Sunday, April 22, 2007

Invite Them Home: Part V

Time to finish up this series.


LAYING DOWN THE SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

Time for review. Let me put this down logically (repeating a few points in order to make sure it’s all lined-up).


1) It is a serious mistake to underrate genius. Indeed, it is risky to make of any genius an enemy. So pick your fights carefully.


2) For all of their (many!) faults, the neocon theorists were geniuses.

Forget Karl Rove. He is a political predator, operating on fierce but primitive, feral instincts. His culture war summons the worst populist impulses from people who hate gradschool city slickers and it should not work, if the dems ever had the sense of a cryptobiotic tardigrade.

But the true neocons - once in exile - charted out an astonishingly successful plan. A plan that took a foundering conservative movement - one that could take credit for almost none of the great American accomplishments of the 20th Century - and somehow raised it from ashes to near-absolute power in just twenty years.

While managing somehow to transform the word “liberal” - responsible for most of our national success across a staggeringly successful century - into a veritable curse word. Wow.

Misguided? Sure. Manipulated by the plutocrat masters who sponsored the Straussian nerds in exile? Yup. Foolish to mind-boggling degrees? Absolutely right. But geniuses nonetheless.


3) Frat boys and aristocrats weren’t the only people who traumatized these bright nerds!

Remember the 1960s? I do. Care to guess how those leggy, straight-haired, free-lovin hippie gals treated four-eyed intellectuals who kept demurring “yes, but!” to the cool Marxist professor?

Did any... and I mean any... of those nerds “get any” of that free love?

Picture it. Wedgies don’t hurt half as much as the rebuffs they received. Or create such a lifelong grudge.


4) Moreover, the rich frat boys seemed to change their tune, for a long time! (See above.) The oldmoney/newmoney aristos seemed to see the value in guys like Wolfowitz et al. As long as they needed nerds to do their homework. Until their lock on every institution of power was complete and the Great Kleptocratic Raid was fully underway. Till then, there were back-slaps and parties and offices for the neocon geeps. And more.


5) But those hippies? From them, the oppression only got worse. If you said “yes, but!” in the wrong way, to the wrong thing... or to ANY collective (politically correct) wisdom... well... Gaia help you. No free speech, but a deafening howl of denunciations. No debate, just relentless name calling and picketing and office-trashing...

...till the beckoning call of off-campus pseudo-academe became a siren song, an allure of appreciation and peace and acceptance.

And all the nerds-of-the-right had to do was say “yes....” No buts. Yes to our new feudal lords.


MY UNCONVENTIONAL BUT DIRECT SUGGESTION

Sorry to be so repetitious. But it is an unconventional perspective, leading to an unusual suggestion.

Can you see where I’m going with all this? The left had its satisfaction, driving guys like Perle and Wolfowitz and Nitze and Adelman and their ilk off-campus. I remember their short sighted crowing. The puerile victory dances. Like the street celebrations after Goldwater’s defeat in 64, or Nixon’s resignation in 74.

Alas, the Radical Left was too stupid ever to ponder that there might be consequences. That “pushing them into the sea” might be the very last thing you want to do to somewhat neurotic nerds who have a few off-kilter ideas... but who are very, very, very much smarter than you are.

The repercussions of all this have cursed us for a generation. And it is about time that someone, somewhere, called this sad phenomenon for what it was. Imbecilic short-sightedness.

And there is really only one solution...

...invite them back.



YES... INVITE THEM BACK HOME.

We must bite the bullet. We must turn, now, and accept the sullen, half-apologies being offered by the likes of Richard Perle, for having served as lackey-rationalizers for a caste of vicious, would-be lords.

In return, campus lefties ought to contemplate that maybe... just maybe... they were the ones who started it all, giving the first slap. They need to swallow their pride and go cold turkey on the endorphin rush of indignation.

WE. the nation. need for all the radical students and profs and crypto-leftists to grit their teeth, control the allure of self-righteousness, put out their hands... and invite the neocons back on campus.

Where they can get what they always needed, the humanization that comes from collegial give-and-take. Happy argument. Sincere free speech and open disputation that allows (with a thick skin) some slack to those who fail the political correctness purity test. Free speech of a kind that the left (maxima culpa) denied them long ago.

(And did it ever occur to you that you might actually learn something, as well?)

Did I say “disputation?”

Yes! Let it start with guest lectureships that feature honest debate. Perhaps with a tone of conciliatory confession. “If you admit your sins, we’ll admit ours.” Like a Truth and Reconciliation commission. One aimed at redemption... for both sides... and ultimate healing of “culture war.”

Because let me assure you. We will all be better off - much better off - inviting these guys back into the Academy (bringing their even-brighter, next-generation acolytes with them!) than we will be leaving them out there, in exile.

Outside, where they are easy meat for the kind of predators who would turn all citizens -- and all philosophers -- into slaves.


==

Okay, that was a major rant... possibly forgiven (as I often am) because at least the ideas may be unusual and entertaining. (I hope) Certainly not conventional. Aggressively moderate. Militantly reasonable.

==return to Part 1 of this series

66 comments:

brother doug said...

It seems like that has already happened with Berkley employing John Yoo.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Yoo

The question is weather men like Pearl or Wolfowits are willing to come back. It seems to me they still have access to the leavers of power and money and are unlikely to give them up.

TwinBeam said...

I can agree with the solution. I do have some criticism of details of this post.

Repeatedly throwing up that conservatives were responsible for pretty much none of the major (real) advances of the past century totally misses the point. That is simply not a valid criticism of a conservative.

Conservatives don't innovate - but in their ideal role, they defend time-proven past innovations from ill-conceived innovation.

If you're giving out praise for good deeds of the 20th century, credit them with having saved the Western world from Communism, which very truly likely would have created a new dark age once they'd consumed the material and social wealth Capitalism and Englightenment had generated over the previous century or two.

Conservatives use "liberal" as a curse meaning "greedy and wasteful" or "power-hungry and foolish", and not without good cause. Liberals contributed greatly to making "liberal" into a curse.

Smart Liberalism creates modest governmental institutions - highly leveraged approaches that indirectly shape society so that problems get solved. Dumb liberalism taxes huge volumes of money and throws it at problems, hoping enough money can fix things, or attempts to directly micro-manage people into better behavior - especially in the schools.

Finally - it's your blog, so you can use whatever rant style you like - but the repeated use of things like "doing the frat boy's homework" and talking about "nerds" being denied sex by free love hippy girls - that sort of stuff just makes your arguments appear trivial and silly. I think people here can interpret those things as "code words" for more serious points - but outside of this forum I think they'll just keep you from being taken seriously.

TwinBeam said...

BTW - I'd count "private property" as one of the greatest of Liberal innovations.

It's an excellent example of a government intervention that is inexpensive, avoids micro-management, and yet enables tremenduous individual freedom and opportunities.

Maybe the day will come when we need to move beyond it - perhaps we're seeing early signs of that in the issues surrounding Intellectual Property - but to date it has had a primarily positive influence.

In their eagerness to innovate new solutions, Liberals tend to forget that much of current society is the result of their greatest past innovations, and that their sparkly new ideas are in competition with the products of some of the greatest Liberal Minds of the past.

And that's why we NEED Conservatives.

David Brin said...

Twinbeam, I agree that one of today's richest ironies is the failure of most liberals to realize the rich history of the word "liberal" and what it really means.

If they understood that Adam Smith was a patron saint and that its original goal was to empower and free up market competition... and that this is a worthy goal that justifies combatting most types of prejudice (!!) (so that society won't waste talent)...

....then we might get away from the nasty thread of paternalism and misguided pushy conformism/statism that runs through the movement's left wing. Certainly the notion that "competition is bad" is a pernicious betrayal of the movement's roots. It boild down to anagenda of replacing plutocrat masters and allocators with socialist ones. Feh.

Nevertheless, recent history has decisively and totally destroyed the fallacy that "conservatives favor fiscal restraint." The experiment has been run. And if you want fiscal prudence, you want Bill Clinton. (Albeit perhaps limited in his ambition by a skeptical opposition.)

And there are more conservative canards that badly need skewring. (Note that here I am taslking about honest conservatism, as opposed to the 90% of its current agenda that is simply monstrous, the effect of a party having been taken over by bona fide monsters.)

Take the notion that privatization of services will automatically be more efficient. What malarkey. It costs FIVE times as much to hire a security guy from Blackwater services as to deploy an honest and well-trained army grunt. When a company has a crony-supplied no-bid monopoly access to the taxpayer's jugular, it wilkl be FAR more inefficient and rapacious than any number of "bureaucrats" given the same job. Proved.

Having said all that, let me accept that you chastize me for mixed terminology. Yes, my list of fifty American Accomplishments aince 1912 only has two that even remotely are rooted in the GOP.

(And you cannot count defeating communism! The grand plan we followed was crafted by George Marshall, Dean Acheson and Harry Truman, over strenuous resistance from isolationists Vandenberg and Taft!)

Nevertheless, it is fair to say "that conservatives have a different job!" So? In that case, their stance should be "Prove it and negotiate!" not "onward to feudalism!"

Mind you, Barry Goldwater DID want to innovate! He realized that the "natural" alternative to government paternalism was... the insurance companies! Who now are lazy fat pigs but who could be goosed, with the right regulatory tweaks, into becoming fierce advocates for their clients' health and safety. He proposed this, bless him!

... and got zero support from other goppers. Do you wonder why I say republicans never deserved him?

Rob Perkins said...

"dems ever had the sense of a cryptobiotic tardigrade"

Ah hahahahahahah! hoooo.

Of course, I had to go into Wikipedia and *study* in order to get the joke, which is a round and hearty condemnation of the Democratic Party.

Brains of dessicated microbes indeed. Don't you know what this means? For all the unpleasant consequences so far, the goppers have been innovating! And the dems have not...

From certain points of view, this makes the *Democratic* party the hardened and stodgy establishment! They're the conservatives!

hohohohohohoho....

David Brin said...

Rob, I will give you this. Oh yes I will.

TheRadicalModerate said...

David--

...a foundering conservative movement - one that could take credit for almost none of the great American accomplishments of the 20th Century - and somehow raised it from ashes to near-absolute power in just twenty years.

You know, I was prepared to dispute this, but I realized you're right. The conservative movement is responsible for virtually none of the accomplishments of the 20th century. But it has remedied some of that century's most notable failures.

And that's exactly how conservatives should celebrate their success. The US political system, to the extent it works at all, works because the two extremes are both in relatively good balance and have a vital role to play in improving the body politic. The liberal extreme proposes lots of ideas, most of them utterly ridiculous. The conservative wing shoots down these ideas over and over, until none but the best ideas are left standing. Those get incorporated into our laws and institutions.

Now, there is a natural oscillation to this cycle, which almost always goes overboard. Temperate liberalism gave us an internationalist foreign policy, a decent labor system, a recognition that some sort of social safety net is required, and civil rights. All of these have ultimately been embraced by conservatives of (almost) all stripes. Meanwhile liberalism run amok gave us Vietnam and a weakened military for 20 years, Great Society programs that decimated huge chunks of American culture and left us with a permanently weakened family structure, and a Democratic Party in thrall to a set of special interests that almost destroyed it.

Conservatives were able to remedy many of these these excesses and gain ascendancy over the liberals merely by repealing stuff and rebuilding things that liberals had neglected. But their rise to power gave us a whole new set of excesses, culminating in Bushco, the K Street project, a foreign policy that seriously exceeded our national capabilities, and a whole bunch of things that are just plain reactionary and more than vaguely authoritarian.

Guess what? Those excesses are about to be swept away by a newly ascendant liberalism. They will almost certainly adjust the most egregious excesses of conservatism, and just as surely propose and enact a whole new set of ideas, 95% of them silly as hell. Then people will get sick of liberalism and vote it out of office, so conservatives can repeal 90% of the stupid ideas and keep the few good ones.

This sounds an awful lot like "progress" to me. It may not be very efficient, but it certainly beats the alternative of one philosphy/worldview ascendant forever.

I don't buy your neocon-as-conservate-nerd hypothesis for a second, especially since a lot of the neocons started out as liberals in the first place. I also don't care. I'm merely relieved that there are still people out there with minds that are agile enough to hold to some core principles--either liberal or conservative--but still eventually face reality and make adjustments when some ideas turn out to be dumb.

Kelsey Gower said...

I'm sorry, but I don't think either side is ready to agree to conciliatory confessions yet. If someone from either side even started to admit that they made mistakes their head would be bitten off by the other side and they would be dumped by their own party. That's the problem of the culture war: both sides need to see the other side crushed, and they're not admit mistakes until that happens.

You want both sides to quit acting so juvenile? Then their ability to hold office will have to start to depend on their ability to act mature. And that's where your idea of disputation arenas comes in. It will provide an outlet for all that rage and indignation and a way to crush their opponents, safely. And at the same time both sides must agree to respect each other, and to not call each other names or make personal attacks or drown the other person out by shouting.

Conservatives won't be drawn by a college offering to accept their apologies and saying that they'll have honest debate now. That just appears insincere. They need a viable chance that their ideas will actually be listened to and possibly even be put into practice based on the merits of that idea. They need a place where both liberals and conservatives, students and professors can be on equal footing, at least until they debate each other and see which ideas are better.

Again, I think being able to beat your opponent in the disputation arenas will be key to ending the culture war. Colleges don't usually have the same amount of liberals, conservatives, and moderates. For a truly fair debate, they'll have to reach out to other colleges. I want to see the best debaters from one college take on another college. I want to see NYU fight BYU on the issue of gay marriage. And I want to see the smartest and best debaters make up the next generation's political think-tanks.

And let's not limit this to just colleges. They were just the starting grounds for the current culture war. I'd love to see a debate show on television (Jon Stewart should host). Every week, people from the media or the government should come on and support their positions on an issue. This could do much more to end the culture war. Pundits who use unsupported information to back their arguments can be called out to debate. And a low debate rating could soon translate into low television ratings and the possibility of being cancelled. Same thing with politicians, only with the possibility of not being re-elected, of course.

Perhaps then, we'll see a real change in how politics are waged.

Tony Fisk said...

Conciliatory confessions seemed to work in South Africa: somehow, the flamingos took flight, and in a situation which makes the red/blue culture wars look like a lovers' tiff.

I think the trick is to separate blame from responsibility.

Meanwhile, *please* don't tell me that this was what the Iraq troop surge was needed for?! Even Malaki's spat the dummy!

To quote from Pink Floyd:
And when they've given you their all
Some stagger and fall, after all it's not easy
Banging your heart against some mad bugger's wall.

Nate said...

Oh yes, the Republican party years ago became the "innovating" radical reactionaries, and so the Democrats became the conservative party. Not just in the sense of the inane rightward march from Democrats too afraid of being called nasty names like "anti-American" by Karl and Newt's attack dogs, but also because the Republicans had given up any pretense of that, and somebody has to defend the good of the country.

Sometimes, I think that's been the Republican plan for years. It definitely seems to be Bush's plan. Make so many fuckups and disasters, then stall stall stall until you're out of office, and then the people who follow after are too busy having to clean up your disasters to actually change anything, and they're the ones who have to make all the hard choices, and you can rant and rail against them raising taxes or canceling whatever impractical military projects, or so on, so you can get back into power. Wash, rinse, repeat.

I question, though, if your strategy would even work, Dr. Brin. For starters, many of the "conservative intellectuals" in this day and age may not want to come back. Especially the ones who've been raised in the sheltered atmospheres of paid for foundations. A great deal of the rationalization and underlying ideas of the modern conservative movement are simply wrong on many levels. People don't like to have holes poked in their worldviews, no matter how simple it is.

And with the With Us or Against Us attitudes the President's helped cultivate, there's a lot of people who see disagreeing with them not just as disagreement, but as attacks, and "persecution". Which would then just get recycled endlessly as evidence of "liberal academia" and the "persecution of conservatives" and round and round we go.

The people who've committed and justified all these crimes with and against our country need to be exposed and punished. None of this preemptive pardons for unnamed crimes stuff. Nothing happened to Nixon. Ollie North and G. Gordon Liddy have radio shows. They got off scot free before, so they have no reason to expect different this time. Why should we welcome and debate with people whose entire working lives have involved lying and spinning and making up justifications to cover and excuse high crimes and misdemeanors? Why when they've proven themselves untrustworthy and intellectually and morally bankrupt, should anything they have to offer be greeted with anything other than Daily Show style derision?

I guess that's the biggest thing. I understand that we want to strip away the people who help provide intellectual cover for the kleptocrats and the theocrats, but since they've already proved they can't be trusted nor believed, why should we do either? And given the rampant dishonesty and intellectual bankruptcy of many ideas, would they really WANT to come back on to campuses, where they'd likely be told how full of shit they are?

Anonymous said...

kThis time the holocaust will be black.

Austrian Sigmund Freud is known as the father of psychoanalysis yet people have (mental) health problems because of their disfavor, illustrating the preditory purpose of this discipline, this individual.
These people.

Of course Hitler was Austrian. Glock, maker of the semi-automatic gun favored by the most ruthless of black street gangs, the Bloods and the Crips, is Austrian.
RedBull Energy drink, Buwdeiser both Austrian.

The Holocaust was foreshadowing, yet another example of the Jews sacrificing to help the disfavored::::
1. 1492 exodus from Spain.
2. Spread throughout Europe as clue to heathen Christians worshipping a false god.
3. "Quasi-Holocaust claim" contradicting boss.
The Apocalypse (or an Apocalyptic event) will be initiated by an Austrian. When the national referendum to allow foreign-born individuals to run for president is introduced I recommend you DEFY and vote NO!! In the years prior to this vote the gods will send POWERFUL clues suggesting the IMPORTANCE OF DEFIANCE.

It will be the Koreans. There may not even be any invasion:::They gods will scapegoat them telepathically.
Black people like the ones who terrorized Korean businesses during the 1992 riots in California will be executed. I have personal reinforcing evidence.
This time the holocaust will be black.

Italy's boot is a clue showing the god's intent with the Romans.
Oshkosh. Oshkosh is a clue just as Lake Michigan and Green Bay are clues::::
Oshkosh is the ejaculate clue:::Life springs forth from this city.
Expect your traditional Second Coming of Christ to come from Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Consistant with the possibility of matrilinial lineage it may be the mother's family from the Lake Winnebago area fulfilling some "Manifest Destiny" bullshit theater.

1. Corporate sourcing violently punished::::
They suggest the whole "sourcing" era, where it is positioned that their brain-less clones obtained product from China and other Asian countries for the lowest possible price, will be punished violently if the gods elect to employ the "Chinese invasion" script.
One of the reasons it was so important to get out before 1980 or before the end of each 20-year war-revelry cycle (1960, 1980, 2000, 2020, etc).

2. Deception of Southern rednecks to blame for Republican control:::::
Republicans, party of preditory disfavored, keep guns available. Easy gun availablility is an "open door" for the gods, a tool used to prey on the disfavored.
Republicans, party of preditory disfavored, gave you the Clinton impeachment theater 1998.
Republican loyalty is why noone cares that rednecks are set up for the slaughter.

The Simpsons offered many clues to the disfavored, not the least of which the frequent references to "pack/mob mentality".

This isn’t about reals and clones. This is about the brains and the brain-less.
This is the key which unlocks the god’s puzzle.

Kosher is a favor bestowed upon the Jews. The South eats LOTS of pork and there is a oyster bar on every corner.
It's kinda like liquor stores in the ghetto. This is the kind of irony the gods laugh about:::::

gods got rid of the retarded woman who lived across the street, prior to the fall of 2006 so your handiwork wouldn't stare you in the face while there was so much attention.
gods took similar evansive manuvers w/ bi-racial.

Bill Clinton wasn't impeached because he lied.
Bill Clinton wasn't impeached because he was orally copulated.
Bill Clinton was impeached because it was 1998.

HOW TO PRAY:::1. I'm sorry for what I've done wrong. 2. I don't want to sccumb to temptation and make any more mistakes. 3. I want to fix my problems. 4. Please don't hurt me.

We will ALL be held to the responsibilities entrusted to us, no matter what temptations contradict this.


If you don't do the right thing you're going to do the wrong thing, and the right thing to do is to ACTIVELY fix your problems and pursue the favor of the gods.
If you're not working hard to fix your problems, if you don't creatively work to get the hell off Earth then you will be consumed by it, by the reverse positioning-institutions they instilled as temptations::::popular culture, democracy, materialism.

Kelsey Gower said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob Perkins said...

Rob, I will give you this. Oh yes I will.

That's fine and all, but please bear in mind that I'll only accept it from you if you acknowledge that my belly laugh is nothing more than a belly laugh. There are plenty of ways in which the Dems still have liberal ideas they're championing, but they're clinging to a framework which they think will get those ideas through.

In that sense, they're conservative about a framework which permits very rapid and dynamic social change. The goppers, opposed as they are to that framework, have innovated against it.

Patricia Mathews said...

I notice the epicenter of the Culture Wars is with one particular generation - the one now in power, which has the ability to take us into disaster but which will age out of power over the years. I have also noticed a rising generation of hard-nosed pragmatists on the local level and to some extent the national level, for whom the dogmatism of their elders is a nuisance at best.

That that they don't have their own problems! These are the people who invented zero tolerance for any form of disruptive behavior.

Then look around campus - at the students. If history is any guide, they will adopt some form of their elders' ideals as their own, but in a totally different form.

Yes - it helps to be going to school long past the years when most people do. It's like walking through a time machine into a culture you were never aware of before, and it's not your grandfather's campus.

However, the problem you pinpointed in this column - what Ken Wilbur delightfully named "Boomeritis" (no offense to rational Boomers!) is raging everywhere and all the rest of us can do is hold - and pull - the reins.

TheRadicalModerate said...

As someone who's a bit right of center, I'd love to see a little more balance brought back into university teaching but this is unlikely to happen--student indoctrination is quite rightly viewed as a real academic power base. Humanities and political science departments are unlikely to be embracing their prodigal neocons, whether they're repentant or not, because that would require that they share the courseload.

Meanwhile, who cares under what aegis the ideas are being authored? The humanities and political science peer review process is already a joke. So what does it matter whether some random paper comes from Stanford or Harvard vs. the Hoover Institution or the AEI?

RandomSequence said...

Sorry David,

This post is nonsense. I was hoping for some big climax, some great counter-intuitive idea. But that's it - invite the geniuses to the left?

Two major errors: first, I doubt that they are geniuses. Success is optimal below top intelligence. Bill Gates is no genius - the geniuses in that field all preceded him, for example.

Why? Because genius is rarely attracted to short-term solution. Only problems of long-scale are satisfying to their intellects. It's the rest of us sub-geniuses who focus on winning short-term political battles and accumulating wealth for wealth's sake.

Second, is not "invite them back" the idea behind Ford's pardon of Nixon's and his cronies? That's resulted real well, hasn't it?

No David, at some point some accountability must occur. This is no great jiu-jitsu throw. This is simply letting the spoiled kids get away with one more thing, because they might throw a temper tantrum.

Unless your suggestion is limited to the architects, the philosophers behind it? Folks like Fukiyama and Mansfield? Fukiyama has already come back "home" and Mansfield is way pre-60's. His getting laid problems lay back in the 40s and 50s, and have nothing to do with the boomers.

RandomSequence said...

To go on about genius, the word "liberal" did not go from honored to nil in twenty years. That all started back at the end of WWII. The Birchers were all over that - not geniuses. Anything left of Eisenhower was besmirched as "communist-influenced", at least within the US (We were a bit more liberal where we had no choice - Britain, France, Germany, ...)

But the propaganda campaign that involved the drunk McCarthy, the transvestite Hoover, the KKK and later the CCC, these were all the folks who built the original groundwork. What the "geniuses" did was simply realize that they could repackage this program internally to (try to) overturn the new deal after the civil rights movement brought the anti-communist together with the segregationists, and women's lib added in the evangelicals. A winning combo to push out the left aristocratic wing!

That's where folks like Mansfield, the Straussians and the turncoat Trotskyists come in. For them, liberalism was always just a practical tactic in the war of control - a bit more subtle by creating legitimacy. But it's danger of actually overturning the political order by continuing democratization? Anathema! So just make a new team, with some warmed over fascism...

Not genius, been there, done that. Not impressed.

zorgon the malevolent said...

Patricia Mathews remarked:
I notice the epicenter of the Culture Wars is with one particular generation - the one now in power, which has the ability to take us into disaster but which will age out of power over the years. I have also noticed a rising generation of hard-nosed pragmatists on the local level and to some extent the national level, for whom the dogmatism of their elders is a nuisance at best.

Quite true, and insightful. To add to that: the evidence suggests that the current culture war is a transitory upheaval.

While it might seem that doom and gloom surround us on all sides, if you read between the lines in the news, you find that the world actually is getting better -- and the culture wars are subsiding, rather than growing. One example is how much faster people woke up to the quagmire overseas this time, as compared to last time.
During Viet Nam it took from 1965 to 1973, a long 8 years with 50,000 American dead. This time, it only took from 2003 to 2006 -- and only 3,000 Americans dead. In the late 1960s I remember hearing Buzz Krulak, the former commandant of the marine corps, as a radio host in San Diego openly calling for construction workers to take rebars and beat anti-war protestors to death. We didn't get that this time. On the contrary -- the country has overwhelming flipped from pro-war to anti-war...and without a 1968 Chicago riot or a Kent State massacre. That's real progress. We are learning from history.

And here's more good news on the culture war front:

"Georgia high school has its first integrated prom"
http://www.local10.com/education/12833285/detail.html

Yes, in 2007 (!) Until recently "Whites held their own private party," reads the headline. It's very hard to demonize people when you socialize with them. How will the race card play among these schoolkids when they're old enough to vote? Not very well, I think.

"Saudi religious police under attack"
http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/CC6849A1-26A4-45F9-8F3A-415CEA5129E9.htm

Saudi Arabia is ground zero for the wahabi sect, so if the Saudi religious police are provoking a backlash when they try to beat young women for failing to fully
cover their faces when they walk through on the streets on Riyadh, that's significant. Young people in Saudi Arabia are probably sick and tired of being told they have to live in the 13th century, and it sounds like they're not gonna take it any more. This bodes ill for wahabi fundamentalists who want to recruit suicide bombers, methinks.

"Generation Next Rejects Creationism"

"There is a clear generational divide on the issue of evolution. Nearly two-thirds of nexters (63%) believe humans and other living things evolved over time, while
only 33% say all living creatures have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. Gen Xers share a similar perspective, though they are slighty more
open to the idea of creationism. Here the generational divide is among those under age 40 and those over age 40. Baby Boomers and Seniors are more closely divided
over how the world came to be."


Pew Project Generation Next Report, September 2006:
people-press.org/reports/pdf/300.pdf

"Coping with the world's highest rate of brain drain"

"Every year more than 150,000 educated young people leave Iran for countries such as the U.S. and Canada..."

www.parstimes.com/news/archive/2004/rfe/brain_drain.html

Young people in Iran are sick of Sharia and they're bailing out for the West at a staggering rate.

What's the common thread here?

Young people throughout the world are refusing to buy into superstition and prejudice.

This suggests that the future belongs to the "reality-based community." Judging by the behavior of young people throughout the world, fundamentalist hatred & self-delusion is not winning the battle for hearts and minds. Rationality and tolerance are pulling ahead fast in the home stretch.

Sounds like good news to me.

RandomSequence said...

TwinBeam: If you're giving out praise for good deeds of the 20th century, credit them with having saved the Western world from Communism, which very truly likely would have created a new dark age once they'd consumed the material and social wealth Capitalism and Englightenment had generated over the previous century or two.

Methinks you give undue credit there. It may be counter-intuitive, but capitalism was saved from communism not by conservatives, but by socialists - specifically European socialists.

After WWII, it was socialists programs that rebuilt Europe in England, France and Germany. The feeling was, as I've been told by Germans of those generations, that "we all eat from the same pot." They built the mixed-model of capitalist industry with socialist "cushioning" that stabilized western Europe and gave it the high growth rates that enabled all of us to fend off communist advancement.

What if we had bee more aggressive after WWII, and kept socialists out of power in our allies? We had the military muscle, the economic power, and in the case of Germany, we literally occupied them? I doubt that our counter-communism would have been successful.

It's hard to argue counter-factuals, but let's look at the states in Europe that did not develop a healthy socialism: Spain and Greece. Greece descended into a nasty civil war, where we had to invest massively in insurgency to fend off a communist takeover. The country was dominated by the military for generations, and stayed an impoverished appendage. Spain already had their civil war; but likewise, they stayed an impoverished example of practically third-world conditions.

It was socialist Europe that brought both those countries into the EU, and brought up their living standards in coalition with native socialist parties. I imagine that a pure laissez-faire, conservative Western Europe would have actually been much more in the long-term interest of the Soviets, creating the kind of propaganda and internal instability that would have either lead to communist takeovers, or a resurgency of radical rightist movements.

Marx may have spouted quite a bit of nonsense, but his and Hegel's dialectic is simply an early formalization of feedback systems, and their instabilities if not properly organized.

Hank Fox said...

Random, I passionately hated Richard Nixon, but in retrospect his pardon was probably a very good idea. Comparing the Nixon presidency to the current one, I can also see that Nixon wasn’t such a bad guy.

...

David, I have a rough idea of ... call it “human social state,” the complex conditions in which human society finds itself at any moment. Anytime society changes from one set of conditions to another, the change is accompanied by extreme turbulence.

I see this as something of a natural law. At the scale of one person, a habit is easier to maintain than it is to break. If you could graph the mental effort and turmoil of a person attempting to break a habit, you’d see a smooth constant line on the time axis during the maintenance of the habit, a sharp rise in effort as the attempt to break the habit began, oscillation of effort as the habit-breaking continued, and then a more gradual drop back to some constant level as the effort paid off.

On larger scales, a whole society attempting (or forced into) some change plays out all those individual internal turmoils as a very energetic time of society-wide stress – with side effects of social heat, light, noise and confusion.

Nationally, we have discovered the neo-con habit is very bad for our health, and we are, in a sense, now attempting to break that habit. It appears we’re being somewhat successful at it, but ... we’re only into the leading edge of the phase of energetic turbulence.

(I’m not totally convinced we’ll be showing clear change by the 2008 elections either. Another disaster, real or manufactured, or a feeding frenzy among Democratic candidates, could cause voters to return a Republican, such as McCain, to the White House, which will slow the change, and allow further destruction, over another four years.)

In terms of quitting smoking, the personal-scale turbulence is gradually eased by the counterbalance to the craving – an improving ability to breathe, sleep, taste food, etc. There MUST be some sort of counterbalance to drive the continued effort – medical studies might show statistical evidence of eventual health improvement, but until the average smoker detects some positive difference in his own physical feelings, he’s pushing ahead on determination alone.

In terms of breaking the neo-con habit, I don’t know if we’ll see any counterbalancing change detectable to the average U.S. citizen anytime soon. The economy is screwed, the rest of the world appears to hate us, we’re stuck in an interminable war, and Limbaugh and O’Reilly are ever-flowing fountains of conservative venom. These things will go on.

What we have for counterbalance is ... investigation. And prosecution.

Vengeance and show trials, if you want to think of it that way. I think it’s necessary.

I actually like the CONCEPT of inviting the neo-cons back in.

I just don’t know if we’re capable of doing it. The Democrats and college liberals might have shoved the American pooch out the back door into their hands, but THEY (the neo-cons) are the ones who screwed it over the past decade and more.

Speaking for myself, I would have to have a counterbalance, an apology, some public recognition of what they’ve done, as a bare-minimum first act. And that’s not going to happen.

We’ve watched a trickling succession of GOPers climb out of the festering swamp of the Bush administration, almost from the first days of his presidency, and basically beat their breasts and say they were sorry they were ever a part of it.

Too much of what we’ve heard, though, when we’ve heard anything at all (Colin Powell, for instance, maintains a stony public silence on his pivotal role in starting up the killing machine in Iraq), seems to be something like the old “Communism would have worked, if the bad people hadn’t hijacked it.”

And ... when I peer down into the full details of what has actually happened, I don’t see simple politics, or even radical philosophical differences. I see tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of actual casualties, including 3,000-plus American boys and girls – repeated iterations of some American family’s real little girl, wounded or dead, some American kid’s real daddy, wounded or dead. (And that’s just Iraq – it leaves out Katrina, and so many other neo-con debacles it tires me to even think about listing them.)

The workable counterbalance to that reality is probably not a broadminded philosophical act. It’s punishment, in full public light. Bush should be IMPEACHED. Cheney and Rove – and Limbaugh – should be IN PRISON. The neo-con geniuses should be repudiated and humiliated. If there really was a scrap-heap of history, they should be thrown onto it.

This time, pardons simply won’t work. The damage is too widespread. In fact, one of the many reasons I’d like to see Bush and Cheney impeached before 2008 is to stop Bush from issuing blanket pardons. (And I’m certain the Dems are consciously dragging their feet on investigations and prosecutions in order to get the process past Bush’s preemptive pardon ability, so they can actually punish some of these people. Which further maintains the turbulence, and delays the eventual state-change.)

I agree we’ve witnessed genius. Turning the word “liberal” into the spitting-nasty equivalent of “commie” or “nigger,” playing the media like a fine violin on EVERY issue, sending the Democrats running in disarray, all of that was sheer political brilliance of a sort we rarely see.

But it was genius focused on power, and nothing else. Nothing else. It was predatory – eventually murderous – genius. Evil genius.

And I think they have to pay for what they’ve done.

RandomSequence said...

Hank,

Where did Rumsfeld come from? Wikipedia Or Cheney? Wikipedia

How many of these bastards came out of the Nixon administration, slipped into Ford's and then returned under Reagan? What if we had fully exposed the Nixon administration, and stopped their careers their, forced them permanently into the private sphere?

Are we going to make the same mistake again?

I agree we’ve witnessed genius. Turning the word “liberal” into the spitting-nasty equivalent of “commie” or “nigger,” playing the media like a fine violin on EVERY issue, sending the Democrats running in disarray, all of that was sheer political brilliance of a sort we rarely see.

Read the crap from the fifties. How much effort does it really take to morph "pinko" into "liberal"? I see no genius at all. It's the same program that allowed the Nazis to morph communist into Jew, socialist and labor union member. I won't give either camp credit with "genius" - all you have to do is pick up a history book and see how to turn resentment of elites into projection against your neighbors.

Hank Fox said...

I still think it was brilliant. Part of the genius is that many of us could see what was happening, and it STILL worked.

It was as if a stranger walked into a family reunion and beat and robbed your grandmother in full public view ... yet did it in such a way that nobody moved to stop him.

We always want to believe the other side is "stupid" for doing the harmful things they do. But sometimes it's just not true.

It's okay to admit your enemy is smart, even while hating the things he does. In this case, the mugger was a virtuoso. The fact that granny's lying bloody and unconscious on the floor is a separate issue.

I'm not ADMIRING. I'm WARNING.

RandomSequence said...

Hank,

I'm not calling them idiots. Even Hitler wasn't an idiot. Stalin was pretty damn smart. Kissinger has a fairly high IQ.

Usually, most successful folk are pretty smart. But there's a huge distance between pretty smart and genius. Bill Gates is pretty smart. Our host here is pretty smart. But, without further evidence, not geniuses.

Don't underestimate your opponent, but don't overestimate him either. Not only may it be mistaken, but it puts the meme out there - you might actually increase support for folks who don't deserve it.

Generally, "geniuses" have interest beyond self-interest. It's likely that such a belief system is required to fully develop a talent. For example, in sci-fi, I'd call Lem Stanislaw a genius. But in order to develop that, he had to sacrifice a great deal of commercial success. A good writer (non-genius) could probably grab any of his short stories and create a popular novel that would outsell Lem's entire bibliography.

Or how about Einstein? What if he had dropped out of academia, and used his talent at visualization to engineering? I bet his patent portfolio would have outstripped his science earnings by many orders of magnitude.

In the short term, it's the pretty darn smart guys with few scruples who run the world. The geniuses build the world in the long term. The neo-cons fall in the former category. And we don't need 'em.

Geoffrey said...

Okay Dr. Brin,

A) See if you can get one to listen to you - a neocon in exile type that is

B) Invite them back for a debate

C) Debate them yourself in an open, very public forum in academia or elsewhere and have actual video of it to spread around.

D) Invite a third respected person from the "liberal" side who may be now, quite tired of being pushed into the see and ignored him/herself to prevent a push-back from the other side of what should not be a conservative/liberal divide.

E) not really a point here - put your own modernist points into the mix to try to heal the divide and eliminate the tired conservative/liberal dynamic.

David Brin said...

Wow, a really lively discussion, filled with points both cogent and infuriating! I love you all and wish I could answer all, but must pick and choose.

This time, it’s RadicalModerate and one other:

------

RM, you make a valid point about the non-creative but usefully critical role of conservatism. Anyway, it is a good fallback claim, when presented with the blatant and overwhelming list of “great American accomplishments of the last 100 years.”

And yet, two things:

1. WHAT "conservatism" are you talking about? I can see almost nothing in common between today's version and the traditions of "America First" prudence, attention to readiness and fiscal restraint and rectitude...

2. Although your comments about “temperate vs radical” liberalism seem qualitatively okay -- (the latter have, indeed, sinned in the manner you describe) -- where you fail is in the quantitative impact of liberal sins.

In fact, the radical “PC Police” lefties -- of whom you often hear me complain -- have never been even remotely as powerful in the democratic party or the liberal movement as bilious radicals of the right have been in the GOP. Not even by two orders of magnitude.

In fact, the main harm that they have done has been to create outrageous and theatrical strawmen for fundies and neocons to point to as rallying images. (e.g. obsessing on campus English departments. Wha?) Oh, that is, indeed, great harm and I despise the flakes for giving Limbaugh ammo. My whole “Invite them home” missive is about how the lefty-flake sins have come home to roost.

BUT that is an entirely different kind of crime than we have seen perpetrated lately, by the radical right. It is like comparing a somewhat perverted/kinky clown to the Manson family.

Hence, I have to look at the following statement on your part and simply say: untrue. All of it. At nearly every level.

”Meanwhile liberalism run amok gave us Vietnam and a weakened military for 20 years, Great Society programs that decimated huge chunks of American culture and left us with a permanently weakened family structure, and a Democratic Party in thrall to a set of special interests that almost destroyed it. “

Um. Wrong. Vietnam was a consensus deceision on the part of all Cold Warriors, from both parties, based upon a line-in-the-sand macho notion that all communist forays must be resisted with full strength, lest dominoes fall. Goldwater was AT LEAST as vigorous in wanting to make a stand there as Johnson was. True, I despise JFK’s schoolboy machismo and I believe we fell for a KGB trap by getting mired there, instead of using agile jiu jitsu...

...a mistake that Bush repeated line-by-line in Iraq, almost as if deliberately...

...and yet, Vietnam did seem “obvious” at the time, to Cold Warrios across party lines. Don’t try that one.

As for "weakened military", I have never seen a scintilla of truth to that canard. It was Carter who reversed the plummet in the military postVietnam, by demanding 3% per year increases... for which Reagan got all the credit. Anyway, this image is hard not to laugh at, given that our era of greatest dominance was under Clinton and greatest weakness is under George W. Bush.

As for the Great Society... whoa hoss! I totally agree that the 1990s Clinton Gingrich Welfare Reform was desperately needed and seems to have solved (partially) some insanities that liberal PC had invested in some GS programs. Welfare Reforn should have pointed to how Gingich + Clinton could have, by consensus, become a powerful modernist team. Alas, that was not on the right wing agenda and the bright moment passed, though Clinton kept reaching out.

Nevertheless, the cant that “the Great Society did more harm than good” is simple righty claptrap. Tell it to Appalachia, friend. Tell it to our vastly expanded universities. Tell it to the vastly expanded minority middle class and the righteously anti-racist society. Tell it to the plummeted infant mortality rates and rising IQs and no more lead-poisoning and cleaner air. And you know darn well that I could go on and on and on and on.

Moreover, as far as “special interests” are concerned, the Dems at their very worst were better than the last 14 years of neocon Congresses, at their very, very, very best.

I will give you this. the dems were inherently limited in their graft by GOP howls that would chase them if they stole too much. Hence Tip O’Neil was nailed for doing things that totaled no more than petty cash to Tom DeLay. Why? Was it because the GOP was more vigilant in the minority?

No, it was because, when the dems controlled things, they ALLOWED the gops to perform that role! Whereas, under GOP control, dems have not been allowed ANY access to tools of investigation, committe subpoenas, anything at all. The very first thing Gingich-deLay did, was to dismantle all the auditing and science advisory apparatus that THEY had used, while in the minority, to catch Tip O’Neil!


I saved the most important for last.

Sorry. Your blithe view of a "swinging pendulum" is no more than the latest ostrich mantra. The latest psychological crutch. Alas.

Now that they are FORCED to admit that GOP rule has become a freak and horror show, the next fallback is that “this too will naturally pass... as the liberal freak show passed.”

Sorry, this ostrich hole won’t work, either. This is not a pendulum swing. It is an attempted putsch. A (not-so) slow coup in progress. A barbarian pillage rad. Moreover, the coup must be pushed farther, lest the thieves and traitors be caught and punished by a pendulum swing!

We need to rise up, out of our ostrich holes, in order for it to be allowed to swing at all.

---

Hank, I have spoken elsewhere about the need for the dems to start taking serious moves in order to corner and hem-in Bush’s power of pardon.

1. openly challenge him to promise not to challenge more than twice as many as any other president. Yes, this is unseemly and polemical. But it would draw attention to the hog-fest and get people thinking. He would refuse of course... and people will wonder why!

2. Pass a bill DEFINING pardons as being only for acts that the pardonee openly avows and describes in detail, under oath.

3. Offer a better deal, now. Hold hearings that offer immunity to whistle blowers. Let henchmen get their bird-in-the-hand escape pass NOW, instead of praying that Bush will keep his word in december 08.

----

Random, I agree that it’s tempting to wish we had cleaned house fully, after Nixon. But it would just have made things worse. What’s needed is to rise abopve culture war, not to fall into the trap of waging it.

For that reason (AGAIN!) I am hoping some of you know some folks who might want to do a YouTube theater video that has potential of really catching fire! I’d be happy to help script it. You start chanting with images of Reagan and Bush SR, twice, then Bush senior by himself...

REAGAN-BUSH
REAGAN-BUSH,
BUSH


Then you repeat and take it forward three MORE administrations:

REAGAN-BUSH,
REAGAN-BUSH,
BUSH, CLINTON,
CLINTON, BUSH


Can you feel the rhythm?

Now repeat in a “round” - this time taking it a little farther, ending in a querilous “Clinton”? Showing Hillary’s smiling face.


REAGAN-BUSH,
REAGAN-BUSH,
BUSH, CLINTON,
CLINTON, BUSH,
BUSH... CLINTON?


Now with gusto!


REAGAN-BUSH,
REAGAN-BUSH,
BUSH, CLINTON,
CLINTON, BUSH,
BUSH, CLINTON,
CLINTON... BUSH?


Now you’ve finished two Hillary terms with ... Jeb! And the audience starts to feel a chill. Only the chorus is starting to really get into it. Using the names Bush and Clinton ad nauseam.


REAGAN-BUSH,
REAGAN-BUSH,
BUSH, CLINTON,
CLINTON, BUSH,
BUSH, CLINTON,
CLINTON, BUSH.
BUSH, CLINTON,
CLINTON, BUSH.


Only now we’ve shown PRESIDENT CHELSEA CLINTON and finished this round with ... Jenna Bush...

Remember the funny “this land is your land” routine that got so much attention during the Kerry-Bush race? If done right... as the singers start to look panicky, yet unable to stop... this could be as bit a hit as the infamous “This Land is Your Land” skit during the Kerry race.

Look, don’t get me wrong. I actually respect Hillary Clinton. She has been slandered, utterly, by truly monstrous liars and scoundrels. I do think she made a wretched/awful mistake that helped bring in the neocons, in 94. But she’s solid and would probably make a good president.

But her “negatives” are so high that we would spend her entire term fighting the Civil War III.

No senators.

Rob Perkins said...

On the Dem side, the only candidates who appear viable right now are Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, with friends of mine taking a good hard look at John Edwards (though it's portentous that I blanked on his name...)

All senators, or former such.

On the GOP side, they're fielding McCain ('cause it's his *turn*, dangit!), Romney, Giuliani, a couple others.

Most are not senators and haven't been.

If we base our analysis on the idea that senators do not win... who will win?

Patricia Mathews said...

Who will win. Bill Richardson of New Mexico?

RandomSequence said...

David,

Well, counter-factuals are always tough. We can't experiment. But maybe we need to look at when a settlement is appropriate, and when they just won't work?

For example, the US civil war. We could have had a reasonable settlement before the war, could not during the war, and had to have one after the war. Before the war, it's perfectly likely that the South could have seceded and left to deal internally with it's own problems, with a low probability of inter-state conflict.

During the war, a settlement would have left a festering wound. Little doubt about that.

And after the war, no settlement would have led to guerilla warfare that could still be raging more than a century later, with irredentism like in the old world.

What differentiates the three cases? The clarity of power between the different negotiating members. When relative power is believed to be clear, settlement is not only possible, but necessary to avoid breaking the illusion. On the other hand, settlement when power is in doubt leads to a paper peace, forever threatening to collapse.

We see it today in Iraq. We've broken the illusion of Sunni dominance. No settlement will work until the parties recognize their relative power. That's bloody as hell, but at this point, there's no avoiding it, other than a third party fully dominating all sides for generations, and proving it - by being bloody as hell. Sadly, what could have been done at the beginning of this morass, while a number of "legitimacies" still held, is unattainable once the illusion of society breaks down.

So how does this relate to the "culture war"? Well, it's not yet clear who has legitimate power. By not pushing their advantage during Nixon, and instead allowing a settlement that covered everyone's asses, it created a paper peace. The Nixonites thought they hadn't "really" lost, just a tactical retreat, while the liberals were under the illusion they had won, allowing the underlying disagreements to fester and morph.

I don't think you can simply jiu-jitsu this one. You can make a settlement after a victory - a fair and magnanimous one that avoids resentment, an honorable loss for one side that allows them to lay down their weapons without losing everything. But to settle before that point is asking for trouble (as is not settling at that point).

David Brin said...

I should say no senators and no divorced loonies.

There, that wipes the slate clean on both sides!

Leaving us able to run Richardson-Clark against...

...hmmm, rubbing chin and trying to even imagine an acceptable gopper.

Alan Spector is a senator. GuvAhnold is constitutionally excluded (too bad). I mean dang. There must be a republican MAYOR somewhere who shows a record of reasonableness, honesty, some backbone toward monsters and the honest approval of his first wife.

David Brin said...

See:
http://www.democracyforamerica.com/

for a grassroots organization that seems to be pretty vigorous about nurturing democratic candidates. (I have good reasons for supposrting Eric Massa of New York.)

What bums me out is a failure to make a concerted effort to run disgruntled, high quality military officers (ret) in every borderline district.

Tacitus2 said...

An Ostrich Speaks

I am trying without success to think of an exception, so I will just outright say, "there are no late inning rallies in American Politics". So I figure it is fair game to assess the W era even while it has a few months to run before it vanishes under blizzard of the '08 campaign.
On the domestic side, a mixed picture. When Clinton ran on "It's the economy, stupid" he would have gained little traction in the face of current employment numbers, Stock Market levels, inflation, home ownership levels etc. And these are not all perks that accrue to rich Republican dudes who look like the little Monopoly guy. But the economy comes and goes, and when it turns down, as it always does, the usual debate will be on over whether its W's fault or President__________'s.
And there are many structural issues with national debt, health care costs etc. ((as an aside, I actually voted for B.Clinton first term expecting he could do something on health care)).
Give W. credit as well....it was no Democratic president that put men and women of color in the highest positions of power. Where they could screw up as well as anybody.
On the foreign side, W.'s legacy will be one of near total failure. Oh, he's cultivated enough of a crazy image that Libya disarmed. And the policy of using banking regulatons to squeeze N.Korea is novel and shows promise.
But otherwise....ick. W. took a huge gamble, and when it went sour lacked the political skills to generate support internationally or to sustain it at home.
I do not agree with Dr. Brin on his kleptocracy theories, but do find them thought provoking. No, I think the W. legacy will be a mediocre man tossed to center stage by historical accident. And in response to the real threat of radical Islam he has proven to be not the narrowly averted Nero that Dr. Brin sees, but a failed and disgraced Churchill.
There are many cautionary lessons for both parties. I will take a swing at some unsolicited advice for my DFL/Progressive friends some time soon.
Tacitus2

David Brin said...

Did any of you see Google's great April Fools joke about TiSP? (Toilet-delivered internet?)

Of course I had priority. Been talking for years about how logical it is.

Now have a look at the passage from Kiln People...

“What about the sewers?” I asked, recalling how my recent greendit wormed its way inside yesterday... an excursion as unpleasant to remember as that later trek along the river bottom.
Blane’s broad face contorted behind a semitransparent visor that flashed with symbols and map overlays. (He’s too old-fashioned to get retinal implants. Or maybe he just likes the garish effect.) “I’ve got a robot in there,” he grunted.
“Robots can be hacked.”
“Only if they’re smart enough to heed new input. This one is a cable-laying drone from the Sanitation Department! Zingleminded and dumb as a stone. It’s trying to bring a wide-baud fiber through sewer pipes into the basement, heading stubbornly for Beta’s toilet. Nobody’s getting past the thing, I promise.”


Ahem... how many time I gotta say - you hear it here first.... ;-)

Onion Volcano said...

Dr. Brin made an excellent point with regards to the collegiate social climate in the sixties. If I'm a right-thinking nerd, the girls ain't there. Bitterness follows.

This weekend, Karl Rove told Sheryl Crow: "Don't touch me!" He also told her, in effect, that she wasn't American, and that Rove "...represented the American people."

Then let her touch you, idiot. If it's not me she's touching, then I demand my representatives step up and stop being so bitter.

Girl cooties hold no such terror for Bill Clinton. He knew the power of Free Love. Just saying.

Don Quijote said...

Meanwhile liberalism run amok gave us Vietnam and a weakened military for 20 years, Great Society programs that decimated huge chunks of American culture and left us with a permanently weakened family structure, and a Democratic Party in thrall to a set of special interests that almost destroyed it.

A) US involvement in Vietnam started in 1956 under Eisenhower.

B) What happens when you roll back great society programs:

In Turnabout, Infant Deaths Climb in South

To the shock of Mississippi officials, who in 2004 had seen the infant mortality rate — defined as deaths by the age of 1 year per thousand live births — fall to 9.7, the rate jumped sharply in 2005, to 11.4. The national average in 2003, the last year for which data have been compiled, was 6.9. Smaller rises also occurred in 2005 in Alabama, North Carolina and Tennessee. Louisiana and South Carolina saw rises in 2004 and have not yet reported on 2005.

...

In 2004, Gov. Haley Barbour came to office promising not to raise taxes and to cut Medicaid. Face-to-face meetings were required for annual re-enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP, the children’s health insurance program; locations and hours for enrollment changed, and documentation requirements became more stringent.

As a result, the number of non-elderly people, mainly children, covered by the Medicaid and CHIP programs declined by 54,000 in the 2005 and 2006 fiscal years. According to the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program in Jackson, some eligible pregnant women were deterred by the new procedures from enrolling.

Brother Doug said...

Trying to put into words the consideration of these comments I find that that what Brin postulates is a useful tool. But after finishing Chalmers Johnson’s latest book I realize it will not fix the fundamental problem of why the rest of the world hates the U.S. so much. With 737 official overseas military bases we have set up our nation as the new Roman Empire and to maintain them only an American Emperor can sustain that level of violence. This is the reason that Bush has been allowed to try the course he has charted. We created a myth of redemptive violence that the nation cannot let go of even when it is obviously damaging everything that our nation aspired to be. More on that thought later.

Brother Doug

Rob said...



I should say no senators and no divorced loonies.

There, that wipes the slate clean on both sides!

Leaving us able to run Richardson-Clark against...


Mitt Romney?

David Brin said...

Not divorced... but there's that other thing.

TheRadicalModerate said...

These will seem like rhetorical questions, but they're not:

1) Do you actually care whether your presidents are divorced? If so, why?

2) A related question: Do you care if politicians are hypocrites? If so, why?

My answers:

1) Given that politics requires inhuman hours, months at a time away from home, huge amounts of stress, and constant, soul-destroying compromise, I can't figure out why all presidents aren't divorced.

2) Again, given that hypocrisy is (in the media, at least) just an inconsistency between what you say and what you do, I can't imagine how you can be a politician and not be hypocritical from time to time.

Mind you, I'd love to come back from the voting booth not feeling the need for an immediate shower. But politics is what it is. I'm not holding my breath. And I'm not planning on voting only for saints--I suspect saints would be amazingly ineffective.

David Brin said...

I am not opposed to divorce, per se. But certainly to have kept your vows to keep another person happy and safe enough to want to keep you around... well there are few better thumbnails. Women understood this re Clinton. En masse they were ready to forgive him if Hillary did.

As for hypocrisy, well, Francois de La Rochefoucauld said "Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue." In that it can be a good sign, that the center of gravity has shifted, making people no longer proud of bad habits.

Racism is a good example. Many of those with photos of Martin Luther King on their walls are g'damned hypocrites, having spent half their lives cursing and opposing him and still slipping into racism whenever the chance arises.

And yet, their hypocrisy has a good side. They have moved. The lie they tell them selves ("who me? racist? Never!) IS MAKING THEM BETTER. Even if they are still #$$#@*&! horrible SOBs.

OTOH, there are hypocricies that are simply outright vileness distilled and acrid even to contemplate. For the "Party of Virtue" to have decried divorce... till Ronald Reagan ran for President, at which point it SUDDENLY was a non-issue...

And to have hounded Clinton's peccadilloes, without even having the decency to choose hounds who weren't overwhelmingly less moral than him at the arts of marriage?

2/3 of the "house Managers" sent to push the impeachment prosecution had had bitter, vicious divorces filled with false statements, depositions and outright lies in court.


When abstinence education fails utterly and kids in the cities do at least as well at avoiding VD, pregnancy, and even early sex as those in the Belt. When televangelists grab loot hand over fist and chase boys. When the sole criterion for forgiveness is if "he's one of ours..."

Then yes, hypocrisy matters.

TheRadicalModerate said...

David, I owe you a re-rebuttal to your longer piece:

First, I retract “Vietnam” from my list of stupid liberal excesses. You’re right; it was bipartisan--at least until 1974, when Democrats gleefully pulled the plug on a policy that was starting to work OK. Hmm, why am I having deja vu?


I can see almost nothing in common between today's version and the traditions of "America First" prudence, attention to readiness and fiscal restraint and rectitude...

First, conservatism hasn’t been isolationist since the 30’s, Pat Buchanan notwithstanding. Second, this readiness drum you’ve been beating is just silly. Even if I were to stipulate that readiness has been seriously degraded (it hasn’t, not seriously), readiness always drops during wartime. Bear in mind that we used to worry about readiness when units were close to becoming combat-ineffective (aka close to 50% losses). So you’ll pardon me if I’m unimpressed that we’ve had to violate some paper deployment schedule and stretch the National Guard. It’s a war without a draft. (This is a good thing.)

NB: I am not asserting that we have a large enough military--we desperately need another 10 light brigades. But to assert that military readiness is degraded enough to affect national security is just silly.


In fact, the radical “PC Police” lefties -- of whom you often hear me complain -- have never been even remotely as powerful in the democratic party or the liberal movement as bilious radicals of the right have been in the GOP. Not even by two orders of magnitude.

Well, the GOP has certainly been raiding the pork barrel--yet another unintended consequence of the war. (When you’re spending $80B a year on the war, suddenly a billion here, a billion there, and it doesn’t seem like you’re talking real money any more.) The problem is, though, that the non-shrill, non-PC portions of the Democratic Party will legislate like there’s no tomorrow when they gain power. Since legislation also adheres to Sturgeon’s Law (you’re all required to know what this is on Brin’s site!), prolific legislation always requires subsequent prolific repeal. (BTW, my absolute favorite attribute of the GOP being in power is that they’re perfectly content to do almost nothing. In fact, I wish that they’d done a little less than they actually did...)


It was Carter who reversed the plummet in the military post Vietnam, by demanding 3% per year increases... for which Reagan got all the credit.

Please. Here are US military budgets under Carter and Reagan, as a percentage of GDP:

1977 4.9%
1978 4.7%
1979 4.6%
1980 4.9%
1981 5.1%
1982 5.7%
1983 6.1%
1984 5.9%
1985 6.1%
1986 6.2%
1987 6.1%
1988 5.8%

Please note the difference between 4.9% and 6.2%.


Anyway, this image is hard not to laugh at, given that our era of greatest dominance was under Clinton and greatest weakness is under George W. Bush.

I’ll just assume that your confusion of military dominance with overall international power is for rhetorical purposes, rather than being a serious argument. Overall international power has clearly been diminished through poor strategic execution and bad diplomacy. Military power has not--quite the contrary.


Nevertheless, the cant that “the Great Society did more harm than good” is simple righty claptrap. Tell it to Appalachia, friend. Tell it to our vastly expanded universities. Tell it to the vastly expanded minority middle class and the righteously anti-racist society. Tell it to the plummeted infant mortality rates and rising IQs and no more lead-poisoning and cleaner air. And you know darn well that I could go on and on and on and on.

Well, this prompted a quick Wikipedia search (the first refuge of the lazy researcher!), where I found the following bills listed as the core of the GS legislation:

Civil Rights Act of 1964
Voting Rights Act of 1965
Civil Rights Act of 1968
(ending housing discrimination)

I’ve already acknowledged that the civil rights stuff should have been--and was--retained.

Economic Opportunity Act of 1965 (aka the “War on Poverty”)

This is the big enchilada, of course, and included the Neighborhood Youth Corps, Upward Bound, the Community Action Program, and VISTA. Yeah, there are some programs that revolutionized American life.

Then, of course, we have the Model Cities Program. This produced all those wonderful urban housing projects, which gutted poor neighborhoods and replaced them with, well, the phrase “concentration camp” leaps to mind. Surely that’s somewhat harsh, isn't it?

This bill also created the food stamp program, which is a big chunk of the welfare system that eventually got reformed.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965
Bilingual Education Act of 1968

Well, this one’s good news/bad news. We got Head Start, which is a genuinely good idea. On the other hand, it was also the first precedent for federal funding of K-12 education, which has just been a disaster (and one that conservatives were never able to repeal). Meanwhile, I’ll stick to my guns and lump bilingual ed. into the group of programs that a) didn’t work and b) put needless stress on urban society and culture.

Higher Education Act of 1965

OK, you got me on this one. This seems like a good idea. I have no idea whether this had a large impact on the American university system or not. I’d have to research endowment rates to be able to figure this out, and I'm afraid I might actually do harm to myself if I did that for very long.

Medicare and Medicaid

Yes!! Let’s take an actuarially unsound Social Security system and make it even more unsound! Then let’s mandate that states include healthcare in their welfare programs with no funding to speak of. Excellent idea!

There are more, especially some early (fairly toothless) pieces of environmental legislation, which mostly got replaced by the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.

So I’ll grant you your point about some expansion of universities (see above for the weasel words). And I’ll plead nolo contendere on infant mortality. Appalachia? Sorry, that’s FDR and the TVA--you must have gotten swept up in the warm glow of progressive nostalgia. Vastly expanded minority middle class? Uh, didn’t that really start taking off when we repealed a bunch of this stuff?


Sorry, this ostrich hole won’t work, either. This is not a pendulum swing. It is an attempted putsch.

If it’s an attempted putsch, it’s a damn poorly executed one, considering it was brought to a dead stop by one election. Plus, I’m confused: Are you denying the existence of cyclic behavior? Or just denying that there have been liberal excesses?

As you surely know by now, I’m not going to apologize for Bushco, other than to point out the difference between "bad decision plus incompetence" vs. "malevolence and evil." If anything, in the few months that I’ve been heckling you, things have only gotten worse and, like the rest of you, I just wish... the man... would go... away.

But I felt that way about the last two years of the Carter administration, too.

As I’ve said before, soon enough we’re going to know who’s right on this. Unless, of course, the Democrats can’t field a viable presidential candidate. Which will tell us something as well...

Kelsey Gower said...

David Brin said...

Racism is a good example. Many of those with photos of Martin Luther King on their walls are g'damned hypocrites, having spent half their lives cursing and opposing him and still slipping into racism whenever the chance arises.


Seriously, who are these people you keep talking about? I don't doubt you, but I need names. You have to remember some of us weren't around back then to see this switch...

Zechariah said...

Leaving us able to run Richardson-Clark against...

I gotta ask, why would anybody want Wesley Clark on the ticket after the way he very nearly botched the Priština International Airport incident? I mean, it was resolved peacefully, and a near-botching is far preferable to what we now have in Iraq. Still, Clark wanted the British troops to stop the Russians with military force, and it took an act of willful insubordination to stop a very dangerous situation from coming into being.

Rob said...

Not divorced... but there's that other thing.

It would be nice if you had time to unpack that.

Loony because he's a Mormon, and no such worldview should ever take the CiC seat?

Loony because of the social conservative hypocrisy, switching places on stem cell research and abortion in order to win the South in a primary?

You've made a case minimizing that sort of hypocrisy except in cases where it's so egregious that it can't be ignored...

I've been looking hard at this guy, mainly because I watched him turn the Olympics around from deep, fundamental corruption, and then watched him do similar things, almost Spitzer style, about the labor union relations at MASSPORT and a couple other places.

And he got universal health care passed, something Repubs have been screaming against for years.

(Doesn't mean I'll *vote* for him. I've been impressed to look harder at Edwards, and I like what it seems Richardson has done as gov. We need another sane Democrat and at least two years of single-party rule from them to swing things back, I think. I could be wrong about that!)

Thing is, except for a few social policy problems which he'll never make progress on, the man is not a conservative in the Rovian sense.

He bears watching, at least because he will get the nomination, if the Republicans in the state of Iowa can overcome 150 years of hoary lies about Mormons, and if the Dems field Hillary Clinton... He could actually win. Dark-horse-Clinton style and everything.

RandomSequence said...

Brother Doug put me into reverie - and I think I can now see the great old blind spot that we all have as Americans, and the ostriches have a particular problem with.

Let us recall the Rome Republic. Fairly egalitarian for the time, with veto power given to the tribunes, a senate that represented the aristos, and a distributed executive. The Alexandrian empire collapsed in the east, leaving the Greek world with a dream of an empire where merchants could safely trade across vast regions, where inter-city warfare would finally cease; this dream was so strong, it entered the semitic world as the "messiah" and the kingdom of God.

Between 268 and 146 BCE, Rome took on all comers; they had already consolidated Italy, and went on with the Macedonian and Punic wars to build an empire. Carthage was destroyed (a fateful mistake); it's semitic trading network from Spain to the Levant fell into Roman hands. The Alexandrian successor states in Greece and the Middle East became Roman possesions - Egypt would wait another century.

The Roman Empire almost assembled itself. The merchants gained free access to trade across the mediterranean and to the incipient trade routes into East Asia. Inter-city warfare took a vacation. A "global" economy was burn, which screwed the serfs in general (some eggs must be broken).

What happened to the republic in the ensuing centuries? It lacked the bureaucracy to manage this massive empire. Military forces built in the hinterlands began to covet the heartland. The Roman lower classes were impoverished relative to the aristocrats with access to world-wide trade, and inter-class conflict grew. Centrifugal forces began to assert themselves, as free trade began to create new economic centers which wanted more independence from the center.

Since Carthage was gone, the center of the semitic portion of the empire returned to the levant, including one particular secondary city: Jerusalem, one with a penchant for independence. Without Carthage and the Phoenicians, Judea made a bid for independence and dominance of that zone, leading to a crushing defeat and enslavement that has reverberated through the millenia. Byzantium continued to grow.

Rome, instead of allowing centrifugal forces to work and federating itself by allowing the new growing centers greater independence as a confederative body, began to centralize. The Emperor was created to head a vast new bureaucracy. Bread and circus were created to distract the lower class from their misery under that centralization. Military forces began to dominate the state, and the senate was rendered toothless.

Ultimately, the bureaucracy was merged with the religious hierarchy, regulating all aspects of life. By focusing on dominating the old Empire, military forces were no longer ready to handle the independent states of north, who wanted "civilization" - if not given freely, they would take it at the end of the sword.

Rome ultimately broke up into the units that could have been federated in the first place, and gradually let go. In the East, Byzantium. The old Punic network was taken by the Arabs. And Rome herself became a weed-filled parody of herself, as the northern regions fell into anarchy.

What has that to do with us? Well, the logic of empire is that of center and periphery. Under hegemony, the gain for the center is obvious; but the periphery too gains peace and trading privileges. However, this is not a stable situation. As the periphery grows, it demands and deserves greater power in the system, and the system naturally tends toward decentralization. This pendulum is a historic universal since the days of Sumer (of course, historically contingent).

We have counter examples of states that let their empire go fairly gracefully, and thereby saved themselves from obsolescence. The British twice saved themselves by letting portions of their empire go. The first time was American independence; rather than fight to the last man like Spain and New Spain, they settled when they recognized the fair demand of their colonies for greater say in the system, giving them independence and ultimately becoming part a more decentralized system, sharing some imperial attributes. With India, once again Britain could have been far harsher, and taken themselves down a route of bankruptcy, even if they had saved the Empire for a few more decades.

On the other hand, we have France, Spain and Portugal who fought decentralization tooth and nail. Spain and Portugal exhausted themselves and impoverished their homelands in the attempt. France lost any influence over their colonies by their recalcitrance (see Algeria), unlike the British commonwealth which has had a much smoother breakup.

Today, the days of empire are at end after 5000 years. There is no clear "periphery" and "center" - technology has spread, and the economic distance between New York and New Guinea is much smaller than the distance between Rome at it's height and aboriginal Australia. This trend is only intensifying.

Just like the Soviet Empire, our empire too is transitory. After WWII, we were welcomed, to an extent. We helped Western Europe fend off the Soviets. We were the center of the Americas, and brought Japan and South Korea into our economic systems. But just as soon as we were born, the centrifugal forces began. Vietnam should have taught us that our dominance over our colonies would only be short-lived. By the '70's it should have been clear that in the long term, we would have to retreat militarily, and depend on an even more federated system than the empire we had built.

But some conservatives, actually most Americans, believe that the American state is a moral entity - in a similar manner to the Soviets march of history. Everyone should know that all states are inherently amoral, that morality pertains to individuals and states are just tools to advance those individual morality. So we are caught in a similar quandary to the Soviets: to retreat is to declare moral defeat, rather than to simply recognize changing conditions, and the inevitable decentralization of any hegemony.

Fortunately for the world, the Soviets recognized this by the late '80's - well, at least Gorbachev and his cronies. They allowed the fairly peaceful dismemberment of their empire, and in that way saved the Russians from a far worse fate. If they had resisted with their full military muscle, imagine the nightmare that would be Eurasia today.

We are approaching the same point. China demands respect. The EU and Japan should take on their fair share of the military/peace-keeping element of keeping up the global order, rather than us taking on the full costs. The middle-east that saw us as liberators when we inherited dominance from Britain and France needs to develop internally, with it's own systems and it's own centers of power. Latin America already sees our dominance as a vestige of the past.

We can focus our energies on building a new world system, that leaves us with a great deal of influence, even if not the dominance of today. We can concentrate on North American integration by bringing Mexico up to our economic standards, rather than the foolish idea that we can integrate economically while still allowing Mexicans to wallow in poverty. We can gracefully share the stage with others.

Or we can resist with all our might, while believing in fantasies that manifest destiny is a moral, rather than a practical, ideology. We can occupy Iraq for generations, and impoverish ourselves in order to dominate the ME and it's oil supplies, while ignoring the technological developments that could make us independent of those oil supplies. We can watch Latin America drift away as fools like Chavez gain dominance, and centrist socialists realign themselves with Europe and China. We can watch global warming change the entire face of the global economy, while we pretend that it's still 1945, and we are the "liberators" who have a moral right to empire.

Which one is it gonna be? Like Rome and most other empires? Or with British pragmatism?

David Brin said...

RM, reality check!

Wendell Wilkie was admittedly internationalist, despite bilious opposition from his fellow republicans in 1940. Those others retook control over the party, which was dominated by isolationists Taft & Vandenberg all through the early postwar years, giving bloody octions to the greatest man of the 20th Century, George Marshall and railing against NATO.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

As is your comment on readiness not being degraded.

On what basis do you say that? All of our ready divisions AND reserves have been worn down to a nub. My officer friends say we would have a hard time repelling an invasion from Mexico right now, without help from Air Force nukes!

I even disagree that a war without a draft is a “good thing”. Argh!!!! Switch from citizen soldiery to paid sepoys. Oh grand. And with Blackwater, the trend is taken MUCH farther, into the era of mercenary armies filled with men who have sworn no oath.

“Just silly?” Stand and fight this one out, RM! THAT is silly. And it highlights the delusional state of ostriches today...

... and the horrendous political instincts of dems, who cannot see THE winning issue in front of them.

Where are the “conservatives” who railed for 30 years that “meddling, draft-dodging politicians lost us Vietnam?” Since that phrase has NEVER been matched by anyone else better than Cheney and Rumsefeld and the Young Republicans from Orel Roberts university that they sent over to bully professional officers.

Oh! How you forgive a trillion dollars of theft because we are “at war”... but would have railed over Clinton LOSING $80,000 in whitewater resot investments. Arggggggggggh!

We.... are... not... at.... war. The heroes of flight UA 93 WON THE WAR ON TERRORISM that very same day. We deserve to get back to our lives. This war is a put up job in order to justify outright theft.

THE PEOPLE OF AMERICA’S CITIES SHOULD BE THE CHIEF JUDGES OF THE DANGER, SINCE THEY ARE THE MAIN TARGETS! AND WE HAVE VOTED OVERWHELMINGLY TO TELL OSAMA TO BE PATIENT, THAT WE WILL GET HIM SOONER OR LATER. AND THAT HE CANNOT DISRUPT OUR LIVES.

This war is forced upon us by people who do not live in the target zones and who do not pay the lion’s share of the taxes. I HATED SADDAM! I also hated the $%##$@’s who nurtured him, supported him, subsidized him, then gave him a slap on the wrist when he invaded Kuwait. They are made of the same cloth.

Argh, I am too busy to give this any more time.

--

Zecariah, in war, you do not judge by one success or failure but by the big picture. Clinton Clark waged a war that lost ZERO American lives, respected professionals AND all our allies, used fierce but relatively surgical force and accomplished the main goals -- a Europe without dictators and at peace and law for the first time in 4,000 years.

The SAME DOCTRINES were incorporated in the Afghanistan War Plan WHICH CLINTON AND CLARK DESIGNED! W had only time to say “go!” in 2001 after 9/11...

...which is why Afghanistan worked better than anyone could expect... and Iraq went so badly.

TheRadicalModerate said...

David, I need to untangle your rant to respond to it. You seem to be arguing:

1) The GOP has been significantly isolationist in the past 50 years (although your argument is based solely on 1946-1952).

2) The US military is close to being combat-ineffective. "Worn down to a nub" and "would have a hard time repelling an invasion from Mexico" were the money phrases to this argument.

3) Conscript armies are preferable to professional armies because they better represent the society for which they're fighting.

4) Political meddling is costing us the war.

5) ...But we're not at war. (Even though you turn around and state that "this war is a put-up job..." two sentences later.)

6) The GOP and its cronies are raiding trillions of dollars and apparently being hypocritical about it because they gave Clinton a hard time.

7) Oh, yeah: Urban populations should have hegemony over US foreign policy and rural populations are not entitled to a say, because "the cities are the targets."

I think those are the major ones. My response:

1) Isolationism.

OK, uncle, I'll retreat: The GOP has been internationalist from 1952, Pat Buchanan and Robert Taft notwithstanding. Note that those guys never got nominated. Instead, Wilkie and Eisenhower got nominated, with MacArthur giving Ike a run for his money until Doug screwed up. Hardly a hard-core cadre of isolationists, those guys. Sure, there is isolationism in the GOP even today. It's hardly a factor, nor was it before the neocons ascended to power. To ascribe isolationism as a core conservative value is really pushing it.

2) Readiness

Let's start with the readiness problems I'll acknowledge: Yes, there are equipment shortages and reset problems. Yes, operational tempo is impacting what would be peacetime readiness standards and forcing us to have a much larger force deployed than is appropriate to sustained operations. Yes, we can't keep this up forever. But no, the sky is not falling.

I'd be amazed if the US military during WWII, Korea, or Vietnam (our other prolonged conflicts)could even be within shouting distance of our current readiness levels. It's a war!! (More on this in a moment.) Furthermore, it's a war with astoundingly low ratios of KIA and WIA (and even lower WIA evacuations).

The other thing to point out here is that the US does indeed have a professional force. I have no idea whether that professionalism has been factored into historical readiness metrics, since this is the first prolonged war we've fought with an all-volunteer force.

Are we taxing our forces? Of course we are. Are they tired? Yes. Would they rather be home with their families more? Yes. Are we deploying units with major gaps in their TO? Well, actually, no, because recruitment is either keeping up or lagging only slightly, hysterical press reports to the contrary, and the casualty rates are tiny. Are our forces near being combat-ineffective? Hell no!

3) Conscript Armies

I don't even know how to respond to your assertion. It seems to be based on the idea that the object of warfare is to make sure your enemy has a balanced view of your society while you're trying to kill him, rather than the object being to win the war. Why on earth would you use conscripts when you didn't have to?

BTW, I had to hit the dictionary for a definition of "sepoy:" (formerly, in India) a native soldier, usually an infantryman, in the service of Europeans, esp. of the British. If this reference reflects your opinion of the US military, then I can see why you'd be having the vapors about readiness.

4) Political Meddling

No argument here. Bushco mismanaged the war. Furthermore, Bushco mismanaged the war in part because of political concerns about heavy commitments--hence the long period of happy talk. What they've done is inexcusable. Which doesn't mean that the Democrats' version of meddling is any less excusable.

5) "We.... are... not... at.... war."

David, I'll accept, "We should not be at war," or "We're fighting the wrong war," or even, "There is no existential threat." I'll argue with you about some of these, but they're all cogent, debatable statements. I'll even accept your later, "This war is a put-up job," as a debatable propostition.

"We are not at war" is denying reality. When you've got almost 200K troops in theaters where there is daily combat, you're at war.

6) War Profiteering

Sure. I have an open mind, would love to see the evidence, and suspect it will be somewhat damning. I would also like to compare and contrast it with WWII, Korea, and Vietnam to see whether something truly egregious is going on, or whether this is just the nature of the beast. No doubt somebody will write a nice history in about ten years.

(A quick side-question: Anybody have any data on what Blackwater charges the government per person they deploy? Anybody have a comparable number for initial and ongoing training and deployment of a regular army troop?)

I acknowledge that the GOP was mean to Clinton. I acknowledge that they were being hypocrites. I don't care. This debate is a little too much like a couple of third graders trying to convince their teacher who called whom a bad word first.

7) Urban Elitism

Again, I'm dumbfounded. I'm assuming that you were just pissed off and got carried away rhetorically. Surely you don't mean that the US could survive with special interests (even big ones) being able to override or withdraw financial support from national policy. And I hope you don't really think that urban elitism is a requirement for successful government.

However, let's remember that a significant minority--maybe even a majority--of that urban population supported the Iraq invasion when it happened. I'm perfectly willing to acknowledge that they might have been manipulated into it--what does that say about their vaunted foreign policy wisdom?

Tell you what: Let's check back after the next major urban attack and see how unflappable those city folks are. Meanwhile, let's see if we can't calibrate the romanticism here a bit.

ErnieG said...

David
My vote for a Republican candidate would be Rep. Ron Paul, but then he is foremost a constitutionalist (obey your oath of office dammit!!) and a libertarian.

I was reading the DOD report to congress aug. 2006 on the state of Iraq.
One point from this report:
The Iraqi government has 270,000 trained and equipped security personnel.

If you read any military theory about anti guerilla/insurgent fighting you find that estimates of government forces needed to control and overcome the insurgents usually fall into the 10:1 to 7:1 ratios. Reports I have read say that there between 20,000 and 30,000 insurgents.

Doing the worst case math:
270,000/10 = 27,000 insurgents can be subdued/controlled.

So what are we doing being a police force for a sovereign nation?

David Brin said...

Argh and triple argh.

1. 1952 (actually 1956) is a lot different than “the 1930s”. In any event, it speaks DIRECTLY to the point that Democrats framed the grand strategy of the Cold War. Yes, Ike joined in and Risky Reagan finished it with a gambler’s zeal. But IT QUALIFIES AS YET ANOTHER LIBERAL IDEA.

Please don’t lose track of the topic.

Conscript armies are not preferable per se. But they are better than sepoy mercenary armies. Right now we are learning a hard lesson about the Perfect Professionalism army we built since Vietnam. It is marvelous and I have praised the people in it, lavishly. But they can be torn apart by anything like an attrition war. There are NO provisions for rapid augmentation from America as a whole (the old tradition.)

And, above all, WE ARE NOT SACRIFICING, as if we were “at war.” Bush asks nothing of his base. Nothing of the red counties. He lays debt on our children and asks NOTHING of his branch of the rich... who stepped forward to pay for past wars.

This is not simply “distasteful”. It is bona fide treason.

YOU used “hedgemony”. I said that urban populations should be asked if they are willing to try out the notion of NOT-war. WE are the ones at risk. Therefore, if we say “let’s try NOT-war on for size...” then who the #%##@ are red counties and their supremo caudillo to drag us into a stupid stupid stupid awful “war” that lessens our readiness and turns the rest of the world against us?

Dig it. 9/11 was ISOLATED! Even if something bad happens tomorrow, the record shows it to be a one-off. We have pissed away trillions for nothing./

Arggggggggh

TAFT DID GET NOMINATED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And I repeat. We are not at war. If we were the rich would care and help us pay.

What we are, is being worn down. Our military undermined our wealth drained, our allies driven off, or social cohesion destroyed, our science dissolved...

What the #$$%#$# is it going to take for you ostriches to wake up?

I tell you this, if you don’t, soon, there won’t be anything left of “conservatism” to save.

Tacitus2 said...

ErnieG
Any such calculation would have to try and figure out how many of the Iraqi police and army are also insurgents of one stripe or another.
David, your arguments weaken with an excess of CAPITAL LETTERS and ##&&!!. I personally find RM's points plausible. But if they are to you anathema, at least don't rise to the bait and sound strident. It may well be the reaction he is looking for.
Tacitus2

TheRadicalModerate said...

Please don’t lose track of the topic.

Actually, this thread concerned your assertion that "America first" isolationism was an attribute of conservatism. It hasn't been for some time. (I grant you that internationalism dates firmly from the '52 campaign, not from the beginning of WWII.)

There are NO provisions for rapid augmentation from America as a whole (the old tradition.)

Actually, the only provision for rapid augmentation is a huge standing army. Conscription is useless for at least 12 months. If your argument is for a larger standing army, you'll get no argument from me.

Therefore, if we say “let’s try NOT-war on for size...” then who the #%##@ are red counties and their supremo caudillo to drag us into a stupid stupid stupid awful “war” that lessens our readiness and turns the rest of the world against us?

But the blue counties didn't say that. In Feb. 2003, only 27% opposed military action against Iraq. Post-invasion, 62% still supported the war at the end of March, and that number climbed to 72% in April. Since the US population is more than 75% urban, your assertion is wrong.

I hope you're right that 9/11 is isolated. The intelligence communities don't agree with you.

Uh, Robert Taft was not a Republican nominee for president. Perhaps you're confusing him with his father, aka the 27th president?

David, I mostly agree with you about the lack of sacrifice in the war (although almost the same thing happened in Korea and Vietnam), and I certainly agree with you about its mismanagement. But it is simply insane (or you severely overdosed on your most recent indignation fix) to assert that what we're doing in Iraq isn't a war. Your assertion is not credible.

TheRadicalModerate said...

Oh yeah: Please explain your use of the term "sepoy." At the very least, it's an unfortunate insinuation.

David Brin said...

Sepoys were soldiers recuited for life from the less fortunate classes and spent like water, for the sake of empire.

And that is NOT what George Marshall had in mind when he invented the modern US military. It is not what the brilliant, well-educated and hardworking men and women in service have striven for.

They strove for utter professionalism and saw it perform brilliantly in 1991, only to be betrayed by men who threw their victory away. They achieved it in crystal essence in the Balkans, transforming Europe forever, without losing a single man.

They worked with politicians who appreciated their skills, in planning Afghanistan... and for a while were left alone by the creatures who betrayed them in 91.

But they were stabbed yet again, by the same list of names. (One of whom, Colin Powell, at least has had the decency to blush, though not the courage to speak.)

The #$%## Dems have got to realize that their own political benefit will hinge on doing what's right for the nation... making the real victims - the US Military - issue #1.

TheRadicalModerate said...

Well, then the term "sepoy" is hardly fair.

The distribution of household income for army recruits is skewed only slightly lower than that of the general population. Same thing for educational level. There's a fairly clean Heritage Foundation paper from last fall you may want to look at.

You also used the term "mercenary" up above. I think the less said about this the better.

As for our troops being "spent like water," there's never been a military in history that was as frugal with the lives of its soldiers as ours. Again, hardly fair.

As I said before (and before, and before...), you'll get no argument from me that this thing is a complete clusterf**k. But using this terminology to try to support the troops is a little like getting John Kerry to ghost-write jokes for you.

Nate said...

Okay, I think I know where the war/not-war argument is coming from.

Radial Moderate is talking about the war in Iraq, which is definitely a war, though you wouldn't know it form the way the Bush administration has asked the rest of us to support it.

Dr. Brin is talking about the "War on Terror", a phrase that was made up specifically to cause this sort of confusion. There's no War on Terror. We aren't at war with terrorists. "Terrorists" are not going to invade the country or take over the rest of the world, or anything along those lines.

And that's why Dr. Brin's talking about urban America being the targets, because honestly, the only likely targets for any kind of terrorist attack ARE urban areas. Because the idea is to hit somewhere showy and important where lots of people will see it and freak out. That's what the entire purpose of terrorism IS.

The "War on Terror" is a sham, and Iraq has been done nothing but harm efforts to weaken terrorists. It's given them perfect propaganda (Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, etc. Who's going to trust us as the "good guys" when we're using Saddam's torture chambers for the same kinds of things, even if "not quite as bad"?) The US invading and occuping Iraq based on lies has been the greatest gift we could have given people who want to stir up hatred toward the US. And the relatives of the people our army's killed and who have died in all the other ways in Iraq are the greatest pool of recruits any terrorist could want.

And that's why the two of you are talking past each other. The war that Dr. Brin's sayin isn't a war is the "War on Terror". And the Iraq war had nothing to do with terrorists to begin with, and now it's just a complete disaster for us on every level. Politically, morally, economically, militarily.

RandomSequence said...

Better Kerry ghostwriting jokes than McCain. He kicks puppies and wants to Bomb-Bomb-Bomb Bomb-Iran!

TheRadicalModerate said...

Nate, the context here was a discussion about degradations in military readiness. The Iraq "war" is what's causing those degradations.

Oh, no! We've had a failure to disambiguate the ideological and the technical! That hardly ever happens...

--------------

Random--touche.

Nicholas Walter said...

I'd be amazed if the US military during WWII, Korea, or Vietnam (our other prolonged conflicts)could even be within shouting distance of our current readiness levels.

I don't quite see it as the proper comparison. With WW2, within a reasonable period of time we mobilized over a million troops and within four years occupied Europe and Japan. Compare that to the present dithering going on in a country the size of California.

More important to this would be to clarify readiness; we are in no position to project force anywhere beyond our present conflicts. Yes, that's largely because of forces tied down elsewhere, which is reasonable and with that point I agree. It also makes our saber rattling with Iran laughable, which Iran full well knows.

Furthermore, it's a war with astoundingly low ratios of KIA and WIA (and even lower WIA evacuations).

If we actually had clear victory conditions, we could sustain larger casualties. In Gulf Wars Episode I, we had a clear objective (removing Saddam from Kuwait) and achieved it. In Bosnia/Kosovo, same situation. Clear objective. Frankly, Gulf Wars Episode II should have ended after the codpiece/flight deck scene onboard the Lincoln.

RandomSequence said...

Nicholas: More important to this would be to clarify readiness; we are in no position to project force anywhere beyond our present conflicts

Why should we be able to project power across the globe at a moment's notice? Really, the assumption of everybody, from RM to David, is that is an actually desirable state of affairs. It's the elephant in the room.

There are numerous countries with living standards as high as ours with no such capability. The only folks being protected by such a capability are international corporations and trans-national interests that are uncoupled to a large extent with our success as a nation, outside of our capability to field such military forces. The corporate welfare that goes along with such a military force is the most massive deformation on the market imaginable, from short term labor effects to the intra-generational entitlements that must be attached to military forces.

The Russians where better off without the Soviet Union. We could be better off without being the "global superpower" or whatever euphemism is in vogue today.

ErnieG said...

Random Sequence

Amen,
Its not only good foreign policy,
It is good fiscal policy.

Do not intervene in other countries if there is no defence of USA issues.

The original Golden Rule treat others as you would be treated.

ColonelZen said...

Well, if you're looking for nominations....


I usually don't really pay much attention to politics in detail - it depresses me. But if there is one politician I would choose for president it is the Gov of my home state, Ed Rendell. Those times I have paid attention I have been genuinely astounded by there being a real politician showing level headed pragmatism. He compromises when he must but fights to keep the compromises within limits.


Of course he is gruff and rumpled in appearance and manner. He's on nobody's A list that I've heard.

I'm a died in the wool cynic, who deeply mistrusts politicians on general principle. But of the politicians I have seen/heard about, Rendell genuinely impresses me.

(Admittedly my view is parochial).

Nicholas Walter said...

RS -

I don't disagree with your point in the slightest. My point in my response to RM was a matter of arguing the point of deterioration from levels of readiness that to my mind are exactly about force projection. Whether or not it's desirable wasn't something I intended to address.

I've always been fond of the John Quincy Adams line: "America] goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own."

Brother Doug said...

Thanks for the plug Radom Sequence I could not agree more.

Now I have to mention this.

TheRadicalModerate said...
David, I owe you a re-rebuttal to your longer piece:

First, I retract “Vietnam” from my list of stupid liberal excesses. You’re right; it was bipartisan--at least until 1974, when Democrats gleefully pulled the plug on a policy that was starting to work OK. Hmm, why am I having deja vu?

-I just could not let this one go because it is so amazingly wrong. If you would read the book Vietnam, lotus in a sea of fire or watch the documentary “the Fog of war” It would be obvious that a nation that spent 1000 years fighting for independence from China would never allow to a two state solution, and was willing to fight for another thousand years if necessary. Also the most recently released Nixon info shows that he realized they would never win.

Lisa B said...

I've enjoyed this series of posts, but please don't tell me all this is happening because some hippie chicks refused to bonk right-wing nerds back in the seventies (#3). I mean.

Hawker H said...

Lisa...

Actually, the problem is that they weren't right wing nerds. They were left wing nerds who found the other left wing nerds disagreeing with them. They changed sides because no one on the left would give them the power they needed to carry out thier plans.

Lisa B said...

Clearly what needs to happen, then, is the formation of a strike force of HOT CHIX. We could call it "Invite Them to Bed."

rushmc said...

So what you are saying is that you fear them too much even now to deliver the coup de grace, even when you've got their necks stretched out before you?

I am disappointed. You are no better than the majority of American cowards who let them move in and make a mockery of American values and law in the first place. Like neocon economists, you'd just as soon push the problem onto the next generation or the one after that rather than finishing it now, ourselves, once and for all.

(Yes, I know there really is no "finishing it once and for all"...however, making a stand for and demanding a culture of accountability and consequence would go a long way toward discouraging future excess, and that's the next best thing.)

For every person that truly has a change of heart or sees the error of their ways, there are 19 who merely leap from the sinking ship to save their skins and disappear into the background until they are forgotten and can emerge again. You want to reward them, and enable them, rather than holding them up to the light of day for the world to see, rendering them impotent in their future designs. I'm sorry, but this is not only shortsighted, it's weak. You don't embrace your enemy, you denounce him. You certainly don't empower him and then turn an exposed flank his way.