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Comments by bob

On “Alexandra Petri: Ted Cruz and his conscience amicably part ways – The Washington Post

My reflex on hearing of the Cruz endorsement of Trump was a shorter, less creative version of this, but it begged the question, "When did Cruz ever have more than a passing relationship with his conscious?" Beating him up about being an opportunist ready to throw yesterday's principled stand under the bus, over a cliff, into the fire of eternal damnation seems quaint when confronted with that other fellow's carryings on.

On “Dolphins recorded having a conversation ‘just like two people’ for first time – Telegraph UK

The analysis of numerous pulses registered in our experiments showed that the dolphins took turns in producing [sentences] and did not interrupt each other...

So the only difference between dolphins talking to each other and humans talking to each other is that the dolphins are more polite.

On “Open Thread

Thought you might find this interesting - retrospective on Andres Serrano.

On “Brian Beutler: The GOP’s New Delusion: Hillary Would Be Losing Badly to Any Other Republican – New Republic

My brother in-law once was telling me about my nephew's recent soccer win. My sister-in-law interrupted him and said, "But George, Michael's team lost." George said, "Well, we woulda won if the ref hadn't made that stupid call."

I said, "George, woulda, coulda, shoulda."

George, indignant, said, "No, not at all!"

Or, as I've observed before, if things were different, they would be different.

In any event, the R primary process demonstrated the last man standing method of winning vs the dominant person/team method, kinda like the GS Warr... I mean they woulda...

On “Ornstein and Mann: The Republicans waged a 3-decade war on government. They got Trump. – Vox

One of the flies in the ointment for any group intending to actually govern is trade policy. Manufacturing is not going to be the basis of a healthy middle class ever again. Even if we grow this sector somewhat, the wages simply are no longer what they were.

Cyborg repair (ie medical care) becomes the closest replacement, but the good jobs require much more education than old school manufacturing did. And CR probably doesn't have the potential to employ as great a percentage of people in the workforce as manufacturing did at an American Dream level.

Hill mentions this from time to time, (her coal comments) but any politician talking seriously about this is going to get into trouble. The AmDream jobs are just not going to keep pace to sustain a 50's, 60's middle class. (At some point, not sure where, I saw a mash up of Trump and Archie Bunker. It worked well enough, although not as well as the masher-uppers thought it did.)

I'm not sure how either party figures this out as a feature of their coalition. It's likely to be one of the structural features that keep unhappy politics careening forward.


I have a hard time taking the reformicons seriously on either policy or politics. The quest for "conservative solutions" seems to stress the conservative part to the exclusion of the solution part. O Care as an erstwhile reformicon policy idea becomes unacceptable as soon as its acceptable. The rest of their agenda such as it exist is tax cuts and deregulation.

And Boehner seemed to never to be able to deliver his caucus after making a deal. They need to improve their political muscle to entice any D shift to the center.

B Clinton moved right to make liberalism conceptually palatable again. The Rs can't expect the Ds to do all the heavy lifting and then get anywhere.

H Clinton has her own worries needing to protect her left flank from the Bern-ers. The reformicons need to give her something to work with.

Not to minimize the breathtaking leap of faith this would require.

But hey, it aint't beanbag.


As good a summary of the current proceedings and their history as I've seen.

Maybe it's a too obvious point, but I was surprised by not explicitly discussing the Jacobin cleansing of the party of RINO's. In 2008, after O took office, ID-ing RINO's seemed a pervasive activity where ever R's gathered on or off line. With the process as complete as it could be without actual violence, the need for the insult has all but disappeared.

Now the party itself is itself Republican in name only. It's a ham handed irony worthy of any in O. Henry or the Twilight Zone.


Good start.

The first issue popping into my head as I read this is "what art isn't a digital art now?" Of course that doesn't preclude the usefulness/importance of such a project. Despite the hegemony of digital media and the digitization of all other media there is a difference between my icon and the mask on my living room wall.

Barring B&E, no one will misappropriate the mask on the wall. The icon, who knows?

The folks at Cyborgology have written, mostly to poor effect, on what they call "digital dualism", saying the distinction between the digital and the "real" is merely a means of making negative judgements.

Exploring the overlap of the digital with, well what? analog, nondigital something else? is the New Aesthetic, both as a specific website and as, gosh, a new aesthetic.

All of which I offer as semi-random thoughts at the beginning of something I think has potential and hope to see develop. Digitization creates a degree of access and reproducibility that is both exciting and problematic. The cyberneticization modifies past kinds of agency and creates new ones.

I look forward to this project.

On “Open Thread

I've seen your Tweets showing alarming thermometers - I remember in the past you've said you don't have AC because you were used to the CA heat. 120 ain't that. Everything OK for you? Do you have somewhere t get away from the heat?

On “An Ancient Peruvian Mystery Has Been Solved From Space – IFLScience

Looking at it only as construction that interacted with the environment in a clear way ie pushing water to the location of the people and their activities, I don't see a lot o projection. Certainly this engineering effect would have a cultural overlay that we have little information about. But " push the water where it needs to go" is pretty openended.

Apparently "some of the puquios were so well constructed that some of them are still in use today" - as a hydraulic project.

On “On My Grand Strategy on Grand Strategy (Interim Book Report or Tour of a Tour of Tours of Tours)

Already, B has referenced this:

In Schmitt's positive view of the Monroe Doctrine...the doctrine reintroduced transnational territorial lines of demarcation into the body of international law, infusing it not just according to population and land and space and politics, but by "land people and ideas" in opposition to liberal internationalism and "Anglo-Saxon pseudo-universalism". For the older Schmitt, both the Wilsonian/UN globalism as well as Nazi Germany's Lebenstaum diluted really "genuine" Grossaume (plural) in a stable order.


The Comment on Nob was the most helpful. The interview seemed less so after being in only 40/365 of the book. Trying to explain the book in an interview must be frustrating for him.

B aims to use Schmitt as a starting point, deconstructing S's ideas to clear the way for his own. So at this level, I should probably read S first, but I'm not gonna do that and will work with B's gloss of S. Perhaps if I have specific ?s I send them your way.

So maybe an excerpt might be useful for you: will be first be necessary to show how this collapse of the Schmittian distinction between land and sea (and that it implies for the ultimate career of states as they into the Cloud and The Stack) is accomplished not only by the radicalization of the "aerial" into even more vaporous "information space", but equally through a radicalization of the physical line carving into the territory and guaranteeing its own enforcement. As The Stack emerges as both the machine and the geography, the territory and the map at once, yet more smoke escapes from the ears of Schmitt's direct and indirect heirs.


link's just to the book blurb. it's a pretty ambitious book altho he does write well even if a bit excitable from time to time.


This stuff is beyond my unpay level, but still it's worth mentioning what I'm reading that comes at some of the issues you're working on from a different slant. The Stack - "an interdisciplinary design brief for a new geopolitics that works with and for planetary-scale computation."

Bratton takes a starting point Carl Schmitt's idea of Nomos proposing the technological represents a new nomos beyond land, sea and air, and therefore another theater for contesting power and sovereignty.

It may be a bit afield for your endeavor, but I thought it would worthwhile for you to be aware of. Plus if you wanted to fire off a short post on Schmitt, I would find a primer helpful.

On ““described fairly”

I believe WM's avatar is the erstwhile insignia of the 45th Infantry Division replaced in 1939 in response to the rise of Nazism.

On “On Ignorocracy (Own Comment at Ordinary Times)

I mean isn't that pretty much true of public life in general? Or for that matter private life as well, back seat driving, butt-in-ski's, shading off in kvetching. How would language, politics, art, computer coding all have evolved if everyone limited themselves to expressing only what they really knew, understood and were able to express in reasonable fashion?????

Without our public confusion and aphasia we would be lost truly. Or something. Did that make sense?

On “David Frum: Hillary Clinton’s Polarizing Path to Victory and the Republican Party – The Atlantic

An altogether odd post. Mostly it seems about the "polarizing" stance of the republican's. Then this "They’ll [D's] lead with the most divisive item of them all, immigration, in hope of locking in for the long haul the electoral majority that only good fortune gained them in 2016." It seems to me that the GOP stance and presidential campaign rhetoric might have something to do with the divisiveness of the subject.

Anyway, I noticed here clicking on the title lands you at the Atlantic article, while at OT it lands you at the OT post. Here you have to click on the comment number to get to the local post. Is that you intention?

On “Citizen Trump’s Path of Least Resistance to a Classy Profitable Exit

It may be that Trump cannot destroy the GOP, that Lowry has misplaced where his worry should go. The question seems to be, is the GOP, in Lenin's words "ripe and rotten-ripe" for collapse. That is as he says, "It would be absurd to regard the whole question as one of personalities."

Of course plenty of commentary has focused on the roots and development of the current state of affairs - Goldwater, Atwater are among the frequently mentioned authors of these fluid dynamics, the "reap what you sow style" of punditry.

So Trump may only be the messenger, able to neither destroy or, through huge acts magnanimousness, save the Party.

On “The Melancholic Anti-Interventionist

Certainly a rich area for future research.

But while Bush may have deployed drones quickly, O clearly found in them a weapon that fit his strategic goals, and used it much more than Bush.

My more speculative thesis is that the more covert (at least to US citizenry) nature of drones allowed him to pursue military goals with less publicity/scrutiny than overt military action would. This allows him to present a more negotiation friendly stance at home and to the world than a more quick recourse to overt action would.

Bush was not much interested in negotiation generally, and that was part of a previous point I made Bush abandoning nuclear proliferation diplomacy in favor of direct interdiction.


The technological turn has of course a strong force no matter who is Pres. Some assert that Truman never actually "decided" to use the Bomb, it just had a momentum he didn't stop. However, tech fits in with O's preference for negotiation in a particular way. By giving a seemingly middle option between negotiation and "boots on the ground", it is in O,s foreign policy, a hopefully invisible projection of force.

Bush had drones available but didn't use them much outside conventional military operations. O ramped up their use and development pretty quickly.


I guess my language wasn't as clear as I hoped. "The clear goal of the hyper technologicalization of US armed forces is to have the power, reach of the US military to WMD levels without using recognized WMD, in a recognizably WMD way." That is having WMD impacts of deterrence and destruction of the enemy both without the widespread destruction of entire areas.

WPD Weapons of precise destruction if you prefer, but the aim is largely the same as the post WWII US dream of nuclear exceptionalism. So yes it predates O. O's innovation is to scale up the precision (to be precise, precision is somewhat oversold, the dream of precision perhaps) as a way of solving some of the political challenges the US faces.

So I'm probably agree with Joe. O seems to be developing and using WPD strategically as much as tactically.

The stabilizing effect of the dominance the US has in conventional armed forces also has a de-stabilizing effect of the emergence of a-symmetric warfare. The WPD are targeted to this as much as anything. It seems as likely that the precision, such as it is, makes us feel better, but leads to a different kind of resentment and hatred toward the US among the populations whom we precise.


OK, Joe Sal's comments are touching on my previous, poorly organized comment.

Leaving aside the economic dimensions of neo-imperialism, I wonder if a significant part of the military uniqueness of the US in both sheer size and sophistication, derives from the dream of being the sole nuclear (and generalized to WMD of all sorts) power in the world.

The clear goal of the hyper technologicalization of US armed forces is to have the power, reach of the US military to WMD levels without using recognized WMD, in a recognizably WMD way. At the same time, the need for actual soldiers to be physically present for the shooting, blowing up etc is greatly reduced. Tele-war if you will.

But these developments affect the political will to war more in the US, or so the theory goes, ("no actual US soldiers were harmed in this war") than affecting in a positive way the political conflicts in the bombed, droned, shot at form the sky countries.

O has greatly expanded not only the use of drones, but the importance of tech in US military doctrine. Still, Syria remains Syria.

On “On Obama Doctrine Thesis #4 (The world cannot afford…)

This discussion is so wide ranging that I feel out of my depth in formulating anything other than a moan. So in the spirit of moaning some thoughts:

The political power of an entity, as a relative quantity, varies not only as an absolute, but in relation to other actors. US's power has diminished partly because the power of other Powers especially in their own neighborhoods has increased since, say WWII, when the US stood alone as an intact power.

Still, the military and economic power of the US has grown in absolute terms. Just less market share.

Leaving aside the economic dimensions of neo-imperialism, I wonder if a significant part of the military uniqueness of the US in both sheer size and sophistication, derives from the dream of being the sole nuclear (and generalized to WMD of all sorts) power in the world. The various non-proliferation regimes all depend on a unique role of the US.

Bush attempted to extend this monopoly by stressing interdiction of WMD materials as they moved about the world to the practical exclusion of negotiation to contain them. While many nations signed on to the initiative, for all practical purposes it was an American as say the Iraq war. No other power had the reach and sophistication to even attempt it.

But succeeded probably even less well than the war in Iraq.

Which is not to say that a negotiation strategy would have worked better. Diplomacy has obvious limits.

Honestly, I'm having trouble following my own line of thought here, so I'll leave it hanging unresolved for now, maybe to pick it up later, hoping that this contains something worthwhile.

On “You’re Welcome and Rightbackatcha

ah yes mystery solved - spam filter it is.

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