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Yudkowsky on Trump

I am broadly speaking of Perry’s mindset, though should Trump win I would quite enjoy seeing the shock and horror on the faces of most of the people who are shocked and horrified by him. But that is because I think Trump and Hillary are in the same order of magnitude of badness.

Then again, I have found Eliezer Yudkowsky to be right about a lot of things and thought provoking about everything. And he is writing on Facebook.

I do know a few people who think that Trump might shake things up for the better, on account of not being part of the malevolent current power structure. And those people generally also express a thought to the effect that Trump can’t do *that* much damage because the existing bureaucratic structure will restrain him.

What. The hell. Are they smoking? Because it’s not rolled-up pages of history books.

Obama has limited power because he *plays by the rules*–the real rules, not the written rules, but he plays by those rules nonetheless. The lesson of history is that populist strongmen… yes, populist strongmen can happen here, they can happen anywhere, it happens all the time, not to aliens but to populations of human beings pretty much exactly like the population of human beings surrounding you. Just because you don’t understand the governing phenomena does not mean you’re exempt from them.

But I digress. Lesson one of history: Populist strongmen *fire* the senior bureaucrats who don’t obey them and replace them with loyalists. And that works. The strongman does successfully consolidate power and he is obeyed henceforth, even by people who theoretically shouldn’t obey him, even when it is theoretically against the law.

Lesson two, you’d be *amazed* at how fast senior bureaucrats capitulate to populist strongmen. I was amazed at how fast the existing Republican party structure rolled over for someone who’d cheerfully slit their throats, back when Trump was running for President with, God help them, the support of the Republican leadership. But I shouldn’t have been surprised, because the history books repeat over and over and over the story of the surprisingly fast capitulation of government bureaucrats and key social figures to the strongman. I guess I thought it couldn’t happen here in America? Well, that was stupid of me, because the history books are full of people saying how they thought that it couldn’t happen in their country either.

In another post, Yudkowsky is specific about the sort of thing that concerns him about Trump. He starts by discussing the difference between politics that is theatre (most of it) and the politics that is really serious. Then he describes Trumps serious mistake.

Maybe you heard that Trump said maybe we shouldn’t defend NATO countries if Russia invades. And you interpreted that as Trump expressing fed-up-ness with American military spending and our trying to defend everything in the world without getting much in return. Somebody in the newspapers seemed to be making a big deal out of it, just like they make a big deal out of Clinton emails. Clutching at their pearl necklaces and fainting about how terribly important it is that America honor its commitments to other countries, or something.

No.

The people in the national security bureaucracy–hell, even *me*, even though I’m not a national security bureaucrat and have only read a handful of military history books–heard that and thought:

“HOLY SHIT.”

This is so serious because:

If I were to try summarize very briefly why Trump’s remarks on NATO crossed a HOLY SHIT line, it’d be along the lines of: “If you read the history books, you realize that it is REALLY REALLY bad to have any ambiguity about which minor powers the major powers will defend; that is how World War I *and* World War II both started.”

And: “In the wake of the second World War that started from that kind of ambiguity, the senior leaders in both the East and the West, enemies though they may have been, decided to learn the lesson and henceforth be more clear about which countries they’d defend. Not only did Trump blow through that, he did so in a way that indicates he has no idea of how World War I started and why this is one of the things you absolutely don’t do. He doesn’t listen to advisors. He doesn’t have advisors! God knows what other guardrails he’s going to blow through!”

Trump didn’t realize he was blowing through one of the deadly serious guardrails. And Trump is not actually stupid, he does not actually have an IQ below 100, he took economics at Wharton. So it’s fine, it’s okay, it does not make you a bad person, if you also don’t know why that was so much more terrible than everything else the media is making a fuss about. Not every citizen of America needs to read _The Guns of August_ and _The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich_, like I did, or study a vastly larger amount of real military history, like the Republican national security bureaucracy did.

However. If you want to be in the national government, you *are* supposed to know that this is one of those places where you talk to one of the senior bureaucrats before deciding that it is okay to mouth off about NATO commitments, or before deciding to go ahead and invade Poland. Even people in Washington DC who haven’t read any history books understand that part, because most people in Washington DC do know that politics has a deadly serious level as well as a media theater level.

What Trump said wasn’t a gaffe, it was not one of those things that you’d have to be an idiot to say in front of journalists, it was a world-threatening misstep in the real-life version of the National Security Decision-Making Game.

It is possible that Yudkowsky is over-egging the pudding. He is the type of person who worries about the existential threat of artificial intelligence. And then there is the possibility that even given all this, Hillary is worse. Commenter Hugo Schmidt tries to explain how:

I admire the hell out of Eliezer’s writing here. It’s one of the few pieces I’ve seen that makes a strong case against Trump without calling everyone who favours Trump a maniac or a bigot.

I still don’t agree. Here’s why:

– The US Secretary of State gives an informal speech in which he identifies certain areas that the United States will defend, he accidentally leaves off South Korea, and the Korean War starts six months later.
– The US Ambassador to Iraq tells Saddam Hussein “We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait” and Saddam thinks this means “go ahead and invade””

Here’s some further examples:

– Clinton decides to actively veto and block any action in Rwanda, leading to one of the worst genocides in human history
– Clinton is nearly impeached over a blowjob and the people of Sudan find that their only source of medicine has been blown up.
– Obama declines to support the duly elected non-sectarian party of Ayad Allawi in Iraq. Maliki takes that to mean, “sectarianism is go!”. Cut to the Islamic state.
– For some reason, people decide Qaddafi has to go. Next thing you know Libya is a hellhole and millions are pouring into Europe.
– Merkel makes one emotional speech, and Europe now has to face the very real prospect of civil war.

Do you see the thread running through all those? I’m hoping for a Trump victory not because I’m an optimist – I’m hoping for it because I fear that a Clinton Two presidency will at minimum give us two more failed states, two more genocides, and will push Europe over the brink. I cannot imagine what Trump could possibly do that would be worse than that.

One thing I am sure about: the discussion on these posts is much more interesting than anything in the mainstream media.

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48 comments to Yudkowsky on Trump

  • PapayaSF

    Hugo Schmidt is correct: Hillary is worse for those reasons, plus many others.

    Yudkowsky needs to remember that Trump is a negotiator. He wrote a book about it. Negotiators make large opening offers. Trump is saying: “NATO countries need to spend more on their own defense. You can’t count on us subsidizing you forever.” That’s meant to push them in a certain direction, and I doubt if it will spur Putin to send tanks into Germany.

  • “Obama has limited power because he *plays by the rules*–the real rules, not the written rules, but he plays by those rules nonetheless.”

    I find this statement rather bizarre – and undermining of confidence in the judgement of the person who makes it.

  • PapayaSF

    Indeed, Niall. Do the “real rules” include using the IRS to go after your political opponents…?

  • So for the right sized contribution to the Clinton Foundation, President Clinton would have no problem with Russia taking over the administration of the Baltic states and Ukraine?

  • Fraser Orr

    It is a foundational rock of libertarian foreign policy that we avoid entangling alliances. How much worse entangling alliances that commit us to go to war!

    In fact it was not the death of some minor Duke that caused the First World War, it was instead a web of entangling alliances that caused the cascade leading to the conflagration.

    It seems crazy to argue that the history of the First World War somehow favors the biggest entangling alliance in history. It, in fact, argues for exactly the opposite.

    And the argument that the “strongman” will shake up government agencies is not an argument against Trump it is an argument for him… as if Federal agents are some angelic, pure hearted workers seeking the public good. In truth one of the biggest problems in America is a vast herd of civil servants lording themselves over us with little if any accountability.

    As Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence:

    “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”

    Swarms is right. Swarms of Humphrey Appleby’s, and worse than that, people with their own dreadful political agendas.

    Disagree with Trump’s policies if you like, but these structural things are for the most part good. Since when did libertarians throw up in horror their hands at the idea of withdrawing from International organizations?

    And remember, Hillary Clinton is not much different than Don Corleone, head of a criminal gang, bent of enriching themselves off the public purse. The evidence of this is overwhelming. In fact, worse, at least the Corleone’s only wanted your money, Clinton wants to destroy the country with her crazy left wing policies too.

  • Deep Lurker

    “What. The hell. Are they smoking? Because it’s not rolled-up pages of history books.”

    Actually it’s rolled up pages from the Federalist Papers, specifically the part about setting factions to oppose each other. The current power structure has become a single conglomerated faction, and the idea is that electing Trump with throw a second faction into the mix, with each faction acting as a check on the power of the other.

    “Obama has limited power because he *plays by the rules* – the real rules, not the written rules”

    The current malignant power structure has managed to change the real rules into the form of “heads I win; tails you lose.” Rules of that form do not limit the power of the “heads I win” side. Nor do they deserve any respect from those in the “tails you lose” population.

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    I think for “real rules”, EY was talking about things like consulting the Proper National Security People (PNSP) before making moves in the national security decision making game, rather than things like using the IRS to go after your opponents (which falls under the “political theatre” category for him). There are a set of moves people like Obama and Clinton would make whereas Trump might just ignore the PNSP and make up his own moves. That’s why I posted the Hugo Schmidt quote, because he shows that people like Obama and Clinton make disastrous moves too, even with the advice (whatever it is worth) of the PNSP. But I think EY is imagining Trump making even more disastrous moves.

    I hope PapayaSF is right about Trump as a negotiator.

  • PapayaSF

    Hillary seems obviously worse on national security. Mishandling classified documents (including having her maid print out classified docs and enter an SCIF), pay for play, cognitive health issues and what looks like a drinking problem, vulnerability to blackmail, top aide with many connections to Islamist groups, wants more Muslim refugees and endless illegal immigration, revealing the nuclear decision response time in the last debate, and on and on. Next to all that, Trump seems quite good.

  • llamas

    PapayaSF wrote:

    ‘Trump is saying: “NATO countries need to spend more on their own defense. You can’t count on us subsidizing you forever.” That’s meant to push them in a certain direction, and I doubt if it will spur Putin to send tanks into Germany.’

    Like he hasn’t sent tanks into Crimea, or Ukraine?

    I’m sure that the NATO troop movements into Eastern Europe going on at this very moment are purely routine.

    Trump simply doesn’t know how to negotiate at this level. A 50% success rate making deals in New York real estate does not train him to deal with folks like Putin. If Putin thumbs his nose, what is Donald going to do? Sue him? Hold back his earnest money?

    If elected, he will find out, to his cost, that the games of brinksmanship that he played while developing golf resorts in a safe, secure country with well-defined laws of contract will boot him nothing when dealing with foreign leaders who care little about the cut of his suits or how well his last casino did. They will eat him up and spit him out before he even figures out who he’s dealing with. And if he fails in this arena, he won’t be able to bankrupt his way out of the game and play it off as a smart tax move – these folks are playing for all the marbles, a game he has never played.

    Hillary too, if it comes to it – as we have already seen with her abject failures as SoS. But Trump is not equipped to do any better.

    llater,

    llamas

  • consulting the Proper National Security People (PSNP)

    This is only true in a trivial sense. We know that Obama has packed the National Security Council with political-strategy boffins, leading to strategic missteps that have left the true professionals aghast.

    Eliezer is a brilliant thinker, of course, but he is not thinking about the same things that I am thinking about. At a certain point, the elite power structure needs to be broken for the long-term safety of the Republic. The only question is to judge the risk Trump carries of replacing it with a worse power structure, which I do not think he can do successfully in the American context, and compare that to the inevitable decline of the country if the elite continues to do as it has done. (Cf. Joseph Tainter, The Collapse of Complex Societies.)

  • I stopped paying attention to Yudkowsky years ago.

    Trump is no worse. They wouldn’t go for Ron Paul, now they’ve got Trump. No worse than the GOP candidates, and probably a lot better than Hilary. I am actually hoping for firings, indictments, etc… if he wins we’ll hear the sound of a thousand shredders wafting across the Potomac. There are actual guilty people, some of whom are brazen enough to be on C-span, before Congress. Then there are there are actual investigations.

  • Paul Marks

    To me it is simple.

    Mr Trump has not even suggested reducing GOVERNMENT SPENDING – on the contrary he promises more government spending wherever he goes (to whoever will listen to him), “childcare” whatever, you-name-it Donald will offer it to you.

    “All your dreams will come true” if you vote Mr Trump – he actually says that.

    And Hillary Clinton is the same.

    It is bankruptcy (in fact if not in law) with either of them.

    The bust is finally going to arrive. Years after it should have.

    “There is a lot of ruin in a great nation” the United States economy has lasted much longer than I thought it would.

    But America, and the rest of the Western world, will over the next four years finally bust economically – and perhaps politically as well.

  • PapayaSF

    llamas, there’s a big difference between Putin going into parts of the former USSR vs. going into Germany.

  • Fraser Orr

    @August… yes, I agree, perhaps one of the strongest benefits of Trump winning is that a lot of extremely corrupt politicians and civil servants would go to jail, including possibly the King and Queen of corruption (though they will probably slither away under the wire with a pardon.) Putting lots of these slime bags in jail is extremely good for a republic.

    Let’s be clear, the Clinton’s used their foundation to steal money destined for earthquake victims and orphans. It is like a byword for being the worst kind of person… stealing from orphans and the victims of disaster. And these dreadful people actually did it in plain sight, and still have the audacity to ask, in fact demand, the big chair.

    The big house is what they deserve.

    Let me offer a title for this election (applying to both candidates) — “The Death of Shame”.

  • Fraser Orr

    Yeah, and one other thing on this idea that Clinton would be a better firewall against Putin. Let’s just look at the facts. Her email server was protected by one password without even a VPN. It is outrageous, and anyone who seriously thinks that foreign government intelligence agencies don’t have all her emails just doesn’t understand how computer networks work.

    So Putin has all those emails that she deleted, presumably many of them are extremely embarrassing. Exactly how effective is one in a negotiation when your opponent has stacks and stacks of emails that he can leak that will embarrass you or even get you impeached? Putin is ex KGB, he is good at that shit.

    Even if Clinton’s foreign policy skills were like ole Ben Franklin (which they aren’t, she is a bumbling idiot) it is reasonable to conclude that she is extremely exposed to blackmail from her opponents, and not just Putin but North Korea and Iran. That should terrify every voter. I’d rather vote for Jill Stein than her.

  • Lee Moore

    “If you read the history books, you realize that it is REALLY REALLY bad to have any ambiguity about which minor powers the major powers will defend; that is how World War I *and* World War II both started.”

    Actually there’s another lesson here. Sloppy security with diplomatic codes by the Frogs allowed the Germans to read their messages saying that however much smoke they blew, they were not going to do anything military if Hitler reoccupied the Rhineland. Hence Hitler, knowing he was taking no risk, reoccupied the Rhineland, boosted his prestige and made the German High Command look feeble nervous ninnies for banging on about the risks. Thereafter they did what they were told, and we know where that went.

    So….the one thing you don’t want is diplomats and politicos who are reckless about classified information. Oh wait….

  • Fraser Orr

    @Paul Marks
    > Mr Trump has not even suggested reducing GOVERNMENT SPENDING

    On the contrary Paul. In his Gettysburg speech he specifically said he’d have a hiring freeze on federal employees. He specifically said that he will demand federal agencies cancel two regulations for every new one. He has committed to getting rid of Obamacare, the biggest boondoggle ever. He has demanded that we reduce our commitments to NATO and demanded that countries that get the benefit of our military pay their room, board and gas. That is just off the top of my head.

    You might not believe him, or think he won’t or can’t do those things, but he certainly has promised to do so.

    Here are the facts, I’m not rich, but were Trump’s policies enacted I’d be $15,000 richer. I’m an outlier because I pay for my health insurance directly (something Trump claims he will make fully deductible as it is for employee plans). That isn’t a hard call for me.

    > “childcare” whatever,

    Reducing taxes via tax breaks is not government spending.

    > It is bankruptcy (in fact if not in law) with either of them.

    That might be true, and his intention to hinder international trade is definitely worrying.

    > But America, and the rest of the Western world, will over the next four years finally bust economically

    Define “bust”?

  • llamas

    PapayaSF wrote:

    ‘llamas, there’s a big difference between Putin going into parts of the former USSR vs. going into Germany.’

    Not really. Especially the Eastern half.

    llater,

    llamas

  • PapayaSF

    Dude, he’d have to go through Poland to do that….

  • llamas

    Papaya SF wrote:

    ‘Dude, he’d have to go through Poland to do that….’

    No, really? Well, of course, that changes everything!

    – Not.

    What’s to stop him? He’s already annexed a part of the Ukraine and is busy infiltrating the rest – a nation that’s been independent of Russia for nearly 20 years. And who’s done anything to stop him? Nobody.

    Why would he see Poland any differently? Or East Germany? If he cares to gin up enough pro-Russian ‘support’, like he has in Ukraine, he’ll simply waltz in and annex them. And nobody will stop him – whether it be a President Clinton, or a President Trump, who has already telegraphed his punches on this issue.

    Specifically, in the former East Germany, I could well see that he could play the issue of uncontrolled immigration to get the country to turn to him. Frau Merkel waffles as the nation is overwhelmed by Middle-Eastern immigrants and German girls can’t walk the streets of their own towns anymore – all Putin has to say is ‘I’ll deport them, bag and baggage’ and he would immediately get a mass of support, because those folks know what folks like him are about and he’s shown that he’ll do what he says.

    Don’t think it could happen? Happened in the Crimea, didn’t it?

    llater,

    llamas

  • Eddy

    ‘And you interpreted that as Trump expressing fed-up-ness with American military spending and our trying to defend everything in the world without getting much in return.’
    Countries that rely on others to defend themselves, while making little effort to protect themselves, deserve what they get.

  • though should Trump win I would quite enjoy seeing the shock and horror on the faces of most of the people who are shocked and horrified by him

    Yeah me too, it will be an expensive cheap thrill but damn it will be funny. But I am broadly in agreement with Yudkowsky.

  • Jacob

    The idea that the US is going to war against Russia if Russia somehow attacks (not frontally, but by proxies) the Baltic Republics, or even Poland or Romania is absurd. NATO or not NATO.
    The idea that the US has any credible deterrence power vs. Russia is ridiculous.
    There won’t be any difference in this respect between Trump and Clinton. This is a matter of military capabilities – degraded capabilities.
    Putin is building up his military power, the US is disarming, gradually.

    As to WW1: “the First World War, it was instead a web of entangling alliances that caused the cascade leading to the conflagration.”
    False. Totally false. It was German insanity that caused the war. It had nothing to do with “entangling alliances”.
    So Yudkowsky is not credible for many reasons.

  • Jacob

    Even the idea that Trump is a “populist strongman” (hinting, without explicit mention that he might be, say, like a Hitler of a Franco) – is ridiculous.

    Trump has no armed militia under his command. Trump is a clown, not a strongman.
    So we can sum up Yudkowsky: bulls**t.

  • jdm

    I find this statement rather bizarre – and undermining of confidence in the judgement of the person who makes it.

    Indeed. I sort of lost interest at that point and went to the Samizdata commenters who I find to be, in general, of much higher caliber.

  • Pat

    May I point out that Putin has been poking his nose into Ukraine, Georgia ( for the second time) and Syria during an administration that contained HRC
    That hardly gives me confidence that an administration headed by HRC will check any further ambitions he may have.

  • Snorri Godhi

    I do know a few people who think that Trump might shake things up for the better, on account of not being part of the malevolent current power structure. And those people generally also express a thought to the effect that Trump can’t do *that* much damage because the existing bureaucratic structure will restrain him.

    What. The hell. Are they smoking?

    No, what the hell is Yudkowsky smoking?
    (I’ll say something more positive in another comment below.)
    Because:
    (a) the important thing is not that things are shaken up **for the better** but that they are shaken up;
    (b) any restraint is not going to come from bureaucrats but from Congress, the courts, the media, State governments, and everything except bureaucrats;
    (c) in any case, the Democrats are the party of public sector workers*: they might be compliant under Trump, but they’d be much more compliant under Clinton.

    * just like the Fascists in Italy and the Nazis in Germany, read The Road to Serfdom.

  • Snorri Godhi

    If you read the history books, you realize that it is REALLY REALLY bad to have any ambiguity about which minor powers the major powers will defend; that is how World War I *and* World War II both started.

    Actually it is not even necessary to read history to know that: it is only necessary to know that people respond to incentives.

    Having said that, i haven’t heard any of this sort of insanity from Trump since Paul Manafort resigned, which i take as a good sign. I do find this sort of insanity in this comment thread, however.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Obama has limited power because he *plays by the rules*–the real rules, not the written rules, but he plays by those rules nonetheless.

    What Niall said, and others seconded, about this.

  • loves2spooge

    Re: Trump, Clinton and WWIII:

    When the bombs start dropping, will we feel better knowing that at least the national security experts were listened to? What’s worse, getting nuked because the president’s an idiot or because his advisers overestimated themselves?

    Also, Trump firing senior bureaucrats and replacing them with his loyal cronies is a good thing in my mind. It’ll benefit America in the long run for the government to become openly corrupt and illegitimate in the short run. As it stands now, most people probably have an unwarrantedly positive view of things – meanwhile, locked in a drawer at the Library of Congress, there’s a copy of the constitution, covered in wrinkles and warts and bloodstains and herpes and a “sneer of cruelty”.

    That said, yer man is absolutely right about most people being optimists. Humanity couldn’t function without the widespread belief that everything will somehow more or less work out alright.

  • A simple syllogism for this election:

    Proposition: refusing to produce subpoenaed materials requested by the House Oversight Committee is a crime (specifically, a violation of 2 U.S. Code § 192 – Refusal of witness to testify or produce papers), which is “punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 nor less than $100 and imprisonment in a common jail for not less than one month nor more than twelve months.”

    Proposition: Someone in Clinton’s retinue (either Clinton herself or one of her minions) certainly deleted tens of thousands of emails after both a subpoena and a preservation order had been issued for them.

    Conclusion: someone in Clinton’s retinue (or maybe Clinton herself) needs to suffer “a fine of not more than $1,000 nor less than $100 and imprisonment in a common jail for not less than one month nor more than twelve months.”

    I really don’t see how any honest person, any person with a shred of personal integrity, could come to any other conclusion. And that is irregardless of your opinions on Mr. Trump and his bombasticism.

  • Laird

    I don’t know much about Eliezer Yudkowsky; he may indeed be a Serious Intellectual. But there’s simply about nothing right in the extended quote which started this thread. As Orwell famously said, “There are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them.” Yudkowsky would seem to fall into that category.

    Trump is no “strongman”; he is merely a populist blowhard. We’ve seen his like before, although perhaps not quite up to his level. Obama has never “followed the rules” (either written or “real”, whatever that means); he just makes up his own. Yudkowsky clearly has a very tenuous grasp of what actually started World Wars 1 and 2. The NATO leadership has already destroyed the institution’s credibility by wantonly admitting to membership various former Soviet client states; does anyone seriously believe that the West would trigger WW3 to protect any of them? Or that Putin would believe such simply because some American politician said so?

    Sorry, but that was a nonsensical diatribe. As President, Trump would probably be a disaster. But Hillary would be an utter cataclysm, from which we would likely never recover. Perry is correct that it would be “an expensive cheap thrill”, but it is nonetheless the only hope we have.

  • loves2spooge

    Another thing to consider – and please correct my logic – Yudkowsky says in effect that it’s the fact that Republican security experts are alarmed by Trump that should give us pause. Alarums from the other side of the aisle could be mistaken for political theatre, but when it’s your own party’s experts sounding the alarm, we must take it seriously. Democratic party security experts haven’t expressed alarm at Hillary’s positions, so therefore she is the safer bet.

    But this fails to take into account the following possibilities:

    1. That Democratic security experts are as concerned about Hillary as their Republican counterparts are about Trump, but they have no integrity and so keep their worries to themselves
    2. That Republican security experts are more loyal to their faction of the party than the party as a whole, are engaging in political theatre, and are not to be taken seriously

  • Eric

    If you read the history books, you realize that it is REALLY REALLY bad to have any ambiguity about which minor powers the major powers will defend; that is how World War I *and* World War II both started.

    Not actually true in the case if WW I. The Germans invaded France because they were sure the Russians would defend Serbia.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    Trump is, at this moment, leading in Florida! We’re all Doomed! It’s the last Trump!!! Head for the hills! You Londoners are so lucky, having that millennial dome to live in!
    We’ve got it worse, here in Australia- Barbra Streisand, and other lefties might want to move here!!!

  • Bruce Hoult

    The Canadian immigration web site is down…

  • Fred the Fourth

    Nicholas:
    I have, in various places, offered serious $ bets (i.e. 4 figures) on certain celebs moving to Canada, OZ, EU, etc. should The Orange One win.
    No takers.
    Those folks are all talk, no action.
    Oh yes, that reminds me – there was an article on US National Socialist Radio today about a number of UK residents who have recently (since the Brexit vote) taken advantage of some rules to obtain German passports. They were quoted stating all the lovely advantages of retaining EU “citizenship”, but I couldn’t help notice the distinct lack of actual plans to MOVE to Germany.
    Maybe I’m just an evil-minded person…

  • Vinegar Joe

    @Eddie “Countries that rely on others to defend themselves, while making little effort to protect themselves, deserve what they get.”

    Exactly. The Texas National Guard can roll thru most NATO counties like a hot knife thru buttter…..that should tell you something right there.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    There is a plus side to all this, for me. I work in the New South Wales Lands Office, a government service that keeps records of ownership of land. All those fleeing Americans will be buying land, so I’ll be in clover!

  • Biff

    I think Yudkowsky rather drastically overestimates the ability of Trump’s political appointees to counter a much larger, non-appointed civil service that is very strongly Democratic. The non-appointed civil service is not a group that is fired at the whim of the President.

    On the other hand, combine a Democratic President with Democratic appointees and a Democratic civil service, and you have a real problem.

  • Vinegar Joe

    There is a plus side to all this, for me. I work in the New South Wales Lands Office, a government service that keeps records of ownership of land. All those fleeing Americans will be buying land, so I’ll be in clover!

    You’ll be sorry. Trust me.

  • bobby b

    All those fleeing Americans will be buying land, so I’ll be in clover!

    Not for long. There’s probably something anti-gay or climate-warming about clover, so your new neighbors will be getting rid of that for you pretty quick.

    Oh, and read up on microaggressions. They’re going to be your new big thing.

  • Cal

    Yudkowsky’s analysis is hysterical nonsense. Trump has many and varied faults, many of which are worth focussing on, but, as Laird says, he’s a blowhard, not a ‘strongman’, and the idea that he’s going to be able to tear apart highly-entrenched Democrat power structures is absurd. (I mean, I actually hope that he can break that structure down to some extent, but he won’t get far by himself.)

  • Erik

    I used to read Yudkowsky when he wrote at Overcoming Bias, and later Less Wrong. He was great, and I owe him for teaching me many useful tools for thinking. His writing was full of insight, heuristics, reasons, explanations, and general thoughtstuff to help clarify the very art of reasoning.

    And, oddly, one of his posts during that time was Politics is the Mind-Killer.

    Now I find him writing this pamphleteeringly political anti-Trump screed – on Facebook of all places, to boot. What the fucking hell, Yudkowsky. Did you learn nothing from yourself?

    End summary. Longer comment to come.

  • Erik

    Promised longer comment.

    Yudkowsky writes stuff like “The people in the national security bureaucracy heard that and thought… Members of the Washington DC establishment heard that and thought… Even people in Washington DC who haven’t read any history books understand that…” and then instead of providing names, examples, evidence, or in fact any kind of support for these assertions, he goes into an I Fucking Love Science diatribe of condescension to lesser mortals.

    Then we get this wonderful line:

    Perhaps there are dozens of other cases where a country elected an impulsive, chaotic, populist leader and nothing whatsoever went wrong.

    To be blunt: Yes, there are. It’s called “democracy”. You know, the standard form of government that elects about twenty populists each year, some of whom are almost certainly impulsive and chaotic.

    By the end of National Security Decision-Making Game, I left with a suddenly increased respect for any administration that gets to the end of 4 years without nuclear weapons being used.

    This being… every one since 1945 in the half a dozen different countries that have nukes? Well, I’m glad he suddenly finds so much more respect for so many administrations, but I think the more reasonable inference to make is that getting to the end of 4 years without nuclear weapons being used is the default, due to the fact that it keeps fucking happening.

    But then we get back to the naked assertions:

    The fact that there are quiet backroom talks with no journalists present, in which at least some people are actually concerned about the Europe-Russia border, is why the Earth hasn’t already blown up.

    Evidence?
    Evidence?
    EVIDENCE???

    I try not to be all [citation needed] on the Internet since I realize it’s a pain and sometimes can amount to a heckler’s near-veto on the non-obsessive, but I think Yudkowsky really owes a bit of evidence for the massive claims he keeps making. Here, I’ll provide some that I think he could usefully have linked when he says e.g. “the entire Republican national security establishment going HOLY SHIT and repudiating the Republican candidate en masse.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/08/08/us/politics/national-security-letter-trump.html (It’s actually fairly short, about two pages of content and then a lot of signatures.)
    Reading it, I find it extremely fact-free. It’s a bunch more assertions that boil down to “Trump is an ignorant fool who should not be President.” Hardly an uncommon opinion, and being this void on specifics, I find myself asking again – where is the evidence, exactly, that this is the HOLY SHIT matter Yudkowsky keeps screaming about?

    Getting back to Yud’s letter, here’s the ending of the first:

    Scope is real. If you ever have to choose between voting a convicted serial abuser of children into the Presidential office–but this person otherwise seems stable and collected–versus a Presidential candidate who seems easy to provoke and who has ‘bad days’ and doesn’t listen to advisors and once said “Why do we have all these nukes if we can’t use them?”, it is deadly important that you vote for the pedophile. It isn’t physically possible to abuse enough children per day over 4 years to do as much damage as you can do with one wrong move in the National Security Decision-Making Game.

    And I respond: Character is real, too. Being a convicted serial child abuser is correlated with an absolute host of other unfortunate character traits stupid and evil in nature. By comparison, we’re offered on *actual evidence*, that Trump has a big mouth, and on *rampant speculation by inference from Yudkowsky’s own performance in a simulation* that Trump might do a “wrong move” of an unspecified sort, presumably hinting at nukes.

    Well, if we observe Trump’s performance, he’s been a business tycoon for decades and has managed to not wipe himself out on any of his ‘bad days’, so I must conclude they’re not all that bad.

    It’s a bit of a dishonest comparison being run here, too. An honest one might go “convicted serial child abuser” versus “convicted wrong-move-maker-who-nuked-someone”; speculating that Trump might make a very damaging wrong move on a bad day, OTOH, ought more fairly to be compared to speculation that the opposition might abuse children. But anyone might do either of those, so remind me, what are we picking on Trump for?

  • Erik

    Worth separate attention from Yudkowsky’s mindkilledness, I think:

    Venezuela used to be an up-and-coming country with one of the fastest-growing economies in South America. And then they elected an impulsive populist leader who made a few decisions he probably didn’t think were that bad at the time, and now Venezuela is on the verge of being a failed state.

    Methinks there’s a fairly important descriptor being left out here. A descriptor, in particular, that applies rather more to Clinton than to Trump.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Eddy @ November 8, 2016 at 7:36 pm:

    Countries that rely on others to defend themselves, while making little effort to protect themselves, deserve what they get.

    Countries like Denmark and Singapore and Jamaica don’t have much choice. Even with the greatest possible effort, they cannot defend themselves against a major power. They can survive only under the aegis of a friendly great power.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Fascinating comment stream. Suffice it to say that I probably won’t be going out of my way to read Mr. Yudkowsky, based on Rob’s quote; especially not after reading the many points raised by commenters, not to mention Rob’s quote from Mr. Schmidt.

    Thanks, Rob, for the O.P.; and to the commentariat as well.

    By the way, Laird hits the nail on the head: Trump’s not a Strongman, he’s a blowhard.