Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Ostrich Papers (v2.0)

(All right, most of you have heard all this before. Nevertheless, I have written it anew, trying to refine the message into something that will catch. Suggestions and links are welcome. Tell me if I am getting close to something that may get through... --db)

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THE OSTRICH PAPERS: How It Will Take ALL Decent Americans To Restore Decency To America


For some time, I’ve called upon moderate and liberal Americans to gather the fortitude and determination to fight for our nation’s survival where it matters most.

Not by attending rallies, or going door-to-door, or energizing the base, or hanging around like-minded people, or posting livid screeds, or even sending cash to your favorite candidate. Those are all fine things. But they miss the most important fact -- and opportunity -- about this crucial election cycle.

Today’s critical issue has nothing to do with the outdated so-called “left-right” political axis.

With the very survival of Constitutional government and the American Experiment at stake, we cannot afford to leave this to simpleminded partisanship.


Our opportunity - and obligation - is to rip open Karl Rove’s “big tent conservative coalition.” To pry it apart - one person at a time - by approaching millions of decent fellow citizens who were duped into supporting a criminal gang.
One person at a time.

What? Am I really suggesting we should reach out to... conservatives?

Well, yes... some of them.
Absolutely.
Indeed, this is the only possible way to win an overwhelming victory.
Not for liberals or Democrats or even moderates.
But for America.

Ponder this absolute lesson of history.
The surest way to achieve success - in war or peace or politics - is to break up your foe’s alliance.
To strip away his supporters.
In this case, by showing some of them that they’re more at home in our Big Tent.
At least this time around.

At least long enough to save America.

Yes, I know this will be hard.
It can feel so satisfying to demonize others with a single, strawman image.
(Don’t they do it to us?)
Alas, though, it is also self-indulgent and stupid.

Suppose we could succeed in shattering Rove’s coalition, would that not be worth applying a little nuance to our oversimplified stereotype of “conservatives?

The potential benefit? It would not only end the Bush era in a landslide. We might also permanently discredit the neoconservative “revolution” and help to end the bitter, artificial Culture War that was deliberately concocted to tear our country apart.

That final point is crucial.
For, if Culture War continues, even after a Democratic victory, then any Hillary Clinton presidency (for example) will be ashes in our mouths.
Sure, law and openness and respect for truth will return.
Great.
But we will also endure nothing less than a bitter resumption of the American Civil War.
Not her fault, you say? So?
We’ll still be consigned to four or eight years of living hell.

We don’t just need victory for one electoral side, kicking out a set of bums . We need a victory for the very concept of decency and openness and accountability.
And, for that to happen there must be a seismic change on the right.
The dream we should hold out to our neighbors is the restoration of a conservatism that is worth talking to.
A version no longer tied to jibbering loonies and an outright criminal gang.


If we reach out and steal “decent conservatives” from Rove’s Big Tent, we will not only weaken the monstrous, undead thing called neoconservatism, but we may even (to our own surprise) gain new friends.

Neighbors we can argue and negotiate with sensibly, like adults.

Indeed, possibly fellow citizens who (though conservative) may have a good idea or two.

* * *

So, you ask -
“HOW do I help break up the Rove big-tent conservative coalition?”

Here’s how.

1) Recognize that Rove’s “big tent” is filled with contradictions. With people holding their noses.
With constituencies who have never actually received anything tangible from the Bushites, for all their loyalty.
With (for example) libertarians who despise religious fanaticism, but put up with raving fundies, because they imagine that -“the GOP is better for free markets than the Democrats would be.” (Ha!)

We must exploit these contradictions, using blatant truth as a wedge to pry apart groups that shouldn’t be allies in the first place.


2) Go ahead and be proud that moderate-liberalism has been responsible for most of the great American accomplishments of the last 100 years. True enough.

Nevertheless, accept that there is a decent and honorable side to conservatism. The Goldwater version - minus today’s venality and bigotry - that always offered an important balance to the liberal urge to frantically meddle. If we appeal to this better side - describing how Goldwater himself despised the neocon movement - and showing how the Bushites betray even conservative standards, then you may be listened-to. Better than if you scream.

3) The key point. You can do your part, at the grass roots, by choosing one or two “Ostrich Republicans”... decent folks like your crewcut-wearing Uncle Jack, who has a good heart, but watches Fox News and wallows in the delusion that Democrats are ALL like that silly, postmodernist college professor that Bill O’Reilly railed at, last night on the boob tube. (Um... we’re not!)

Poor, deluded Uncle Jack, who actually believes that these thieving, lying, vicious, klepto-manipulative neocon loons are “conservatives” ... just like him.

* * *

”So, I’ve chosen my Ostrich. What do I say to him?”

I’ve spent years trying to refine this message.
Some attempts were too intellectual ... or steeped in history...
...or offered detailed comparisons of the Iraq and Balkans wars, (hint: Bill Clinton was vastly better at war than our current “leader.”)
Or exposing the weird - but indisputable - fact that Democrats guard our borders vastly better than republicans do, despite contradicting rhetoric.


If your ostrich likes that sort of fact-drenched discourse, you could dive deep into the roots of neoconservatism and see how this mad movement fits in the rogues gallery of enemies of freedom, right alongside communism.

Or, if you and your ostrich share a deliciously paranoid streak, you might ponder how deeply suborned the entire political process may have become, given basic flaws of human nature, and by bad men with unlimited resources.

Heck, explore together the comparison of two words... “whitewater” and “blackwater”... (try Google)... and ask him which turned out to be scarier.

Lately though, I’ve come to realize that what’s needed isn’t very complicated.
In fact, it’s simple.
Relentlessness!

If you do heed this call -- if you do pick a few decent-but-deluded Ostrich Americans to go after -- grab their lapels and do not let go!

Start with:

"let's agree this is important. As a patriotic citizen, you should be interested, because these accusations have little to do with normal, left right disputes.

“The issue is whether the country - and the conservative movement - have been hijacked by a criminal gang. If a fifth of these things are true, then you, as a conservative, should be angrier than anybody!

"Decent conservatives like you need to rescue your movement, before it becomes irretrievably associated with monsters."



Of course, once you've said that, you have to follow up.
So heed this fundamental approach:

Learn the art of seeing the world through "decent conservative eyes"... AND THEN ATTACK THE NEOCON MONSTERS IN CONSERVATIVE TERMS!
Use facts that are obvious.
Facts that scream.

* Like the fact that, in Bill Clinton's day, we did not have to lower our recruitment standards, forcing the Army to let in ex-felons... or offer $20,000 signing bonuses to bribe new "volunteers."

* Or the fact that only two (just two!) of our Army's brigades are currently fully trained, equipped and ready for actual war to defend this country! All the rest have been converted into counter insurgency urban swat teams. (One general said "Bill Clinton's U.S. Army could beat our present force with one hand tied behind its back.")

* If Bill Clinton was hiding so much, why did he cut government secrecy in half? If the Bushites are so responsible, why do they run from facts, from testifying, from oversight? Why have they multiplied government secrecy to levels ten times greater than when we were in a life death Cold War struggle against the Soviet KGB?

* In past wars, patriotic wealthy Americans stepped up, accepting the need to help pay for a struggle fought by other peoples’ sons. If we’re now “at war,” how come the top neocon billionaires have just two priorities - increasing their tax cuts and getting no-bid, crony contracts to NOT deliver what’s needed in Iraq?

Oh, the list of conservative reasons to hate the Bush Gang goes on and on. It's not hard to find zingers and statistics.
But keep it simple.
Go right to the heart of what your ostrich already knows.

Try this list of supposedly basic conservative values:

Respect for professionalism?

Fiscal prudence?

Respect for the military officer corps?

Emphasizing military readiness over foreign adventures in “nation building”?

Respect for science?

A belief in openness, transparency and accountability?

A distrust of secrecy?

Gentility and courtesy in argument and discourse?

A dedication to small business?

A belief in free markets where competition is fostered, and not catering to monopolies?

Government contracts that are open and granted to competent low bidders, instead of cronies of the king?

Saving for a rainy day?

Skillful management?

Caution in foreign entanglements?

Maintaining our reserves and respecting the men and women of the National Guard?

Respecting our allies and world opinion?

Protecting our strategic petroleum reserves?

Belief in a nation that is as clean in its habits as we are in our homes?

Practicing what we preach - especially in family values...

...and so on...

Exactly which of these conservative values has not been diametrically reversed by these neocon lunatic traitors?

Dare your ostrich to find one.
Find even one.

* * *


I could go on with this “Ostrich Manifesto”.
There are countless, countless zingers that can stick in the gut of your Uncle Jack... and maybe shake him awake.
For example, try this line.

“What would you have said if Bill Clinton had --”

And then fill in the blank with something any conservative ought to find repulsive, if they did not have their head buried in the sand.

Like “losing” several billion dollars in cash, by the side of an Iraqi road.

Or “losing” a quarter of a million weapons in Iraq without even keeping their serial numbers.

Or “losing” several billion dollars worth of Iraqi oil per month...
...which is vastly more than the right wing screamed about, during the so-called “Oil-For-Food” scandal.


Make a long list and demand -
What would you have said if this happened under Clinton?
If one thousandth of any of this had happened then?”


Hammer home that no administration has been more universally detested by our military officers, or by the middle ranking officers of the intelligence community, or by government scientists, or - indeed - by almost any professional person in the United States of America, than our present band of frat-boy know-nothings.

To reiterate: these are all zingers that argue with your ostrich in conservative terms!

Again, don’t even bother trying to remonstrate with him or her about pollution or torture or global warming or health care!
Their defenses against these issues are up, prepped by Fox News.
Those appeals will flow off their backs.

Where they are vulnerable -- where you can get through -- is by showing your ostrich that no decent conservative American should have anything to do with this gang of monstrous liars, morons and thieves...

...or the awful, awful pack of guys (with the exception of Ron Paul) who are parroting the same crazy stuff, all over the country, right now, while vying for leadership over a party that has simply gone quite, jibbering mad.

* CONCLUSION *

Want to know the real tragedy?
It really is the Democratic Party’s fault.
If they spent just a little time and effort on this kind of plan...
...the way the early neocons did, at the Heritage Foundation...
...there could emerge a fantastic web-based campaign reaching out to “decent conservatives”.
One of potentially staggering effectiveness.

As a side benefit - a huge one - such an effort could also encourage whistle-blowing by civil servants who are sick and tired of the neocon “War Against Professionalism.”

Even better, picture if some democratic candidate -- or a convention speaker -- were to take up this theme. A stirring moment reaching across all our political divides, appealing for a coalition of the honest. An alliance of the sane.

It could turn into the most potent gesture and effective move against political madness since the US Army (in the person of JAG Joseph Welch) finally turned on the infamous demagogue Sen. Joseph McCarthy and demanded “At long last, Sir, have you left no sense of decency?"
Thereupon sending THAT generation’s right wing monster slinking away and letting the rest of us - (conservatives too) - get back to the business of civilization.

All of this could happen.

But only if we are willing to gird ourselves not to play Karl Rove’s game.

He WANTS us to align ourselves left versus right.
That way, all people who see themselves as right-of-center MUST support him, even if they feel ashamed.

We can thwart this vile scheme, but only if we make our Big Tent a coalition based upon a single issue.

Liberal vs conservative arguments - like health care - can and must wait.
We have one job now. Not only to defeat and eject the criminal gang that has seized our nation, but to utterly repudiate it, forever, denying it even a sizeable base to hide in, licking its wounds and swearing vengeance upon the Age of Reason.

Let neoconservatism flutter away into kooky corners and archaic silliness, like communism, with which it shares so many dismal traits. (Remember, the left once went mad, too.)

Sound good? Well, that repudiation can only happen if we enlist millions of decent citizens from all parts of America. Including millions who happen to be “decent conservatives.”

Millions who will stand up for America, if we stay after them, relentlessly asking that they lift their heads out of the sand and see what has been done to the honor of conservatism.

An honor that's been stained and tainted, but that could still be restored... there’s time!

But only if they stand up soon.

If they rise up and join the rest of us.

Helping to rescue this threatened America, our beloved country.


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“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men.” Edward R. Murrow

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==See a new version posted on my website

33 comments:

Robert said...

You know, Mr. Brin, the more I read "New Republic" articles from the early 1940s, the more I'm seeing echos of things mentioned there all the way over 66 years later. Little things like corporations taking advantage of people, of exorbitant profit margins, of corrupt politicians. And it's led me to realize just how true that little axiom is: if we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat its mistakes.

I swear, every single person running for Congress and the Presidency should first be required to take a World History Exam. Anyone who scores under 80 should not be allowed.

Hmm. Can you imagine the political landscape if politicians were dominated by History majors instead of Law majors?

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews
http://www.tangents.us

Don Quijote said...

Today’s critical issue has nothing to do with the outdated so-called “left-right” political axis.

Actually it has every thing to do with the "left-right" political axis. What we are witnessing is an attempt by the American oligarchy to roll back every bit of social progress that was made in the twentieth century, an attempt to take us back to the "Gilded Age" when the lords could live the high life and the peasants knew their place and were kept there.

It really is the Democratic Party’s fault.
If they had not stabbed labor in the back in 1947 when they passed Taft-Hartley, they would still have a large organizational power base.

As for the "culture war", it is nothing more than a side show to distract the suckers while their pockets get picked.

SpaceGhoti said...

Some food for thought.

Anybody remember the Clipper Chip Bill? When Clinton wanted the ability to break any encryption with the "clipper chip" so bad people couldn't keep their conversations secret from the government?

Remember how the White House refused to justify this demand? All they would ever say is, "if you knew what I knew, you'd want this too." We said to them, "unless you tell us what you know, you don't get it." And so the bill failed.

Why is it that we're not willing to apply this simple logic to the current administration? A government that operates in secrecy is a government to be feared, no matter how noble its claims.

Cas said...

I remember the clipper chip. The difference between then and now is that liberals are suspicious of government even by their own, whereas conservatives, even real conservatives rather than neo-cons or other right-wingers, respect authority when they perceive it as coming from one of their own. The real conservatives are the ones who have given the right-wingers the benefit of the doubt, and enabled the political margin to allow these policies to go forward.

So Brin is right, we have to wake these regular conservatives up, and the way to do it is to keep making the point that the current administration is undermining the rule of law. Respect for legitimate authority requires that the Bushies be repudiated forever.

Nytefyre said...

While I agree with the points, especially having been one of the "ostrich conservatives" until very recently, I have to say that I have had a growing conviction for over a decade that what's needed even more than this is the establishment of a new mainstream party. Not Republican or Democrat, but American. The American Party would look back to common sense approaches - so many detailed here - and decry and fight against the polarization of the nation's discourse by the fringes. The lunatics on the edges shout the loudest and act the poorest, drawing all attention. They are the "shock jocks" of the political world and like so much of popular culture cater to the lowest denominator. Both sides are too entrenched and too intertwined with this method of discourse. We need to wake people up, but wake them up with another alternative.

David Brin said...

I have long tried to help this happen by participating in the Libertarian Party, since I definitely believe that its better doctrines could represent the right balance to liberalism's frenetic tendency to preach and meddle.

Also, it GENERALLY represents the MYOB (mind your own business) side of conservatism and could thus draw the half of Republicans who aren't hypocrites. Who genuinely want small government and individual freedom of action.

Also the libertarians are the closest thing to a genuine 3rd party in several other ways. Their former candidate - Ron Paul - moved to the GOP and is now the only man of decency and stature in a crowd of horrors... though of course he's as crazy as a hatter.

Alas, today's libertarianism is hardly more sane. Their frenzied hatred of government has drowned and swamped what they SHOULD be promoting, which is love of freedom. The two only somewhat overlap and in some cases are actually contradictory!

See:
http://www.davidbrin.com/libertarianarticle1.html

Their failure to realize that markets have a far worse enemy than socialism - aristocratism - is a mark of towering dogmatic stupidity. Again, alas.

The chief point, though, is this. You have awakened enough to acknowledge that the GOP is a total, corrupt freak show and must be defeated. What you seem to continue to nurse is the rationalization that the "Democrats are almost as bad." (My words in the quote, but my guess at your feeling.)

Untrue. The Dems have their faults. Why do you think I want a better libertarian party to balance them? But their chief fault is wanting to SOLVE PROBLEMS! And that is not a deep character fault, like the gopper politicians' total lazy, pig-wallow greedy, conspiratorial, elitist, grabby, corrupt, hypocritical, vicious, delusional lunacy.

Dig this, the dems will even try market solutions! They aren't socialist at all. MOST DE-regulations, across the last 40 years, were done by dems, not gops. Ask our resident socialist, Don! He'll shriek if you say dems are socialists!

No, there is no comparison. You are right that we need a new party, to replace one that has become a den of monsters. But we already have one that's honest and eager - if stupid.

===

Anyone with comments on the Ostrich Papers? Is this a message to get out there?

zorgon the malevolent said...

Nytefyre is exactly right -- we need a new party which is neither left nor right, but instead dedicated to making things work. We need a new party that runs on a platform of planks like "We will make sure the bridges don't collapse" and "We will prevent steam pipes from exploding under our streets." Call it the "Pragmatist Party." Whatever works, regardless of ideology. Not "lock 'em up" and not "juke the crime stats by re-categorizing crimes," but reduce criminality. Not "we have to fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here" or "withdraw America from the world into isolationism," but "make the world a safer and more prosperous place." By whatever means.

Political parties do go extinct. The Whigs degenerated and collapsed during the runup to the American Civil War because they couldn't handle slavery as an issue. A new party, the Republican Party, was needed to deal with that issue. Neither party today seems able to handle Fourth Generation Warfare (William S. Lind's term for what the mainstream media misnames "terrorism"). We probably need a new party to deal with that issue.

I'm going to go into 4GW for a couple of paragraphs because it's such an important issue, and because it has been completely ignored by the mainstream media and all politicians and even the alleged "wonks" in America. So bear with me here.

4GW isn't just about bombing or killing innocent people. That's one manifestation, but it's a symptom -- not the underlying disease. 4GW isn't about religion. And it isn't even about warfare. 4GW is a universal crisis in the legitimacy of the modern state. 4GW is not just violence -- the grameen bank movement in India is also a "soft" form of 4GW, as is the barter economy and "black" and "gray" economy movements in the United States. All these social trends eat away at the legitimacy of the modern state.
http://antiwar.com/lind/index.php?articleid=1702

Bizarrely, the current maladministration's socipoathic overreaction to 9/11 has massively accelerated this metastasizing crisis in the legitimacy of the modern state. Whereas before 9/11, ordinary Americans believed wholeheartedly in the legitimacy of vast parts of the American state, today, fewer and fewer Americans do now, post-9/11.

The Department of Homeland Security and its gestapo arm the TSA are the single greatest force today destroying the legitimacy of the Amercan state:
http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2007/06/tsa_and_the_sip.html
http://www.blackfive.net/main/2007/05/soldier_beaten_.html
http://www.gay.com/content/tools/print.html?coll=news_articles&sernum=2005/11/01/1&navpath=channels/news
http://www.storiesthatmatter.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=109&Itemid=29
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/09/business/09road.html?ex=1394254800&en=2e5bfe12fcf7995a&ei=5007&partner=USERLAND
http://stupidevilbastard.com/index/seb/comments/senator_ted_kennedy_find_himself_on_the_federal_no_fly_list_of_suspected_te/
http://www.harvardindependent.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleID=9359

Friends of mine now refer to the TSA as "Thugs Standing ARound." This organization has zero legitimacy. As far as most people in America are concerned, the TSA is a group of lawless gangsters. The only difference between Crips and the Bloods and the TSA is that the TSA has better weaponry, and there are more of them. I predict it's only a matter of time before riots start breaking out at airports and citizens fight back en masse. The sheer insanity of uneducated goon threatening and manhandling you to force you to do crazy things ("no breast milk in contained over 6 ozs") to obey secret laws you can't even see is something straight out of Kafkas "The Castle":
http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/secrecy/2004/11/111404.html

But the TSA and the DHS, which need to be abolished immediately, are only the tip of the iceberg of the crisis in the legitimacy of the state. The militarization of local police is destroying public belief in the legitimacy of all our law enforcement institutions:

www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=14363
http://www.theagitator.com/archives/028002.php
http://www.newswithviews.com/Evensen/greg.htm
www.cato.org/raidmap/
www.4therapy.com/consumer/life_topics/article/9264/533/Cops+Who+Shot+Woman+in+Botched+Drug+Raid+Indicted
www.koat.com/video/13514100/index.html
stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/289/nomorenoknocks.shtml

The entire war against drugs is destroying the legitimacy of the American state, for reasons too obvious to reiterate.

Then there's John Perry Barlow's declaration of independence of cyberspace, which sums up the feelings of many people and further erodes the legimitacy of the U.S. state:
http://homes.eff.org/~barlow/Declaration-Final.html

The most obvious flash point in the destruction of the legitimacy of the state by online activity is the attempt by states to stop file-sharing, which has not worked, and is obviously never going to work:
www.theregister.co.uk/2007/08/03/pirate_bay_suprnova/
www.vanityfair.com/ontheweb/features/2007/03/piratebay200703

At every level, we can see that the modern state is looking more and more like a pitiful helpless giant, beset and overwhelmed by lilliputions, from jihadists armed with nothing but box cutters, to teenage kids running file-sharing programs online. The legitimacy of the state in the 21st century is completely disappearing, and with it, any respect for the rules of the state. Technology, the size of bureacuracies, and the abandonment of the scientific method is on the way to turning the whole world into one giant Somalia. Blackhawk Down, anyone?

The universal flouting of DRM by consumers further destroys the legitimacy of the state:
http://www.forbes.com/businesstech/2007/06/07/drm-download-music-biz-cx_0608oxford.html?partner=rss
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070606-drm-loathing-spreads-around-the-world-next-stop-brazil.html

We see the same pattern with DRM as with the TSA and the militarization of police and the "war on drugs":
http://www.economist.com/daily/columns/techview/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9096421&fsrc=nwl

By making criminals of everyone, these laws don't stop the "crimes" they're aimed at -- instead, they only destroy the legiitimacy of the state that passes 'em.

http://www.techliberation.com/archives/040944.php
http://junk.haughey.com/doctorow-drm-ms.html

But once again, this is only the barest surface flush of a systemic ebola virus eating away at the credibilty of all the basic institutions of Western society. There is a perceived lack of legitimacy from top to bottom throughout the abusive and tyrannical and mindlessly Kafkaesque giant bureacracies that dominate Western civilization. Banks have totally lost their legimitacy via their outrageous fees and usurious 32% interest rates on credit cards:
articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Banking/BetterBanking/BankFeesAreMoreOutrageousThanEver.aspx?page=2
www.ripoffreport.com/reports/ripoff27314.htm

Giant retailers like Wal Mart and huge businesses like Enron have totally lost their perceived legitimacy and are now widely perceived as organized criminal enterprises protected by government thugs:
www.votenader.org/issues/index.php?cid=47

Wait -- didn't I say 4GW represents a crisis of legitimacy for the state?

To the extent that giant corporations have taken over the functions of government, a crisis in legitimacy of big business in America is a crisis of legitimacy in the state.

We see a remarkable combination of both the private sector taking over the functions of government, and the total destruction of their legitimacy, in Iraq -- where private contractors have completely lost their legitimacy and are now seen as thuggish gangsters who sole purpose is to rape Iraq for as much loot as they can grab while murdering innocent Iraqis left and right. In effect, American corporations in Iraq are behaving exactly like the Jesse James gang -- they ride into town, shoot up innocent civilans, rob the place blind, and flee:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1247867,00.html

Notice that we have a fascinating nexus which collocates economic corruption, the destruction of the legitimacy of the state, and the eruption of 4GW. Insurgents in Iraq literally are bombing and killing innocent civilans as well as U.S. troops because colossal corruption by giant U.S. corporations has literally destroyed Iraq:
www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jun2007/2007-06-11-01.asp

With no water to drink and the trend of electric power outages on track toward zero electricity all the time within 6 months, it's hard to see how Iraqis would react any other way. If, after an invasion by a foreign power, you had no power and no water in 135 degree heat and anyone who went outside to complain to the invaders got shot dead for no reason, what would you do?
www.drudge.com/news/97203/iraqi-power-grid-near-collapse

However, this wholsesale crisis in the legitimacy of the state is not only erupting in America, it's breaking down society in Britain too:
http://www.city-journal.org/html/7_3_oh_to_be.html

In America, the crisis in legitimacy has come from the legalization of torture and the revocation of habeas corpus and the lying by government as well as the sheer thuggishness and lawless Kafkaesque insanity of both big business (like the MPAA and RIAA) and government agencies (like the TSA), whereas in Britain the crisis in legitimacy has come from the lawlessnes and Kafkaesque insanity of the social bureaucracies, a crisis greatly deepened by Margaret Thatcher's ignorantly foolish idolization of game theory and the crackpot nostrums of the kooks Friedrich Hayek and James Buchanan's half-witted "Public Choice Theory":
http://www.city-journal.org/html/7_3_oh_to_be.html

The obvious result of the adoption of these crazy schemes has been that demented delusions like Public Choice Theory result in administrations and police massively gaming the system. Thus, we see that the so-called "professionalization" of policing has actually destroyed the profession by reclassifying violent crimes such as assault and vadlaism as "suspicious activities" in order to artifically reduce the crime statistics.

Notice the insane logic here. [1] To meet numerical crime stat targets, police reclassify violent felonies as "suspicious activities"; but... [2] In order to make this statistical game-playing work, the police must stop investigating the violent crimes they reclassify, to avoid leaving records that can be computer-searched; and... [3] As a result, the "professionalization" of law enforcement results in police stopping investigating many violent crimes, and allowing people to be raped or mugged with no response from the police.

By reducing human problems to mindless numbers, we merely encourage civil servants (like the police) to "game" the numbers and "juke the stats" since their continued employment is directly linked to the numbers.
This, in turn, further destroys the legitimacy of the state -- since patients are now classified as "having been seen by a doctor" when they are merely greeted by a "hello nurse" and then left to languish or die in the corridors.

It's not obvious how to reverse this 21st century crisis in the legitimacy of the state. Clearly, what is happening in Iraq is only the leading edge of a problem that is surfacing everywhere in the world. As the TSA's thuggery and brutality and Kafkaesque insane lawlessness becomes increasingly outrageous, there will come a breaking point, and we'll start to see people in America refuse outright to accept any rules mporsed by American institutions, just as we seen insurgents who refuse to accept the government in Iraq. Beyond some point, Americans will refuse to accept the legitimacy of masked body-armored police thugs breaking down their doors in the middle of the night based on crazy lies told by crack-addicted informants in order to scam another $50 out of the cops.

At some point, a U.S. government ath asserts the right to kidnap and torture any American to death for no reason without explanation and without accountability will lose its legitimacy completely. At that point, America turns into Iraq, and IEDs triggered by cellphones will start to blow up in Washington D.C. instead of Baghdad, and instead of convoys being attacked in Fallujah, senators' limousines will start to get attacked in America:
http://unnumb.wordpress.com/

It's not obvious what to do about the crisis of legitimacy of the state int he 21st century, because the crisis doesn't stem from a simple cause. It's not just a case of one evil sociopath in power (the drunk-driving C student in the White House). A large part of it is massive delusion on the part of his supporters:
http://www.pipa.org/OnlineReports/Pres_Election_04/html/new_9_29_04.html

Moreover, the same things the drunk-driving C student in the White House has done over the last 6 years, are being done throughout the United States by local police departments with no-knock warrants, police-sanctioned murder of innocent people in their beds in botched drug raids on the wrong home, and in beatings and murders of innocent civilians by police during traffic stops, etc. And it's been going on for a lot loner than 6 years. There's no accountability. Becoming a police nowadays gives you a license to murder an innocent person for no reason and walk away scot free, as in Len Horiuchi's sniper murder of an unarmed woman holding a baby at Ruby Ridge -- an action for which he received a medal and a promotion.
www.freerepublic.com/forum/a3b2bfbc30a9b.htm

With no accountability for government-sanctioned murder, we've effectively got Guatamala-style death squads. That destroys the legitimacy of the state.

Likewise, the crisis of legitimacy of big bureacracies like health care is due in large part to their sheer size. Institutions like medicare have grown so gigantic that they can no longer function.

In the same way, the increasing hypertropy of the U.S. military, with more and more superweapons and more and more pointless useless non-working Star Wars-style missile "defense" boondooggles being built for no purpose, the entire U.S. military simply breaks down at a certain point because the institutions of military procurement have grown so huge and so corrupt that their funciton is no longer to defend America from enemies, but to vampire more cash from Congress for worthless weapons systems that don't work but make its Pentagon patrons' careers.

The fact is, Pentagon policy has nothing to do with war, which has a great deal to do with why we are losing two wars. The Pentagon is the last Soviet industry. It is not about producing a product, least of all a product that works. It is solely, entirely, about acquiring and justifying resources. - William S. Lind, "The Death of the RMA"
http://www.d-n-i.net/lind/lind_7_03_07.htm

In a larger sense, however, the crisis of the legitimacy of the state began in WW I. Governments which ordered millions of young men to meaningless deaths in order to gain a few hundred yards of blood-soaked mud for a war which ultimately accomplished nothing, lost their legitimacy entirely. To a large extent, parasitic sociopaths like Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich and Friedrich Hayek have merely been feeding (like maggots) off that corpse of the dead legitimacy of the state in the 3 generations since WW I.

As you can see, the problem here isn't simple. The crisis of the legitimacy of the state isn't solely, or even primarily, the responsibility of the neocons. Nor does it trace back to a single political philosophy -- both the utopian Rosseau-esque visions of the left (which led to nightmare totalitarian social service bureaucracies and crazy Catch-22 red tape that stifles the economy and destroys people's lives) and the Hobbesian gloom of the right (which led to equally totalitarian thuggery like the TSA, no-knock drug raids that murder the wrong people asleep in their beds and result in the legalization of torture and the revocation of habeas corpus) are equally to blame for destroying the legitimacy of the state in the 21st century.

To a very real extent, I no longer consider much of the apparatus of the United States culture legitimate or credible, from K-12 education to local police (as a personal example: a local cop screamed at me, pulled his gun, and threatened to arrest me for "interfering with an officer" because I was riding my bike at night without my rear bike light turned on. This officer was susbequently fired from the police for having adulterous sex with a college student while he was supposed to be on patrol) to government bureaucrats (TSA, FBI, you name it -- they screw up and then they cover up) to previouly untouchable paragons of professionalism like physicists (the string "theory" debacle is thoroughly destroying the credibility of even the hard sciences...something I would have said was impossible 25 years ago).

During the last 20 years, distinguishing crackpots [from legitimate scientists] has become a lot tougher, and it has gotten much more difficult recently. Famous professors from the best research institutions in the world go on about the properties of the universe being determined by colliding branes, or by an anthropically determined point in a multiverse, or any number of similar ideas. The dominant idea in the whole field makes nothing like what would normally be considered a testable scientific prediction, and those pursuing it don’t seem too bothered by the increasing evidence that this situation will never change. -- Peter Woit, Not Even Wrong blog,
http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=128

This goes way beyond just the neocons, or just the Republicans, or even just the rot that has set in throughout the fine arts and "soft" sciences like sociology with their demented deconstructionism and incoherent jargon. To the extent that the state legitimizes itself using the scientific method, and the scientific method is being corrupted and destroyed by rank charlatanry like string "theory" at the very highest levels of our most prestigious scientific institutions, the entire legitimacy of basic substrata of Western civilization is crumbling and falling apart. To put it bluntly, the Dow Jones index is collapsing this week because people are realizing that we can no longer trust the numbers on which the accounting of our major corporations is based. In a civilzation like Western culture, which bases everything on numbers, what do you have once everyone "games" the stats and the numbers turn to garbage?

What is missing from this wholesale degeneration into medieval numerology and mindless neocon superstition is a humane common-sense evidence-based test of reality. In short, the basis of Western civlization since the Scientific Revolution in the 17th century. In every field, from politics to health care to economics to physics, the best and brightest minds in the West are throwing away common sense and the test of evidence in favor of meangingless jargon, crazy ideology, and fantastically complex spirals of incestuous logic to justify behavior that is, on the face of it, just plain nuts.

Staying in Iraq is nuts. Teaching literary deconstructionism is nuts. Persisting with string theory is nuts. Continuing "hard" AI research is nuts. Passing more tax cuts for the rich in America is nuts. Continuing the current war on drugs is nuts. Keeping the TSA running is nuts. Continuing our current health care system in its present form is nuts. Kidnapping and torturing people in Gitmo is nuts. Suspending habeas corpus is nuts. Across the board, America seems trapped in a strangehold of mass insanity. Yet we persist. And in Britain, it's even worse.

I don't know how to reverse this rising Western cultural tide of mass insanity. It's like trying to empty the Indian ocean with a teaspoon. There's a lot more going on here than just the neocons or their "ostrich" conservative enablers. Respectable people were able to make the insane fact-free arguments for the war in Iraq, or for continued tax cuts, in part because the way for insane fact-free arguments has for a long time been prepared by insane fact-free arguments in other fields -- for instance, the insane fact-free arguments in favor of kook gibberish like string "theory" and litcrit deconstructionism and John Buchanan's "Social Choice Theory." The drunk-driving C student was able to suspend habeas corpus and legalize kidnapping and torture of American citizen in large part because the way had long since been prepared by no-knock drug raids that kill the wrong people by accident, but get excused by the courts. Creation museums have had the path cleared for them by people like John Nash and Friedrich Hayek, whose theories demonstrably ignore all the available evidence and fly in the face of the real world, but which are celebrated and honored regardless of their obviously flagrant disregard of observed reality:
economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2006/10/sachs_friedrich.html

We should note that every experiment which tested John Nash's game theory showed that in the real world, people behave exactly the opposite of his predictions. At the RAND corporation, when the Prisoner's Dilemma was played by secretaries, they always cooperated and never betrayed one another -- something Nash's equilibrium mathematically "proved" couldn't happen!
http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0043-8871(198804)40%3A3%3C317%3ARGTAC%3E2.0.CO%3B2-G

Despite this, game theory went on to become the basis of the Cold War strategy, and more recently, large parts of Western capitalism and social welfare bureacracy.

Doug S. said...

Regarding game theory - game theory does not necessarily predict that people will defect in a Prisoner's Dilemma:

Look up "Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma". If you're going to be playing with the same people for an unspecified period of time, it's not a good idea to defect. Real life is a lot more like iterated prisoner's dilemmas than one-shot prisoner's dilemmas.

There's also "superrationality". Basically, you assume that the person that you're playing with is going to reason the same way you do. Therefore, since you're starting from the same problem, you're going to end up with the same answer. Since "cooperate/cooperate" works better than "defect/defect", one should cooperate if one believes that one's partner uses the same reasoning as oneself.

Don Quijote said...

While I agree with the points, especially having been one of the "ostrich conservatives" until very recently, I have to say that I have had a growing conviction for over a decade that what's needed even more than this is the establishment of a new mainstream party. Not Republican or Democrat, but American.

Why? aren't the republican and democratic party American?


The American Party would look back to common sense approaches

What are common sense approaches and what would the following policy of this new party be?

Trade:

Defense:

Environment:

Energy:

Welfare:

Economic:

Law Enforcememt:

Civil rights:

Labor:

Media:

Corporations:

Infrastructure:

Federalism:

And that is just for a start.

Don Quijote said...

Zorgon,

The basic problem is that we are living in the twenty first century using eighteenth and nineteenth century laws as our legal infrastructure.

Case in point, Federalism made sense in a world in which traveling from Washington to any other state took weeks if not month, does it make sense in a world in which I can communicate instantly from one end of the country to the other, or travel from any given point in the country to any other given one in less than 24 hours.

I won't mention State borders, we have states (North Dakota, South Dakota) that have been depopulating for the last thirty or forty years, we have cities that straddle multiple states, but we are unable to adjust the borders to deal with those realities.

Our biggest problem is economic, we massively overproduce goods and food but are unable to distribute them in a semi-rational fashion. Our social structure has no been able to come to terms with our technological prowess (Twice the Amount of steel is produced today than in 1970 using half the labor) and until it does little will change.

Jumper said...

zorgon the malevolent suggests to me a sort of velvet revolution occurring now whether we wish for it or not. De-legitimization is in itself a self-perpetuating meme.

Nytefyre said...

Mr. Brin, I considered many political parties before selecting one. I looked long and hard at the Libertarian Party as I believe strongly in small government and laissez faire policy, but the Libertarians were preaching a message that I felt was closer to anarchism than libertarianism. I really feel more "independent" (what my wife, brother, and many of my peers select) than Republican (what I chose back in the beginning of the 90s) but chose primarily on the basis of wanting to be able to influence primaries and the fact that I valued the original conservative values of fiscal responsibility and small government most, though I agreed with the Democrats social and environmental agenda. Lately, it seems that the party I joined isn't even being true to those crucial important things that I value. And while I've been uncomfortable with my party for a very long time, it is your writing here that really helped my self-examination and realization. Thank you.

I know many people disagree, but I have to agree with Mr. Brin that the biggest problem I have with the Dems is the strong desire to preach and meddle and the subsequent inability to know when to wait until the problem has reached a point that the requisite action is both clear, prudent, and effective. I think with energy and the environment, we've reached that point. But I have to disagree that as a party they're acceptable. I merely feel that at this point, their negative points are more palatable than their opponent's negative points.

Thus, to answer Don's questions:
Why? aren't the republican and democratic party American?
Yes, they are, but I was using the appellation as that, a name. "The American Party" or the "Pragmatists" or the "Party of the Middle". Politically, "The American Party" would sound the best and be the hardest to attack.

What are common sense approaches and what would the following policy of this new party be?
Many of the things I call common sense are grounded in basic scientific method, observation, and a "balanced equation" rule. I do have to admit, I have a fair bit of belief in "karma" or to state it more scientifically, that all systems are interconnected and eventually affecting one part of the system (side of the equation) ends up generating a response that may not be in line with what you desired. I know that stating things as beliefs indicates an emotional (often irrational) commitment, but I use it following as commitment to an idea. I think a willingness to keep an open mind and to try to see things from other points of view (all sides, if you will) is crucial.

First, you would have to define the givens. I have three core ones, but lots more work is needed to flesh out most of what Don asked. Sorry, I have a growing kernel of an idea, not a fully developed set of political planks. I have a sense that our society is a contract, we agree to enjoy certain benefits in return for acting and contributing in a few set ways:
Belief in the ideas enshrined in our greatest American documents - the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and many of the legal rulings by the Supremes. Probably one of the best places to draw from - a considered and well thought out set of documents outlining the goals and ideals and subsequent contract between the people and the government to try to achieve those goals and ideals. If you haven't read these documents, please do yourself a favor and find a copy. While you're at it, get a book on ConLaw (Constitutional Law) and read the cases - the actual decisions, including the dissents, not just the summaries, starting with Abbate v. US through Zorach v. Clauson (A-Z) (timewise would start with Marbury v. Madison, of course). The practice of law is tedious and deals with specific technicalities. But the idea of law (especially at the level of the Supremes) is at its heart about the social contract and the best course for the majority. You can find used case law books cheap at most law libraries/schools, and they don't have to be any more recent than the 80's to help.
Belief that responsibilities are the balancing side of freedoms. You have the freedom of speech, but cannot use it to create situations that bring imminent danger. Belief in a strong work ethic and likewise belief in the ability for people to make a decent wage are included under here.
Belief that for a society to work, we have to take into account human nature. Generally, people are motivated most by what is most personal to them, their well being and happiness. That's a tough nut, though. People value different things and thus different things make them happy. Thus, you have to walk the line of allowing many things that some people hate. The line that I feel that is drawn is closer to the "An it harm none" ideal. By and large, asking large numbers of people to be altruistic and work without reward is contrary to human nature and I think was the downfall of pure communism. People work harder for more reward, but not all people enjoy the same rewards or have the same threshold of satiety.

Much of this has been enumerated before, but somehow both parties lean in different ways away from that. I believe in market solutions, but again, taking into account basic human nature - greed, for money and power and ease of life - I believe there has to be some regulation. As light as possible, but crucial for preventing runaway excess as we're seeing now. In this respect I think the best lesson from history has been alcohol - the Prohibition was a spectacular failure of over-regulation that we repeat in many areas today. But I think our current approach to alcohol, where we regulate it just enough to try to prevent imminent harm, works pretty well. Both sides like to over-regulate in different areas.

The balance to freedoms is responsibility. The balance to greed (for power, money, fixing everything, even ideological greed) is restraint. Restraint on both sides is hard to find. My biggest problem with the current system is exactly what you highlighted in the Ostrich Papers - that the system is out of balance and being driven that way by the people who have gained power/control in an effort to accrue more power/control. The fringes have taken control in their greed to make everyone believe the same as them, or at least conform to their beliefs.

One the ideals of America was freedom from the ideological straight-jacket of the monarchies and other dictatorships. So, why is the discourse of the country controlled by the fringes who if they had their way would dictate that people's beliefs and actions match their opinions? I believe that politically, much of this is traced to the rise of television and its crucial role in addressing the largest population possible. The vast sums of money required have led to the wholesale of politicians to corporations and strong interests that are able to raise funds or provide large voting blocs.

Campaign finance and ethics reform have failed, however, due to the fact that the masters of the current system are the ones making the reforms. Not much incentive for their self-interest. In the end, I find most politicians untrustworthy of anything but acting in their own best self-interest as a result, and those are the people that the system selects for. To paraphrase, I don't trust anyone who wants power with power.

One thought would be to provide for speech by utilizing the FEC and FCC to mandate prime-time be set aside (all channels at the same time) for political candidates. Given that use of the airwaves of licensed from the people by the government, it would make sense for the government to be able to use it for the people (though possible with some recompense for the taking).

My wife and son are calling and I'm going to spend some time with my family. I know I'm leaving this as a mostly rambling collection of idea kernels, and would love to see feedback - either to expand on the kernels or to help weed out weaknesses. Thanks for your time and mental energy and thanks to Mr. Brin for this thought provoking forum.

raisedbywolves said...

I've used a very effective argument to enlist a
thoughtful agreement from my republican friends, which is that the administrative powers this president is usurping will tend to "go with" the presidency, unless they are legislated away by an aware and competent congress, or given up by a very principled successor, neither of which is lilkely.

I ask them, "Do you want Hillary Clinton to have this much power?"

SteveO said...

To Dr. Brin's question...

I am assuming that the audience would be DailyKos or some similar group. It would be the wrong way to talk to ostriches directly.

The Civil War reference seems hyperbolic, in that it implies armed hostilities, when I think you mean a continuation of the roots of the Civil War. I would remove that reference.

I think the "ex-felons" reference will turn off an ostrich's brain. They have conditioned themselves to turn off critical faculties at the mention of anything military, since by definition the military is "good" Q.E.D.

"More universally detested by our military..." will need some data to prove, otherwise it is (and sounds) as bogus as the right-wing claims of Marines not saluting President Clinton.

I REALLY like the meme of a "Coalition of the Honest."

I would add raisedbywolved comment about a Clinton having that power, though I would phrase it in the past by asking, "What would Bill Clinton have done with such power? Sooner or later a Democrat will have the power President Bush has gathered to himself." This has been the ONLY approach where I can talk to my mother about this.

Read the missive with an eye for it being the next "wedge" document "exposed" when found by one of the monsters. It passes my eye for that (with the exceptions I noted), but make sure it passes yours.

Personally, I fear that most ostriches will not even hear the logic and will insist that the Democrats would be worse. As recent research has shown, people can't engage the logic part of their brain when a partisan belief is challenged . But there may be some number that can hear it, and upon them, I feel, our nation depends.

That's all for now. Good luck!

SteveO said...

Oh and to the person complaining that string theory will be the downfall of the Western world...

An article in this month's Scientific American says that at least one prediction from string theory may be in the process of being confirmed. Apparently, a type of neutrino can take a shortcut from Point A to Point B through the extra dimensions predicted by string theory.

Obviously, this does not make string theory "right" but there are ways to test to see if it is useful.

David Brin said...

Good points by SteveO.

For the Kos posting, I will add the following riffs:

***

Make a long list and demand -
What would you have said if this happened under Clinton?
If one thousandth of any of this had happened then?”


Now tell them how strenuously the Bushites have striven to strengthen the Presidency and insulate it from all supervision, oversight or duty - not only to Congress but the people - and ask this. “Do you really want future Democratic presidents to have such power? Or do you feel that the Bushites are doing this because they don’t intend to ever let that happen?”

Ask them to ponder just how far loyalty to their side goes. (Psychologically, this is the trait that keeps most conservatives standing by the GOP, despite all these listed betrayals and horrors.) Do they really hate “liberals and moderates” so much that another conservative value respect for law and due process, can just be thrown away?

+++

***


Oh... and lace your riffs with lots of patriotism! And make it sincere, because it ought to be.

For too long, liberals have allowed conservatives to preen and pretend they own that word. Remind your ostrich that this is about our country. It’s about America, the light of freedom and center of the enlightenment. The nation that has absorbed half of the refugees and immigrants who ever struggled to find new lives and better themselves and their children. A country being hijacked, as we speak, by homegrown monsters who (arguably) serve foreign masters.

If loyalty is the chief conservative virtue... and that’s the glue keeping them attached to a GOP gone-mad... then USE LOYALTY to melt that bond! Loyalty to something better, greater, more important. Yes, humanity and the Earth and the future and posterity... all the things that give good liberals goosebumps.

But throw in America.
Because they will listen to you then.
And because, despite all our faults, this nation remains the light of the world and the best hope of humankind.

SteveO said...

Thanks Dr. Brin.

I would further submit that the following lines will (regardless of their validity) make the average Joe (Republican or Democrat) look for the tinfoil hat:

"Or do you feel that the Bushites are doing this because they don’t intend to ever let that happen?"

"A country being hijacked, as we speak, by homegrown monsters who (arguably) serve foreign masters."

I would recommend cutting them. It is damning enough without it, and their inclusion could give them the out of thinking the speaker is a loony. Since, of course, that can't happen here in the good ol' USA.

SteveO said...

Also consider (change at end):

"If loyalty is the chief conservative virtue... and that’s the glue keeping them attached to a GOP gone-mad... then USE LOYALTY to melt that bond! Loyalty to something better, greater, more important. Yes, humanity and the Earth and the future and posterity... all the things that give good liberals goosebumps.

But loyalty to America as well. etc..."

To me, IMHO, it works better. "Throw in America" sounds cavalier.

Tony Fisk said...

As one of those unfortunates not born under the aegis of 'the best hope of mankind', I beg to differ with that last sentiment (especially at the moment. However, I'm not the target audience, so that's OK.;-)

The overall strategy of engaging an ostrich on their own terms and values, and demonstrating how badly the Nerocons have betrayed those values is a sound one, but I think the above is way too long. Useful as a reference, but it needs an abstract.

The length also means it comes across as a one-way tirade. You need to make firm contact with the bit of the ostrich that's in the sand rather than what's poking up above it.

Engage them on their terms by all means: so don't harangue. *Ask them* what it is that makes them believe the GOP and Bush are better for America. You can then focus your counter-arguments on what's important to your ostrich, by their own admission.

Relentless pursuit of the issue is necessary while your ostrich is still in denial. However, if you do make headway, there will come a time when they will run out of excuses and have to face the uncomfortable fact they have been wrong. I would suggest that you let them come to terms with that in their own way. Resist backsliding, and the urge to gloat (like using the term 'nerocon'). Be supportive.

David Brin said...

Wise stuff! You'll see some of your own words in the version I'll soon post on Kos.

Maybe Tuesday. When I do, please, swarm all over.

sedicious said...

Sibel Edmonds, the very high-profile whistleblower who was fired by the FBI in 2002, addressed the 2007 American Library Association Annual Conference, at the end of June, along with Stephen Kohn, her attorney during her suits against the FBI and now President of the National Whistleblower Center. The panel was titled "Paul Reveres or Benedict Arnolds?: Whistleblowing in the Post 9/11 Age." The ALA recently made a video of that session available online.

Don Quijote said...

Yes, they are, but I was using the appellation as that, a name. "The American Party" or the "Pragmatists" or the "Party of the Middle". Politically, "The American Party" would sound the best and be the hardest to attack.

And fascism rears it's ugly head...

As for the rest of the spiel, it doesn't answer my question, what would the policies of the "American Party" and how would they differ from that of the Republican & Democratic party?

Assuming that we had a Quijote party,

Trade:
Import substitution, we cannot run trillion of trade deficit every year with out going belly-up.

Defense:
Increase the size of the Marine Corps to 5 Active Divisions, Reduce the size of the Army, Air Force by at least two third, reduce Navy by on third. Get rid of our permanent European & Japanese Bases, see if we can cut a deal with the North Koreans and get our military bases out of South Korea.

Environment:
Strict enforcement of all our current laws, no more logging on Federal Lands, Fishing bans to protect endangered fish species and let the Oceans recuperate from the abuse that we have been putting them though for the last fifty years.

Energy:
Tax gas, diesel( at least three dollars a gallon ), tax coal. Put more research into solar power and subsidize the deployment of solar panels at all level, encourage and smooth the way to installing more wind mills.

Welfare:
Minimum yearly payment to all citizens over eighteen. Guaranteed high school education to all children, massively subsidized education for all state colleges. Single payer National Health Insurance.

Economic:
Get rid of the Income Tax, Soc Sec Tax, Medicare Tax, inheritance tax and replace them with a flat WEALTH TAX.

Law Enforcement:
legalize drugs, let all drug users out of jail.

Civil rights:
African Americans were denied opportunities from 1870 to 1965, when we have had affirmative action for a century we can then talk about shutting it down.

Labor:
Make unionization easier. four weeks paid vacation, 30 hour work week.

Media:
break it up, there are only five companies controlling over 80% of the Mass-Media. Force cable companies to sell channels in an a la carte model ( study possibility to the same with shows). Break up Radio & TV networks and set a limit to how many stations they may own.

Corporations:
Break them up, if they are monopolies make the state-owned ( Power, Water, Phone?).

Infrastructure:
Fix the cities, their immediate suburbs, build new subways and new high speed trains in area where they can be competitive with airlines ( [Boston, DC] [San Diego, San Fransisco] ), fix the power grid, fix the roads.


And that is just for a start.

Blake Stacey said...

Karl Rove, the architect of President Bush's two national campaigns and his most prominent adviser through 6-1/2 tumultuous years in the White House, will resign at month's end and leave politics, a White House spokeswoman said this morning.

Washington Post

Tony Fisk said...

A couple of interesting admissions here (or is he just distancing himself?)

"In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, in which he announced his intention of leaving at the end of August, Mr Rove blamed the war in Iraq and corrupt Republican candidates, whom he said he should have got rid of earlier. [would they have gone?]

The war on, and then in, Iraq was not of Rove's doing, though a warning from him against it might have had a serious impact. He was not part of the neo-conservative group that planned and executed it. And in the end it undermined everything he did, just as it has undermined the Bush presidency as a whole."

- Paul Reynolds, BBC News


Care to whet your whistle, Mr. Rove? (well, you can dream, can't you?)

Kelsey Gower said...

Might as well add this quote from the article too:

"In particular he ranged his guns on Senator Hillary Clinton, whom he said was likely to be the Democratic candidate in next year's presidential race. She was, he claimed, "fatally flawed" and said the Republicans had a good chance of holding on to the White House."

I haven't seen him make a prediction on who he thinks the Republican candidate will be. Perhaps he's keeping his options open?

Rob Perkins said...

I only have one ostrich left, and he hates talking about politics, and refuses to listen to any criticism at all, from any direction, about the Republican Party. He also believes it's impossible for mankind to ruin the earth, so maybe there wasn't much to work with there to begin with...

I disagree that the GOP field is a crowd of horrors; the generalization is too sweeping until you can enumerate for me *why*.

(And, no, even as a Mormon, Romney doesn't sit right with me. So there.)

David Brin said...

They are horrors for many reasons. But the biggest is the simplest.

The 21st century has been devastating to America, and especially America's role of leadership in the world. Not one action of the Bush Administration or its GOP Congress benefited the people or the nation, in preference to a narrow clade of billionaire or fanatic beneficiaries.

If any of the current GOP candidates were a real man, a real American, a patriot, he would attack this situation as thoroughly as he attacks Hillary Clinton. He would talk about a "conservatism that was betrayed from within" and call for one that has its honor restored.

He would chide his own side and try to energize a different part of the Republican "base"... the ostriches... to get THEM to be the kingmakers in the coming primaries.

Do not laugh. This could happen. Look at Ron Paul. He is doing exactly that and gaining huge support. His numbers would be ten times as high, if folks could not tell - also - alas - that he is about one-quarter out of his freaking mind.

Stefan Jones said...

Ostrich-wakening ammo:

Dick Cheney on why invading Iraq would be a bad idea

Oh, I should also recommend the documentary No End in Sight. It's playing on the indie film circuit. It covers the prelude and first few months of the Iraq war, showing how the administration's bungling helped create the insurgency.

What's remarkable is that most of the testimony comes out of the mouths of former insiders, including generals and state department personnel.

One academic type who was working in the Green Zone during the first phase of the occupation -- before Bremer's CPA -- described meeting a former student of his, a young lady who had just graduated. She had been shipped over to create a traffic plan for the capital.

Qualifications: None. None at all.

The utter contempt that shows for the people we were supposedly liberating speaks volumes about the administration.

Tony Fisk said...

I would like to know what Karl Rove means by 'fatally flawed' when referring to Hillary Clinton.

Then see how the other candidates score, by Rove's criteria.

itojun said...

hello, i'm not sure if this posting is appropriate or not...

i love the posting, and would live to hear from you more. of course i've finished some of the books of yours.
have you tried movies like "Death of a President" and "Commandante"?

i'm a staff member of worldcon 2007 (yokohama) and wolud love to be your guide. see you in yokohama!

http://www.itojun.org/
http://www.nippon2007.org/

Anonymous said...

You don't convince an ostrich by talking at him.

I when I was volunteering on the Kerry campaign in Bucks County PA, in 2004, I was surprised at the way my fellow Dems would talk to the people they would meet. They always rushed to talk and judge, and never wanted to listen.

If you don't rush at a guy, it's pretty easy to go from "I'm interested in personal liberty so I'm voting for Bush" to "Habeas Corpus, what's that?"

Start from a position of respect. They don't disagree with you because they're stupid, they disagree with you because, they don't have all the facts, or their relative values are different from yours, or they haven't actually examined what they really value.

Very few people are convinced by someone telling them they are wrong. Nobody wants to be wrong. Wrong is stupid. But if they come to a new conclusion by themselves after examining what they value, and taking a fresh look at the facts, they can be open-minded, whithout ever having been stupid.

So honestly ask more than you tell. If nothing else, it makes you harder to ignore.

Rick said...

GAH, can we PLEASE get Brin a spot at the podium at the Democrat convention next year??

I would love to hear this from that stage. How refreshing it would be to see "NOT-politics-as-usual". But, after the semi-fiasco of the Democratic congress this year I'm becoming sadly, cynically, convinced the Dem's don't want change either.

jeff said...

Why do you keep saying Ron Paul is "out of his mind" and such? Have you spent much time actually reading what he himself says? Or do you only know him thru the filter? I mean, what indications do you have that he is "mad" other than you dont agree with his economics? Have you read anything of Austrian economics?

You are trying to get people to rally together to kick out the tyrants, yet you spit on the man who is currently most capable of restoring some sanity.

Please learn more about Paul and dont just dismiss him out-of-hand, as that is what "they" /want/ you to do...

-Jeff