How to use the US election system to stage a coup

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Terrapin Station
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by Terrapin Station »

baker wrote: December 16th, 2020, 5:23 pm
Terrapin Station wrote: December 16th, 2020, 3:52 pmMost people I know are very cynical about politicians in general.
Hence the bond functions in a negative sense, ie. people feel demoralized and are less likely to engage in self-protective behaviors.
It's not a negative bond of any sort. It's more indifference.
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by baker »

Terrapin Station wrote: December 16th, 2020, 8:18 pmIt's not a negative bond of any sort. It's more indifference.
In some cases, certainly.
My point is that just like love can bond one to a person, so can hatred. If one hates someone, one thinks of them, one's actions (toward that person or otherwise) are informed by that hatred.

But all in all, I don't think that politicians can be blamed for the bad epidemiological situation, at least not exclusively. I do think that they can contribute to people feeling demoralized (and thus acting irresponsibly). But how much exactly seems impossible to measure.


I have been following the way the governments have been handling the corona crisis in several European countries. Austria, Germany, Croatia, Slovenia have introduced similar measures, so they are comparable in this way, and differ in the way the government PR handled the situation.

In Croatia, the government's PR was absolutely admirable for the first six months or so; the surgeon general, the head of the corona crisis center, and so on were earnest, professional people, it was clear that they were taking the situation seriously and exhorted the people accordingly. They weren't just being shallow optimists or some such. The prime minister also did a good job (much to my surprise). It was a joy to watch them, it boosted my morale. Yet their corona numbers have been going from bad to worse, and recently, their daily death rates were at the top in Europe several times.

In contrast, the way the government has been handling the PR around the corona crisis in Slovenia has been a joke. The government people who report the official black numbers every day are cynical. They don't inspire trust. I feel demoralized just watching them. And the numbers here don't show improvement either.

Based on this casual observation, the government PR around the corona crisis seems to be the only variable here -- and it seems to make no difference to the numbers of the infected, the hospitalized, and the dead.


A pandemic is a complex process, with so many factors at work that it seems impossible to come to definitive answers about the causal relationships between those factors.
Personally, I can say that the way the governments of Germany, Austria, and Croatia handled the PR around the corona crisis has improved my morale and inspired me to implement safety measures more consistently. But I can see that not everyone is like that, obviously.
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by Steve3007 »

baker wrote:This really isn't rocket science. It's not simply the case that one person's words would _cause_ another person's actions, as if one was another's puppet. It is also not the case that people would by default be completely independent of one another. This is a false dichotomy.
I agree that the dichotomy of deterministic puppets versus complete acausal independence, with nothing in between, is false. That's why I said in the conversation thread to which I linked that, in my view, it's "unrealistically black-and-white/all-or-nothing". But I think it would be odd to conclude from this that causality is not applicable at all to human actions. It seems to me to lead to absurdities, such as TS's views on the moral status of commands within human command hierarchies (free speech "absolutism"), which, as far as I understand them, I regard as absurd, with what I would regard as extremely undesirable real-world consequences, such as that the orders of political and military leaders of all kinds are entirely morally neutral.

As I said in that conversation, in my view:

Causality doesn't just obtain when a particular consequent state must follow from a particular antecedent state. Causality can be said to obtain if it is found that a particular consequent state is more likely to occur immediately after a particular antecedent state. This may be the case in complex systems (such as human brains). Of course we may be able to look more deeply into those complex systems and find that they are composed of a whole host of simpler systems, where causal relationships do result in 100% mapping between antecedent and consequent states. Or we may not be able to do that. If we can't do that, it would be incorrect in my view to simply decide that no causal relationships exist.
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by Steve3007 »

I happened to stumble across another one of the many instances of people who have proposed the wearing of masks being threatened:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/worl ... 74985.html

That Republican Mayor apparently decided to resign due to fears of violence:

"There’s a strong part of me that wants to say they are only words. But people are angry right now, and I don’t know that for sure."

I suspect that a few years ago it would have seemed bizarre to say that a proposition to wear masks to limit the spread of a disease would be seen as a partisan political act. Or perhaps not. Either way, as I've said, I disagree with the notion that all words are morally neutral. If someone phoned this woman and threatened to rape and/or kill her and/or members of her family (very frequent threats to people in public life these days, sometimes carried out), and if that person could be traced, I would be in favour or deeming them to have committed a crime.
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by Terrapin Station »

baker wrote: December 17th, 2020, 4:40 am I have been following the way the governments have been handling the corona crisis in several European countries . . .
Governments in general have definitely been problematic in their handling of coronavirus. My point was simply that the presidency, especially in the U.S., doesn't have anywhere near the power/influence being attributed to it.
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by baker »

Steve3007 wrote: December 12th, 2020, 11:16 am
baker wrote:*holds breath*
I think you can breath again now. :)
No!
General Michal Flynn has urged President Donald Trump to use the military to force an election "rerun."

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/worl ... 75971.html
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by baker »

Steve3007 wrote: December 17th, 2020, 6:30 amEither way, as I've said, I disagree with the notion that all words are morally neutral.
It seems that the proponets of the constitutional clause on the freedom of speech are operating out of an ambiguous notion of the power of words:

One the one hand, they support freedom of speech, presumably because they believe that words have a kind of power, such as the power to change how people think and act (esp. how the government will think and act).

One the other hand, they support freedom of speech, presumably because they believe that words have no power, that they are trivial, and that as such, it's okay for everyone to say whatever they want to say.


I've also noticed that in their discourse, they are inconsistent in their use of free speech as a legal notion, and free speech as a psychological notion.
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by Steve3007 »

baker wrote:General Michal Flynn has urged President Donald Trump to use the military to force an election "rerun."
Yes, that was a while ago now. Quite a few of them have been coming out of the woodwork to suggest a military takeover and a re-run of the election under military control after all those awkward journalists have been silenced. I'd bet dollars to donuts that Trump is investigating that option. Although I'm not sure how the outcome of the bet could be established with any certainty.
One the one hand, they support freedom of speech, presumably because they believe that words have a kind of power, such as the power to change how people think and act (esp. how the government will think and act).

One the other hand, they support freedom of speech, presumably because they believe that words have no power, that they are trivial, and that as such, it's okay for everyone to say whatever they want to say.
I think part of the free speech absolutist's reply to this would be to say that it's not true that words have the power to change how people act if we're using "act" and "action" in a philosophical sense. The view appears to be that human actions, with the word used in that sense, by definition cannot have prior causes. "Action" is used to reference the parts of human behaviours that have no prior causes.

My own view on that is in the previous conversation thread that I referenced earlier.
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

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The latest on this seems to be: Ten former defence secretaries have urged Trump not to go ahead with the military coup he's been planning. The phone call that he made to the Georgia secretary of state in which he again tried to intimidate him into overturning the vote was illegal under state, not federal, law and he therefore can't protect himself from prosecution with a self-pardon.

Given that and all of the mountains of other stuff, with only a couple of weeks left until he loses the protection of the presidency and the power to unilaterally launch nuclear weapons without the legal requirement to consult anybody else at all, if I were him I think I'd now be sticking pins in a map and getting ready to make that call. If the military coup doesn't work out there's nothing left to lose.

If that doesn't happen and we're all still alive at the end of January I'll be interested to hear all the inside stories of just how truly mad and terrifying those final weeks were for the people who were on the inside but were sane.
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by Steve3007 »

Terrapin Station wrote:My point was simply that the presidency, especially in the U.S., doesn't have anywhere near the power/influence being attributed to it.
Given that the US president has the power, without any requirement to consult anybody else, to place anybody he chooses beyond the reach of federal law (pardon power) and to kill millions of people within a few minutes (power to launch a nuclear strike) that's arguably one of the most inaccurate statements that it's possible to make about the personal powers of a western politician. His powers to personally get legislation passed if Congress is against him are certainly limited. But his powers of near-instant destruction on a whim appear to be real. His powers to get war criminals and allies off the hook have already been demonstrated.

As with Nixon's drink-fuelled attempts to launch nuclear strikes, I guess you could say that somebody (Kissinger in his case, apparently) will always step in and somehow save the day. But I guess on the occasion when that doesn't happen there might not be anybody left around to say "perhaps we better take another look at those powers".
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by baker »

Steve3007 wrote: January 4th, 2021, 7:40 amGiven that the US president has the power, without any requirement to consult anybody else, to place anybody he chooses beyond the reach of federal law (pardon power) and to kill millions of people within a few minutes (power to launch a nuclear strike) that's arguably one of the most inaccurate statements that it's possible to make about the personal powers of a western politician. His powers to personally get legislation passed if Congress is against him are certainly limited. But his powers of near-instant destruction on a whim appear to be real. His powers to get war criminals and allies off the hook have already been demonstrated.
But the nukes don't launch themselves automatically then, do they?
The president presses one button, but then a number of generals etc. have to press some other buttons, right?

The free speech absolutist will then say that the responsibility lies on the person who pressed that final button that actually launched the weapons.
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by Steve3007 »

baker wrote:But the nukes don't launch themselves automatically then, do they?
The president presses one button, but then a number of generals etc. have to press some other buttons, right?

The free speech absolutist will then say that the responsibility lies on the person who pressed that final button that actually launched the weapons.
Yes, I assume you're right and that the free speech absolutist would say that. I presume they'd further say that all politicians, including presidents, whose jobs consist solely of talking to people and signing documents for people to read, have no causal influence at all and no moral responsibility at all. I guess the only things that presidents would be deemed to have causal influence on would be golf balls. So they could be held morally responsible for not shouting "fore!" but not for ordering the launch of a pre-emptive nuclear strike. It's an interesting viewpoint isn't it!
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by baker »

Steve3007
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by Steve3007 »

Yes, as that article says, the vice president has the authority to verify that the order came from the president but not to veto it. So presumably when faced with a president who appears to be willing to exercise that ultimate power that they hold, especially in those critical few weeks before they lose it forever after losing an election, the chain of command would have to make the decision to break the law and disobey a direct order from the president, if the president couldn't be persuaded to reconsider.

According to reports, Trump's decision to launch a military attack on Iran back in November was successfully deflected by his advisors. If he decides to do something similar again, with much less time left before he loses his powers, they may not be successful in dissuading him this time. It's interesting to speculate whether, in the case of a nuclear strike, someone in the chain of command would stick their neck out and disobey an order, with all the negative consequences to himself, if the target was a country like Iran. I suspect not. If I lived in Tehran right now I think I'd breathe a genuine sigh of relief if I'm still breathing at all on January 21st.
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Re: How to use the US election system to stage a coup

Post by Terrapin Station »

Steve3007 wrote: January 4th, 2021, 7:24 am The latest on this seems to be: Ten former defence secretaries have urged Trump not to go ahead with the military coup he's been planning. The phone call that he made to the Georgia secretary of state in which he again tried to intimidate him into overturning the vote was illegal under state, not federal, law and he therefore can't protect himself from prosecution with a self-pardon.

Given that and all of the mountains of other stuff, with only a couple of weeks left until he loses the protection of the presidency and the power to unilaterally launch nuclear weapons without the legal requirement to consult anybody else at all, if I were him I think I'd now be sticking pins in a map and getting ready to make that call. If the military coup doesn't work out there's nothing left to lose.

If that doesn't happen and we're all still alive at the end of January I'll be interested to hear all the inside stories of just how truly mad and terrifying those final weeks were for the people who were on the inside but were sane.
Nuclear strikes actually have to go through a bunch of different people--joint chiefs of staff, secretary of defense, etc.

Re pardoning, how does that amount to power to do things in your view? What would the practical upshot of any of that be that would affect anyone's lives?
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