The world was already splashing out on them.

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  • (@Previous month) – Dan #190 Nov 30, 2017 at 6:49 pm

    I’ve started getting emails from a group called Refuse Fascism. I thought I’d share part of the one I just received.

    I commented on Trump’s pro-fascist tweets and silly response to Theresa May here!

    Lord Bourne tweeted: “Millions of fellow Britons of all races and religions and none, appalled by conduct of @realDonaldTrump – understandable that they feel unable to welcome him here under these circumstances nor could I.”

    Let’s see if the Trumpoids are bigoted enough and stupid enough, to accuse a TORY LORD of “socialism”!

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  • Alan

    Let’s see if the Trumpoids are bigoted enough and stupid enough, to
    accuse a TORY LORD of “socialism”!

    Clearly, you haven’t been paying attention, Alan. These guys’ll turn on their own faster than a doberman.

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  • Arkrid Sandwich #9
    Dec 1, 2017 at 8:01 am

    Trumpists don’t understand what socialism is.

    To Trumpists, “Socialism” is an insult directed at anyone whose politics are to the left of Genghis Kahn! 🙂

    They think it’s communism.

    They don’t know what communism, liberalism, humanitarianism, or altruism, are either!

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  • Vicki #8
    Dec 1, 2017 at 7:32 am

    Clearly, you haven’t been paying attention, Alan.
    These guys’ll turn on their own faster than a doberman.

    Ah! That is to be expected, – but the real issue is how this will be perceived by those who Trump is seeking as mainstream allies in Europe!

    Significant numbers of people in both houses of parliament, are talking about cancelling Trump’s UK state visit!

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  • Alan #7 Let’s see if the Trumpoids are bigoted enough and stupid enough, to
    accuse a TORY LORD of “socialism”!

    Heh, yes that’s right Vicki.

    In fact, if that Tory supports universal health care, regulations on the financial sector and strong financial support for disadvantaged class and higher education then the Trump supporters and the entire political right here will be screaming “commie pinko” at the guy.

    The American political spectrum has gone careening off to the right. People who identify as “conservative” are often actually in the category of “reactionary” but don’t know the difference. They also believe that “liberal” is something like “anarchist” or “radical”. This may be a result of the strategy of extremists in either camp actively pushing others away from the political center and out to the fringes. Creation of a false dichotomy is in the interest of extremists.

    As it stands now, when in conversation with an American who identifies with one of these labels, I can’t trust that they actually know what they’ve signed up for. I admit that I’ve been too quick to label myself in the past. Now I hesitate to label myself and I find that others are quick to label me based on my opinions – even though it might just be one single issue that I express an opinion on! Not ok! People don’t always fit neatly into a single political category. My own father used to proudly self-label as libertarian but was also pro-choice. shrug.

    When in the company of Trumpists, just declare assertively that you are a centrist and watch what happens. They go silent and don’t know where to go with that. There’s nothing in their official play book on how to deal with centrists. “Liberals” oh yes! The brain switch clicks on and all sorts of insults and misinformation spews out immediately!

    Political spectrum from Wiki:

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  • Laurie

    As it stands now, when in conversation with an American who identifies
    with one of these labels, I can’t trust that they actually know what
    they’ve signed up for.

    Funny you should mention that; I just replied to a guy who claimed he was a “true liberal”: a libertarian!

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  • Alan

    Ah! That is to be expected, – but the real issue is how this will be
    perceived by those who Trump is seeking as mainstream allies in

    Which brings me back to my t-shirt…

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  • Significant numbers of people in both houses of parliament, are
    talking about cancelling Trump’s UK state visit!

    They are, and quite right too … but the government is too cowardly and too dependent on the US post-Brexit to dare to take that kind of stand.

    Which is a scandal in its own right, of course, but I don’t think he’ll come in any case. There have already been reports that he’s said he won’t come so long as there’s a risk of major public protest. Not that he cares about offending public opinion in Britain, of course: it’s all about his ego, as ever.

    But part of me hopes he will come – because there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that it would lead to the most massive, most vocal, most impassioned public protests the UK has ever seen. He’d be protected from it all, of course – there’s already been talk of basing him at Balmoral and of helicoptering him around so as to be out of reach of demonstrators at all times. But protests can’t be hidden these days and the very fact he was having to be protected from them would make him look utterly pathetic. It wouldn’t do anything for the UK government’s standing either, so it could be a highly satisfying win-win.

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  • Laurie

    What?! He thinks that liberal = libertarian? What the hell!

    Right?! I think I’m going to have to step back and rethink the IQs of some of these guys–and I’m no Einstein–and maybe start at a much lower level of intercourse. The equivalent of taking the scenic route, I guess, to get to my destination.

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  • Vicki #8
    Dec 1, 2017 at 7:32 am

    . . . and if Trump is hoping to get sympathy and support from Tory Christians in the UK, it is worth noting that unlike the separation of church and state in the USA, the UK still has a few CofE Bishops (The Lords Spiritual) in the House of Lords!

    Several leading UK politicians have criticised the president for retweeting her {Fransen} posts, as has the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who said it was “deeply disturbing” that Mr Trump had “chosen to amplify the voice of far-right extremists”.

    .. and their Archbishop is distinctly unsympathetic!

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  • Vicki

    So you’re no Einstein. Neither am I. So what?

    I know people with IQ’s higher and mightier than mine (I always know this in 5 minutes) who are also completely brainwashed religious ideologues or they are so highly educated in one field that they are completely ignorant of any other field and many of these people are afflicted with both conditions and the result of this situation is that along comes someone with say, a lower IQ who may have made it their business to understand the political spectrum (even just a Wiki page can boost us way ahead of the fray) and with a general basic competency in science and civics, etc., and then the latter can offer a statement of important correction to the former.

    (Longest sentence in history. Sorry, have to run out.)

    And the other thing in our favor Vicki, is the ability to self-correct. The extreme ideologues can’t seem to accept that they’re on the wrong track when it’s pointed out that they are promoting something negative or that they’ve made a statement that is inconsistent with their previously stated position, etc. Concession of an inconsistency or of a lack of knowledge on any issue is in my view, a strength and not something to be ashamed of. What’s wrong with saying, “I don’t know enough about that issue to take a stand at this time. Can you recommend some useful reading on that?” But no, the bullies can never admit a weakness. It’s a character flaw.

    From your friend Laurie. Mediocre IQ, mediocre education. Doing the best I can with what I got! 😀

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  • Marco #17
    Dec 1, 2017 at 8:36 am

    He’d be protected from it all, of course –
    there’s already been talk of basing him at Balmoral
    and of helicoptering him around so as to be out of reach of demonstrators at all times.

    I think the Scots will remember Trump’s ludicrously incompetent, abusive, run-in with Scottish Nationalist First Minister, (“Mad”) Alex Salmond!

    A series of colourfully-written letters sent by Donald Trump to then-Scottish first minister Alex Salmond has been published in full for the first time.

    But protests can’t be hidden these days and the very fact he was having to be protected from them would make him look utterly pathetic.

    They could hide Trump from the protesters, and could hide the protesters from Trump, but they couldn’t hide the protesters from the world’s media!

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  • There are 21,000 jobs in the low carbon and renewable energy economy in Scotland across 9 renewable energy sectors.
    The largest single sector was onshore wind, followed by solar PV, and heat pumps.
    (Source: The Size and Performance of the UK Low Carbon Economy)

    Renewable electricity generation in Scotland made up approximately 26% of total UK renewable generation in 2015

    Renewables are the single largest contributor to electricity generation in Scotland—higher than both nuclear generation (33%) and fossil fuel generation (28%).

    So with Trump giving “Mad Alex”
    the “benefit of his expertise”
    on how wind-turbines “will ruin the Scottish economy”
    and how Trump’s “brilliant” tourist developments
    will “save Scotland”:-

    Donald Trump’s Scottish golf courses have reported losses of £19m.

    In annual accounts filed with Companies House, the Menie Estate development in Aberdeenshire lost £1.4m, while Turnberry in Ayrshire lost £17.6m.

    In addition to the Turnberry shutdown, the company also noted in its report that it took an £8m loss due to fluctuations in the value of the pound last year.

    The company reported that revenue at the two courses fell 21% to £9m in 2016 from £11.4m a year earlier.

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  • Yes, Scotland has no reason whatsoever to fall for the “I’m a great business man” schtick.

    And as a nation, Scots also pride themselves on a strong sense of values which are totally opposed to everything that man stands for.

    Also – we’re not known for holding back once our ire has been roused!

    Bring it on!

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  • Marco #24
    Dec 1, 2017 at 10:08 am

    And as a nation, Scots also pride themselves on a strong sense of values which are totally opposed to everything that man stands for.

    I live south of the Scottish border – but not a long way south of it!

    and BTW: My wife is Scottish!

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  • The is an eye-opening piece on Trump’s “information sources” (or lack of them), here:-

    Trump, Twitter and his ‘filter bubble’

    Although his main Twitter account has nearly 44 million followers, President Donald Trump chooses to follow just 45 other Twitter users – all of whom agree with him, most of the time.

    Now that seeming reluctance to expose himself to alternative viewpoints is being put forward as a possible factor in the president’s decision to retweet three videos by a far-right UK group.

    Social media experts call it the “filter bubble” – the ability to choose only the news and views that we agree with.

    Earlier this year, Microsoft founder Bill Gates warned against the negative effects of the filter bubble, which he said increasingly prevented people from “mixing and sharing and understanding other points of view”.

    “It’s turned out to be more of a problem than I, or many others, would have expected, ” he told the Quartz website.

    Sometimes the bubble is automatic, created for us by a combination of our browsing history data, plus the algorithms of Facebook and Google. The end result: posts, people and stories that conform to our individual world view.

    Sometimes we get to build our own bubble, by deliberately cutting ourselves off from dialogue with people who don’t agree with us.

    If Wednesday morning followed the president’s typical routine, he woke up, turned on the TV and opened Twitter on his phone.

    Shortly afterwards, the worldwide outrage started.

    Although the White House has refused to discuss the “process” by which the video was shared, most observers think it was the president who chose to retweet the video “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!”

    The authenticity of that video has now been challenged.

    The anger deepened when it was confirmed the three videos had originally been shared by the deputy leader of an anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim group – Britain First.

    They had made their way onto the president’s feed – it’s thought – via one of the few people the president follows on Twitter: right-wing commentator Ann Coulter.

    On Thursday, she defended her retweet, telling the BBC: “A video is a video…you don’t need to fact-check it.”

    Ms Coulter is one of the 45 Twitter users that the president “follows” on his most effective communication tool – @realDonaldTrump has 43.7 million followers

    But compared with his predecessor, Mr Trump follows a tiny number of other users.

    Barack Obama – with 94.7 million Twitter followers – follows 626,000 other Twitter users.

    Mr Trump, on the other hand, is much more selective about who he follows.

    Trump also uses another Twitter handle, @POTUS (president of the United States) which follows 41 other accounts, mainly family and government departments. He tends to tweet less frequently from this account.

    You can recreate the president’s @realDonaldTrump feed here, courtesy of the Washington Post.

    It may be, however, that Mr Trump does expose himself to other viewpoints, according to social media marketer Alex McCann (@altrinchamhq): “We have to remember that he has hundreds of thousands of notifications every day of people replying to his tweets.”

    “Hopefully he does check these and get a bigger picture than presented by his curated feed of the 45 people he follows. He may have created a Twitter list as well that might give more variety, but we don’t know.” (No public lists are available on @realDonaldTrump.)

    “But if he is restricting himself to 45 people that’s going to create a very monotonous feed – an echo chamber of people that agree with you.”

    Amelia Tait (@ameliargh), tech and digital culture writer at the New Statesman, said that compared with a “normal” user, Mr Trump follows very few people on Twitter.

    “This isn’t necessarily surprising, as he has always used the site as more of a place to talk rather than listen.

    “It could have troubling implications about what he sees and interacts with, though. It’s been theorised he saw the Britain First tweets via Twitter’s “in case you missed it” tool. Had his feed been busier, he might have missed that too!” she said.

    On the @realDonaldTrump’s “following” list are seven family members, including wife Melania, his children, and two daughters in law.

    He follows four government departments, such as the Department of State, and eight Trump commercial organisations such as his main company, five golf courses and two Trump-branded hotels.

    Current and former employees include Vice-President Mike Pence, White House spokesperson Kellyanne Conway and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders also feature.

    But by far the largest subset of people and organisations that Mr Trump follows is made up of conservative journalists and TV presenters.

    Ten of them work, or have worked, for the conservative news channel Fox News, like Bill O’Reilly and Eric Bolling – both of whom left Fox following allegations of sexual misconduct.

    Staunch Trump defender Sean Hannity is also on the president’s “follow” list.

    The show Fox and Friends – thought to be a major opinion former on the president – is on the list.

    Fox and Friends has been known to cover a story, only for the president to tweet on the same story a few minutes after the programme ends – and sometimes while it is still on air.

    With information sources like these, “Who needs to appoint government expert, scientific, diplomatic, administrative, legal, or financial, advisors”? 🙂

    How dare people in Scientific bodies, the IPCC, or like Theresa May, Alex Salmond, or other foreign leaders, challenge Trump’s parroting of them on Twitter? 🙂

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  • Alan, #26

    Having a White House that’s prepared to conceal or distort the truth isn’t exactly a first.

    But have we ever had one before now that simply hasn’t been even remotely interested in the truth? Trump isn’t remotely interested in other perspectives on reality because the only reality he’s interested in is his own. He doesn’t see it as any part of his mission to improve reality for others. He just couldn’t give a damn.

    He’s a greedy, hate-filled little man whose entire life is dedicated to amassing as much wealth as possible for himself while kicking as many others as possible as often as possible and as hard as possible. All the while thumping his chest, of course.

    The truth – about the contribution made by immigrants; about what really creates and maintains poverty, and the methods of reducing it; about how international relations actually work; about the causes of and contributors to terrorism; about how economies flourish; about the way whole societies flourish when policies are put in place to support the underprivileged and under-represented – would be highly inconvenient for him. And boring. He hates all that stuff. He couldn’t care less.

    He didn’t run for president so he could govern. He ran for president so he could ransack. And you don’t need information for that: just power.

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    Donald Trump has responded to a guilty plea by his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, saying Mr Flynn’s actions as a member of his transition team “were lawful”.

    Mr Flynn has entered a plea deal and agreed to co-operate with an inquiry into alleged collusion with Russia.

    The deal, for a lesser charge than he might have faced, prompted speculation that he has incriminating evidence.

    The president wrote on Twitter on Saturday that he had “nothing to hide”.

    Under the terms of the plea deal – offered to Mr Flynn by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into the Russia scandal – Mr Flynn admitted making false statements to the FBI.

    Analysts say the deal suggests that the former general has evidence implicating one or more senior members of the Trump administration.

    Responding to Mr Flynn’s indictment, Mr Trump tweeted: “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice-President and the FBI.
    He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!”

    The thing is, that these “so-called-judges” who have actually studied law, keep contradicting Trump’s “authoritative pronouncements” on what is lawful! . . . .
    and considering that “there is nothing to hide”, Trump and Co. have made extraordinary efforts to lie and cover-up these activities!

    In the tweet, he appeared to admit that he knew before he fired Mr Flynn that the former general had lied to the FBI, contradicting his own account of the sacking from the time and once again raising speculation that his actions could amount to obstruction of justice.

    Apparently Trump thinks that lying to the FBI about potential foreign espionage, or political manipulation of the US government, “is lawful” – but then Trump regards lying as a normal part of communication and reporting!

    Mr Flynn has admitted lying about his contact with the Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak in December 2016 – after Mr Trump was elected but before he became president.

    The charging documents against Mr Flynn state that he was directed to make contact with Russian officials by a “very senior member” of the Trump transition team.

    I suppose it could be argued, that Trump appointees are a law unto themselves, – and just make up laws as they go along – according to the hidden agenda of the day! I suspect that judges would disagree! 🙂

    Several US news organisations report the very senior official now under the spotlight is Jared Kushner – Mr Trump’s adviser and son-in-law.

    What a clever Trump!!! 🙂 – He knows ALL the answers BEFORE the prosecutors have presented the EVIDENCE to the court! – and does not need to wait for the court to present and report a verdict!! 🙂

    After all! If it has not been reported on Faux News, or sycophant twitter, it does not exist! 🙂

    According to the FBI’s statement of offence signed by Mr Flynn, he discussed Russia’s response to US sanctions as well as a UN Security Council resolution on Israel, at the direction of the Trump team.

    Under the Logan Act it is illegal for a private US citizen, as Mr Flynn was during the transition period, to conduct foreign affairs without the permission or involvement of the US government.

    The charge of making false statements normally carries up to five years in prison, but under the terms of his plea deal Mr Flynn faces a lighter sentence of only up to six months, court filings show.

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  • Once again President Chump just can’t keep his stupid mouth shut or give his twitter finger a rest. He admitted in an interview with Lester Holt that he fired Comey because of Russia and now he’s just admitted he knew Flynn lied to the FBI after denying it for months. For a man who keeps claiming his IQ is very high he sure as hell does a good impression of stupid as a rock.

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  • Marco #27

    He’s a greedy, hate-filled little man whose entire life is dedicated
    to amassing as much wealth as possible for himself while kicking as
    many others as possible as often as possible and as hard as possible.

    Yes. Trump is an unusual study. Truly wealthy people see money as a means, whereas Trump sees money as an end in and of itself. It provides everything he wants in life. So now that he’s in a position of power, I think he’s seeing a little beyond the immediate material comforts his wealth provides. But because he’s always been so shallow and one-dimensional, his next step will be money=power, unencumbered by any expanded thoughts of compassion or altruism. That isn’t leadership material, particularly of a nation as diverse as ours.

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  • Arkrid #29

    …and now he’s just admitted he knew Flynn lied to the FBI after
    denying it for months.

    “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Mark Twain

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  • Not only has he admitted to knowing Flynn lied to the FBI, in so doing he has publicly admitted to obstruction of justice – an impeachable offence. There’s an excellent short Twitter thread here that explains why:

    Which is doubtless why Trump’s attorney has put himself forward (or has been put forward) as the fall guy, claiming that it was he, and not the Trump, who wrote the incriminating tweet:

    Which is about as credible as … well, anything else coming out of this regime, frankly.

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  • Marco #32
    Dec 3, 2017 at 7:22 am

    Trump’s problem is that while HE will endorse any rubbish his sycophants care to spout, he is encountering expert critics, who don’t care about Trump’s “know nothing” chorus of cheerleaders, and are going to present their evidence before professionals who understand laws and legal requirements!

    @SethAbramson – Attorney. Professor @UofNH (journalism, law).

    Seth Abramson‏Verified account @SethAbramson

    ATTENTION: If John Dowd has lied, is lying, or does lie about whether he authored a tweet in which Donald Trump admitted committing a crime, (a) he has himself committed a crime, and (b) he’d be disbarred from legal practice immediately.
    America needs an answer on this right now.

    Seth Abramson‏Verified account @SethAbramson

    4/ Based on the information he has now—and I mean only the information that’s public; I’m not even counting the reams and reams of information he has that we don’t know about—Bob Mueller will hunt both Trump and Pence to the ends of the Earth to secure impeachment and conviction.

    Seth Abramson‏Verified account @SethAbramson

    3/ Once you have Trump and Pence telling lies about their relationship with Russia on national television—which you do, as they both knew what Flynn was doing in December and then repeatedly lied about whether they knew—there’s no prosecutor in America who’s going to let them go.

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  • This is a must read for anyone interested in the cause of this foundation. This is utterly pernicious trash. The regressive left at its worst. (I had issues with the term regressive left in the past but here it applies.) I have no respect for Salon anymore. Check this out! They are equating the ever reasonable Harris and the marvelous and humane Dawkins and the “new atheism” with the alt-right!

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  • Laurie

    There is no apartment in the Boston area for less than $1500/month.

    1500! I’m moving.

    Q: how do you explain the fact that you came from a religious right wing Fox News loving family and have managed to emerge as an enlightened and progressive person?

    And why have so may others been unable to do that, but instead stay stuck? It would be great if you could trace your development and explain to yourself how that happened and then maybe take it a step further and try to get others to do what you did. No easy task.

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  • Dan
    Ha! Good question. Too bad I don’t know the answer. I think that coming of age in the late sixties and seventies had everything to do with it. I think I had some less than ideal attachment which morphed into outright rebellion. The culture served up the means to express it. Hippie culture and feminism seemed like a utopia in my teens. Reading had always and still is my great escape. No one seemed to be interested in what I was reading. Heh. Also the music, remember it? Pink Floyd, the Stones, Zeppelin and the drugs to go with them. All of this culture swirling around at the time was in stark contrast to the deadly dull middle class WASP culture that existed along side of it. Church every Sunday morning was an extremely annoying, boring waste of my time. The pastors were creepy and quite stupid, gluttons for teenage punishment, and they got plenty of that from the Sunday school pupils and especially from the youth group. We were a bunch of sarcastic, bored teenage shits who stood there in church watching our parents gazing at the cross and the pastor transfixed. I thought to myself; get me the hell out of this fucking place. I just want to get high and fuck. That’s how it happens, Dan. My story is not unusual. The feminists of that time were inspirational heroes. Jesus was a boring loser.

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  • It behooves me to demonstrate why that article is, in my opinion, “pernicious trash”. It is not honest. It is biased and distorted. This example should suffice as proof: The author attacks Harris for saying “We are at war with Islam.” (There is also a photo of Harris next to Milo Yiannopoulos. All I can suggest to those who are unfamiliar with both is to read Harris or listen to him speak. Plenty of YouTube videos. Then listen to Yiannopulous.)

    Here is what the author, a Mr. Phil Torres, says:

    Harris wrote in a 2004 Washington Times op-ed that “We are at war with Islam.” He added a modicum of nuance in subsequent sentences, but I know of no experts on Islamic terrorism who would ever suggest that uttering such a categorical statement in a public forum is judicious.

    “We are at war with Islam.” Like most literary gangsters this author takes that out of context and suggests bigotry, suggests some kind of base, nefarious motive on the part of Harris. Here is the quote in its entirety. It should be clear to any reasonable person that Sam Harris is not motivated by bigotry, but by his horror of the abuses perpetrated by fundamentalists.

    “It is time we admitted that we are not at war with “terrorism.” We are at war with Islam. This is not to say that we are at war with all Muslims, but we are absolutely at war with the vision of life that is prescribed to all Muslims in the Koran. The only reason Muslim fundamentalism is a threat to us is because the fundamentals of Islam are a threat to us. Every American should read the Koran and discover the relentlessness with which non-Muslims are vilified in its pages. The idea that Islam is a “peaceful religion hijacked by extremists” is a dangerous fantasy — and it is now a particularly dangerous fantasy for Muslims to indulge.”

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  • The big question in my mind now since Flynn pled guilty is how long will it take the Trump administration to make Pence the sacrificial goat for everything Russia related? Pence led the transition team, he surely knew everything that Flynn et al were doing and no doubt he’s the one who passed on Trump’s instructions to them all. The deal that Mueller just offered Flynn can only really be to get testimony on someone above Flynn in the chain of command and that’s only Trump or Pence. There’s not a cat in hell’s chance that Trump will accept blame for anything so Pence must be the one that gets pushed under the bus.

    Trump has two choices. Fire Mueller before he presses any charges and try to ride out the shitstorm that follows. Let Mueller run his investigation and press whatever charges he comes up with but have a scapegoat handy. I reckon we are going to see everyone start to distance themselves from Pence until the final night of the long knives where he gets stabbed in the back by all of them.

    However there’s no one to pass the blame onto for things that Trump has admitted to himself which are basically obstruction of justice charges. The firing of Comey and the recent tweet about Flynn. If Mueller charges Trump with those then I guess we get to see if a president can pardon himself or not.

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  • Hello,

    This post is in reply to a video I saw recently with Dr. Dawkins answering a question, which he said he gets a lot regarding evolution. If there is a way this question could get to Dr. Dawkins somehow, it would be incredible, as I would love to hear his input or feedback on this point, certainly I cannot think of an alternative as I will show:

    The question posed to Dr. Dawkins, was in regard to evolution and homosexuality, and if there is any evolutionary advantage to it. Clearly, I love the theory, when I first heard about it in college, it completely captivated me and I remember I got a series of the videos from the public library about it, and could not get enough of the logic, which I use to try to explain different physical or physiological phenomena.

    Dr. Dawkins reply to the question, was something along the lines of, uncles would have more time to tend to children, thereby increasing chance of survival and so forth.

    There is no doubt that more people tending for weak offspring will increase that offspring’s chances of survival.

    Evolution, however, at least as I understand it at a non-expert level would have to involve the passing on of genes, just for the theory to make any sense.

    My question/objection is, whichever behaviors may have been involved, and however beneficial they were, those genes would have not been passed on to the next generation. Because that is, essentially, the definition of homosexuality, the inability to pass on genes to the next generation. Of course, not nowadays with the available technologies, however, evolution clearly took place before any of that was possible.
    In other words, just using the very basic definitions of evolution and homosexuality one cannot help but arrive at the conclusion that the two terms are essentially opposite of each other.

    The only logical conclusion, one could arrive at based on the preceding logic, is that, there is no genetic basis for homosexuality, there can’t be. I understand this is a very sensitive topic, and people may tend to tiptoes around it, as to not offend anyone. However, this is just a scientific inquiry using an elegant theory. The conclusion therefore, from a darwinian evolutionary standpoint, is that homosexuality is unnatural. It is not a reason to judge or have any negative views, however, there can’t be any basis for it, in evolutionary logic, simply because those genes would not have been passed on.

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  • Dan #36.

    I think Laurie ignores the most important reason for her escape, though as a fellow Hippy, that whole culture was an important aspect, I suspect also.

    Intelligence. The brighter, the freer… on average.

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  • sam,

    only a brief comment, as no time at present. Siblings are likely to share genes that predispose to homosexuality. Not all genes are uniformly expressed in the phenotype (the actual body and its behaviours). The axalotl and a salamander, for instance, share the same genes but due to local factors find different body expressions.

    Two effective, food gathering protective fathers say, reproductively favours the reproducing brother and the gene that caused them.

    A few other explanations are possible…

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  • sam h #40
    Dec 4, 2017 at 1:28 am

    Because that is, essentially, the definition of homosexuality, the inability to pass on genes to the next generation.

    Hi Sam,

    As Phil points out, the survival of genes is not simply about genes in individual organisms, but the survival of COPIES of individual genes in the population.

    The contribution non-breeding individuals make to the survival of particular genes, is in support for identical COPIES of (some) of their own genes, (passed on from parents), in the families of brothers and sisters. – gathering food, defending the tribe, gifts from the rich uncle!

    A classic case is in the insect world of bees, where thousands of sterile workers bring up the offspring of their sister queen!

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  • Hi,

    Thank you for the reply. It is definitely interesting to think about these sorts of logic deductions based on evolution. I often times think of how the education system, at least what I went through, ignored some fundamental issues, that I am only getting into now, such as the notion that the self is an illusion, which I have been watching a lot on youtube by Sam Harris.

    I cannot find any single statement you said, that I disagree with, yet I think the logic I’ve proposed can still hold. Regarding Phil’s answer, I will admit I will have to look up some of the terms, I am not a biologist. However, I will address your reply, as I can follow your logic.

    Clearly, I wish I understood the science of genetics much better. It is completely fascinating, there are questions I have that I wish I could discuss at some point, at the very basic level, things such as how DNA encodes information to make proteins and so forth, I would love to gain a deeper understanding of that. It would be interesting to see a breakdown of the process at its simplest form, from a very basic molecular standpoint.

    I will keep my rebuttal in simple terms. Just to reply to your points: Let’s say there are copies of genes that cause homosexuality in a population, so if I understand correctly, what you are proposing is that, a member of that population who carries that gene will pass it on to the next generation:

    So this will have to mean, that this individual, carries that gene however it is ‘inactive’. It would have to be, in order for him/her to be able to pass it on.

    However, if that same gene is inactive in him, why would the same exact gene be active in his/her sibling. Clearly, that is not possible. By definition, a ‘copy’ of a gene, would indicate that the gene is identical.

    So, unless there is some unknown/underlying mechanism, by which some genes are switched on or off. I cannot accept the proposed explanation.

    I just think that the question is very interesting, and as Dr. Dawkins said, he was asked it many times, because, it is an apparent contradiction or dilemma.

    As you well know, evolution was discovered in the 1800’s so it is a relatively young field, and what I have always loved about it, is that it’s a tool. In other words, you can use it to think about the world, just like the basis of this question/discussion.

    Back to the issue, I think at the heart of this problem, is as I mentioned the obvious contradiction just in the basic definition of the two terms, that’s what I think makes it interesting for people to question.

    The question again posed to Dr. Dawkins was, if there was an evolutionary advantage to homosexuality, and his reply was about the uncles caring for the offspring and so forth.

    I have no doubt that an offspring with 10 uncles will have a better chance of survival than one with only 1 uncle. That is clear. However, to say that something had an evolutionary advantage, would have to mean that it was passed on genetically, that’s the only connection to the past that exist in biological systems.

    That genetic component, however, would have died out at that generation, because the gene would restrict individuals from the ability of passing on their genomes. The idea of copies of genes, as I have mentioned earlier, would have to imply that the same gene can be dormant in one individual and active in another. And if we assume that is true, in the individual where the gene is dormant, who supposedly will pass it on to the next generation, would he/she pass on the genetic code that is making that gene dormant? Or would they pass code that makes it active? Of course, it is very hard to imagine such scenario.

    I think, in today’s world people perhaps find it politically incorrect to question the naturalness from an evolutionary standpoint, of an issue such as homosexuality. However, this argument does not carry with it any negative connotations, it is simply stating that the behavior in incapable of being explained through classical darwinian evolutionary principles, due in short to the genetic basis of the theory of evolution.

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  • sam h #44
    Dec 4, 2017 at 9:51 am

    So, unless there is some unknown/underlying mechanism, by which some genes are switched on or off. I cannot accept the proposed explanation.

    There are genes called HOX genes which switch on and off other genes.

    Not only is sequence of switching important in the brain development, which programmes an individual’s perception of their sexuality, but abnormal switching during embryonic development can lead to transgender and intersex physical conditions where the individuals have ambiguous genitalia.

    One of the problems for those whose thinking is human centric, and lacking an education in the wider features of biology, is a lack of awareness of the diversity of sexual conditions in the animal and plant kingdoms.

    Many species have individuals which are hermaphrodite – ie. have both sexes in the same individual. (eg. snails or many flowers)
    Several species of fish can change from male to female, or vice-versa, through the course of their lives, – and in the example of bees, which I gave earlier, the difference between a sterile female worker bee and a queen, is the hormonal effect of being fed “Royal Jelly” during development.

    Similarly, the mental or physical sexual development of human embryos, can be affected by hormones from the mother, or from an associated fraternal twin of the opposite sex!

    Ambiguous genitalia is a birth defect where the outer genitals do not have the typical appearance of either a boy or a girl.

    The “black and white thinking” of “male OR female” does not cover the diversity of sexual conditions recognised in either biology or medicine!

    We discussed some of these issues in this earlier discussion – with links illustrating the obvious stupidity of some bigoted claims made by the biologically ignorant!

    The biology is recognised in the laws of educated civilised countries like Germany.

    I hope you find this information informative and useful.

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  • Sam h
    Hi sam h,
    We’ve had some interesting discussion on this topic here on this website in the past. You might be well served by reading through them for information that doesn’t show up on this one.

    What I think you are asking here is if homosexuality is an evolutionary adaptation in and of itself and how an adaption such as homosexuality would serve to enhance the reproductive success of an individual. Do I have that right?

    In other words, just using the very basic definitions of evolution and homosexuality one cannot help but arrive at the conclusion that the two terms are essentially opposite of each other.

    This can’t be framed correctly. Evolution is a biological principle and homosexuality is a sexual orientation. They can’t be opposites. They’re apples and oranges.

    The only logical conclusion, one could arrive at based on the preceding logic, is that, there is no genetic basis for homosexuality, there can’t be.

    This is much too simplistic. The situation is more complicated. Genes/environment interactions can be difficult to unweave.

    The conclusion therefore, from a darwinian evolutionary standpoint, is that homosexuality is unnatural.

    Unnatural? Then what is it? Supernatural? Artificial? If 10% of the population is homosexual, let’s say, then is it still “unnatural”? What about other sexual behaviors like say, rape? Is it unnatural ? Physical violence, unnatural? The thing about calling something unnatural is that statistically, if it reaches a level of occurrence that is higher than chance and persists over long periods of time then really, at some point we must concede that it is in fact, for our species, perfectly “natural”. This has nothing to do with whether or not you like it. Feelings are irrelevant in the assessment of what is natural and what is unnatural. Homosexuality is so common in our species that we have no choice but to say it’s “natural”. Also rape is so common in our species that we must say that it’s natural. Can we drop the natural vs unnatural line of thinking? It gets us nowhere. It’s not useful.

    there can’t be any basis for it, in evolutionary logic, simply because those genes would not have been passed on

    There is large amount of “junk” that gets passed along in our DNA that serves no known purpose and/or codes for structures that are obsolete. Still, it just sits there and goes along for the ride.

    Sam, another point that might be worth investigating is the situation regarding certain points of view on the topic of adaptation. Some of our best thinkers in the field of evolutionary theory are in disagreement over what is considered an adaptation at all. There is sometimes a problem of bias in this matter. There are certain requirements, different types of evidence that must be met before a trait is considered an adaption. It’s not as simple as you’ve made it out to be. A trait, in the absence of compliance with the evidence required to be considered an adaptation must be explained in another way. But Sam, is everything an adaptation? The answer is no. Some traits are evolutionary byproducts. Some traits are the result of genetic predisposition that only express in certain environments. We might consider homosexuality to be one of these traits. There is interesting material out there that points in the direction of this possibility. The environment of the uterus is considered in this material to have an effect on sexual orientation.

    Here is a Wiki page that gives a quick explanation of adaptations and byproducts:


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  • LaurieB #46
    Dec 4, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    Homosexuality is so common in our species that we have no choice but to say it’s “natural”.

    We need to remember that sexual reproduction based on two sexes, came quite a long way down the approximately 4 billion year+ evolutionary line, with asexual division and horizontal gene exchange pre-dating it for millions of years! Even then it had a long way to go to develop internal fertilisation.

    Many protists reproduce sexually, as do the multicellular plants, animals, and fungi. In the eukaryotic fossil record, sexual reproduction first appeared by 1.2 billion years ago in the Proterozoic Eon.[62] All sexually reproducing eukaryotic organisms derive from a single-celled common ancestor.[1][55][63][58] It is probable that evolving of sex was an integral part in evolution of the first eukaryotic cell.[64] There are a few species which have secondarily lost this feature, such as Bdelloidea and some parthenocarpic plants.

    Organisms need to replicate their genetic material in an efficient and reliable manner. The necessity to repair genetic damage is one of the leading theories explaining the origin of sexual reproduction. Diploid individuals can repair a damaged section of their DNA via homologous recombination, since there are two copies of the gene in the cell and one copy is presumed to be undamaged. A mutation in a haploid individual, on the other hand, is more likely to become resident, as the DNA repair machinery has no way of knowing what the original undamaged sequence was.[51] The most primitive form of sex may have been one organism with damaged DNA replicating an undamaged strand from a similar organism in order to repair itself.[65]

    If, as evidence indicates, sexual reproduction arose very early in eukaryotic evolution, the essential features of meiosis may have already been present in the prokaryotic ancestors of eukaryotes

    Also, with simpler sexually reproducing organisms being hermaphrodite, with both sexes within the same organism, perhaps the question should be:-
    “How reliable is the evolved mechanism for separating the sexes into single sex individuals and generating an attraction to the opposite sex?” , in place of a hermaphrodite breeding attraction of ALL individuals as in some hermaphrodite molluscs?

    In fact molluscs serve as a good illustration, as some are hermaphrodite, some have separate sexes, and some individuals change sex at some stage in their lives.

    Courtship is a part of the behaviour of mating gastropods.

    The majority of gastropods have internal fertilization, but there are some prosobranch species that have external fertilization.[5]
    Gastropods are capable of being either male or female, or hermaphrodites, and this makes their reproduction system unique amongst many other invertebrates.
    Hermaphroditic gastropods possess both the egg and sperm gametes which gives them the opportunity to self-fertilize

    In some of the main gastropod clades the great majority of species have separate sexes.

    Protandrous sequential hermaphrodites – Protandry means that the individuals first become male, and then later on become female.

    Within the main clade Heterobranchia, the informal group Opisthobranchia are simultaneous hermaphrodites (they have both sets of reproductive organs within one individual at the same time).

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  • Alan

    “How reliable is the evolved mechanism for separating the sexes into single sex individuals and generating an attraction to the opposite sex?

    Very interesting!

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  • I think other possibilities for sam to catch up on is the compounding of genes as clusters to create phenotypical features, and that variations are not the super crisp thing of much popular imagination of one gene to one trait. Given 17% of genes are pleiotropic (multifunction) in themselves, its not surprising that homosexuality comes in quite a variety of associated, expressed cognitive traits. These traits may be highly desirable in a gender without netting outright homosexuality, but contributed a double dose (from both parents rather than one) may net a positive homosexual identity.

    This kind of theory puts sexual identity in a similar category to other cognitive modes that we would do better not to think of as illness as we’ve learned with homosexuality. Autism, schizophrenia, psychopathy even. Undeniably an entirely and exclusively homosexual population would die out as would a society of scientists like Newton and Cavendish, or artists like Van Gogh and Breughel, and leaders like Churchill and Elizabeth I, but in a tolerant and mutual society, astonishing and transformative use is made of such cognitive outliers.

    What we see is a population graph from pure hetero to pure homosexual that looks a little like an asymmetric dog-bone, with the (much) bigger hump at the hetero end. There may be three broad populations here, if we hypothesise a metero sexual genetic cluster, that confers in men say an enhanced empathy in emotional reading others and a bunch of other skills and exists in 20% of breeding parents, 96% of adults in this illustration. The most populous, hetero-hump with a double negative dose (complete absence) of metero-sex-cluster is 76% of the total population. The homosexual hump (double positive, 20% of 20%) is 4% high, and spread in-between, totaling 20% in all is the metro-sexual disposition. In practice this “bisexual” disposition is more culturally driven in this theory mostly piling on to the hetero end bringing its self-reported numbers up to 90 to 94%. It could be that those few remaining, brave or foolhardy enough to defy convention and opt for bisexual lifestyles spread out between the two strongish poles of behaviour of double negative or positive behaviour with a 20/80 or 60/40, or any other balance of male to female relationship count would be purely an opportunistic function.

    I note among the young these days (in conversations reported or overheard) a wildly higher incidence of bisexual encounters than was evident in my Hippy hay-day. I think if homosexuality is a doubly expressed metro-sexuality we may expect to see a boom in bisexuality as cultural norms made more tolerant of the neurally diverse.

    If metrosexuality is a thing and in men is say an increase in empathy, via mirror neuron up take, then a hyper version of it for the double dose individual may make the sexual experience of those with the identical sexual equipment particularly and directly exciting.

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  • I know we’ve come a long way since Freud’s time. But I was fascinated and surprised when I came upon something Freud said (and I forgot where): sexual attraction between heterosexuals – and I assume that this applies to homosexuals too – cannot, according to him, be explained by “chemical” processes. He concluded that sexual attraction must be “psychological”.

    I’ll try to dig up the passage, but that would be like trying to find a needle in a heap of straw.

    Here’s something else:

    “In all our male homosexual cases the subjects had had a very intense erotic attachment to a female person, as a rule their mother. . . . This attachment was evoked or encouraged by too much tenderness on the part of the mother herself, and further reinforced by the small part played by the father during their childhood. Indeed, it almost seems as though the presence of a strong father would ensure that the son made the correct decision in his choice of object, namely someone of the opposite sex.” (Freud, 1932)

    Could it be that homosexuality is in some cases innate and in some cases not innate (but psychological)? Maybe there is a variety of causes; not just one.

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  • Dan #50
    Dec 4, 2017 at 8:51 pm

    Freud said . . . . .. cannot, according to him, be explained by “chemical” processes. He concluded that sexual attraction must be “psychological”.

    I think this is simply a case of refuted speculative ignorance and personal incredulity, on his part. (“I can’t understand the complex chemistry, THEREFORE it does not exist, and it must be some vague undefined psychological process” – is not a credible argument!)

    All neurological and psychological processes are based on neurotransmitter chemistry, the endocrine system, and the brain circuitry powered by chemistry.

    However, there is now evidence that neurons can contain and release more than one kind of neurotransmitter.

    The neurotransmitter molecules then diffuse across the synaptic cleft where they can bind with receptor sites on the postsynaptic ending to influence the electrical response in the postsynaptic neuron.

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  • Dan,

    That particular quote of Freud’s is (perhaps unwittingly) a wrong headed and dangerous assertion. Like the immensely damaging assertion from later Freudians that Autism is the fault of “Refrigerator Mothers”. The signature of a specific cluster of cognitive skews cannot begin to emerge from a hugely variable set of family circumstances. The specific assertion I know to be wrong in quite a number of instances. The observation is possibly the reversal of cause and effect and a mother protects a high empathy son from the displeasures of the typical Victorian dynastic-ambitioned father. (This lack of rigour in cause and effect is a major complaint of Freudians. They totally lacked alternative causes to moot, because they lacked the detailed complexity of brains and simply chose, too often, to substitute the correlates of effects in their stead. Autistic children are truly difficult to love, hence the observation of Refrigerator Mothers, unleashing the monster of Blame.)

    I think based on my intimate experience that there is entirely a hard-wired core to homosexual identity like there is to heterosexual. There is no choice for another identity. Bisexual though is the more interesting. Sexuality is undiminished, but, cultural disapproval aside, actual gender is less important in a partner than things like beauty/attractiveness, personality.

    Bisexuality is notably common in psychopaths, but may simply reflect what I believe to be the true proportions in society. This arises perhaps because they simply don’t care about societal approval. I suspect my lower visceral empathy leads to a degree of indifference to other’s approval or disapproval

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  • Phil

    Bisexuality is notably common in psychopaths,

    Now you’ve got me wondering how common that is. Any stats? Or, want to take a guess? (which I won’t hold you to of course.)

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  • Phil

    That assertion was based on his clinical experience. He discovered a pattern: identification with the mother combined with a weak or non-present father. I’m confused. Was he lying? Maybe in some case it is hard-wired and in others it isn’t.

    Here’s another interesting hypothesis based on observation concerning a certain category of homosexuals (not all):

    We have discovered, especially clearly in people whose libidinal development has suffered some disturbance […] that in their later choice of love-objects they have taken as a model not their mother but their own selves. They are plainly seeking themselves as a love-object, and are exhibiting a type of object-choice which must be termed ‘narcissistic’. In this observation we have the strongest of the reasons which have led us to adopt the hypothesis of narcissism.

    He also said this:

    It is one of the obvious social injustices that the standard of civilization should demand from everyone the same sexual life-conduct which can be followed without any difficulty by some people, thanks to their organization, but which imposes the heaviest psychical sacrifices on others. (Freud, 1959)

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  • Intolerance and bigotry have not moved on along with them, however.

    Moore, the candidate for Senator in Alabama, is clearly hostile towards gays and lesbians. And he has the “President’s” endorsement.

    He accused “Democrats pushing a liberal agenda” of trying to destroy his campaign.

    “When I say they, who are ‘they?'” he asked.

    “They’re liberals. They don’t hold conservative values. They are the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender who want to change our culture. They are socialists who want to change our way of life and put man above God. . .”

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  • They are plainly seeking themselves as a love-object.

    Again a possible inversion of cause and effect, from a group of gay folk no longer seen in Europe. Once you can easily find others to love this defensive personal preciousness tends to fade. Its interesting that transgender folk now occupy the defensive personal preciousness area. I expect that to fade soon enough.

    On the other,

    Was he lying?

    I explained already

    fathers were often absent and absented themselves from disappointing offspring. Mothers love most those who need it most. The correlates don’t indicate the direction of causation if any. Homosexuality indicates early, even if not consciously apprehended at this time.

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  • Dan #56
    Dec 5, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    Intolerance and bigotry have not moved on along with them, however.

    Moore, the candidate for Senator in Alabama,
    is clearly hostile towards gays and lesbians.
    And he has the “President’s” endorsement.

    True, but then both Moore and the president are stuck in 1869!

    “They’re liberals. They don’t hold conservative values. They are the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender who want to change our culture. They are socialists who want to change our way of life and put man above God. . .”

    Or in brief – Liberals don’t share his bigoted arrogant ignorance!
    Well spotted Sherlock Moore! 🙂

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  • Laurie I had a good reference for sociopathy and bisexuality a few years back. I’ll try and find it.

    From personal experience over the years I’ve known several alpha male types in business with trophy wives, who, unbuttoned by drink, were very happy, in company, to talk about fucking men in some kind of power play.

    I don’t have a reliable number of sociopaths who might be described by the term gender fluid or bisexual, but I would be unsurprised by it being at least 10%.

    This confirms my expectation that bisexuality will be increasingly reported. But it is a mostly reviled state perhaps in yielding the least predictability of actual group behaviours.

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  • Dan #59
    Dec 5, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    America “the beautiful” in the hands of a monster.
    He’s destroying everything he can.

    . . . . and escalating problems world wide with his big mouth and diplomatic incompetence!

    Jerusalem: Turkey warns Trump against crossing ‘red line’

    Turkey’s president has warned it could sever ties with Israel if the US recognises Jerusalem as its capital.

    Recep Tayyip Erdogan said such a move would cross a “red line” for Muslims.

    Donald Trump called Middle Eastern leaders on Tuesday amid growing warnings against taking the step.

    Reports say the president will dramatically shift the US position on the status of Jerusalem this week. Its fate is one of the thorniest issues between Israel and the Palestinians.

    Israel has always regarded it as its capital city, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

    If Washington recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, it would be the first country to do so since the foundation of the state in 1948.

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  • 61

    Recep Tayyip Erdogan said such a move would cross a “red line” for Muslims.

    Hold onto your hats. This is bad. Is there a single thing this complete moron has done that isn’t moving us toward domestic and international catastrophe? He’s on the wrong side of every single issue. I’ve been worried this whole time about Trump doing things that are impossible to reverse and correct. Once the national parks are loaded with oil wells it’ll be too late to fix it. When North Korea bombs South Korea and kills innocent people it’ll be too late to fix that. When the Middle East blows up just because Wonder Boy Kushner wants to be the beloved of Zionists everywhere, it’ll be too late to fix it! Kushner fancies himself to be the long lost messiah. We will all suffer for his disgusting delusions. We are in free fall here. Where are the anarchists when we need them the most??!!

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  • Phil

    I don’t have a reliable number of sociopaths who might be described by the term gender fluid or bisexual, but I would be unsurprised by it being at least 10%.

    Right. Nailing that number would be a methodological nightmare. Care to speculate on the male/female divide on that? Also extremely difficult to know. The appearance is that females have much more freedom for fluidity than males but I can’t get a true picture of it.

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  • The latest data shows females (not psychopaths) netting 17% bisexual experience of some sort versus 2% by men. (I suspect cultural shame greatly suppresses this latter.)

    I have no feel for the numbers of psychopath women. I’ve not really met any.

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  • @ Laurie 63

    Absolutely right.

    There have been a number of protests about the tax bill. At least that’s something. But it’s looking grim. Mailer once said that America is a volcanic nation. (Forgot exactly how he put it.) He meant that in a good sense. He was explaining – and this was during the cold war – that the former Soviet Union would never try to take us over; they know that we are a volcanic people. We could never be taken over. But right now I am having some doubts. You asked where the anarchists are. Where is that “volcanic” activity when we need it? I only see a little smoke. We are, as I said, under attack. It is almost as bad as being taken over by a foreign government.

    Hi, Vicki.

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  • Phil

    I have no feel for the numbers of psychopath women. I’ve not really met any.

    Heh. I have. A client of mine some years back. I envied her career that’s for sure. She is a force. I don’t know much about her sexual behavior except for the description her mother gave me – “promiscuous and cruel. Sneaky and calculating”. Please don’t ask me to inquire further about her preferences. I’m afraid of her. Like I said above – methodological nightmare. I agree about the 2%. Way, way under what I expect.

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  • LaurieB #63
    Dec 5, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    Hold onto your hats.
    This is bad. Is there a single thing this complete moron has done
    that isn’t moving us toward domestic and international catastrophe?
    He’s on the wrong side of every single issue.

    Trump’s Jerusalem calls spark warnings from Arab leaders

    Arab leaders have warned US President Donald Trump that moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem could have dangerous repercussions.

    Mr Trump phoned several regional leaders on Tuesday to tell them he intended to move it from Tel Aviv.

    Saudi Arabia’s King Salman told the US leader that any such move would provoke Muslims around the world.

    The calls came amid speculation that Mr Trump could recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday.

    He is scheduled to deliver remarks and White House
    spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said he was “pretty solid” in his thinking on the issue.

    “Pretty solid”?

    I think “THICK AS A BRICK”, is the terminology most informed people would use!

    The city’s fate is one of the thorniest issues between Israel and the Palestinians.

    If Washington recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, it would be the first country to do so since the foundation of the state in 1948.

    King Salman told Mr Trump that the relocation of the embassy or recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “would constitute a flagrant provocation of Muslims, all over the world”, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

    Meanwhile, US government employees and their families have been barred from personal travel in Jerusalem’s Old City and the West Bank for security reasons ahead of planned protests.

    In other reaction from leaders who spoke to Mr Trump:

    Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas "warned of
    the dangerous consequences such a decision
    would have to the peace process and to the peace,
    security and stability of the region and of the world"

    Jordan's King Abdullah said the decision would
    "undermine efforts to resume the peace process"
    and provoke Muslims.
    Jordan acts as custodian of the Islamic sites in Jerusalem

    Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi urged Mr Trump
    "not to complicate the situation in the region"

    Israel has always regarded Jerusalem as its capital city, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

    Reports suggest Mr Trump will sign a waiver to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv for six more months, while committing to a move.

    The White House only said the president discussed potential decisions regarding Jerusalem with all the Middle East leaders he spoke to on Tuesday, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
    Israel preparing for violence

    Earlier, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned his country could sever ties with Israel if the US recognised Jerusalem as its capital.

    Ismail Haniya, the chief of the Islamist Hamas group that runs Gaza, said a shift of the embassy and recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital would cross “every red line”.

    France, the European Union and the Arab League have also spoken out to express concern.

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  • Trump’s Jerusalem call is a nightmare.

    I wonder, however, if it may start to form the nucleus of a global move against the Dangerous Stupid?

    It puts so many people on the same side against him. Far from setting a Middle East position in stone it may hitch an untenable position to a President, who’s fall, when it comes, may be mighty, pulling over much behind him.

    His joining of the distasteful dots, highlights pretty reliably all that has to go.

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  • Phil

    I wonder, however, if it may start to form the nucleus of a global move against the Dangerous Stupid?

    If this latest declaration doesn’t start the global move then what will? The Dangerous Stupid tosses a match onto the powder keg and we all go up in smoke. What could be next? Reinstatement of slavery? Wouldn’t put it past him.

    The squabbles between Hezbollah, ISIS, Hamas, Al Qaeda and every other fundamentalist group may now be slipping down the priority list as the Dangerous Stupid rises to top position. You know how a threat from the outside has an amazing unification effect.

    “All that has to go” is becoming crystal clear day by day.

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  • sam h #44
    Dec 4, 2017 at 9:51 am

    So, unless there is some unknown/underlying mechanism, by which some genes are switched on or off. I cannot accept the proposed explanation.

    @ #45 – There are genes called HOX genes which switch on and off other genes.

    The HOX genes switch on and off whole sequences of reactions in developing embryos and foetuses at appropriate times and stages. (ie. start growing limbs – stop growing limbs) There are whole loads of unfortunate cases (Thalidomide) where medications taken by mothers during pregnancy, have caused deformities by interfering with these switching processes.

    The underlying mechanism, was only unknown to you – and not to science, so the question arises:
    “Can you accept the explanation, after the information and the links to scientific articles have been provided?”

    Should wish to look into the matter further, it may be better to continue the discussion on this other thread – in order to keep it separate from unrelated issues being discussed here.

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  • sam h #40
    Dec 4, 2017 at 1:28 am
    The only logical conclusion, one could arrive at based on the preceding logic, is that, there is no genetic basis for homosexuality, there can’t be.

    I think you might be making the assumption that there is a single gene that codes for homosexuality, that it does only that one thing, if you have the gene you are gay and if you don’t you aren’t and as that gene shouldn’t get passed on because gay people don’t reproduce then it ought to have died out.

    However things are nothing like so simple. It may well be that a gene that has an advantageous effect in a woman by perhaps making her more attractive to men and thus more likely to reproduce has a disadvantageous effect in men by making them homosexual but nonetheless still gets passed on down the generations because overall it is beneficial.

    It could also be that many genes are involved in homosexuality and only a certain rare combination causes it but the genes involved are needed for other things and so get passed on anyway by people who don’t have the rare combination of them.

    The fact is that genes that code for bad things don’t necessarily die out and they survive despite not conferring any evolutionary advantage. Homosexuality might well have no evolutionary advantage despite some theories like the caring uncle one being postulated but that doesn’t mean it can’t be genetically based and inherited.

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  • Arkrid Sandwich #78
    Dec 6, 2017 at 7:14 am

    I think you might be making the assumption that there is a single gene that codes for homosexuality, that it does only that one thing,

    While you are correct about complex combinations of genes determining expressed characteristics, even at the basic single gene level of understanding of genetics, there are expressed dominant genes, and repressed recessive genes – as explained by Gregor Mendel in the 1800s!

    If a gardener crossed one tall plant to itself or to another tall plant, collected the resultant seeds some three months later, planted them, and observed the height of the progeny, he would observe that all would be tall. Likewise, only short plants would result from a cross between true‑breeding short peas.

    However, when Mendel crossed tall plants to short plants, collected the seeds, and planted them, all the offspring were just as tall, on average, as their tall parents.
    This led Mendel to the conclusion that the tall characteristic was dominant, and the short recessive.

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  • Just a heads up for anyone who wants to get a better understanding of genetics and evolution I can recommend the Duke University “Coursera” courses which you can do for free. I took this one a couple of years ago although I confess I didn’t finish it due to time constraints but I knew a good bit of it anyway.

    This will give you a solid grounding in how genetic traits are passed on, including dominant and recessive genes, calculating the probability of a trait manifesting, how the fact that we inherit two copies of each chromosome, one from each parent, affects how we end up looking and behaving, genetic mutation, sexual selection, the chromosome 23 issue of XY or XX determining whether we are male or female and how purely X or purely Y genes are inherited, speciation. Much other stuff. It’s no walk in the park though, you’ll have to do some serious thinking.

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  • I’m going to add something to my post #78 which might help explain to Sam how genetic traits which confer no evolutionary advantage still get passed on. I’ll choose the issue of red green colour blindness which is of particular interest to me because I have it. We all inherit two copies of each of the 23 chromosomes we have, one from each parent, because both a sperm and an egg only have one copy of each and it takes two of each to make a complete DNA structure. In 22 of the 23 chromosomes the gene structures are the same but in the 23rd there is an X option and a Y option. Women have two X variants and men have one X and one Y. So your sex is determined by whether the sperm you came from had an X or a Y variant (women can obviously only pass on one of the two X variants they possess.

    RG colour blindness is caused by a defect in one of the genes in the X chromosome. If you are male that chromosome can only have come from your mother (the Y chromosome must have come from your father). If you are female then you get one X from your mother and the other X from your father.

    So here’s the dealio. The “good” version of the X gene is dominant so even if a woman inherits one bad X from either parent the good X will still give her normal vision. However a man only has one X chromosome so if he gets one with a bad RG gene from his mother he’ll be colour blind because there is no second good X to over ride it. For a woman to be RG colour blind she needs two bad X’s, one from each parent. That means by definition her father must have been colour blind too and her mother was either colour blind herself (two bad X’s) or at least a carrier (one bad X). So being colour blind is far less common in females than males.

    Being RG colour blind is clearly a bad thing. You can’t spot ripe fruit properly or see predators as well as someone with normal vision. However the gene doesn’t die out because it rarely affects women who keep passing it on down. It is perfectly possible that the homosexuality gene (or combination of genes), if that actually exists, also confers no evolutionary advantage but persists in the same way.

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  • Two senior White House staff admit that Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has derailed the peace process.

    President Donald Trump’s decision Wednesday to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital could temporarily derail the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, two senior White House officials acknowledged after Trump’s speech.
    The question now for those officials: For how long?
    “We’re prepared for derailment — temporary, I hope. Pretty sure it will be temporary,” said a senior White House official, who acknowledged that the President’s peace team has not spoken with furious Palestinian officials since the Trump’s announcement.

    Of course president dumbass doesn’t care about the damage he does as long as he gets to be photographed signing things and pretending to be decisive. The problem with being a malignant narcissist though is that he needs to change something even if was fine to begin with so he can say he made it right. Leaving anything status quo means that someone else got something right and he couldn’t make it better. I have little doubt he’d just as happily have changed the capital from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv if that’s the position he’d inherited.

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  • Well a new strategy has just become clear from Trump Junior. From now on every Trump family member will have a lawyer present 24/7 so that they can try and claim every conversation is protected by attorney/client privilege.

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  • Endorsed by Trump. Supported by many Republicans. He will win. In addition to being a sex offender, Moore is an ignorant, sick bigot. Horrifying. The Republican party is exposing its true character, is becoming more and more what it truly is. The veil is being lifted.

    “Homosexual behavior is a ground for divorce, an act of sexual misconduct punishable as a crime in Alabama, a crime against nature, an inherent evil, and an act so heinous that it defies one’s ability to describe it.” – Moore, 2002 concurring opinion

    “There is no such thing as evolution,” he told The Washington Post this month. “That we came from a snake? No, I don’t believe that.”

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  • Dan #84
    Dec 8, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    “There is no such thing as evolution,”
    he told The Washington Post this month.
    “That we came from a snake? No, I don’t believe that.”

    A god-delusion in denial????

    An ignoramus with a disabled neocortex, minimal learning abilities, and minimal capacity for abstract thought, with his god delusion crying out denying its evolved existence, from its nest within his primaeval reptilian and limbic brain areas! 🙂

    The main structures of the limbic brain are the hippocampus, the amygdala, and the hypothalamus. The limbic brain is the seat of the value judgments that we make, often unconsciously, that exert such a strong influence on our behaviour.

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  • From and CNN today.

    Tax Bill May Allow Dark Money Political Donations to Become Tax Deductible

    After the Citizens United decision, millionaires and billionaires were free to spend as much money as they wanted to on political campaigns. If someone like Sheldon Adelson decided to spend $100 million helping Republican candidates, that was up to him. Now imagine if that donation were tax deductible. The new tax bill might just allow for that, including donations of “dark money,” which cannot be traced to the donor.

    The issue began with the repeal of the Johnson amendment, which forbids churches and other nonprofits from supporting or opposing candidates for office. But negotiators from the House and Senate are considering changing the language to allow political donations, even secret ones, to be tax deductible.

    Since the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision, an estimated $800 million in dark money has been funneled through 501(c)4 groups, which can accept unlimited anonymous donations but which are not tax deductible. The bill may allow donations to flow through 501(c)3 groups now, and these donations are tax deductible. Previously, 501(c)3 groups were religious, educational, charitable, scientific, or other groups working for the public good, but were not political. If the proposed change goes through, it will completely change the nature of these nonprofits and inject politics into groups that previous stayed above the fray. Making political contributions tax deductible would be Citizens United on steroids and change American politics enormously, giving millionaires and billionaires even more clout than they already have. (V)

    While people’s attention is focused on crap like whether a man’s hand on your waist constitutes groping this is what is happening behind the scenes. Trump is going all out to make the swamp as deep as possible so that the only people with a voice in politics will be the mega rich. He’s already stacked his cabinet and top jobs with mega rich, the entire Republican party is funded by the mega rich and soon if they get their way those donations will become tax deductible so the donors can afford to pump even more money into the corrupt system.

    It’s an amazing con job that could only be done in a country where the electorate is so dumb they still keep voting for the party that’s actually trying to crush them. Take away their healthcare, they just carry right on voting for you, raise their taxes, remove their protections for clean air and water, they just carry right on voting for you. As long as you throw in the right trigger words every now and then like muslims, terrorists, black gang violence, keep them low information and nicely scared, oh and tell them it’s what Jesus would have wanted, yep, they keep right on voting for you.

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  • I wonder when the ceremonial handing over the White House keys to the
    Koch Brother’s will happen?

    I predict some ugly in-fighting between the Kochs and the Mercers, who will be helped by Bannon.

    The hundreds of millions of Americans will be collateral damage, of course.

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  • Yes, Arkrid. The democratic senators (like strident airhead Gillibrand and showboating Harris… Sorry I don’t like them) had no trouble going after Franken for basically nothing, in my view, and after he has helped women; and yet they have been strangely silent in the face of Trump’s abominations. Maybe a tweet here and there, and maybe a meaningless town hall photo op, but that’s it, as far as I can see.

    Protecting Minnesota Women From Violence: The bipartisan Violence Against Women Act enacted in 2013
    includes two provisions Sen. Franken authored to help protect victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
    The first would make it unlawful to evict a woman from federally supported housing just because she is a
    victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and the second ensures that survivors
    of sexual assault are never forced to pay for their own rape kits.

    This is what Trump has done!

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  • Found and retrieved, Dan. But in the moderator system we see any spammed comments before we see any comments alerting them to us, so there’s no need (or point!) to post a comment about it if it happens again.

    The mods

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  • Okay, mods. I won’t do that again.

    Obama finally speaks out.

    The normally tight-lipped former president was describing the importance of protecting democracy at a question and answer session in Chicago. Crain’s Chicago Business reported Obama told the Economic Club: ‘We have to tend to this garden of democracy or else things could fall apart quickly. ‘That’s what happened in Germany in the 1930s, which despite the democracy of the Weimar Republic and centuries of high-level cultural and scientific achievements, Adolph Hitler rose to dominate.

    Hitler was elected into power in 1933 and then quickly began dismantling democratic institutions to ensure he could rule as a dictator until his death in 1945. Though Obama did not mention Trump by name it has been widely interpreted in American media as a dig at Trump’s autocratic style and America First agenda. Fox News and various other right wing news outlets criticised the comments as did Trump supporters on social media.

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  • Vicki

    I predict some ugly in-fighting between the Kochs and the Mercers, who will be helped by Bannon.

    Pence is a Koch kreature by all accounts. Big money is to be splashed out. Nearly $1bn is already earmarked for the next campaign, I understand. A lot of personal fortunes will be made in the struggle.

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  • Some evidence to back up my claim that Ms. Gillibrand is an “airhead.” There are far worse people than her, and I’d take her over almost any Republican. But I don’t like her. She goes after Franken because she can, and turns a blind eye to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. – And that is real oppression and suffering that we’re talking about.

    “My record makes it clear that I am one of the strongest and most consistent supporters of Israel in the Senate. Israel is one of the most vibrant democracies in the world. In my visits to Israel, I traveled to Sderot, a town where Israelis fear that rockets from Gaza could hit their homes – or worse, the local kindergarten, where they set up beds in a local bunker in case of rocket fire during nap time. I visited an Iron Dome battery, which the United States and Israel are building together to protect Israelis from these very rockets. Every year, I lead the effort to make sure joint U.S.-Israeli missile defense programs – Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and the Arrow Programs – are fully funded in the federal budget, so that Israel’s government can better protect its citizens from threats near and far.”

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  • Anyone on Twitter might be interested to check out the #RaptureAnxiety hashtag that’s taken off there today.

    Interesting that many of those affected are directly making the connection between the moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem and an intensification of their Rapture anxiety. Actually, not even just the moving of the embassy, but Trump and his cohort more generally.

    That won’t come as news to many of us, I guess. But the posts there make the cruelty and danger of that bonkers theology crystal clear.

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  • Speaking of Twitter…

    Far-right trolls are manipulating Twitter into silencing journalists and Trump critics

    Twitter is getting played.

    In October, a notorious right-wing troll quietly launched an “operation” aimed at suspending progressive voices from Twitter. The plan was to use the platform’s mechanisms for reporting abuse in order to silence those he perceived as attempting to censor right-wing voices. With Twitter’s cooperation, and by taking out-of-context tweets that could have been made in sarcasm, the project has now become another successful entry in the playbook online trolls are using to silence progressives.

    Terrible times we’re living in.

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  • Marco #96
    Dec 9, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    Interesting that many of those affected
    are directly making the connection
    between the moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem
    and an intensification of their Rapture anxiety.

    This sort of faith-based popularism, does seem to come around in cyclical waves, with charismatic deluded air-heads as leaders – aided and abetted by theocratic charlatans!
    Of course uneducated faith-schooled Americans, are totally unaware of the recorded history of such matters!

    The peasant population had been afflicted by drought, famine, and disease for many years before 1096, and some of them seem to have envisioned the crusade as an escape from these hardships.
    Spurring them on had been a number of meteorological occurrences beginning in 1095 that seemed to be a divine blessing for the movement: a meteor shower, aurorae, a lunar eclipse, and a comet, among other events.
    An outbreak of ergotism had also occurred just before the Council of Clermont. Millenarianism, the belief that the end of the world was imminent, popular in the early 11th century, experienced a resurgence in popularity.

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  • Fascinating stuff from today.

    Donald Trump Needs a Brain Test

    Ok, you probably already knew that. But now someone with the appropriate credentials is saying it openly. He’s Ford Vox, M.D., an Atlanta neurologist who has written extensively about brain injury. He groups what is publicly known into three categories:

    Language and executive dysfunction: Vox observes that “the president’s speech patterns are increasingly repetitive, fragmented, devoid of content, and restricted in vocabulary.” Repeated, excessive use of words like “fantastic” and “terrific” might make for good rallies, but they are also signs of reduced fluency. Interview transcripts are particularly instructive in this regard, as they lack the non-verbal cues that elide over some of the President’s shaky communication skills. When you read those transcripts, such as this one from the Wall Street Journal, significant portions are barely comprehensible.

    Dysfunction of social cognition and behavior: Trump shows little concern for the thoughts and feelings of others (more below), which could be a product of personality and privilege, but could also be a sign of cognitive decline. His impulsivity and lack of inhibition is particularly concerning; often, when someone who can’t stop themselves from saying or doing the wrong thing, it is because they are really and truly unable to stop themselves from saying or doing the wrong thing. In many such individuals, the frontal lobe of the brain has deteriorated significantly. As Vox points out, “Such frontal impairment often does not stop at troublesome communication, but has physical manifestations such as childlike facial expressions and physical restlessness, both features we see in Trump.”

    Dysfunction in memory, attention and concentration: Trump could just be a liar (again, more below) that is very good at convincing himself of his own falsehoods. But his dishonesty could also be a sign that he struggles to keep things straight, and he can’t actually remember what is true and what is not. His recent return to Obama birther claims and his newly-discovered theory that the pu**ygate tape is a forgery are particularly instructive.

    Vox also spends much of his article grappling with the ethics of this kind of armchair diagnosis, and ultimately concludes that remaining silent is more problematic than saying something. He also makes clear that he is not saying that Trump does have a debilitating brain injury or disease, merely that it is more likely than not, and the possibility is certainly compelling enough that it’s time to look into the matter.

    Though Vox does not specifically point them out, there are really two distinct reasons that Trump should heed the doctor’s advice. The first is that if he really is impaired, he’s in a job that is too important to be done by someone not in full command of their faculties. The second is that even if he is not impaired, the perception that he might be will make it much more difficult for him to do his job. Foreign leaders and the American public both need to have confidence that the President is playing with a full deck. Trump has promised to undergo a full physical in January, as is customary for presidents. If that happens, then it will be an opportunity to conduct the necessary neurological tests and to answer these questions. And if no neurological tests are conducted, or if those results are not released, then there are going to be a lot of questions as to why. (Z)

    Donald Trump Is a Liar

    Ok, you probably already knew that, too. But Bella DePaulo is a social scientist who has studied lying extensively, producing several books on the subject, like The Hows and Whys of Lies and Behind the Door of Deceit: Understanding the Biggest Liars in Our Lives. She has written a very interesting op-ed for the Washington Post in which she declares that she’s never seen a liar anything like Donald Trump in her 20 years of studying the subject.

    DePaulo’s observation applies to both the quantity and the quality of Trump’s lies. The quantity is well known; in his first year in office Trump has averaged about six lies a day, though recently that number has been closer to nine. And those are just his public lies; only his staff knows what happens when the cameras are off and the phone with Twitter is in the pocket. DePaulo says this is more lying than she’s ever seen from anyone, in all the folks she’s studied.

    What is really, unusual, however, is the quality of the lies. Generally speaking, people tend to tell self-serving lies (“I wasn’t speeding, officer!”) about half the time, and they tend to tell kind lies, often called “little white lies,” about a quarter of the time (“That shirt looks very nice on you!”) That is a ratio of about 2 to 1. In Trump’s case, however, he tends to tell self-serving lies about two-thirds of the time, and he tells kind lies about 10% of the time. That’s a ratio of 6.5 to 1, which is the worst that DePaulo has ever seen. Even more unusual, however, is that most people are loath to tell cruel or mean lies (“Your wife is cheating on you!”); those tend to constitute only 1-2% of all lies for the average person. Not for Donald Trump, however, where fully 50% of his lies are meant to inflict harm on a person or group. Either he really does have a brain problem (see above), or else we now have statistical evidence that he’s an unusually nasty person, or both. (Z)

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  • Its an interesting hypothesis, Arkrid, but I don’t think its been tested anywhere near enough with counter hypotheses.

    He may have required pre-sight of questions in the earlier interviews and been allowed them because of his lower status.

    He may be struggling with intense coaching and being more a mouthpiece. Flow comes from intense internal rehearsal of more complex, owned ideas. (Hitchens rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed.)

    For all the calm act (he knows how to act) he may be highly stressed, which itself inhibits flow.

    This is an accusation that mustn’t fall flat. And all the counter hypotheses need to be preemptively shut down.

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  • Arkrid Sandwich #99
    Dec 10, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    His impulsivity and lack of inhibition is particularly concerning;
    often, when someone who can’t stop themselves from saying or doing the wrong thing,
    it is because they are really and truly unable to stop themselves from saying or doing the wrong thing.
    In many such individuals, the frontal lobe of the brain has deteriorated significantly.
    As Vox points out, “Such frontal impairment often does not stop at troublesome communication,
    but has physical manifestations such as childlike facial expressions and physical restlessness, both features we see in Trump.”

    That is interesting in the context of the evolved lobes of human brains and their respective functions!

    Our reptilian brain includes the main structures found in a reptile’s brain: the brainstem and the cerebellum. The reptilian brain is reliable but tends to be somewhat rigid and compulsive.

    The limbic brain emerged in the first mammals.
    It can record memories of behaviours that produced agreeable and disagreeable experiences, so it is responsible for what are called emotions in human beings.
    The main structures of the limbic brain are the hippocampus, the amygdala, and the hypothalamus.
    The limbic brain is the seat of the value judgments that we make, often unconsciously, that exert such a strong influence on our behaviour.

    Frontal lobe impairments would likely result in a fall back on to the more primitive back-up systems, which in turn would chime with the thinking of those whose development of rational thinking has been impaired and inhibited by indoctrination in the “values” of irrational thinking and spoon-fed irrational beliefs!

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  • Arkrid, anyone

    The Fox people and others are really going after Mueller, calling him biased and unAmerican. Could his investigation really be derailed by such propaganda if it affects public opinion in a major way? If Mueller is fired that would be the beginning of the end. Trump will then be in effect above the law…

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    The US ambassador to Britain says he expects Donald Trump to visit the UK in the new year despite his recent Twitter row with Theresa May.

    Mrs May had said Mr Trump was “wrong” to share videos posted by the far-right group Britain First, prompting an online backlash from the US president.

    She also said he was wrong about many other things including his endorsement of Jerusalem as THE Israeli capital!

    Woody Johnson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the disagreement was “probably misinterpreted”.

    Mr Johnson said Mr Trump’s relationship with the UK was still “very very good”.

    Which shows that the ambassador is a stooge spokesman or a Trumpist delusional! Woody by name and woody by nature??

    Former NFL tycoon Mr Johnson – who has known Mr Trump for 35 years – said he was “familiar with these kinds of emotions people have” from his background in sport.

    Ah! An emotional Trump appointed wish-thinking ambassador!!
    Enough said! 🙂

    The relationship between much of America and the UK is very good!
    The relationship of Trump with the UK (and most of the educated civilised world) is abysmal!

    But Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said the visit would be “massively opposed in Britain” and a full state visit should be “absolutely off limits”.

    Sir Vince told the BBC Mr Trump had been “openly abusing and insulting our own prime minister.”

    Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, opposes the visit and said British people deserved a special relationship that works “both ways”.

    “By sharing and promoting videos by Britain First he’s undermined our democratic process and put at risk people in our communities,” she told Radio 4.

    “He didn’t listen to our own prime minister who said this is not acceptable.”

    Put simply, Most British people are not going to put up with Trump turning up in our country and spouting fascist extremist nonsense, anti-science fantasies, racist or bigoted hatred, muck-stirring divisive drivel, or false allegations about honest reporting!

    If he is allowed to do so, he can expect to be pilloried with derision in response!

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  • Q for Alan, Phil, anyone who is is knowledgeable in the area of neuroscience:

    Is it accurate to say that words are somehow “stored” in the brain? How is it possible that we know what a word means after we have learned it and then hear or read the word? For example, the word “stop”. How am I able to know what that means? Is the definition stored in the brain?

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  • Dan #104
    Dec 12, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    Is it accurate to say that words are somehow “stored” in the brain?

    I’m no expert, but clearly words related to sounds, text, images, smells, sensations etc. are remembered, with varying degrees of accuracy.

    Words (especially nouns), are essentially labels.
    What particular understanding or baggage we attach to them, varies according to individuals and levels of maturity, development, experience, and education.

    In terms of memory or recall, what particular word will be recalled depends on the frequency, recency, and intensity of association with the learning process and the keying stimulus.

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  • Dan.

    Copies of some words exist in most heads. They are encoded in brain states which are physical objects, though we don’t know what the physical disposition might be nor the extent over neurons that may be required to encompass all that defines for a person that word. Much more information than exists in most dictionaries goes into the sum total of its personal definition, much semantic, much biographical. Further its encoding is not located by anything like a sequenced index, but like all such knowledge it is located via very many routes, links with words that auto index each other. Hebbing learning, cells that fire together wire together, works to note correlations and use those to help navigate future experience.

    Leaving grammar aside, the first words are found and defined ostensively. Apple… points. Mummy… points. Correlations work easily but so too meta-correlations. Categories are the natural byproduct of correlations between correlations. “Animal” correlates apparently to Cat/Mimi and Dog/Bertie.

    A lot of fragmentary correlations exist before a reliable, good enough word and definition are produced. My four year old son picked up my scalpel whilst I was distracted and cut his finger. Looking at the blood he observed, “Shark!” My novelist friend Clive started young, writing fantasies at the age of twelve. Nipping in to a stationary shop with him he declared he was going to buy “a realm of paper.” Sharp things draw blood, like sharks. Reams of paper for Clive were where Realms resided. We are inspired and poetic detectives of meaning.

    Alan is entirely correct to invoke Bayesian probabilities in the slow refinement of correlations.

    Not too many words are needed (a thousand or so) to be able to get to all the others, first by a simple thesaurus type grouping then further teasing these apart with further semantic nuancing, very often providing cultural context.

    Abstract concepts can exist because our metaphorical brains (wildly crosswired before 18 months) allow correlations between bodily states and how they feel, and abstractions. Up and forward are “good” etc., etc..

    Having an interest in etymology and shunning American spellings, designed to hide word origins behind phonetics, words can become self decoding. Knowing Latin and Greek can triple your English vocabulary, very speedily.

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  • Not Hebbing but Hebbian

    Not Stationary Shop (most shops are!), but a shop that stocks stationery. (A Stationer was indeed a non itinerant vendor of writing goods. In the middle ages these folk usually travelled around. Being fixed like a food vendor was a notable innovation…)

    I am a little sad on this kind of stuff. At twelve my favourite night time read was a big two volume Oxford English dictionary. Like Latin, dictionaries were my route out of stammering, giving me alternate words to ones that caused problems.

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  • Alan.

    Trump turning up in our country… If he is allowed to do so, he can expect to be pilloried with derision in response!

    This will bring me onto the streets of London. This kind of moral solidarity is the very best of groupism, something I normally shun.

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  • Mods, I have a spam-binned post on Roy Moore’s delicious defeat. Could you restore it to “Roy Moore: The eyes of the world are on Alabama election” thread rather than here?

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  • Phil,

    My insufferable Wittgenstein-obsessed friend insists that the meaning of words are not “stored” in the brain, and that neuroscientists don’t think they are either anymore. I say they have to be in some way; how else could we know that Stop means Stop? Obviously it isn’t just context. “Storage:” is a metaphor; words’s definitions are not stored in the brain like products on a shelf; but there has to be a form of storage. You read or hear a lecture with thousands of concepts being used, and they are all assimilated and more or less understood. What does that imply? How is what is learned retained and saved, if you will, for those moments when we have to draw from our knowledge in order to understand? Can you prove that words, their meanings, that is, are in some form or fashion, stored in the brain?


    Good job, Alabama.

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  • Yay and a government defeat over a brexit amendment on parliament having a final say. Of course they should.

    This may herald a return of courage to our elected representatives. All the decent folk I know who voted for brexit have changed their minds. They realise they were conned and lied to.

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  • Dan,

    Alabama is great. It appears like a return of courage to the left. About effing time. A rather good vote in the Commons a few minutes ago, looking like a return of some spine over here too. The Shiraz is open.

    My insufferable Wittgenstein-obsessed friend insists that the meaning of words are not “stored” in the brain, and that neuroscientists don’t think they are either anymore.

    Arrant nonsense. Words are cultural constructs that must be shared if they are to work. And they are shared with reasonable (but not absolute) precision. A copy, more or less, is in each head.

    What neuroscientists? Is someone misunderstanding Chomsky? W? He needs to prove only their non absolute nature, their imperfect congruence with reality. It serves his purpose better that non-congruent copies reside in each head.

    What on earth is a viable alternative hypothesis?

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  • Exactly, Phil. What is the alternative? Do we learn words anew each time we hear them uttered or come across them in written form? That’s crazy.

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  • @ Roy Moore thread –
    Dan #17 – Dec 13, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    Bannon, an indefatigable fascist revolutionary,
    will, along with other degenerates like him, continue to do what he’s been doing,
    will continue to work behind the scenes,
    run Breitbart, disseminate lies, conspiracies, and propaganda,
    and promote reactionaries, theocrats, kleptocrats and plutocrats.

    Hi Dan! It does seem that some Repubs are gunning for Bannon.
    (This link and a similar associated comment have disappeared from the Roy Moore thread, so I am posting it here, as requested by the mods.)

    It seems there is dissent and in-fighting in the Republican ranks, now that the wheels are coming off their ultra right bandwagon!

    Steve Bannon: Republican knives out for ex-Trump aide

    Republicans are lashing out at former White House strategist Steve Bannon after the party’s stunning election loss in Alabama.

    A New York congressman urged the party to “dump” Mr Bannon, saying: “His act is tired, inane and morally vacuous.”

    The Breitbart News chief is blamed for egging on President Donald Trump to back Roy Moore, who lost on Tuesday.

    But Mr Trump seems unwilling to drop Mr Bannon, speaking to him for 15 minutes on Tuesday, the New York Times said.

    Analysts say the president is a reactive politician who relies increasingly on the eyes and ears of allies such as Mr Bannon.

    The former strategist vowed in October to challenge “every Republican incumbent”.

    He was a passionate supporter of Mr Moore, an ultra-conservative former judge who crashed to defeat in Republicans’ first loss in Alabama in 25 years.

    But despite all the criticism, Mr Bannon is defiant.

    An unnamed source close to him told Bloomberg: “This doesn’t stop Steve’s war against the establishment.

    “All it does is pour gasoline on top of it.”

    New York Representative Pete King launched a highly personal attack on Mr Bannon on Wednesday morning.

    The Republican congressman tweeted: “After Alabama disaster GOP [the Republican party] must do right thing and DUMP Steve Bannon.”

    He added: “If we are to Make America Great Again for all Americans, Bannon must go! And go NOW!!”

    The congressman also attacked Mr Bannon’s “weird alt-right views”, which he said did not represent conservative values.

    He added that he blames the election loss in Alabama on voters’ “revulsion” towards Mr Bannon.

    Steve Law, president of the Senate Leadership Fund, a political group aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, piled in, too.

    “Not only did Steve Bannon cost us a critical Senate seat in one of the most Republican states in the country, but he also dragged the president of the United States into his fiasco,” he said in a statement.

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  • I see that this link and its comment have also disappeared from the
    “Mormon Church Threatens Same-Sex Couples” thread, along with other follow-on story links related to the OP topics but not necessarily directly to the OP articles.

    A former leader of a breakaway polygamous Mormon sect has been given a nearly five-year sentence for fraud and fleeing house arrest in Utah.

    Lyle Jeffs admitted to orchestrating what authorities have called the nation’s largest scheme to defraud the federal food benefits programme.

    He was arrested in June after nearly a year on the run and has pleaded guilty.

    His brother and former Mormon leader Warren Jeffs was jailed in 2011 on child sexual assault charges.

    Warren Jeffs, the former president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), was found guilty of forcing two underage girls into “spiritual marriage” and fathering a child with one of them when she was 15.

    Prosecutors say the FLDS leadership took their followers’ food stamp benefit cards and sold them in order to pay for cars and other luxuries.

    According to court documents, “many families suffered extreme hunger, malnutrition and related health issues” after being forced to hand over their benefits to Mr Jeffs.

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  • Alan4discussion #118
    Dec 14, 2017 at 5:10 am
    Steve Law, president of the Senate Leadership Fund, a political group aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, piled in, too.
    “Not only did Steve Bannon cost us a critical Senate seat in one of the most Republican states in the country, but he also dragged the president of the United States into his fiasco,” he said in a statement.

    It sure does take a lot to drag Trump into fiascos because of course his razor sharp instincts normally save him from any of that. Oh, wait, my bad, I forgot. Everything Trump touches turns into a fiasco. That’s what I meant to say. Trump brought the seat into contention in the first place by making the evil elf Sessions Attorney General. Then he endorsed Jeff Flake and was so humiliated when he lost he deleted all his tweets endorsing him. Then he got involved with Moore after everyone advised him to stay out of it resulting in large numbers of the voters saying they voted for Jones as a repudiation of Trump.

    So thanks Donny for gifting Dems another senate seat. Oh btw, how’s that “we’re going to win so much you’ll be tired of winning” thing that you bragged about going for you just now?

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  • phil rimmer #115
    Dec 13, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    A rather good vote in the Commons a few minutes ago, looking like a return of some spine over here too.

    I see that the Daily Heil has run a headline, and individual photos, vilifying the Tory MPs who voted with the opposition parties to ensure that parliament has a final vote on brexiteer negotiated EU deals!

    I mean to say: Parliament actually doing its job of scrutiny, instead of rubber-stamping the “wonderful” brexiteer “No Plan, – No outcome evaluation organised, – No idea”, proposals! 🙂 Horrors!

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  • From my friend to me and from me to you. Alan, Phil, others, are you familiar with the work of this woman? She says, among other things, that there is no reptilian brain. “You don’t have a primitive reptilian brain tucked inside your more sophisticated mammalian tissues.” (I argued the same thing on an earlier thread and was promptly rebuked.) Anyway, she has some startling observations. Comments?

    Message from my friend:

    This is just the shit I’m talking about. First of all, this woman blends at [unclear] count cells. She’s [sic] revolutionize the way we think about the brain. That tells us how sophisticated these scientists are: not very. Secondly, the stupid error, that the cerebral cortex “receives a copy of experience of the world.” This again is the infection of stupid philosophy into scientific inquiry. There is no copy received. A copy only exists is an image and an image only exists to me (or not) — or else, I don’t want to call it an image or copy.

    Here’s a story from The New York Times that I thought you’d find interesting:

    A Vanderbilt neuroscientist has discovered an unusual but shockingly fruitful way to study our most enigmatic organ.

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  • Dan #122
    Dec 14, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    From my friend to me and from me to you. Alan, Phil, others, are you familiar with the work of this woman? She says, among other things, that there is no reptilian brain.

    She seems to be heavily hyping her own work, listing a few well known debunked myths as a claim against existing science, and then claiming superior knowledge to numerous world leading teams.

    The citations are to NEWSPAPERS:- “a version of this article appears in print on December 17, 2017, on Page MM30 of the Sunday Magazine with the headline: Mind Blender*, and “The New York Times Magazine”.

    I can see no references to any research paper published in a peer-reviewed scientific or medical journal!

    @ your link – Were there a bird with a brain the size of a grapefruit, however, it would probably rule the world.

    This is old news. We have known for decades that bird brains are high performance for their size and weight, because evolution has reduced the weight of bird organs to give improved flight performance!

    The article sounds to me like some speculated notions dreamed up in the backwaters of Brazil!

    You might be able to count an average number brain cells by mashing up brains, but you certainly can’t analyse brain structures from cell soup!

    You would be far better looking at this sort of work by various specialist teams, than that of some individual maverick selling some hyped personal pet notion!

    The Human Brain Project (HBP) is a large ten-year scientific research project that aims to build a collaborative ICT-based scientific research infrastructure to allow researchers across Europe to advance knowledge in the fields of neuroscience, computing, and brain-related medicine.[1] The Project, which started on 1 October 2013, is a European Commission Future and Emerging Technologies Flagship.

    For the similar but completely separate project in the United States, see BRAIN Initiative.

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  • I wouldn’t argue too strongly with her account which is pretty much mainstream, though setting up some strawman or outdated arguments to big up her work. I use her cell counts myself as the best currently available. The copy of everything is broadly true and currently becoming truer for both vision and hearing with two demonstrable data paths each, though the data streams are pre-divided, so not strictly copies. The brains wouldn’t waste the energy.

    Energetic arguments are profound. Energy availability drives so much of our neural processes and how they are kludged…why indeed, people are loathe to use their noggins. The cooking argument is quite an old one based on knowing we need a continual 20watts to support average brain function. It has been broadly accepted for a while.

    The key part of the story that she necessarily omits is about structure, for starters, the parallel structures of the cerebellum able to produce sophisticated responses from complex input data but with little or no flexibility if there are small pattern deviations and the contrasted 5 layer stack in the cortex with embedded memory allowing sophisticated inferential outputs creating modelling of the sensory experiences, deriving much meta-experience, predictive and reflective and new parsing heuristics. All of this is fine and dandy but the missing ingredient that distinguishes man from the primates and puts us in the class of the cetaceans in terms of language and sociability are the Von Economo cells that rush the output of the cortex to the anterior cingulate cortex to re-integrate the divided streams of cognitions and their two possibly conflicting instructions derived in consequence.

    Amygdalas and cerebellums (evolved and used during fish and reptilian days as the primary decider of actions) are parallel and fast, the later corteces are serial, stacked and slow. Also the cortex is on the outer edge of the brain away from the brain stem and spinal cord. Our (human) use of von economo cells to speed the cortical inferential outputs to the ACC (the error detector) and stay the hand of the “reptilian” brute about to slug your mother in law, brought our stupendous social skills and mutuality like no other.

    Whales have these von economo (spindle) cells but because they get high cell counts and large corteces by having physically big brains with big cells, the spindle cells are needed to speed the cortical output back to the centre, just to make the cortex useful at all. Our high cell count with short enough spindle cells makes us super sociable, able to make much faster use of our general purpose inferential equipment than any other animal so far, though corvids have astonishing miniaturised cell sizes. Give them opposable thumbs cooking and spindle cells and they’ll outsmart slow witted us.

    I tend not to use the term but it is reasonable to say we have fish or reptilian brains and mammal limbic brains and primate/whale/elephant brains, because that’s when in our evolution those new deciders of actions appeared. Being picky we can point out that these systems have also evolved since then and have been relieved of some of their duties. I tend not to use the term because of the confusion and prefer to talk of amygdalas and cerebellums etc., though here I made an exception. (I have used the term when invoking the timing of appearance of capacities.)

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  • “You don’t have a primitive reptilian brain tucked inside your more sophisticated mammalian tissues.”

    Apparently she has never witnessed someone die. The brain continues to send signals to breathe, blink, move extremities and even on occasion, sit up and run for President.

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  • note

    I didn’t mean to suggest or imply that she was right or wrong. I just wanted to get the informed opinions of people who are far more qualified than I am to critique this scientist’s views and methods. Thanks for the replies! Alan, you really know how to put someone away. (That’s a compliment.)

    Btw, I am now grappling with the concept of consciousness. It is very hard to define!

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  • Can I take a moment at Xmas to try and talk about something other than the awful Trump, the evil Republican party and the horror show that is unfolding on the world stage right now. This is the wonderful Joe Biden consoling Meghan McCain about her father’s cancer which is the same type his son Beau died from. Forget her politics for a moment. I don’t agree with them obviously. I just think that Joe Biden is the most honorable man I never met and if more people in American politics had even a millionth of his integrity the world would be a better place.

    This guy is what we all need to be aiming for.

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  • I am in my cups. Or will be, down the pub later…

    For me the issue is the catastrophe of loss of net neutrality. Handing over yet more power to media giants enabling them to deny universal access to knowledge as they see profitably fit, pisses me off even more than Trump who will obligingly die sooner than I, I predict.

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  • Trumpism (that is, everything that Trump and the conservatives represent and are successfully pushing) and the horror of net neutrality and of deregulation in general, and everything else, are part of one and the same thing, aren’t they? The politics of Greed, and maybe something far worse than that. Yes, something worse. This man (Trump) doesn’t matter so much, does he? I fear him, yes. But it isn’t about any one person. It’s an age we need to fear, a new age. Not just about Trump. A new age is dawning, perhaps.

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  • The loss of net neutrality, that is.

    Trump’s going after the FBI now, wants to drain the swamp. A dictator driven by self interest and the interests of big business and determined to mislead and hurt the people in the process. A con man, a slob, a beast. No sense of right and wrong. Destroy all opposition. Fascistic.

    So frustrating!

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  • @ 134

    Bigot! Fascist! Plutocrat! Asshole! Enough is enough! (Those stupid Trump supporters. Deplorable.)

    From Huff Post

    Loren Schechter, director of the Center for Gender Confirmation surgery at Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago and a member of the board of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, said he was shocked by the edict.

    “I’m not sure what the ultimate rationale is for doing this aside from trying to erase certain types of people off the map,” he told HuffPost, referring to the ban on the words “transgender” and “diversity.”

    “I think walking back hard-earned civil rights is something that is, number one, quite shocking to me and, number two, quite concerning. Simply choosing to ignore reality, science, medicine, will not make these things go away and will not really advance anyone’s cause or lead to improved health outcomes.”

    “This is quite an absurdity,” Schechter said. “The president sets the agenda. It’s quite scary … it really sends a chill down your spine. I can’t imagine how you don’t allow terms to be used. It’s sort of like the thought police here.

    “Perhaps we can say the world is flat now,” he said.

    Twitter erupted following the news. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) complained that Trump is “making America stupid again” and wondered if leaders would soon be supporting voodoo and leeches to fight disease. A tweet from Planned Parenthood said the Trump administration has “disdained” women’s health, the LGBTQ community and science from the start.

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  • Vicki #134
    Dec 16, 2017 at 5:28 am

    @ your linkKelly told the analysts that “certain words” in the CDC’s budget drafts were being sent back to the agency for correction. Three words that had been flagged in these drafts were “vulnerable,” “entitlement” and “diversity.” Kelly told the group the ban on the other words had been conveyed verbally.

    If this was not so sad and destructive, it would be comical!
    Trump’s charlatan, delusional, Dunning-Kruger-confident, stooge, science illiterates, “correcting” scientific terminology in official reports to make it ideology compliant!

    Trump attempts at administration:- The laughing stock of the educated world!

    As we know Trump supporters of Trump policies are “Great” – (doubleplusgood)! – at least until they offer ANY criticism! 🙂

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  • From the article

    In some instances, the analysts were given alternative phrases.
    Instead of “science-based” or ­“evidence-based,” the suggested phrase
    is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with
    community standards and wishes,” the person said.

    It is the height of dishonesty and irresponsibility to think empirical data will line up neatly with community standards and/or wishes.

    This is so sad.

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  • Trump’s approval rating now down to 32%.

    This poll is not an outlier as it reflects what other recent polls are saying. Traditionally the tipping point is about 30% by which time no president can effectively govern but then Trump hasn’t been able to govern since day one so I’m not sure how much difference this will make to him. One can be sure he’ll never admit he’s wrong or resign. However Repugs in congress may finally have to decide whether to stick with or flee the sinking ship with their scaly tails between their legs.

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  • Arkrid

    First they have to pass that train wreck of a tax bill. The same bill that is opposed by the majority of Americans, yet “our representatives” are going to push it through anyway.

    I guess their idea of a republic is to ignore the will of the people and focus instead on what they perceive to be decisions made for our own good (which neatly lines up with the rich getting richer).

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  • Vicki

    They’re playing a zero sum game and the common folk will be torched the whole way along this sickening process. Win at any cost! Another year of this and where will be be? Can’t stand to think about it.

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  • Vicki #138
    Dec 16, 2017 at 7:12 am

    From the article

    In some instances, the analysts were given alternative phrases.
    Instead of “science-based” or ­“evidence-based,” the suggested phrase
    “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with
    community standards and wishes,”
    the person said.

    Instead of “science-based” or ­“evidence-based,”“vulnerable,” “entitlement” and “diversity.”

    Could I suggest replacement alternatives for scientists writing these reports to include , so that journalists can properly interpret them without reference to “alternative facts” or direct inclusion of forbidden words! :-

    Instead of “science-based”[censored word 1] or ­“evidence-based,”[censored word 2]“vulnerable,”[censored word 3] “entitlement”[censored word 4] and “diversity.”[censored word 5]

    I’m sure a key to these could become easily understood, and propagandist sections which have edited out the science, could be identified as such!

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  • Laurie

    And I’m getting close to retirement age–precisely the time I will need the soon-to-be gutted Social Security and Medicare.

    I give my savings about 3 years, then I’m pulling it before this latest Republican-induced bubble crashes the market (again).

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  • Alan

    Could I suggest replacement alternatives for scientists writing these

    Your suggestion reminds me of when Nixon released transcripts of Oval Office conversations. Lots and lots of [expletive deleted] insertions.

    I’m sure the irony of the GOP accusing Dems of trying to erase history (by taking down statues) isn’t lost on us. In this case, the GOP is trying to erase truth.

    And we’re the bad guys?

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  • Vicki

    I can relate 🙁 Next May my husband retires, will collect medicare etc., but I will then have no medical insurance for the next six years after that. I’m speeding through all my check-ups, medical tests and everything under the sun that I can do now before doomsday hits. With the tax bill including a repeal of the mandate for Obamacare that plan is basically toast. Just wait for things to circle around to the day that medicaid gets cut. Bernie says we need a revolution and I think it’ll take nothing less than that to fix the multitude of problems that have been brought on by these stupid psychopaths.

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  • Yes, a revolution. One that takes a whole swathe of voters out of needy anxiety, where they risk becoming biddable political pawns for an utterly shameless, manipulative right. A simple reset won’t cut it.

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  • Vicki

    The stock market has me very scared. My nephew works for Fidelity in finance and he’s told me that they are well aware that this is an expanding bubble and that the money managers have their fingers hovering over the bail-out button and that I should do so too. Many people will be financially destroyed when this one bursts.

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  • LaurieB #147
    Dec 16, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    The stock market has me very scared. My nephew works for Fidelity in finance and he’s told me that they are well aware that this is an expanding bubble and that the money managers have their fingers hovering over the bail-out button and that I should do so too.

    I have two pensions and various investments and my wife has her pensions, so we are financially secure.
    With the present bank-rates producing rubbish returns, and the equity market high, we have decided that rather than reinvesting maturing bonds at present interest rates, we have used the money to buy one of our sons a house to live in. He might as well have the benefit, rather than the banks paying pea-nuts and lending to others at higher rates!

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  • Alan

    Yes, we agree with that strategy. Real estate gives a much better return than any bank account could at the present time. We have a pension coming our way as well but they are a thing of the past in US. Young people can’t count on ever having one here. Also, corruption or a stock market crash could cause the pension to disappear into thin air. It’s worrisome.

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  • Laurie, you are so pessimistic! (kidding)

    I hope there’s no cwash. My mother said “it’s not the 1930s. Don’t worry.” Let me pass that sentiment on to you, even if it is of questionable merit. Still nice to hear.

    Pinker is awesome.

    Feeling good right now – in spite of all this madness and horror.

    Happy holidays, my good friend.

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  • Arkrid Sandwich #129
    Dec 15, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Can I take a moment at Xmas
    to try and talk about something other than the awful Trump,
    the evil Republican party and the horror show
    that is unfolding on the world stage right now.

    The shuffling “NO PLAN – No Idea” fantasist brexiteers, are at long last THINKING about the need for some objectives and an end position to negotiations, but each faction in this divided Tory Party, is still clinging to their own imaginary “have your cake and eat it” utopia! !

    Ministers meet to thrash out Brexit end deal

    Theresa May and her senior ministers are formally discussing for the first time what the UK’s long-term relationship with the EU should be.

    The EU has agreed that Brexit negotiations can now move on to discussing the UK and the EU’s future relationship.

    Until now they have only been discussing “divorce” issues like how much money the UK owes.

    Not everyone agrees how closely aligned the UK should stay to EU trade rules.

    The UK voted to leave the European Union in June 2016 and Brexit is due to happen at 23:00 GMT on 29 March, 2019.

    The full cabinet will hold another discussion on Tuesday.

    BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith said there was a “clear divide” between ministers, with some like Chancellor Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd calling for the UK to stick closely to the EU’s single market to preserve access for British firms.

    On the other side others, like Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, want more divergence so the UK has more freedom to strike its own trade deals with other countries.

    The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said there is “no way” the UK will be able to select just the good bits of all the possible arrangements.

    “They have to face the consequences of their own decision,” he said.

    After the UK leaves the EU in March 2019, but before the final “end state” is reached, the government wants a temporary “implementation period” of about two years.

    This is what negotiations are expected to focus on in the coming weeks.

    Later in the House of Commons – from about 15:30 GMT – Mrs May will tell MPs she wants “access to one another’s markets” to continue “as now” during this period.

    . . . . and her comment is likely to be met with ranting tirades of howling derision, from the Europhobic “TRrroooo” brexiteers, the Farargian ‘KIPpers and the nutty ultra-right junk media rags like, The Express, The Daily Mail and the vacuously sensationalist superficial “Sun”!

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  • An interview worth reading, or you can listen to the podcast, is here in Politico, with Max Boot and Eliot Cohen, lifelong Republicans and senior advisors to various administrations who founded the NeverTrump movement which warned of the dangers if he became president. As his first year comes to an end they assess whether things are worse or better than they had imagined.

    Boot: I’ve been shocked by the willingness of the vast majority—vast, vast majority—of Republicans to go along with Donald Trump because I was extremely naïve, I think, about the Republican Party last year because, you know, I was a life-long Republican, pretty solid conservative, and I couldn’t imagine voting for Donald Trump. So I imagined, “Well, most Republicans couldn’t possibly imagine voting for this guy because they’re real conservatives in this race, like Jeb Bush and others, John Kasich, et cetera, and one of those guys will win.” And of course, that is not what happened.

    Now that Trump has won, the party has fallen into line behind him. And you can—whether it’s the cult of personality, tribalism, expediency, cynicism, in some cases just fanaticism and prejudice, I mean, there’s multiple explanations. But what it adds up to is a party that, I think, is intellectually and morally bankrupt.

    I think the ascendancy of Trump has revealed two very unflattering things about the Republican Party. One of which Eliot is referring to when he talks about the spinelessness and pusillanimity of the Republicans in Washington. But it also reveals something about the Republican grassroots, which is something even uglier, I think, because there is a lot of prejudice, racism, homophobia, all sorts of dark impulses out there, that I think were largely kept cloaked when you had leaders of the party like Mitt Romney and John McCain, who were fine individuals who did not appeal to the dark side of human nature.

    But Donald Trump is not a fine individual and he appeals to that dark side, and he has shown how much of the support for Republican candidates around the country is based on some of these dark impulses. And frankly, to me, it’s been unnerving. It’s been deeply disturbing as somebody who was a life-long Republican, because what I see happening is that a lot of the criticisms the Democrats have made about Republicans—and which I resisted for years—have actually been vindicated.

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  • Jonathan Haidt’s analysis of the conservative mindset as particularly being defined by loyalty to the group, subjection/obedience to the leader and the preservation of institutional purity seems pretty much in evidence here.

    I can’t help feeling there is another aspect as well. Something Messianic, or perhaps about a terror of thinking for yourself?

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  • Desperate to pretend he never gets anything wrong, insecure little Donny tries to tweetchange history today.

    Dec 18, 2017 06:23:49 AM Remember, Republicans are 5-0 in Congressional Races this year. The media refuses to mention this. I said Gillespie and Moore would lose (for very different reasons), and they did. I also predicted “I” would win. Republicans will do well in 2018, very well! @foxandfriends

    Conveniently forgetting his full endorsement of both Gillespie and Moore on Twitter and still seeming to need to relitigate his own election a year after the event. His grip on reality is slipping further and faster now.

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  • Arkrid Sandwich #154
    Dec 18, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    Desperate to pretend he never gets anything wrong, insecure little Donny tries to tweetchange history today.

    He is at present at a press conference, babbling to the media and an audience, about threats to world peace and security, but seems to have missed spotting the two biggest threats to the human populations of the world!

    Global Warming and Donald Trump!

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  • And just now this bizarre tweet about the election again which he can’t leave alone. It speaks to his state of mind which is clearly unhinged.

    Dec 18, 2017 03:28:19 PM When the American People speak, ALL OF US should listen. Just over one year ago, you spoke loud and clear. On November 8, 2016, you voted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN![Twitter for iPhone]

    He’s also using the Washington train crash to talk about infrastructure except the tax bill means there’s no money for it. The deficit is heading up by at least one and a half trillion over 10 years before any other spending is considered.

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  • LaurieB #157
    Dec 18, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    When the American People speak, ALL OF US should listen.

    There you have it. When the Americans speak, you limeys should listen.

    Indeed so! We have been listening for some years now to Sarah Palin preaching “Republican family values”! – And along with her daughter (the daughter with two the unplanned pregnancies with different fathers), preaching against contraception and family planning!

    I see her son has also adopted “Republican family values”!

    The son of former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin has been charged with assault and burglary after a confrontation with his father involving a firearm.

    Police say Track Palin allegedly broke into his parent’s Alaska home through a window on Saturday night.

    Documents obtained by US media say the 28-year-old said he was on pain medication and had been drinking.

    The 28-year-old was arrested in 2016 for allegedly punching his girlfriend.
    After he eventually pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm while intoxicated, other charges were dismissed in that case.
    Earlier this year his ex-girlfriend Jordan Loewe applied for a protective order against Mr Palin, having previously requested full custody of their one-year-old son.

    Police documents, published by the LA Times newspaper, said Mrs Palin called the police at about 20:40 on Saturday night (06:40 GMT on Sunday) to say her son was on “some type of medication” and was allegedly “freaking out”.

    The affidavit by a responding officer said they found the former Alaskan governor “visibly upset” at the property.

    Police say that when they arrived they had a stand-off with Mr Palin in which he moved around the house and at one stage went out onto the garage roof. They say he demanded police put their weapons on the ground and allegedly called them “peasants”.

    Police say the struggle between the two men happened after Mr Palin said he was coming to the property to retrieve a vehicle, and threatened to beat his father.

    Todd Palin, Mrs Palin’s husband, told police he armed himself with a pistol when his son arrived, but was disarmed and was left bloodied.

    Track Palin was charged by police with first-degree burglary, fourth-degree assault and criminal mischief, and remains in police custody.

    A statement to US media from the family requested privacy, and said the Palins were unable to comment further on the case.

    With leadership role models like these, who could fail to be impressed!!! 🙂

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  • Alan

    I’m very sure there’s plenty to listen to over here but not in the way Trump meant it. I’m aware of the fact that people in other countries are listening and taking this situation as a cautionary tale, not an admiration of American “exceptionalism”.

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  • I think it was Palin who gave me my first real understanding of how different the American electorate were to those of other countries when this gibbering nincompoop to whom every simple question was a “gotcha” one for her achieved this huge following of simpering soccer moms. Like Trump, her speeches were devoid of content, and in her case even basic intelligibility but give the crowds a nice catchphrase like “pitbull with lipstick” and they couldn’t care less that she couldn’t name a single newspaper she read, thought Africa was a country or that Paul Revere rode to warn the British that the Americans were coming. It was the epitome of a low information politician appealing to low information voters.

    It made me realise to some extent just how difficult it is to campaign to these people as a Democrat. If you try to give them actual information they don’t have the attention span and brand you an “intellectual elite”. They want you to fix everything for them but god forbid you come across as smart enough and educated enough to actually do that or you’re talking down to them. What they need is simple sound bites and empty promises from someone they think “gets” them and they could have a beer with. It’s a bizarre mindset which almost automatically determines that they’ll only vote for people who will never actually do anything for them.

    As for Republican Family Values, what that really means is being white and heterosexual and claiming you’re a god fearing Christian. There are no actual values involved other than avoiding the deadly sins of being black or gay or wanting an abortion when you get knocked up.

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  • Trump:- When the American People speak, ALL OF US should listen.

    Of course we should not confuse anything Trump says with anything he actually achieves or delivers!

    The White House has said it will be shutting down its website for petitions from midnight on Tuesday until a new one is set up in late January.

    The “We The People” site was set up by the Obama administration in 2011.

    It promised a response to all petitions drawing more than 100,000 signatures but the Trump administration has not responded to any since January.

    The White House said its new platform would save taxpayers more than $1m (£746,500) a year.

    The total budget of the White House for 2018 is $55m and its information technology budget for the year is $4.94m.

    A White House official told the Associated Press news agency that the administration would “respond to public concerns next year” and that all existing petitions would be reinstated then.

    The petition platform was set up under Barack Obama in 2011 as part of his digital democracy initiative.

    At the time, the White House said that the platform would “give all Americans a way to create and sign petitions on a range of issues affecting our nation”.

    If a petition receives more than 100,000 signatures within a 30-day period, the White House is supposed to issue an official response to it.

    Since January, popular petitions that have drawn the required number of signatures include one that calls for President Trump’s resignation and another that demands he release his tax returns.

    However, since the start of the Trump administration, all of the petitions that have met this threshold have gone unanswered.

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  • Talking of the “We the People website”, It is interesting to see how those “short memory” shouting Republicans, have changed their tune on the subject of airport security and immigration!

    More than 100,000 Americans have petitioned the White House to allow their states to secede from the US, after President Barack Obama’s re-election.

    The appeals were filed on the White House’s We the People website.

    The last time states officially seceded, the US Civil War followed.

    Most of the petitions merely quote the opening line of America’s Declaration of Independence from Britain, in which America’s founders stated their right to “dissolve the political bands” and form a new nation.

    Yep! Those darned immigration officials keep inconveniencing travellers by carrying out security checks at airports!

    Currently, the most popular petition is from Texas, which voted for Mr Romney by some 15 percentage points more than it did for the Democratic incumbent.

    The text complains of “blatant abuses” of Americans’ rights.

    It cites the Transportation Security Administration, whose staff have been accused of intrusive screening at airports.

    Obviously as a follow-up, the in-coming Trump would liberate travellers from personal inconveniences such as screening, identity, and baggage checks!
    (Oh! wait a minute!!! Strangely he didn’t reduce airport delays and do that! :-))
    What a surprise!

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  • On the same day Trump touts his National Security Strategy of which one of the 4 “Pillars” is increasing American influence in the world the UN Security Council voted on a resolution that no one move their embassies to Jerusalem. It was voted for by every one of the 15 members including China, France and the UK but vetoed by the USA whose representative Nikki Haley angrily declared it was an insult to the USA which will not be forgotten.

    I would suggest it’s more of an insult to America’s traditional allies like the UK who will also not forget that Trump cannot be relied on to maintain the “special relationship” or in fact stand by anything he promises. Far from increasing its influence, the USA is soon going to be an isolated country, ridiculed by other major nations and probably ignored by them.

    I’ve been wondering if it’s possible that if Trump declares war on Iran or NK we might see the situation where other nations have to defend them and the UK could actually end up at war with the USA.

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  • Arkrid Sandwich #166
    Dec 19, 2017 at 7:40 am

    I would suggest it’s more of an insult to America’s traditional allies like the UK who will also not forget that Trump cannot be relied on to maintain the “special relationship” or in fact stand by anything he promises.

    Trump has aggravated all the Arab and Muslim majority states with his silly pro-Zionist Jerusalem ploy, and aggravated Mexico and Canada over trade, so now he is busy aggravating Russia and China!
    He has of course, already aggravated the reputable media outlets by lying about events, and then accusing honest media critics of spreading “false news”!

    China has condemned the “Cold War mentality” of the White House after the publication of a new US national security policy.

    The document labels China and Russia as “rival powers” and lays out a number of potential threats they pose.

    The new strategy said Beijing and other governments were determined to challenge American power.

    But China’s foreign ministry criticised the strategy report, saying Washington should “abandon outdated notions”.

    Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: “No country or report will succeed in distorting facts or deploying malicious slander.

    “We urge the US side to stop intentionally distorting China’s strategic intentions and to abandon outdated ideas of Cold War mentality and the zero-sum game.”

    Russia also responded to the new strategy by saying it “cannot accept” that it is treated as a threat.

    It also criticised what it said was the “imperialist character” of the document.

    Far from increasing its influence, the USA is soon going to be an isolated country, ridiculed by other major nations and probably ignored by them.

    As Trump adds to his list of gratuitously abused peoples and nations, he is certainly becoming recognised world wide as a dangerous irrelevance to civilised relationships and human welfare!

    Under Trump, the USA is a declining nation, behaving like a bear with a sore head, as its present leaders fail at almost everything they touch, and blame anyone but themselves for that situation!

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  • phil rimmer #153
    Dec 18, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    Jonathan Haidt’s analysis of the conservative mindset as particularly being defined by loyalty to the group, subjection/obedience to the leader and the preservation of institutional purity seems pretty much in evidence here.

    The Republican party is a religious cult and cults demand total obedience from members and shun those who don’t give it. Republicans are not meant to vote with their consciences or do the right thing. They’re supposed to vote in lockstep with what Dear Leader wants and usually do. There’s an interesting CNN poll today where John Mccain, one of the few remaining bastions of Republican common sense, is actually less popular among Republicans than he is among Democrats because of it. That gives a good indication of how they turn on their own for losing the faith and keep them in line. It’s why as a group we can have no confidence they’ll abandon Trump or ever impeach him even if collusion with Russia is proven .

    Washington (CNN)Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain is viewed more favorably by Democrats and independents than Republicans, a CNN Poll conducted by SSRS released Tuesday shows.
    Sixty-eight percent of Democrats said they had a favorable opinion of the Republican senator, whereas 48% of independents and 46% of Republicans responded the same way.

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  • This article about the tax bill swindle was written on the 10th, but I think it’s still pretty up-to-date.

    The archplutocratic tax cut Washington politicians are working on this holiday season ought to be a call to arms for the United States’ populace. The nation’s economy is already so savagely unequal that the top 10th of its upper 1 percent owns as much wealth as its bottom 90 percent. Its corporations are raking in record profits. Half of its citizens have no savings. Half its population lives in or near poverty. Twenty-one percent of its children are growing up at less than the federal government’s notoriously inadequate poverty level, and 41 million Americans—12.3 percent of the population—are “food insecure.”

    It is against the backdrop of this shocking disparity and related want that one should try to comprehend the regressive and malignant sociopathology of a Republican tax “reform” that:

    ● Drastically slashes the corporate tax rate without closing loopholes and deductions that allow the nation’s already cash-flush corporations to register their profits overseas.

    ● Does nothing to switch corporations’ focus from maximizing short-term returns to investing in the creation of more jobs and higher wages.

    ● Encourages corporations to invest in automation without offering any assistance to displaced workers.

    ● All but eliminates the estate tax for the nation’s richest families.

    ● Adds $1.5 trillion to the nation’s debt over the next decade, setting the stage for major slashes to the nation’s three biggest social insurance programs—Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare (they will be cut back in the name of “scaling back” so-called entitlement programs to “reduce the deficit”).

    ● Gives a major tax cut on profits multinational companies have stashed in offshore tax havens.

    ● Cuts taxes on “pass-through” businesses—a benefit that will be disproportionately enjoyed by the rich.

    ● Makes it easier for rich people to classify themselves as businesses to get a tax break.

    ● Increases the complexity of the tax code.

    ● Tightens deductions for lower- and middle-income wage-earners.

    ● Subsidizes private and religious schools, a boon to corporate school privatizers and the religious right.

    ● Repeals Obamacare’s individual mandate, which will leave millions without health insurance and raise the cost of health insurance.

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  • Most of the people who vote for this won’t know these details. Most of the individuals in the media whose job it nominally is to inform voters, will mostly benefit from these measures. Most voters will remain uninformed.

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  • As long as voters see a little bit more in their pay packets they won’t care about the national debt exploding or that the mega rich got much more than they did. Even if they understand all that they’ll have forgotten by the time they have to vote again. As Obamacare Premiums rise now that the individual mandate is dead they might notice more. If they lose healthcare altogether then they’ll start making some noise.

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  • Posts are disappearing like crazy. Can’t someone fix the idiotic way this site works once and for all? Why does it even need a spam filter for links? Other sites don’t use that. If someone posts bad links they get warned and if they do it often enough they get banned but an automatic system that withholds posts just in case and forces them to be approved is stupid.

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  • There isn’t anything from this thread in the Spam filter.

    We have, however, removed multiple posts that were, quite clearly, chat. Just don’t do it, folks, because we will remove them.

    The mods

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  • More good news from Virginia yesterday. Shelly Simonds (D) appears to have beaten her Repug opponent in the House of Delegates election by a single vote after a recount. If it gets certified the House is a tie and there is no way to break a tie so that means all Repug legislation can be stopped.

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  • Call me crazy but I think I think Hillary Clinton should run in 2020. She was cheated and should first clear her good name to the best of her ability by going on as many shows as possible and addressing all of the accusations that have been leveled against her. Then, if she can do that, she should run. Even Jill Stein, the Green Party lady, met with Russians, is now being investigated. Sanders’ website was infiltrated by the Russians too. Anti-Hillary ads from Russians there, everywhere, and so Sanders and Stein were wittingly and unwittingly involved in this effort, in addition to the Trump campaign staff.

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  • What’s to prevent them from manufacturing lies and distortions this time – no matter who it is? Propaganda is out of control. The age of the internet makes it all the more so. You have to contend with character assassination no mater who you are, so why not Hillary? They will paint them all as sinister and corrupt and much of the public will be swayed by the repetition of distorted accusations. – unless one is very aggressive and proves his or her innocence and proclaims it so all can hear So I say Hillary has maybe as good a chance as the others. The same fate will befall them all. Fake news. A sick concept that originated with Russia-Trump and this tragic election. That’s what propaganda is: fake news. And now no one can tell the difference. That has its advantages for the enemy too.

    I say fight it. They all have to contend with lies on an unprecedented scale now. “Post -truth” era, they say. –That’s what they say at least.

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  • If it is propaganda it’s from the Left; if it is real propaganda it is usually from the Right. If it’s true it is false; if it is false it’s true. And the loudest voice wins. (That’s what Bannon and Trump and Fox and Nazi propaganda has been about.)

    That would be relatively easy to combat, with evidence. The problem now is that no one is willing to even look at evidence!

    If Mueller is fired it’ll be because he, like Clinton, was vilified by liars – and the public will probably be too confused to rise up in any serious way.

    So I say fight it. (I don’t get Franken; if he did nothing to disgrace the Senate, as he said, then why’d he quit?)

    Lies must be met with aggressive and powerful action in defense of the truth. If everyone capitulates we will be completely lost.

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  • President big mouth has just had another of his “I really fired Comey because of Russia” moments on camera. Puffed up with his own self importance after the tax bill passed he’s just admitted it was all about reducing the corporate tax rate and killing Obamacare rather than helping the lower or middle classes. At a press conference in the WH earlier.

    While talking about the corporate tax rate being cut from 35 percent to 21 percent, Trump said, “That’s probably the biggest factor in our plan.”

    The problem? Republicans have been selling this legislation as a middle-class tax cut, first and foremost.

    “The entire purpose of this is to lower middle class taxes.” — House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.)
    “Primarily, and priority number one, is middle-class Americans.” — White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders
    “The theme behind this bill is to get middle-class tax relief for most people in the middle class.” — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Fox News on Tuesday

    Trump’s second admission was about the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate being repealed in the bill. Apparently eager to argue that this constituted his having cut taxes and slain Obamacare in one fell swoop (after Congress came up short on Obamacare this year), he argued that repealing the individual mandate was basically the same as repealing Obamacare.

    But, he said, he told Republicans not to talk about that. Trump said he told allies to “be quiet with the fake news media because I don’t want them talking too much about it. Now that it’s approved, I can say that,” he said.

    It’s actually the rare occasions Trump tells the truth that harm him most because it’s invariably the truth about previous lies.

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  • Dan #181
    Dec 20, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    So I say Hillary has maybe as good a chance as the others.

    You have an unhealthy and sometimes worrying obsession with Hillary who was a terrible candidate and would be again. She’s completely toxic to the Democratic Party’s chances and there is zero probability of her ever running again.

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  • Following on from #166, Nikki Haley says Trump has asked her to report back to him on the countries who vote against the USA in the upcoming UN General Assembly on Jerusalem tomorrow. She tweeted: At the UN we’re always asked to do more & give more. So, when we make a decision, at the will of the American ppl, abt where to locate OUR embassy, we don’t expect those we’ve helped to target us. On Thurs there’ll be a vote criticizing our choice. The US will be taking names. Oh burn, we all so scared now Nikki Haley.

    Little Donny has threatened to throw his toys out of the pram and withhold financial aid to countries who are mean to him. The time has come for one of the leaders of a major power, France, Germany, UK maybe, to stand up and denounce the retard for what he is. A pompous narcissistic windbag and pathological liar. Australia has already voted him unanimously to be a revolting slug. Maybe a straight talking Aussie will have the guts to do this. If I were PM of the UK I’d be considering breaking off diplomatic relations with the US while it’s being run by a fascist president and congress.

    Donny is just cock-a-hoop with himself today after the tax cut. You can tell by his tweets. Not a whine about Hillary or the election or the crowd size which is where he goes when he’s in a bad mood but TWO tweets a few hours apart saying Dec 20, 2017 12:30:26 PM Together, we are MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN![Twitter for iPhone] and later Dec 20, 2017 04:44:50 PM WE ARE MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN![Media Studio]

    Lots of caps and pointless repetition so you know it was him both times. His narcissism and sense of his own greatness is fully charged just now. This is when he might be emboldened enough to fire Mueller and precipitate a constitutional crisis.

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  • A.S.,

    She was a fine candidate. No one could have withstood such a barrage of accusations and and false stories without becoming toxic. She is a fighter, but was beaten down and, yes, has no chance now, I guess.

    She was the country’s Rorschach test, as she herself said. The vitriol out there. My God. A lot of sexism and a lot of lies.

    Not a terrible candidate. You try running against Trump et al. and Fox News and the Republicans. She kept her dignity and her cool. Remarkably disciplined and tough. Also, the media did not cover any of her rallies or speeches.

    Trump was a terrible candidate, was surrounded by thugs and professional liars. He’s a fucking fascist and Bannon is a professional propagandist! I like and admire HC. Pathetic country. Look who’s president.

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  • And do you think Sanders “the socialist” would have won against a right wing populist demagogue? No way. “He’s a socialist,” the imbeciles would say. “I ain’t votin’ fer no socialist.” You can imagine, can’t you, how easy it would have been for Trump “the man of the people” to persuade his voters to regard Sanders as a man who represents “government control Soviet Union style”? Whereas he (Trump) is for prosperity, for American values, the individual, etc. Sanders would have been defeated badly. And then he’d be toxic and a terrible candidate. Let’s be fair.

    Make America Great Again! Say “No” to Communism!

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  • Paul Ryan, when asked about the lack of public support for his beloved bill: “when you have a slingfest, a slugfest, back and forth, on TV, that’s what’s gonna happen.”

    You see? Truth and lies. It’s all the same. One big blur. Just blame the media.

    The sight of Trump and the Republicans celebrating this thing in front of the White House was truly sickening. Pence with that shiny face of his and all of them clapping and smiling at the fuhrer… Awful.

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  • Trump 32% and not bottomed out yet.

    Having learned far more about the history of the political parties and the decency of earlier Republican ideals I think the long standing loathing for the remote Patrician classes remains and still needs to find a home. Trump’s cover as being like your friend Joe at the bar or coffee shop is entirely blown.

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  • A list of countries?

    This might sound dumb but it just occurred to me that Mr. Trump would like to take over the world. Yes, I am sure of it. I think he is actually worse than I thought – and that is saying quite a lot.

    I think Arkrid Sandwich said something about that a while back. He said something about a “Russo-American hegemony.”

    (Nikki Haley is one of the most odious and corrupt people in US politics today. That is why Trump likes her. Read about what she did in South Carolina.)

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  • Exactly this; #193

    Restoring it without a post to say so means that no-one knows to look back to find it. I suggest you could helpfully always do this even without a request.

    Just a thought…

    Oh, and thanks as ever.

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  • Oh right, got you now, Phil. We can see that that would be helpful, but it would actually be quite a fiddly thing to do, because we can’t see the comment numbers in the moderator system, which is where we view all the comments. So we’d have to switch between the mod system and the public system and hunt back through the thread for the comment in question to find its comment number. Doable, but fiddly, especially if we happen to be using a smartphone at the time.

    Leave it with us, and we’ll ask the website manager if there’s any way of displaying the comment numbers in the mod system too. That would make your request a lot easier to carry out.


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  • Well I think simply mentioning the fact of restoring a post every time is enough (and that’s all I intended), as you only note a restoration when requested for a restoration. But that other would be a greater help, if it could be done…


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  • @ #189


    I worry about what things mean and about the loss and obfuscation of meaning in American Life, don’t you?

    Earlier “Republican” Ideals? A lot of confusion arises from the inherent imperfections associated with language itself; language is not static; and from failing to understand that concepts have shifted. But they have not been turned upside down quite yet. Let us hope that that never happens. We as a people are all confused as hell right now. All of us. No one knows what anything means anymore. Many of Sanders’ supporters voted for a libertarian, after Sanders lost the primary! A libertarian!

    I advocate a restoration of meaning. The words “conservative” and “Republican” still mean something, as opposed to anything. Conservatives are now supporting Sanders? Sanders is not a conservative; he is a progressive. So conservatives who support Sanders cannot be conservatives unless they simply want to call themselves conservatives. They would have to be progressive – at least on some issues, major issues. And a liberal (progressive) cannot support a conservative unless one simply wants to call oneself a progressive, for whatever reason. Or we can agree to redefine these words, or just use them any way we want to. This is becoming absurd. And as Chomsky said, if we can make clear these days what we mean by conservative or liberal we are lucky. But everything is getting turned on its head. Sanders is not a conservative, period. Teddy Roosevelt. That was a different time, a different period of history. What was lukewarm yesterday may be considered cool today, etc. It’s relative. But what is hot today is not also cold today. You know that but others may not.

    If you are suggesting that some conservatives today are basically decent people and are not in favor of corruption and exploitation and are drawn to a principled person like Sanders, who reminds them of Teddy Roosevelt in some respects, and see through Trump’s rhetoric, then we should say all that. But just saying that conservatives are now supporting Sanders is like saying that conservatives are progressives or that Democrats are Republicans or White is Black or war is peace, etc. It isn’t helpful. It is bad to do that.

    Contradiction is part of almost everyone’s political philosophy. But I think it is better to say that people are conservative on this or that issue and progressive on other issues, rather than calling those Sanders supporters conservatives or Trump’s supporters progressives.

    There is a radical Right. And there are and have been fascist revolutionaries. But that is not a contradiction or an inconsistency.

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  • Dan

    I feel your pain about the political spectrum. The confusion over these labels is being used by the FOX news bunch to make people feel good about supporting ideas and policies that at blatantly reactionary, fascist and devastatingly cruel and against their own best interests. The “conservative” tribe now admires ideas that are far to the right of any definition of conservative that I’ve ever heard of. And let’s not leave out the regressive left who support oppression of women in Islam and block women like me from speaking out against hijab, etc because they’re still stuck in cultural relativism and can’t see the forest from the trees. That’s not a progressive liberal who would support Islamic oppression or Christian oppression or any religious oppression at all! It’s also not feminism. It’s fake feminism a la Sarsour.

    I think what Phil was referring to above was that the Republicans of the past weren’t the kleptocrats of today. Maybe they really did fit into the true definition of “conservative”. My father, a proud Republican was actually prochoice in those days and although he supported limited gun control (he had rifles of some sort) he never supported hand guns for public ownership. Decades ago when stem cell research was causing shock and horror with conservatives and reactionaries here he saw the hypocrisy of those who fulminated in public over “baby killing” and then tried to get stem cell therapies for their own family members who had hope of a cure from that. It was only after Obama was elected and FOX “news” went berserk that he leaned over ideologically into full on libertarianism and dragged my mom and brother with him. But he always identified with the label conservative till his dying day.

    I take every opportunity to point out to my interlocutors that the ideas that they support are well outside of any definition of “conservative” that I’ve encountered. Even though a simple linear explanation of political spectrum is inadequate, it’s the place to start with those who think there are only two positions – liberal (sneer) and conservative. Classic false dichotomy fallacy.

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  • Dan #186
    Dec 21, 2017 at 2:25 am


    She was a fine candidate.

    She was a dog. She pissed people off every time she opened her mouth. Being a good candidate is not just about knowing stuff. It’s about talking to the people in a relatable way which she was shite at. Yes she’s a much better person than Trump but she’s a crappy candidate. Her husband was a great one and also knew she was an awful one.

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  • LaurieB #198
    Dec 21, 2017 at 8:23 am

    The confusion over these labels is being used by the FOX news bunch to make people feel good about supporting ideas and policies that at blatantly reactionary, fascist and devastatingly cruel and against their own best interests.
    The “conservative” tribe now admires ideas that are far to the right of any definition of conservative that I’ve ever heard of.

    These cynical redefinitions of naming words by false-news pundits, look even more comically sick, when viewed from the UK!

    Here is a genuine CONSERVATIVE opinion from David Cameron.
    Ex-CONSERVATIVE PARTY Prime Minister of the UK! !

    Trump undermines democracy with media attacks, says Cameron

    Cameron warned that Trump’s attacks on news organisations such as CNN and the BBC were not just tactically wrong but dangerous. He accused the US president of “an attempt to question the whole legitimacy of organisations that have an important role in our democracy”.

    Cameron said: “Let me put it like this: President Trump, ‘fake news’ is not broadcasters criticising you, it’s Russian bots and trolls targeting your democracy pumping out untrue stories day after day, night after night.

    “When you misappropriate the term ‘fake news’, you are deflecting attention from real abuses. Ignoring what’s happening on social media is facilitating a form of corruption that is undermining democracy.”

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  • Regarding meaning: It is also interesting to me that what is one thing at one time may become its actual opposite at another time. That does happen as well. Sometimes I think all – or certainly many – labels are destructive. But they are also useful and necessary. We have to have some way of expressing ourselves and characterizing things, movements, ideas… Blurring and obfuscation of our definitions is misleading and even deceitful; but the words themselves seem to mean too much to too many people, and the irony of a thing containing or becoming the opposite of what it once was is a form of irony and not a bad thing. Hope that made some sense. Not sure exactly what I am saying.

    Republicans like to play with words and they do it in a very effective yet stupid way. Not sure to what extent this misuse of language and appropriation of ideas and historical figures is deliberate or done out of ignorance. Lincoln, they say, is theirs. But it is hard to imagine that someone like Roy Moore and at least half the Republicans in office, if they were transported back into time, would be on the side of freeing slaves. No. Too much money at stake. Lincoln is ours, all of ours.

    Arkrid, I don’t really know what a bad candidate is. Ineffectual? I only know what a bad person is

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  • I never understood and never will understand the pervasive hatred of Hillary by people on the Left. The Right I can understand. They just hate, period. No democrat is ever progressive when they campaign. She was caught in the middle of Bernie and Trump! She was progressive enough for me. I can’t see why so many progressives didn’t vote for her and yet they loved Obama (who, with all his shortcomings, was a million times better than what we have now – and he campaigned for Hillary and endorsed her); that’s just stupid. I guess I do understand. Obama was a better candidate? Is that it? They were stupid not to vote for her – and confused. Ideologues. No sense of proportion. I expected more from the people. They let the country down.

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  • 1 In 10 Bernie Sanders supporters ended up voting For Trump, according to NPR. Yes, Bernie Sanders supporters who voted for President Trump could have cost Hillary Clinton the election.

    Why did she lose? Bad candidate? I don’t know. I didn’t think so. Confused and duped people? Definitely. Misinformation and meddling? I think that played a major role.

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  • You are 100 percent right about not visiting those states. Maybe a chip on her shoulder from having a working class dad. God knows. Okay, she erred. Big time. I still like her. Can we leave it at that?

    Arkrid, this is very, very, very serious. You have written about a backlash. I am not so optimistic. Trump has despotic tendencies! Did you see the article/thread about censoring words? And the Republicans seem scared to death of him now. Threats? Corruption breeds corruption and may grow and fester until it’s truly irreparable and irreversible. Corruption in motion will stay in motion… and get worse and worse. Snowball effect. Like an infestation of rats.

    Hitler’s rise to power was done legally for the most part, according to what I have heard.

    I am prepared to say that we are now in the early stages of fascism. It’s happened. We are somewhere in-between a democracy and a fascist state. Fake news, he says. This is outrageous! What has happened? This is a nightmare. Trump is a despot. Stupid? Maybe. But he is clearly effective. He’s the president and that took some doing; and the Republicans are scared shitless of him. I think other countries fear him too. They called Hitler a fool too. We do so at our own peril.

    Laurie, Gillibrand praised Sarsour. Gillibrand. I hope she doesn’t run. She loves guns and then changed her mind. She’s a devout Christian, an opportunist, a joke. Remember this. I will be proven right. She’ll be voted out soon or exposed as an unprincipled hypocrite. Warren’s the real deal. So was Franken (although he has issues). Not sure about Booker yet. I like Dr. King. Now he was a leader, a great, great man.

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  • Arkrid,

    May we remind you that this site is run and maintained entirely by the Foundation. We do not force you to use it, we do not charge you for using it, we do not subject you to adverts on it, and we do not make money from you by selling your data. You are guests here, hosted entirely by us. Furthermore, within the limits of what we, the mods, are able to influence (hint: the technology isn’t one of them), we have always tried to respond constructively to constructive requests and feedback from users.

    All we ask in return is that users comply with the site rules.

    Apparently you think this is unreasonable, and that we should not only let users use our website in ways that, in our view, work against the purpose for which it was set up, but that we should also tolerate a degree of rudeness and disrespect towards ourselves and our colleagues that we would not permit towards other users, and allow users to use our site to discuss where else they could decamp to instead.

    Well, we disagree and, frankly, consider that a poor return for our hospitality over the years.

    We are not going to engage in arguments with you or anyone else on this subject, and will remove further comments about it.

    The mods

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  • Phil,

    Right now we have to get a democrat in office in 2020. We are much worse now than ever before. How much of this is “systemic” isn’t clear to me. Problems are problems.

    This is off the top of my head. (Top of my head. What part of the brain might that be?)

    Campaign finance system. Free market fundamentalism. Financial and environmental deregulation. Science denial. Denigration of the press. A national security state. Surveillance state. Reactionary politics. Religious Right has too much influence. Wealth and income inequality. Rule of big business and big corporations. Racism. Belligerent nationalism on the rise. Corporate donors effectively bribing politicians in both parties (but the Republicans are worse, more greedy, and they are sinister, nefarious). The Koch brothers and other mega rich fascist/libertarians control the Republicans. We are becoming hyper-militarized. Xenophobia. Scapegoating of the most vulnerable. A right wing media that is a hundred times more destructive than the so-called left-wing media. Diminution of the right to dissent (protesting football players attacked, for example). Trump ridicules “the resistance.” New tax bill will cause many to lose health coverage and it favors the very wealthy. Unsustainable. Medicare, SS, Medicaid, facing cuts. Mid-East policy is atrocious. Pruitt is a beast. Bad education system. Many people (in many parts of the South and elsewhere) are not getting a decent education and are not politicized enough to even vote. This is by design. And now DeVos wants to promote charter schools and effectively wipe out public education once and for all. Gerrymandering, redistricting, voter suppression. Health system is bad. We need a single-payer system…

    Above all, we are now a quasi-fascist country. Arbitrary deployment of law, unprecedented mendacity, contempt for facts and for journalism. (Journalism is almost dead.) A desire to eliminate accountability and oversight. (They are going after Mueller and people in the EPA who speak out, etc.)

    Those are some of the issues that concern me. Now your turn.

    As for Hillary, check out her now obsolete website for yourself.

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  • Dan,

    You need a response to #197 and I’ve been very busy doing seasonal things. (Domestic violence spikes over Christmas and my daughter is volunteering to help a DV charity. I have Uber duties now.) I promise a full return to #197 sometime later. Just to be going on…

    Is neo-liberalism progressive?

    Is a concern for the little guy over vested money interests progressive or conservative?

    Is there any such thing as a clear brand for political dogma?

    Mostly I am disappointed in what passes for “progressive” in American Politics. It is as poisoned by the same trite narratives of how the world works as most other Americans believe it.

    If the kleptocrats were movie moguls they would have the courage to put out Leni Riefenstahl and D.W.Grifiths. The “Progressives” would put out West Wing 2 (after selling the franchise to Hallmark and getting in a fresh new writing team from “The Middle”) in support of Canonball Run 2.

    What if you actually proposed to “Drain the Swamp?” now its been topped up? What if you actually chose to fight for “the little guy”? What if you explicitly chose not to take money from Kochs or banks for your campaign? What if you had policies to finally unfuck the money markets and make it serve the longer term interests of the nation and better safeguard personal wealth? What if you showed that abandoning the poor is a bigger drain on society than not, that everyone wins?


    Just seen your post. I will read shortly.

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  • I wasn’t crazy about my comment 197, but feel free to respond.

    I don’t like the term neoliberalism; it combines two disparate, heterogeneous concepts (liberalism and laissez faire libertarianism) into one. but I agree that most democrats are fiscally on the conservative side, and not progressive enough, and that there is collusion with big corporations amongst Democrats as well as Republicans.

    Are “neoliberals” progressive? I get confused when I discuss people as if they were walking labels. Who are we talking about? Yes and no, in most cases. Obama, by the way, did more for African Americans than a lot of people give him credit for. I researched it.

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  • Dan

    Again a quickie.

    On the key issues for me Clinton is weak. For example her Financial Trade Taxation is pathetic, being only on cancelled transactions doing nothing to stem casino banking (which simply seeks to trick others out of some of their money with zero investment contribution to actual business), doing less than nothing to encourage the long term investments that all the other major competitor economies achieve by their differing means, nor raising any significant money as Sanders intends to do to pay for health delivery.

    Its all window dressing with HRC, just enough to allow her to claim to her Banking sponsors that the old status quo will be returned at little cost. The media can be trusted to make the appropriate noises. Shabby and deceptive.

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  • But again (yet again), to be preferred to what we are facing now, right? Right? Where is the logic in excoriating a Clinton or an Obama when we are facing (what I regard as) a fascist regime right now. Trump and Pence. They lie like hell, to the public. Just like all fascists do, They tell us we are great – just like Hitler did, and are are taking us all straight to Hell! So yes, I want Obama back and wish to God that the imperfect Clinton (who wasn’t all that bad compared to any fucking Republican and really did care about some issues, I think) had won!!

    Imagine being in a concentration camp and saying: “You know, Hitler might be a brute but that fellow who tried to stop him from rising to power was really very flawed, don’t you think? He was just a businessman out to enrich himself just like the rest. It is true that he was opposed to this kind of persecution, but boy was he weak.”

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  • “Let’s really drain the swamp.”

    is the battle cry, Dan, not, “Lets try that unsuccessful thing again.”

    Until the systemic problems are acknowledged there will be no reliable change. Maybe you’ll have to be broken for a while until more people wake up to their extraordinary country and its unique, systemic failings.

    There’s no-one on the streets, Dan. We (loyal to the real potential of the USA) should be out there with “Drain the swamp” placards.

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  • Phil, you have more confidence in the US regaining its sanity than I do.
    The number of citizens of this swamp that are proud of being ignorant is not going away soon.
    Some of the blame is due to the religious nutballs.
    USA, we’re number one? Only if you are in denial.
    We will get rid of Trump, the problem with that third of voters that support this idiot remains the same.

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  • Phil,

    “Drain the swamp” won’t work. It’s been taken.

    No one on the streets.

    I told you that Bernie’s “revolution” was nothing more than a wish, and that his book should have been called “Our Revolution?” Question-mark. United States Senators are, as a rule, not revolutionary leaders.

    I don’t think America can rest on its laurels forever. Something good in American life has been lost. My neighborhood, once highly fashionable (and still prestigious), has become intolerably commercial and crowded and unpleasant, is turning into an outdoor mall. Ugliness everywhere. It’s not just here. Henry Miller and Norman Mailer, America’s greatest critics of America (in my opinion), would be happy to know that everything they wrote about and warned us about is true and getting worse. Happy to have been right – but sad because they were right.

    Maybe socialism in some form really is the answer. You are a (moral) capitalist, by your own admission. How many people like you are there? Look what it has led to. Ayn Rand said that people are selfish and that is why free-market capitalism is natural. But what she didn’t understand is this: because so many people are inherently selfish we cannot have an unregulated system; we must have prohibitions, regulations, and a highly controlled market. It’s analogous to any prohibitive law. If people were not prone to murder we would not need a law against it. But I don’t buy her premise about human nature. I think, over time, people might grow to like just being healthy, alive, and creative; and if they are not creative, they can enjoy nature or being with friends, or whatever. On the other hand, having delicacy and beauty in a society, elegance and fine things to own, and fine, exquisite places to live, eat, or visit, requires a division of labor. I wouldn’t want to see society as one color; a dull grey. I don’t yet know what the best system of government ought to be; but profit should not be the driving force. Profit! Who is profiting? And at whose expense? Maybe we can have a socialist-capitalist society (an allusion to my remarks about language); but I don’t quite see how. I worry that socialism will turn everything into a uniform dull-grey. Equality but no delicacy or rareness or fineness. That’s bad too. Tough questions.

    On a positive note, America is volcanic; mass action may erupt. And then it’ll be an avalanche of protest and resistance. (Mixed metaphor.) We’ll see. (And it won’t happen because everyone read Bernie’s book; I can assure you of that.)

    Happy Holidays, my friend.

    One thing I do know; we have to stop being phrase-slaves. This horror of the word socialism is a product of years of propaganda and has retarded our growth as a nation.

    “What do we mean by socialism? What do we when we use that term? There are many forms of socialism. The Soviet variety, which had many difficult and burdensome and tyrannical elements to it, was one type. But there’s also social democracy of various kinds. — There’s also anarchism, there’s also cooperativism.

    “Socialism has assumed many forms.—But I think it responds to a primary impulse in the human heart and maybe in the human mind.—I don’t know. I’ve always thought so.—But wouldn’t it be better to have a society organized along social lines than one based on private appropriation of the wealth of nations?”

    -From a speech given at Columbia University in 2014 by my father six weeks before he died of cancer. It was a book party. He gave this speech, about his last published work, from a wheelchair.

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  • P.S. Not a hundred percent sure what I meant by “division of labor”; but my point was that without some element of “inequality” how can there be any luxury and rarity, fineness? Ugh. Now I’m confused. But confusion is good. Not enough confusion out there. Too many know-it-alls.

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  • Drain the Swamp is what people desperately want. And its best feature is it highlights the utter lying failure of its first user.

    Take out every last one of his lies and use it against him.

    How is it not now doubly angry making and motivating as a slogan and objective?

    I think your father’s sentiments were cherishable and I think we can get there without overly frightening the horses. The Equality Trust and the work of Wilkinson and Pickett delivering the evidence in favour of more equal societies, requires no specifically socialist mindset rather a pragmatic and evidenced based one.

    Lifting people out of poverty pays such manifold dividends that it is madness not to do so. Money in their hands goes all the way up through the economy touching every part. It helps people play to their talents and enrich the real assets of a country…people. The middle classes and the rich deserve not to have the poor creating unrest, disaffection and scaring away investment. Do this in the name of evidence not ideology.

    Ideologies have no necessary intelligence. Pragmatism actually does.

    Neo-liberalism is like closing your eyes, turning off most of your brain, and trusting to The Force.

    The USA may well erupt but it could just be an incohate mess with the rich buffered from responsibility by their off shore wealth. We need leaders who will not simply lead them back to a slightly less parasitised state than currently. Politics is corrupt, as HRC mostly demonstrates by her cleaving to the disgraceful status quo of 2016, with vapid policies, mostly headlines. The Democrats need to grow some gonads and commit to draining the swamp and assert that they take the side of the little guy against the excess profit taking and political meddling of Goldman Sachs, CVS Health, Koch etc.

    Remember the dispossessed? The stupid ones will soon realise they still are. The others know already. But HRC’s brown nosing the money remains as repellent to them as ever.

    We deserve a break from this gloom. So Happy Holidays, Dan. And Merry Christmasgiftness to all our readers. Our hard earned cash will not trickle up into those deserving super rich pockets if we don’t spend, spend, spend. I notionally buy everyone a present of “Bad Samaritans” by Ja Hoon Chang. You will see the history of American politics and economic doctrines in a whole new and clearer light and it will give you a whole new respect for the early Tudors.

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  • alf

    Phil, you have more confidence in the US regaining its sanity than I do.

    Errrrm? I don’t feel hugely confident so far. Until the numbers realising the problems are profound, long standing and systemic nothing can really change. I see very little understanding of this from the other Americans I debate elsewhere. Like I say there is no-one on the street.

    But, simple ideas like corrupt politics and drain the swamp are the core of it.

    Trump was hugely clever in leading with the exact thing most wanted but yet least wanted by him. His expectation that he has taken this off the table must be countered every day he tops the swamp up.

    Look, here’s a christmas present Bernie could buy the DP.

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  • I just read this great article. Please read. It says it all.

    Phil, I appreciated everything you said. Except I am not sure about neoliberalism.

    “Neo-liberalism is like closing your eyes, turning off most of your brain, and trusting to The Force.”

    That sounds more like fascism.

    “Neo liberalism” is just free market capitalism, isn’t it? I don’t know what it is, frankly. I looked it up. Different definition every time. The Democrats vary; some are more progressive than others; some might as well be Republicans.

    Many progressives voted for Stein (which was a vote for Trump) because they were opposed to neoliberalism. That was smart. What’s this new obsession you have with neoliberalism? The democrats have had one foot in free market capitalism and have colluded with donors and big corporations for years; but they are all still quantitatively better than Trump. If everyone adopts the attitude that we have to have a true, perfect progressive in office no one will vote for anyone. And Trump will win again.

    What happened to gradualism?

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  • Dan, for those of us who can see through Trump, you could pluck any non-Trumpist off the street and they’d do a better job than he is. Even George W. Bush was better than Trump, god help us. But, to coin a (British) phrase, the Democrats need to be tough on Trump and tough on the causes of Trump. While a Hillary Clinton-style Democrat would certainly reset the US to the way it was pre-Trump, and while that would certainly be a huge relief, it’s not enough. It’s nowhere near enough. Because it was precisely the pre-Trump US that spawned ‘President Trump’ in the first place.

    When a pendulum is not swinging drastically, a moderate swing to one side or the other is enough to offset the former swing to the other side. Simple swings in the past between Any Republican and Any Democrat have brought changes, but not seismic changes. But the US political pendulum has now swung drastically to the right: the neo-fascist right. A gradual swing back from there will still leave you way over to the Right of the political spectrum. Even a swing back to just the other side of the (US political) centre isn’t going to solve the problem: why would you want to return to the kind of political climate from which that horrific swing to fascism emerged? You’re going to need a far more dramatic swing to the left to offset what has happened.

    That said, in some ways we get too hung up on left and right, because voters often don’t actually base their votes on that construct at all. We have seen quite often recently, and not just in the US, that large numbers of voters are so frustrated with their lives and the way nothing ever seems to fundamentally improve for them that they will vote for anything that promises radical change and a kick in the butt for the status quo and the perceived ‘elites’. And that’s precisely what Trump claimed to be offering.

    Trump took that hunger for real, deep, systemic change and exploited it to catapult him to power, where he is indeed creating real, deep, systemic change, but of the worst possible kind.

    The Democrats need to offer something far more radical than just the restoration of the status quo ante. They need to take that widespread hunger for real, deep, systemic change seriously and actually deliver it: but in a way that genuinely does offer hope and prospects and positive action to help the poorest and most disadvantaged. As Phil has pointed out many times, this kind of positive action helps everyone, not just the poorest, because it creates a healthier, less divided, more peaceful, more compassionate society and releases huge amounts of talent and energy that are currently being snuffed out as a matter of deliberate policy because America just can’t get over its contempt for anyone who hasn’t already made it big.

    The US does need to change. Believe me, viewed from Western Europe, from Canada, from Australia, New Zealand and just about any modern economy and democracy, the US is a freak – and I don’t mean just since Trump’s been in the White House. There isn’t a country in the world that gets this stuff right (though some of the Scandinavian countries are well out in front), but there isn’t a developed democracy anywhere that gets it as wrong as the US does.

    Your underlying message always seems to be “Why can’t we just go back to the way we were before?”. But for huge numbers of Americans, “the way we were before” was precisely what they were desperate to change. The status quo ante just isn’t good enough, Dan. Nowhere near good enough. Trump is the ultimate proof of that.

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  • Dan

    These labels are irritating. Neoliberalism. When I first saw the word used here a while back I looked it up too. Since then trying to get a better more complete understanding of it. I now think it’s an important distinction. At first I took it to mean – The new liberalism, in the current time – and I felt that it must be a positive position. Now I don’t think so at all. It’s a misnomer perhaps. Should be – retroliberalism or something else.

    Here’s the problem. As we’ve said before, these labels are tossed about willy-nilly here with no deep understanding of the political spectrum at all by the general public and now we have this neoliberalism label tossed into the murky mix as well. I can see how anyone who self-labels as liberal wouldn’t think to question the neoliberal about the objectionable aspects of that position because they believe the two to be one and the same! This is a matter of education of the public and I do admit that I require further distinction myself. At least I know enough to say that NEOliberalism has got us into bed with Wall Street and big money supercapitalists and now even after they’ve been revealed in flagrante delicto, it seems like disengagement is unlikely.

    I can only hope that next year at the midterm elections, the Dems go into attack mode and straighten out this ideological muck and communicate to the public exactly what they are signing up for. They are being fleeced outright. No amount of tribal loyalty is worth that! I don’t think that the average work a day people here even know what to ask for. This is a feature I see in the third world and with women everywhere. The downtrodden are so busy keeping food on the plate and a roof over their head that they don’t raise their eyes up to the other societies that have solved their very problems. They don’t know what to ask for until they see how good it is on the other side of the fence.

    The fact that we Americans live in a media bubble is diminishing our ability to say – Hey! Canada and Europe (and even undeveloped countries) have universal health care systems and in the majority of cases those systems are better than ours is! Why can’t WE have that too? Why can’t we have that too and even do it BETTER?!

    Why are our kids coming out of university with debts that on an individual level will crush that kid and hold them in a financial stasis for a decade or more? On a national level, we have a generation that has been blocked from moving up in economic class and we are leaving our best young minds to wallow in poverty because they can’t find the money to enter the best universities where they could graduate and contribute to society in ways we can’t even imagine yet. This is an outrage.

    Say what you want about Bernie but his book and speeches have put certain possibilities in the minds of many Americans. Even if they are pie in the sky at this point, he must have excited so many with the possibility of fair health care and university access and several other points that address problems here that place us on the level of a third world country. Our friend, a pilot for a big international carrier comes through Boston on layover from time to time and informs us of the antiquated, run down state of our major airports here. Says that those of some so called third world countries are now in fact, much better than ours here! Not to mention the astounding sublime efficiency of the Japanese airports and those of other countries irregardless of economic station. Of course, people who don’t travel or have an international pilot friend can’t know how bad this problem really is. (Not their fault) No frame of reference whatsoever.

    How can this be fixed? What I impulsively think next is – this is where the elites come in. People who DO know how green the grass is on the other side of that fence need to step up and cut the check and make things happen on a large scale. Unfortunately, here, the account is dwindling fast. The deposits that ought to be made into the public coffers have gone elsewhere. Again – the fleecing of America.

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  • LaurieB #224
    Dec 23, 2017 at 9:44 am

    The fact that we Americans live in a media bubble is diminishing our ability to say – Hey! Canada and Europe (and even undeveloped countries) have universal health care systems and in the majority of cases those systems are better than ours is!

    Most Americans have no idea how much more they pay for a poorer service. (You have to go right off the top of the graph to find US costs!)
    . .. or how many countries ARE better than the US system!

    Why can’t WE have that too?
    Why can’t we have that too and even do it BETTER?!

    Fat-cat living off commercial profits from hospitals, doctors, big-pharma and insurance!

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  • Very and most exactly right in my view Marco and Laurie.

    The problem is NOT Trump. Trump is a symptom of a seriously sick country with too many anxious, biddable citizens and terrible infrastructure resilience, because political nominees and joe public sit where experts should, ideal, in fact, for a kleptocracy playing and draining an idiopolis.

    I use Neoliberal as a more accurate alternate to Libertarianism, which I had been wearing rather thin of late. It is exactly as used by….Ja Hoon Chang and I take it to mean unfettered free market capitalism with a belief in markets’ spooky ability for correct operation without human intervening. Neoliberal is a coining of the right to make it appear “liberal” in the old political sense of not conservative and therefore “progressive”. It is nothing of the sort and is a strategy imposed by economic winners on their would be competitors. Without market restraints the deep pockets always take disproportionately from the market.

    Neoliberalism looking back on history hates the protectionism of the early Republicans who were seeking to actually build industry and jobs for its own folk up north and it creams over those nineteenth century southern Democrats seeking to retain an agrarian country turning the blood of slaves into cotton which it desired to sell to countries without tit fir tat import tarrifs.

    Neoliberals, the one’s with the ever hungry pockets, don’t actually give a fuck for political labels (having thought up a winning term for themselves), so long as the public are pacified.

    Hardnosed pragmatic capitalism used by technocrats has out-performed the fluffy idealism of the free market, neoliberal kleptocrats for thirty years now, even accounting for the hand stuck in the cash register. The neoliberal goose is just about cooked

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  • This is my favourite graphic for health spend and lifespan by country

    Whilst the USA was always a bit crap, at least it was in the pack with the others. What the graphic shows is the instant the USA departed all others to cheat Americans of increasing life extension yet charge hugely more for clearly partial healthcare….


    Since 2014 the average American lifespan has actually fallen unlike other advanced nations. Its suicide rate continues to climb and is nearly double UK figures now. So with the roll back of medical coverage costs will go further to the right and down.

    This is a stressed society. It doesn’t need the mega rich to step in as Laurie fears. It only needs the well to do, the Patrician Classes to notice that the economic and social mechanisms are failing too many people. They simply need to rally around and support policies that make decent systemic changes. Agree to higher taxes and maybe taxes on their gambling investments (seeking to trick money out of others, as opposed to underwriting actual money making ventures).

    They need to be less fucking selfish.

    Merry Christmas.

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  • Good comments, Laurie Marco, Phil, Alan. I agree with most of it.

    I’ll make some points I guess. I have some questions. Can’t go back to the “status quo”? But we cannot continue on this path either. Can’t go forward, can’t go back. Must it be like that?

    It IS about Trump; how could it not be? And his rise to power is also a symptom. He is a symptom and a cause, as is every great scourge. Symptoms are passive. He seized the moment, was aggressive, active. And I still find the word neoliberal annoying. I still don’t know what it means and I am not a stupid man. What happened to neocon? Why can’t we just say what we mean? According to this definition of neoliberal Trump is the ultimate neoliberal. And yet he is succeeding because his predecessors (from Carter through Obama) were neoliberals? But most of the Democrats (as bad as some of them are) are not libertarians. They are something in-between liberals and libertarians. Trump pretended to be the answer to neoliberalsism. But he is a real one, a neoliberal fascist. So let’s get back to the less malignant variety, to the middle. Sanders was like Trump, an outsider. Who will know the difference between a true reformer and a charlatan swine like Trump? Labels are, as I said, destructive. Give me a Sanders. Short of that, I will take a good old neoliberal like Obama. Anything but Trumpism.

    I have a headache, hope I am not getting sick. Help me out with this. Confused. Thanks. We can’t go back, you say?

    Mailer, on Democracy Now, held up his cane and pointed to one end and said this is the far right; this is where it is the hottest; this is where violence and deep passion is. This is where we must not go. Then he pointed to the other side of his cane and said here is radical Left. Can’t go there. Burning hot. We have to appeal to the middle. But Trump spoke to the middle and lied…

    If we are still to appeal to the middle Trump must be exposed. A tall order.

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  • Phil, others, my last comment (still in spam land) included part of an interview with Mailer. He addresses the need to appeal to conservatives. You might find it interesting. He argues that the center (what you might call the neoliberal center) of this country is the corporations. But we need someone who is “slightly to the left of the middle” who “can work with the corporations.” He added that we need guile; all about power…Anyway, he said it better. It will be up there soon.

    Interview from 2004, but remarkably relevant. Listen to how he begins: “If I were a Republican…” Exactly what Trump has done.

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  • Phil

    Neoliberal is a coining of the right to make it appear “liberal” in the old political sense of not conservative and therefore “progressive”.

    Then why use the phrase? You’re just adding (in this instance) to all this infernal confusion, in my opinion.

    It’s like the term “regressive left”; why not just say that someone is wrong on a particular issue? They are not regressive because they are on the Left; they are wrong because they have bad judgment or maybe they are too emotional, or too quick to defend those they feel are vulnerable. But neoliberal and regressive left are odious terms.

    My mother said that Iran is fine after I sent her the article that Alan had posted. Can you blame her? There is so much vilification of Iran now. Is she wrong? I guess. But not because she’s a leftist. One thing has nothing to do with the other!

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  • P.S. Just spoke to the oracle (my mother). She has a point. Why demonize Iran? Iran is a modern country. Israel wants to bomb it. Jews live well in Iran (especially if you have money).

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  • Dan,

    Why use the odious term pro life?

    Use the term that creates least confusion. Use the term that academics would use, that exactly nails your point. What is your problem? If you thought that it was good merely because it had “liberal” in it then let it be a lesson not to be so manipulated by others. I used Libertarian for long enough, but people could shrug off the term and believe that their own belief in an maximally unfettered free market was acceptable. Its simply not. If you believe in a maximally unfettered free market, a faith based fool you are. Neoliberal is the term.

    On Regressive Left I used Hyper Pro Social, (a truly accurate account of their mindset) for years, to a deafening silence. They are on the left and keenly fight for those they feel denied social justice but they are ferocious haters of any that don’t unconditionally join their hating club. They have a single level account of the world and people’s motivations. Love or hate seems to be a that account. They are a secular equivalent of the Roman Catholic Church, anti-Utilitarian absolutists, uninterested in the complex computations of the Better Path. “Regressive” seems pretty reasonable to me now.

    People use “nice” to mean pleasant. Outrageous.

    I’ve been trying to promote Iran and President Rouhani for years. It is a wonderful country carefully slipping out from under the doddering and hateful Ayatollahs. Demonizing it is indeed wicked, done in the west by Saudi suck-ups and done in Saud out of fear. I like your mum. Wise woman.

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  • Found an old thread on another site. This outspoken and impassioned fellow or woman (“anonymous”) may have a point, about the use of the term neoliberal.

    You are all wrong!!!

    You are all wrong because you are trying to use a term that means Conservative, Right Wing in Europe, to apply in the USA, when we already have a term for that, Neoconservative.

    Liberal in Europe means Conservative RIGHT Wing.
    Liberal in the USA means Progressive LEFT Wing.

    People in the USA picked it up from European blogs and media, and thought it would apply to the USA, they thought LIBERAL meaning Democrats, that is just not the case, when the term Liberal has a total opposite meaning in Europe than it does in the USA, you can’t apply the term in the USA, we already have an equivalent, that would be Neoconservative.

    BOTH Neoliberal in Europe and Neoconservative in the USA support: Free Market, Privatization, Lower Taxes, Less Government Spending, Deregulation, etc.. etc… etc.

    Those are Republicans Right Wing Conservative policies, that have nothing to do with Left Wing Democrats in the USA.

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  • Why use the term National Socialist?

    Liberal in Europe means Conservative RIGHT Wing.


    In the twentieth century in the UK the Liberals where a centrist pragmatic policy party with rather left of centre sentiments.

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  • Phil, you’ll like that clip of Mailer in 2014. It’ll be up there soon. It reminded me of you. Having guile, being strategic, trying to get old-style conservatives to come aboard… You’ve talked about that.

    Pro-life is an absolutely odious term; I use it out of habit and weakness. Two wrongs don’t make a right. New liberal? I don’t like it. Sorry. Libertarian is an established term. How’s about neolibertarian?

    Don’t have time to comment further. Talk to you in a day or so.

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    Neoliberalism or neo-liberalism[1] refers primarily to the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism.[2]:7 Such ideas include economic liberalization policies such as privatization, austerity, deregulation, free trade,[3] and reductions in government spending in order to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society.[11] These market-based ideas and the policies they inspired constitute a paradigm shift away from the post-war Keynesian consensus which lasted from 1945 to 1980.[12][13]

    Exactly this.

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  • Just because what you have up there is in red and highlighted and from Wikipedia doesn’t mean that I now have to agree. I still don’t like the term.

    National Socialism. Another term that means something else in German and that has been used ad nauseam by haters of leftism. Why are you giving me examples of problematic terms (pro-life, national socialism) to defend the use of this term Neoliberal? That doesn’t make sense.

    Your point, however, about what liberal means in the UK is well taken.

    But I read right of center.

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  • Liberal is an adjective meaning “free of”. It could mean free of the old ways of doing things or applied to government and markets it could be free of government and market constraints. These are correct usages of “free of”.

    When dissing people call them by their own name, lest they think you are talking of others.

    Don’t depend on social and value-laden accretions to simple concepts like “free” to be stable. Always do the work to find out. Your bizarre idea that ideas are fixable (made fixed) by the words used as tags denies our great human virtue of cultural evolution. Like evolving what it is to be a Muslim or religious or good. No wonder you hate W.

    I still don’t like the term.

    Good! They are hateful people seeking to mislead others with the term. Sounds like they bamboozled you. Pro-Life is equally loathsome. Waddayagonnado? Its their tag and you want to clearly point the bastards out.

    Must wrap presents now…

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  • Dan #233
    Dec 24, 2017 at 3:38 am

    This outspoken and impassioned fellow or woman (“anonymous”) may have a point, about the use of the term neoliberal.

    You are all wrong because you are trying to use a term that means Conservative, Right Wing in Europe, to apply in the USA, when we already have a term for that, Neoconservative.

    The use of “conservative” in the USA is just the ultra-right erecting a facade of political respectability!

    Liberal in Europe means Conservative RIGHT Wing.

    This is nonsense!
    If you look at UK political parties, there are:

    The Conservative Party – with sub-groups across right and centre-right.

    The Liberals and Liberal Democrats, which occupy the centrist position between the 2 main parties.

    and The Labour Party with sub sections from centre-left to socialist left.

    Then the are the smaller parties of Greens and regional Scottish, Welsh and Irish Parties.

    Finally the are the loony fringe groups of:- (dumb-communist) Socialist Workers’ Party, (frankly honest) Monster Raving Loony Party, (fascist) BNP and (Europhobic) UKIP.

    Liberal in the USA means Progressive LEFT Wing.

    Not really. In Europe and most of the world, US liberals would be main-steam conservatives.
    They only have a vaguely credible claim to be liberal in comparison to the ultra-right nature of the present Republican Party, when they fight the Republicans to move the agenda back slightly TOWARDS a liberal position!

    France has quite a wide spectrum of parties actually gaining elected positions.

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  • Shouldn’t have quoted the dude. Sorry.

    Good point about the word “conservative”. What does that mean, anyway? Are right wing nuts more values oriented, more respectable, than progressives? Word! Words! Roy Moore is a conservative. What was MLK? What are conservative values? The family? Liberals have a bad attitude about families? It’s all a big con-job, a mask for the…er, neo-liberal agenda…

    “Now, the actual policies of the Republicans, whether it’s Paul Ryan or Donald Trump, to the extent that he’s coherent, Ted Cruz, you pick him, or the establishment, is basically enrich and empower the very rich and the very powerful and the corporate sector. You cannot get votes that way. So therefore the Republicans have been compelled to turn to sectors of the population that can be mobilized and organized on other grounds, kind of trying to put to the side the actual policies, hoping, the establishment hopes, that the white working class will be mobilized to vote for their bitter class enemies, who want to shaft them in every way, by appealing to something else, like so-called social conservatism—you know, abortion rights […]and so on.” -Chomsky

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  • One more.

    On Regressive Left I used Hyper Pro Social, (a truly accurate account of their mindset) for years, to a deafening silence. They are on the left and keenly fight for those they feel denied social justice but they are ferocious haters of any that don’t unconditionally join their hating club… -P. R.

    Phil, what I think you are talking about is totalitarianism. Totalitarianism of the Left has always been with us. And it is to be found in revolutionary movements of every kind. In every revolutionary movement there are those who have a lust to become totalitarian, and with whom no peace is possible so long as any idea or expression of will other than their own is allowed to prevail.

    Liberalism has a number of meanings. It also means left wing, open minded, progressive – and that is how I like to use it; not as a morphed term of abuse. Neoliberal. -Fine. But liberalism is also a good thing. Like fire, it is good and bad.

    Academics! They have added and also, in my opinion, done great harm, to the English language. Too much verbiage, jargon! Neo this and post that!!

    (Doesn’t feel like Christmas. Warmish here. No snow. Weird.)

    Comment 229 is up now, with the Mailer clip.

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  • Dan

    Don’t let Trumpists identify with the label “conservative” without further inquiry. In most cases after a few questions I must point out to these people that they do NOT fit into that label of choice. Inevitably, they reveal a desire to move our society back in time to when:

    Men were men, women were women, blacks and browns knew their place and guys had good paying jobs (even with no education) and at the end of the day, drove home from work in their cars, parked in the driveways of their suburban little home, met at the door by their adoring wife and 2.5 children, ate a home cooked hot meal and spent the rest of the night watching sports on tv. America went around saving the world from villains and disgusting primitivism and deserved adoration. A song that sums it up:

    That’s the American version of the reactionary dreamworld. This might be the most benign form of it but I find that this is what some of the Trumpists have in mind. Another bunch of Trumpists are much more extreme in their version of the utopia world that they want to bring back – all religious fundamentalists. The Christian fundamentalists here want to recreate a more severe version of the houses made of ticky-tacky. A much more frightening place that I believe even they don’t know what they’re wishing for. They are deluded and brainwashed to the extent that they are incapable of rational thought. They just spew out their stupid group-think phrases, “Liberals are a bunch of baby killers! “If women would dress decently then they wouldn’t get raped!” “The orthodox of all religions are warriors in the same fight. Orthodox/fundamentalists are all reactionaries who want to drag us back into the dark ages.

    People who hold these views are NOT conservatives – they are reactionaries and in conversation they must be held accountable for their opinions and positions and affiliations. Own it!

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    A reactionary is a person who holds political views that favor a return to the status quo ante, the previous political state of society, which they believe possessed characteristics (discipline, respect for authority, etc.) that are negatively absent from the contemporary status quo of a society. As an adjective, the word reactionary describes points of view and policies meant to restore the status quo ante.[1]

    Political reactionaries are largely found on the right-wing of a political spectrum, though left-wing reactionaries can also exist.[2] Reactionary ideologies can also be radical, in the sense of political extremism, in service to re-establishing the status quo ante.

    Neoreactionary: (same article)

    The movement’s objectives included opposition to any form of egalitarianism as well as “a return to traditional gender roles, monarchism, and typically a more libertarian-oriented economic system”.[15]


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  • Dan

    Phil, what I think you are talking about is totalitarianism

    That’s like rejecting the term “meningitis” in favour of “fever”. If you are to stand any chance of treating it, you need to identify the specific type of fever in question. Totalitarianism is far too broad a term, mostly associated with attitudes and behaviours that may well be ‘hyper’ but certainly aren’t ‘pro social’.

    Why are you so resistant to nuance, Dan? Phil is trying to pin down a specific type of behaviour, not just some vague catch-all covering everything we don’t like.

    And why do you continually interpret the “Left” in “Regressive Left” as a suggestion that everyone on the Left is “regressive”? You’re someone who values and esteems and respects language and writing, so you must be familiar with the concept of modifying adjectives.

    If you’ll forgive me for saying so, it often strikes me that you respond to ideas tribally. You sense a criticism of what you view as “your” side in an argument and instantly reject it, refuse to even understand (or admit to understanding) the argument being made.

    Nothing’s ever perfect, Dan. No person, no movement, no party, no system, no country, no nothing. That’s so patently obvious that we lose more by attempting to deny it than we do by admitting it. There’s simply no need to be so defensive about “our” side. Indeed, being too defensive about it, denying its imperfections and weak points, removes any possibility of making it better.

    For the Left to prevail and make life better for all, we’re going to have to be able to work with and alongside people who don’t currently share every last one of our values. The “hyper pro social” – who care so ferociously about the underdog that they see everyone else as the enemy – are a noisy obstacle to this because they are too busy demonising the non-underdog (even the non-underdog who actually shares their goal). They exert more energy “calling out” their perceived impure enemies than they do on actually making things better for the people they care about so much.

    As with the meningitis, the more precisely we can identify the disease, the better our chances of identifying effective treatments for it. Insisting on subsuming it under a catch-all term practically guarantees that no cure will be found.

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  • Too much verbiage, jargon!

    No, for academics it is professional language with pretty clear definitions or it is a signal from others about their intended manipulations of still others or it is earnest. I couldn’t agree less. Your personal irritations about word usage is only your own problem.

    You can fix neoliberal by expanding every mention, that illiberal/ conservative/ dishonest term neoliberal etc. We discuss concepts and details here. Labels are a frequently disingenuous distraction.

    Most of the time you misapprehend me by picking out such a tag from our conversation rather than the extensive exposition of my ideas. You will then attribute to me ideas I have never promoted. You have to listen past all these tags to what people actually say and how they act. Its very frustrating.

    Wrapping is thirsty work. I can feel a mid afternoon sherry coming on.

    Good on Mailer, but we are in different territory now, with the right wing cards all on the table. We must take a good part of the middle with us, now the dark side is manifest. We must get them to live up to their own standards. Mailer is right they are secretly a little ashamed. Now their neoliberal excuses for selfishness have revealed themselves for what they are.

    Thank you, Marco. Much clearer.

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  • I don’t understand you again? Is that it? You use a word and I object and that makes me wrong or uncomprehending. Always the same. Neo-liberal. Never heard that one until recently, don’t like it. That’s your problem, not mine. If I have to spend too much time thinking about what a word means or doesn’t mean I am not going to use it in my everyday speech.

    So how is a reactionary different than a neoliberal or a conservative from a reactionary or a liberal from a libertarian?

    Enough, I am sick of this nonsense. You can scratch each other’s feet. I know what I mean; do you?

    And hyper pro social is not a good term. I call them assholes – right or left….

    And Islamophobia is fine. And I don’t change my vocabulary because of what is fashionable among academicians, and I use jargon sparingly, if at all.

    Merry f-ing Christ Mass

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  • Marco,

    And why do you continually interpret the “Left” in “Regressive Left” as a suggestion that everyone on the Left is “regressive”?

    Not true at all. Nor am I tribal as I am not defending anything but my own individual ideas. I have sensed an element of tribal thinking among members of this site – which is interesting and quite forgivable. I am willing, gratified, to be proven wrong if I am wrong. I admit it constantly. Anyway, what I do interpret, to use this example, is that everyone on the so-called regressive left is a leftist, not that all leftists are regressive leftists. And I do not think it is helpful to suggest that leftists as leftists have a special problem in this way; I think a larger concept – that includes all people – is more fair, or less unfair. So I said it sounds totalitarian… (And above, I said they’re “assholes”.)

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  • However…

    It is possible that my friend Phil is, at times, just too subtle for me, that I am, at times, unable to grasp certain points that he makes. If this is the case I am sorry. But I simply cannot form a clear idea what “neo-liberal” actually means. I understand that it has something to do with classical liberalism and laissez-faire. But that does not, in my view, do justice to either the complex philosophy of classical liberalism or to contemporary liberalism. It just adds, again in my view, to the confusion and to the denigration of liberalism. And Americans have all but lost their affection for liberalism. So now we have to say “progressive”. Soon progressive will fall out of fashion and that fine word will have to be replaced, and I will again be disagreeing with someone about that. It’s all rather insidious. I agree that words are important; couldn’t agree more…

    Perhaps, Marco, I am a bit of a conservative and status-quo, when it comes to language. Phil called me a conservative a while back. (I misinterpreted, of course.)

    You mentioned identifying the disease. Yes. Specificity and precision is important. Don’t just say disease; say meningitis. That is why I said totalitarian. That’s the disease; not regressivism (if that is a word) and certainly not leftism per se. These are my views, that’s all.

    Hi, Alf! Merry Hoilidays to you too.

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  • Phil

    Good on Mailer, but we are in different territory now…

    I am afraid you’re right. I just spent a half hour reading news about Trump from a variety of sources. This corporate Plutocrat is simply lying to the people on an ongoing basis, is sinister, indecent. No question about it. I am not entirely sure that the time isn’t ripe for a bloody civil war. I do hope (and, if I were religious, would pray) that this extreme reactionary administration can be dismantled, and that this crisis can be resolved, peacefully.

    Laurie, Hi. Question: what is the difference between a conservative (today) and a reactionary (today)? How can one be the former without being the latter? What is a true (non-reactionary) conservative? I ask this not to challenge you but because I don’t know the answer. (To be honest, I have never really understood what Conservative means. Does anyone? I do know what Reactionary means.)

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  • I forgot to explain why I don’t think the phrase hyper-pro-social is useful.

    “Hyper pro social” says too much and too little, is ambiguous, wordy, and non-specific. Not a good term. It could refer to militant racists and neo-nazis, anyone who wants to bring about their idea of social reform. It’ll never catch on. “Left totalitarian” is clear and better, imo. (May I disagree? Thanks.)

    (It is precisely because I am so highly sensitive to nuance that I am able to point out these nuances.)

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  • Marco #245
    Dec 24, 2017 at 9:33 am

    And why do you continually interpret the “Left” in “Regressive Left” as a suggestion that everyone on the Left is “regressive”?

    I think it should be obvious why ultra-right propagandists erect the strawman “regressive left” to falsely label their mainstream critics!

    “Regressive” basically means going backwards, so the first actions of any incoming civilised administration, is going to be undoing the right-wing elitist deregulatory corruption, – (which they esteem as the “highest form of business model”), before putting taxpayer resources into projects to benefit the wider community!
    There is a need to stop money leaking from worthwhile projects, into the pockets of profiteers, and charlatans, before increasing the flow from public coffers, personal incomes, or the banking system!

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  • One more for today.

    First of all, sorry for my rancor (248).


    They are hateful people seeking to mislead others with the term [neo-liberal]. Sounds like they bamboozled you. Pro-Life is equally loathsome. Waddayagonnado? Its their tag and you want to clearly point the bastards out.

    Phil, I must confess that you have me totally befuddled. I have no idea what you are talking about. You use a term that you yourself don’t like and then criticize me for not liking it and not getting you? I have no idea what you’re saying here (above). That’s okay. Waddayagonnado?

    And let’s agree to disagree about academics and their words. They (like the gods themselves) disagree with each other, you know. I recall our last unpleasant exchange about the meaning of the words compassion, sympathy, and empathy and still think your definitions were as wrong as they are rigid. You say I am rigid when it comes to words?

    Hi, Alan. Refreshing comment. That term was actually coined by that fellow who is always talking about Islam and terrorism. (Forgot his name.) He is not on the Right, but perhaps he has a latent affinity for conservatism and a deep, unconsciuous detestation of liberalism.

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  • Alan #254

    I think it should be obvious why ultra-right propagandists erect the
    strawman “regressive left” to falsely label their mainstream critics!

    Neither Dan nor Phil is an ultra-right propagandist, and we’re not talking here about merely undoing the harm done by the Right. We’re talking about those who pursue a left-wing agenda in a way that harms that agenda. And the point of talking about that is to understand a particular problem faced by our side of the battle, with a view to identifying ways of overcoming it.

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  • Dan

    And I do not think it is helpful to suggest that leftists as leftists
    have a special problem in this way; I think a larger concept – that
    includes all people – is more fair, or less unfair. So I said it
    sounds totalitarian… (And above, I said they’re “assholes”.)

    We have a special problem with a group of people on our side who behave in this way and therefore hold back progress towards our goals. The only point in having this discussion at all is ultimately to enable us to find ways of dealing with that problem. But to deal with a problem, we first have to pin it down and identify it clearly. “Assholes” isn’t going to cut it. It wouldn’t even cut it in a casual conversation down the pub. The whole point is that the ‘hyper pro social’ are NOT, at heart, assholes. It’s not that they don’t care about other people. It’s that they’re so caught up in the emotion of caring about other people that rationality and pragmatism get totally swamped by it, and they therefore become unwitting obstacles to achieving their own (our own), caring cause. This isn’t about apportioning blame, Dan. We’re not kids in a schoolyard trying to avoid being told off (“But I wasn’t the only one, Miss! He did it too!”).

    “Hyper pro social” says too much and too little, is ambiguous, wordy,
    and non-specific. Not a good term. […] It’ll never catch on.

    It doesn’t need to catch on. It doesn’t need to be elegant. It merely serves a purpose in this discussion, to pin down a specific issue, a specific obstacle to our own side making the progress we seek to make.

    It could refer to militant racists and neo-nazis, anyone who wants to
    bring about their idea of social reform.

    NO! Militant racists and neo-nazis would be “hyper anti social”. Dan, you may not like the term, but people here have spent huge amounts of time explaining it and discussing it, mostly in response to your quibbles about it, so it’s frankly astonishing that you should still so completely fail to grasp what is meant by it.

    “Assholes”? Really? That level of analysis (sic) just isn’t worth responding to, Dan. Very few things will be worth responding to while you insist on viewing the world in terms of “good people” vs “bad people”. That’s not politics. That’s not analysis. That’s theology.

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  • Hi, Marco,

    The Right eats up this stuff.

    I really think the focus should be on the harms being done by those who are pursuing their right-wing agenda. There is enough fulmination about, and denigration of, the Left to go around.

    But of course you’re right. Many leftists give leftism a bad name and do harm to the cause. If you and others can come with some ideas about how to tackle that problem more power to you; I am more concerned about the hard right; I myself don’t have the time or energy to worry too much about the left right now.

    (I will say this: at a time like this we need to unite as best we can. When people, whether they be democrats or oppressed minorities, turn on each other, it’s bad. Divide and conquer, says the Republican. I would say that the treatment that Al Franken received was excessive and an act of betrayal. He is a true progressive. And he was forced to resign by his fellow Democrats. That concerns me. Moreover, when progressive blacks, gays, Muslims, Jews, etc., turn against each other it is bad. We all need to unite as best we can. How well we succeed at actually doing that is another matter.)

    No, Marco, militant racists are interested in society. That makes them hyper social. They just have a different idea of what society should be than we do. So you don’t like the word “asshole”. Okay. I do – sometimes.

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  • I am more concerned about the hard right; I myself don’t have the time
    or energy to worry too much about the left right now.

    But you do seem to have the time and energy to quibble and obstruct when others do so. If we haven’t progressed to discussing how to deal with the problem, it’s largely because every mention of it provokes a meltdown from you about the term itself and then about the very existence of the issue it describes. If you’re not interested in that issue, why not just leave discussion of it to those of us who are? It’s not as if there weren’t countless other discussions here about the horrors of the hard right.

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  • The whole point is that the ‘hyper pro social’ are NOT, at heart, assholes. It’s not that they don’t care about other people. It’s that they’re so caught up in the emotion of caring about other people that rationality and pragmatism get totally swamped by it…

    How do you know what motivates people?

    Phil said this:

    On Regressive Left I used Hyper Pro Social, (a truly accurate account of their mindset) for years, to a deafening silence. They are on the left and keenly fight for those they feel denied social justice but they are ferocious haters of any that don’t unconditionally join their hating club…

    Ferocious haters of anyone who disagrees with them! This is what I responded to. That is not the attitude of caring people caught up in emotion, as you say. (Why don’t you read what I write and what I respond to more carefully instead of lecturing me? And I am neither quibbling nor obstructing.) I called such people totalitarian; and if you ever have the displeasure of being persecuted by people like this you’ll know very intimately what one means by “asshole.”

    I agree with almost everything you have said on this site, by the way. Bye, for now, Marco.

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  • Marco #256
    Dec 25, 2017 at 5:51 am

    Alan #254

    I think it should be obvious why ultra-right propagandists erect the strawman “regressive left” to falsely label their mainstream critics!

    Neither Dan nor Phil is an ultra-right propagandist, and we’re not talking here about merely undoing the harm done by the Right. We’re talking about those who pursue a left-wing agenda in a way that harms that agenda.

    I agree. The point I am making is a similar one to your own.
    Namely that a small minority making poor arguments are being seized on as an example of “typical” Liberal positions, in a similar way to the bought-in climate-change deniers, pretending that the world’s top climate scientists are just a bunch of ideological tree-hugging hippies!

    And the point of talking about that is to understand a particular problem faced by our side of the battle, with a view to identifying ways of overcoming it.

    Yes the position of fringe fanatics making poor arguments, should be clearly separated from mainstream informed expert opinion.
    The problem is that the Trump-base-yahoos, don’t know the difference, and are constantly having their ignorant misconceptions reinforced by the propagandist stooge-media of the far-right!

    I have seen this sort of thing happen at conferences, where delegates are warned to be careful what they say to certain sections of the press, but the “know-it-all fringe idiots” with their own nutty agendas, promptly go off and blabber their nonsense, to the enemies of the members they are supposed to be representing, and then feature as “star representatives” of the mainstream view, in the following day’s headlines!

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  • Forgot to say something…

    “I am more concerned about the hard right; I myself don’t have the time or energy to worry too much about the left right now.”

    I left out the word “extreme” and you got me. Extreme left. Obviously the left and the right are intertwined. The democrats and people on the left generally have to get their act together; that goes without saying. I meant to say: I am not interested in the extremists on the left, the so-called hyper pro social. They don’t concern me, and too many people spend too much time fulminating about leftist stupidity and fanaticism. Some of these fulminating people, and I know a few, will be registered Republicans in 20 years or less. I know one guy, a professor, who calls himself leftist and yet all he does is criticize the left. And he doesn’t like to hear criticism of Trump. A lot of people like that. Weird.

    What the strategies of the left, going forward, will be, however, is crucial, obviously.

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  • Well, a fantastic day with the extended family. Champagne and egg and bacon butties on the beach, to kick it off. Clever and thoughtful presents from everyone. Lunch (superb) to feed everyone for several days (and will). I’m happy. We got as close as we could to “White wine in the sun”, the egg yolk standing in for the sunshine.

    Very probably the reason for the season (in its first home up north) is families and as my daughter found out working through the night at a refuge for the vulnerable, the slow, abiding rewards of mutuality against the dark, the cold and the brutal. Its part of the reason for “natalis solis invicti (the Roman “birth of the unconquered sun”), and the birthday of Mithras, the Iranian “Sun of Righteousness” whose worship was popular with Roman soldiers. The winter solstice, another celebration of the sun, fell just a few days earlier.” No wonder it was hijacked in 336CE for another extended family…

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  • How do you know what motivates people?

    A good question… Psychology, tested by inquiry.

    I’ve maintained a dialogue with a number of SJWs, Regressive Leftists, Hyper Pro Social folks (terms used in a variety of situations, seeking to point to more or less the same people) for a number of years now. A few have been very rewarding. A few have taught me never to underestimate their serious good intentions. Others seem to have taken away the concerns for terms like Islamophobia (and the moral precision and efficacy of Anti Muslim Bigot.) A few even have come to accept that empathy (as commonly defined by the experts in the field) is a cognitive attribute that is highly variable in a population (more variable than many other cognitive attributes) and that problems may exist with its exceptional deficit but possibly also with its surfeit. (Research showing the two sides of oxytocin, a major mediator of empathy, suggests the hormone appears to create a more protected in-group by defining a more hated out-group with simple triggering… race language, appearance behaviours.)

    In sticking close to SJWs and supporting what I see as their well evidenced judgement calls, I am personally less and less harassed as an out-grouper, and more and more considered as someone who can helpfully reframe their political desires by precisely appealing to specifics, facts that ostensively can be shown to be beneficial or detrimental as they require. Moving away from tags, like language usage, as a definer of good or bad in their right wing foe and towards the quality of the reasoning and it supporting evidence, they can increasingly take themselves (and by extension via fake-news attacks, me and the tightly argued left) out of the firing line, to our mutual benefit.

    I urge all to go out and adopt some SJWs, observe what they say and why and how that fails to connect sometimes and propose help.

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  • ngram viewer is a must to understand the dynamics of cultural evolution and its neologisms.

    Put neoliberal, neoliberalism and hyphenated, comma separated into the search box, run the search to 2008 and turn off the smoothing to see how a single use happened around 1960, but the term took off immediately post 1980 and peaked around 2005. It is an economic term rather than a political one and is understood by its users, academics and its enemies to embody the substance detailed in the first paragraph of its wiki entry as posted.

    “Liberal” originally “free” “without constraint”, must be understood contextually at all times.

    The liberal use of oppressive laws greatly damaged the liberal cause

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  • Dan,

    The Right eats up this stuff.

    Illustrate this, if you could, please, because I don’t see what I do as anything but denying them points of leverage and providing our own side the best most disabling tools for their entirely emotional twaddle.

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  • I dunno…

    They take take phrases that rigid, angry, and stupid totalitarian-minded people on the “Left” have created in order to silence other leftists (an easy mark); and the Right adds it to their artillery: political correct. Words like that. The left got tired of political correctness – and I’ve always hated political correctness; they were the enemy as far as I was concerned – and now it’s used by the right to criticize valid, I see valid, criticism!!

    Nothing wrong with that, I guess. Not surprising. Words are meant to be passed on, to be shared and used. Like all ideas… Inevitable.

    But you can’t make me like all your words or expect me not to express my objections to this new language. (And I think my objections are valid even if others don’t.) Can’t make me. I don’t care how right you are or think you are or how well you can justify these words. If I don’t think a word or expression is good, if I don’t like even the smell, or feel, of a phrase I won’t use it. Hyper pro social is fine, means something to you. Neoliberal has its own history and evolution. I still don’t like ’em, feel uncomfortable with ’em, – like when you try on a pair of shoes that fit but you know they’re going back in the box. Something like that, but more at stake.

    In any event, I said what I had to say. Onward and upward. Glad you had a good day.

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  • I just had a thought (while I was eating a bagel). As devoted as I am to the cause of justice and inequality, and as opposed as I am to the terrors of the Right and the present administration in particular, I have to say that it does seem a bit unfair to the other side that we get to have the word “progressive”. We are the progressives. Progress is a potent and powerful concept; it connotes something vital and indispensable; why is it that only leftists and democrats can call themselves progressive? That doesn’t seem fair to, say, a conservative (whatever that means) candidate who has ideas about the future, and about industry or technology, or whatever. It seems a little unfair that we have a monopoly of sorts on such a word. But…waddayagonnado?

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  • Forgot something.

    “The Right eats up this stuff.”

    Terms like Regressive Left and Political Correctness are used against us by right wing people a lot.

    That’s all I meant. Nothing you are doing. You are trying to prevent that.

    I don’t see what I do as anything but denying them points of leverage and providing our own side the best most disabling tools for their entirely emotional twaddle.

    True. And I wasn’t talking about you.

    (I don’t think it is wise to be forever seeking words that can never be used against us. Devote some time to that but know when to quit. It’ll never end. Atheist becomes non-theist, regressive becomes hyper pro social, Islamophobe becomes anti Muslim bigot, etc. The word with impenetrable armor is not the answer, in my opinion. They will always find our Achilles heel. And I don’t wish to argue about the word Neoliberal anymore. I am hopelessly confused by that term.)

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  • Dan, this feels like progress.

    I likened neoliberal to pro-choice because they are deceptive words mixing in “good sounding” terms with a profoundly hateful idea.

    and stupid totalitarian-minded people on the “Left” have created in order to silence other leftists…

    Yet the left of all stripes need a degree of defending, because the left is the side of a truer form of mutualism. I used to think they, the regressives, later the SJWs, dismissing their fellow travellers on the left as inadequate. that they were some sort of malicious bad, like totalitarian, say.

    I coined Hyper Pro Social elsewhere for other reason’s because I profoundly disagreed Professor Baron Cohen that ever larger amounts of empathy in a person was only ever good. I could see this, tuning in to the harms of others and feeling them as your own (his definition), was potentially a source of error and manipulation. I later mooted that this was the reason for regressive left behaviour. The studies on oxytocin and in-group out-group formation rather confirmed this and provided a mechanism that made evolutionary sense.

    Hyper pro social has little negative innately in the term. It means very, very mutual. Studying SJWs at close quarters has been very rewarding. I think my analysis is bang on. I have met none that I would condemn with a term like totalitarian. Totalitarians (literally effective dictators) NEVER root their actions and beliefs in a concern for others than themselves. SJWs’ root motivation is for others first and the supporting group second, they just screw up later, misreading their more contemplative, fellow leftists.

    Finding terms to counter describe “neo-liberal” (the economic policy) and “libertarian” (the political theory of human economic interactions that nurtured it), I proposed “selfish” and “organised-selfishness” as suitable terms, or epithets. Mine is a critical analysis with very deliberate political and social intentions.

    I am aspie and low in visceral emotional engagement, but with decades of acting and a passion for observing others to understand why they do what they do and even experience all their emotions via a more contemplative route, I think myself in a good place to help. As a “slow feeler” it may though do a little (or a lot) of confounding for some others, those quick feeling normals.

    Have a relaxing time, Dan. I am off to some more wine and lunch later and the sun is out!

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  • Phil,

    You are truly a thinking man – and coming from me, that’s quite…well, my modesty… Enjoy the day.

    (Didn’t you say that you likened neoliberal to pro-life? You said pro-choice above.)

    Some progress? I think so too.

    Just to clarify, you said this:

    On Regressive Left I used Hyper Pro Social, (a truly accurate account of their mindset) for years, to a deafening silence. They are on the left and keenly fight for those they feel denied social justice but they are ferocious haters of any that don’t unconditionally join their hating club…

    That doesn’t sound like too much empathy. Are you perhaps getting two kinds of groups mixed up? Or perhaps there are subdivisons within the hyper-pro-social group. There is, perhaps, the well-meaning, misguided but innocuous hyper-pro-social crowd and the totalitarian (and truly noxious and oppressive) crowd.

    Perhaps we were both confused, and then Marco became confused by my confusion, etc.


    Have fun, dude.

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  • My bad….Pro-life was what I intended (no coffee yet.)

    On empathy. Visceral empathy, the (SBC’s) stuff to be distinguished from say a kindly and well intentioned disposition to others which is a rich soup of cultural and physical exertions in favour of the other, is our mammal root of mutualism. It is the evolved hard wiring of mirror neurons and the limbic system. It is our mirrored, just-can’t-help-it tears at tears in those big eyes in a small face looking up at us. It is automatic and unshut-off-able. It can make us seem and actually be cruel and hateful to many others who might appear (whether actually or not) threatening to the hurting one.

    Thanks, Dan.

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  • Dan #268
    Dec 26, 2017 at 12:00 am

    As devoted as I am to the cause of justice and inequality,
    and as opposed as I am to the terrors of the Right
    and the present administration in particular,
    I have to say that it does seem a bit unfair to the other side that we get to have the word “progressive”.

    Not really! Progressive means moving forward – conservative means sticking with the past, or regressing into it!

    conservative kənˈsəːvətɪv/

    1 averse to change or innovation and holding traditional values.
    “they were very conservative in their outlook”
    synonyms: traditionalist, traditional, conventional, orthodox, stable, old-fashioned, dyed-in-the-wool, unchanging, hidebound;

    There is therefore are considerable element of propaganda and psychological projection, in backward looking traditionalists, accusing the left of regression!

    There are regressive views on the far left, and among woolly-minded false-balance, know-nothing, “middle-view” fudgists, looking for some mythical past or future utopia, but many of them have picked up simplistic propaganda and destructive straw-men, fed to them by the fake-generated images of the reckless, sensationalist, ultra right-wing media. They simply lack the skills and education, to tell sensationalist journalist posers, from experts, so the ignorant of the left, can share media generated ideas with the ignorant of the right!

    A typical UK example at present, is the shared Europhobic views of the loony-right brexiteers, and the clueless asserted ignorance of the left-wing Corbynites – with both of these groups fighting against the better informed more responsible sections of their own political parties!

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  • Since we’re getting on so well now let me just say this:

    One of these days I guess I will have to read SBC in order to really understand your general theory of empathy, although your theory isn’t his. It seems to me as if almost anyone can be said to have a surfeit of empathy. Hitler wanted the good for Germany, saw himself as a great liberator. A selfish man like Trump can be said to have too much misdirected empathy – for himself… Too much optimism for me. Are we all basically good? I don’t think that people who rush to judgment at the expense of fairness, or that hate all opposition, are guided or misguided by empathy; that are morally bankrupt, stupid, and mean-spirited. I don’t know where that fits in with evolution / biology / culture, but I don’t think that antipathy can be explained by empathy. Egotism and self-seeking is not too much empathy; it has , perhaps, its roots in something that hasn’t yet been identified by you; it is, in many cases, the very absence of empathy that causes us to hate. Not too much of it. Not empathy gone wrong. But I could be missing something… I am not sure. I have suggested in the past that there are people in this word who are just plain bad, morally bad, and there will always be those who are bad. Always. I will go to my grave suspecting that that is indeed true. So I will be called a theologian, a medieval thinker, a dogmatist. So be it; I do not really care all that much; I am not so afraid of being called names.

    Very, very briefly. — My definition of good is precisely: the ability to feel sympathy. Bad is the inability to do so. (I have no wish to complicate this by discussing psychopathy; that, again, implies optimism, implies that moral depravity is an illness that can, in all cases, be potentially cured.) I have written about the moral character, goodness and wickedness, and the principle of individuation, already, and at some length, and do not wish to repeat myself.

    Alan, yes I see. But the word conservative is as unfair to the conservatives as our ownership of the word progressive. There must be some “conservatives” who desire progress – at least on the technological and industrial front. Have no conservatives ever supported space exploration or scientific research? I am just trying to be fair, to be empathetic. The use and appropriation of these phrases and words is rather unfair to everyone – and the phrases and words can also be meaningful, apt and useful.

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  • Dan

    Years ago I read a piece on the political spectrum that explained a simple lineup of positions and it was based on rate of change and in which direction- toward future or toward the past. It’s too simplistic now but I use it as a sort of shorthand. A linear model can’t really illustrate the situation now. Here’s how they set it up – just for quick usage.

    Radical – Liberal – Center – Conservative – Reactionary

    Radical – Wants progressive change and wants it fast and is willing to use violence to get it.

    Liberal – Wants change but in a legitimate way in reasonable time. Works the system to get the changes.

    Conservative – Accepts that things can/must change but only very slowly through legitimate channels.

    Reactionary – Wants change but in a retrograde direction. Back to the good ole days, an imagined utopia.

    I can’t remember where I read this so can’t cite a source. 🙁

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  • Dan #274
    Dec 26, 2017 at 7:21 am

    Alan, yes I see. But the word conservative is as unfair to the conservatives as our ownership of the word progressive.

    From a UK perspective, “The Conservative Party” chose the name for themselves!

    There must be some “conservatives” who desire progress – at least on the technological and industrial front.

    The far right, – including the most extreme warlords and dictators, have always embraced tradesmen who developed improved weapons technology with which THEY could repress their subjects and their rival neighbours!
    Genghis Kahn had the horse and the bow, English robber barons had the long-bow, the Greeks and Romans had quality swords, shields, military organisation siege engines and ships, and Trump is ranting about expanding the US military and Nuclear weapons stashes!

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  • Laurie,

    That is truly a nice, useful, and accurate set of definitions – but don’t most of us possess all of those traits, at certain times, and depending on the situation? A conservative under certain circumstances could easily be seduced into becoming a radical, and a life-long radical, if sated or tired, might be more comfortable as a conservative or a plain ordinary liberal. Couldn’t a conservative be considered too liberal by a reactionary? Aren’t there conservatives who are progressive on some issues and leftists or liberals who are conservative, even reactionary, on other issues? (I know you know all that, but I enjoy asking these questions. I hope you don’t mind.) The problem with fascism – the worst thing that can befall a nation – is that it defies all conventional categories. A fascist is a reactionary and a revolutionary.

    Hope you’re well. Happy holidays.

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  • P.S. I am not a relativist; by that I mean I do not have any wish to create one big blur. That is pernicious and a form of watery sentimentalism. — These differences among us matter; but it is also important to that the differences among us can be as misleading as the similarities. However, the similarities, or the resemblances rather, are – and we are, after all, all human – as elusive to most observers as the differences are obvious. It is also painful to the mind to recognize a resemblance between oneself and another when oneself and that other cannot agree about what constitutes even the most basic human values, that is, cannot agree politically.

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  • Dan

    but don’t most of us possess all of those traits, at certain times, and depending on the situation?

    Yes, of course these categories have flexible boundaries because the categories are not discrete, it’s a range. Our individual personal histories influence our political positions. How we all get categorized into groups with labels must be because we share a constellation of opinions with a few differences around the edges. Like the example of my father who was a conservative who was also pro-choice and favored moderate gun control but in most other ways he fit neatly into the category of conservative.

    I have no problem wheeling and dealing with categories of humans based on traits and that may be because I’m a Psychology major. When in the company of others in the field, be it clinical or experimental types, we don’t hesitate to discuss the various categories of mental illness that concern us in the field. The DSM diagnostic manual is our Bible (flawed as it is) because it breaks down all types of mental illness with descriptions and a list of traits that are common to those in any particular mental illness category. Usually there will be a list of say 10-20 trait items and then it’s explained that if a patient has 8 or 10 of these traits then they can be considered to be afflicted with that particular condition. There will always be some traits not exhibited and others that are not on the list. This is just assumed.

    In these discussions, inevitably, someone outside of the field starts in with whining about how bad it is to label people for this reason and that. When my friend who is a clinical Psychologist in a middle school in a rough town then says – I need a diagnosis written down on paper so I can submit it to the insurance co. and then I need a diagnosis written down on the record to prescribe medication if that is indicated. The Psych majors all chuckle. We need the categories! They are not discrete!

    Couldn’t a conservative be considered too liberal by a reactionary?

    Yes! And that’s why conservatives and reactionaries always seem appalled when someone happily self-labels as liberal! From their perspective we are dangerous. This makes me laugh because if they can’t handle a simple liberal like us then what will happen if they find themselves in conversation with anarchists or God forbid – Antifa!! Mind implosion meltdown.

    A fascist is a reactionary and a revolutionary.

    Liberals, Centists and Conservatives, based on my simple range above, are least likely to engage in violence to achieve their goals but move out to Radical and to Reactionary on the edges and those two groups have no problem engaging in violence. We know what Radicals have done in history but since the Reactionaries count religious fundamentalists among their numbers we have to accept that Reactionaries are fine with using violence to achieve their goals too. All of the Islamic fundamentalist groups are attempting to reestablish the Islamic State/Caliphate as the utopia they imagine it to be based on sacred literature. Violence and coercion perfectly acceptable. Even here, since Trump was elected and delivered the coup de grace to our separation of church and state, we’ve seen our Christian fundamentalists frothing at the mouth as they cheer for every opportunity to impose their twisted world view on the rest of us. The containment has been breeched and the toxins are leaking out. (Enough mixed metaphors for ten lifetimes, ha.) But to what extent would this bunch be willing to go in order to achieve their goal of a fundamentalist Christian state?
    War on Christmas. Watch the Pastor at the end:

    Getting back to the clinical psych bunch – If this guy was a patient, then in the last ten minutes of the therapy session, when the patient has left the room, the shrink then opens the patient’s file record in front of her/him on the desk and picks up the fat red permanent marker pen and writes in large letters across the page; FUCKED UP!

    My holidays were quiet somewhat by my own choice and somewhat imposed due to terrible weather here in the great frozen Northeast.

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  • I hate my last two posts, Laurie. I am sick of my own voice.

    Tired of talking. I shut shut up, ship out, or do something, get more involved.

    Trump is a fascist.

    I hate Kirsten Gillibrand. A big phony. (How I got on her email list I don’t know. She’s raising money for the mid terms. I hope she loses. Drain the swamp. Politics is vulgar. )

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  • From their perspective we are dangerous…

    That made me almost laugh. You are, as I have said before, very funny at times.

    By the way, the tremendous hatred of conservatism that fascists feel, is worth noting. (Bannon comes to mind. Establishment Republicans, conservatism, — Same thing.) I’d like to recommend an important book. See if they have it in that library of yours. The Fascist Revolution. Author: George L. Mosse. One of the best studies of fascism to date, according to my late father – a great scholar, and a good historian in his own right.

    He (Mosse) describes fascism as, among other things, a “political liturgy”.

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  • I wish I were president. I’d pretend to be Christian. (why not Christian? it’s a fantasy.) I’d get elected. And then I’d have a press conference and announce to the whole country, to the world, that I am a strong atheist. I’d have a great speech prepared of course.

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  • Dan

    I wish I were president.

    Haha. Now I’m laughing but not laughing at you. It’s just that I do imagine every atheist in America (and some from abroad?) fantasizing about some random highly improbable event that would land them squarely on the chair at the desk in the oval office of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. That’s the improbable part of this story but what’s not so improbable is that even with no qualifications whatsoever we could make significant improvement over the current occupant of that seat in that office. It’s not saying much, I realize it.

    Think about the cabinet choices. Having no actual qualifications for that job myself, I’d pick the best, BEST experts I could get my hands on and then hang on their every word when they discuss their own field and how to make things better. I want people who can think outside the box yet are tied to data driven analysis and are firmly tethered to reality with a pragmatic approach. In cabinet meetings I want to observe them brainstorming and creating new ideas in a thrilling synergy. A new Camelot!! But no, Dan, look what we’ve got there now. A group of totally unqualified, blatantly corrupt, pathologically greedy thieves. It’s a den of thieves. If Trump had only chosen a cabinet of competant people of decent character then all he’d have needed was to sit pretty and let them run the place. He could’ve been a ceremonial figurehead for four years and gone down in history as a bombastic yet benign bumbling blip on the historical radar but when he created the current den of thieves he sent us hurtling toward the Banana Republic that if there’s no correction coming, we are doomed to become.

    As for policy, since I have no experience or knowledge of public service, I’d use Bernie’s book Our Revolution as a framework for progressive change to bring us up to the standards of what we in the West expect our governments to provide for the citizens that support them and are at the same time depend on them. Right now, we have a huge discrepancy that begs for correction. Bernie lays out a plan that is not radical by any means and it’s the path forward.

    But Dan, just imagine the satisfaction of slamming the brakes on the Christian fundamentalists who have open access to the President and other top officials at the current time (and in past administrations).

    Me speaking to whoever keeps my appointments calendar: Who do we have for the first appointment this morning?

    Administrator: It’s the meeting with the Evangelical pastors to set the schedule for their government events and discuss the strategy that will further their Christian agenda. They’re in the waiting room now.

    Me: Call security and have them escorted off the grounds. Take away their access passes and take no further communication from them. Not one cent of taxpayer money will go to them and no further public displays of prayer will happen. They can sink or swim on their own.

    As I conjure up this impossible scenario, I am sitting here with an expression of the cat who ate the canary or maybe a sly, devious toad who discovers a rotting carcass swarming with flies.

    It will take more dedicated policy changes to completely unweave the insidious effects of lax enforcement of the Constitutional separation of church and state that has been allowed to happen in the past.

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  • Good post! I feel a little better now, somehow.

    Nice dialogue. I’d suggest a few minor changes:

    PRESIDENT (Rises to his feet. He pushes everything off of his desk with both hands. ): Call security and have them escorted off the grounds at once! At once! Do you hear? Take away their access passes and take no further communication from them. Henceforth not one cent, not one cent, I say, of taxpayer money, will go to these… these scoundrels! Wait! I haven’t finished! And… And there shall be no further public displays of this infernal lunacy called prayer, is that clear? You tell them that. They can sink or swim on their own or go straight to hell for all I care. (Pause.) And when you’re through with them you can send in that new science adviser they sent me… He’s waiting outside… (To herself.) What’s that fellows name? (Slight pause.) Rimmer! Send Mr. Rimmer in when you’re through with those bible-thumping degenerates. Well? What are you waiting for? Go!!! Off with you now!!!

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  • Correction: (To himself)

    Btw, did you hear they caught Trump telling a rich friend at a private affair that he’s going to be “a lot richer now”? And he kept denying that the tax bill favors the wealthy.

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  • Dan

    Haha, very good elaboration on that dialog. As for the new science advisor, we’ll need to marry him off to a consenting American before he could serve. Not that it’s a problem (for me). If not we’ll have the lumpenproletariat shouting “One if by land and two if by sea, hahaha” That would really annoy me.

    Yes I heard him say that to his wealthy friends and entourage. As if he actually needed to say it out loud. Only a complete dunce would do that. Stupid orange ape.

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  • @ RDFS Home Page:

    Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science
    11 hours ago

    Misinformation about GMOs is furthered by deceptive, anti-science marketing campaigns like “Verified non-GMO”. #LookForTheButterfly and #LeaveItOnTheShelf.

    I can’t see any good reason why these two links have been put together with a claim that these are “anti-science” campaigns!

    #LeaveItOnTheShelf is a campaign against excessive plastic packaging, while the Butterfly label, is about consumers being informed about the breeding and production methods used in producing their food, although it could be used to make choices based on flawed notions.

    Both claims the campaigns are anti-science, are spurious, and appear to come from commercial sponsors who are tarting up their advertising as science to denigrate competitors!

    GMO labelling is NOT necessarily anti-science despite the propaganda and the media promotion of poor anti-GMO arguments with ignore production issues and concentrate on nutrition!
    GMO item evaluation, is about looking at responsible methods of food production with many environmental, social conscience, and commercial monopoly issues, associated with specific GMO crops, their cultivation, and marketing!

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  • This is a poor show, Alan.

    This and the recent use of articles from RealClearScience shows either a slipping in standards or a deliberate politicisation of science issues. I hope a return to a more rational neutrality follows.

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  • Phil

    (Cont. from other thread)

    Sorry. I guess I am confused. But didn’t you say that SJWs, or whatever you want to call them, have too much misdirected empathy? So maybe some of these religious and conservative people (the truly devout as opposed to the conscious manipulators) who want to set up religious schools and indoctrinate the young, and that we regard – and rightfully so – as twisted and nefarious, are in their own way altruistic; they are concerned about the long-term, the quality of life (from their perspective), of future generations. They are selfless and take great care to ensure that future generations will be whole and pure – in this world and in the next. Playing the devil’s advocate. One man’s meat (“empathy”) is another’s poison.

    Is empathy or the lack of it all there is? Obviously not. Humans are complex, enormously so.

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  • Didn’t have time to finish my thought. That bottom line is unclear – to me.

    “I remember sitting in the Beth Shalom synagogue in Cambridge on the night of Kol Nidre. Peter Lipton, a friend and an atheist philosopher, was giving a sermon on the theme of “atonement:” “If we treat another person as essentially bad, we dehumanize him or her. If we take the view that every human being has some good in them, even if it is only 0.1 percent of their makeup, then by focusing on their good part, we humanize them. By acknowledging and attending to and rewarding their good part, we allow it to grow, like a small flower in a desert.”
    ― Simon Baron-Cohen, Zero Degrees of Empathy: A New Theory of Human Cruelty

    He calls it having zero empathy; I call having zero empathy being immoral and therefore bad. Semantics? Have you ever considered that a lot of these contemporary figures whose theories you are so immersed with are highly knowledgeable yet deeply flawed thinkers who understand far less than you think they do? I myself am reading Plato, again.

    A small flower in a desert. Yes, and Hitler used to smile and pat babies on the head – and he was fond of dogs. There’s that 0.1 percent.

    Must go now.

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  • Empathy (here, with me with SBC and most psychologists) is visceral, that is, it is a set of (at least twelve) physiological processes evolved from mammal through higher primate stages that, through an automatic emotional “infection”, helps facilitate bonding, mutuality and co-operation. It is notably low in me and in autists. But that is far from the end of the story. Much is doable to help restore some semblance of the sociable human. Read SBC about the single zeros autists (in effect lacking visceral empathy and upset by it) and the double zeros psychopaths (lacking the same but not caring).

    SBC is a poor thinker as I have discussed many times before. He thinks any greater amount of this combination of early-used mirror neurons and oxytocin-based, automatic assumption of the emotional states of others, is good, the more the better. I and Professor Paul Bloom don’t. SBC is however an excellent clinical neuro-psychologist. As you observed my theories are not his. But my theories are based on his experiment-revealed facts (and those of about five or six others).

    Even good thinkers are stymied if they don’t have and keep the physical realities of minds in mind. No amount of turning the clock back to make the facts go away, no amount of imagining the organ-less body will help you making progress.

    Professional terminology is only like another language. It has clearer definitions than colloquial speech and is policed fiercely for fitness of purpose. Equivocating terms is not making an argument…ever. Semantics starts with etymological roots then launches into culture for nuancing meaning evolutions and is part of cultural theory. I’m discussing science. Some aspects of metaphysical turn out to be physical.

    I’m not keen on rehashing all this stuff. It must be very tedious for others. Please please read some stuff if you are interested (search my old stuff even!), but if not ignore me. I’m not interested in metaphysics only, when there is also physics in play.

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  • No rehashing. Organ-less body? What is that? And who, other thant an ancient or a Deepak, would say that a “mind” is anything other than something physical? I never would and never have. And what is non-visceral empathy? Empathy is, by its very nature, visceral – with the additional element of understanding…

    (I don’t know how to look up old posts on specific topics.)

    What makes you so sure you’re low on empathy? Who taught you that?

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  • Dan

    (I don’t know how to look up old posts on specific topics.)

    The quickest way is to do a site-specific search with Google.

    Go to Google and enter the following into the search line, exactly as shown here: “phil rimmer” empathy

    That performs a search on only, and finds all instances where the word “empathy” occurs together with the combination “phil rimmer”. Obviously you can change the search terms as required.

    The mods

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  • Dan

    In my, SBC, psychology terms there is no non-visceral empathy. I add “visceral” to empathy to remind you of its nature as you continue to not accept my/the psychological term, and reset every time.

    Empathy is, by its very nature, visceral – with the additional element of understanding…

    No. Exactly, no.

    Empathy (here) is, by its very nature, visceral – period. How we culturally use and culturally evolve this, originally, genetically evolved attribute, expressed in our phenotype, is another fascinating story.

    Search just as the mods say. (Thank you mods.) You can add in more terms to refine your search.

    As I have said numerous times, I have cognitive deficits and fail some facial/emotional tests among others.

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  • Yes. Exactly, yes.

    Empathy – here – is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another!


    Ignore me if you can’t acknowledge the legitimacy of this definition.

    Good day to you.

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  • What is interesting is that animal psychologists realised that Einfuhlung (coined 1909) was the term they needed, “feeling into [another]”, for what mammals and especially the higher primates, do when they are infected by the feelings of another. It wasn’t sympathy or understanding, pity or compassion. These are too overlaid with human culture. It was exactly feeling without even knowing why. This is why Frans de Waal talks of the age of empathy with regard to mammals and primates and why psychologists in general converge on a singular and not qualified term for this utterly primary, foundational attribute (and not some qualified term like “visceral empathy”).

    But we can say visceral empathy if you want, so long as you don’t misapprehend it as involving any conscious understanding or introspection on the emotional effect. It doesn’t, within the theory of how mutuality could evolve genetically. Or just like last time we got here last July we could call it fish-paste.

    This so tells me to stop. I need to put my buttons away so they won’t be pushed.

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  • No, Ollie. I should.

    I believe that these will be transformative, though the robot configuration is a bit of a distraction. These are simply super apps with flexible physical delivery system.

    With elderly relatives I need one of these-

    An app to care for the old and those with neural degenerative problems. An Alexa equipped TV (using the latest Firestick and an added scanning camera) with a suitable cloud app is all that is needed to care for the house or home-bound elderly, identify visitors, daily reminding of family members and friends and updating with news. Anniversary reminders of past personal events, holidays, favourite, music from the time, news events. A personal account fed with info and photos by family and friends as they find or remember them…etc. etc. and all possessing an infinite patience, trying to rebuild memories and stimulate engagement in just a little bit more.

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  • Phil

    They haven’t done the elderly yet and I hope they do. We have had a medibot for the disabled but that needs years yet. Yours sounds as if it could be done right now.

    The results with an autistic child though seems to have worked really well. So well that the robot has been left with the family to this day. A must watch, just to observe the humans if nothing else. Dadbot was interesting in that way.

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  • As presumably anything is possible, could a human literally become a god through science?

    I think it’s just fiction for us now to achieve that. As it was considered fiction to fly in the past or have a conversation with a person on the other side of the globe. But we did manage that with science among other things.

    If we would be able to make someone into a god through science, what does our morality say about doing so? Would it be better to be god or stay human? Presumably a god can then make a heaven?

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  • “As presumably anything is possible”,

    Oh boy, I’m going to have a problem with that one. “Presume” isn’t a function of science. It isn’t useful in biology. You wouldn’t “presume” when you invest or take life risking adventures.
    The known laws of Physics is what we know to be true, for now.
    And, you would have to define “god”.

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  • Good subject for sci-fi, Catalin.

    A human being can certainly become god like.

    As for computers, I’d like to recommend a short story by the incomparable and uniquely prolific writer Isaac Asimov. You might enjoy it. It was his own personal favorite.

    The Last Question

    See if you can find it.

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  • Catalin #303
    Dec 28, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    As presumably anything is possible, could a human literally become a god through science?

    As Alf points out, the laws of physics are a summary of experimental results, which demonstrate what is not possible.

    However what fanciful thinkers will believe is possible, is a different issue!

    If we would be able to make someone into a god through science, what does our morality say about doing so? Would it be better to be god or stay human?

    Various charlatans have historically POSED as gods or god-like figures to impress the gullible and uneducated, and indeed modern missionaries still present modern medicines and modern technology to primitive tribes as “evidence of their superior religious culture”, when the reality is, that the circular thinking methods of the “faith” they are selling, are the very anathema of the science which provided those benefits!
    They also conspire with local dictators to establish “trade” with new laws and arrangements enforced with imported modern weapons.

    Presumably a god can then make a heaven?

    History suggests that human god-posers, simply soften up populations to become servile mind-slaves, with both themselves and their lands ready for being dispossessed, impoverished, and subjected to other forms of exploitation!

    If we look at colonised lands where populations have been subjected to religious “conversions” their lives are far from heavenly, despite this being promised or claimed by missionaries!

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  • Alan, I learned about the “cargo cults” about ten years ago.
    There”s a good example of their “god”. A cargo plane. A propeller plane at that.
    There are still some tribes that are isolated. I wonder if they have seen an F-22.
    What would they think of that?

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  • Various charlatans have historically POSED as gods or god-like figures to impress the gullible and uneducated,

    “A cargo cult is a religious movement usually emerging in tribal or isolated societies after they have had an encounter with an external and technologically advanced society. Usually cargo cults focus on magical thinking and a variety of intricate rituals designed to obtain the material wealth of the advanced culture they encountered.”
    From Wiki

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  • Hi, Catalin,

    I read you comment again.

    You’re asking an interesting philosophical question. I get the question, and cannot really answer it; but since I like a challenge I will try to address it. The question: would a man-made god be better for Mankind, create a better life for us, than a human? (And what might be the moral ramifications of creating an all-powerful or maybe an almost all-powerful being?) That is kind of like asking whether we’d be better off if some of our wishes could magically be fulfilled. The premise is that this god, like a genie, would have the ability to do just about anything, like creating a heaven. (And who wouldn’t want something so infinitely desirable?) In both cases (finding a genie who could grant us our wishes, and making a god who could create a heaven for us and so much more), we are dealing with a speculative realm, a scenario, that isn’t real; but that’s okay; it is a thought experiment.

    My assumption is that if we could make a being (maybe a machine) that could do what is inconceivable (such as giving us immortality) we would do it. But in that case it wouldn’t be a god that was created; it would be an invention (like the telephone or the computer), and a product of years of research and science. It would have been created, just like any other manufactured product. So the question you ask, if you think about it, is based on the contradictory notion of creating or building or manufacturing an actual, real (yet supernatural) god. That’s why the question cannot really be answered.

    The idea of a god being created by man is a contradiction. God is, in my opinion, not created. It is, if you’re religious, an object of faith – with no rational evidence to support that faith. As soon as evidence of its existence becomes manifest, or if one could actually build or invent a god, it is no longer a metaphysical being; it is then just a machine or an entity able to do things that we now regard as inconceivable. But if these things were actually done, by a being or machine that we ourselves created, then how likely would it be that such acts would be inconceivable? The chances are less than nil. And if it could do what is and remains inconceivable, that is, perform miracles, then the distinction between the idea of a man-made god and god in the conventional sense (self-created, eternal) becomes irrelevant. In other words, there is no difference between thinking about a man-made god that has supernatural ability and thinking about god in the ordinary sense.

    Such a being can never be created by man and if it could be it would not be accurate to call it a god; it would be a scientific fact. This is true of God itself. As soon as it become