Open Thread 143.25

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1,380 Responses to Open Thread 143.25

  1. johan_larson says:

    Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is kill the Star Wars franchise. Make Luke Skywalker as obscure as Mr. Moto. How will you do this?

    • Randy M says:

      There’s a whole lot of toy, video game, book, etc. people that would need to be paid off before that could be attempted openly. I honestly think the actual strategy employed was probably the best one. Produce sequels that deconstruct everything loved about the original. Convince Mark Hamil et al to reprise their roles and have their characters metaphorically (or literally even!) throw away their lightsabers.
      If you combined the goofiness of the prequels with the cynicism of the newer movies, it probably would have been even more effective. Also, try to “inadvertently” piss off both sides of the culture war, so you have no defenders.

      • JayT says:

        If you combined the goofiness of the prequels with the cynicism of the newer movies

        I mean, that’s Last Jedi to a “T”, isn’t it? The whole Canto Bight side story was full of Prequel slapstick, and half of Luke’s screen time was for jokes.

      • RalMirrorAd says:

        The goofiness of the prequels gave rise to the prequel memes which have arguably reinvigorated the franchise.

      • The Pachyderminator says:

        Nah. In the long run, J.J. Abrams’ craven fanservice will be more deadly to the franchise than Rian Johnson’s partially successful attempt to actually do something interesting with it. A generation from now, The Force Awakens will be deservedly as forgotten as the shot-for-shot CGI Lion King remake.

        Disclaimer that I might need to revise this opinion after seeing Rise of Skywalker, but I’d be surprised.

        • Clutzy says:

          The fanservice in E7 was needed to get people onto the program who were disillusioned by the prequels. But it was correct to take it away from JJ after that, and it was a mistake to give him back E9.

          But the much bigger mistake was everything in E8. Easily the worst of all the SW movies. I wouldn’t even call it an attempt to do something interesting, instead he was LARPing as the Southpark version of M. Night Shamalan. I honestly don’t understand how Disney puts out these scripts and the talking points surrounding them. Its like they were made by one of those AI bots that often get talked about on here.

          • The Pachyderminator says:

            The Last Jedi was far better than I expected any of the Disney SW movies to be. It had its flaws, but the backlash against it was so hysterically excessive that it made me lose most of my interest in being a “Star Wars fan” at all. The fandom has forgotten what made the movies great in the first place and should just stick to watching old movies if they don’t want to see anything new.

            That argument is too subjective to resolve, though. Here’s something testable: The fanservice strategy for wooing back fans who hated the prequels will prove shortsighted. I guarantee time will be much kinder to The Last Jedi than to The Force Awakens. In, say, ten years, TLJ will be almost universally acknowledged as superior.

          • acymetric says:

            How are you planning to test that? That is already the dominant opinion except for among salty fans, who generally weren’t happy with TFA but were even less happy with TLJ. The number of people who loved TFA but hated TLJ is vanishingly small.

          • Randy M says:

            Its like they were made by one of those AI bots that often get talked about on here.

            well we are a self-absorbed lot. I mean, uh, insightful group of futurists.

          • The Pachyderminator says:

            That is already the dominant opinion except for among salty fans, who generally weren’t happy with TFA but were even less happy with TLJ.

            Is it? I know critics tend to like TLJ better, but I was under the impression that most of those who hated TLJ had been cautiously optimistic about it because of liking TFA. And TLJ did substantially worse at the box office (i.e. it was only a mega-hit instead of a super-duper-mega-hit).

          • JayT says:

            No, it isn’t and has never been the dominant opinion. Force Awakens had a slightly higher average rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a significantly higher user rating on IMDB. The general feeling I saw in the fan community was that Force Awakens was a rehash, but it was fun to see the old actors back on the screen, and the new characters were likeable. Last Jedi was largely wasted opportunities and felt completely out of left field.

          • acymetric says:

            I think most people who liked TFA just liked it because it was fun, and the characters were good, while also thinking the movie was kind of dumb (ridiculous superweapon, ANH rehash, etc). The reason people were optimistic is that, while being dumb, it still managed to introduce some nice characters and open up some good avenues for future exploration.

            Then TLJ came out, and was still dumb, but without the fun and the characters didn’t come off nearly as well and it didn’t feel like it set up much of anything for the final installment. Of course there were a bunch of other complaints (Luke’s character, overly woke or whatever, etc.) and those got much more play from the critics (and are still getting more play) because they are easy targets, but I think what I just described is more common of a complaint among fans generally, just not the loudest/most publicized complaint.

            In terms of what is consensus (now or in the future), I guess it depends on how you define that…it probably isn’t as objective as you think. Consensus among die-hards seems to be that TFA was better (but still not great) while consensus generally is that TLJ is better (because critics + casual fans outnumber die-hards). I assumed you were referring to general consensus (in which case it is already in favor of TLJ). If you were referring to consensus among hardcore fans, the only reason I would expect it to shift in favor of TLJ is as a result of attrition (people who hated the new movies no longer being hardcore fans 10 years from now) rather than an actual change of opinion.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I think the worst thing about TLJ was what they did to Luke.

            Star Wars was a “fairy tale for the modern age.” At the end of the fairy tale, the hero becomes a wise philosopher king and the cowboy rides off with the princess and everyone lives Happily Ever After. Real life isn’t a fairy tale, and so the maybe the hero winds up becoming a miserable Space Hobo and the cowboy and the princess get a divorce. But we don’t make the fairy tale like real life. We keep the fairy tale as a fairy tale. TLJ was not a fairy tale.

          • acymetric says:

            @JayT

            No, it isn’t and has never been the dominant opinion. Force Awakens had a slightly higher average rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a significantly higher user rating on IMDB.

            That isn’t measuring the same thing. More people liked TFA than TLJ. That is…kind of obvious, because a plenty of people hated TLJ in a way that we didn’t see with TFA. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t more people who would rate TLJ over TFA than the reverse.

            Realistically there isn’t a consensus, or at least not a good way to determine one, but if you’re going to it seems pretty clear that the consensus is that TLJ was the better movie, which is not incompatible with TFA being more broadly liked.

          • acymetric says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            I didn’t like how Luke was handled, but I can see the reasons to do it that way and it didn’t ruin the movie for me (other things did). The payoff with the scene with him and Kylo even almost made it worth it. That said, you made pretty much the perfect argument for why it is perfectly reasonable not to like that choice (despite the objections of critics and various other people who insist not liking TLJ is a borderline crime against humanity). People like seeing their heroes struggle and be challenged. They don’t really like seeing their heroes utterly and miserably fail, with only moderate redemption.

          • JayT says:

            Do you think the fact that the critics liked Last Jedi less somehow points to a consensus of it being considered the better movie? I don’t know of any measurable stat that says people thought Last Jedi was better, but there are plenty of examples of TFA getting higher rankings.

            The two did get similar reviews, so I don’t think there is a critic consensus, but there is an obvious public concensus, and I doubt that will change any time soon.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            At the end of the fairy tale, the hero becomes a wise philosopher king and the cowboy rides off with the princess and everyone lives Happily Ever After.

            There’s your problem.

            You are treating TLJ is if it happens after the end. Fan fic written about what happens “after the end” that actually continues to carry along as if the end was, well, the end, is just fan wank.

            Arguably, TLJ is the same kind of rehash of Empire Strikes Back that TFA was of ANH. Luke is just playing the Yoda role, bitter and alone.

            Now, mind you, I have big problems with all of SW content past the original 4 and 5. I was promised wookies tearing limbs from stormtroopers, damnit, and Lucas gave me frickin’ ewoks. He didn’t even have the decorum to change the names enough to hide it.

            But I don’t see how you can complain about heroes going off on senseless, doomed side quests, ultimately to be betrayed, while running from the Empire, while our young padawan receives training from a bitter, old, apparently decrepit mentor, with epic, doomed battles on an ice planet … and maintain that The Last Jedi isn’t hewing to the forms of the original.

          • acymetric says:

            @JayT

            Ok, looking a little more at the numbers on different sites, I think I might be falling victim to the same mistake being made by some of the pro-TLJ, which is thinking the hot takes I’ve seen are more representative than they are. For the critics, that “OMG wokness ruined Star Wars!1!” is somehow representative of people who didn’t like TLJ, and for me that “Last Jedi is the best Star Wars movie ever made and F you for not liking it, morons” is generally representative of critics.

            I retract my point on TLJ already being the consensus best film, and retroactively double down based on a re-review of current ratings that TFA will remain the favored movie 10 years from now.

          • acymetric says:

            @HeelBearCub

            Salt planet 😉

            But people (well, some people at least) didn’t want a remake of Empire with Luke playing the role of old Yoda, and given that the prequel trilogy did not perfectly mirror that narrative of the original trilogy I’m not sure I see a compelling reason why it is good that the sequel trilogy did so.

            Nobody minded that they did that to Yoda because that was his original appearance, and then it was cool to see young(ish) Yoda kicking *** in the prequels.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Salt planet

            Planet covered in white crystals that are inhospitable to life!

            Potato, potahto. 😉

          • albatross11 says:

            One thing that was never clear to me–the Republic was falling, the Empire was taking over, and a lot of bad stuff was going on. Two of the most powerful Jedi are sitting that whole time out, hiding out on two remote planets. Yoda, who was an even match for the emperor, hides out for the rest of his life and eventually dies of old age having never even gotten to finish training Luke. Obi-wan is similarly just hiding out. In Rogue One and The Force Awakens, we see that there are still substantial numbers of people who are somehow involved with the Force. Yoda and Obi-wan could surely have found them and recruited from them and their followers, or at least gotten some help from them.

            Why? Why not go to some planet outside the reach of the Empire and start training new Jedi? Why not help organize the Rebel Alliance? Why not show up together unexpected and take out Vader for good? Both were not only Jedi masters, they were also experienced military commanders. Yoda also had like 800 years of memories about the Republic and surrounding powers, and would presumably have been very useful to the Rebel Alliance.

            And then Luke does the same thing–he’s this super powerful Jedi who is also a military leader and famous hero, and he just leaves the galaxy to its devices, leaves his friends and his side behind to fall apart and lose to the Second Order, while he mopes on a planet somewhere and contemplates his navel.

            This makes sense in terms of how the stories were written (except I don’t understand why TFA didn’t include Luke until the last scene), but as a story, it makes no sense at all!

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Why? Why not go to some planet outside the reach of the Empire and start training new Jedi? Why not help organize the Rebel Alliance? Why not show up together unexpected and take out Vader for good?

            Because they lost the propaganda war. Democracy dies to “thunderous applause” and all that. The Jedi were dead and discredited. Who would thank them for offing the Emperor, who was the rightful ruler strong enough to save everybody from the robots?

            @HBC: I mean, you’re right but I don’t have to like it. This seem like the “fan” fiction, because the fairy tale ended 35 years ago.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            But people (well, some people at least) didn’t want a remake of Empire with Luke playing the role of old Yoda, and given that the prequel trilogy did not perfectly mirror that narrative of the original trilogy I’m not sure I see a compelling reason why it is good that the sequel trilogy did so.

            I’ve been saying since TFA that it made Star Wars not a coherent universe. It never explained to us what the First Order of Fries is, why Starkiller Base blowing up a few planets destroys the New Republic, or… anything. A bunch of tropes from Ep 4 were just paraded across the screen without context, and everyone was supposed to eat it up.
            So Luke becoming a clone of Ep 5 Yoda rather than every story beat in 8 being Rian yelling “Subverted!” just makes things worse.

          • Clutzy says:

            Pachy. If you could provide defenses of two main problems I have with TLJ, I’d be interested. I’ve never seen defenses of them that were above “woeful”.

            1) How does Lightspeed ramming not break the universe?

            2) Wasn’t the low speed chase scenario a very difficult to pull off plot device (basically its like Speed which isn’t a great movie plotwise, but gets most of its excitement from real world obstacles that really put people on the edge of their seats) that they didn’t really pull off? It was a high DOD thing because it depends on maintaining tension for 120 minutes, but that was constantly thwarted. There are constantly droids or something else doing something really dumb for comic relief, the leaders of the resistance and first order seem inherently unserious as people. Both sideplots have intentional goofs.

            If you told me, “Speed, but in Star Wars” I think someone could have pulled it off. But I think you need more seriousness, have some more natural disasters like an asteroid belt or a black hole or supernova, and the sidequests have to be be played pretty straight. Maybe there is an older movie that you know of that is a better analogy. But I’d like to hear about that movie.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @HBC

            But I don’t see how you can complain about heroes going off on senseless, doomed side quests, ultimately to be betrayed, while running from the Empire, while our young padawan receives training from a bitter, old, apparently decrepit mentor, with epic, doomed battles on an ice planet … and maintain that The Last Jedi isn’t hewing to the forms of the original.

            I kept thinking about this last night, and why Luke’s situation bothers me but Obi-Wan’s and Yoda’s don’t. Even if a young person watches the movies in chronological order, so their first introduction to Obi-Wan and Yoda is at the height of their power and heroism, their fall is justified. We see it happen. They get outplayed and beaten by the most powerful Sith Lords in the galaxy. They lose the fight, they lose the propaganda war, and they go into hiding because there is nothing for them to do but wait. It’s all earned, it’s all justified.

            Luke’s fall we don’t get to see except one tiny flashback that doesn’t justify his situation. It doesn’t feel earned or justified. We go from Luke, at the height of his power, wise Jedi Master, hero of the Rebellion, to gross space hobo with nothing in between. That’s why it doesn’t feel the same.

            Now I’m terrified Disney is going to make another trilogy set between Return and TFA explaining just how Luke got to be a space hobo. “Ah, so that’s the story behind Luke’s first time drinking green alien milk!”

          • albatross11 says:

            Rogue One suggested that a lot of people were very unhappy with being under the empire’s boot. There was an active rebellion, and experienced leaders plus a new crop of Jedi would presumably have been a help.

          • acymetric says:

            @albatross11

            I can only infer most of this, but the “organized rebellion” appears not to have started until 5-6 years before A New Hope. By that time Obi-Wan and Yoda were probably already aged hermits.

            I also started a response yesterday that I apparently never posted, but in addition to the anti-Jedi propoganda making people unlikely to want to work with Jedi in the years immediately following the creation of the Empire, the Jedi also relied pretty extensively on prophecy and may have believed that hiding out and waiting until “the time has come” was their only true option.

            I’ll ROT13 this spoiler for Rebels in case you haven’t seen it but plan to (season 4 spoilers):

            Obgu Bov Jna naq Lbqn cynl fbzrjung npgvir (gubhtu fznyy) ebyrf va jbexvat jvgu n pbhcyr erznvavat Wrqv jub ner cneg bs gur syrqtyvat Eroryyvba orsber gur riragf bs N Arj Ubcr.

          • acymetric says:

            Yoda, who was an even match for the emperor

            Oh, I wanted to add a couple thoughts on this. Yoda was an even match for the Emperor, but barely. He is also super old. He had some pretty slick fight scenes, but it seems to me that his walking stick in between fight scenes wasn’t just for show. He really was an old man, who drew heavily on the force in able to fight/duel at a high level. It is entirely plausible to me that the fight with Palpatine pretty much took it out of him, with him using basically every last ounce he had to fight to a draw, and he couldn’t have fought at that level again. If you ever go back and re-watch, notice how much more he limps with his walking stick after the fights with Dooku and Palpatine. It definitely comes across that fighting like that takes a large toll on him.

            Obi-Wan is a little more confusing, but you just kind of have to accept that he aged in like dog years or something between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope (both he and Anakin really should have been older in the prequels).

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            I can only infer most of this, but the “organized rebellion” appears not to have started until 5-6 years before A New Hope. By that time Obi-Wan and Yoda were probably already aged hermits.

            Obi-Wan appears to be 34 when he goes into hiding (moronically dropping Luke off at Anakin’s stepfather’s farm under his real surname). So Luke is 13-14 when “organized rebellion” starts, and Obi-Wan is… so old that Han has never seen anything to suggest that monks of the old Republic’s state religion soloed droid platoons with telekinesis. Hmm.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Han has never seen anything to suggest that monks of the old Republic’s state religion soloed droid platoons with telekinesis.

            According to Wookieepedia, Han Solo would have been 13 by the events of Revenge of Sith. You would think 10 year old Han would have been exposed to holovids of “brave Jedi leading the Clone Army against the evil Separatists.”

          • acymetric says:

            @Le Maistre Chat

            Read the last paragraph of my last post in this thread 🙂

            Although you raise a good point. The collective memory of the universe must also have aged in dog years (or fruit fly years).

            To be fair, I don’t think the Jedi were as well known during the prequels either outside of the core of the Republic, we just spend most of our time during those movies in Republic worlds where people would be familiar with them. You still get the occasional “wait, Jedi are real?” moments in the prequels/Clone Wars show. A weak argument, I don’t really stand by it, but there it is.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            To be fair, I don’t think the Jedi were as well known during the prequels either outside of the core of the Republic

            I don’t think that’s a reasonable argument since a galaxy-wide civil war was being waged for years with Jedi featuring prominently in the officer class.

          • albatross11 says:

            Also young Anakin, a nobody impoverished slave on a remote planet run by a gangster, had heard of the Jedi.

          • bullseye says:

            There’s a gap between having heard of the Jedi and believing that they have supernatural powers.

    • acymetric says:

      1) Make ability to use the Force tied to concentration of a specific gut bacteria rather than just some mystical connection with the universe. We can call them Midochlarions, although the name could probably be tweaked.

      2) Start making movies without even a general sense of the overarching story or direction the story should be going. If possible, don’t even have the same people write or direct the movies, to minimize the possibility of coherent continuity.

      3) Oscillate every other film between relying on fanservice/callbacks and deriding fanservice/callbacks while deconstructing the genre/tropes so that whichever one a given fan thinks will make for a better movie they will leave unhappy.

      • Statismagician says:

        1) was dumb, but ultimately harmless (and neatly explained by making them symptomatic rather than causal, which I think was what the old EU did anyway). 2) and 3)… well, here we are, right?

        • acymetric says:

          and neatly explained by making them symptomatic rather than causal

          I think I missed this, where was that established? It does make them slightly less dumb…

          I agree that it was mostly harmless but I couldn’t help but make the dig anyway.

    • JayT says:

      Stop making movies and then wait 50 years. It worked for Flash Gordon, no reason it wouldn’t work for Star Wars.

      • Well... says:

        I’ve never consumed any media with Flash Gordon in it, but I have heard of Flash Gordon and have a very vague picture in my mind of who that character is. So, not obscure enough!

    • EchoChaos says:

      Make Luke Skywalker as obscure as Mr. Moto. How will you do this?

      Hire Kathleen Kennedy and wait two generations.

    • jermo sapiens says:

      Have Disney acquire the rights to it and release mediocre movies that re-hash old plot points while inserting as much of the progressive narrative as possible.

    • woah77 says:

      This reminds me of a joke I’ve started telling. How does Disney make a million dollars? Buy Star Wars for 4 billion dollars, make a series of terrible movies, sell Star Wars to Sony for a million dollars.

    • aristides says:

      Publish conclusive evidence that George Lucas and Mark Hamill were Epstein’s biggest clients, and behind his murder in prison. For added measure that he used his position to molest the kid who played young Anakin in the Phantom Menace. Watching old Star Wars movies will become more awkward than watching the Cosby Show.

      • meh says:

        this is probably closest to the correct answer. crappy content can turn off readers of this blog, but wont put a dent in the general fandom. i think the above, combined with some overt anti- in one of the movies would do it.

    • Well... says:

      You never said it had to be universally obscure. I’ve already succeeded in making Star Wars locally obscure: I haven’t introduced Star Wars to my kids, and aside from them I spend basically all my time with other adults. So, Star Wars isn’t really part of my life anymore, and hasn’t been since I was like 12.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      1) Make The Last Jedi.
      2) Frame Mark Hamill for rape.

      There, now Star Wars has no hardcore fandom and casuals are as uncomfortable watching it as The Cosby Show.

      • The Pachyderminator says:

        At last, the prequels would achieve the triumph they deserve!

        • Matt M says:

          I wouldn’t have thought it possible for “the prequels weren’t that bad” to ever become a majority position among Star Wars geeks, but the new trilogy is going to get us there, fast…

          • acymetric says:

            The prequels were poorly executed, but generally had a compelling story to tell even if they didn’t always do a good job telling it.

            The sequels barely appear to have a story to tell. The best that can be said about them so far is that there have been some fun moments. I rate TFA above TLJ because, even though neither was a good movie (for different reasons), TFA was at least consistently fun and the characters were almost universally likeable.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            The thing the prequels having going for them that the sequels lack is creativity and originality. The aliens were cool. The weird long necked cloners, the insect people, the dinosaur thing Obi-Wan rode in Ep. 3. Grevious is cool, droidekas are cool. All the clone walkers and giant laser cannons and stuff on Geonosis were cool. The sequels have none of that. It’s just the same stuff from the OT with a very slightly different paint job.

            The Star Wars universe is like a sandbox. While the stories were nonsense and the acting awful, the PT added toys to the sandbox. I enjoy playing with these toys, like I love all the clone wars maps in Battlefront II. Being clones blasting droids on Naboo is fun. The ST didn’t really add any fun new toys.

          • Matt M says:

            Luke drinking the milk straight out the udder of a weird space cow didn’t do it for you?

          • albatross11 says:

            I suspect it would have helped them a lot to construct at least a loose plot arc for the movies and then stick to it.

    • Phigment says:

      Try to explode in a blaze of completely indefensible stupidity that annoys everyone on every side of the culture war.

      This sounds difficult, but I think it can be done.

      Step 1: No spaceships on camera. As little cool sci-fi tech as possible. Don’t pander to the sci-fi fans.

      Step 2: Slave girls. Most of the movie is a rehash of the Jabba-the-Hutt scenes where he’s captured Leia and stuffed her into a metal bikini, but we do it with a whole bunch of female characters, zero male characters, and we make the costumes worse. Skirt as close to the line of actual pornography as possible, and possibly lunge over it in spots if we can bribe the ratings agencies enough. We want this movie to be a hard R-rating.

      This should help to drive off the social conservatives, who don’t approve of the near-porn, and the feminists, who don’t approve of the male-gaze near-porn, and the parents of children, who don’t want to take their kids to see near-porn.

      Step 3: Disempowerment. The villain, Jerko-The-Hutt, is kidnapping all the female characters and stuffing them into a harem in order to steal their Force powers for himself. Which he succeeds in doing. No more force powers for them, ever. At the climax, though, a male character who formerly has displayed no Force aptitude whatesoever manages to get a lot of the collective stolen Force powers transferred into him, which allows him to become the Strongest Jedi Ever and annihilate Jerko the Hutt in a blast of lightning. Reveal that, for unspecified reasons, the stolen force powers cannot be given back to their original owners. Have several of the de-powered women state that they’re happier now as slave girls without the burden of superpowers.

      That should pretty thoroughly anger the die-hard Star Wars fans, the movie reviewers, and anyone who isn’t interested in internet BDSM.

      The goal here is to push Star Wars firmly into the skeezy zone occupied by Barbarella and movies about lesbian vampires or women in sexy prison. Or lesbian vampires in sexy prison. Make it so that nobody can have a serious conversation in public about Star Wars, because that would mean admitting you know about it.

      • EchoChaos says:

        That is actually probably going to do the opposite. While Star Wars will not be socially acceptable, it will be WELL KNOWN! Plus too much of society knows porn actors these days.

        You need to fade into obscurity in the same way that well-known heroes and heroines of the past did, by just fading. Time and lower quality products, not dramatically and instantly.

        • Phigment says:

          It’ll be well-known for a while, but once the initial hubbub dies down, it won’t get new content. That’s when it fades away.

          The problem with just fading is that people will keep trying to resurrect it if they have positive feelings. I mean, Battlestar Galactica got a remake.

          You need it to fade, but you also need a reason for people to never ever touch it again. You need to render it radioactively worthless before you bury it, so the only people who will be interested in looking at it are history grad students trying to find thesis topics that haven’t been beaten to death already.

        • Matt says:

          I think the idea can work. For added measure, the ‘slave girls’ can be well-known actresses who would never agree to those roles, but thanks to tricky contract writing, are deepfake CGI-ed into the porny portions of the movie using porn actress body doubles.

          That way you get a bunch of respected and beloved actresses righteously complaining that they were taken advantage of.

          • Phigment says:

            That does seem like an “improvement” to the plan, yes.

            Getting sued into the ground and tying up the intellectual property in a bunch of civil judgements and contractual disputes can only increase the radioactivity of the end result.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            For added measure, the ‘slave girls’ can be well-known actresses who would never agree to those roles, but thanks to tricky contract writing, are deepfake CGI-ed into the porny portions of the movie using porn actress body doubles.

            Are you telling me that Rogue One could have had a fake CGI slave boy Peter Cushing?

      • albatross11 says:

        Ah, Episode Ten: The Jedi of Gor

      • Deiseach says:

        The goal here is to push Star Wars firmly into the skeezy zone occupied by Barbarella and movies about lesbian vampires or women in sexy prison.

        Wait, Barbarella is skeezy? I thought it was camp! And John Law as Pygar was very aesthetically pleasing to teenage me when I saw it on TV years back (also liked the redemptive ending where the heroine and the ex-villainess are rescued by the angel who forgives the villainess for all the terrible things she did to him because “an angel has no memory”, which is acceptable theology).

    • Unsaintly says:

      Make absolutely 0 new content ever again (including merchandise and spinoffs), take down all Disney WorldLand rides and references to it. Give all the rights to someone who desperately wants to make new movies confirming all of his stupid fan theories, and make it very clear to any fans who want to revive the show that whatever this guy makes in that event will be worse than nothing. In a couple generations, it will be plenty obscure. It’s going to take time, but that’s because so many people already know Luke Skywalker, so you’re going to need to prevent any new people from learning about him and wait for the existing people to die/forget.

      • johan_larson says:

        I suppose the straightforward approach is to buy the rights to the Star Wars IP and simply stop production. Make no new movies, TV programs, books, games, or toys. And stop production of the exisiting stuff too. When contracts for streaming come up for renewal, simply cancel them.

        With no new material coming out, all the casual fans will drift away quickly, and with even the older stuff getting harder and harder to find, even the holdouts will have a hard time. A fanfic culture might blossom for a time but if nobody is getting paid, its products are unlikely to match the originals, so even the fanfic culture will be on borrowed time.

        The question is how much faster we could make Star Wars fade away than this do-nothing scenario.

    • Theodoric says:

      Rise of Skywalker is currently 59% on Rotten Tomatoes, so it looks like they are on track to do just that.

    • Lambert says:

      Full Damnatio Memoriae is the only way.
      Destroy all physical evidence.
      Arrest those who mention the films or harbour copies, posters, merchandise, books. …encourager les autres from time to time…
      Use PRISM and ECHELON to find those who defy the law.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        Full Damnatio Memoriae is the only way.
        Destroy all physical evidence.
        Arrest those who mention the films or harbour copies, posters, merchandise, books.

        Replace the word Wars with Trek and you’re describing an episode of Futurama.

    • John Schilling says:

      Unfortunately for many of the entertaining proposals here, I think the “Highlander” franchise pretty conclusively shows that no number of mind-numbingly bad sequels, even ones that directly undermine the premise and mythology of the original, can drive a good and beloved movie into that sort of oblivion. See also pretty much every horror franchise ever. People will just focus on the good one(s) and aggressively deny / denounce the rest. Han will always have shot first, there can only ever have been one, and people will remember that.

      But George Lucas is still alive, and can therefore potentially be sent into the same outer darkness as Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby. That, with the right sort of publicity, could make the people who insist on retaining their fond memories of the original trilogy at least shut up about it in polite company, so do that and wait a generation.

    • You m probably have to start with convincing Disney to sell the franchise because as long as the two are tied together, it’s not going anywhere.

      • johan_larson says:

        I wonder how much Disney would want for the Star Wars franchise right now. They paid just short of 4 billion for it in 2012.

        • The Pachyderminator says:

          I suspect there’s literally no amount of money they would accept for it. Owning Star Wars is part of their plan to dominate the entertainment world, and they’re currently willing to accept short-term losses for the sake of that goal. Disney+ is currently operating at a loss in order to grow the subscriber base as fast as possible, if I’m not mistaken.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            I suspect there’s literally no amount of money they would accept for it. Owning Star Wars is part of their plan to dominate the entertainment world, and they’re currently willing to accept short-term losses for the sake of that goal.

            I really don’t get this. That’s saying they’re basically banking $4 billion on the trademark “Star Wars” being essential to dominate entertainment. Like there’s zero risk that someone else will come along and make a space opera just as popular, and they can’t compete with another space opera they own (*cough*GuardiansoftheGalaxy*cough*).

          • johan_larson says:

            I suspect if you wandered up with a serious offer of, say, $10 billion, they would think about the matter seriously. Even Disney management has shareholders to answer to, and there is always the possibility of lawsuits if they appear to take their fiduciary responsibilities too lightly. At a minimum, there would be a counteroffer.

            Are there any comparables? Is there anything out there that is worth anthing like the Star Wars IP?

            I seem to recall that the rights to The Terminator sold for some surprisingly low figure somewhere along the line. $10 million, maybe? I wish I could find a reference.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            say, $10 billion,

            The box office revenue, alone, for The Last Jedi, alone was $1.3 billion. That’s not merch sales or streaming rights or DVD sales or rentals or any of the other revenue streams.

            Especially given all of the other ongoing investments Disney has in Star Wars IP, I’m not really sure that amount would be a serious offer. The Mandalorian shows the kind of thinking they have for continuing to capitalize on the the IP ad infinitum.

          • JayT says:

            Marvel has to be up there with Star Wars. I could see an argument for it being worth more since there is more existing media, and more characters that are well known enough to get their own show or movie. I don’t think Star Wars has an equivalent to, say, The Punisher.

            I’m sure there is an amount of money that Disney would take for Star Wars, but it would have to be more than the franchise would actually be worth to any other company. Disney has so much tied up in Star Wars that to sell it, it would mean walking away from the billions they have put into their new Star Wars attractions at their theme parks, and it would be giving their direct competition a foothold in the kids/tweens genre they want to dominate.

          • baconbits9 says:

            The box office revenue, alone, for The Last Jedi, alone was $1.3 billion. That’s not merch sales or streaming rights or DVD sales or rentals or any of the other revenue streams.

            Sort of meaningless on its own. Box office doesn’t = what the studio made as the box office is split between theaters and these are large budget films. TLJ making 1.3 billion on a 300 million budget sounds far better than it really is. The sum totals for the 4 Disney SW movies are over a billion in terms of budget just for the movies with a $4 billion cost of obtaining the rights and a world wide box office of ~4.8 billion (all numbers just lazy googling). Even with a 100% ownership of box office receipts Disney is in the red for these films when you include the cost of acquiring the rights, and their ownership of the box office is probably more like 50-60%, and definitely not 100%*, so toys/rides/video games and future movies (including the one just released) etc have to net another 2.5 billion just to make back the initial investment, which was made 8 years ago and included $2 billion in cash so you are talking another billion in terms of opportunity cost if they could have earned 5% on that cash over those 8 years.

            Long story short: If and how profitable Star Wars is for Disney is up in the air, but they would almost certainly take a massive offer like $10 billion (but also no one would realistically offer $10 billion for it).

            *Wikipedia has just Harrison Ford + JJ Abrams’ shares for TFA at 2.5% combined with Ridley+Boyega getting a share if the movie grossed over $1 billion (which it didn’t domestically but did internationally so depends on the language in the contract).

    • The Nybbler says:

      Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is kill the Star Wars franchise. Make Luke Skywalker as obscure as Mr. Moto. How will you do this?

      Same as Disney is doing, except I inexplicably cancel The Mandalorian.

    • b_jonas says:

      An attempt for that mission is already in progress. I am in fact hoping that it will fail, but I don’t care enough to make much difference.

      The hard part is to build a nice internet community of fantasy fiction enthusiasts. This one is already done at “https://scifi.stackexchange.com/”. The easy part is to destroy that community. The fans then get dispersed and confused, and only the few who go to big American conventions will be able to talk to each other.

    • Paul Zrimsek says:

      Would it help if they hire Roman Polanski to direct the next one? When you set out to rape people’s childhoods, you should bring in the pros.

  2. Conrad Honcho says:

    Happy Impeachment Day! This is the anti-impeachment effortpost I wanted to make while I was in exile. I was still reading all the posts, and there were some points not made that I thought should have been, and some confusion I think we can clear up.

    First, let’s go back to the record of the call between Presidents Trump and Zelensky. Trump asks Zelensky to “do us a favor” and cooperate with the Attorney General on something to do with a server in Ukraine identified by Crowdstrike. Aftagley brought this up, asking what the non-crazy explanation for this is and did not get a good answer. People seem to think Trump was talking about the DNC server. That is not the server. When John Podesta was targeted by the spearphishing attack, Crowdstrike determined that the server used to harvest his account information and to log in to his accounts was in Ukraine. So it is not the DNC email server they want, it’s the server used to attack John Podesta. It’s also entirely possible Trump can’t tell the difference between the servers because “old man and computers.”

    So, first I think everyone agrees this is good and appropriate, yes? There is nothing wrong with getting cooperation from a foreign government for investigating the attack against John Podesta, right?
    Some might take issue with the words “do us a favor,” but there is actually no favor required. In 1998/1999, Bill Clinton signed the Treaty with Ukraine on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, which obligates Ukraine to cooperate with us on exactly these kinds of issues. This makes me think “favor” was being used colloquially. Like when your boss asks you to “do him a favor” and have those reports ready by Friday. It’s not really a favor. You have to do it.

    Next we get to Vice President Biden. You’ll notice it is not Trump who brings up the prearranged meeting with Rudy, but Zelensky. Rudy has nothing to do with the investigation into the server as that is a separate issue being handled by the DOJ. First Zelensky agrees with Trump that they will cooperate with Barr with regards to the server. Then he says that he is looking forward to meeting with Rudy. This is a change of topic, by Zelensky, not Trump. Then Trump agrees it is good that Zelensky is meeting with Rudy and that they’re investigation corruption because it looked like Biden was up to no good in his opinion.

    So Trump did not ask for an investigation of Biden. That was already underway. It’s not unreasonable that the Ukrainians do not like having their personnel and prosecution decisions strong-armed by the United States. But why is Rudy involved? According to John Solomon, the Ukrainians have been trying to get information on what Biden was doing to the US government since summer of 2018. They have been stymied by State Department and DOJ officials. Why the State Department doesn’t want Biden investigated calls for speculation, but I have my suspicions.

    According to interviews with more than a dozen Ukrainian and U.S. officials, Ukraine’s government under recently departed President Petro Poroshenko and, now, Zelensky has been trying since summer 2018 to hand over evidence about the conduct of Americans they believe might be involved in violations of U.S. law during the Obama years.

    The Ukrainians say their efforts to get their allegations to U.S. authorities were thwarted first by the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, which failed to issue timely visas allowing them to visit America.

    Then the Ukrainians hired a former U.S. attorney — not Giuliani — to hand-deliver the evidence of wrongdoing to the U.S. attorney’s office in New York, but the federal prosecutors never responded.

    The U.S. attorney, a respected American, confirmed the Ukrainians’ story to me. The allegations that Ukrainian officials wanted to pass on involved both efforts by the Democratic National Committee to pressure Ukraine to meddle in the 2016 U.S. election as well as Joe Biden’s son’s effort to make money in Ukraine while the former vice president managed U.S.-Ukraine relations, the retired U.S. attorney told me.

    Eventually, Giuliani in November 2018 got wind of the Ukrainian allegations and started to investigate.

    So, Trump was not asking for an investigation. The investigation was already well underway.
    Lt. Col. Vindman tried to discredit John Solomon’s reporting about Ukraine and the Bidens, but did not seem to offer any facts. Solomon has responded with a list of all of his factual claims about Ukraine and the Bidens with citations, so if there’s anything wrong with Solomon’s reporting, one should address these facts.

    Now let’s get to the witness testimony. The allegations are that Trump withheld aid money (alternately a phone call and a meeting) from Ukraine unless they investigated, or announced an investigation of Biden. This is allegedly a bad thing.

    First, we all agree the bad thing did not actually happen. No new investigation was launched, and no announcement of an investigation happened, and yet the money was released, the phone call made and the meeting happened. So now the allegation is that Trump attempted to do the bad thing.

    The problem here is that not a single witness testified that Trump ordered them to withhold the goodies in exchange for the investigation, and not a single witness testified that they witnessed Trump order someone else to withhold the goodies in exchange for the investigation. They just seemed to have heard (or invented) a rumor that Trump did these things. If you disagree with this and think I am in error, please tell me:

    1. The full name of the specific individual Trump ordered to inform the Ukrainians about the investigation for aid deal.

    2. A link to the testimony of the witness who was either the person named in part 1 or who witnessed Trump ordering the person named in part 1 to arrange the deal.

    We also have the public statements by President Zelensky and his foreign minister that they were not pressured or made aware that goodies would be withheld in exchange for an investigation.

    This is one other bullet that few (no one?) seem willing to bite: please explain why President Zelensky is lying about this. It’s an odd coincidence but if one had asked me before all this happened, in, say, June, “Conrad, you don’t trust politicians in general, but who, on the world stage, would you say is the politician least likely to be a corrupt liar?” I would have thought for a second and said “Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine,” based solely on the fact that he was not a politician, but a TV comedian elected to clean up the corruption among Ukraine’s political class. I do not think it was very nice of the Democrats and media to insinuate that Zelensky is a liar.

    Next we could get into a discussion of whether or not it would even be bad to ask Ukraine to investigate Biden. Now, I don’t want to get too far into a discussion of Biden because that’s a different topic. That said, I would say no, as there is no rule against investigating politicians running for office. Both major candidates in 2016 were investigated by the FBI, Trump for being a Russian spy and HRC for her email woes.

    There is one question I genuinely have that have not seen anyone ask or answer. Is it common for Vice Presidents of the United States to get personally involved in the hiring and firing of foreign officials? How many foreign officeholders did each of Al Gore, Dick Cheney, Joe Biden, and Mike Pence have fired? Perhaps this is so common an event no one bothers reporting on it, but if this was the one and only guy whom a Vice President has personally seen to his firing, that would be suspicious.

    Anyway, the problem with impeachment as it stands is:

    1. The bad thing Trump is accused of doing did not happen (i.e., no one did the thing).

    2. There is no evidence or witness testimony that anyone saw Trump attempt to do the bad thing.

    3. It is not clear the bad thing is actually bad.

    For those reasons, I do not think impeachment is warranted.

    • jermo sapiens says:

      Anyway, the problem with impeachment as it stands is:

      1. The bad thing Trump is accused of doing did not happen (i.e., no one did the thing).

      2. There is no evidence or witness testimony that anyone saw Trump attempt to do the bad thing.

      3. It is not clear the bad thing is actually bad.

      I agree very much with what you’ve said. I would also add that the Democrats have been itching to impeach since day 1, so the notion that Trump’s actions shocked their conscience is very hard to believe. And there is no hope that impeachment will be successful.

      So this appears to be an exercise in appeasing the base, which I expect to backfire strongly.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        I agree very much with what you’ve said.

        I’m just going to put a marker here. I expect that this phrase will now appear in the comments, approximately and hyperbolically, about 10000% more often than when they were all banned.

        I’m not sure if it is the main issue, but I think at least it’s a huge catalyst for the main issues that end up resulting in banning. But maybe that is just me.

        • EchoChaos says:

          I’m not sure if it is the main issue, but I think at least it’s a huge catalyst for the main issues that end up resulting in banning.

          I am not sure what you are saying here, so I just want to understand it.

          Are you saying the comment section has moved substantially to the right, or something else that I am not understanding?

          • Aftagley says:

            He’s saying we’re currently watching a feedback loop reassemble itself in real time.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            I dont understand it either. How is my agreeing with ConradHoncho on impeachment “a huge catalyst for the main issues that end up resulting in banning”. Or maybe I’m not understanding what the ‘it’ stands for in that sentence.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Not particularly talking about the fact that adding more right wing commenters means more right wing content. No, I literally meant that this phrase, indicating “I agree with you”, will appear more often.

            My impression is that a one of the primary animators of comments around here is: “Here is where I disagree with what you said”. Simply wishing to chime in to agree with someone is not the standard mode in these comments.

      • k10293 says:

        For what it’s worth, when I read the Trump-Zelensky call transcript, I remarked that I thought it was the most corrupt thing he had done, and on another level from his previous presidential misdeeds. I don’t think my opinion is especially rare among liberals.

    • AKL says:

      I haven’t even read the entire post but your second link doesn’t say what you claim it does.

      You say the link supports the claims “Crowdstrike determined that the server used to harvest his account information and to log in to his accounts was in Ukraine.”

      In fact:
      – Your source does not mention Crowdstrike
      – Your source claims the attack on Podesta came from a group of Russian hackers: “All of these hacks were executed using these shortened URLs in fake emails, according to Motherboard, and those URLs “were created with a Bitly account linked to a domain under the control of Fancy Bear,” a group of Russian hackers.”
      – The only mention of Ukraine is that the Russian [according to your source] attack on Podesta falsely claims that Podesta was hacked from a Ukrainian IP address

      It’s hard to take any of your factual claims seriously when your sources say the opposite of what you claim in a way that directly undercuts your argument.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        Your source does not mention Crowdstrike

        Good point, I shouldn’t have included them in the link text. But they were the people who analyzed the attack, and determined that the attack on Podesta came from a Ukrainian IP address.

        – Your source claims the attack on Podesta came from a group of Russian hackers: “All of these hacks were executed using these shortened URLs in fake emails, according to Motherboard, and those URLs “were created with a Bitly account linked to a domain under the control of Fancy Bear,” a group of Russian hackers.”

        Yes, is that in any way in dispute? I thought everyone agreed Russian hacking groups attacked Podesta.

        – The only mention of Ukraine is that the Russian [according to your source] attack on Podesta falsely claims that Podesta was hacked from a Ukrainian IP address

        I’m not sure what this means. The Russians didn’t claim anything, but why are you saying the claim it came from an Ukrainian IP address is false? No one’s saying the Ukrainians hacked Podesta: Russians did it using a server located in Ukraine, which the DOJ would like to analyze.

        • Anonymous Bosch says:

          I’m not sure what this means. The Russians didn’t claim anything, but why are you saying the claim it came from an Ukrainian IP address is false?

          Because you supplied a bullshit link and then disavowed it while conspicuously declining to supply non-bullshit link, allowing for a simple application of Hitchens’ Razor.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            It’s not a bullshit link..? What in the link is false? Is there any factual disagreement about the attack against Podesta coming from a Ukrainian IP address?

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            It’s not a bullshit link..? What in the link is false? Is there any factual disagreement about the attack against Podesta coming from a Ukrainian IP address?

            The link is not false, the link did not prove what you claimed it proved. The link is to *a fake phishing email* claiming to have a Ukranian IP.

            I supplied the Crowdstrike report several posts down. Feel free to point out where it mentions a “Ukranian IP address.” Or, you know, just keep replying obliviously so everyone can improve their calibrations as to whether you’re merely repeating misinformation or actively disinforming.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            “This is a legitimate email,” Charles Delevan at the HFA help desk wrote to Podesta’s chief of staff, Sara Latham. “John needs to change his password immediately, and ensure that two-factor authentication is turned on his account.”

            It’s not a fake email. The email that phished Podesta came from Ukraine. Why are you calling it a “fake phishing email?”

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            It’s not a fake email. The email that phished Podesta came from Ukraine.

            According to who? You said CrowdStrike initially. I linked the CrowdStrike report which says no such thing. Now you’re citing … Podesta’s dumbass IT guy telling him “yeah seems legit,” which it obviously wasn’t, or else we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

            My intuition says your bad faith should be obvious at this point but I’d like an observer to please confirm before I peace out.

          • broblawsky says:

            It definitely doesn’t look like a good faith argument to me, but I’ll cop to not being objective on this.

          • AKL says:

            Conrad Honcho is obviously not arguing in good faith and it’s not worth engaging with them.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I don’t think that’s the crowdstrike report. That’s just a blog post. I don’t think the full report has been made public.

            I agree I was mistaken by saying crowdstike determined it. They investigated the attack, the attack came from a Ukrainian IP address, in my mind I put those together as “crowdstrike determined.” I should have kept those two as separate sentences.

            But I’m not lying to you. There’s the email and the IP address. You can look at it yourself. The attack come from a server in Ukraine. There’s other evidence of this as well. US Govt Data Shows Russia Used Outdated Ukrainian PHP Malware.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            I don’t think that’s the crowdstrike report. That’s just a blog post. I don’t think the full report has been made public.

            Whether the full report is there or non-public, in either case you were lying about what it says.

            Having been caught, you’re simply repeating over and over again that the email itself says it’s from Ukraine. This is, of course, also a lie. That’s kind of the point of phishing, that the email isn’t what it claims to be.

            The Russian hackers who composed this email, spoofed Google’s header, and set up a fake Google login page were free to invent any IP they pleased, since it was not actually a real security alert.

            I’m going to go ahead and pack it up here. Anyone not already persuaded by this interaction likely isn’t persuadable.

          • meh says:

            no, you’re not crazy. i wish there was a way to convey this sentiment more easily without cluttering the comments section

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            This is, of course, also a lie. That’s kind of the point of phishing, that the email isn’t what it claims to be.

            Ah fudge. I thought the phishing email itself was from Ukraine. No, the phishing email said someone in Ukraine tried to log in to his account.

            I know you’re not going to believe me, but I wasn’t lying. I thought the phishing email itself came from Ukraine, not that the phishing email falsely claimed someone from Ukraine tried to log in to his account. You are right and I am wrong.

          • broblawsky says:

            I know you’re not going to believe me, but I wasn’t lying. I thought the phishing email itself came from Ukraine, not that the phishing email falsely claimed someone from Ukraine tried to log in to his account. You are right and I am wrong.

            Who told you the phishing email was from Ukraine?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Who told you the phishing email was from Ukraine?

            When I was initialing learning about the DNC/Podesta hacks back in 2016-2017, I remember reading analyses of some of the publicly available information by security researchers (likely linked off Slashdot) that said the specific malware used against Podesta was a Ukrainian script-kiddy kit. That’s not to say it was done by Ukrainians, just that it was done using a Ukrainian tool.

            Since that would be the likely connection between the Ukrainians having a server involved in 2016 election manipulation, I figured that was the server the DOJ would want. In making that case, I googled for “Ukraine server podesta phishing” and that link came up. I thought since it was showing the email itself coming from Ukraine, that was a simple indication that servers located in Ukraine were used in the attack. But I misread what it said, thinking the email itself came from Ukraine rather than that the email claimed a Ukrainian tried to access Podesta’s account.

            If I could do it over, I would have linked to the various security researchers and said “there are indications hardware located in Ukraine was used in the attack” rather than state outright that Podesta was directed to a Ukrainian server. I don’t think anyone has said for sure exactly where the server Podesta was directed to to steal his account information was located. That said, I would not be terribly shocked if it were in Ukraine if the tool used to phish him was in fact of Ukrainian origin.

          • broblawsky says:

            That said, I would not be terribly shocked if it were in Ukraine if the tool used to phish him was in fact of Ukrainian origin.

            To me, this seems like you’re fabricating a claim without evidence to avoid having to admit that your thesis regarding Ukrainian involvement – and therefore much of your justification for the Trump administration’s attempt at extorting the Ukrainian government – is irreparably flawed.

          • salvorhardin says:

            @Anonymous Bosch

            Less of this, please.

            FWIW I am strongly pro-impeachment and think you are right on the substance. This whole argument seems like nitpicking over the details of whether Al Capone’s conduct met the legal standard for tax evasion, and moreover rests on an implicit assumption that Trump’s motives for his official actions should be given the benefit of the doubt, which assumption literally the entire record of his public life shows to be unjustified. So I understand the frustration here.

            Nevertheless, as clearly as Trump may be a compulsive liar and serial practitioner of bad faith, accusing his supporters on this forum of being those things by extension is not helpful, and detracts from the comity that the forum requires to remain somewhat insulated from the awfulness of the rest of online discourse. As one who values that insulation, I’d like to discourage those accusations.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            To me, this seems like you’re fabricating a claim without evidence to avoid having to admit that your thesis regarding Ukrainian involvement – and therefore much of your justification for the Trump administration’s attempt at extorting the Ukrainian government – is irreparably flawed.

            No, there are security researchers who have identified the specific malware used to phish Podesta as being Ukrainian in origin. I have linked them above. I have not seen anyone else break down the exact type of tools used to phish Podesta.

            If the question is, “what does the phishing of John Podesta (servers and CrowdStrike and ongoing DOJ investigations into election meddling) have to do with Ukraine?” the answer is probably, “oh, Ukrainian tools, probably hosted on Ukrainian servers were used in the attack on Podesta.” I misread the link I posted, believing it supported that thesis, but it doesn’t. I thought that was direct evidence the phishing email directed Podesta to a Ukrainian IP address (server), which I thought would make the case more obviously than “here’s some security researcher analyzing hacking tools” which is harder to understand, and it was from CBS News, which may be more reputable than “security blog.”

            None of that really has much to do with the case for/against impeachment, by the way. Basically it had just been gnawing at me since I saw Aftagley’s post asking what Trump was talking about a few weeks ago and I wanted to answer his question.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            Nevertheless, as clearly as Trump may be a compulsive liar and serial practitioner of bad faith, accusing his supporters on this forum of being those things by extension is not helpful,

            I am not accusing him of being a liar or arguing in bad faith because he is a Trump supporter. I’m accusing him of it because he manifestly, repeatedly lied about something and it took four posts explicitly, painstakingly laying out the logic to get him to admit to what he now claims is merely an extreme lack of reading comprehension preventing him from properly reading the single email undergirding his entire thesis (while continuing elsethread to defend all the subsequent points which fall without a benign interpretation of the Zelensky call).

          • Garrett says:

            For what little it’s worth, my memory at of events at the time matches Conrad Honcho’s most recent description.
            I’ve generally not commented too much on the issue because the fundamental technical details haven’t been released to the public to be able to independently analyse.

          • AKL says:

            The problem with this entire thread is that it’s bullshit (in the Harry Frankfurt sense), and bullshit is infinitely more corrosive and harmful to this forum than disagreement.

            The first argument Conrad makes, spread over two paragraphs, is that “the favor” is not “about the DNC server” but is really about the Ukrainian “server used to attack John Podesta.”

            People seem to think Trump was talking about the DNC server. That is not the server. When John Podesta was targeted by the spearphishing attack, Crowdstrike determined that the server used to harvest his account information and to log in to his accounts was in Ukraine. So it is not the DNC email server they want, it’s the server used to attack John Podesta. It’s also entirely possible Trump can’t tell the difference between the servers because “old man and computers.” 
            So, first I think everyone agrees this is good and appropriate, yes? There is nothing wrong with getting cooperation from a foreign government for investigating the attack against John Podesta, right?

            If you think that this distinction is not relevant, or nonsensical, or just confusing, well, that’s the entire point of bullshit (see e.g. Deiseach’s comment). It seems to make some salient point but when you look closely it’s just nonsense. Not nonsense as in incorrect. Nonsense as in irrefutable and incoherent. When the bullshit is painstakingly dissected, Conrad’s response is that the original claims don’t matter anyways, and anyone focusing on them is missing the big picture. This is, of course, incredibly intellectually dishonest and harmful to the conversation.

            Just trying to unpack his evolving argument is exhausting:
            Claim: The first reason that Trump should not be impeached is that he wanted Ukraine to find the server used to hack Podesta, NOT the DNC server.
            Response: Your source doesn’t show this
            Claim: The hack on Podesta came from a Ukrainian IP address
            Response: There’s no evidence that’s true
            Claim: The software tools used to hack Podesta were made by Ukrainians
            Reponse: You’re making up evidence now because your arguments have all been refuted
            Claim: None of that really has much to with with the case for / against impeachment, by the way

            The nature of bullshit is that when you try to expose it, you end up arguing about whether the tools used to carry out some hack were originally authored in Ukraine or not. Everyone agrees that is totally irrelevant to Conrad’s thesis, but to the bullshit artist, the irrelevance is the point. The entire “argument” is just obfuscation, misdirection, gaslighting, and an attempt to confuse. And when someone spends the time to pick it apart detail by detail, the inevitable response is, “well maybe you’re right about that tiny detail but why are you so focused on that unimportant stuff anyways, and the fact that I was wrong certainly doesn’t change my main argument, and this whole conversation was never about this topic in the first place.”

            Bullshit like this sucks. It’s a complete waste of everyone’s time. It’s only interesting for the drama and flame wars. It makes this forum worse.

          • AKL says:

            The problem with this entire thread is that it’s bullshit (in the Harry Frankfurt sense), and bullshit is infinitely more corrosive and harmful to this forum than disagreement.

            The first argument Conrad makes, spread over two paragraphs, is that “the favor” is not “about the DNC server” but is really about the Ukrainian “server used to attack John Podesta.”

            People seem to think Trump was talking about the DNC server. That is not the server. When John Podesta was targeted by the spearphishing attack, Crowdstrike determined that the server used to harvest his account information and to log in to his accounts was in Ukraine. So it is not the DNC email server they want, it’s the server used to attack John Podesta. It’s also entirely possible Trump can’t tell the difference between the servers because “old man and computers.” 
            So, first I think everyone agrees this is good and appropriate, yes? There is nothing wrong with getting cooperation from a foreign government for investigating the attack against John Podesta, right?

            If you think that this distinction is not relevant, or nonsensical, or just confusing, well, that’s the entire point of bullshit (see e.g. Deiseach’s comment). It seems to make some salient point but when you look closely it’s just nonsense. Not nonsense as in incorrect. Nonsense as in irrefutable and incoherent. When the bullshit is painstakingly dissected, Conrad’s response is that the original claims don’t matter anyways, and anyone focusing on them is missing the big picture. This is, of course, intellectually dishonest and harmful to the conversation.

            Just trying to unpack his evolving argument is exhausting:
            Claim: The first reason that Trump should not be impeached is that he wanted Ukraine to find the server used to hack Podesta, NOT the DNC server.
            Response: Your source doesn’t show this
            Claim: The hack on Podesta came from a Ukrainian IP address
            Response: There’s no evidence that’s true
            Claim: The software tools used to hack Podesta were made by Ukrainians
            Reponse: You’re making up evidence now because your arguments have all been refuted
            Claim: None of that really has much to with with the case for / against impeachment, by the way

            The nature of bullshit is that when you try to expose it, you end up arguing about whether the tools used to carry out some hack were originally authored in Ukraine or not. Everyone agrees that is totally irrelevant to Conrad’s thesis, but to the bullshit artist, the irrelevance is the point. The entire “argument” is just obfuscation, goalpost-moving, gaslighting, and an attempt to confuse. And when someone spends the time to pick it apart detail by detail, the inevitable response is, “well maybe you’re right about that tiny detail but why are you so focused on that unimportant stuff anyways, and the fact that I was wrong certainly doesn’t change my main argument, and this whole conversation was never about that topic in the first place.”

            Bullshit like this sucks. It’s a complete waste of everyone’s time. It’s only interesting for the drama and flame wars. It makes this forum worse.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            That is not true. I am not intentionally misleading you, nor moving the goalposts. The goalposts are the same: the ask for the favor had nothing to do with Biden.

            The claim by the Democrats and the media is that Trump asked for a favor, an investigation of Biden. This is not true. Trump asked for a server.

            There have been questions about what the server is. It’s either the DNC server (which is ludicrous) or it is something else. When looking for a non-ludicrous explanation for what the server could be, I remembered that the actual phishing attack against Podesta involved Ukraine, so that could be it, since that ties in with “server” and “Crowdstrike.” I thought the stronger piece of Ukraine-linked evidence was the email, but I misread it. If you find it hard to believe I am that stupid, then joke’s on you: I am that stupid. The weaker piece of evidence is the hacking tools themselves.

            However, whether the server was the ludicrous thing (DNC server) or the less ludicrous thing (server used in phishing attack against Podesta), both are related to 2016 election interference and not Biden. Biden was not running for election in 2016, was not hacked, and did not hack anyone else. Therefore, the ask for the server has nothing to do with the grounds for impeachment, which was an ask for an investigation of Biden. The goalposts are the same: the ask had nothing to do with Biden.

            I am very sorry I ever brought that up. I should have just stuck with “he asked for a server, not an investigation, and then Zelensky switched topics to the ongoing investigation of Biden and the prearranged meeting with Rudy.”

            Now that we’ve established that we do not know what Trump was talking about with the server, can we agree he did ask for a server, not an investigation of Biden?

          • nadbor says:

            I want to second salvorhardin.

            FWIW Conrad Honcho appears to me to be arguing in good faith and displaying remarkable patience in the face of undeserved hostility.

            Mistaken? Yes. Biased? Definitely. Ultimately wrong about Trump? Very likely. But lying? Deliberately misinforming? That’s not what it looks like to me.

          • I just want to agree with nadbor.

            Conrad’s claim to the contrary, he isn’t stupid, although he is, like most of us, biased. Claiming that the attack came from the Ukraine when he knew it didn’t would be stupid here, although not necessarily everywhere, since this is a forum where such a claim, if easily shown to be false, will be–and was.

            The only plausible explanation is that he really did get confused about the fishing email. It contained a false claim about a fictional message coming from the Ukraine, he thought it was itself from the Ukraine.

            If someone makes a claim that depends on information only he has access to, it’s reasonable to consider the possibility that he is lying. But if someone makes a claim that is easily demonstrated to be false on a forum like this, that becomes an implausible explanation.

          • AKL says:

            The issue is not whether he was mistaken or lying. It is the goalpost moving. It is the unwillingness to grant that being wrong on the facts might have any impact on his larger argument.

            Conrad argues that Donald Trump should not be impeached. That argument consists of 5 or 6 (or whatever) premises. The first premise was “not server A, server B.” Like everyone (I assume), I don’t care about server A vs. server B per se; I’m interested in whether Trump should be impeached. But I engage with the argument and spend an hour or so researching and responding to the specifics. When the dust settles, Conrad grants that (a) he was wrong on the facts, (b) nonetheless, Trump was probably just trying to get server B anyways (!?), and (c) actually, he should never have mentioned server A vs. server B because none of this addresses his real argument about whether the favor was about Biden.

            We could move on to adjudicating that premise, I guess. But everything about the conversation so far screams to me that if someone goes to the effort to debunk it, the response will be “it doesn’t matter if Trump asked for a favor about Biden, because foreign policy is all about quid pro quo anyways and look at [historical anecdote].” And on and on we would go, getting nowhere.

            So I don’t think I will go to the effort of engaging with e.g. Conrad’s claim the Ukraine had a pre-existing investigation into Biden before all this started. I’m extremely confident that (a) the claim is either untrue or misleading, (b) it will be a lot of work to debunk, and (c) if someone does debunk it, Conrad’s response will be that the claim wasn’t actually important to his argument in the first place.

            To me that is the essence of a bad faith argument (intentionally made or not).

            P.S.
            The essay “On Bullshit” is really interesting and well worth a read. It’s hard to make a concise argument here (and I would do it a disservice to try to summarize), but in this case the fact that the accuracy of each premise is irrelevant (“actually I should never have mentioned server A vs. B”) is precisely what makes them bullshit.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Because the issue of Server A vs. Server B was a tangent, and is not relevant to the overall argument against impeachment (an ask for a server unrelated to Biden is not an ask for an investigation of Biden). The reason I wish I hadn’t included it is because now you won’t look at any of my other arguments because I was wrong about that one.

            That’s still not “bad faith.” That’s assuming since I was wrong about one thing I’m wrong about everything, which is your right. I’m very sorry I bothered you.

      • tomogorman says:

        whether or not bad faith or motivated reasoning, ComradHoncho is also incorrect about Zelensky bringing up Biden:
        from https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/25/politics/donald-trump-ukraine-transcript-call/index.html
        (quoted in full to avoid any concern about me omitting context, but relevant parts bolded)

        Zelensky says:
        Yes it is very important for me and everything that you just mentioned earlier. For me as a President, it is very important and we are open for any future cooperation. We are ready to open a new page on cooperation in relations between the United States and Ukraine. For that purpose, I just recalled our ambassador from United States and he will be replaced by a very competent and very experienced ambassador who will work hard on making sure that our two nations are getting closer. I would also like and hope to see him having your trust and your confidence and have personal relations with you so we can cooperate even more so. I will personally tell you that one of my assistants spoke with Mr. Giuliani just recently and we are hoping very much that Mr. Giuliani will be able to travel to Ukraine and we will meet once he comes to Ukraine. I just wanted to assure you once again that you have nobody but friends around us. I will make sure that I surround myself with the best and most experienced people. I also wanted to tell you that we are friends. We are great friends and you Mr. President have friends in our country so we can continue our strategic partnership. I also plan to surround myself with great people and in addition to that investigation, I guarantee as the President of Ukraine that all the investigations will be done openly and candidly.. That I can assure you.
        (notably while Zelensky mentions an investigation he does not indicate that it is an investigation of Biden; Trump, however, knows it is )
        Trump responds: Good because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great. The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that. The other thing, There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.

        So Zelensky mentions in the context of meeting with Giuliani that he will do investigations. Trump brings up Biden specifically. Further, the fact that Trump knows what Zelensky is referring to by investigations makes it clear that he was aware what Giuliani communicated to Zelensky. And Trump makes it explicit that he wants Zelenksy to look into Joe Biden specifically. So he certainly asked for an investigation of Biden.
        Even in the light most charitable to Trump and using only the White House call summary its clear that Trump had Giuliani communicate the investigate Biden ask in that Zelensky brings it up in context of his conversation with Giuliani, Trump is aware it refers to Biden, and again asks for both investigation and further cooperation with Giuliani. Thats all just from the transcript — the intelligence committee hearings have made it even more clear through multiple witnesses that Giuliani had communicated the ask for an announcement of a Biden investigation to the Ukrainians.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          Zelensky brings up meeting Rudy. The reason for the meeting with Rudy is to get the information about Biden the Ukrainians want to get to Trump.

          Both of them know, before the phone call, that Rudy and Zelensky (or his people) will be having a meeting to talk about Biden. It is this meeting that is brought up by Zelensky, not Trump.

          What we’re trying to establish here is that there was no ask for an investigation or the meeting on the phone call. That had already been arranged. This jives with Solomon’s reporting that the Ukrainians have been trying to get information about Biden to Trump/US officials previously, and after being stymied, were introduced to Rudy.

          So the time line is:

          Before phone call: Rudy and Ukrainians agree to meet to talk about Biden.

          During phone call: Zelensky says he’s looking forward to meeting with Rudy, a meeting that had already been arranged before the phone call. The topic of the meeting, established before the phone call, is Biden. Trump agrees the meeting is good because it looks like Biden was doing bad things (in his opinion). Both Zelensky and Trump, before the phone call, knew that Rudy and Ukrainians would be meeting to talk about Biden.

          Do we agree on this now? The Rudy/Ukrainian meeting, topic: Biden, was arranged before the phone call, not during the phone call.

          edit: accidentally said “happened” instead of “was arranged.” The meeting had not happened yet, it had been arranged.

          • The reason for the meeting with Rudy is to get the information about Biden the Ukrainians want to get to Trump.

            You know that how?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            This is from John Solomon’s reporting on the matter:

            Why would Ukraine want to talk to Giuliani, and why would the State Department be involved in facilitating it?

            According to interviews with more than a dozen Ukrainian and U.S. officials, Ukraine’s government under recently departed President Petro Poroshenko and, now, Zelensky has been trying since summer 2018 to hand over evidence about the conduct of Americans they believe might be involved in violations of U.S. law during the Obama years.

            The Ukrainians say their efforts to get their allegations to U.S. authorities were thwarted first by the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, which failed to issue timely visas allowing them to visit America.

            Then the Ukrainians hired a former U.S. attorney — not Giuliani — to hand-deliver the evidence of wrongdoing to the U.S. attorney’s office in New York, but the federal prosecutors never responded.

            The U.S. attorney, a respected American, confirmed the Ukrainians’ story to me. The allegations that Ukrainian officials wanted to pass on involved both efforts by the Democratic National Committee to pressure Ukraine to meddle in the 2016 U.S. election as well as Joe Biden’s son’s effort to make money in Ukraine while the former vice president managed U.S.-Ukraine relations, the retired U.S. attorney told me.

            Eventually, Giuliani in November 2018 got wind of the Ukrainian allegations and started to investigate.

            The meetings were since scheduled, canceled and rescheduled, but Rudy has now been to Ukraine and is I believe just now back in the US and claims to have information on the subject.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Optimal popcorn scenario:

            Zelensky made the original request, and the whole thing was ensuring somebody in the US paid attention when Ukraine provides information prior to committing to an investigation, and they now have most of the nation paying attention as they deliver evidence against Biden.

            Most likely scenario: Nothingburger.

            (At this point, politics is just a TV show, so I’m rooting for the popcorn-worthy twist ending of this episode.)

    • Deiseach says:

      I can’t make head nor tail of it at this stage, but it does seem to be a bit of a fall from “we have PROOF Trump is a TRAITOR RUSSIAN AGENT” to “So he tried getting dirt on an opposition candidate”.

      Also, what is up with the suggestions that there should be a vote for an impeachment but then not send it on for trial? Is this because the House is Democrat-controlled and so will vote to impeach, but the Senate is Republican-controlled but will vote not to try? Because that makes it look like they’re trying to impress the voters: ‘well, we did what we said about impeaching him but we couldn’t get it past the baddies, not our fault!’

      • EchoChaos says:

        Is this because the House is Democrat-controlled and so will vote to impeach, but the Senate is Republican-controlled but will vote not to try?

        It’s because the Senate is Republican controlled, so Mitch McConnell gets to set the rules for the trial, which will likely be that Senators will be required to sit for the full trial (as they were for Clinton) and they can call whatever witnesses they want with full subpoena power.

        Since there are multiple Democrat Senators running for President and they will likely call another candidate as a witness (Biden), this would be absolutely brutal for the Democrat primary.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          Since there are multiple Democrat Senators running for President and they will likely call another candidate as a witness (Biden), this would be absolutely brutal for the Democrat primary.

          I’m agnostic on whether this trial will harm the nation, but as a soap opera I’m all for it.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          which will likely be that Senators will be required to sit for the full trial (as they were for Clinton) and they can call whatever witnesses they want with full subpoena power.

          And if it turns out that McConnell does not allow witnesses to be called via subpoena? And rejects the witnesses that Democrats are calling for?

          What will you think then?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I don’t think McConnell will have a trial. I think he would just go for a quick dismissal.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            He would need 51 votes for that plan, I believe.

            Setting aside whether that is what McConnell would prefer (I don’t think it is, based on statements he has made saying that the Senate is required to have a trial), I don’t think he would have the votes.

          • Erusian says:

            He would need 51 votes for that plan, I believe.

            McConnell can’t dismiss the case. The Senate is legally obligated to have a trial. However, he could schedule a very quick trial and a fast vote. (Alternatively, he could stall the trial as he has with other things. But I don’t think he wants to.)

            Impeachment requires a supermajority, so he would need 34 votes, possibly 33 depending on how you interpret the VP’s powers. If a majority of Senator’s vote for impeachment but fail to reach that supermajority, it still fails.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Erusian:
            Before we can get to the vote for conviction on the impeachment, the Senate has to first approve rules for the trial. That’s the vote of 51 I’m referring to. McConnell can’t unilaterally declare those rules.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @HeelBearCub

            And if it turns out that McConnell does not allow witnesses to be called via subpoena?

            McConnell will absolutely allow witnesses to be called via subpoena. He may not allow Democrats to choose who those witnesses are, as the House didn’t allow Republicans.

          • Erusian says:

            @ HeelBearCub

            Ah, yes. That’s true. I thought you meant 51 votes to dismiss the trial. (Though technically he could make do with 50 due to Pence.)

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Erusian / HeelBearCub

            Note that McConnell has proposed using the 1999 rules, which were unanimously adopted for Clinton’s impeachment, and those DO include a vote to dismiss as a possibility.

            Robert Byrd offered the motion in 1999 under those rules and it was defeated, but of course Democrats were the minority then.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @EchoChaos:
            If you think the same rules will apply as applied during the Clinton trial.

            Over three days, February 1–3, House managers took videotaped closed-door depositions from Monica Lewinsky, Clinton’s friend Vernon Jordan, and White House aide Sidney Blumenthal. On February 4, however, the Senate voted 70–30 that excerpting these videotapes would suffice as testimony, rather than calling live witnesses to appear at trial. The videos were played in the Senate on February 6, featuring 30 excerpts of Lewinsky discussing her affidavit in the Paula Jones case, the hiding of small gifts Clinton had given her, and his involvement in procurement of a job for Lewinsky.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @HeelBearCub

            I haven’t the foggiest idea whether McConnell will successfully apply the 1999 rules, but it would be very clever of him to do so, since they were accepted 100-0 and would be seen today as bipartisan (I think).

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @EchoChaos:
            You are self-contradicting.

            Things you have said:
            “[McConnell] will likely [make rules] that Senators will be required to sit for the full trial (as they were for Clinton) and they can call whatever witnesses they want with full subpoena power.

            “McConnell will absolutely allow witnesses to be called via subpoena. He may not allow Democrats to choose who those witnesses are, as the House didn’t allow Republicans.”

            “McConnell has proposed using the 1999 rules [which I pointed out eventually allowed the House managers to call witnesses]”

          • EchoChaos says:

            @HeelBearCub

            That is because the first comments were assuming McConnell would write his own rules and the later comments are after I read that McConnell had made the offer to reuse the 1999 rules.

            The first comment is superceded, as I should have made clear in my comment regarding him using the 1999 rules.

            And yes, under the 1999 rules Democratic Senators, the House and Republican Senators would all have subpoena power.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @EchoChaos:

            Are you aware that McConnell has already voiced strong opposition to allowing the house managers to depose any witnesses under subpoena?

          • EchoChaos says:

            @HeelBearCub

            Nope, thanks for the new info. Thinking about it, I guess it doesn’t surprise me much.

            Likely means he has the votes to dismiss and wants the 1999 rules because a motion to dismiss can be near immediate and no serious subpoenas will have to be issued.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @EchoChaos:

            I guess it doesn’t surprise me much.

            You started off confidently opining that McConnnell would absolutely allow witnesses to be called, which would be devastating to the Democrats, so that is why they are considering not forwarding the articles of impeachment.

            If you aren’t surprised, you should be. Something here should be surprising to you. Because you were wrong yesterday, and I think you are still wrong today.

            The reason Democrats are posturing around not forwarding the articles immediately is in a bid to get the Senate to agree to the same terms as 1999, meaning a trial with subpoenaed witnesses called by the House managers (and the President’s defense). The posturing is about trying to find some purchase with the potential handful of crossover Senators. That looks like an argument between Pelosi and McConnell, but McConnell is constrained by what he can get from the least partisan of his Senators. Democrats only need to pry away four votes from McConnell.

            Now Joe Manchin would be the Democratic Senator who would seem most likely to be vulnerable to voting for a quick end. Let’s look at what he has to say about it:

            “I think the speaker has done an admirable job of what she’s done, how she’s been able to navigate this so far. In her wisdom, I think it was definitely the right thing to do — knowing that you’re sending it over to what it would look like is an unfair receptance on his side as far as an unfair trial. So if she can help us wedge to where we can get a fair trial, that’s what we want to do,” Manchin told The Washington Post

            Whereas, you can look and see that Romney, Sasse, Murkowski and maybe a few others are potentially reachable on this. That kind of outcome is something McConnell does not want. Pelosi witholding forwarding the articles keeps McConnell from dealing with it quickly and essentially behind closed doors and forces the debate about the Senate process to be pulled out into the open for a while.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @HeelBearCub

            One of us is confused, because McConnell is the one who offered the 1999 rules first.

            My instinct is that if McConnell is offering those because they are to his advantage, because he’s a very savvy operator. Since one of the things they offer is the ability to dismiss the charges, I assume that is the reason he is wanting those rules. I could be wrong about that reason.

            Note that Pelosi pointedly did not accept his offer. Incidentally, I think that not forwarding the charges is a mistake on her part, but she’s trying to get even more advantageous terms than the 1999 that McConnell offered, so there is something about those terms she finds unacceptable.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            One of us is confused, because McConnell is the one who offered the 1999 rules first.

            I’m not saying this isn’t true, but I can’t find any reference to it, and it doesn’t match up with other things he has definitely said (for instance, saying he he would be in lock step with the White House on strategy for the impeachment trial). Do you have a source?

            The other thing to note is that the agreement to witnesses was not actually part of the 1999 rules. That matter of witness testimony was decided after the rules were agreed to.

            A resolution on rules and procedure for the trial was adopted unanimously on the following day; however, senators tabled the question of whether to call witnesses in the trial.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @HeelBearCub

            My source:

            https://hotair.com/archives/ed-morrissey/2019/12/18/mcconnell-fires-back-lets-adopt-1999-rules-option-dismissal/

            That the rules for witnesses are not part of those rules makes substantially more sense and makes clear to me exactly why McConnell is proposing them.

            And it makes me very sure that he believes he has the votes to dismiss.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            That the rules for witnesses are not part of those rules makes substantially more sense and makes clear to me exactly why McConnell is proposing them.

            You are a real piece of work, I’ll tell ya.

            Yesterday you were absolutely convinced that witnesses were devastating for the Democrats.

            Also, that piece is McConnell responding to Schumer’s letter wherein Schumer proposes that the procedures followed in 1999, inclusive of witnesses, be followed. So McConnell was not the first one to offer up 1999 as a template. In addition, Schumer only writes his letter after McConnell first said:

            Everything I do during this I’m coordinating with the White House counsel. There will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this

            You will also note that in 1999, briefs were filed over 3 days, the managers presented their case for two days, the defense presented their case for two days, the Senate asked questions of the managers and the defense for two days … and only then was a motion for dismissal considered. After which, the matter of witnesses and their deposition was finally considered.

            So, the notion that the 1999 process would make for a quick dismissal without a trial … not really buying it.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @HeelBearCub

            You are a real piece of work, I’ll tell ya.

            Because I updated my views on McConnell’s strategy in response to new information?

            I still think a long trial with lots of witnesses would be bad for the Democrats.

            That is clearly not the strategy McConnell is going for. His strategy appears to be a quick dismissal, which is consistent with wanting the 1999 rules and not caring about witness rules.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            His strategy appears to be a quick dismissal

            Again, 1999 had brief filing and 4 days of House manager and defense presentation plus 2 days of questioning before the motion for dismissal was considered. I honestly am not sure whether McConnell prefers that or something quick (he has does have certain institutionalist tendencies which might predispose him to favor a formal process, rather than dismissing before any case is allowed to be made).

            But, you aren’t updating, you are staying at “every piece of news is devastating to Democrats” and just modifying why to contort to each new piece of information.

            Do I think that Trump is going to be removed? I highly doubt it. Moving 20 Republican Senators would require that something truly different came out in the trial. That has nothing to do with the severity of what Trump is doing, and everything to do with the polarized partisan nature of the moment.

            But that isn’t material to the information I am putting before you which should cause you to question whether your analysis of why people are doing what they are doing holds any water.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @HeelBearCub

            But, you aren’t updating, you are staying at “every piece of news is devastating to Democrats” and just modifying why to contort to each new piece of information.

            Yes, because I think this entire process has been devastating to Democrats. They have botched it from the start and now realize they’re caught between a rock and a hard place.

            Polls agree with me. Trump has improved dramatically as more of the populace has become aware of the charges and become more informed about it.

            https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/475037-trump-approval-up-6-points-since-launch-of-impeachment-inquiry-gallup

            I think McConnell is in a place where he has massive structural advantages no matter which route he takes.

            I initially thought his strategy would be “long drawn out trial that delves into right-wing talking points to sell them and locks up Democrat Senators running for President (and Bernie)”.

            That he decided to go with “quick exoneration of the President” instead doesn’t mean that both paths aren’t very strong.

            Edit to add: Six days of argument before dismissal is “quick” to me.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @EchoChaos:
            I haven’t clicked through to your poll, but … it’s wrong.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @HeelBearCub

            Your link also shows a 6 point drop in support from Democrats starting December 17th.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            … and we’re done.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            @EchoChaos:
            I haven’t clicked through to your poll, but … it’s wrong.

            EchoChaos claimed that Trump’s approval rating is up 6 points since the impeachment inquiry. The link discusses a Gallup poll showing Trump’s approval rating going from 39 to 45. Seems legit, it’s only one poll, but Gallup is an established polling firm.

            HeelBearCub claims that it’s wrong while admitting to not looking at EchoChaos’ link and points to a 538 polling average about whether Americans support impeachment.

            Obviously, the two questions are related, but they are not the same. I believe there are a number of people here who would fall in the category of “does not approve of Trump” and “does not support impeachment”.

      • Erusian says:

        Also, what is up with the suggestions that there should be a vote for an impeachment but then not send it on for trial? Is this because the House is Democrat-controlled and so will vote to impeach, but the Senate is Republican-controlled but will vote not to try?

        It’s a fantasy by some of the less legally literate but more extreme Democrats. Basically, the way the process works is that the House investigates and then votes on whether to send it to the Senate. The Senate investigates the evidence the House sent (including adding to it if they want) and then votes.

        In order for impeachment to succeed, you need a supermajority (67 votes). The Republicans have 51 seats (and win ties because Pence breaks ties), the Democrats have 47. The 2 independents are basically Democrats (one is Bernie Sanders). So the Democrats would need seventeen Republican Senators to defect. This is almost impossible absent a more smoking gun than the Democrats currently have. In fact, right now it’s likely some Democrats will defect (and one Democratic House member has already pledged to).

        So the chances of impeachment actually happening right now are basically zero. But the more left leaning Democrats, the type who think impeachment is an obvious slam dunk, see this as just Republican obstructionism. So what they’re arguing is that Pelosi should get articles of impeachment passed but refuse to actually send them to the Senate until the Senate agrees to her terms on the trial. This would be a new Constitutional innovation. It is possible for chambers to hold bills normally but this seems like a pretty clear violation of the Senate’s independence. I’ve not heard any serious analyst calls for her to do it, though the Democrats are complaining about the Republican’s terms (which, as McConnell has pointed out, are very similar to the terms Clinton got in the 1990s).

        They’ve also demanded Mitch McConnell recuse himself because he stated he doesn’t think Trump is guilty. That has less than a snowball’s chance in hell too.

        The reality is, absent new evidence, both sides incentives run towards getting this done quickly. Pelosi is afraid of losing moderate swing districts (she does not have a majority without Democrats representing districts that voted majority Trump). McConnell is afraid of damaging the GOP’s re-election chances and wants to portray this all as ridiculous and spurious rather than having a dragged out investigation. These are not suppositions: both of them have said as much publicly (though Pelosi flip flopped recently).

        • quanta413 says:

          The reality is, absent new evidence, both sides incentives run towards getting this done quickly.

          It strikes me that although both sides can have some incentives towards getting things done quickly, this is to an excellent approximation a zero-sum game. One party or the other should have net incentive for things to take somewhat longer. They can’t both be incentivized for the same length of the process. Somewhat longer may not be much longer, but still.

        • EchoChaos says:

          It’s a fantasy by some of the less legally literate but more extreme Democrats.

          The Democrat leadership has suggested they are doing this, so not a fantasy anymore.

          https://dnyuz.com/2019/12/19/trump-impeachment-trial-in-doubt-as-a-house-leader-suggests-withholding-articles/

          • The Nybbler says:

            Permanently withhold? That means no trial happens and the articles expire when the House term does, and Trump remains President to the end of his term (and, if re-elected, continues to the next). A threat of withholding them until the trial would be most damaging to Republican re-election campaigns would make more sense, except I expect McConnell would counter by threatening to summarily dismiss them if they aren’t sent over in a timely manner.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @The Nybbler

            I also wonder if withholding for a long period would violate the Sixth Amendment.

            I know it says “criminal trial”, but Americans believe pretty strongly in Constitutional rights more broadly than the strict text in many cases.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @EchoChaos

            I am certain if that was ever brought to the Supreme Court, the Court’s 9-0 per curiam decision would be that impeachment is up to Congress and there are no Sixth Amendment issues. It is already settled (by the text of the Constitution) that impeachment does not preclude criminal prosecution, for instance.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I am certain if that was ever brought to the Supreme Court, the Court’s 9-0 per curiam decision would be that impeachment is up to Congress and there are no Sixth Amendment issues.

            Are we sure about that? I thought there were decisions that even those acting under the color law were still required to afford people basic constitutional rights. This is one of the problems with how the House conducted impeachment: no legal counsel, no right to face his accusers, etc. Note this is different from a grand jury because grand jury testimony is super secret but the impeachment hearings were half public.

            I’d look up cases now but it’s late and I’m tired, so let me know if this is an issue in dispute and I’ll try to prove what I’m talking about tomorrow.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Are we sure about that?

            Well, I am, though I grant that while I am certain I may not be right. Impeachment is analogous to indictment, but it is not indictment and not a criminal process, and it is the province of Congress alone. I think the Supreme Court will not want to interfere.

            I could see the Court getting involved in certain unlikely procedural issues. For instance, I could see them interfering in an attempt by the _next_ Senate to remove the President based on the current articles of impeachment (not at all likely, I admit). Or, more plausibly, deciding on the issue of whether the Speaker has to formally transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate before the Senate may try the impeachment. But the actual conduct? I don’t see it.

          • brad says:

            There are procedural due process cases that could plausibly apply (e.g. Mathews v. Eldridge) but not the sixth amendment. And even there, it is so squarely within the ambit of the political question doctrine that I have to agree it wouldn’t get a single vote on the current supreme court.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            And even there, it is so squarely within the ambit of the political question doctrine that I have to agree it wouldn’t get a single vote on the current supreme court.

            I’ll take your word for it, brad, since you’re the lawyer. This troubles me, though, because I feel like if the President of the United States can’t get a hearing in which he can confront his accuser, have legal counsel, or expect a speedy procedure, what hope do I have?

          • John Schilling says:

            If the President of the United States can’t get a hearing in which he can confront his accuser, have legal counsel, or expect a speedy procedure, what hope do I have?

            What hope do you have if you’re an employee that HR wants to terminate without having to listen to your complaining?

            If someone wants to put you, or Trump, in jail, a different set of protections apply.

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      Crowdstrike determined that the server used to harvest his account information and to log in to his accounts was in Ukraine

      This is not supported by your link. Your link includes the fake phishing email sent to Podesta, which *says* that it comes from Ukraine, but since it is of course a fake email leading to a fake Google login, it does not convey any information about the hacker.

      I believe you know this, which is why your “Crowdstrike determined” link is not to the Crowdstrike report itself, but to a CBS news story which, if skimmed, might appear to support your point.

      This is the only support you offer for your risible interpretation that Trump was not referring to the DNC server in the Ukraine call, which also demands we ignore every other public statement made my Trump on this matter, e.g., his Fox and Friends interview:

      “They have the server, right? From the DNC … they gave the server to CrowdStrike — or whatever it’s called — which is a company owned by a very wealthy Ukrainian, and I still want to see that server.

      I don’t see a compelling reason to finish your “effort” post if this is the thrust of the effort.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        This is the only support you offer for your risible interpretation that Trump was not referring to the DNC server in the Ukraine call, which also demands we ignore every other public statement made my Trump on this matter,

        I included a part where I said I believe Trump is confused about what server is what. There is a Department of Justice investigation that wants a server in Ukraine related to the Podesta attack. Barr asks Trump to get the Ukrainians to cooperate with them for “the server.” Trump, being an old man unfamiliar with computers or what a “server” is, gets the two servers confused.

        So, there is a legitimate issue with getting help from Ukraine about a server, but Trump is confused about what that is.

        Honestly though that’s mostly trivia I included because I remembered Aftagley asking about it an not getting a good answer.

        • Anonymous Bosch says:

          I included a part where I said I believe Trump is confused about what server is what. There is a Department of Justice investigation that wants a server in Ukraine related to the Podesta attack. Barr asks Trump to get the Ukrainians to cooperate with them for “the server.” Trump, being an old man unfamiliar with computers or what a “server” is, gets the two servers confused.

          The middle two sentences here are conspicuously lacking in evidence.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            It’s in the transcript. “The server, they say Ukraine has it. [snip] I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it.”

            There are still ongoing investigations into 2016 election interference.

            “A Department of Justice team led by U.S. Attorney John Durham is separately exploring the extent to which a number of countries, including Ukraine, played a role in the counterintelligence investigation directed at the Trump campaign during the 2016 election,” DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said Wednesday.

            Do we now agree on the facts? There is a DOJ investigation. The DOJ wants a server Ukraine has. Agreed?

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            Your claim relies on the DoJ wanting a specific piece of evidence. So no, a spokesman vaguely referencing the Durham inquiry as touching on Ukraine is not going to get me to agree. Particularly when the only reason you offer to think said piece of evidence is even a thing is a lie about the contents of the CrowdStrike report.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            No, the specific piece of evidence was brought up by Trump in the phone call.

            There is an investigation, confirmed by spokesperson. On the phone call, we learn that a specific piece of that investigation is a server. There were servers in Ukraine used in the attack, by Russians, on Podesta.

            I was mistaken in saying I got that information from Crowdstrike. Trump and the DOJ may not be, though, as Crowdstrike gave their report to the FBI.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            No, the specific piece of evidence was brought up by Trump in the phone call.

            I asked you for evidence of your interpretation of Trump’s phone call. Your theory originally relied on CrowdStrike saying X, and Trump jumbling it into Y because he’s old and senile and we really shouldn’t take his subsequent statements literally. Now that I’ve pointed out CrowdStrike did not say X, your evidence for X is … Trump saying Y.

            (Done here too, and probably with the comments as a whole again. Don’t really know why I bothered to come back today.)

          • There were servers in Ukraine used in the attack, by Russians, on Podesta.

            I don’t think any of your links support that. What they support, unless I have missed something, is:

            1. The Phishing email contained a reference to a (fictional) email supposedly from Ukraine.

            2. The DOJ says that Ukraine is one of the countries that may have been involved in attempts to influence the 2016 election:

            “investigating whether Ukraine was involved in any 2016 election efforts. ”

            That’s well short of your “wants a server in Ukraine related to the Podesta attack.”

    • TripleS says:

      Anyone who wants to complain that there is a lack of evidence in the Trump impeachment is going to have to address his administration’s refusals to comply with subpoenas. Maybe there would be clearer evidence of Trump’s crimes if he’d bother to follow the law. And more importantly, maybe a man who won’t obey lawful subpoenas doesn’t deserve to be president period.

      And anyway, come to think of it, there is evidence. Trump asked Russia and China to commit these crimes for him on national TV. You can see him do it plain as day.

      • Randy M says:

        Maybe there would be clearer evidence of Trump’s crimes if he’d bother to follow the law.

        I don’t want to take away from your valid point with with observation, but I do love the irony infusing that statement.

      • EchoChaos says:

        Trump asked Russia and China to commit these crimes for him on national TV.

        He is not getting impeached for the DNC hack.

          • EchoChaos says:

            Asking for an investigation to be opened is not a crime under any statute I’m aware of.

            The allegation that the Democrats made was that he engaged in a quid pro quo, which your link doesn’t contain any mention of.

          • broblawsky says:

            Can we agree that extorting a foreign country for valuable information on a political rival is a crime?

          • EchoChaos says:

            @broblawsky

            Probably not, no.

            Asking foreign governments to help with US investigations is done all the time, and since investigations into political rivals have occurred before with a foreign country providing information and weren’t prosecuted or impeached, what makes this one different?

          • TripleS says:

            @EchoChaos:

            People who steal from charities for veterans and then do more shady things like EXTORTION, which is a crime and exactly what makes this one different (separation of powers he’s relying on to ignore his subpoenas like all “totally innocent” people would do says he doesn’t have the right to touch that money, after all) don’t get the benefit of the doubt when they say, “No, it’s totally legit!”, for one thing.

          • broblawsky says:

            Probably not, no.

            Asking foreign governments to help with US investigations is done all the time, and since investigations into political rivals have occurred before with a foreign country providing information and weren’t prosecuted or impeached, what makes this one different?

            The fact that Trump personally asked for it, and had his agent Giuliani pursue it, rather than leaving it to Barr. That makes it extortion, since Trump stands to personally benefit from the investigation. As I’ve said before: if Trump had just let Barr pursue the investigation without personally intervening, this wouldn’t be a criminal matter.

            However, if you feel this kind of conduct is acceptable, I hope you won’t be upset when a future Democratic president extorts foreign law enforcement and intelligence services into targeting Republican politicians.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            The fact that Trump personally asked for it,

            Trump did not ask for it. Ukraine has been investigating Biden since summer 2018. And you’ll notice in the transcript Zelensky is the one who brings up meeting with Rudy, because all of that was already underway. Trump did not ask for an investigation on the call, he commented on an already existing investigation.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @broblawsky

            However, if you feel this kind of conduct is acceptable, I hope you won’t be upset when a future Democratic president extorts foreign law enforcement and intelligence services into targeting Republican politicians.

            Given that a Presidential candidate had an aide spied on by the FISA court based on a foreign agent’s false dossier, pretty outraged, actually.

            Since the Democrats played that tat, I get this tit. If they continue to defect, I will feel very little compunction about continuing to do so.

          • broblawsky says:

            Trump did not ask for it.

            “I would like you to do us a favor, though”: that’s Trump personally demanding Ukraine help his administration gather dirt on a political rival. Please stop spreading misinformation.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @broblawsky

            “I would like you to do us a favor, though”

            Is in reference to the Crowdstrike investigation.

            It’s not related to Giuliani or Biden, which is a different discussion.

          • Matt M says:

            since Trump stands to personally benefit from the investigation

            I’d like to focus in on this part of the issue for a minute, if we can. Because the implications of this logic… that this investigation was inappropriate because “Trump stands to benefit from it”… are really kind of weird if you think about other contexts.

            Trump stands to benefit from lots of things. As a sitting President eligible and likely to run for a second term, he “stands to benefit” from, for example, positive economic developments. He would also stand to benefit from favorable foreign policy outcomes. So, as a matter of comparison, what if instead of Ukraine, we were talking about North Korea. And what if instead of “I’m withholding military aid until you investigate Biden” the proposed extortion was “I’m withholding economic aid until you give up your nuclear program.” Would that still be wrong? North Korea giving up its nuclear program due to Trump’s clever and strong negotiating tactic would personally benefit Trump, would it not? So is he, therefore, not allowed to negotiate in that manner? I’m curious as to what sort of outcomes might exist that would be seen as unambiguously good for the nation (like, in a non-partisan sense) that wouldn’t also “personally benefit Trump.” Anything generally good that happens while he is in office benefits him. So should he be discouraged, or worse still, actively punished, for doing good things?

            Furthermore, the other weird implication of this is that Trump’s “political opponents” (even potential ones who haven’t yet formally announced they are running for anything) should essentially be immune from investigation. This also seems bizarre. If the Bidens are corrupt, it is in the nation’s best interest to know that. The fact that this might also benefit Trump is incidental to the greater question. But if the standing policy is something like “Anyone who dislikes Trump cannot be investigated because such an investigation benefits Trump” then basically the entire establishment is given a blank check to engage in all sorts of crimes and corruption. Is that really the outcome we want here? And do we expect that to hold if Elizabeth Warren wins in 2020 and all of a sudden there are credible allegations that Ted Cruz is engaging in some sort of graft? Is she not allowed to ask that be investigated because he’s her political opponent and she stands to benefit from the investigation?

          • mitv150 says:

            @matt m

            My understanding of the position of many on the left is the following:

            Trump’s calling for an investigation of Biden is not legitimate, because Shokin’s ouster was widely desired and not related in any way to Hunter Biden’s position on the Burisma board. Although there was an “appearance” of a conflict of interest, there was no actual conflict and this issue has already been investigated and put to bed, so to speak. Trump’s calling for an investigation now is effectively asking for a resurrection of a dead investigation for the purposes of tarring his opponent, rather than the instituting of a real investigation into corruption.

            Thus, investigating Biden is only for the purpose of Trump political gain because the question of corruption in Biden’s actions has already been dealt with.

            An analogy would be if a political candidate had been investigated for a crime and not indicted, and the president was leaning on the prosecutor to (very publicly) reopen the case.

            “of course its good to investigate crimes” say the Rs.
            “but we already dealt with this one, its purely for political gain” say the Ds.

            Did I get that right HBC?

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        Anyone who wants to complain that there is a lack of evidence in the Trump impeachment is going to have to address his administration’s refusals to comply with subpoenas.

        Sure. There is a dispute about whether or not the “subpoenas” are lawful because the inquiry was started by Nancy Pelosi declaring it instead of the House voting on it. The House has subpoena powers, not the Speaker or any random House member. When we have a dispute between the co-equal branches of government, the dispute is usually settled by the third branch.

        The House should sue Trump for violating the “subpoenas,” each branch makes their arguments and the courts can tell us whether or not the subpoenas are valid. If the courts say they are and Trump still refuses, then I’ll agree with your point.

        • TripleS says:

          Did Nancy Pelosi issue those subpoenas, or did the House Judiciary Committee issue them?

        • Aftagley says:

          There is a dispute about whether or not the “subpoenas” are lawful because the inquiry was started by Nancy Pelosi declaring it instead of the House voting on it. The House has subpoena powers, not the Speaker or any random House member.

          The senate house intel and judiciary committees issued the subpoenas, not the Speaker. This argument is irrelevant.

          Edit: TY Echochaos

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            But they don’t have the authority to do so without a house vote is the argument. That needs to be settled by the courts.

          • EchoChaos says:

            The senate

            House, which is probably a typo.

            And my understanding is that the White House’s argument is that the White House obeys any legislative subpoenas purely on politeness, since they are equal branches that can’t do anything to each other, except in the case of impeachment, which this isn’t a proper inquiry of (for legal babble reasons).

            As far as I know, the Supreme Court has not decided on that question.

          • mitv150 says:

            It doesn’t really matter whether the house intel or judiciary committee or nancy pelosi personally issued the subpoenas.

            The legislative branch does not have some type of inherent power to request and get everything they want from the executive branch.
            Executive privilege is a real thing, and the Trump administration (along with every past administration that has decided not to comply with congressional subpoenas) has a right to exert said privilege.

            The legislative branch then has a right to take it up with the courts.

            The Supreme Court has not decided on whether or not the Executive must answer every Legislative subpoena. They did, however, agree to take up a similar issue in the dispute over Trump’s accounting records.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Executive privilege is a real thing, and the Trump administration (along with every past administration that has decided not to comply with congressional subpoenas) has a right to exert said privilege.

            This argument would be greatly improved had the admin claimed the entirety of the subpoenaed information was covered by privilege, or indeed made any claims of privilege.

          • salvorhardin says:

            Is there any reputable legal scholar (i.e. someone who is generally seen as a credentialed scholar by the constitutional law community and who is not, and has never been, on Trump’s payroll) who thinks Trump has the right of this argument?

            The problem with saying “this is a dispute that should be settled by the courts” is that the arguments on Trump’s side– especially the argument that the executive has absolute immunity– are, AIUI, considered so risible by most of the legal community that pushing the courts to rule on them is at best an attempt to run out the clock, and at worst an attempt to get judges Trump has appointed to put their loyalty to him above their loyalty to the rule of law.

          • Clutzy says:

            Is there any reputable legal scholar (i.e. someone who is generally seen as a credentialed scholar by the constitutional law community and who is not, and has never been, on Trump’s payroll) who thinks Trump has the right of this argument?

            I would argue that no reputable legal scholar would comment extensively on it because we really don’t know what the salient issues/arguments would be. I know several of the people subpoenaed were high ranking advisors in the realm of national security like Bolton and Pompeo. In those cases where they would be asking about conversations/directives from the president, that is theoretically where executive privilege is the strongest, but its a very underdefined concept in the courts.

    • Aftagley says:

      Crowdstrike determined that the server used to harvest his account information and to log in to his accounts was in Ukraine.

      @AKL and @Anonymous Bosch beat me to the punch on this one. Your interpretation of the facts goes against both what Crowdstrike says happened and the official IC report on what happened. But that less important than this claim your making:

      Aftagley brought this up, asking what the non-crazy explanation for this is and did not get a good answer. People seem to think Trump was talking about the DNC server. That is not the server.

      Before this call happened Trump has publicly complained that the FBI didn’t get physical access to the DNC server and alleged there was funny business going on. (That the FBI got full snapshots of the server hasn’t mattered to him. After the call, he’s talked about how the FBI should have gotten the DNC server. There is strong evidence that when trump talks about a server he’s talking about the server that got attacked not the server that did the attacking. The claim that Trump was just looking for the attacking server also hasn’t been made by Trump, as far as I can tell. I’m not sure where you got it from, but it doesn’t appear to match any available evidence.

      Moving on – most of your middle section relies on having to believe anything that Solomon says. At this point, I don’t.

      The problem here is that not a single witness testified that Trump ordered them to withhold the goodies in exchange for the investigation, and not a single witness testified that they witnessed Trump order someone else to withhold the goodies in exchange for the investigation. They just seemed to have heard (or invented) a rumor that Trump did these things. If you disagree with this and think I am in error, please tell me:

      The (credible) refutation to this point is that anyone who would have known specifically why the money was frozen (IE, Trump’s Chief of Staff, certain white house staffers or certain individuals at the OMB) were barred from testifying. Preventing the evidence that would impeach you from coming forward isn’t the same as there being no evidence.

      This is one other bullet that few (no one?) seem willing to bite: please explain why President Zelensky is lying about this. ”

      Because he has nothing to gain by getting involved in US politics and a bunch to lose. Basically his only concern is not wanting supporting Ukraine to become a partisan issue; if you look at his actions through the lense of “the only thing that matters for my country is to not piss of Trump while also not completely alienating the democrats” then his behavior makes sense. He got the aid, and at this point knows he’s not getting a white house visit, so he has no reason to stir the pot any further.

      Next we could get into a discussion of whether or not it would even be bad to ask Ukraine to investigate Biden.

      It would depend on why you wanted to investigate him. If it’s because you think he’s committed a crime and don’t think there’s any US agency capable of doing this investigation, maybe it’s not bad. If it’s because you want to mess with his poll numbers, then yes, it’s bad. It comes down to intent.

      1. The bad thing Trump is accused of doing did not happen (i.e., no one did the thing).

      Aid was definitely held up and according to witness testimony, the government of Ukraine was asked to officially announce that an investigation was starting. These things definitely happened.

      2. There is no evidence or witness testimony that anyone saw Trump attempt to do the bad thing.

      The relevant witnesses haven’t been allowed to testify. Everyone who did see something happen seemed to think it was crazy enough to risk their career over.

      3. It is not clear the bad thing is actually bad.

      This is an opinion. One I disagree with.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        The claim that Trump was just looking for the attacking server also hasn’t been made by Trump, as far as I can tell. I’m not sure where you got it from, but it doesn’t appear to match any available evidence.

        I agree with you. I think Trump is confused about what server is what. But you had been asking how it is he could possibly think Ukraine has the DNC server: that’s how. The server that attacked John Podesta was in Ukraine (operated by Russians). Trump hears “Ukraine has the server” and thinks that’s the DNC server. That’s the not completely crazy explanation for why Trump was asking Ukraine for a server.

        The same thing happened a lot when talking about “Hillary’s emails.” People in the media get confused between the hacked DNC emails, the phished Podesta emails, or HRC’s bathroom server emails.

        • Aftagley says:

          But you had been asking how it is he could possibly think Ukraine has the DNC server: that’s how.

          This is a logical leap you’re making independently and seems to contradict Trump’s public statements. Do you have any proof, or is this just your charitable interpretation of the facts?

          People in the media get confused between the hacked DNC emails, the phished Podesta emails, or HRC’s bathroom server emails.

          IIRC they were always talking about the state dept. emails on her private server.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            This is a logical leap you’re making independently and seems to contradict Trump’s public statements. Do you have any proof, or is this just your charitable interpretation of the facts?

            I think it’s the only interpretation of the facts that fits with Barr wanting or being willing to talk to Ukraine about a server. Barr knows Ukraine does not have the DNC’s server. Trump is confused about these things, but the investigators are not.

            I don’t know if this is true or not, but I was just trying to answer your question as to “what is the non-crazy explanation for this.”

            IIRC they were always talking about the state dept. emails on her private server.

            I mean stuff like Papadpopolous. He heard from Mifsud that Russians had “thousands of Hillary’s emails.” This was most likely referring to her State Department emails, but media/commentators frequently confused this with the hacked/phished DNC/Podesta emails. Hillary’s campaign emails were not hacked (or at least not released).

          • broblawsky says:

            I think it’s the only interpretation of the facts that fits with Barr wanting or being willing to talk to Ukraine about a server. Barr knows Ukraine does not have the DNC’s server. Trump is confused about these things, but the investigators are not.

            I don’t know if this is true or not, but I was just trying to answer your question as to “what is the non-crazy explanation for this.”

            The alternative explanation is that Trump is trying to spread misinformation in order to justify his crimes – misinformation which I believe you are promulgating.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            No, I’m contradicting Trump’s public statements. I think Trump thinks Ukraine has the DNC server. His public statements indicate that. I don’t think they have the DNC server, I think (or thought) they have servers related to the phishing attack on Podesta.

            This may not be accurate, though, as Anonymous Bosch pointed out my reading of the phishing emails was wrong. I thought the phishing emails themselves came from Ukraine, but that’s not what the email said. The phishing email said someone in Ukraine tried to access Podesta’s account, and used that claim to direct him to change his password. I would like to know where the phishing servers themselves (the ones hidden by the bit.ly links) went.

            However, other analysis says the phishing software used against Podesta was Ukrainian. I don’t know if this is true or not, but that would be consistent with the DOJ wanting some server from Ukraine.

          • broblawsky says:

            I can’t help but feel that you’re creating justifications for Trump ex post facto to avoid admitting that he did something wrong. You’ve already repeatedly admitted to misunderstanding the evidence you presented to exonerate him. Why are you continuing to defend an argument that’s clearly flawed?

      • The (credible) refutation to this point is that anyone who would have known specifically why the money was frozen (IE, Trump’s Chief of Staff, certain white house staffers or certain individuals at the OMB) were barred from testifying. Preventing the evidence that would impeach you from coming forward isn’t the same as there being no evidence.

        I would have said that that is a possible explanation of why there is no evidence, assuming that information in people’s heads but not available elsewhere doesn’t count.

        I gather you agree with Conrad’s factual assertion–I haven’t followed the case that closely–that so far nobody has testified to either being told by Trump to delay the aid unless the Ukrainians investigated Biden or observing someone else being told by Grump to do so.

        In your view, why didn’t the Democrats simply wait for he courts to rule in their favor on the subpoena issue, then either charge Trump with refusing to obey a court order — something I don’t think he has done in past controversies — or get the evidence they need from the people who have it?

        • Aftagley says:

          I gather you agree with Conrad’s factual assertion–I haven’t followed the case that closely–that so far nobody has testified to either being told by Trump to delay the aid unless the Ukrainians investigated Biden or observing someone else being told by Grump to do so.

          (emphasis mine)

          Disagree. Gordon Soundland’s testimony along with the transcript were evidence of Trump’s state of mind. Soundland very clearly stated that the aid holdup was being ordered as a result of the investigation. Same with Bill Taylor. Taylor’s knowledge of it, however was second-hand and Soundland is a weak witness. I don’t think this means there is no evidence, just that the evidence isn’t the kind of slam dunk that republicans in the senate couldn’t ignore.

          In your view, why didn’t the Democrats simply wait for he courts to rule in their favor on the subpoena issue, then either charge Trump with refusing to obey a court order

          Because congress is disputing the idea that the courts have the sole ability to compel presidential testimony. The idea that congress, during an impeachment can’t override executive privilege and compel testimony without the courts weighing in isn’t settled law.

          Why wait for a court battle, wait for the administration to violate the orders of the court then impeach him, when you can just impeach him for obstructing justice now?

          • jermo sapiens says:

            Why wait for a court battle, wait for the administration to violate the orders of the court then impeach him, when you can just impeach him for obstructing justice now?

            Because impeachment is fundamentally a political process and every single political impulse is leading senate Republicans to not remove Trump from office right now, and having the court orders would give you more solid ground to impeach, thereby allowing at least for the possibility of a bipartisan impeachment.

    • proyas says:

      First, let’s go back to the record of the call between Presidents Trump and Zelensky. Trump asks Zelensky to “do us a favor” and cooperate with the Attorney General on something to do with a server in Ukraine identified by Crowdstrike.

      The transcript shows that Zelensky told Trump he wanted to buy more Javelin anti-tank missiles, and that Trump’s immediate response was “I would like you to do us a favor…” followed by the stuff about digging up dirt on Biden’s son. Given the order of what they said, the broader context (upcoming U.S. election where Biden is Trump’s likeliest opponent; Trump’s well-documented underhanded behavior in all aspects of his personal and professional life; Trump’s habit of ignoring his advisers, impulsively shooting off his mouth, and then having his aides clean up the mess; Trump’s decision to inexplicably suspend military aid to Ukraine a few weeks before the phone call), it’s reasonable to interpret the exchange as a quid pro quo.

      You don’t have to announce “I am blackmailing you, and won’t do X unless you do Y” to be guilty of blackmail. Context and timing of actions and events are key.

      • EchoChaos says:

        The transcript shows that Zelensky told Trump he wanted to buy more Javelin anti-tank missiles, and that Trump’s immediate response was “I would like you to do us a favor…” followed by the stuff about digging up dirt on Biden’s son.

        That is not accurate.

        Followed by stuff about Crowdstrike and Barr’s investigation, which is completely unrelated to Biden.

      • hls2003 says:

        “I would like you to do us a favor…” followed by the stuff about digging up dirt on Biden’s son.

        Not directly followed. What directly follows is a word salad about “Crowdstrike” and “the server” and “I would like to get to the bottom of it” concluded by “Whatever you can do, it’s important that you do it if that’s possible.” Then Zelensky answers “Yes it is very important for me and everything that you just mentioned earlier” and then goes on to talk about cooperation, recalling Ukraine’s ambassador, meeting Giuliani if he comes to Ukraine, being good friends, and that all investigations will be conducted fully and fairly. It is following that when Trump says “Good, because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down” and that’s the paragraph where he talks about Biden.

    • BBA says:

      The contents of the Articles of Impeachment are irrelevant. They might as well say “Resolved: ORANGE MAN BAD.” The Senate will vote to acquit on the grounds that “ORANGE MAN GOOD.”

      Mind you, if the chips had fallen slightly differently three years ago, Hillary would’ve been impeached under precisely the same terms with the parties reversed. And in the future, every time we have a President and Congress of opposite parties, it’s likely to happen. Of course all future presidential candidates will have to face politicized FBI investigations as well…

      No matter whether the wall gets finished or how the demographic makeup of the US changes, we’re becoming part of Latin America.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        And in the future, every time we have a President and Congress of opposite parties, it’s likely to happen. Of course all future presidential candidates will have to face politicized FBI investigations as well…

        No matter whether the wall gets finished or how the demographic makeup of the US changes, we’re becoming part of Latin America.

        Yeah, this.

      • quanta413 says:

        Also, we’ll still invade strategically worthless countries because of “freedom”. Neither party will complain much about this practice except ex post facto, but the opposition will accuse whomever is in power of being wimps who don’t love freedom enough whenever whoever is in power doesn’t feel like getting on with the invading.

        All the corruption and unprovoked wars will be like a return to 19th century form except rather than getting valuable land from wars (like lots of the continental U.S.) the U.S. will get jack and squat and leave a considerably larger body count in its wake.

      • cassander says:

        Mind you, if the chips had fallen slightly differently three years ago, Hillary would’ve been impeached under precisely the same terms with the parties reversed

        I do not think so. I’m sure there would have been fringe Republicans insisting that Hillary should be impeached because of the foundation or emails, but there would have been no relentless media drumbeat to amplify it into actual action, especially in the aftermath of trump losing, which almost certainly would have been sold as a rejection of extremism and proof that Republicans needed to moderate.

        • Matt M says:

          Generally agree. See also: Obama. There were *always* a certain amount of fringe Republicans trying to impeach him for the latest right-wing talk-radio outrage. But it never got anywhere or picked up any steam because every media outlet outside of right-wing talk radio automatically dismissed these as hysterical partisanship (and probably racism).

        • BBA says:

          I see each party as divided between the leadership, which cares about keeping the lights on and not looking foolish, and the firebrands, who just want to attack the enemy however possible. Over three years’ time, the firebrands would wear down the leadership and finally pressure them into supporting impeachment. I think it would happen to the Republicans because it happened to the Democrats, even with Pelosi who’s much better at keeping her caucus in line than Boehner and Ryan were with theirs.

          That, and Hillary is the kind of person for whom obstructing justice comes as easily as breathing, so a pretextual offense would be easy enough to find.

          • cassander says:

            Without the media on your side, it’s harder to wear down the leadership. And it would all be under the shadow of Trump’s defeat, accusations of impeaching her because she’s a woman, and so on. We’d get more benghazi style investigations, but I think impeachment would never have been on the table.

          • TripleS says:

            A Benghazi-style investigation would have been great for a hypothetical President Hillary. She can get grilled for hours by Congress and not break, and was known and feared for being persuasive even with Republicans when she was involved in congressional dealings. Wish the real president displayed literally any fraction of that resolve or calm.

          • cassander says:

            @triples

            I disagree on your assessment of Hillary’s persuasiveness, but it doesn’t matter because President Clinton, or any other president, would never have deigned to be grilled by Congress. The president doesn’t answer to Congress.

          • TripleS says:

            Hey, I was responding to “Benghazi style investigation”, that’s all. And anyway presidents being investigated have still had to answer questions – otherwise no one would care what the definition of “is” is. If Hillary can walk out of a 11 hour hearing where she has to fend off questions from an entire committee, how much easier is it to answer them from one person or perhaps two?

      • One thing I find irritating is that the Democrats are impeaching Trump on grounds that he has done illegal things, but ignoring the blatantly illegal thing that he and his predecessors have done — starting wars without the congressional authorization required by Congress.

        And nobody seems to be objecting to Trump claiming the authority to impose tariffs. He has a fig leaf of protection on that one from a statute the Congress passed but that was supposed to be for national defense emergencies, not a blank check for the president to create any tariffs he wanted.

        Both of those strike me as more serious issues than either of the impeachment charges.

        • albatross11 says:

          +1

          I haven’t spent a lot of time on this, but as best I can tell:

          a. Trump should probably be removed from office for trying to use foreign aid to get another country to investigate his political rivals.

          b. Trump’s behavior is about 1% as big of a real scandal as the FISA court stuff done to spy on his campaign. And this is what the FBI did to get FISA court approval on a major party candidate for president–what do they get away with when they’re investigating some nobody?

          c. Based on the written law and constitution, the last two presidents before Trump should have been impeached and removed from office, and probably several before them. They did far worse than Trump is accused of, both legally and morally. But they didn’t violate elite consensus, so they never faced impeachment for those crimes.

          d. In practice, the Senate trial will be a party-line affair, and afterward, each party will use the whole thing as proof to their base that the other side is irredemably awful.

          My general sense, for the last couple decades, is that US politics is like a really energetic and angry debate about which color to paint the kitchen as the house fills with smoke from an out-of-control fire in the living room.

          • Thegnskald says:

            Some of us are pretty sure they started the fire when they decided to get Tough on Fire, and used a flamethrower to melt a candle, so we’re happy they’re currently busy arguing about the paint.

          • EchoChaos says:

            Based on the written law and constitution, the last two presidents before Trump should have been impeached and removed from office, and probably several before them.

            Mental exercise time!

            Who was the last President that George Washington and the other Founders WOULDN’T want impeached?

            I would guess it’s probably either Eisenhower or Coolidge, depending on how you think they would view some of Ike’s domestic policies.

          • cassander says:

            @EchoChaos

            the founders? probably James Buchanan.

          • fibio says:

            I figured it was John Adams.

          • BBA says:

            Oh, fuck the Founders. Their constitutional order broke down irreparably in the 1850s and since then we’ve just been pretending to have continuity with something nearly everyone today would find morally repulsive if they looked at it objectively. Enough with the ancestor worship.

          • Matt M says:

            I figured it was John Adams.

            John Adams literally made it a felony to insult him.

          • fibio says:

            Well, that leaves us with either Washington or George the Third 😛

        • DeWitt says:

          Isn’t that pretty normal even outside the realm of politics? Capone was put on trial for tax evasion rather than anything else, if only because it was the crime they could prove.

        • mitv150 says:

          @DeWitt

          Well sure, but “starting wars without congressional authorization” isn’t exactly difficult to prove.

          The point is that we have gotten to a point where we (that’s the collective national “we,” and not the “we” of this particular forum) no longer consider this to actually be an abuse of power.

        • DeWitt says:

          That is also fair, yeah.

        • John Schilling says:

          Well sure, but “starting wars without congressional authorization” isn’t exactly difficult to prove.

          It is if Congress authorizes the President to wage an indefinitely continued war against “those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons”. So, yeah, I’m not happy that Obama decided to wage war against ISIS without explicit approval (or a viable plan), but go try to prove that he was lying when he determined that ISIS was harboring part of the old Al Qaeda organization.

  3. Statismagician says:

    Today in Middle East Weirdness, the UAE would like you to vote for their new logo. In exchange, they promise to plant a tree for each vote.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      I went for the palm. The one with just the writing I can’t read, and the third one relies on color for distinction. This is always a bad idea since you can’t identify it when printing in black and white.

      • Well... says:

        All three have the same writing, it’s just more stylized in the one without the palm or the colored bars.

        • Tenacious D says:

          It’s initially kind of underwhelming as far as Arabic calligraphy goes; the logo for Emirates Airlines says the same thing in a much bolder way. But it’s growing on me the more I look at it, with the way it resembles waves (or maybe dunes).

      • Lambert says:

        None of them are good logos.
        It’s not like the rules for how to make a good logo haven’t been around since the middle ages.

      • Ketil says:

        Much as I would like rich people to plant more trees, I don’t like any of them too much. The calligraphy-only is the most aesthetically pleasing, but unless you read Arabic, it’s just a squiggle, and hard to distinguish from any other Arabic writing. The palm leaf is a nice symbol, but too square and rigid. The colored stripes just look too random.

    • Nick says:

      Not just planting a tree, but planting a tree in a spot of land in a place in the world! How many people can say that, huh?

      I voted for the third one.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      The page won’t load in Firefox.
      I want to plant a tree. 🙁

    • Matt M says:

      Is there a “Logo McLogoface” option?

  4. Bobobob says:

    Bonus in whatever the SSC currency is for anyone who can explain to me how the universe can be infinite in spatial extent whilst stemming from a localized Big Bang. I have never been able to wrap my mind around this concept, maybe because it’s never been unpacked in a way I can understand.

    • Alejandro says:

      The Big Bang is not localized, it happened everywhere at once. The Universe was always infinite in spatial extent, it is just that the distance between any two fixed given points (which is of course finite) decreases more and more as you go back in time, approaching zero asymptotically as you approach the Big Bang. Another way of thinking of it is of the Big Bang as a moment of infinite density, rather than zero size.

      • Bobobob says:

        That almost does it. I’m gonna have to draw myself a diagram.

        • Alejandro says:

          Expanding on my previous answer to correct some misunderstandings coming up below in the thread.

          Draw a chessboard pattern, and just imagine it is infinite in all directions. Now imagine that each second each square is doubling its size. The chessboard is always infinite, the distance between any two given squares is always finite, and as you rewind time backwards the squares get smaller and smaller. The universe is like this in three dimensions. The reason to believe it is infinite is that it is by far the simplest model compatible with observations; we haven’t observed any global spatial curvature effects hinting that it wraps upon itself like a higher-dimensional sphere, as Einstein once thought and as the more common balloon analogy implies.

          Technically this model does not have a Big Bang, because you can rewind time without limit and never hit a singularity, only smaller and smaller scales. This is because “doubling each second” implies a 2^t (exponential) scale function, which is never 0. Inflationary models are actually similar to this. Models with a true Big Bang have scale functions (for example) of the form t^c with c a positive constant, where there is an actual moment of zero size. However, in either this version or the exponential version, we cannot actually trust our current theories when t is small enough that the density is of Planckian scales, so talk a true moment of “zero size” is most likely nonsense.

          • Randy M says:

            we haven’t observed any global spatial curvature effects hinting that it wraps upon itself like a higher-dimensional sphere, as Einstein once thought and as the more common balloon analogy implies.

            This is a helpful explanation. But how does it differentiate an infinite universe from a spherical universe that is also bigger than our area of observation?

          • Alejandro says:

            @Randy It doesn’t but if you are measuring a parameter (such as global curvature) and you get zero to within your measurement precision, Ockham’s Razor suggests it is likely zero.

            Let me be a bit more precise about this. In the cosmological equations for how the universe expands there are several so-called “density parameters”, which are dimensionless numbers expressing the relative “weights” of different physical aspects playing into the equation: ordinary matter, radiation, dark matter, dark energy, and global curvature. The larger one of these parameters, the more the corresponding physical reality affects the measurable expansion of the universe. For example, the parameter for ordinary matter is measured as 0.0486±0.0010; for dark matter, as 0.2589±0.005. On the same scale, the global curvature parameter has been measured as 0.000±0.005.

          • Hey says:

            Note that an infinite universe isn’t the same thing as a universe with zero curvature. The universe could loop at some point like the Pacman grid, and be finite despite having no curvature and no edges.

          • A1987dM says:

            @Hey:

            It is if you assume the Universe is globally isotropic. (A torus would have privileged directions.)

          • Dacyn says:

            @A1987dM: A globally isotropic manifold of zero curvature is infinite, but the reverse isn’t true. Hyperbolic space is globally isotropic and infinite, but with negative curvature.

    • Randy M says:

      One of us is confused about the present cosmological models, because I think yours is in fact the common understanding, that is, the big bang isn’t consistent with an infinite universe. Iirc, the expansion of the universe is what “predicts” the big-bang*, and a non-infinite universe was famously a sticking point of Einstein’s, leading to his biggest mistake.

      *I think this is not quite right, but if I leave it here someone will correct me.

      edit: hmm, I seem to be disagreeing with Alejandro. Welcome further opinions, but an expanding infinity seems an oxymoron to my mind.

      • Bobobob says:

        Of course, we don’t have any proof that the universe is actually infinite in extent. I bring this up mainly as it relates to Max Tegmark’s Level 1 universe, which implies that in an infinite universe, our Hubble volume (and this exact conversation on SSC) will be repeated an infinite number of times.

        I’ve often wondered, what if the universe wasn’t actually infinite, but closed on the order of a googolplex light years? That would eliminate the replication of Hubble volumes, and it certainly isn’t something that can be ruled out.

        • Dacyn says:

          No, a googolplex is large enough to replicate Hubble volumes. Heuristically, if there are 10^98 atoms in the universe and each of them can be in 10^98 locations, then there are (10^98)^(10^98) = 10^(98*10^98) < 10^(10^100) = googolplex different configurations, and so some repetition would occur. Since the number of atoms is in fact much less than 10^98, a lot of repetition would occur.

          (This computation assumes classical mechanics, so maybe you wouldn’t have repetitions on the quantum level since there are more possibilities there. But macroscopic repetitions are probably all we really care about.)

      • HeelBearCub says:

        I believe the standard “how to explain” on this is to first imagine a balloon being filled with air. The surface of the balloon is expanding in the same way space is expanding.

        Now imagine an infinity of cinnamon bread dough, with raisins mixed in. As that dough begins to rise all the raisins get farther from each other, despite there still being the same infinite amount of dough.

        • Bobobob says:

          I know that analogy well, but it still comes down to an infinite amount of mass concentrated in a volume (presumably) the diameter of a Planck length. Maybe that is the concept I’m having trouble with. (As far as I know, no physicists think the universe-originating point would actually be infinitely small, just on the order of 10-33 cm.)

          • Dacyn says:

            No, there is never an infinite amount of mass in a finite region, the mass just tends to infinity if you go backwards in time while keeping the region size (but not the region itself) fixed.

        • Statismagician says:

          These would be raisins d’etre, I assume?

        • Randy M says:

          That’s an analogy. I’m not sure it works for me conceptually, but nevermind for the moment.
          Where does the postulate of an infinite universe come from?
          edit:
          I guess I’m only a few years more out of date than this guy. Will be reading.

          @Statismagician, see what you did there, I do.

          • Bobobob says:

            The spatially infinite universe seems to be something (from my voluminous reading) that a lot of cosmologists take as a default assumption. Presumably because it’s somehow simpler than explaining why the universe *isn’t* of infinite extent.

          • Randy M says:

            I suppose it’s easier to assume an preternaturally existing everything than a sudden burst of everything, but I was under the layman’s impression that the math pointed towards the sudden burst strongly enough to put claims of infinite scope to rest early last century.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I suppose it’s easier to assume an preternaturally existing everything than a sudden burst of everything

            Infinite or non-infinite universe isn’t related to whether the universe existed “before” the big bang. AFAIK, the current model is that time begins along with the universe, so the concept of “before” the big bang isn’t conceptually valid.

            No matter how much it makes my head hurt.

          • Randy M says:

            I appreciate the corrections.
            I have learned not to reply to the “obvious” questions about cosmology here, at least. 🙂

          • A1987dM says:

            The fact that measurements of the curvature of the Universe are consistent with zero within their uncertainties.

    • Bobobob says:

      A closely related conundrum is Roger Penrose’s conformal cyclic cosmology, which posits that after an infinite amount of time (!) the universe “reboots” itself and creates a new big bang. If anyone can explain what the phrase “after an infinite amount of time” means you are probably living in another dimension.

      • TripleS says:

        Presumably, it’s something like, “What I really mean is that as time approaches infinity, the probability of this event becomes 1, so it could happen immediately after heat death, 600,000 years later, or ‘seven hundred trillion raised to its own power seven hundred trillion times’ years later, but it’s definitely GOING to happen, so we’ll just round off to the worst case.”

        • Bobobob says:

          I don’t think he’s talking about a quantum fluctuation. As far as I can understand, he’s built a model where the inconceivably spread-out flecks of matter of the late universe dwindle gradually to zero mass, at which point the universe “resizes” itself and there’s a new big bang. I think the dwindling is supposed to be infinite and asymptotic.

      • eigenmoon says:

        In cyclic cosmology the scale of the next universe is completely different from our scale. Our heat death is the new Universe’s Big Bang. So you don’t have to wait actually infinite time, maybe just wait 10^150 years or so. The inhabitants of the new Universe might choose their second to be 10^189 our years, then our heat death would happen in an instant to them and look like an explosion.

        Disclaimer: I don’t understand how cyclic cosmology is supposed to work and I’m very doubtful about it.

      • Dacyn says:

        If he really means an infinite amount of time, presumably that means that the initial conditions of the new universe are related in some way to the limits of the conditions of the old universe. What kind of limits, I don’t know, and I imagine the answer might end up being somewhat technical.

      • Thegnskald says:

        There are an infinite number of rationals between each integer. 2 is an infinite amount of rationals after 1.

      • meltedcheesefondue says:

        Trying to simplify: in the far future of the universe, the laws of physics become invariant under rescaling (technically, the curvature tensor of the general relativity metric reduces to the Weyl tensor, which is conformally invariant).

        This includes rescaling in time as well as in space.

        At the Big Bang, the Weyl tensor also dominates, so the laws of physics are also rescaling invariant there.

        So, we have two situations – the short Big Bang, and the entire infinite future of the universe – where the laws of physics are invariant under rescaling. And, surprise, you can rescale one into the other. So, in a sense, the entire infinite future of our universe *is* the first micro-moment of a Big Bang.

        Of course, this relies on general relativity; until we have a quantum theory of gravity, we can’t be sure (I understand that entropy might also be an issue).

      • A1987dM says:

        It’s been a long time since I read his book but IIRC it went like this:

        Apply a coordinate transformation whereby t’ = -1/t. Now, all (positive) finite times in the old (unprimed) coordinate system correspond to negative times in the new (primed) coordinates, and positive infinite time in the old coordinates correspond to time zero in the new coordinates. The positive times in the new coordinates represent the “new” universe after ours.

        (This means that time as a whole has a more complicated topology than just a real half-line — equivalent to a long line or a part thereof, as far as i can tell. EDIT: probably not, it looks like I didn’t correctly remember what a long line looks like.)

    • Phigment says:

      My layperson understanding is this:

      Despite all the people calling it the “Big Bang”, the “Big Bang” event was not very much like an explosion.

      You hear “Big Bang”, and you mentally model is as a giant KABOOM with matter-shrapnel flying every direction, but that’s no more accurate than all the elementary school models of atoms as little balls with electrons in neat circular orbits around them, or the idea that black holes are actually similar to holes.

      The actual Big Bang, to whatever extent it happened, was pretty weird by our conventional, every-day, gravity-keep-stuck-to-the-ground working understanding of physics, and if you try to understand it by analogy to an explosion, you’re almost instantly going to be off course, because it’s not a very strong analogy.

    • eigenmoon says:

      I find inflation to be more convincing. According to this theory, the Big Bang was a vacuum decay event. The space before the Big Bang had much more dark energy and was expanding extremely fast. Our Universe is a light cone, in other words a bubble expanding with the speed of light, embedded in that larger space (which might be finite or infinite – we know nothing about it).

      • HeelBearCub says:

        @eignemoon:

        The space before the Big Bang had much more dark energy and was expanding extremely fast.

        I’m no physicist, but I don’t think this phrasing is correct. I don’t think inflation suggests that there is anything “before” the BB.

        From the article (my emphasis):

        The inflationary epoch lasted from 10−36 seconds after the conjectured Big Bang singularity to some time between 10−33 and 10−32 seconds after the singularity.

        • eigenmoon says:

          I’m talking about a different inflation theory that has no singularity. From another article:

          The basic[clarification needed] model of inflation proceeds in three phases:[4]

          Expanding vacuum state with high potential energy
          Phase transition to true vacuum
          Slow roll and reheating

          The “bang” is the second step, phase transition.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            The field, originally theorized by Alan Guth,[1] provides a mechanism by which a period of rapid expansion from 10−35 to 10−34 seconds after the initial expansion can be generated, forming a universe consistent with observed spatial isotropy and homogeneity.

            I’m not seeing that say what you seem to be saying.

        • eigenmoon says:

          Also if you’ve got half an hour, check out this and this video for an explanation of the inflation theory (the one I’m talking about) by a physicist.

    • Algon33 says:

      Alejandro is right, he just assumed the idea of a metric without motivating it.

      When we talk about the size of something, we usually mean the distances involved in moving from one point to another. The “size” of a box is calculated by measuring the distance between each pair of ends (width, length, height) and multiplying them together.

      So the “size” of the universe has something to do with the distances involved. But there are infinitely many different notions of distance, and there’s no reason the distance between things can’t change.

      Consider this: you have a list containing all strings of words of length 4 e.g. AAAAA, AXKSW, ZPREA etc.
      What’s the distance between two strings? The question doesn’t make sense, because we haven’t chosen a way of assigning distances. We call a way of assigning distances a metric.

      We can choose any metric we like, and change it however we wish. So let’s say the distance is 0 between all strings at the start (time t =0), then we’ll increase it in increments. At each step, we’ll add the number of letter replacements needed to turn string p into string q to the previous distance between them. For example,
      t=0: distance from AAAAA to AAAAB = 0,
      t=1: distance from AAAAA to AAAAB = 1,
      t=2: distance from AAAAA to AAAAB = 2,

      t=n: distance from AAAAA to AAAAB = n

      From the perspective of the strings, they’re all getting further apart even though there’s as many strings as there were before. Note this rule is totally arbitrary, and the strings can’t guess at t=0 how things will change. Its something they need to guess at after a while.

      Its basically the same with the universe. Initially, there are infininitely many “points” labelled by 3 numbers ( the co-ordinates), some stuff which gets assigned co-ordinates (matter), and the metric which assigns distances to the co-ordinates. And there’s a set of rules saying how their interconnections should change.

      At the start, the distance between all points is 0. Note adding up infinitely many 0s still gives 0, so at the size of everything is 0. Time moves forward, and they all go: “Oh, hey we’re in the same place. Guess we should tell the matter we’re assigned assigned to”. The matter goes “Oh darn, we’ve got to seperate. Tell the metric to increase our distances”. The metric goes: “right, you two are now this distance apart, you guys are that distance, ….” and so on for the infinitely many pairs of points.

      Now we’ve got non-zero distances, we can get non-zero sizes. And we’ve got infinitely many points so we can add up distances and get infinite distance. Repeat the process for a few billion years, and you get us, and a metric saying what sizes we all are.

    • AlesZiegler says:

      Epistemic status: I am not a physicists, cosmologist or anyone otherwise qualified to answer your question.

      Expansion of the universe means that distance between chunks of matter, each of them bound together by gravity (currently galaxies or groups of galaxies) is increasing.

      Infinity of the universe does not mean that there is an infinite amount of matter in the universe. It also does not mean that there is an infinite amount of square kilometres of vacuum in the universe. My impression is that physicists do not yet fully understand what vacuum is, much less how much of it exists.

      Infinity of the universe in spatial extent should imho be understand as a claim about what universe is not. How would a spatialy finite universe look like? Would there be a “wall on the end of the universe”, like in some computer game?

      • Randy M says:

        Would there be a “wall on the end of the universe”, like in some computer game?

        Sounds like a job for the Space Corps!

      • TripleS says:

        The conventionally accepted model for a finite universe is much like a computer game, but not the ones you’re thinking of. You know how in the old Final Fantasy games the map looped both east/west *and* north/south? A finite universe is curved in on itself so that going far enough up leads to your coming up out of the bottom.

        • AlesZiegler says:

          You mean a model that leads to a Big Crunch? I thought that cosmologists currently do not think that is what is going to happen. But theoretically it is possible, and yesm it would make universe more comprehensible and similar to a computer game with a map like in FF.

      • eigenmoon says:

        Would there be a “wall on the end of the universe”, like in some computer game?

        Yes, but it will run away from us at the speed of light, so we can never touch it.

      • Dacyn says:

        Cosmologists usually assume homogeneity, so if the universe is infinite in extent they would assume it had an infinite amount of matter as well. And “infinite in extent” basically does mean “[cubic] kilometres of vacuum”. I am not sure how the question of what vacuum is is related to how much of it exists on a large scale.

    • broblawsky says:

      Corrollary to this: does universal expansion apply even on the atomic/subatomic scale? Were atoms smaller in the past, with different chemical properties? Is that even a coherent question?

      • hls2003 says:

        My understanding is that it does, but also doesn’t. All of space is expanding simultaneously, including locally-bound space. But the rate is not noticeable at local scales, and is easily overcome by the four fundamental forces. So atoms would be the same size, for all periods when atoms were actually existing.

        That’s assuming a cosmological constant. In the “Big Rip” model, the rate of expansion is itself accelerating, and eventually becomes large enough that it overcomes all other forces and even subatomic particles are ripped apart.

    • Bobobob says:

      FYI, neatly bundling together two issues discussed here, I just found this Penrose paper relating conformal cyclic cosmology to the Fermi Paradox: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1512.00554.pdf

  5. DragonMilk says:

    I’d like to continue the discussion form the last hidden thread on Biblical inerrancy and Mormonism. Unfortunately, my work e-mail blocks access to all religious sites, so I may add links when I get home in a reply.

    @GearRatio, @DavidFriedman, @any LDS members: My personal religious views are in line with those found on The Gospel Coalition website (which I cannot access at time of posting). When moving to a new city, I make it a point to survey churches that are within its church directory.

    Anyway, the confessional statements are organized in the following sections:
    1. Tri-une God
    2. Revelation
    3. Creation of Humanity
    4. The Fall
    5. The Plan of God
    6. The Gospel
    7. The Redemption of Christ
    8. The Justification of Sinners
    9. The Power of the Holy Spirit
    10. The Kingdom of God
    11. God’s New People
    12. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
    13. The Restoration of All Things

    I’ll focus the discussion here on 2, where the statement reads (any typos mine as well as bolding),

    “God has graciously disclosed his existence and power in the created order, and has supremely revealed himself to fallen human beings in the person of his Son, the incarnate Word. Moreover, this God is a speaking God who by his Spirit has graciously disclosed himself in human words: we believe that God has inspired the words preserved in the Scriptures, the sixty-xis books of the Old and New Testaments, which are both record and means of his saving work in the world. These writings alone constitute the verbally inspired Word of God, which is utterly authoritative and without error in the original writings, complete in its revelation of his will for salvation, sufficient for all that God requires us to believe and do, and final in its authority over every domain of knowledge to which it speaks. We confess that both our finitude and our sinfulness preclude the possibility of knowing God’s truth exhaustively, but we affirm that, enlightened by the Spirit of God, we can know God’s revealed truth truly. The Bible is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it teaches; obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; and trusted, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises. As God’s people hear, believe, and do the Word, they are equipped as disciples of Christ and witnesses to the gospel.

    To Gear, do your beliefs differ from the quoted section?
    To David, does this clarify the role of the Bible for TGC-type Christians, and is it what you mean by literalist?
    To LDS members, is this statement a manifestation of the great apostasy?
    To everyone else, you’re welcome to chime in too of course, the last convo went deep in the weeds so I wanted to qualify this one with @ @ @

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      Anyway, the confessional statements are organized in the following sections:
      1. Tri-une God
      2. Revelation
      3. Creation of Humanity
      4. The Fall
      5. The Plan of God
      6. The Gospel
      7. The Redemption of Christ
      8. The Justification of Sinners
      9. The Power of the Holy Spirit
      10. The Kingdom of God
      11. God’s New People
      12. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
      13. The Restoration of All Things

      Other than 12 (which I’m guessing means two sacraments and rejecting the term “Eucharist”), are any of these points incompatible with Catholic or Orthodoxy doctrine?

      • DragonMilk says:

        With the caveat that I am no expert on Catholic or Orthodox teachings, I’d presume 8 may be controversial (faith vs works):

        “…Inasmuch as Christ was given by the Father for us, and his obedience and punishment were accepted in place of our own, freely and not for anything in us, this justification is solely of free grace, in order that both the exact justice and the rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners. We believe that a zeal for personal and public obedience flows from this free justification.”

        Again, bolding mine. Again, hoping to link things when I get home.

        • Nick says:

          No, Catholics affirm sola gratia. We do receive grace by faith and works, but this is a free gift of God not deserved.

          2 might be a big one. Some Protestants jettison the deuterocanonical books, and many are not fond of Tradition as the other source of revelation.

          • DragonMilk says:

            Why do Catholics include what Jews exclude in the “Old testament”?

          • TripleS says:

            Because as far as the Testaments are concerned, “Old” and “New” mean “Pre-” and “Post-Christianity”, not “Jewish” and “Christian”.

          • DragonMilk says:

            @TripleS, put differently, as a Protestant, I understand the Old Testament to be 1:1 what Jews accept as canon as anything before Christ should sync up with what was revealed by God to the Jews. Therefore, if the Jews do not include these pre-Christian books, for what reason do Catholics include them?

          • Lambert says:

            I think the apocrypha were in the septuagint.

          • Evan Þ says:

            and many are not fond of Tradition as the other source of revelation.

            Understatement of the day.

          • HarmlessFrog says:

            Therefore, if the Jews do not include these pre-Christian books, for what reason do Catholics include them?

            Why would you leave the definition of what constitutes your holy books to another religion? A religion that is, presumably, wrong about matters of religion, from your point of view, no less.

          • broblawsky says:

            @TripleS, put differently, as a Protestant, I understand the Old Testament to be 1:1 what Jews accept as canon as anything before Christ should sync up with what was revealed by God to the Jews. Therefore, if the Jews do not include these pre-Christian books, for what reason do Catholics include them?

            There’s some stuff that isn’t in what most Protestants would consider the “Hebrew canon” (e.g., the Teachings, the Prophets, and the Writings) but is accepted as authoritative by at least some Jewish or Christian sects. For example, the Book of Tobit is considered canonical by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, and by some ancient Jewish sects, but not by Protestants or most modern Jews. The Book(s) of Maccabees are even weirder: they’re considered canon by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, and form the basis for the Hannukah festival, but aren’t considered canon by any major Protestant or Jewish sects.

          • DragonMilk says:

            @HarmlessFrog

            Interpretation of texts may and do differ, but there should be agreement on the text themselves. The earliest Christians were Jews, and it was Paul who really expanded the religion to the Gentiles. Apologetics back then appealed to the Jewish scriptures, and Jesus is the fulfillment of the scriptures.

            So it’s quite important to have the same starting point in terms of at least agreeing on what those scriptures are.

          • Nick says:

            @Evan Þ
            I do try. 😛

          • DragonMilk says:

            As a protestant, I’m actually not sure what capital T Tradition means in this context.

            Like…pope stuff over the years?

          • Evan Þ says:

            @DragonMilk, from the horse Bull’s mouth:

            There are Divine traditions not contained in Holy Scripture, revelations made to the Apostles either orally by Jesus Christ or by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost and transmitted by the Apostles to the Church. Holy Scripture is therefore not the only theological source of the Revelation made by God to His Church. Side by side with Scripture there is tradition, side by side with the written revelation there is the oral revelation. This granted, it is impossible to be satisfied with the Bible alone…

            The living magisterium, therefore, makes extensive use of documents of the past, but it does so while judging and interpreting, gladly finding in them its present thought, but likewise, when needful, distinguishing its present thought from what is traditional only in appearance. It is revealed truth always living in the mind of the Church… Thus are explained both her respect for the writings of the Fathers of the Church and her supreme independence towards those writings–she judges them more than she is judged by them.

            As a Baptist, I firmly oppose this view.

          • DragonMilk says:

            Now that I’m home and such, I can finally link the statement…too bad I can’t edit it in…

            I’d also like to point out that I actually got pretty bored reading the confessional statement itself, and so the practical implications of what churches in the TCG are about given those beliefs may be more illuminating.

          • eigenmoon says:

            @DragonMilk

            So it’s quite important to have the same starting point in terms of at least agreeing on what those scriptures are.

            No such starting point is reachable. The Jews had a total mess themselves. Paul quotes the Book of Jubilees as Scripture, and Jesus quotes indiscriminately from Masoretic, Septuagint and even Targumim versions.

            Most importantly, there’s the Ethiopian canon which is the canon of a nation that converted from Judaism to Christianity. Why should it be inferior to the canon that Palestinian tannaim rabbis ended up with?

            Also no such starting point is reachable for the New Testament, but that’s a different story.

          • Deiseach says:

            As a Baptist, I firmly oppose this view.

            To which, on our side, we’d refer you to John 21:25:

            25 Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

            If those other things known to disciples and others are not in the written books, it is possible that they be preserved in oral tradition. And the practice of the faith is likely transmitted by teaching and demonstration and not all the details written down.

            Then there is also the whole question of “what is the canon, and who gets to decide it?”, as demonstrated in discussion here. After a while, you get all sorts of cranks, cultists, wannabes and imitators (heretics) churning out their own version of Early Christianity, and producing their own texts.

            See the epistle of St Paul to the Corinthians, where he is addressing the divisions in the local church there, and after dishing out plenty of advice says:

            I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.

            The question here is, what are the writings, and who is writing them? That’s why someone has to sit down and decide what is, and what is not, within the canon. And that’s where the Church (small or large “c”) comes in; the body of believers who assess what is being passed around, preached, written down, quoted, and produced as to whether it is legitimate or not.

            That’s why we have four Gospels and not five, six or however many new Gnostic ‘alternative Christianities’ that pop up every so often. That’s why the Jewish religious authorities sat down and overhauled their Scriptures to decide what was and was not within the canon (whatever you may think of the niche conspiracy theory-ish explanation that, since the new off-shoot of the Christians was quoting those same Scriptures to back up their case, and since this Christ of theirs was plainly a blasphemer, then purifying the texts of all the bits the Christians said ‘see, this proves what we’re saying!’ was vitally necessary).

            That’s why St Jerome got the job of producing a new Latin version of the Bible, and decided to go for original Hebrew versions of the texts (or as close as he could get) instead of merely translating the existing Greek Septuagint version into Latin.

            I think pretty much everyone agrees that we don’t have a nice, neat set of original texts that have never undergone change or alteration or loss or reconstruction, so we’re rather stuck with an external authority to validate such. And for Catholics, that’s the Church and the Magisterium.

          • Randy M says:

            But surely by now you’ve written them down, right? When you say oral tradition you mean something like Islamic hadiths, books that were written based on second or third hand sources, not stories that to this day haven’t been recorded, right?

          • Evan Þ says:

            @Randy, my understanding is that they haven’t, and that’s a huge part of my objection. To go back to my Catholic Encyclopedia quote above, they say “It is revealed truth always living in the mind of the Church.”

            @Deiseach, I agree there’re a lot of other things that weren’t written down in the Bible. For the next few generations, there were a number of churches where you could find someone who’d tell you “Jesus / Paul / John / Polycarp-who-studied-under-John said such-and-so,” and that’d probably be really valuable. But that’s different from saying that the Lateran Council of 1123 let alone the Vatican Council of 1965 has any unique access to that tradition. They claim the Holy Spirit gives them that unique access, but I see no evidence for that. The process of getting a canonical list of the books of the Bible isn’t evidence, because it didn’t come from any ecumenical council or top-down authority, but rather from the distributed judgment of the churches throughout the world.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            @ Dragon Milk:

            @TripleS, put differently, as a Protestant, I understand the Old Testament to be 1:1 what Jews accept as canon as anything before Christ should sync up with what was revealed by God to the Jews. Therefore, if the Jews do not include these pre-Christian books, for what reason do Catholics include them?

            It’s not certain when the Jewish canon was developed; it may even date to the AD period. The Septuagint, at least, includes translations of the Deuterocanonical works, indicating that they were considered canonical in the third century BC.

            @ Evan Thorn:

            @Randy, my understanding is that they haven’t, and that’s a huge part of my objection. To go back to my Catholic Encyclopedia quote above, they say “It is revealed truth always living in the mind of the Church.”

            It’s quite simple, really. Christ promised that the Holy Spirit would “guide [his followers] into all truth”. Hence Church Tradition is trustworthy because it is guided by the Holy Spirit. The locus classicus here is St. Vincent of Lerins (Commonitorium 2.6-3.8):

            Moreover, in the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense Catholic, which, as the name itself and the reason of the thing declare, comprehends all universally. This rule we shall observe if we follow universality, antiquity, consent. We shall follow universality if we confess that one faith to be true, which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity, if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is manifest were notoriously held by our holy ancestors and fathers; consent, in like manner, if in antiquity itself we adhere to the consentient definitions and determinations of all, or at the least of almost all priests and doctors.

            What then will a Catholic Christian do, if a small portion of the Church have cut itself off from the communion of the universal faith? What, surely, but prefer the soundness of the whole body to the unsoundness of a pestilent and corrupt member? What, if some novel contagion seek to infect not merely an insignificant portion of the Church, but the whole? Then it will be his care to cleave to antiquity, which at this day cannot possibly be seduced by any fraud of novelty.

            But what, if in antiquity itself there be found error on the part of two or three men, or at any rate of a city or even of a province? Then it will be his care by all means, to prefer the decrees, if such there be, of an ancient General Council to the rashness and ignorance of a few. But what, if some error should spring up on which no such decree is found to bear? Then he must collate and consult and interrogate the opinions of the ancients, of those, namely, who, though living in various times and places, yet continuing in the communion and faith of the one Catholic Church, stand forth acknowledged and approved authorities: and whatsoever he shall ascertain to have been held, written, taught, not by one or two of these only, but by all, equally, with one consent, openly, frequently, persistently, that he must understand that he himself also is to believe without any doubt or hesitation.

            If, on the other hand, we suppose that the Church really did fall into error at [the death of the last apostle/the Council of Nicaea/take your pick], until [Martin Luther/John Calvin/Henry VIII/Elizabeth II/John Wesley/Joseph Smith/William J. Seymour/etc.] came along to rescue it, we would have to suppose either that Christ was lying when he promised the Holy Spirit’s guidance, or that the Holy Spirit was unable to preserve the Church from apostasy, either of which would be blasphemous.

      • Deiseach says:

        Other than 12 (which I’m guessing means two sacraments and rejecting the term “Eucharist”), are any of these points incompatible with Catholic or Orthodoxy doctrine?

        No. 8 – The Justification of Sinners – could indeed be a stumbling block; apparently ourselves and the Lutherans issued a Joint Declaration coming to a compromise agreement on the theology back in 1999, but not all the Lutheran churches were on board with this (and I imagine some Catholics, of the very few who even know about such a thing, mightn’t be all up with it either).

        (Apologies for the terrible Vatican website design; I’m sure we’ll get around to improving it some century or other).

        Also Revelation – ongoing or complete? Power of the Holy Spirit – are we talking Pentecostalism here? And a few others where the theological definitions of the ‘plain words’ are pretty different between side A and side B.

        • DragonMilk says:

          So we’re good at around 3.15:

          In faith we together hold the conviction that justification is the work of the triune God. The Father sent his Son into the world to save sinners. The foundation and presupposition of justification is the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ. Justification thus means that Christ himself is our righteousness, in which we share through the Holy Spirit in accord with the will of the Father. Together we confess: By grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works…. as sinners our new life is solely due to the forgiving and renewing mercy that God imparts as a gift and we receive in faith, and never can merit in any way

          4.3 is where roads diverge a bit – I’m more (surprise surprise!) inclined toward the “Lutheran” belief:

          According to Lutheran understanding, God justifies sinners in faith alone (sola fide). In faith they place their trust wholly in their Creator and Redeemer and thus live in communion with him. God himself effects faith as he brings forth such trust by his creative word. Because God’s act is a new creation, it affects all dimensions of the person and leads to a life in hope and love. In the doctrine of “justification by faith alone,” a distinction but not a separation is made between justification itself and the renewal of one’s way of life that necessarily follows from justification and without which faith does not exist. Thereby the basis is indicated from which the renewal of life proceeds, for it comes forth from the love of God imparted to the person in justification. Justification and renewal are joined in Christ, who is present in faith.

          vs.

          The Catholic understanding also sees faith as fundamental in justification. For without faith, no justification can take place. Persons are justified through baptism as hearers of the word and believers in it. The justification of sinners is forgiveness of sins and being made righteous by justifying grace, which makes us children of God. In justification the righteous receive from Christ faith, hope, and love and are thereby taken into communion with him.

          An analogy I’ve heard is suppose at the end of time, you come before a courtroom and Satan is the prosecutor. Satan points to all your sins and asks how you plan to pay for them. Justification means you acknowledge your debt, that it’s impossible to come up with the sum yourself, but say to Satan that they’ve already been paid in full by Jesus. Alternatively, one could try to deny the debt, or be crushed by it through meager attempts to pay it off on your own.

          What does this have to do with the quotes? Well the last sentence of the Catholic one states that in this justification, the righteous receive faith, hope, and love (1 Corinthians much?). This may be quibbling over details, but I see that process as separate. My wedding verse was Galatians 5:22 on the fruit of the Spirit. That is, the debt payment justifies, but it is through the receiving of the Spirit that one actually bears the fruit.

          And that segues into your next question. Per John 14:16, Jesus states that “the Spirit of truth” will be sent; “for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.” Practically, I think there’s been disagreement as to who exactly gets the Holy Spirit? Anyway, the Protestant answer is all believers. And from there, all attributes of the fruit can be seen if the Spirit is allowed to work rather than resisted.

    • GearRatio says:

      I enjoyed that talk a whole lot, but I had to bow out for time-and-responsibility reasons; the wife wanted me to act like I had kids and a spouse and stuff. Sorry!

    • eigenmoon says:

      Wouldn’t the statement in bold imply that all Christians end up interpreting the Bible in exactly the same way? Because I don’t think that’s what historically happened.

      • Nick says:

        How does it imply that? I’m not seeing it.

      • Randy M says:

        You mean this: “sufficient for all that God requires us to believe and do”?
        Not exactly. It would imply that everyone with a good-faith interpretation will agree on all of the necessary doctrine for salvation.

        Thus, any deviation in doctrine is either irrelevant or not in good-faith. That does provide some more leeway, but still may not comport with all evidence.

        • eigenmoon says:

          I’m not entirely comfortable with the claim that people who interpret some parts of the Bible differently are acting in bad faith. For example, Calvin said that everyone who studies his arguments will necessarily convert to Calvinism. But… no. I’m afraid it doesn’t work that way.

      • GearRatio says:

        It only implies that if the Christians think they are without flaw in interpreting it; if that were the usual case, church sermons would be without audiences.

        The crux of a statement above isn’t that humans can’t misinterpret and need correction, but instead that the remedy is more discussion and interpretation of the Bible to better get at and understand the truth. Me and Tom might disagree, but if we are both in agreement with the bolded section of 2. above we just think one or both of us is wrong, not the text itself.

        That’s not to argue for the rightness or wrongness of 2, just to say that it isn’t rendered contradictory in the absence of a hive-mind so long as human imperfection is acknowledged.

        • eigenmoon says:

          So God would be like “Behold humans! Here’s a book that is complete and sufficient for your salvation, provided that you understand it correctly – which you most likely won’t ’cause you are waaay too stupid for that. See you in Hell, suckers”.

          • cassander says:

            To be fair, that seems totally in keeping with the character of the old Testament God.

          • GearRatio says:

            I think this adds an awful lot in that neither he and I said, something like this:

            “A 100% perfect understanding of the entire text of the Bible is necessary. Without it, even if you are desperately trying to get to it, you go to hell”.

            Acknowledging personal imperfection doesn’t simultaneously prove acknowledgement of complete failure. Nobody is running around with a view that a guy with a 99.9% perfect read of the Bible who somehow has, like, an erroneous understanding of what kind of mindset you need to eat meat that was once sacrificed to idols is going to hell.

            That’s not to say that there isn’t a level of misinterpretation where that’s not true – if a guy had come to the conclusions that Jesus was a normal aardvark and the path to salvation was orgies in motorcycle showrooms, yeah, he’s probably in error enough that he’s not currently aimed at salvation. But there’s room to see daylight between “It’s possible to has misinterpreted this hard enough to have missed the really important broad strokes” and “anybody who has room for improvement left on knowing the exact meaning intended by every single passage is going to hell”.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @eigenmoon / GearRatio

            One of the things that I have always been taught is that the Bible is heavily redundantly encoded with the most important message, which is “ask God for forgiveness when you sin and try to avoid sinning in the future”.

            The rest is details. Important details, absolutely no doubt, but details.

          • eigenmoon says:

            @GearRatio @EchoChaos
            Don’t Baptists believe that someone who was baptized only in childhood isn’t really baptized and goes to Hell? But then Lutherans (who also dig Sola Scriptura) don’t believe that at all and baptize their children without second thought. And they don’t look like the sort of people who’d believe that Jesus was an aardvark.

            If baptism is so important, why wouldn’t God encode something about it more redundantly into the Bible, as in “hey humans, this part is really important, here’s what you need to do”?

          • EchoChaos says:

            @eigenmoon

            Don’t Baptists believe that someone who was baptized only in childhood isn’t really baptized and goes to Hell?

            Short answer, no.

            https://billygraham.org/answer/is-baptism-necessary-for-salvation/

          • eigenmoon says:

            @EchoChaos

            Thanks, good to know.

            Still I’m not quite convinced that everybody interprets the Bible in the same way. For the question of how exactly the salvation in Jesus works, we have:
            Ransom theory
            Recapitulation theory
            Satisfaction theory
            Penal substitution
            Governmental theory
            Moral influence theory
            Moral example theory
            Christus Victor
            Embracement theory

            Isn’t that kind of important though?

            Then there’s the question of what Jesus saves us from. With Church of England proclaiming annihilationism (Hell is nonexistence) this question looks far from settled as well. Then there’s non-eternal Hell.

            Now it may very well be that none of this is essential for salvation. But given that nobody seems to know for sure what exactly (and from what) salvation is, I’m not sure what sense does it make to affirm that the Bible is sufficient for it.

          • Deiseach says:

            Don’t Baptists believe that someone who was baptized only in childhood isn’t really baptized and goes to Hell?

            To defend the Baptists on this, they hold to the necessity of informed consent 🙂 Indeed, for a long time, the Reformed/Protestants claimed that the Catholics were cruel and unmerciful, since they did not accept that babies and children who died young were in Heaven but that the lack of baptism would keep them out, and this was a reproach into modern times.

            Since most conversions in Early Christianity were of adults, they were the ones who were baptised after a period of initiation and instruction. As Christianity became commonplace, families of Christian believers came into being. What about the children of those families, in particular: what about children who died before they could be baptised, since baptism is what incorporates you into the Body of Christ, washes away Original Sin, and “in baptism we died with Christ” – “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”

            To answer that question, one strain of theology developed such propositions as Limbo. Another strain of theology developed among the Reformers in general and the Anabaptists, that baptism is an ordinance not a sacrament and not in itself a means of salvation, but faith is what saves. Baptism follows faith, and therefore infants cannot and should not be baptised, since they cannot profess faith for themselves (the Catholic answer to that is that you make your adult profession of faith at Confirmation but that’s getting into the long grass).

          • GearRatio says:

            @Eigenmoon

            Most of those differences in theory of salvation have to do with a minor behind-the-scenes splitting-hair difference, I.E. Christ was god and sacrificed himself for our sins and by faith we can access salvation through that sacrifice, but exactly what was the mechanism in which this worked in a spiritual mechanics sense?

            The remaining two that aren’t like that (moral example and shared atonement) aren’t views biblical literalists of the type asserting the literal truth of the bible above typically hold anyway, because they require pretty big stretches to get to if you have anything like a natural read.

            Most of these that are of the hair-splitting variety aren’t mutually exclusive, either.

            I don’t mean this in a mean way, but you don’t seem to have the depth of understanding of Christian beliefs necessary to know if things are actually contradictory to us, so you are pulling things that seem at a glance to be contradictory and saying “see? the book can’t be real if these things disagree” when they don’t disagree at all, or don’t disagree in significant or vital ways. On top of that, you are also pulling things that are likely to have been proposed by non-literalists and going “well, since these contradict literalism, it must not be true”.

            Meanwhile even if they were contradictory in big vital ways, the existence of a dozen or so contrary opinions still don’t mean the book can’t be true, so long as we live in a universe where it’s possible for a dozen people to have controversial but incorrect opinions. “People disagree on this” /= “there is an actual answer”.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @eigenmoon

            Still I’m not quite convinced that everybody interprets the Bible in the same way.

            I’m shocked, SHOCKED!

            In all seriousness, of course they don’t. That is expected because we’re all human.

            Which is why the core message “Repent and sin no more” is so hammered in, so that nobody can miss it. It’s very clear to everyone that is the core message, regardless of whether you disagree about when the immersion in water should happen, etc.

            For the question of how exactly the salvation in Jesus works, we have:

            A lot of wonderful theories that are no more relevant to the fact that it DOES work as the debate over relativity was to the fact that the force of gravity on earth was measurable.

            I can make a waterwheel without any idea of whether Aristotle was right that water falls because it is moving towards its natural place, Avicenna that it is due to permanent virtues, Newton that it is fundamental forces , Einstein’s view of warping spacetime or a weirder more accurate theory yet to be discovered.

            It’s important for complex subject that we understand exactly what is going on, and I love that discovery in both science and theology, but for “keeping you out of Hell”, the basics are very, VERY clear.

          • Lambert says:

            @Deiseach:

            Is there an upper limit on how long a sacrament takes?
            So your baptism starts when you’re christened and ends 16 or so years later when you’re confirmed.

            Do Catholic confirmations actually get you damp or is it just ‘I turn to Christ’ etc?

          • Deiseach says:

            Hello, Lambert.

            For Catholics, there are seven sacraments. Baptism, including infant baptism (the bone of contention in this particular interpretation) is something that is achieved and done correctly at the time (given that you follow the correct form) and it cannot be undone, since it makes an ontological change in the soul. That’s why the atheist campaigns with hairdryers were amusing (and intended to be so) but not practical. You can apostatise, you can formally defect, but you can’t de-baptise.

            “What about the formal declaration of faith by the individual?” said the denominations unaccepting of infant baptism, and that is what happens at Confirmation. You don’t get damp, you do get chrism on the brow (and it used to be a slap on the cheek by the bishop to signify the kind of trials a believer was supposed to be ready to endure, but they didn’t even do that in my day during the early 70s and I was kinda disappointed). Though also, the entire congregation recites the Renewal of the Baptismal Promises during the Easter Vigil, so if you’re a child attending Mass you’ll do this as well, and I think that counts.

            As Baptism is linked with the baptism of Jesus by John, so Confirmation is linked with Pentecost: it is the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit and does entail the descent of the Holy Spirit upon those confirmed.

            The Orthodox Churches, so far as I understand, administer Confirmation and the Eucharist immediately after Baptism because these are the three Sacraments of Initiation into the Christian life and the church. In the West, we hold off on Confirmation and the Eucharist until at least the age of reason (around seven years old) or later.

            Decent article here on Wikipedia about Confirmation. As ever, from the Catechism:

            1285 Baptism, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the “sacraments of Christian initiation,” whose unity must be safeguarded. It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace. For “by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.”

            1304 Like Baptism which it completes, Confirmation is given only once, for it too imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual mark, the “character,” which is the sign that Jesus Christ has marked a Christian with the seal of his Spirit by clothing him with power from on high so that he may be his witness.

          • eigenmoon says:

            @GearRatio
            At no point I’ve said anything like “see? the book can’t be real if these things disagree”. I’m saying that the book can be interpreted in a lot of significantly different ways. This is the opposite problem: if you have 15 equations over 10 variables, your system is overdetermined and most likely contradictory, but if you have 5 equations over 10 variables, your system is underdetermined and most likely has multiple solutions. You’re accusing me of not having the depth of understanding of Christian beliefs in the same sentence as you’re accusing me of saying that Bible is overdetermined, while what I’m saying is that it’s underdetermined. My point is essentially the same as the one Catholics advance all the time, except unlike Catholics I do not propose a solution.

            So for you “Jesus was sacrificed to Satan” vs. “Jesus was sacrificed to God” is a minor behind-the-scenes splitting-hair difference? Alright. I’ll quote you some criticism of Penal Substitution theory from Eastern Orthodox viewpoint (Recapitulation + Theosis):

            The “God” of the West is an offended and angry God, full of wrath for the disobedience of men, who desires in His destructive passion to torment all humanity unto eternity for their sins, unless He receives an infinite satisfaction for His offended pride.

            What is the Western dogma of salvation? Did not God kill God in order to satisfy His pride, which the Westerners euphemistically call justice? And is it not by this infinite satisfaction that He deigns to accept the salvation of some of us?

            What is salvation for Western theology? Is it not salvation from the wrath of God? 2

            Do you see, then, that Western theology teaches that our real danger and our real enemy is our Creator and God? Salvation, for Westerners, is to be saved from the hands of God!

            How can one love such a God? How can we have faith in someone we detest? Faith in its deeper essence is a product of love, therefore, it would be our desire that one who threatens us not even exist, especially when this threat is eternal.

            (I totally recommend the whole article btw.)
            Is that just some minor behind-the-scenes splitting-hair differences?

            @EchoChaos
            Yes, but what is sin? (And everybody has a different answer to that of course). If I refuse to sell my apartment and donate the money to the Church (which Church?), do I sin?

            @Deiseach
            O, Deiseach! Hi Deiseach!

            Here’s the perspective from which I look on Baptists and their funny baptism rules.

            Russian Old Believers have claimed that baptism is sacramental death (they bring Bible quotes to that effect), therefore it may only be done by submersion. So Eastern Orthodoxes baptized with pouring instead of submersion haven’t sacramentally died with Jesus and therefore aren’t baptized.

            The Eastern Orthodoxes, however, say that baptism is sacramental washing away the sins (and they bring Bible quotes to that effect). The water must move against the body of the baptized for it to work. Therefore pouring is a-OK but sprinkling as done by Catholics is beyond the pale.

            The Catholics seem to ignore such problems. Anyway, now they have Pachamama to worry about.

            The Baptists say that baptism is sacramental consent (and they bring Bible quotes to that effect), therefore whoever is baptized too young to give consent is not baptized. But at this point I can’t take this seriously anymore. I have a feeling that everybody is making this shit up as they go along.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @eigenmoon

            Well, there is an instruction book about what they are, but fortunately, Scripture covers that one too!

            Psalm 19:12 Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.

            People are bad at understanding their sins, and it is nearly certain that all of us will miss that something or other is in fact a sin, which is why we need forgiveness.

          • eigenmoon says:

            @EchoChaos
            Well, it’s easy to miss that something or other is in fact a sin when no definition of sin has been provided!

          • GearRatio says:

            So for you “Jesus was sacrificed to Satan” vs. “Jesus was sacrificed to God” is a minor behind-the-scenes splitting-hair difference? Alright. I’ll quote you some criticism of Penal Substitution theory from Eastern Orthodox viewpoint (Recapitulation + Theosis):

            Nope, you aren’t listening, and you have a shallow understanding of what a internal contradiction would be in relation to the bolded section 2. above. Let’s review:

            These writings alone constitute the verbally inspired Word of God, which is utterly authoritative and without error in the original writings, complete in its revelation of his will for salvation, sufficient for all that God requires us to believe and do, and final in its authority over every domain of knowledge to which it speaks.

            So here we have a guy saying that the word of god is authoritative, without error, complete in it’s revelation, sufficient and final in it’s authority. And then you bring in an orthodox viewpoint, and say, see? Contradictions! Big ones! If you agree with this, you can’t have this orthodox view!

            Except the orthodox DON’T agree with that; tradition is equal to the bible in their religion, if not superior; the Bible sprung out of tradition in their religion. Where the Bible and tradition clash, sometimes tradition wins for them and this is fine in their system, because it’s a different system that doesn’t buy the bolded section in the first place. But this isn’t the important part.

            So when you bring in a guy from a tradition that doesn’t believe in the absolute truth of the bible in the same way, it doesn’t really shock anybody or advance your argument that there’s these huge gaps that wouldn’t exist if the bible were absolute. It’s no more or less shocking than an atheist coming up with some different ideas. But this isn’t the important part.

            Meanwhile, you bring up a statement from a guy who misrepresents western dogma in significant ways; nowhere in our dogma is it suggested that God killed his son to satisfy shallow pride, for instance. So the part where you go “do these seem like hair splitting differences?”, yes, they still do, because your source for them not being so is a guy who strawmans our tradition as hard as he can like a Roman accusing us of worshiping donkeys. But this isn’t the important part.

            The two views generally result in very similar or identical methods a person follows to gain access to salvation; they think very much the same things about the deity of Christ. They aren’t even mutually contradictory; paying the devil his due and undoing the failure of Adam are not things that can’t both be done in a logically consistent system. I’d absolutely believe that somebody who believed in either system could be genuinely saved. But that’s not the important part.

            Here’s the important bit: Your premise is that the word can’t be literal or contain truth because consistencies in it’s interpretation exist.

            So let’s give you every posit you’ve made besides that; let’s say that a read of the Bible by lots of different folks has given dozens and dozens of hugely different and inconsistent views. Let’s say the orthodox believe in the bible the way the bolded section says to; let’s say all of these views are mutually contradictory and can’t all be true at the same time. Worst case scenario, let’s say that every living human who has read the bible has come to a completely different conclusion about everything in it.

            Now a story in layman’s language. Bob and Dave want to go to Cincinnati from Las Angeles; they have a map that says that claims that Chicago is east of LA. Bob comes to the conclusion they should go east; Dave comes to the conclusion that they should go to the coast, swim the Europe, and go roughly 17 miles north of Paris to get there. Bob and Dave argue about it, but Bob is incapable of convincing Dave.

            As we know, Cincinnati is rather east of Phoenix. Your argument is functionally identical to saying “Hey, Dave and Bob disagreed on what direction to go! That means the map can’t possible be an accurate document meant to be taken literally; it can’t contain the truth about the location of Chicago, or Bob and Dave would agree”. And you are right – unless Dave is stupid, or drunk, or didn’t look at the map very long, or doesn’t understand how maps work, or is spoiling for a fight, or has preexisting problems with Bob and doesn’t think Bob can be right about anything, or any of the many other reasons imperfect people sometimes disagree.

            The bolded section makes no claims that everyone will instantly or ever agree on every detail; what it says is that map is accurate. The primary difference is that we argue about what the book says rather than whether or not it says the right thing, or needs supplements, or can be outweighed by tradition/society/whatever.

            Now an SSC-friendly language story. On an instinctual level, I don’t like quantum physics; I suspect they are bullshit and people who buy real heavily into the whole Copenhagen wave collapse stuff are little better than mystics. I would looove to debunk the whole thing. There’s just one problem: I don’t understand quantum physics.

            So I’ll google for a bit trying to find a problem with quantum physics, and I’ll say something like “Oh, it changes when it’s observed, does it? Isn’t that overemphasizing your own importance a tad, chief? Why does it care about human eyes, again?” because I have a Wikipedia level knowledge of what I’m referencing. Later on I find out that “observation” actually has a defined meaning I didn’t know; it’s just interaction with the physical universe or something, it’s not what I thought it was, and the problem I thought was there wasn’t.

            It’s possible I am in the simplest of definitions correct that how we think about waveform collapse or whatever is wrong; like, science sometimes changes it’s views on things. But if I wanted to disprove it, I’d need to do more than troll google for 15 minutes looking for gotcha stuff I didn’t understand.

            There exist other people who think the standard view of quantum physics is wrong; they think there are multiple universes happening all the time and every time a waveform collapses another one springs into being (maybe: I don’t understand quantum physics). But notably this disagreement among them doesn’t mean that a correct answer doesn’t exist. Both parties think there’s an objective truth to be had somewhere in there; their answer for it isn’t “physics is wrong, or else we wouldn’t disagree” but rather “Let’s get us some more of that physics stuff until it’s settled”.

            I’m not saying this next part because I’m mean, I’m saying it because I don’t know how else to say it: I don’t think you understand Christian theology very well. The stuff you are bringing up as major conflicts typically aren’t considered crux issues in the faith, and they aren’t seen as lethal conflicts even by people who very firmly believe in the literal, absolute authority of the book.

            But more importantly, I don’t think you understand what argument you are trying to make, or else you wouldn’t be spending a lot of time telling me disagreements about how to read maps mean that maps must necessarily be assumed to be inaccurate, or that the fact that anyone bearing a map had ever been lost before meant that the contents of his map must be false.

          • Deiseach says:

            Hey, eigenmoon!

            Ah, the rubrics around baptism! This is where moral theology and canon law comes in, because once you’ve established your principles that’s all well and good, but how then do you put them into practice?

            Now, the original form of baptism was indeed by immersion (as per your Russian Old Believers, who are working on St Paul’s words of how in baptism we die with Christ and are then raised to new life by the power of God which resurrected Jesus. The baptismal font is thus both tomb and womb), and when baptisteries and fonts started to be built and used they were made large enough for an adult to be submerged in one, even down to mediaeval times.

            However, sometimes in the real world it’s not practical to baptise by immersion – you don’t have a river handy, or there is immediate necessity of baptism for some urgent reason. Hence, the getting into the details about “okay, so what are the bare minimum irreducible elements of a valid baptism?”. So – can a lay person baptise? Answer – yes, in such urgent cases. What are the form of words to be used – this one is very important, even if to an outsider it looks like nitpicking or hairsplitting over “is there really a difference between ‘Father Son and Spirit’ and ‘Creator Redeemer and Sustainer’ or ‘in the name of Jesus’ only?”. What do you use to baptise – it has to be water, and no, you can’t use any other liquids ‘in a pinch’.

            So you define your basics and then you go from there. If you can’t immerse, you pour (the water has to flow and has to touch the head), and if you can’t pour, you sprinkle (again, the water has to touch the person, not their clothing). This is not exactly “making it up as you’re going along”, it’s “oh sugarlumps, Marcus is too sick to bring down to the river or the baptismal font to baptise him but he wants to be baptised, well I guess we can pour water on his head and that will do instead of submerging his entire body” and other decisions that have to be made when practicalities bump up against the ideal.

            (There are such sub-topics as conditional baptism – if you’re not sure whether or not the person has been baptised before, or if their baptism was done correctly – and baptism of desire and baptism of blood but that’s more detail than we need to go into).

          • albatross11 says:

            One of the practical bits w.r.t. infant baptism these days is the health and strength of the priest. A squirming toddler being dipped in the baptismal font by a 70 year old priest isn’t going to work very well.

          • Nick says:

            @albatross11
            This is an excellent argument for more and younger priests.

          • Randy M says:

            I don’t have a firm view either way on submersion versus sprinkling, but I view baptism not dissimilar to circumcism (except for the bit about one being a NT sacrament and the other not). I don’t think the choice of my parents can impute righteousness or faith or belonging to me. It’s not an act of my own will submitting when I am baptized or circumcised as an infant; it may be a tribal marker or strengthen the community or whatever, but in my conception of God, as one who values individual choice, it can’t really impact my own salvation or be a testament to my own faith.

          • marshwiggle says:

            On the submersion vs sprinkling thing:

            Baptists prefer submersion, but I once saw a Baptist pastor use a bottle of water. To be fair, the baptism at the time was being practiced in a really cold lake, and the guy they sprinkled the water on was like 70 something. Submersion is a great symbol of death and all, but actually killing the guy would have gone a little too far…

            Also, props to Deisach for defending/explaining some of the relevant bits of the Baptist position.

          • Lambert says:

            Does that mean that Jesus got baptised partly in his own name?

          • Evan Þ says:

            @Lambert, Jesus got baptized by John the Baptist, whose baptism was a different thing than Christian baptism. Paul points out the difference in Acts 19:1-6, while insisting that some converts who had previously been baptized with John’s baptism get rebaptized. We don’t know for sure whose name John’s baptism was in, but the answer to your question is almost certainly not.

          • eigenmoon says:

            @GearRatio
            In my previous comment I wrote: “My point is essentially the same as the one Catholics advance all the time”, and you interpreted it thus: “Your premise is that the word can’t be literal or contain truth because consistencies in it’s interpretation exist”. What?! You’re putting words in my mouth and then complain that I don’t understand my own argument. Seriously!?

            What I’m saying is that different views on atonement produce vastly different psychological results. Some people feel that God is something like an invisible mafia boss constantly holding a gun to their head and demanding to recruit new people into the gang. Some people feel that as long as they aren’t total jerks and remember to say “sorry, God” when they screw up, God will surely let them into Heaven. Some people feel that Hell in its classic fire-and-brimstone form can’t possibly be organized by God. This is my answer to your saying that the differences between atonement theories are minor and hair-splitting: the differences can’t be minor if they lead to very different outlooks, regardless of your ability to believe in 10 theories at the same time.

            But then I simply have to bring somebody other than an Evangelical because Evangelicals are historically taught only Penal Substitution and maybe Satisfaction. You might say that that’s because those theories are in the Bible. But I would put it in this way, which you surely won’t like: the (somewhat funny) tradition to claim to interpret the Bible without any tradition has only developed within Western tradition, which is why everybody who claims to read the Bible without any tradition also happens to talk about atonement in the words of Saint Augustine.

            So I bring up this Kalomiros guy – and yes, he’s quite flippant and unkind to Western theology – but that’s kind of the point, as I want to show that it’s possible to interpret the Bible in a completely different way. He sees satisfaction of the Divine Justice to be a totally unnatural read of the Bible, and I think most EOs would agree with that. But you go full alarm – he believes in tradition! Close the windows and hide the children! Seriously though, tradition just boils down to people interpreting the Bible. What you put as “where the Bible and tradition clash, sometimes tradition wins for them” means that sometimes their tradition, unlike yours, refuses to interpret some verse literally. But I don’t believe this disqualifies them from holding opinions about atonement.

            they aren’t seen as lethal conflicts even by people who very firmly believe in the literal, absolute authority of the book.
            There could be a lot of reasons for that. For example, those who see those conflicts might cease to believe in the literal, absolute authority of the book. But I think that’s not what’s going on. I think that Evangelicals have entrenched themselves with excuses to not listen to anybody else – from “oh no, he has tradition” to “he was baptized in childhood, so he’s not baptized, so he has no Holy Spirit, so he can’t interpret the Bible properly”. That doesn’t look like an intellectually healthy position to be in.

            @Deiseach
            Thanks for clearing that up.

          • albatross11 says:

            Lambert:

            Every recursion needs a base case.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            @ Eigenmoon:

            So I bring up this Kalomiros guy – and yes, he’s quite flippant and unkind to Western theology – but that’s kind of the point, as I want to show that it’s possible to interpret the Bible in a completely different way. He sees satisfaction of the Divine Justice to be a totally unnatural read of the Bible, and I think most EOs would agree with that.

            I agree with your general point, but I don’t think this is the best example of it. It’s not just that he sees satisfaction of Divine Justice to be an unnatural reading of the Bible, it’s that he doesn’t seem to understand what proponents of the satisfaction theory actually mean.

          • eigenmoon says:

            @The original Mr. X
            OK, let me try another example: St. Isaac of Nineveh. Brock’s translation is not online but I quote from here. He doesn’t argue with Augustine because he doesn’t know him, and yet this looks to me as a passionate rejection of the satisfaction theory:

            For it would be most odious and utterly blasphemous to think that hate or resentment exists with God, even against demonic beings; or to imagine any other weakness, or passibility, or whatever else might be involved in the course of retribution of good or bad as applying, in a retributive way, to that glorious divine Nature. Rather, He acts towards us in ways He knows will be advantageous to us, whether by way of things that cause suffering, or by way of things that cause relief, whether they cause joy or grief, whether they are insignificant or glorious: all are directed towards the single eternal good, whether each receives judgement or something of glory from Him—not by way of retribution, far from it!—but with a view to the advantage that is going to come from all these things.

            That we should further say or think that the matter is not full of love and mingled with compassion would be an opinion full of blasphemy and insult to our Lord God. By saying that He will even hand us over to burning for the sake of sufferings, torment and all sorts of ills, we are attributing to the divine Nature an enmity towards the very rational being which He created through grace; the same is true if we say that He acts or thinks with spite and with a vengeful purpose, as though He was avenging Himself.

    • smocc says:

      Responding as a Latter-day Saint.

      I don’t really know what you mean by “is this statement a manifestation of the Great Apostasy?” Do you mean whether I disagree with it or do you mean something else?

      To Latter-day Saints the notion of a Great Apostasy has two aspects, one more important than the other. The first, less important idea is that some truths about God were lost or distorted some time after the establishment of the early church. The second idea is that the priesthood authority or “keys” that Christ gave to the church through the first apostles was lost. That power included both the authority to receive continuing revelation and also the authority to perform necessary ordinances like baptism and the laying on of hands to give the gift of the Holy Ghost.

      Note that the second idea all but implies the first idea; for example, a huge portion of the New Testament is the writers warning against false teachers creeping in.

      I think it is important to clarify that Latter-day Saints do not reach the conclusion that a Great Apostasy occurred by historical argument or hermeneutics or whatever. We believe in the model Joseph Smith followed. He read James 1:5, “if any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God.” He wanted to know which of the competing churches in his area he should join, so he prayed about it and he received a vision of the Father and the Son telling him that none of them were true and that he should join none of them. Everything else followed from that. Latter-day Saints are taught to pray about the truth of this claim for ourselves and get their own answers. Everything we teach — and any way we interpret scripture — starts from that foundation.

      • DragonMilk says:

        The term Great Apostasy is also used in Protestantism generally to argue against Catholicism, and in your description, moreso due to truth distortion/cultural adaptation than being lost.

        What’s interesting me is the divergence in approaches – the reformed tradition hones in on the “original” 66 books of the bible (see above comments regarding deuterocanonical stuff as well as statement iteself). There is a lot of emphasis on sufficiency and not adding to what’s there.

        I learned from the last thread on contemplating a move to Utah that Mormons consider it foolish to do what is described and to think that the Bible alone is sufficient. I also learned that mormons also believe it is not inerrant as protestants do.

        • smocc says:

          Latter-day Saints are in an interesting place with regard to the Protestant / Catholic divide. We agree with Protestants that the Catholic church diverged from the truth in various ways and does not actually still hold the authority of Peter that they claim to hold. But we agree with Catholics that scripture alone is sufficient and also that properly bestowed priesthood authority is necessary.

          By the way I want to emphasize that very few Latter-day Saints will think that you are a fool if you don’t agree with them. Like, no one is going to be muttering “What an idiot!” under their breath when your back is turned.* As I said, our conclusions don’t come from us thinking we are the smartest interpreters of scripture, but from a miraculous revelation that we feel lucky enough to have heard about, and that usually leads to humility when dealing with other religious beliefs. I recall reading that the book “American Grace” found that while Mormons are viewed relatively negatively by most other religious groups, Mormons view other religious groups relatively positively.

          *As long as you don’t go full anti-Mormon and constantly bring up tired criticisms that don’t accurately represent their beliefs without ever engaging with what they have to say. This happens and pretty much every member of the church has dealt with it.

          • DragonMilk says:

            As you may have noticed from the prior thread, I may be non-offensive/non-judgmental to a fault when engaging those with a different world view than my own.

            Mind you, that doesn’t mean I don’t have plenty of offensive/judgmental thoughts! I simply am generally reluctant to share them! 😀

            Jokes aside, given all the things that others say about Mormons (including the play Book of Mormon, which I did not actually enjoy at all), I figure I should hear about what Mormons believe…from Mormons. I don’t think it quite fair to just take what non-Mormons say any more than I would think it fair to be convinced I know all about what Catholics think from a Protestant or what a Baptist thinks from a Jew.

    • Soy Lecithin says:

      I’m a Latter-day Saint and took a look at those confessional statements. I can’t guarantee that I fully appreciate all the wording, as I imagine it’s informed by denominational disagreements that maybe aren’t as salient to the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Anyway, after a single read-through, I’d affirm 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, and 13, with some clarifications.

      I’d deny 2 because of the language “these writings alone….” Also I don’t know what “final in its authority over every domain of knowledge to which it speaks” means to the authors of the statement, and “without error in the original writings” makes me want to ask for examples of specific things which are held to be errors by some but not by the statement authors.

      As to your question, I believe the closure of the scriptural canon is a manifestation of apostasy. The pattern seen in the Bible is that God guides his people through revelation to his servants. His words to us through his servants are scripture. To Latter-day Saints, an important aspect of Christ being the Head of the church is that he continues to guide it through revelation even today.

      I don’t fully understand parts of 11. In any case, I believe Christ’s Church is distinguished by a specific God-given authority which includes, for example, the key’s given to Peter in Matthew 16, the authority bestowed upon Matthias (Acts 1:20-26), and the authority to give the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands that Phillip the Deacon maybe didn’t have but Peter and John did (Acts 8:12-17).

      On 3, our spirits and bodies were both created by God, but there is an aspect that is not created which we call “intelligences.” Also, our picture of creation is more that of God organizing things out of chaos, rather than things popping into existence ex nihilo or things living “in the mind of God”.

      On 4, I’d clarify that our condemnation to spiritual death is from our own individual sins, not Adam’s, though Adam’s made possible the conditions by which we can (and do, obviously) sin.

      On 7, I don’t know what “two natures” signifies and I’m guessing that’s tied to a historical theological disagreement I don’t know much about.

      On 13, we have a different picture of what Hell means (or doesn’t mean) from the traditional one. Also, we believe that there will be a millennium of peace between Christ’s second coming and the final judgment of all.

      To all of these I’d probably add things, and I’d definitely word them in different language.

      • Evan Þ says:

        Can you expand more on the notion of “intelligences” not being created by God?

        The statement of Christ’s “two natures” is indeed tied to the Monophysite Controversy surrounding the Council of Chalcedon. Briefly, it means that Christ is both fully God and fully man – He isn’t a blend of both, but He has both distinct “natures.”

        • DragonMilk says:

          To expand on this, it’s to clarify that Jesus isn’t a demigod like in Greek traditions where Zeus or some other God copulates with a mortal and produces Heracles and the like.

          • eigenmoon says:

            At no point did the non-Chalcedon churches (Ethiopian, Coptic (Egyptian), Armenian and West Syriac) believe anything remotely like that.

            From the clarification by Coptic Pope Shenouda III:

            The expression “One Nature” does not indicate the Divine
            nature alone nor the human nature alone, but it indicates
            the unity of both natures into One Nature which is “The
            Nature of the Incarnate Logos”.

      • DragonMilk says:

        Some thoughts below:

        2) Regarding without error, it is pushing back against the argument that due to human fallibility, translations plus time will inevitably introduce mistakes in the Bible. Among other things, Protestants believe that if God is active and personal, this activity also involves actively protecting his word (special revelation). Any new insights serve only to clarify what God has already said rather than add to doctrine.

        11) The emphasis is on the church community rather than individuals, essentially stemming from Jesus’ first coming fulfilling the scriptures and his death creating the new covenant. While the old covenant was with the Jews, the new one is for all peoples, and so the church is also for all nations, etc., and those who are part of it should live distinctively.

        3) What is the scriptural basis for “intelligences”?

        4) Interesting – so hypothetically, is it possible for a person to live a perfect life?

        7) This is one of those apparent contradictions like fate vs. free will and the trinity itself – as it says in John, Jesus, being God, created all things, and yet the Incarnation meant that he humbled himself to be completely human (yet still completely God). Some people point to light as a particle and wave as an apparent contradiction, but I’m not sure how well the analogy fits. Practically, it means Jesus can empathize with suffering since he was fully human and suffered quite a bit.

        13) So unlike the Greek notion of the afterlife, the resurrection means that people don’t just drift off into some spirit world, but instead will eventually be given new bodies in a new heaven/earth wombo combo.

        Are there important doctrines of the LDS that are missing from these 13?

        • Soy Lecithin says:

          4) That is what Jesus did. He was tempted just as we are yet was perfectly obedient, whereas we inevitably fail and commit sin under similar conditions.

          7) The clarification from Evan is helpful. Yes, I believe that Christ is both fully God and fully man. The point of Christ empathizing with humans is elaborated on in the Book of Mormon.

          13) Indeed, we believe resurrection consists of new bodies in a new heaven and earth, not just something like the continuation of our spirits.

          2) I could imagine God taking such an active role in preserving scripture. God preserving scripture is a theme, in fact, throughout the Book of Mormon. So is the creation of scripture.

          3) It’s not explicit in the Bible. The Doctrine and Covenants and the Book of Abraham say a bit about intelligences. These mention them as the metaphysical objects underlying our agency and the uncreated aspects of our spirits and physical bodies. I don’t know if the idea ever gets fully fleshed out (hehe).

          There are definitely important doctrines not on the list, for some value of the word important. The most important is covered, however, namely Jesus Christ’s divinity and role as Savior. What we take to be the core principles of the Gospel are faith in Christ, repentance, baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost. On each of these I imagine we’d differ on the details, but the statements seem like reasonable descriptions to me.

          • Deiseach says:

            3) It’s not explicit in the Bible. The Doctrine and Covenants and the Book of Abraham say a bit about intelligences. These mention them as the metaphysical objects underlying our agency and the uncreated aspects of our spirits and physical bodies. I don’t know if the idea ever gets fully fleshed out (hehe).

            Drat it, I should really go to the source documents before I comment on this, but on a cursory reading it sounds awfully like smuggling in a version of Aquinas’ classification of souls: the rational, sensitive and vegetative souls (which he in turn, of course, got from Greek and other philosophers).

            Which is not to say that this refers to the soul or souls, as such, but indeed something more akin to the “spirit, soul and body” definition derived from St Paul, with an admixture (perhaps) of the metaphysical notion of intelligences (as derived via Averroes from Aristotle, and exceedingly confusing).

    • To David, does this clarify the role of the Bible for TGC-type Christians, and is it what you mean by literalist?

      My only quibble would be “in the original writings.” Taken literally, that permits the argument that the gospels in the form we now have them are not the original writings—I gather there is scholarly debate about which ones were written when, with some arguments implying that some of what we have was written after the lifetime of the apostles.

      But my guess is that that isn’t what the phrase is intended to suggest, and that aside it is what I mean by literalist.

      • Evan Þ says:

        What they’re talking about (I’ve seen a dozen or more similar Evangelical doctrinal statements) is distinguishing the English/Latin/Spanish/whatever translations from the original Greek/Hebrew/Aramaic, and distinguishing the copied Greek/Hebrew/Aramaic texts from the originals. Evangelicals definitely acknowledge translation errors and copyists’ errors; it’d be very difficult not to.

        So, it’s quite within bounds to say “An ancient copyist made a mistake in copying this verse of the Gospel of John,” or even “An ancient copyist wrongly inserted this short passage in the Gospel of John.” What this statement is excluding is the claim “The Gospel of John was originally written a generation or two later, so there were errors and mistakes in its original text before any copyists got to it.”

        I myself completely agree with this point of the doctrinal statement.

        • Once you concede that every document you can access might contain errors of transcription, aren’t you back with the problem that was offered to me in the earlier long thread—that you can transform the actual teaching into what you want it to say?

          I thought the argument that was being offered there was that God not only controlled the original writing to make sure it was correct, he also controlled the process by which it got to us.

          • DragonMilk says:

            I may have a different view on the matter. Many churches, the ones I attend included, require the head pastor to have a seminary degree from a gospel-focused seminary that requires literacy in both Greek and Hebrew. That is so ambiguities that may emerge in translations say to…English can be clarified. Just like Les Mis, War and Peace, or Don Quixote “lose” certain depth when translated to English, particularly idioms, so too can the Bible, not because the originals aren’t true, but by the very nature of translation.

            Two main approaches are then word for word translations, and also thought-for-thought translations. None of these challenges in translation negates the overall “2” that I mentioned in the root post.

            And so I had not considered myself a literalist because I don’t understand the nuances of certain confusing parts well enough. This doesn’t make these parts untrue, I just don’t have a full understanding of them. For instance, I’m told Genesis 1 is a poem and therefore should not be taken literally, but there was no error in transcription in that poem as I trust that God is able to protect his message. Likewise, the “everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial” is not Paul giving Christian advice, but him repeating a popular viewpoint of the Greeks (Corinthians) he was preaching to at the time in order to rebut it.

            This is all to say that I believe that if I dig deep enough into any section, I better understand the context and the truth is better revealed. But this is very different from some lads slapping some disparate texts together and deeming them holy, and purposely making parts ambiguous so that there’s wiggle room to argue everything is consistent, which is a viewpoint that “2” is definitely against.

            And so I’d hold your horses on any perceived elephant in the room as that may get someone’s goat about what they consider a sacred cow. It may be easy to dismiss the Bible as a cock and bull story that doesn’t have all its ducks in a row and whose authenticity is a hot potato. I’m generally too much of a couch potato to beef up my argument further, though, and will take with a grain of salt those that have a bone to pick and always seem to have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed when it comes to talking about Christianity.

            I would well struggle to translate my last paragraph word for word to Chinese, but that wouldn’t mean I spoke that paragraph in error. By the way, if you clicked on either of the links in my post, do know I generally read the ESV and therefore never thought myself literalist in the literal sense.

          • Evan Þ says:

            Yes, God controlled the process by which the Scripture was passed down to us. He didn’t control it to the point where there’re absolutely no copyists’ errors – we can see that just by comparing ancient manuscripts to each other. However, He guided the process of transmission so that we can be morally certain of what the text says on just about any point of doctrine.

            For one example, in Ephesians 1:1, does Paul address the letter to “the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful,” or to “the saints who are faithful”? Some manuscripts say each; some copyist must’ve left out or inserted something. It’s an interesting historical question (was it to an individual church or a broad group of churches?) but it affects absolutely no point of doctrine.

            For another example, in Jude 5, does Jude say it was “Jesus” or “the Lord” who “saved a people out of the land of Egypt”? Some manuscripts say each; some scribe must’ve changed the original word. This might have some implications for exactly how the persons of the Trinity relate to each other, but it’s extremely minor if anything.

            But if you want to argue that Jesus isn’t fully God, or that He isn’t the only way to salvation… well, none of the textual questions in the Bible will get you anywhere toward that. You can claim it’s been corrupted even more than we have any evidence of (I believe Mohammad made this claim?), but – well – there’s absolutely no evidence to support this.

            So in short, I’m not sure how this reintroduces that problem?

          • So in short, I’m not sure how this reintroduces that problem?

            The argument offered to me, as I understood it, was that once you allowed the possibility of any error in the text and relied on your own reason to figure what was true and what was not, you could water down doctrines that you didn’t want to believe. If I remember correctly, that thread started with my raising the question of whether Paul’s letters counted as certain truth. Any particular statement in the letters might be due to the sort of accidental error you mentioned or to a transmitter adding what he thought Paul must have meant. So if you don’t want to believe something, you have an excuse not to.

            It would be hard to apply that approach to the sort of central doctrines you mention, but it might be useful if one wanted to argue that homosexual acts were not sinful, or reject some other doctrinal view that clashed with current attitudes.

          • marshwiggle says:

            David, I think you are wrong here. This is a rare area where I’ve got substantial expertise you don’t. Textual differences are not really an issue. The text of the New Testament originals is quite well established. Everyone from the Gospel Coalition to atheist scholars agree almost fully on the exact text of the originals. To put it another way, if dndrsn and I ever get around to arguing again, we are unlikely to disagree about the text of any verse of the Greek New Testament in question. That is because we have enough copies of the right kinds to use well agreed on methods, not doctrinal bias. Textual criticism excuses not to believe something are almost a complete nonissue in the New Testament, at least for anyone with the ability to read the Greek.

            Even in the Hebrew Bible, where we don’t have exact agreement on the exact text, the differences really don’t cause doctrinal disagreement. Like, the worst issue I know about off hand is the number of years the first king, Saul, reigned for. Not a completely unimportant issue – but not one people are likely to disagree on because of doctrinal or moral bias.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @marshwiggle:

            Textual differences are not really an issue. The text of the New Testament originals is quite well established.

            For 99+% of the differences this is true. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t important doctrinal issues imported by differences in copies. We have, IIRC, more differences in just the surviving Greek texts than we have words in the texts, so it’s not surprising that both can be true.

            And then you have the whole issue that it’s only in fairly modern times that many of these errors came to light. It’s only within the last few hundred years that anyone even attempted to put the Greek texts side by side with other languages, and that revealed some of these issues.

            I’ll try to come up with some specific examples, but I’ll just be drawing from Ehrman.

          • marshwiggle says:

            Yes. I was talking about the modern scholarship about what the original Greek manuscripts said. Not about any time at least one ancient copy differs from another. And not about differences between modern scholarship and the texts that the King James Bible was translated from.

            My claim is that we now have good reason to think we know almost all of the original words of the Greek New Testament, and that a large majority of all kinds of scholars on the issue agree with this. Almost all of the remaining scholarly disagreements about the text do not constitute major differences in doctrine.

            I would be happy to jump into the details of any scholarly disagreements about what the original text said. They would be great illustrations of the principles by which scholars decide what the original text said.

            And yes, hundreds of years ago even educated people were likely to be working from texts with real differences from the originals. The good thing is, the Bible tends to repeat itself about important doctrines. A lot. So even people who had incorrect texts had access to the important stuff.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @marshwiggle:

            My claim is that we now have good reason to think we know almost all of the original words of the Greek New Testament, and that a large majority of all kinds of scholars on the issue agree with this.

            It’s all fine and good for this to be the case if you take the Catholic approach, that the Bible is just another inherently flawed work of man. Pay attention to the forest, the trees don’t matter too much on their own.

            But it directly contradicts the idea that God somehow protected His Word. From a Biblical literalist perspective, this makes no sense. Unless God was giving a hearty “fuck you” to people for about 2000 years after his only begotten son was born, suffered and died for our sins.

          • marshwiggle says:

            I don’t think that quite follows. First, God doesn’t require an exact knowledge of the Greek and Hebrew texts. If He did, we’d pretty much all be doomed, with the possible exception of my Hebrew prof and a few people like him. Most people have to make do with translations, or even some guy who has never seen a Bible faithfully recounting the things he does know. God knows how to use that to get done what He wants done, including but not limited to bringing people to a saving knowledge of Himself.

            The King James version and the Vulgate are… not the best translations. And yet, reading the works of people who only used one or the other of those, I meet recognizably Christian people. People believing more or less what I do. People trying to be faithful to the text they had, and coming to roughly the same conclusions about what that means. That looks totally consistent with God sufficiently protecting his word to get done what he wanted to get done.

            Perhaps an analogy might help.

            Most SSC people think there are true laws of physics.
            Some of us here have seen the Standard Model equations and could read them.
            Most of the rest of you know they exist, and have seen translations into English.

            The Standard model has differences with the true laws, but mostly that doesn’t make a difference.
            The translations have bigger differences, but they are enough to get done what people need done. Still, it’s good to have physicists around if only to keep certain kinds of ignorance partially in check.

            None of those differences provides warrant to believe the true laws don’t exist or fail to be true in some real sense.

            It would still make sense to say, yes, the true laws are, well, the actual laws of physics. It also still makes total sense to say that the laws as we know them are useful enough for anything we’re at all likely to do.

            In the same way, the original manuscripts are entirely true. And yet, one does not need to have the exact manuscripts. Our current knowledge of them is really close. And for most purposes, translations into English and so on are good enough.

            As a fun mental game, see how many of the arguments in this thread, if applied to the laws of physics and things people have said about those laws, would imply there are no true laws of physics, or that they can’t be discovered, or that nothing usable in the general direction of physics is even possible.

          • Evan Þ says:

            I agree with everything marshwiggle said in his latest post.

            @HeelBearCub, I have never encountered your claim that there’re “important doctrinal issues imported by differences in copies” defended by anyone familiar with the details of what differences there are. (Except by Jehovah’s Witnesses using motivated reasoning to claim the Trinity falls on the basis of 1 John 5:7.) As far as I can see, there aren’t any. Even Ehrman, in my brief acquaintance with his works, typically argues from silence and history rather than actual differences between surviving texts. Can you please give some examples of specific doctrines that depend on specific manuscript differences?

            Also, contrary to what you say, textual differences were known back into the ancient period. For one prominent example, Erasmus’s choice of the Byzantine text (aka “Textus Receptus”) for his Greek New Testament was roundly (and IMO correctly) attacked as inferior.

            Are you perhaps confusing textual criticism with form criticism, which did arise in modern times and does affect important doctrinal issues? I dispute the value of form criticism for broadly the same reasons as C. S. Lewis and Richard Bauckham – to wit, that it would yield nonsensical results if applied to any other text including those with known history; and that there was very likely no such lengthy time when individual stories were handed down only by oral tradition.

          • I obviously know less about the textual history than several people commenting on it, so a simple question:

            What was the sequence of events by which Paul’s letters became a part of the New Testament? Is there a surviving text written by Paul? A first generation copy of such a text?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Evan Þ:

            IF you have a spare 90 minutes, this is a nice lecture to listen to. It’s Bart Ehrman, I think as a guest lecturer in promotion of his book “Misquoting Jesus”.

            At 15:24 he starts talking about John Mill, an Oxford scholar who, in 1707, produced a printed comprehensive Greek New Testament. Mill looked at every known copy in Greek at the time, produced his version based on all those texts, but cited all of the signigicant differences between the copies. There were 30,000 differences in the manuscripts he considered significant. Not all the differences he found, just those he considered significant. And that was only with 100 Greek manuscripts available. We have over 5700 known Greek manuscripts today.

            At 18:50, he makes the point that almost all the differences are completely insignificant. Most of the differences are things like spelling errors, the kind of differences that aren’t even translatable.

            Some of them are more significant, like leaving out complete lines (especially if you have two lines that end in the same words – i.e. parablepsis occasioned by homoeoteleuton), or complete pages. Not particularly a problem … unless the copy you are reading is missing those lines or pages.

            At 24:28 he starts talking about changes that aren’t simple slips of the pen, but rather change the text in meaningful ways (and are likely to be, at least some of the time, intentional).

            Mark Chapter 1: In the original text we find “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way””. The problem being that the quote is NOT from Isiah, but from Exodus. So later manuscripts all omit the reference to Isiah.

            Luke Chapter 2: The original text says that Mary says to Jesus “Your father and I have been looking all over for you”. Some later manuscripts, seeing that this calls into question the idea of Jesus being born of a virgin, substitute the words “We have been looking all over for you”.

            Mathew, 24:36: The original text says “”But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Later manuscripts remove “nor the son” so as to remove Jesus claiming ignorance of when the apocalypse will come.

            John 7 and 8, The story of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery: This is the one that has the line “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. It’s not originally in the Greek manuscripts and no mention is made of it until about 1000 CE.

            Gospel of Mark: The original manuscript ends with “and the women fled from the tomb and they didn’t say anything to anyone for they were afraid.” Twelve verses were added later, which specify things like Jesus saying people will be able to speak in foreign languages, handle deadly snakes and drink poison without being harmed.

            Those verses are where we get snake handling and speaking in tongues.

            Ehrman goes on for another about an hour in this vein, although a big chunk of that is Q&A.

          • marshwiggle says:

            David Friedman:

            How anything became considered Scripture isn’t exactly a small topic, and I’ve got pastor stuff to do taking up time. It’s been touched on briefly by others already too. I may take it up later.

            There is no surviving copy of Paul’s originals. I think our earliest copy for a lot of Paul’s work is papyrus 46, which is easily more than a century after Paul died. And it has holes in it. That is why we have to reconstruct the originals as the text which would explain the words, relationships, and places of the copies we do have.

            Heel Bear Cub:

            Do you even know which of those, if any, are differences between scholars today about what the original text said, and which are merely differences between ancient copies? (recall the distinction I made above). If you don’t even know that much about the differences, why are you pressing them as evidence of anything? And what exactly are you pressing them as evidence for? Do you want me to get into detail about any particular one of those differences?

          • @Marshwiggle

            Thank you.

            You are indeed a very respectawiggle.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @marshwiggle:
            Note that I directed that comment to Evan who claimed they had never head of any of any differences that were important enough to be doctrinal.

            Do you even know which of those, if any, are differences between scholars today about what the original text said, and which are merely differences between ancient copies?

            You can go look at the video if you need more detail in specifically what is being referred to, but the differences I highlighted are all later (adopted) differences from earlier text. Whether today’s scholars have now successfully removed these passages (it will depend on which Bible you are looking at) doesn’t really address the issue of whether the text can be regarded as the inerrant word of God.

            Again, here I am merely highlighting one issue with textual literalism, not attacking the very premise of faith.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @HeelBearCub, I have heard of all the differences you’re listing. Yes, they were most likely changed by scribes in an attempt to reinforce doctrine, which’s probably where we get some other differences like 1 John 5:7 from as well. But what I was saying is that no doctrine in itself stands or falls on the basis of Mary calling Joseph Jesus’ father, or Jesus saying “let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” or any of the other textual differences I’ve heard of. Sure, under one reading you can point to several new verses where (for example) Jesus is clearly called God – but even without them, the Bible still clearly says He’s God.

            (Except snake-handling. Okay, I’ll grant you that doctrine falls if you remove the Longer Ending of Mark, as I believe is correct.)

            Do you have any examples of textual differences that actually cause doctrines to fall? I haven’t heard of anything that matters in that way. I suppose Matthew 24:36 where (in some manuscripts) Jesus claims ignorance of the date of His return would have meaningful bearing on the doctrine of the Incarnation; is there anything more significant?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Evan:

            Except snake-handling. Okay, I’ll grant you that doctrine falls if you remove the Longer Ending of Mark, as I believe is correct.

            Do you have any examples of textual differences that actually cause doctrines to fall?

            Again, I’m just attacking inerrancy. One is enough.

            That said, it’s not “He who is without sin” that isn’t there. The entire story is a later addition. You think that’s not germane? Given that an entire interaction was successfully added to the Bible 1000 years after, why would we believe that other stories are accurately told?

            Especially when the the added part of Mark, the one you already admit is doctrinally significant, is added in ways to prevent Mark contradicting Mathew, Luke and John. You don’t think this affects doctrine?

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            John 7 and 8, The story of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery: This is the one that has the line “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. It’s not originally in the Greek manuscripts and no mention is made of it until about 1000 CE.

            This is simply wrong. While it’s undisputed that the author of this pericope is not the author of the rest of John’s Gospel, it’s not that late by half. Codex Bezae contains it (~400 AD), which is unsurprising as both Leo the Great and Augustine cited it in the 400s.
            What’s more surprising is that the story was being cited as moral precedent before it made it into John’s Gospel. The Syriac Didascalia Apostolorum, composed in the mid-200s, says “for you do not obey our Savior and our God, to do as He also did with her that had sinned, whom the elders set before Him, and leaving the judgment in His hands, departed. But He, the searcher of hearts, asked her and said to her, ‘Have the elders condemned thee, my daughter?’ She said to Him, ‘No, Lord.’ And He said unto her, ‘Go your way; neither do I condemn thee.’ In Him therefore, our Savior and King and God, be your pattern, O bishops.”

            Maybe you are correct that this is still doctrinally significant for “complete and inerrant in the original autographs” Protestants, but your facts were in error.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Le Maistre Chat:
            Sorry, Ehrman is saying no mention is made of it being in John until the 10th century.

            ETA: and just to be clear, that means it also wasn’t in The Bible, as the story only appears in John.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @HeelBearCub, that could count if you were talking to someone who believed in snake-handling. I don’t, and I don’t think anyone else here does either. So, “some people believe in this text that isn’t really part of the original Gospel, and because of that they believe in snake-handling” doesn’t count as a doctrine found in the Bible any more than “some other people believe in this Council that isn’t part of the Bible, and because of that they believe in Papal infallibility.” I don’t believe in the Pope, the Vatican Council, the Longer Ending of Mark, or snake-handling.

            Throw them all out; they’re all added doctrines. What’s left holds together.

          • @Evan Þ:
            The relevant question, at least from the standpoint of my part of the discussion, is whether, if you wanted to believe in one or more of those things, you could reasonably persuade yourself that they were in the Bible.

            I thought the argument for accepting Biblical inerrancy was that it avoided having to make judgement calls on what God commanded, and so inoculated the believer from the temptation to distort revelation in the direction of what he wanted to believe.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            @ HBC:

            It’s all fine and good for this to be the case if you take the Catholic approach, that the Bible is just another inherently flawed work of man.

            That’s not the Catholic approach. Cf. Dei Verbum 11:

            11. Those divinely revealed realities which are contained and presented in Sacred Scripture have been committed to writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For holy mother Church, relying on the belief of the Apostles (see John 20:31; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-20, 3:15-16), holds that the books of both the Old and New Testaments in their entirety, with all their parts, are sacred and canonical because written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.(1) In composing the sacred books, God chose men and while employed by Him (2) they made use of their powers and abilities, so that with Him acting in them and through them, (3) they, as true authors, consigned to writing everything and only those things which He wanted. (4)
            Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings (5) for the sake of salvation. Therefore “all Scripture is divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind” (2 Tim. 3:16-17, Greek text).

            Sorry, Ehrman is saying no mention is made of it being in John until the 10th century.

            So what? As LMC said, it’s in the Codex Bezae, which dates to the fifth century. So we know it was included in (at least some manuscripts of) John by at least that date, whether or not anybody at the time explicitly mentions it being in John.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Evan:
            It’s no big deal, unless you think The Bible is inerrant an unchanging and God protects his word. These aren’t small typos.

            @The original Mr. X:
            Huh. I had thought the idea of the text as both divine, but also subject to the fallibility of man was pretty standard teaching.

            But it looks like I’m more wrong than right on that. Certainly however, it’s quite complex (with apparently competing interpretations with the church itself), or we wouldn’t have a synod of bishops saying in 2008 (my emphasis):

            [T]he following can be said with certainty . . . with regards to what might be inspired in the many parts of Sacred Scripture, inerrancy applies only to ‘that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation’ (DV 11).

          • Dack says:

            @David

            I thought the argument for accepting Biblical inerrancy was that it avoided having to make judgement calls on what God commanded, and so inoculated the believer from the temptation to distort revelation in the direction of what he wanted to believe.

            Inerrancy does not equal literalism.

    • Deiseach says:

      I want to go off at a tangent and say unironically, non-jokingly and with all sincerity: DragonMilk, I love you, brother.

      This entire sub-thread is giving me very pleasant memories of doing the “Catholic explains Weird Catholic Stuff – What Is That And Why? to civilly-discoursing Protestants who may not be in total agreement, seeing as many come out of an Evangelical background, but at least are honestly curious” bit I did some years back (given that I cannot resist running my goddamn mouth on the Internet). Ah, amateur theology is all fun and games until somebody loses an eye! Or the Inquisition happens, whichever comes first 😉

  6. Compare and contrast cyberpunk poverty versus actual poverty. You can also draw a distinction between absolute poverty as it exists in the third world and relative poverty in the first.

    • Clutzy says:

      Vox could improve their content tenfold by enabling comments!

      • Theodoric says:

        Probably the same reason many news/commentary sites eliminated their comments section: They are worried that the comments will deviate from the narrative.

        • NostalgiaForInfinity says:

          That is not why many media companies eliminated comments. They are hugely expensive to moderate.

        • They are hugely expensive to moderate.

          If you want to eliminate all the comments that don’t stick to the narrative, sure. But how expensive is it just to moderate for spam and such?

      • GearRatio says:

        I used to write in a very minor, unpaid and almost non-existent way very for The Atlantic, in a section called “Notes”. Notes was conceived to be a kind of curated discussion forum; take the high-effort effort-post kind of people and showcase them, take the better of the outraged people who disagree with them, and just keep a nice productive discourse going. He was to my eyes and by his own description a fairly typical life-long liberal, but he was incredibly fair and even-handed with how he ran things. That’s coming from me, and I’m fairly conservative (much more so then).

        This was RIGHT after the era when Ta-Nehisi Coates used to value dialogue before he went another direction. On paper, The Atlantic LOVED this. and it was uber successful; there were times when it was the most viewed content on The Atlantic for weeks running – I’m talking two weeks at the top of the most viewed list, just killing it.

        The Atlantic responded to this by gutting it; they did their best to de-emphasize it on the front page, withheld resources/help from it, made the guy running it at the time do it solo without the promised personnel the growth was supposed to bring, that sort of thing. Eventually they gave it to James Fallows, who for a while kept the “discussion” part of it by running a strongman/weakman shell game, making his preferred “side” consistently “win”. Nowadays it’s just his and his wife’s personal blog about flying airplanes and staying in nice hotels.

        Anyway, the deal is that comments were nice and all when commenters were calling W a nazi and there was a sustainable left-leaning bent to them; it’s hard to find that anymore and for the most part the vocal internet leans republican. As soon as that was the case, comments sections were doomed, even high-quality curated ones. There’s no point in having something that works against your preferred goal, so they don’t.

      • NostalgiaForInfinity says:

        Probably the cost of moderation. Comment threads will be huge on high traffic websites.

      • Aftagley says:

        Some Blogger did an article a while back explaining why all these comment threads were being shut down and why he was shutting down a portion of his commenting.

        I found his argument that it’s not all some lefty hatred of discourse persuasive.

        • Matt M says:

          Yeah, my read of that post is that while it wasn’t all some lefty hatred of discourse, that “lefty hatred of discourse” was definitely a significant contributing factor…

  7. proyas says:

    Why is Trump’s new mantra “Read the transcript!”?

    After reading it, I thought it confirmed the accusations against him and was highly damaging. I just re-read it and was unmoved from my original impression.

    Am I missing something?

    • Nornagest says:

      At this point, half the country would watch a video of Trump eating a kitten in Times Square and decide that the kitten had it coming. The other half of the country would watch a video of Trump kissing babies and decide that he was using tongue.

      Trump himself is, of course, in the first half.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        The other half of a country would watch a video of Trump kissing babies and decide that he was using tongue.

        And that country… is Gambia.
        Trump’s domestic enemies are off the hook here.

        • Anaxagoras says:

          Why Gambia, out of curiosity?

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            I wanted to exonerate as many people as possible by picking a tiny country, and my mind arbitrarily ruled out the European city-states and sovereign islands.

          • Anaxagoras says:

            Ah, okay. My girlfriend is from Gambia, so I’m attuned to mentions of the country, and I was wondering if there was some weird news story involving the country I should ask her about.

            Though given the antics of their former president, I could see them believing it.

    • hls2003 says:

      I didn’t find it very complimentary to Trump – he comes off as confused and easily flattered – but I didn’t see anything very troubling in it in terms of the alleged blackmail or “quid pro quo.” There’s nothing about the U.S. withholding aid in it, for example, though they do talk about missile sales. Supporters will read it charitably and feel it vindicates him, and opponents will read it uncharitably and feel it convicts him.

      So, a six-page Scissors Statement?

    • TripleS says:

      You have not read the transcript. There has never been a transcript released. By thinking it’s a transcript, you’re falling for his lies and become easier to lie to later.

      • EchoChaos says:

        This one doesn’t make sense to me. If the White House was going to fake a transcript, why not one that completely vindicates Trump?

        • TripleS says:

          I did not accuse them of doctoring anything. I said they did not release a transcript.

        • kalimac says:

          (I meant to put this comment here.)

          What you’re coyly not being told is that the document commonly referred to as the transcript is actually a summary and paraphrase of the call, with the incompletenesses and potential inaccuracies that implies. A transcript would be an exact copy of the words spoken.

    • crh says:

      Trump insisting everyone “read the transcript,” makes it *sound* like the transcript exonerates him. That could be reason enough to say it even if the actual document is damaging, since most people won’t read it anyway.

      • More generally, I suspect that the question Trump normally asks himself is not “is this statement true” but “what will the political effect of this statement be?”

        • John Schilling says:

          I’m fairly confident he doesn’t consider the political effect, just the emotional effect. He may, at one point, have made the political calculation that 2016 was the year that his brand of intemperate tweeting to the joy of his fanboys and apoplectic outrage of their enemies would be election-winning, but I don’t think it is in his nature to then evaluate individual statements on a case-by-case statement beyond “this feels good, possibly because of the apoplectic outrage thing”.

          • That’s a possible interpretation of his behavior, but after he twice won contests that most of us expected him to lose, I shifted to the “crazy like a fox” interpretation.

            Suppose he wins the next one. Will that cause you to change your interpretation?

          • Loriot says:

            That’s a possible interpretation of his behavior, but after he twice won contests that most of us expected him to lose, I shifted to the “crazy like a fox” interpretation.

            Winning by 100,000 votes after everything broke his way was hardly a ringing endorsement of his political acumen, unless you count the fact that he recognized he even had a chance in the first place. I am still highly confident that nearly any other Republican candidate could have done better in 2016.

            At any rate, there’s no need to limit the sample size to elections. Trump has had a lot of high profile failures in other matters (as well as the occasional success). Remember his humiliating government shutdown? That’s not something that someone crazy as a fox would do.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I am still highly confident that nearly any other Republican candidate could have done better in 2016.

            How do figure Jeb! wins the Rust Belt with “illegal immigration is an act of love” and “come on, man!” about Chinese technology theft?

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Loriot

            “Crazy like a fox” doesn’t mean “flawlessly executes everything”.

            His overcoming the Republican establishment to win the Republican nomination, then overcoming Hillary to win the Presidency is evidence of high competence.

            This is like saying “Sure the Washington Nationals won the World Series, but only by one run in some of their games and it took seven games!”

          • LesHapablap says:

            Scott Adams predicted that after Trump’s election he would use his super powers of charisma and persuasion to unite the country again.

            His failure to do that may be considered evidence against him being crazy like a fox, since Scott Adams is the self-described leading proponent of the theory that he is crazy like a fox.

          • BBA says:

            I think Trump’s personality naturally situates him at a point where his ability to win elections is much stronger than it logically should be. If he had any more shame, he’d have resigned in disgrace long ago, like Eliot Spitzer; if he had any less shame, he’d have ended up in prison long ago, like Anthony Weiner.

            But it’s totally subconscious on Trump’s part, and limited to winning elections that he himself is running in. It doesn’t work on Congress or the civil service, which is why his tangible results in office are indistinguishable from the hypothetical Rubio administration. (Lots of symbolic results to make the base cheer, though.) And when other Republicans try to deploy his skills, as in the midterms, he doesn’t care and it shows. Nonetheless, Trump is such a strong campaigner, and his opposition so feckless and uncharismatic, that his victory in 2020 is all but assured.

            2024 will be, ah, interesting.

          • John Schilling says:

            It doesn’t work on Congress or the civil service, which is why his tangible results in office are indistinguishable from the hypothetical Rubio administration.

            My hypothesis is that the hypothetical Rubio administration would have accomplished quite a bit more in the way of tangible results, at least during the first two years with a GOP House and Senate. Not just because of Rubio’s talent and temperament, but because Rubio would have drawn on the GOP talent pool for more competent staff. Still no Wall, but at least a reinforced Border Patrol.

          • albatross11 says:

            John Schilling:

            That’s my sense, too. I think Trump is amazingly, scarily talented at some kinds of PR / media manipulation / getting attention / building an image, but has little talent for actually accomplishing things as president. And he hasn’t been able or willing to get and keep people on his staff who could round out his talents and help him accomplish much.

          • John Schilling says:

            I have a strong suspicion that Trump did not plan or expect to win the Presidency in 2016; that his plan was to position himself for a media career as the Champion of the Working Class, the Man What Should Have Been President but was Robbed by the System. That would have been much more in line with his established talents and interests, and would have given him much better odds of success. As evidence for this suspicion, he spent 2015-2016 doing everything necessary to position himself as Man What Should Have Been President early and bigly, but the things necessary to actually be president (from the ground game in Iowa to the actual White House staff) were thrown together poorly and at the last minute.

            Either he’s an incompetent wannabe politician who got lucky, or he’s a competent wannabe celebrity who overperformed and is stuck playing the leading man in a production where he was only auditioning for a supporting role. And his prior career doesn’t point to broad incompetence, but it does point to a non-presidential brand of competence.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Either he’s an incompetent wannabe politician who got lucky, or he’s a competent wannabe celebrity who overperformed and is stuck playing the leading man in a production where he was only auditioning for a supporting role. And his prior career doesn’t point to broad incompetence, but it does point to a non-presidential brand of competence.

            +1
            He’s an uncouth narcissist who’s demonstrably good at large-scale real estate and being a TV celebrity. Somehow, in 2015 he started running his big mouth at the working class and finding that, unless they were black (and so locked into hating Republicans at a ~90% rate), they really liked what he and only he was willing to say.
            What we’ve seen though is that once elected President, an outsider can accomplish very little without the judiciary and unelected civil service stopping him at every turn. If Trump is smart, he knew this going in and expected not to win.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I have a strong suspicion that Trump did not plan or expect to win the Presidency in 2016; that his plan was to position himself for a media career as the Champion of the Working Class, the Man What Should Have Been President but was Robbed by the System.

            I disagree. Trump is pathological about winning, at everything. He would not have committed himself if he did not plan on winning. He would not have been doing 2 and 3 rallies a day, 5 days a week for months if he did not plan on winning. No one works that hard planning to fail, especially so a billionaire can, what, sell some books? And definitely not Trump. No, Trump tried his hardest to win, and he won.

          • John Schilling says:

            What we’ve seen though is that once elected President, an outsider can accomplish very little without the judiciary and unelected civil service stopping him at every turn.

            Nit: We haven’t really seen this, because we haven’t seen it tried by an outsider with administrative competence and a willingness to hire for talent over personal loyalty. Outsiders with these attributes have done tolerably well at the state-governor level (most notably Reagan in California, but for more recent examples see e.g. Schwarzenegger and Ventura); one can advance the theory that DC is intolerably worse than Sacramento, but it hasn’t really been tested.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            My hypothesis is that the hypothetical Rubio administration would have accomplished quite a bit more in the way of tangible results, at least during the first two years with a GOP House and Senate.

            Sure, but the sorts of results the GOP establishment would have wanted. Yes tax cuts and judges, but also TPP, probably some more wars. Rubio would not have stepped up deportations, cut down legal immigration, improved H1-B scrutiny, replaced dilapidated vehicle barriers with 30 foot high steel and concrete pedestrian barriers, got Mexico and Guatemala to agree to hold migrants, upped spending by NATO allies, or be holding China’s feet to the fire on trade.

            Yes, an establishment republican would have gotten more establishment republican stuff done with the establishment republican congress, but that would not have been any of the sort of stuff Trump supporters want, and would have been many, many things they’re diametrically opposed to.

          • John Schilling says:

            No one works that hard planning to fail, especially so a billionaire can, what, sell some books?

            So he can win at a game that is not being President. And which is also not “selling some books”, and if that’s the strawman you need for your argument, you don’t have much of an argument.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            “Selling some books” is usually what campaign losers do, like Palin or Hillary Clinton.

            1) What specifically do you think Trump would have done had he lost to capitalize on losing?

            2) Has he done any of those things after winning?

            3) How did winning preclude him from doing the losing plan? That is, if the plan was to make money off TrumpTV, why didn’t Don Jr. and Eric have TrumpTV ready to go right after inauguration? Nothing about Trump being President stops the Trump Org from starting up a political media machine. Makes it easier, even, and it is something I and other Trump supporters would approve of, given the miserable state of our traditional media.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            His failure to do that may be considered evidence against him being crazy like a fox, since Scott Adams is the self-described leading proponent of the theory that he is crazy like a fox.

            I would say he’s certainly attempted it. He’s constantly touting low black and Hispanic unemployment, highest employment rates for women, etc. I see evidence that he’s tried to unite the country, but also faced overwhelming opposition from media, which is a tough nut to crack.

            I’ve said before I thought after the election the scales would fall from people’s eyes, and they would realize the media was grossly mischaracterizing Trump and Trump supporters. A little here, a little there it happened, but by and large the media and those who watch it doubled down.

          • brad says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            Sure, but the sorts of results the GOP establishment would have wanted. Yes tax cuts and judges, but also TPP, probably some more wars. Rubio would not have stepped up deportations, cut down legal immigration, improved H1-B scrutiny, replaced dilapidated vehicle barriers with 30 foot high steel and concrete pedestrian barriers, got Mexico and Guatemala to agree to hold migrants, upped spending by NATO allies, or be holding China’s feet to the fire on trade.

            Yes, an establishment republican would have gotten more establishment republican stuff done with the establishment republican congress, but that would not have been any of the sort of stuff Trump supporters want, and would have been many, many things they’re diametrically opposed to.

            So are things noticeably going better in the day to day life of a typical Trump supporter?

            Personally, I’m happy with how the stock market has done, though it is still going to be a long time before I start withdrawing, and with the continued growth of tech compensation (though the growth has slowed down noticeably since Uber fizzled.)

            I’m not certain either of those are directly attributable to Trump but he certainly could have screwed up badly enough to prevent them from having happened.

            Plausibly Kavanaugh and Gorsuch eventually swing the Court on some decision that meaningfully impacts my life, but as far as I know nothing yet.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            So are things noticeably going better in the day to day life of a typical Trump supporter?

            Unemployment down, wages up, no sons off dying in new pointless wars, so as best as I can tell, “yes.” We’ll find out for sure in November 2020. If Trump supporters are better off than they were 4 years ago they will vote to re-elect, and if they’re not they won’t.

          • brad says:

            I agree with you about the pointlessness of the wars, but it’s an odd point to raise given an all volunteer force. The deal has been completely clear for at least fifteen years. And with the tightening of standards, most recruits have realistic alternatives.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I agree with you about the pointlessness of the wars, but it’s an odd point to raise given an all volunteer force.

            I think the point would be that they want to volunteer to do noble things, like “defend our nation,” and instead get tasked with ignoble things, like “drone strike people who aren’t threatening us.” So the fact that they’re doing less of the latter is a plus.

          • John Schilling says:

            1) What specifically do you think Trump would have done had he lost to capitalize on losing?

            Basically, setting himself up as a cross between Rupert Murdoch and the white-guy version of Oprah Winfrey. Put on a television show where he’s the man who “tells it like it is” to a vast and adoring audience, plus a bunch of speaking tours for ditto, hire some clearly subordinate personalities to cover for the fact that he can’t be everywhere 24/7 and can’t do straight journalism for the news segments, either start his own multimedia network or make himself the one indispensable man of the Fox network. And sell a few ghostwritten books, because might as well. And tweet like crazy.

            2) Has he done any of those things after winning?

            To the extent possible in his current position, using the free media access that comes with being POTUS rather than setting up his own network. And, keeping himself positioned to go back to part 1 when he is eventually forced out of office, however that happens.

            3) How did winning preclude him from doing the losing plan?

            It would be illegal for him to actively manage the sort of business enterprise envisioned in part 1 while employed as POTUS. Or at least impractical to do so legally, and unnecessary given the alternative path to the same approximate end.

            That is, if the plan was to make money off TrumpTV, why didn’t Don Jr. and Eric have TrumpTV ready to go right after inauguration?

            None of this works if it’s obvious he’s not even trying to be President, and openly setting up a TrumpTV that can’t usefully operate with Trump in the Oval Office would be too blatant a signal to that effect. But, regardless of whether it was Plan A or Plan B, do you really think Trump wouldn’t have had a major television presence (again, either as an independent network or within Fox) within months of his having lost the 2016 election?

          • brad says:

            I think the point would be that they want to volunteer to do noble things, like “defend our nation,” and instead get tasked with ignoble things, like “drone strike people who aren’t threatening us.”

            I would think anyone that’s signed up in the last fifteen years would know exactly what they were getting into. Twenty years ago is a different story.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Put on a television show where he’s the man who “tells it like it is” to a vast and adoring audience, plus a bunch of speaking tours for ditto, hire some clearly subordinate personalities to cover for the fact that he can’t be everywhere 24/7 and can’t do straight journalism for the news segments, either start his own multimedia network or make himself the one indispensable man of the Fox network. And sell a few ghostwritten books, because might as well. And tweet like crazy.

            Is there any evidence he planned this? It takes some time to set up, and the guy does know a thing or two about marketing, and business, so “strike while the iron is hot” is kind of important. Is there any evidence he secured trademarks, scouted talent, shopped around for advertisers? Is there any evidence he did anything, at all, like the groundwork necessary for launching a major media network during the election?

            It seems to me that if he intended anything like this, he would have done it, because you can still launch win or lose, and if he’s President, his kids just run it. That’s not illegal (and I don’t think “strict concern for the law” is an attribute Trump critics ascribe to him anyway), and they’re hitting the media circuit pretty hard as is. Eric and Don Jr. certainly aren’t camera shy.

            Or is he so “crazy like a fox” that he knew people would catch wise to this scheme, and so he purposefully held off any sort of visible organization of the new media empire until after his anticipated loss?

            Would his fans have cared that he was organizing the media empire during the campaign? If it took a year after the loss to President Hillary, would his fans still care about watching his new media empire? Would his fans care at all about his media empire if his “winner” brand had suffered harm from losing to Hillary?

            It seems like one of those theories that only works if you already subscribe to the idea that Trump is evil and/or incompetent. There’s no evidence he planned the thing, but that’s because he’s diabolical enough to hide the thing or so incompetent he never planned the thing at all.

            I think the alternative theory is a little simpler: Trump wanted to win, worked very hard to win, and won.

            @brad

            I would think anyone that’s signed up in the last fifteen years would know exactly what they were getting into.

            Well, first, propaganda is a thing, and when it comes to critical thinking infantrymen may not be too far to the right side of the bell curve.

            Second, if men and women want to sign up for “protect babies” and yet their only option has been “punch babies,” when they get the opportunity to sign up for “protect babies” again they might be happy about that. They were fully cognizant their only option before was “punch babies,” but the “protect babies” option is preferable, and its reintroduction makes them happy.

            I get the impression some don’t have a firm grasp on why folks sign up for the military.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Outsiders with these attributes have done tolerably well at the state-governor level (most notably Reagan in California, but for more recent examples see e.g. Schwarzenegger and Ventura); one can advance the theory that DC is intolerably worse than Sacramento, but it hasn’t really been tested.

            Yeah, fair enough. We’d need to analyze and preferably also test how DC is worse than Sacramento/the worst state capital.

          • Clutzy says:

            Outsiders in DC have fared poorly even in Congress, so there is something in the water. Like who are the outsider federal politicians that have done well at all? When Ivy League educated, former Texas Solicitor General and Son of a Congressman Rand Paul are considered the “rogue” senators, you know the whole thing is very insider-focused.

        • cassander says:

          @Clutzy

          Living in DC I can attest to its extreme parochialism. I believe that to be a common failing of capital cities, but DC being the most important of capital cities, and being a one industry town to boot, has the trait in spades.

  8. Le Maistre Chat says:

    One of the most popular people on the alt-right is a 14-year-old girl?

    I’ve been wondering when teenage right-wingers will outnumber teenage left-wingers like Greta Thunberg. It seems like such an obvious way to rebel against your parents and teachers.

    • JayT says:

      Republicans have quite a few more kids than Democrats on average, don’t they? So, at the very least they most likely wouldn’t be rebelling against their parents, which I think is the usual #1 target.

    • jaimeastorga2000 says:

      “One of the Most Popular People on the Alt-Right Is a 14-Year-Old Girl?!” sounds like a great light novel title.

    • Algirdas Vėlyvis says:

      I wonder if she would be more successful if she only blogged. Under the pen name of “Demosthenes”.

      • Shion Arita says:

        It’s been a long time since I read the Ender’s Game series, but I’ve been thinking this lately.

        Man, that part of enders game sure was something. At the time I though that it was a little overblown/improbable but mostly just kind of weird. In hindsight though, it was really ahead of its time in a lot of ways.

    • albatross11 says:

      A moderately liberal friend of mine has a son who has become a big Ben Shapiro fan recently–this bugs the hell out of his dad, and so accomplishes its practical objective….

  9. kalimac says:

    What you’re coyly not being told is that the document commonly referred to as the transcript is actually a summary and paraphrase of the call, with the incompletenesses and potential inaccuracies that implies. A transcript would be an exact copy of the words spoken.

  10. thevoiceofthevoid says:

    @Jaskologist
    This is a response to your comment in the last OT that I figured (15 minutes after posting) might be prudent to relocate to the hidden OT, since a giant screed against the Bible seems pretty CW-ish. I do think it still clears “true” and “necessary”, if not “kind”.

    I presume that by “Scripture” you mean some version of the Christian bible and the associated teachings of some sect of Christianity. I’m not sure I trust its track record as a source of Truth, Divine or otherwise.

    Scientifically speaking, it’s full of inaccuracies. I could go for the potshot at the Genesis creation myth, but that one’s pretty solidly been declared “figurative”. Instead, how about all of the instances of Jesus or his followers healing the sick (epileptics, lepers, the blind, etc.) by casting out unclean spirits or forgiving their sins? Seems a bit odd, given what we know now about the causes of these diseases (bacteria, viruses, nerve damage, etc.). Real help to medical science that’s been.

    I don’t think it’s fair to attribute the success of the Scientific method to the religious leanings of early scientists. Seems the “perform experiments and develop theories based on the results” part was the magic ingredient; that seems to be the component that still forms the basis of modern secular science. Scientists might be inspired by the bible, but at the end of the day it’s a question of which passages must now be reinterpreted as metaphorical in order to maintain consistency with our growing understanding of the world.

    But maybe the bible is instead a great source of moral truth? Not sure where it gets that authority from, but let’s go with it! Well then, we ought to be careful not to skip over giant sections of this timeless source of truth that are inconvenient to modern sensibilities! For:

    Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or tittle shall nowise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew 5:18-19]

    So, get ready to stone to death anyone who gathers sticks on the Sabbath [Numbers 15:32-36] and any “stubborn and rebellious sons” [Deuteronomy 21:18-21]! Oh, btw, slavery is a-ok, as long as you free your slaves after 6 years [Exodus 21:2] (unless you sell your own daughter into slavery, she stays a slave [Exodus 21:7]).

    Wait what’s that, “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.” [Luke 16:16]? I thought you said…well, whatever. So instead of stoning sabbath-breakers, we should love our neighbors as ourselves [Mark 12:31, etc] and whatnot. Sounds good. But also,

    If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. [Luke 14:26]

    Why do I need to hate my family, Jesus? I thought you were all about peace and love?

    Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. [Matthew 10:34-37]

    Well then. Guess I have to hate my family. I suppose we’re still on board with stoning them if they worship another god? [Deuteronomy 13:6-10] Or maybe just cursing them and shunning them in this new enlightened era. [1 Corinthians 16:22]

    Am I cherry-picking? Yes I’m cherry-picking. There’s a lot more commandments about loving your neighbor and so forth than ones about hating your family (and even more about loving Jesus). But why are there any about hating your family? More importantly, even if all the stoning laws were overturned by Jesus’ new commandment, why the hell would God give a set of such arbitrary and abhorrent laws to the Israelites rather than just telling them to love God and each other?

    Overall: Some wise advice that’s stood the test of time in the New Testament, a bunch of evil commandments in the Old Testament, and throughout both numerous commandments to love a God that I’m fairly certain doesn’t actually exist. I’ll stick to my Reason, thank you very much.

    • DragonMilk says:

      I’ll jump in a bit, but you’re a bit all over the place so I’ll address what I find the most prominent:

      1. On demon-possession. Supposing people already believe in supernatural good (God), why is it so odd that the same people would believe in supernatural evil? While we live in a rationalist culture, it’s in the minority of all cultures not only time-wise but today. On the one hand, as those such as CS Lewis have suggested, the strategy of demons among rationalists may well be to pretend to not exist. On the other hand, there’s *still* a lot we don’t know about disease and psychiatry hasn’t exactly had the best history in working through paradigms to diagnose people’s mental disorders.

      2. Jewish law looks retrograde now, but context is important. Can you point to less “evil” codes of law from 1500 BC or so? Anyway, the Christian interpretation is that these laws are laid out for an imperfect people in that particular cultural setting at that particular point in history.

      3. So you seem to be contrasting the justice part of God with the merciful part of God. The Old and New Testament God are one in the same. Even in the Old testament, God is said to be slow to anger, and King David is said to “delight” in the law…all those weird things in 2 that you scoff at. Why would that be? Were these people all insane? I don’t think so – in a peaceful, developed society like that of the modern west, it’s tempting to view God only as a god of love and mercy. But even in the present day, if you are a Yazidi girl, a Rwandan Tutsi, a Burmese Rohinga, or anyone else who has been done great injustice – murder, rape, betrayal, theft, etc., you don’t want a god of love and mercy and can’t relate to that. You want a god of justice. The Christian approach is to leave that vengeance and justice to God, and not take matters into your own hands.

      Anyway, this is all to say that context is quite important. It sounds like you’ve already reached a conclusion and will read selectively only as far as it supports your pre-conceived notions. I on the other hand have also reached a conclusion, and also will read only to support my pre-conceived notions. We both have our biases

      • thevoiceofthevoid says:

        1. Whether diseases are caused by the Devil or by bacteria, it all comes down to the famous Problem of Evil. Why would an omnipotent, benevolent God allow the continued existence and influence of a being determined to thwart His plans and tempt His creations away from communion with Him? Alternatively, why would God allow tiny creatures to cause immense pain and suffering to people, preying especially on the young and the elderly? If you believe the Bible, Jesus clearly had the power to cast out disease–why does he not use this power to cast out all disease? This was one of the core reasons for my deconversion, along with the lack of modern divine revelations and the number of conflicting conceptions of God between various religions and sects.

        2. I haven’t looked but agree that I would be hard-pressed to find a significantly less evil code of law from the time period. However, I similarly doubt that Jewish law stands out as a paragon of justice–I suspect it’s quite similar to other contemporaneous law codes. “Imperfect people in a particular cultural setting”…sure, but if you tasked me with writing some Commandments for the Hebrews, I still think I could do better while still staying within their cultural understanding. “As I have released you from captivity in Egypt, so shall you release from captivity any of your foreign slaves.” Maybe expand “thou shalt not kill” a bit, let’s keep it realistic though. “In your conquests, you may slaughter those men who oppose you; but you shall not kill their wives and children, nor those men who surrender to you; for they have done no wrong.” Seems a marked improvement over the divinely-approved genocide of Deuteronomy 2. How about “If someone gathers sticks on the Sabbath day, thou shall shun them for a month” instead of the stoning penalty?

        Or what if God gave up the whole “chosen people” thing and decided to go with something bigger? The sky darkens across the globe, and a booming voice comprehensible in every language says, “I AM THE ONE AND ONLY TRUE GOD, SO LISTEN UP IF YOU DON’T WANT TO GET SMITTEN. THOU SHALT NOT KILL. PERIOD. ANYONE. IF YOU TRY TO KILL SOMEONE I WILL SMITE THEE WITH LIGHTNING OR FIRE.” God then makes good on his threat, and the next couple thousand attempted murderers are violently smitten with holy fire. Within a year, armies have disbanded (they’re useless for conquest and unnecessary for defense) and murder rates are zero. Occasionally someone will be struck by lightning as they attack someone in a fit of rage, but incidents get rarer and rarer–people respond to incentives. The great thing is, this strategy works no matter the time period or culture! However, the God of the Hebrews seems pretty A-OK with genocide…

        3. “Even in the Old testament, God is said to be slow to anger” Counterpoint: “And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.” [Numbers 11:1] One of many examples of God smiting the Israelites for the smallest offenses.

        “You want a god of justice.” Is “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” truly justice? The idea that people should be punished for crimes they didn’t commit strikes me as a perversion of the concept, if not its exact opposite. (Though come to think of it, that idea forms the basis of the entire Jesus story in the new testament as well–Christ somehow “dying for our sins”.) How about the entire book of Joshua, in which God helps Joshua and his army slaughter man, woman and child in city after city that God has “delivered” to the Israelites? From my reading, the residents of e.g. Jericho didn’t do much of anything to hurt the Hebrews, other than simply exist on land that God had promised them. In what universe is it “justice” to murder the children of a city that you’re conquering? It’s ironic that one has to appeal to an insane level of moral relativism in order to justify this book as a source of universal moral truth.

        You’re right about one thing: Context is important. And the relevant context looks to me like these stories were written in a brutal era of history, and fully revel in that brutality, doing little or nothing to rise above it. I’d expect better from a God of mercy or a God of justice.

        And you’re also right about our biases and my somewhat selective reading. There are numerous passages in the Gospels where Jesus imparts valuable and wise moral teachings, and since these are the ones most Christians I know follow I generally don’t try to dissuade people from their religion. But all I need is one example of the biblical God committing a horrible, unjust atrocity to prove that He isn’t a figure I’d call “omnibenevolent”.

        • sfoil says:

          I could do a better job

          I doubt it. Maybe before your apotheosis you audition by being the Afghanistan theater commander for a few years. Your proposed policy of “kill everyone who disagrees with me” will surely succeed where the last twentyish years of trying to impose a more perfect code of law on a rather barbaric society failed, right?

          Why would an omnipotent, benevolent God allow the continued existence and influence of a being determined to thwart His plans and tempt His creations away from communion with Him?

          To build character, is what I usually figure. The existence and extent of free will among created beings seems to be the most popular explanation however.

          However, the God of the Hebrews seems pretty A-OK with genocide…

          You yourself seem pretty “A-OK” with mass murder:

          the next couple thousand attempted murderers are violently smitten with holy fire.

          Of course, those people deserve it, so that’s different. Did the slaughtered Canaanites deserve it? The general assumption is that yes, they did. I certainly find God smiting the Canaanites because of their wickedness more palatable than the idea that the Canaanites were wicked because God smote them. Still, both individuals (Rahab) and groups (Gibeonites) were cut some slack within the spirit if not the letter of the command to kill every breathing thing. And of course the Hebrews didn’t actually carry out the command. As for the children, if they would inevitably have grown up to be evil, perhaps killing them is justified, especially if an afterlife exists and they would have better outcomes there as children than as evil adults. Obviously this isn’t something that should be guided by human judgment, but that’s not what’s being claimed here.

          The authors of the Old Testament aren’t too keen on describing in detail what exactly it was about the Canaanite practices that were so bad, but “sacred prostitution” and human sacrifice were cited.

          Slavery

          The society you live in keeps millions of slaves in its “prisons”, many of them for a lot longer than six years. I don’t say this as some sort of weird gotcha, merely to point out that involuntary servitude in some form or another appears to be a simple commonplace fact of human social existence that needs to be regulated.

          Also, if an omnipotent God exists, we are effectively his slaves merely by existing. If existence is good and we can’t exist without being slaves, then obviously slavery can’t be bad per se.

          Is “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” truly justice? The idea that people should be punished for crimes they didn’t commit strikes me as a perversion of the concept, if not its exact opposite.

          Is it “just” that e.g. I might be stupid and deformed because my mother was a drunkard? It certainly seems pretty baked into our mode of existence. It also seems like a pretty strong incentive for pregnant women not to get hammered.

          • Dacyn says:

            @sfoil:

            Also, if an omnipotent God exists, we are effectively his slaves merely by existing.

            Not really true. A slave is someone you command and make threats to. God isn’t required to do either of those.

            Is it “just” that e.g. I might be stupid and deformed because my mother was a drunkard? It certainly seems pretty baked into our mode of existence.

            I feel that humanity could lose that trait without ceasing to be humanity. If there were an omnipotent God who could effect it.

            It also seems like a pretty strong incentive for pregnant women not to get hammered.

            What is your point here? Is there some reason pregnant woment shouldn’t drink, other than this incentive? Do you think that others should be drinking as little as pregnant women do?

          • sfoil says:

            @Dacyn

            A slave is someone you command and make threats to.

            A slave is someone you have absolute power over. I can issue commands and make threats to anyone (including God), that doesn’t make them my slave. Likewise, someone can be my slave without my having to command or threaten them.

            Pregnant drinking

            I’m not trying to “defend” human physiology but rather point out that suffering for (or benefiting from!) the actions of our parents is a pretty fundamental fact of our being and give a specific obvious example. I’m not as sure as you that generating a new consciousness completely independent of its inputs would look like humanity; in fact it seems to violate causality.

            @Atlas

            the Taliban, at least, attempted to impose a strict form of Islamic law, theoretically based on those things, when they were in power there.

            Indeed. And they kept it up for nearly twenty years using only the resources locally available in one of the most economically backwards/unproductive regions on Earth. The enlightened alternative has cost about a trillion dollars over a similar timeframe without, as far as I can tell, actually delivering much better governance to the typical end user. This suggests that their approach has some merits over alternatives.

            It would seem to me that suffering/evil/imperfection tends to destroy character at least as often as it builds it. I could be convinced otherwise, but it doesn’t seem prima facie obvious to me.

            “Character” would include the state of one’s soul after death. There’s some theological arguments to be made in favor of this, but I won’t claim any special knowledge. Probably some suffering is necessary for us to have any sort of existence separate from God, but I do agree that what we see around us is way beyond whatever the minimum amount possible for us to live is.

            I’d appreciate it if someone could write an informal free will theodicy, but taboo the phrase “free will,” and explain what the property of human decision making is that justifies the existence of the various forms of suffering we observe in the world without reference to that particular phrase.

            My one-sentence summary of Alvin Plantinga’s argument in God, Freedom, and Evil would be: “free will” is the ability to make a choice between good things and bad things, and the fact that bad things result from this ability is offset by how much better it is to choose good things when you could have done otherwise. The actual argument is more subtle and specific, although by no means completely abstruse (most notably Plantinga doesn’t claim this is actually true, only that it’s logically possible).

          • Dacyn says:

            @sfoil:
            I just don’t see where you are getting your definition of “slave”. Yes, by “command and make threats to” I implicitly assumed they were commands and threats that could be backed up. What is an example of a relationship you would consider slavery that involved no commands or threats, except for humans and God?

            Incidentally Google defines “slave” as “a person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them”, which I think is much closer to my definition than to yours.

            I don’t want to “generat[e] a new consciousness completely independent of its inputs”. I just want pregnant drinking not to lead to problems. You are thinking in black and white.

            If tomorrow we found a cure for the problems caused by pregnant drinking, that would not mean that causality had been violated.

            most notably Plantinga doesn’t claim this is actually true, only that it’s logically possible

            Yeah, lots of things are logically possible.

          • sfoil says:

            Google defines “slave” as “a person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them”, which I think is much closer to my definition than to yours.

            I don’t think that is closer to your definition at all, which is incredibly broad and encompasses stuff like threatening someone if they don’t obey your command to stay off your lawn. It also presupposes the existence of a legal system, and I don’t find it at all hard to imagine slavery without a legal system unless the law is defined very broadly.

            What is an example of a relationship you would consider slavery that involved no commands or threats, except for humans and God?

            You own a cotton plantation in the Old South and one of your slaves gives birth. That child is now your slave, no threats or commands involved.

            Alternately, you give birth. The child is hardly in more position to contest your authority than the first case.

            I just want pregnant drinking not to lead to problems.

            Well, so do I. It seems to me that this is something we simply don’t know how to do, but probably isn’t physically impossible. But fetal alcohol exposure is far from the only mechanism by which children suffer for the deeds of their fathers. For instance, your own father could have reproduced with his sister instead of your mother, and the resulting offspring would in all likelihood have had far worse outcomes than you yourself have had. This would be true, albeit probably to a lesser extent, had it been your grandfather instead. And the root problem is that our existence is a proximate effect of our parents’ choices. When those choices are bad (contrary to God’s will), their descendants can expect to suffer for it. It’s difficult to see how this problem can be fixed without either everyone being the direct result of a perfectly good cause or without just being uncaused.

          • Dacyn says:

            @sfoil: If you write “@Dacyn” at the start of threads it will send me a notification, and I can respond faster (or at all in the case where this thread is dead enough that I stop checking it)

            Okay, I admit that the way I phrased my definition did not perfectly convey what I had in mind. Even if it is a command (which is arguable), telling someone to get off your lawn is a one-time thing, and I understand slavery to be a recurrent feature of a relationship. You also seem to conflate my definition with Google’s (you write “It also” when the previous sentence is about mine, and the next sentence is about Google’s). I also don’t find it hard to imagine slavery without a legal system, so in that respect we are equally far from Google. In any case, I only brought in Google as an illustrative example, as the relevant thing for this argument is not the dictionary definition but rather the moral implications.

            Regarding a child born in the Old South, I think the legal aspect is actually relevant here: the plantation owner asserts the right to command the child, even if he does not actually yet do so.

            The question of to what extent ordinary children are slaves is a child’s rights issue and is probably not relevant to this discussion. (But I think the point you were trying to make is probably obviated by what I wrote in the previous paragraph.)

            Since you seem to be a Christian, I could also quote Galatians 4:7 in favor of the proposition that God’s absolute power does not imply we are his slaves. (Though quoting Scripture as an atheist is not always a good dialectical choice.)

            Finally, regarding whether avoiding bad effects breaks causality: It sounds like you are saying there is only one good mode of being, and so if we got rid of all the bad, everyone would be clones of each other or something. First of all, I don’t believe there is only one good mode of being. Plenty of the differences between people are harmless, and there’s no reason they can’t propagate genetically and thus preserve the human idea of parents taking after their children. Second, even if it is necessary to allow some harmful effects to propagate, it seems implausible that this accounts for the size of the effects that we observe.

            Incidentally, if “bad” to you means “contrary to God’s will”, I would prefer it if you tabooed it for this discussion (i.e. when you want to say “bad”, just write out “contrary to God’s will” or something else that specifies what you mean). I don’t intrinsically care what God thinks except to the extent that he may have good ideas about what to do.

          • sfoil says:

            @Dacyn

            I should have made it more clear when I was talking about your statement and the third party definition.

            Well, the main thing is that while slavery has clearly meant somewhat different things at different times (e.g. a lack of distinction between “servant” and “slave”), I think it does also have some underlying, common characteristic such that an Old Testament Hebrew, a Roman patrician, a Southern plantation owner would all be able to recognize the existence of slaves and slavery in each others’ societies pretty easily despite operating under different customs and legal regimes — and as I implied in my original comment they’d probably be able to see it in ours, too. And I think the common thread is the degree of power the master has over his slave.

            As far as the human relationship to God, parent-child, sovereign-subject, and (with Christ) husband-wife are the more common analogies used in Christian theology. Islam uses the master-slave analogy quite liberally however. At any rate, I think these are all saying basically the same thing: God is more powerful than we are. And in the end, absolute power — in this case omnipotence — just is absolute power whether you want to call the person who possesses it king, father, master, or whatever. God is, in fact, all of these things. You can say “tyrant” too, if you don’t like it: it doesn’t change the reality of the situation.

            Regarding a child born in the Old South, I think the legal aspect is actually relevant here: the plantation owner asserts the right to command the child, even if he does not actually yet do so.

            My understanding is that (at least in the period shortly before the Civil War), the owner didn’t have to assert anything: the child was his slave by default, whether he wanted it to be or not. He’d have to make an assertion in order to make the child not his slave. Like an inheritance: if someone wills you some money, you can immediately donate it to charity, but it’s still yours and you have to take some positive action to disclaim possession.

            The question of to what extent ordinary children are slaves is a child’s rights issue and is probably not relevant to this discussion.

            I think it is relevant. We don’t call infants slaves but the fact is that they exist completely at the mercy of others. This includes any “rights” they possess: those rights can only possibly be effectively asserted by others — even slaves can do better than that! Of course, even though infants are arguably in an even more abject position than adult slaves, we (and not only we — I think this is what Paul was getting at in Galatians 4:7) expect parents to take better care of their children than masters of slaves. But ideally, there wouldn’t be any real difference at all: you’d treat everyone you have power over in some ideal manner, whether they’re subjects, children, or slaves.

            The point of all of this is my own answer to why the Bible doesn’t condemn slavery: because “slavery” is at its root just another form of hierarchy. If God exists, so does at least one hierarchical relationship (God and everything else) and you can’t expect a pro-God document like the Bible to say that’s bad.

            It sounds like you are saying there is only one good mode of being, and so if we got rid of all the bad, everyone would be clones of each other or something. First of all, I don’t believe there is only one good mode of being. Plenty of the differences between people are harmless, and there’s no reason they can’t propagate genetically and thus preserve the human idea of parents taking after their children. Second, even if it is necessary to allow some harmful effects to propagate, it seems implausible that this accounts for the size of the effects that we observe.

            I’m actually trying to say that our mode of being, which is only one of many possible, is good. We can certainly make it better, just like I can build a house instead of sleeping out in the open: it’s absurd in my opinion to say that “God intended us to live outside” but not that “God gave us the ability to build houses”, and I feel about the same way about stuff like germ line modification. At the same time, our mode of being (which is good, and also created by God) unavoidably involves bad things happening to us outside of our control. One of those things that’s outside our control is the actions of our parents. This is what, I think, Numbers 14 is talking about.

            Incidentally, if “bad” to you means “contrary to God’s will”, I would prefer it if you tabooed it for this discussion (i.e. when you want to say “bad”, just write out “contrary to God’s will” or something else that specifies what you mean). I don’t intrinsically care what God thinks except to the extent that he may have good ideas about what to do.

            I actually don’t think the terms are interchangeable in general, I was just asserting it in that particular instance.

            As far as your indifference to God’s opinion: if he exists in the manner usually claimed, he’s either stacked the deck such that what “he thinks” is always correct, or he can (does?) only think correct thoughts.

          • Dacyn says:

            @sfoil: Let’s review the original argument. You wrote:

            If existence is good and we can’t exist without being slaves, then obviously slavery can’t be bad per se.

            What I am claiming is that having someone assert that they have the right to command you to do anything they want is bad per se, and that the fact that absolute power is inescapable has no bearing on this fact. We seem to be unable to agree on the definition of “slavery”, so perhaps it would be better if we just concentrate on this assertion.

            I claim that an asserted right to absolute command is always bad, but that power exacerbates it because it gives the commander opportunities to bring their warped understanding of relations between people into the world.

            Absolute power by itself does nothing except possibly make the less powerful afraid that the more powerful will use their power badly. But this is just fear, and not actual harm.

            My understanding is that (at least in the period shortly before the Civil War), the owner didn’t have to assert anything: the child was his slave by default, whether he wanted it to be or not. He’d have to make an assertion in order to make the child not his slave. Like an inheritance: if someone wills you some money, you can immediately donate it to charity, but it’s still yours and you have to take some positive action to disclaim possession.

            What you say is true in the legal sense. But in the moral sense, I don’t think that society can really force anyone to “own” something. They have to accept it before it becomes theirs. In the old South, not accepting it might take the form of taking legal action to make the child legally not your slave, or it might take the form of simply choosing not to treat them like a slave, and possibly lying about it if you need to maintain appearances to society. Whereas one who does accept ownership, even if they do not initially treat the child like a slave, they fully intend to do so later.

            The question of to what extent ordinary children are slaves is a child’s rights issue and is probably not relevant to this discussion.

            I think it is relevant. [..]

            I read your paragraph and agree with everything you wrote, but I don’t see how it is relevant, you will have to make it more clear.

            Regarding “hierarchy”, this word seems to be ambiguous between the two scenarios I am distinguishing: absolute power that exists but isn’t understood as implying an absolute right of the powerful to use their power, and absolute power that is. I think one of these is bad but the other can be good (depending on circumstances).

            I’m actually trying to say that our mode of being, which is only one of many possible, is good.

            This seems like an irrelevant objection. Even if our existence is a net good, it doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be better. So why is it not?

            I understood your answer to this to be something like “because then we wouldn’t be human anymore”, but I think there are plenty of modifications that could be made that would be improvements and wouldn’t make us not human, like germline improvements. Since you seem to agree with this, maybe I misunderstood what your answer was.

            I actually don’t think the terms are interchangeable in general, I was just asserting it in that particular instance.

            Oh good 🙂

            As far as your indifference to God’s opinion: if he exists in the manner usually claimed, he’s either stacked the deck such that what “he thinks” is always correct, or he can (does?) only think correct thoughts.

            Well I don’t think that the first one is even conceptually possible, but that depends on metaethics which is another controversial subject. I agree that if he exists “in the manner usually claimed”, then he only thinks correct thoughts, but I don’t think that Christianity being right about everything else would be much evidence for it being right about this.

          • sfoil says:

            @Dacyn

            What I am claiming is that having someone assert that they have the right to command you to do anything they want is bad per se, and that the fact that absolute power is inescapable has no bearing on this fact. We seem to be unable to agree on the definition of “slavery”, so perhaps it would be better if we just concentrate on this assertion.

            I claim that an asserted right to absolute command is always bad, but that power exacerbates it because it gives the commander opportunities to bring their warped understanding of relations between people into the world.

            Absolute power by itself does nothing except possibly make the less powerful afraid that the more powerful will use their power badly. But this is just fear, and not actual harm.

            This is our major disagreement. There’s no difference between having and “asserting” sovereign/absolute power. If you have it, you must exercise it, even if only negatively to abdicate it. If you don’t have it, you don’t have that choice to make, it doesn’t mean anything. (You can also assert a claim to power that you don’t yet have, but I don’t think that’s what you’re talking about.)

            In the old South, not accepting it might take the form of taking legal action to make the child legally not your slave, or it might take the form of simply choosing not to treat them like a slave, and possibly lying about it if you need to maintain appearances to society.

            Can’t you see what you’re saying here, though? Because you have the power, you have to decide what to do with it. Even the decision to “do nothing” is a decision, but in fact your preferred course is to take some sort of positive action (manumission).

          • Dacyn says:

            @sfoil: Of course you have the power, but that doesn’t mean that you believe that you have a right to use it. Sure, in a sense abdicating is a use of power, but it does not violate anyone’s rights to do so.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          I would definitely include something about boiling your drinking water.

      • thevoiceofthevoid says:

        I apologize for my tone; the original post was out of line and my reply to your reply even more so. In the interest of not getting myself banned for real, I will not be talking about religion here for at least the next month, since I clearly am having trouble keeping the discourse civil.

        Apologies to @Jaskologist as well, whose original comment was obviously in good faith (pun unintended but fortuitous).

    • EchoChaos says:

      I would just like to register that the tone of this diatribe is substantially below the level of discourse I believe SSC should hold itself to.

      I have absolutely no issue discussing whether or not Scripture is divinely inspired or whether the Biblical laws are evil, or even the scientific basis of Genesis 1, but the tone should be more collegial.

      • thevoiceofthevoid says:

        You’re right. I took personally a comment that obviously was not meant as a personal attack, and let myself get carried away. I hereby ban myself from discussing the topic of religion on SSC for a period of one month.

    • Dacyn says:

      First of all, glad you managed to realize you needed to take a break.

      As a fellow atheist, I thought I would comment about my opinions on what you wrote:
      – Casting out demons being inconsistent with modern etiology of disease: It does make you wonder whether there are supposed to be two different etiologies for two different time periods, or if bacteria are really disguised demons as seems to be suggested in DragonMilk’s comment, or something else. The plausibility of these scenarios will presumably vary between theists and atheists.
      – Whether science comes from religion: I basically agree with what you wrote, but I would add that there is a “thinks the world is orderly and amenable to study” node that lies between “believes in God” and “believes in the scientific method”. In some sense that is the “magic ingredient” to science.
      – Luke 16:16 vs Matthew 5:18-19: These do look inconsistent, though I think words like “law” are vague enough that it is easy to wiggle out of such inconsistencies. I prefer to make comparisons like Matthew 1 vs Luke 3:23-38, which clearly give two different patriarchal lineages for Jesus. Of course, people have ways of wiggling out of that inconsistency too.
      – Hating your family: From what I understand this is just a mistranslation, though I haven’t studied any ancient languages. But 1 Samuel 15:17-23 is not a mistranslation. I gather that some people here are OK with genocide as long as “God said they were all guilty”, but it seems to me that that is exactly what’s wrong with religion. Even if those people were in fact guilty enough that they all deserved to die, it’s implausible that Saul had enough information to be confident of that. First of all, he doesn’t even ask about that but just receives a command. And second, just because God is powerful doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have his own agenda which may involve killing innocents. Against the extraordinarily unlikely presupposition that every one of a large tribe of people is guilty enough that they deserve death [1], the balance of evidence seems to favor non-slaughter. But that is exactly what he is punished for [2].

      [1] I guess someone will say that we are all guilty and deserve death. Apart from issues of whether the concept of original sin makes sense, it clearly isn’t in this sense in which the Amalekites are said to be guilty, since Saul isn’t supposed to slaughter Israelis as well.

      [2] I know he wasn’t punished for thinking the way I’m describing and acting accordingly, but the stated reasons for his punishment apply to that scenario as well.

      (hmm that last example kind of got away from me, ah well maybe someone will find it interesting)

      • DragonMilk says:

        Regarding etiology, the miracles are miracles because from human perception, something clearly supernatural happened.

        For instance, Jesus turning water into wine, healing a paralytic, and raising the dead by verbal command are pretty trippy. Even today, I’d struggle with a natural explanation for how these things were to occur. I am by no means suggesting that demons manifest themselves as bacteria (though Amon the E. Coli and Beelzebub the Streptococcus certainly would be amusing)! I’m suggesting that even today, categorizations for psychiatric disorders remain unwieldy. So with my (rather limited) understanding of psych disorders, if someone were to tell me the voices a schizophrenic hears are those of demons I’d give them a quizzical look. But if that person proceeded to cast out said demons, the schizo suddenly becomes completely normal, and some neighboring animals go batshit crazy, my response would be, “wow, well good job.”

        As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I consider science to be the study of that which is observable (either the thing itself or its effects) and repeatable. This is useful to make technological advancements. Such a thing does not speak to or exclude the possibility that supernatural events may occur.

        Finally, regarding what you’re calling genocide, it’s definitely an area that is harder to justify to a western audience. In the most brutal sense, one could argue that if you are created by a creator, he has every right to destroy you (potter/clay analogy). Anyway, on glancing at what you’ve referenced regarding the Amalekites, I’m going to first point to a bigger “genocide” – the flood. After all, wiping out a group of people is peanuts compared to only keeping a single family and wiping out all of humanity. If you can accept that the entire world save a single family got so bad that God needs to press the reset button, it’s not a stretch to accept that a smaller group of people could get to that state.

        And indeed, that’s what you see – in Deuteronomy 25:17-19, the Jews are told to wipe out Amalek once in the promised land, so you might say this may just elevate from crime of passion to premeditated vengeance. In fact, Saul’s disobedience would cause headaches for the Jews later, as Haman in the Esther story is an Amalekite. Clearly, God thought this group of people an existential threat to the Jews.

        But really it boils down to who you think God is. You’ve already established that you don’t believe in his existence, and it appears that your hypothetical involves portraying God as a human but with all super powers imaginable, but ultimately some form of scaled up human. But I go from the opposite approach – humans are made in the image of God. God knows more, so if in his judgment and omniscience he has deemed a group of people an existential threat and requiring death, then I may be like Abraham pleading for Sodom (an interesting case in itself, as Abraham thinks the city spared but doesn’t realize how wicked it really has become), but ultimately He has both the agency and wisdom to make that call.

        So that’s not to say it’s not a hard pill to swallow, especially from our modern framework. But in the end I’m but a man and God is God. A similar response to questions of suffering in general – book of Job, etc.

        • Dacyn says:

          Why are you talking about psych disorders? u/thevoiceofthevoid mentioned “the sick (epileptics, lepers, the blind, etc.)”.

          Repetition is a good way of strengthening our confidence in scientific conclusions, but it is hardly necessary. For example, we can get good use out of telescope data that we only get once. And we can take models learned from repeated scenarios and apply them to unique circumstances.

          In principle the scientific method does not rule out the possibility of the supernatural, but one can hold that we have collected enough data that such a hypothesis is extremely unlikely.

          The reason I chose the Samuel quote rather than the flood is that I think the awful thing is not just that God commits genocide, but that he commands Saul to do it. When as my previous comment explained this couldn’t reasonably have been expected of him, and arguably it was his duty to refuse.

          Regarding “portraying God as a human but with all super powers imaginable”, what I am rather doing is separating the hypothesis that God is omnipotent from the hypothesis that God is omnibenevolent. These are two distinct hypotheses that are orthogonal to each other. So just because you have established one, does not mean you can assume the other.

  11. Le Maistre Chat says:

    Did you know that the English word tomboy, for a girl whose behavior and pursuits, especially in games and sports, are considered more typical of boys dates back to 1545-55?
    I wonder what sports Elizabeth I played before she was Queen.

    • aristides says:

      I did not, but I’m not surprised. It seems to be a typical behavior for a minority of young girls throughout the ages, though with the expectation that they grow out of it. I’m wondering what percentage of tomboys are now going to be sorted as trans men, for better or worse?

      • AG says:

        They won’t. Soccer and softball continue to be the source of “they’re all gay, the lot of them” jokes, without coming close to “they’re all men, the lot of them” because the pursuit of sports and games is far different from changing one’s own presentation.

      • Well... says:

        I wouldn’t be too surprised (maybe just a tiny bit surprised) to learn there’s no strong correlation between girls who were tomboys and girls who eventually identify as trans men. At least, not if the tomboys in question are typically under the age of about 12 or 13. Girls who are tomboys in junior high and high school, yeah OK maybe that’s a little different.

        Young (i.e. prepubescent) girls who are tomboys, in my experience, are often tomboyish in a few highly visible ways, but still girly in other ways.

  12. BBA says:

    Here’s an article describing the phenomenon of what happens to cults when their prophecies don’t come true, and how it applies to the Corbyn movement within the Labour Party. Not being British I’ll take the author’s word for how things were there during the recent election.

    Being American, I can say this absolutely rings true, for just about any US political faction I can think of. Everybody has failed, or is failing, and nobody can admit it or change.

  13. Levantine says:

    Few months ago I read this :

    AskReddit: What social issue are we currently facing, that most people don’t know_ignore ?

    ‘Maybe I am cynical, but in regards to the daily horrors of the retail and fast food industries… I believe it doesn’t get talked about the way it needs to is because overall I think the middle class and higher are genuinely fine with the idea of wage slavery and don’t view people in service positions as completely human. They like having someone under them, it makes them feel good about themselves. They like burned-out, sick workers because that makes it much harder to fight back. They like workers to be kept in financial instability and other forms of instability (irregular hours, time monopoly, etc) for the same reason. Like I said, maybe I am cynical, but I haven’t met many people from white collar jobs who think retail or food service workers deserve better.’

    (https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/cguic0/serious_what_social_issue_are_we_currently_facing/eulnr7i/)

    I read these lines, and wondered : How do you see them? How do you relate to them? Do they sound paranoid, or as a good point well made, or as an undecided issue, worth having an exchange about?

    • Tatterdemalion says:

      The observation (i.e the final sentence) is spot on and a real problem, the explanation (i.e everything before that sentence) is toxic junk.

      Well-off people are not demons from hell, but too many of them support economic policies that in my view do not do enough for the poor, because they believe that who ends up well off has a large component of moral desert and a smaller one of luck than is actually the case.

      • acymetric says:

        I think the bigger issue is people sort of talking out both sides of their mouth on the issue, or wanting to have your cake and eat it too. Things like “fast food/retail should be a job for high-school kids, not a long term job/career”, ignoring the fact that kids can’t work during school hours or (ideally) night shift hours during the school year. We need adults working those jobs because the supply and hourly availability of high schoolers doesn’t meet demand, AND because we don’t actually have enough “good” jobs to keep all of those fast food/retail adults employed in other areas.

        So people need adults in those industries to get the service they want/expect/demand, but then flip around and talk about how adults just shouldn’t work those jobs to justify making those jobs incapable of sustaining adult cost-of-living needs without thinking about the actual implications of having no (or even just many fewer) adults working those jobs.

        • Matt M says:

          Maybe we could just abolish truancy/child labor laws?

          • acymetric says:

            Probably can’t cover demand. We need to cover somewhere around 22-25 million fast food and retail jobs. We only have ~18 million high school students, and some of those are already counted in the 22-25 million. Even if we put all the high school students in America to work we come up short. Maybe we can bring in middle schoolers but you still probably need close to 100% participation from all middle-high school students to make it work.

      • TheContinentalOp says:

        The well-off are fine with using immigrants to stagnate wages for retail/fast-food or even force them lower. And if you object, they get bonus points for calling you a racist.

      • aristides says:

        I agree with you. I’m probably one of the white collar people the redditor was talking about, and do think it’s a combination of moral desert and luck. My main difference is that even if the workers do not deserve higher wages, they deserve more respect than they get. You can technically argue that they are paid a fair enough wage to take abuse from customers, but no one should abuse customers in the first place. I wish the economy was in such a state that rude customers could be removed from the premises with more ease.

    • Two McMillion says:

      My responses:

      1. I hate the term “wage slavery” and I have to force myself not to dismiss anyone who uses it.
      2. I think suffering has at least as much to do with your state of mind as your actual conditions.
      3. The statements about wanting someone under them are probably true of about 10% of the middle and upper class; by far the largest feeling on this issue is apathy.
      4. I think the wages paid to most service sector employees are fair. That these wages are also not enough to live on is irrelevant.
      5. I’m sorry that people are suffering and I wish they weren’t.

      • fibio says:

        4. I think the wages paid to most service sector employees are fair. That these wages are also not enough to live on is irrelevant.

        This seems counter intuitive. If wages are insufficient then the only way that people are being employed is if they have some other resource (family, friends, government programs or savings) to support themselves. This is effectively a transfer of wealth from these other resources to the fast food chain’s bottom line, which seems unfair to me, particularly the government support as it is essentially an undisclosed subsidy to the company.

        • The Nybbler says:

          It seems strange to call this a “subsidy” to the employer, since if those people weren’t employed, presumably these other resources would be paying _more_ to support the now-unemployed person.

      • That these wages are also not enough to live on is irrelevant.

        Also obviously false. None of the service workers I observe appear to be starving to death.

        As I have pointed out before, the average real wage in the developed world at present is twenty to thirty times what the world average was through most of history. Given that, “not enough to live on” is nonsense, careless or dishonest rhetoric.

        As best I can tell, what it comes down to is, roughly, “not enough to live the sort of life I would be at least moderately comfortable living.”

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        I probably co-sign all those points, and I would supplement “5.” by saying I would support my taxes going up to pay for a wage subsidy.

    • Statismagician says:

      It kinda seems like the author has never talked to a real human person, and is arguing with a strawman made out of particularly callous Fox News commentator’s misremembered talking points. Most fast-food jobs being pretty crappy, and that being a bad thing for workers, is much more easily explained by market incentives than cartoon evil, and more importantly way easier to address if we don’t start off with a not-even-wrong idea of how we got to the current state of affairs.

    • John Schilling says:

      I read these lines, and wondered : How do you see them? How do you relate to them? Do they sound paranoid, or as a good point well made, or as an undecided issue, worth having an exchange about?

      I read those lines, and wonder whether the author would prefer I use the automated checkout line at the grocery store so as to spare the poor workers their “slavery”. I don’t “like burned-out, sick workers”, I don’t “like workers to be kept in financial instability”, I just want to buy my stuff and be on my way. All else being equal, I’d rather buy my stuff from happy people, but this guy and his class-warfare shtick are doing their level best to burn out any reserves of charity I might have in that area and the robot isn’t giving me any guff.

      • Thomas Jorgensen says:

        …I do not know about the author, but fucking yes. The entire point of automation is that it permits nessesary tasks to get done with less manhours, which means each manhour can be more highly paid. There is not a finite amount of tasks in need of doing, and mechanizing drudgework does not doom the people thus replaced to eternal joblessness, but instead sets them free to do work that requires more of them, and also pays them more.
        I know for a fact I am correct about this, because the people rendered surplus by the tractor and the combine harvester (IE; To a first approximation, the entire workforce) did not, in fact, starve to death.

        • The Nybbler says:

          but instead sets them free to do work that requires more of them, and also pays them more.

          Why are they not doing this work already?

          • Thomas Jorgensen says:

            For the same reason peasants did pesanting before the mechanization of agriculture. I have ideas about the exact mechanisms behind this, but I am a lot less certain about them than I am about the utter falsity of luddism.

      • Matt M says:

        I don’t “like burned-out, sick workers”, I don’t “like workers to be kept in financial instability”, I just want to buy my stuff and be on my way. All else being equal, I’d rather buy my stuff from happy people

        And yeah, this. It strikes me as utterly bizarre that some people might prefer their interactions with unskilled labor employees to be one where the employee is like, visibly stressed and unhappy and beaten down. I suppose I can conceive of fantastical supervillains who might prefer this sort of thing, so that they can in fact lord their superiority over the servant class.

        But I, and I suspect most people, want the exact opposite. We want to believe these people are happy and content. We want them to smile at us and be cheery. Now maybe that’s all a big lie. Maybe we shouldn’t want that. But the notion that the average Wal-Mart shopper gets off on the visible suffering of the checkout clerks is just so far removed from real life…

        • Yeah, people don’t really think in these abstract hypothetical possibilities in their day to day lives. They would prefer happier workers to sad workers because the latter make them more uncomfortable. But how many people give that much that thought to the happiness of workers when they’re shopping anyways?

          • Matt M says:

            Fully agree. I wouldn’t really have a problem with this post if he had just said “most people don’t really care whether the minimum wage employees they interact with are comfortable or not”, but instead he attributed active malice and claimed that I take active pleasure in the discomfort and suffering of such people, which is simply not true.

          • acymetric says:

            @Matt M

            I tend to agree. I think the first part of the post:

            Maybe I am cynical, but in regards to the daily horrors of the retail and fast food industries… I believe it doesn’t get talked about the way it needs to is because overall I think the middle class and higher are genuinely fine with the idea of wage slavery and don’t view people in service positions as completely human.

            Is pretty accurate, particularly if you parse “completely human” to mean having less value than themselves. The next sentence:

            They like having someone under them, it makes them feel good about themselves.

            Is certainly true for some people, and probably true for many people, although it isn’t a conscious, active desire that people seek out. Most people would deny feeling this way if asked, but only some of them would be correct.

            After that, the post of goes off the rails, especially since it is directed at the entire middle class (which is way wrong) instead of directing it at some upper class/elite types, where it is still probably mostly wrong (or at least hyperbole) but might have a ring of truth to it.

          • aristides says:

            A good example are people that go to chick fil a over McDonalds because their workers are more visibly happy. From what I can tell the happiness is authentic, and seems to be mainly caused by better hours, better managers, and slightly better wages and benefits. It’s more expensive, but I’m willing to pay a premium to support better business practices.

    • Matt M says:

      To deploy my favorite movie quote of all time: “Deserve’s got nuthin’ to do with it.”

      It is *incredibly* unlikely that any future state involves low-skill workers getting higher pay or better treatment than they do today. Status quo is probably their best-case scenario. Worst case involves massive unemployment due to increasing automation (which we see in high minimum wage jurisdictions).

      Nobody is entitled to anything. Luck is, always has been, and always will be, a huge factor in the quality of our lives. Every attempt by humans to mitigate or reduce that fact has mostly made things worse (and occasionally resulted in large piles of skulls).

    • baconbits9 says:

      The basic reaction I have is: If you think problem X isn’t being addressed then you had better put that problem into context of some kind. If you want to say ‘the incarceration rate of black males is awful’ that is different from ‘the incarceration rate of black males is awful and no one is doing anything about it, the latter requires that you put current rates into context with the past to show that things aren’t getting better. If you are going to talk about ‘wage slavery’ and the plight of the bottom economic classes and aren’t immediately discussing how things have gotten better/when you think they stopped getting better then its hard to view you as being even slightly objective.

    • The Pachyderminator says:

      Anyone who has ever worked retail or fast food should know this is true or at least plausible:

      They like having someone under them, it makes them feel good about themselves. They like burned-out, sick workers because that makes it much harder to fight back. They like workers to be kept in financial instability and other forms of instability (irregular hours, time monopoly, etc) for the same reason.

      Most people aren’t actively unkind or cruel to low-level service workers, though a more substantial minority than the typical SSC reader probably realizes are. But I think it’s true that relatively few middle-class people see such workers as genuinely equal in dignity to themselves.

      As always, there are lower levels still. Sex workers probably have it worse than anyone in retail or fast food, as do many workers in non-public-facing jobs.

      • Evan Þ says:

        I can believe that most middle-class people don’t really care about low-level service workers or see them as less dignified, but what makes you think they actually want them to be burned out and unstable?

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Standard confirmation bias would be enough.

          Not particularly endorsing the original piece, but a full time permanent service worker would interact with plenty of people who a) presume that SWs are an underclass, and therefore b) seek out confirmatory evidence and ignore non-corroboratory evidence. That could easily seem like active enmity.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            I don’t think any kind of majority of customers are assholes, but I have personally witnessed people being abusive to service workers enough that I expect there is a lot more I haven’t seen.

        • aristides says:

          I doubt customers do, but I work in HR and I’ve met managers that like their employees burned out and unstable (not sick, I can think of no reason to want that). In a well functioning organization, those managers get fired or demoted, but it’s not much of a stretch to assume there are badly functioning organizations that don’t realize they have a sadistic manager, especially since many form essentially abusive relationships with the employees where they feel like they are too powerless to tell any one. Again a minority, but a memorable minority.

        • The Pachyderminator says:

          HeelBearCub is right to an extent, TBH. Many people want to assert dominance over service workers without actively wanting them to be miserable. (Which isn’t always very consoling.) Also I might be conflating the desires of retail customers/people in general with retail/fast food corporations, who might have a material interest in keeping workers in a state of exhausted docility without the customers endorsing it.

          • albatross11 says:

            For most of us, our compensation is a mix of money, benefits, and quality of life. Most of us would not trade our current job for one that paid twice as much and was 100% drudgery and unpleasantness.

            For some people, power over others is part of the effective compensation. That includes some bosses, teachers, policemen, prison guards, judges, etc. The problem from an organizational perspective is that the fun kind of exercising power over other people is often not the kind that actually pushes forward the goals of the organization, and in fact is quite often really destructive.

            From a moral perspective, the problem is usually even worse, because lording it over other people and making them jump when you say frog is usually quite nasty for them, and in general, you getting to indulge your liking for smacking around people you mouth off to you/forcing your attractive employees to go out with you/etc., makes the world a much worse place.

    • Garrett says:

      Anybody who talks about “wage slavery” absent things like legitimate human trafficking leads me to conclude very poor things about them. My uncharitable response then is: “Be less useless”.

      • Guy in TN says:

        I feel somewhat the same way, but for every time someone describes workers as “freely” interacting “voluntarily” in a “marketplace”. The words just land with a thud of meaninglessness.

        I think the use of the term “wage slavery” is primarily a reaction to this particular liberal framework, which seems to dominate nearly all economic discourse. I personally don’t like to use the term for Worst Argument in the World reasons. But we do seem to be lacking good terminology for situations that are both non-voluntary and non-slavery (i.e., all laws and governance, including enforcement of private property).

        • albatross11 says:

          I think very few people in the US are actually in a “work in this job for this boss or starve” sort of situation. Many are in a situation in which the available choices of jobs all kinda suck. One argument for UBI and universal healthcare is that they would ensure that everyone had some kind of option other than working some horrible job to either keep food on the table or keep access to the lifesaving medicine their kid needed.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            The other problem can be that a lot of people don’t have the resources (time, energy) to look for another jab and/or don’t have the reserves to miss some paychecks in the transition from one job to another.

            It’s also difficult to find out what a prospective work environment is like.

          • Guy in TN says:

            One of the biggest breakthroughs for me occurred a few years ago, when I realized that pretty much all human interaction exists somewhere on a continuum between free and unfree, voluntary and involuntary, consensual and non-consensual. And that basically no activity could be categorized as occurring exclusively at one end of the spectrum.

            It seems obvious in retrospect. But this took me years to wrap my mind around. I doesn’t help that much of our political discourse is based on the assumption that these are discrete dichotomies, e.g. “you are either free or you are a slave”

    • Skeptical Wolf says:

      How do you see them? How do you relate to them? Do they sound paranoid, or as a good point well made, or as an undecided issue, worth having an exchange about?

      I see them as a bad point badly made and as an issue worth having an exchange about (but I am deeply skeptical that the redditor has anything to contribute to that discussion).

      One thing to keep in mind is that service workers frequently serve as the only available point of contact for people who are suffering at the hands of the organization (this is a particularly visible problem when you consider call-center workers). When a customer is under stress because of an organizational failure, it can be difficult for them to remember that the person they’re talking to isn’t actually in a position to meaningfully address that failure.

      For example, I recently ordered a new laptop. It arrived non-functional and a long series of support calls, factory resets, and recurrences of the problem ensued. Eventually, I found myself explaining to the third person on the fourth support call in a day that the factory reset process was completely failing. The actual blame for my issue lies with the company that sent out a defective product, the retail company that punted to vendor support on a product that arrived broken, the people who understaffed the call center so that any support call has a multi-hour wait, and the people who set up the call center to consist entirely of unskilled workers reading from a script that only has one solution to this sort of problem. But I had no way of interacting with any of those people; the only person I could interact with was the poor, overworked, stressed-out call center worker who was probably already going to get yelled at because my call took the longer than 70 seconds to close. I successfully remembered this and incurred the stress of not talking about the severe failures with that person, but I can understand how easy it is for people to fail at that.

      This gets even worse when the service worker has a hand in the situation. The problem is still that they’re over-worked, under-trained, and un-supported (all of which are organizational problems). But that’s easy to forget for someone facing the consequences of a mistake they wouldn’t have made in a better situation.

      Blame for this can reasonably be thrown at the people who set organizations up like this and the market/social conditions that make doing so profitable. But claiming that the office worker who gets angry when they realize that they’re going to have to work late tonight because their lunch has been sitting under the warming lights for 30 minutes is acting out of active malice or “doesn’t see service workers as human” is not only absurd, but actively counterproductive to any discussion of these issues.

  14. NostalgiaForInfinity says:

    With apologies for starting another impeachment thread (this didn’t quite fit with the other), I’ve seen people wondering about the Democrats’ decision to impeach. There’s obviously the pro-Trump response (“They hate Trump, they’ve always wanted to impeach”), but there’s a good faith argument you can make in favour of impeaching on this particular issue, that I think makes at least as much sense as any negative interpretations of the Democratic strategy.

    It is undoubtedly true that many Democrats detest Trump and many people have always wanted to impeach – but you’d still need to explain why they chose this charge / moment to impeach. In many ways it’s not a good one for them – the timing is awkward (the election is only 11 months away) and it involves the front runner for their candidacy in a negative way (Biden and his son don’t come out of this looking good). This latter point emphasises the bad timing because it’s in the middle of the Democratic leadership election.

    Unlike the other accusations that have been made about Trump, this is one is specifically about an alleged attempt to interfere in the next election. Using the power of the presidency to solicit help from another government to discredit your presumptive opponent is significant enough that they feel like they are obliged to impeach on the grounds that Trump is trying to compromise the election – so “settle it at the next election” is not an alternative. The whole [alleged] point is that Trump is trying to cheat. So from a strategic and moral perspective, their approach makes sense [assuming you believe the charges and interpret the evidence in that way].

    As an additional point, a successful impeachment would just lead to President Mike Pence – the political gains from it seem quite weak. The main gain would be be a possibility that it boosts the chances of a Democratic win in 2020.

    If you genuinely believe that Trump has done what he’s accused of, it’s worth supporting impeachment on the grounds that it’s the power Congress has to try to remedy Presidential misbehaviour and they need to take a stand. With the caveat that given they know they’ll likely lose, the norms circumscribing Presidential behaviour will be more damaged by “you can get away with malfeasance due to a partisan acquittal in the Senate*” than “we just won’t use impeachment when we arguably should”.

    *Yes, I agree the Democrats already showed this with Clinton’s acquittal.

    • cassander says:

      The trouble with that line is that almost everything every president does is geared towards winning re-election for him and his party. I would feel differently if Trump had just been fishing, but it’s abundantly clear that hunter wasn’t getting hired on his merits and was an entirely legitimate subject of investigation. I feel that, if it’s successful, this attempt by the democrats to criminalize investigating a Democrat will do far more damage than Trump’s actions did. But I would think that, because I’ve felt that way about a lot of the anti Trump hysteria.

      • NostalgiaForInfinity says:

        Well yes, obviously presidents are trying to get re-elected, but there are rules about what they can do to make that happen. Making foreign policy / aid dependent on cooperation with your attempt to win is not something that is generally done – and arguably meets the grounds for impeachment in a way that e.g. conveniently timed tax cuts and spending increases don’t.

        • EchoChaos says:

          Well yes, obviously presidents are trying to get re-elected, but there are rules about what they can do to make that happen.

          Sure, and the Democrats violated them in 2016 when they used foreign data to procure FISA warrants on the advisors of their political rival.

          That’s actually directly illegal, rather than just “feels wrong” like withholding foreign aid in exchange for an investigation.

          And I note it’s still not proven that Trump actually tied the foreign aid to the investigation.

          Given that the Democrats were not punished for what they did in 2016, why do you think the Republicans should accept being punished for less (even if proven).

          • John Schilling says:

            Given that the Democrats were not punished for what they did in 2016, why do you think the Republicans should accept being punished for less (even if proven).

            Because nobody is proposing to punish “The Republicans”, because the American legal system is very fortunately not set up to allow punishment on the basis of being part of the Wrong political faction. The proposal at hand is to punish one specific Republican, singular, who is credibly accused of bribery or extortion using misallocated taxpayer funds, and to replace that specific Republican with another Republican – specifically, the Republican chosen by his fellow Republicans to fill that role with minimum disruption.

            By analogy, you need to lay off the utterly, horrifically unacceptable demand that someone punish “The Democrats”, and name the specific Democratic party members you want to see punished for specific crimes. Lying on a FISA warrant application? Fine. What’s the name of the Democrat you want punished for that?

            President Barack Hussein Obama didn’t do that, or order anyone else to do that, because one of the requirements the Democratic party insists on in its nominees is “don’t be stupid enough to do that sort of stuff yourself”. I don’t know of any official elected under the Democratic party label who is credibly accused of doing such a thing. FBI agents did that, lots of them, but “FBI agent” is a non-partisan position and the FBI’s agents have been broadly and genuinely non-partisan in the bit where they have lied on pretty much every FISA warrant application since the invention of FISA.

            Several FBI agents who were too blatantly partisan in their misdeeds, have been properly removed. Probably several more will be in the coming year, including the merely apolitically sleazy. They’ll probably avoid prison time due to difficulty of proving malice, but removal from office seems to be the usual standard on both sides here.

            Want more? Then you need to be specific about who, and why. Because demanding that “The Democrats” be punished, no, we’re not doing that. Saying that “The Republicans” get a free pass because we didn’t punish “The Democrats” to your satisfaction, I sincerely hope we aren’t doing that either. If we do, then the Democrats get a free pass when it’s their turn, and they will be FAR more efficient in using it than Trump ever was.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @John Schilling

            Because nobody is proposing to punish “The Republicans”, because the American legal system is very fortunately not set up to allow punishment on the basis of being part of the Wrong political faction.

            Trump’s impeachment is entirely about punishing “The Republicans” and has been from day 1.

            By analogy, you need to lay off the utterly, horrifically unacceptable demand that someone punish “The Democrats”, and name the specific Democratic party members you want to see punished for specific crimes. Lying on a FISA warrant application? Fine. What’s the name of the Democrat you want punished for that?

            Joe Biden and Barack Obama, the leaders of the Executive Branch that allowed these serious crimes on their watch.

            President Barack Hussein Obama didn’t do that, or order anyone else to do that, because one of the requirements the Democratic party insists on in its nominees is “don’t be stupid enough to do that sort of stuff yourself”.

            Not determined, since as far as I know, nobody has investigated him and gotten a statement under oath. He has been accused by several of directly knowing about it, although they are Republican partisans.

            I do indeed want him fully investigated.

            I will note that nobody is accusing Trump of doing it himself either. In fact, the testimony is specifically that Trump requested that there be no “quid pro quo”, but that “everybody knew he wanted one” and that Giuliani was the one actually doing the legwork.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Trump’s impeachment is entirely about punishing “The Republicans” and has been from day 1.

            deep sigh

            I sense that you (and pretty much everyone else who posts on this topic on SSC) are unreachable on this.

            Trump is unique. Most everyone in the Republican party thought he was beyond the pale before he got the nomination. Yes, wagons were then circled, but it doesn’t change the fact that reaction to him was highly negative even from within his own party.

            President Jeb! doesn’t generate talk of impeachment. If he loses the popular vote and wins the EC you would hear people talking about illegitimacy, most especially if it comes down to within the scanning machine margin of error in a single state. But not impeachment.

            Because Jeb, unlike Trump, would take the task of governing seriously. He would put his hand on the tiller of the ocean liner that is government and move the tiller 5 degrees to starboard. Trump, by contrast, randomly grabs the yoke of the jumbo jet of state and attempts to execute a barrel roll followed by a loop-de-loop. Then he lets go of the controls again.

            Here is where you are going to say the GWB generated talk of impeachment. I’m sure you can point me at some. But it won’t be anything that actually had any chance of making it into committee, let alone off the floor.

            It would be at the level people talked about trying to impeach Obama. Yes, people got froth-mouthed. Glenn Beck went on about “Czars” which meant Obama was a secret communist. We had 500 investigations of Bhengazi or some other flavor of the week scandal cooked up in the meth labs underneath Fox News. But Obama was not impeached in the 6 years that Obama had a Republican house. Nor was GWB impeached during the 2 years he had a Democratic house.

            Details matter. Facts matter.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @HeelBearCub

            I 100% totally and absolutely agree with you on this point.

            Trump is unique, and the elites of both parties viewed him as a massive threat.

            Believing that makes me less likely to believe the elites when they say that he has been uniquely evil, not more.

          • Sure, and the Democrats violated them in 2016 when they used foreign data to procure FISA warrants on the advisors of their political rival.

            That’s actually directly illegal, rather than just “feels wrong” like withholding foreign aid in exchange for an investigation.

            What makes that illegal?

            I thought the complaint about the FISA warrant was not the fact that some of the data was from foreigners, which the court that granted the request knew, but that the FBI misled the court in multiple ways about the evidence on which they were applying for a warrant.

          • Glenn Beck went on about “Czars” which meant Obama was a secret communist.

            An odd meaning, given that it was the communists who killed the Czar. Shouldn’t Glenn Beck have been going on about commissars instead?

            On your substantial point, that Trump is a loose cannon who shouldn’t be president, the usual solution is to vote him out, and the opportunity to do that is coming up shortly.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            An odd meaning, given that it was the communists who killed the Czar. Shouldn’t Glenn Beck have been going on about commissars instead?

            Take that up with Beck.

            On your substantial point, that Trump is a loose cannon who shouldn’t be president, the usual solution is to vote him out, and the opportunity to do that is coming up shortly.

            This is in no way respondent to what I wrote, which was about whether Trump being impeached was really just about punishing Republicans, or whether we have substantial evidence that Trump being impeached is mostly about Trump, and not about any generic Republican.

          • BBA says:

            Details matter. Facts matter.

            I spend some time inside the Democratic bubble. From there, it’s obvious that there’s something to this Ukraine thing. Pelosi is no obsessive Krassenstein retweeter who thinks everything she sees is proof of treason. She didn’t act when the Dems took control of the House, she didn’t act when the Mueller report came out, but she’s acting now. That says something. (Also, the notion that the media has a liberal bias is patently ridiculous – the bubble frequently mocks the “Shape of Earth: Opinions Differ” tendencies of the NYT and NPR.)

            But from outside the bubble – both in the Republican bubble, and among the apolitical masses outside both – the Democrats are a uniform blob. The #Resistance crowd (roughly equivalent to the talk radio cranks mentioned elsewhere) is running the show because they’re the loudest. Intra-party fights are invisible. There’s no difference between the Russia stuff and the Ukraine stuff, it’s all just libs gonna lib.

            And the way our system is set up, no bubble can run anything unless it’s an overwhelming bubble that covers most of the country. The sad truth is: Feelings don’t care about your facts.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            And the way our system is set up, no bubble can run anything unless it’s an overwhelming bubble that covers most of the country. The sad truth is: Feelings don’t care about your facts.

            If the point of being here isn’t to puncture bubbles, don’t things become dull?

          • BBA says:

            There are many bubbles that need puncturing.

            In 1998 as a teenager I saw the Clinton impeachment as a partisan farce. 21 years later, almost to the day, my view of the Trump impeachment is exactly the same.

            I also think both presidents engaged in conduct, both before entering office and once in office, that was worthy of impeachment, removal, and possibly imprisonment. (It’s not often that I agree with Christianity Today, but there you go.)

            But the legalistic requirements of an impeachment are a poor fit for political reality. We’ve known this since 1868 when Congress invented a nonsensical law for Andrew Johnson to violate and impeached him when he inevitably violating it. They shouldn’t have bothered with the formalities; Johnson was bad enough to justify a coup.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            In 1998 as a teenager I saw the Clinton impeachment as a partisan farce. 21 years later, almost to the day, my view of the Trump impeachment is exactly the same.

            As a Republican I felt the same way. I had been very excited about the Republicans taking the house in ’94 and the Contract with America, and I was happy with Newt and Clinton cooperating on welfare reform, criminal justice reform (which in retrospect was a mixed bag). And then impeachment of Clinton seemed like it was entirely inside baseball. Squandered political capital and wasted time and money for no good reason. What he did wasn’t good, but censure him and move on.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            What he did wasn’t good, but censure him and move on.

            Unfortunately, the Republicans in Congress seem unwilling to admit there was anything wrong. I can count on one hand the number who say “bad but not impeachable” out of nearly 200.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Unfortunately, the Republicans in Congress seem unwilling to admit there was anything wrong.

            I’m talking about Clinton. The Republicans voted to impeach Clinton, and I don’t think they should have, even though what he did was wrong. Trump, however, did nothing wrong.

        • cassander says:

          That only holds if you assume that investigating Biden isn’t a legitimate policy desire. I think it was. I have no doubt that Trump was more motivated by electoral concerns than love of justice, but that’s true of a lot of policy. Wars have been fought where that was true. I have a hard time getting upset about presidential motives when they go after a pretty flagrantly guilty hunter Biden and not when they launch actual wars that get people killed.

          • LadyJane says:

            That only holds if you assume that investigating Biden isn’t a legitimate policy desire.

            No, that’s not the case. That line of thinking leads to Duterte and Xi Jinping.

            Even if an investigation is legitimate, the means used to carry out that investigation can be illegal. This is obviously true for police investigations and the like, and should hold true in the realm of politics too. The presence of actual corruption does not give the President carte blanche to do anything he wants in the name of rooting it out, especially when an instance of rooting out corruption happens to be of enormous political benefit to that President. One can believe that Biden was guilty and still also believe that Trump greatly overstepped his bounds in how he chose to deal with the situation.

          • cassander says:

            @LadyJane

            No, that’s not the case. That line of thinking leads to Duterte and Xi Jinping.

            I think the US is erring more on the side of too few politicians in jail than too many.

            Even if an investigation is legitimate, the means used to carry out that investigation can be illegal.

            Absolutely, but that wasn’t the case here. A president asking another country to assist in an investigation is not illegal, even if trump does it.

          • LadyJane says:

            A president asking another country to assist in an investigation is not illegal, even if trump does it.

            Sure, if we’re just ignoring the quid pro quo aspect or pretending it didn’t happen, then I agree. Trump asking Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden does not constitute a crime or an impeachable offense in itself.

            But given the overwhelming amount of evidence showing that Trump was explicitly trading US political and financial support for this particular favor, I think it’s safe to say that he’s guilty of abusing his power.

          • cassander says:

            @LadyJane says:

            But given the overwhelming amount of evidence showing that Trump was explicitly trading US political and financial support for this particular favor, I think it’s safe to say that he’s guilty of abusing his power.

            There’s no actual evidence of a direct quid pro quo. IIRC, it’s not even clear that the Ukraine knew the aid was being withheld. But even if there was, asking countries that are getting US aid to do things to get that aid is not a crime, even if those things electorally benefit the president doing the asking.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            But given the overwhelming amount of evidence showing that Trump was explicitly trading US political and financial support for this particular favor

            This is where I think we’re watching different movies. I have not seen any evidence that Trump was explicitly or implicitly trading US political and financial support for an investigation of Biden. Not one of the witnesses testified that Trump instructed them to make such a trade, nor that they saw Trump instruct someone else to do so. President Zelensky and his foreign minister both state that no such trade or pressure happened. There would also not be any trading or favors required, as we have a treaty with Ukraine signed by Bill Clinton in 1998/1999 that requires our nations to cooperate with each other in criminal investigations.

            The witnesses apparently heard (or invented) rumors that Trump was doing such a thing, but hearing rumors does not constitute “overwhelming evidence” of “explicit” activity.

            Carol and Dave do not like Bob. They hear a rumor that Bob murdered Alice, which sounds like a totally Bob thing to do. The police ask Alice if she was murdered. Alice says “nope.” Carol and Dave then say Bob tried to murder Alice. Bob and Alice say “nope, no attempted murder either,” and no witnesses come forth to state that they saw Bob attempt to murder Alice. Do we have overwhelming evidence that Bob explicitly tried to murder Alice?

          • meh says:

            depends. did Bob have a phone call where he said he paints houses?

          • smocc says:

            Alternatively, Alice and Bob live together as a couple and Carol says she overheard Alice abusing Bob. We call on the house and find Bob has a black eye, but Bob says he tripped and fell. Do we suddenly think that Bob wasn’t abused?

            Zelensky saying that he wasn’t pressured or blackmailed has basically zero evidentiary value in my mind because, assuming that Trump was trying to pressure him into shady actions, what incentive would he have to say so? He’s facing huge pressure from Russia and feels a need for American aid and appearance of support. The only way biting the hand that is about to feed him would work out for him is if somehow Trump is immediately and miraculously removed and replaced with someone who will continue to give him what he needs. The downsides are far more likely and pressing. The right play for him is clearly to present a unified front with whoever is currently in charge. And if that requires stretching the truth to a foreign congress I’m not sure I blame him.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            If all Zelensky wants to do is please the current US administration, why would pressure need to be applied at all? Pleasing Trump by throwing Biden under the bus is a no-brainer.

            Also, according to John Solomon’s reporting, the Ukrainians have been trying to get information about Biden and the DNC to Trump since summer 2018, and they were stymied by State/US Attorney’s Office officials, which is why they eventually hooked up with Rudy. The uncharitable reason for this would tie in with your supposition: the Ukrainians were already offering stuff they thought Trump would want to Trump to please the current administration. Maybe even as a thank you because Trump is the one who reversed the Obama admin’s decisions and started giving Ukraine lethal military aid. Biden might end that, adopting the same policies as when he was VP, so it’s in the Ukrainians’ interests to have Trump in office rather than Biden. You’ll notice in the Not a Transcript it is Zelensky who brings up Rudy (and therefore Biden), not Trump. This is because the investigation of or dirt collection on Biden was already underway. All Trump does is agree with Zelensky that it is good.

            My general opinion of Zelensky is very positive because I like his origin story, that he was a TV comedian elected to clean up corruption. Poroshenko I can believe started the effort to curry favor with Trump. Zelensky I can believe continued it both because he doesn’t like what Biden was doing in Ukraine and because he wanted to curry favor with Trump.

          • Aftagley says:

            Because then he’s alienated democrats pretty much for the rest of time. Especially if the investigation turns up nothing, which I can say with 99% certainty it would.

            Zelinksy wants supporting Ukraine to remain a bipartisan issue. That’s his primary goal; under the current administration that means mollifying Trump to the extent that Trump likes him, but not so much that democrats get pissy.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            if the investigation turns up nothing, which I can say with 99% certainty it would

            That seems like a very high certainty over things none of us really know. What we do know however is that Hunter Biden is involved, and the CEO of Burisma is famously very corrupt. It would surprise me to find Joe himself with the hand in the cookie jar, but I would be more surprised to find no shenanigans at all.

          • John Schilling says:

            but I would be more surprised to find no shenanigans at all.

            Where were you planning to look?

            Because if you aren’t up to flying off to Kiev yourself, the only question you can get answered isn’t “was Hunter Biden involved in shenanigans?”, but “Will the Ukrainian government announce that Hunter Biden was involved in shenanigans?”. Since Donald Trump has a notoriously short attention span and no great track record for loyalty, whereas Hunter Biden’s Dad may be the next POTUS in spite of any shenanigans, I’m not seeing any percentage in Ukraine calling shenanigans whether they occurred or not.

            Or, you know, maybe ask for a professional investigation into allegations of corruption by a government not itself known for entrenched corruption and with independent oversight. Funny how nobody even tried to make that happen.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            Because if you aren’t up to flying off to Kiev yourself, the only question you can get answered isn’t “was Hunter Biden involved in shenanigans?”, but “Will the Ukrainian government announce that Hunter Biden was involved in shenanigans?”.

            I meant that in the context of somebody doing a proper investigation with integrity in honesty, more in the abstract than in the real world. I should have phrased

            It would surprise me to find Joe himself with the hand in the cookie jar, but I would be more surprised to find no shenanigans at all.

            like this:

            Joe probably didnt have his hand in the cookie jar, but Hunter and Burisma were probably up to some shenanigans.

          • Aftagley says:

            That seems like a very high certainty over things none of us really know.

            Does it? Honest question here.

            All this stuff happened during the Obama administration – during this time republicans had every motivation to find evidence of wrongdoing going on within the white house and, looking at Benghazi here, weren’t above drastically inflating some questionable-but-not-illegal decisions the administration made into out-and-out scandals. Hunter’s work wasn’t a secret then, nor was Biden’s actions in Ukraine. Yet during that time period, nothing came out.

            Since Trump took office, making Obama’s administration look bad and rolling back Obama’s accomplishments has been a consistent priority, yet nothing has come out.

            Then, as Biden became the democratic frontrunner, Trump’s circle clearly began investigating this line of questioning with some degree of heavily expressed interest, yet nothing came out.

            Then, since this scandal broke, finding conclusive evidence of Biden doing something wrong would literally have been all that was needed to shut down an impeachment hearing… yet nothing has come out.

            If there was a smoking gun to be found, it would have been found by now.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Hunter’s work wasn’t a secret then, nor was Biden’s actions in Ukraine. Yet during that time period, nothing came out.

            I would largely put that down to the Republicans and Democrats all being part of the Big Club. Nobody wants to get all huffy about one politico’s kid’s graft because that threatens their own kid’s graft.

            Also, albatross11’s frequent complaints that the abuses of power they all do, like start wars without Congressional authorization are big yawners.

            As far as nothing coming out now, it has. It’s been reported from John Solomon’s investigations, which have been aired on Fox News and other places. The response has not been, “oh, this does look bad,” but to attack John Solomon, without refuting any of John Solomon’s facts.

            If there were to be an investigation of Biden’s role in the firing of the Ukrainian prosecutor, what I would like is testimony or documents from the State Department officials who helped craft this policy. Whose idea was it first to fire Shokin? Do we have policy proposal memos from the guys in the Ukraine department at State first floating this idea and documenting why he should be fired? Why did the IMF and various western nations want Shokin fired? Was it because the US said it was a good idea, or did they also have their own internal reasons for wanting to do this? How common is it for a Vice President of the United States to get personally involved in the firing of cabinet level officials in foreign nations? How many people did each of Gore, Cheney, Biden, and Pence get fired? How often does the US do this sort of thing in general? If it isn’t the Vice President, who usually intervenes to get a specific individual fired in a foreign nation? Why didn’t that person do it this time?

            These are all questions I’d like to have answered, but few people in the media or congress seem interested in asking them.

          • Aftagley says:

            These are all questions I’d like to have answered, but few people in the media or congress seem interested in asking them.

            I’m doing this against my better judgement:

            Source 1: A contemporaneous Irish Times report on the EU’s initial response to the firing of Victor Shokin. It describes the overall feeling of the EU and lays out their reasoning for wanting him fired.

            Source 2: Contemporaneous NYT reporting about Shokin being fired. Mostly about how bad shokin is, also talks about how the IMF was also considering holding back aid until Shokin was dismissed.

            Source 3: A speech given in 2015 by the then US ambassador to Ukraine in which the ambassador lays out pretty clearly that Shokin’s office is corrupt and says “The United States stands behind those who challenge these bad actors.” I include this quote because it proves that opposition to Shokin was spread throughout the Obama administration.

            I think a good read of those sources should answer around half your questions. The other ones, directly related to “is it common for VPs to do this sort of thing” would require a broader understanding of the office of the VP and joe Biden’s role as VP under Obama to answer. Suffice it to say, yes – for this administration Joe making these kinds of moves was fairly common; Obama empowered him pretty strongly and Joe was very hands on when it came to diplomacy.

        • Matt says:

          Making foreign policy / aid dependent on cooperation with your attempt to win is not something that is generally done

          Hey, back off this issue until after the election and I will be able to give you more of what you want.

          • meh says:

            is your claim that the link is an example of the quoted part?

          • Matt says:

            I believe that’s what was going on, yes. Obama is asking for a reprieve on certain issues, particularly missile defense because that will help him win his upcoming election. After he wins, he will be able to give Russia more of what they want, and says so. The Russian president Medvedev verbally grants him the reprieve he asks for, (they will give him space to win his election instead of pressing on these contentious issues now and making Obama’s re-election more difficult, that is, aiding Obama in his re-election effort) and tells him that he will tell Putin about the verbal agreement they have just made.

            I assume you have another interpretation?

      • DinoNerd says:

        Serious question – is there ever an issue of means rather than ends, in your world view?

        I don’t think anyone’s complaining about him trying to get re-elected. The question is whether the means he used are acceptable.

        I don’t have a dog in that fight – too much normal US politics violates my instincts of what should be acceptable, probably because I wasn’t raised in this country.

        But what you say above seems to be consistent with e.g. framing his opponents (after all, he knows they’re guilty), and a lot of even worse things that no one’s alleging in the current situation (at least as far as I know).

        • cassander says:

          I don’t think the question is so much means vs. ends. more actions vs. motives. Means matter, but motives are never really knowable, and even if the are they’re sort of irrelevant. This means they be considered and instead you should try to evaluate the actions, and ask the questions “do I think this this action will produce results I like” and “are these means an acceptable way to achieve those results”. In this case, I think both answers are a yes.

    • EchoChaos says:

      *Yes, I agree the Democrats already showed this with Clinton’s acquittal.

      And if we impeach Trump the new rule will be “Democrats can get away with it, Republicans can’t”.

      Republicans thought we had a fair “cooperate/cooperate” standard for Presidents to not commit Federal crimes and cooperated with Nixon. Democrats defected with Clinton, so Republicans have absolutely no incentive to impeach Trump, especially as the actual articles of impeachment don’t contain any actual Federal crimes.

      The Democrats will have to cooperate with the impeachment of a Democrat President before I would trust them again, which is the tragic nature of defecting.

      • DeWitt says:

        Alternatively, the lesson is ‘Republican presidents are worse about this than Democratic ones’, and Americans would do well to subsequently heed it.

        • Evan Þ says:

          Alternatively, the lesson is Democratic Presidents’ misdeeds get silenced. Obama should’ve been impeached for using foreign intelligence to get warrants on the Trump campaign, and for unjustly denying tax-exempt status to his political enemies.

          • TripleS says:

            Considering that the Republicans controlled Congress for the majority of Obama’s tenure as president, if he didn’t get impeached when he should have, whose fault is that? Didn’t Moscow Mitch vow to make Obama a one term president as soon as he was elected? Why didn’t he go through with that if he could?

          • EchoChaos says:

            @TripleS

            I understand that this winds you up, but please don’t use epithets for your political opposition like “Moscow Mitch”.

          • TripleS says:

            Hey, the POTUS does it.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I prefer “Cocaine Mitch.” That one’s hilarious.

          • Aftagley says:

            Serious question: does anyone actually like Mitch McConnell enough to make defending him a worthwhile use of mine or anyone’s time? If yes, I’ll avoid using those kind of nicknames, but opinions of that guy, in my experience, tend to range from “evil” to “evil, but he’s on my side.”

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Aftagley

            I like Mitch McConnell.

            But even more, I like an atmosphere here in SSC where we discuss topics like impeachment without mindkilling memes.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Echo Chaos:

            But even more, I like an atmosphere here in SSC where we discuss topics like impeachment without mindkilling memes.

            That’s not actually true. You just like the mind-killing memes that support your side and have successfully detached your personal cerebellum from your own spinal cord. I have choice words about the now re-formed group which I will avoid posting (even if I haven’t avoided typing them).

            You’re actual objection is to a sort of ad hominem attack. I can get behind that.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @HeelBearCub

            I try to avoid snappy mindkilling memes in my discussions like this, and I’m pretty sure I don’t use any.

            That we have both come to completely different conclusions about the outcome and reasonableness of impeachment doesn’t make that any less true.

            And I appreciate your support on the ad hominems.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @EchoChaos:
            See that’s the thing, you can’t even see them.

            Democrats defected with Clinton, so Republicans have absolutely no incentive to impeach Trump

            Let’s set aside for a second whether Democrats “defected”. You are offering this up as you are also saying:

            Asking for an investigation to be opened is not a crime under any statute I’m aware of.

            You are playing both sides of the fence, and being dishonest about it, probably even to yourself.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @HeelBearCub

            Those are just conclusions I’ve come to, not memes that instantly kill conversation.

            “Orange man bad” is a good example of a similar right-wing one, or “Obummer”.

            If I say that the Democrats cannot reasonably remove Trump because they’ve lost the right to impeach unilaterally after their defection with Clinton, you can tell me reasonably that you don’t think Clinton was defecting from the norm of holding Presidents accountable and we just disagree.

            My view is that Trump did nothing wrong, and additionally I don’t trust the Democrats to prove that Trump did something wrong because of their defection in the Clinton matter and the FISA matter.

            But if I just reply with “you’re just saying Orange Man Good” or “you’re a Russian plant”, then we’re not actually having a conversation.

            Note that you don’t do this and I enjoy talking to you.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @EchoChaos:
            1- “The reason Republicans won’t impeach is because Democrats defected over Clinton.”
            2- “The reason Republicans won’t impeach is because Trump did nothing wrong.”

            You do realize that these two arguments are, if not directly contradictory, at the very least in great tension with each other?

          • Evan Þ says:

            @HeelBearCub, I don’t see them as being in tension at all. Prototypical Republican believes Trump didn’t commit any high crimes or misdemeanors, and in addition believes that even if he had, the Democrats defected over Clinton so Trump shouldn’t be impeached even in that hypothetical.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            Part of me is receptive to the idea of calling out the game (of mindkilling, in this case), and thus, ending the game.

            Pursuant to that, maybe we should just refer to him as Starkiller Mitch.

            Or perhaps, Superconducting Supercollider Mitch.

          • You just like the mind-killing memes that support your side

            Can offer examples of Conrad using such memes?

            He has said things that were not true but that he believed to be true, but the fact that other people promptly pointed out the error and he then retracted the claim (the Ukrainian server used to access the Democratic email) is evidence that it wasn’t a mind-killing meme.

            That’s not the same thing as saying something neither true nor false, such as attaching a negative epithet to the name of someone you don’t like.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @DavidFriedman

            He accused me, not Conrad.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            He accused me, not Conrad.

            … and both attempted to improve the articulation of, and generally agreed with, what I took to be your real objection, against ad-hominem argument.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I don’t think I improved the articulation of anything, I just said I like the name “Cocaine Mitch.”

            Do you know the story behind that one? I think it’s the most hilarious failure of political branding of all time.

          • CatCube says:

            @Aftagley

            Since the only reason to tolerate the toothache-that-walks-like-a-man who is Trump is judicial appointments, the work Mitch McConnell has been doing on that is certainly something I like.

            Not enough to stan for the guy or anything about nicknames–I actually used “Cocaine Mitch” in my comment until I thought better of it given the ongoing debate–but he’s the only one right now working on something I care about.

          • John Schilling says:

            the work Mitch McConnell has been doing on that is certainly something I like.

            Setting the stage for a 9-6 liberal majority on the Supreme Court?

          • The Nybbler says:

            If the liberal response to conservatives getting a majority on the Supreme Court (by anything short of cutting throats) is to successfully pack the court so they win, the conservatives have already lost and it doesn’t matter what they do. Arguably, FDR demonstrated that even a credible threat is sufficient to prove the no-win scenario.

          • John Schilling says:

            We’ve seen the liberal response to Conservatives getting a majority through pre-2016 means, and it’s “wait for our turn, plus trust that even nominally-conservative judges will liberalize on the bench”. This has worked tolerably well for them over the years.

            What McConnell did to Merrick Garland in 2016, however reasonable it may seem to you, is seen by most liberals as a major violation of pre-2016 norms and close enough to “throat-cutting” as makes no difference. Plus, it establishes that the Supreme Court can have a number of members not equal to nine, for a prolonged period if it is convenient to the Senate majority.

            the conservatives have already lost

            It is quite possible that this is so. If so, they lost in 2016. If it is possible to avoid this defeat, that will require some combination of A: making the majority of the US population that disapproves of Donald Trump, nonetheless feel safe electing Republican Senators, and/or B: making future Democratic Senators perceive their mandate as “restore normalcy” rather than “payback, bitch”.

          • Plus, it establishes that the Supreme Court can have a number of members not equal to nine, for a prolonged period if it is convenient to the Senate majority.

            It’s already been established that a president with enough congressional support can pack the court by adding a justice who will vote in the desired direction — more than a hundred and fifty years ago.

          • The Nybbler says:

            We’ve seen the liberal response to Conservatives getting a majority through pre-2016 means

            I’m not going to grant the implicit claim that the conservatives held a majority of the court that decided Obergefell.

          • John Schilling says:

            “Conservative majority” is in this context almost always shorthand for “majority of judges appointed by Republican presidents who presumably expected conservative jurisprudence”. I was using it in that sense, and apologize for the imprecision.

      • LadyJane says:

        @EchoChaos: Clinton having an extramarital affair is not remotely in the same ballpark as what Nixon did or what Trump is accused of doing. Nor is the fact that he was basically gotcha’d into comm