Saturday, November 24, 2007

Rabid Lemmings, desertions & distractions

Most of this posting will be political miscellany about desertion rates and the steady (possibly deliberate) destruction of the United States Army -- plus some new material from Russ Daggatt. Still, I do want to lay a seed for pondering, till next time.

In the bestiary of supporters of the neocon madness, it is important to make a distinction

I call an Ostrich any "decent conservative" who retains some basic common sense, courtesy and openness to argument, despite having been led astray by Fox, down a road of step-by-step reversing every principle that Conservatism used to stand for. While prudent restraint swerves into recless adventurism, while devotion to accountability transforms into secrecy and crony dealings, while fiscal responsibility becomes spendthrift profligacy, and dedication to defense readiness has transformed into spasmodic willingness to spend our forces like a gambler at a slot machine... your typical ostrich covers his eyes and ears and recites the mantra "Clinton was worse..." over and over again, desperately trying not to wake up.

These people aren't hopeless! If we each adopted even just one -- like that sweet but troglodytic uncle of yours -- and hammered away relentlessly (using some of the ostrich ammo that I've offered), each victory would be like a spear through the heart of Karl Rove's coalition.

But let's admit it. There is another, far more common type of beast.
I call this other kind "Rabid Lemmings" and the name speaks for itself. Angry, vicious, narrowminded and dogmatic, these are the culture warriors who are hell-bent to stampede off a cliff, and take America with them. Just like the great majority of Confederate troops, who fought and died valorously, gloriously for a thin veneer of aristocratic slave-owners that treated them like dirt, today's lemmings will do anything, believe anything, for the very same criminal gang that is getting super-rich at their expense, not through enterprise or capitalism but the far older process of parisitism.

Alas, there is no point in trying to grab the lapels of a Limbaughite lemming. Unlike the ostriches, who retain dim memories of a genteel and polite conservatism, led by men of reason and principle, like Barry Goldwater and Robert Dole, your lemming actually likes culture war. It gives him a rush (so to speak) to picture a majority of his fellow citizens as purely evil agents of liberal darkness. I am not foolish enough to suggest that we reach out to such people.

On the other hand, I believe that one of the stupidest things that liberals and moderates and decent conservatives can do, is to continue shrugging off the insanity that is spewed at millions of lemmings, in order to keep them stoked-up, in a state of actinic fury.

What? You say that we -- the moderate and openminded majority of Americans -- seem headed for a big win in 2008?

Well, maybe. I wouldn't rule out Rovean cleverness -- or some horrid distraction -- in the meantime. But suppose we are? Will even a victory at the polls, in '08, be worth anything at all, if it isn't overwhelming?

Next time, I'll elaborate on why we need to get far more aggressive. Far more pro-active. Far more determined to accept nothing less than total repudiation of culture war.

.
On to miscellany... some of it disturbing...

Soldiers strained by six years at war are deserting their posts at the highest rate since 1980, with the number of Army deserters this year showing an 80 percent increase since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003. Figures show a steady increase over the past four years and a 42 percent jump since last year. The increase comes as the Army continues to bear the brunt of the war demands with many soldiers serving repeated, lengthy tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Military leaders — including Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey — have acknowledged that the Army has been stretched nearly to the breaking point by the combat. Efforts are under way to increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps to lessen the burden and give troops more time off between deployments.

In contrast, the Navy - the one service that has most effectively resisted the Bush Administration’s reckless and spendthrift-amateur adventurism -has seen a steady decline in deserters since 2001, going from 3,665 that year to 1,129 in 2007.

Despite the continued increase in Army desertions, an Associated Press examination of Pentagon figures earlier this year showed that the military does little to find those who bolt, and rarely prosecutes the ones they find. Some are allowed to simply return to their units, while most are given less-than-honorable discharges.

And yet, the right keeps foisting upon us inflammatory tirades about “unpatriotic liberals” who won’t vote to make English formally the nation’s sole, official language. For the Patriotism Card to be played, relentlessly, by a gang who has destroyed the US Army, would seem hysterically funny... if any Democrats had the gumption to point this out. More on this in the next political screed.

Meanwhile, Russ Daggatt suggests some “ostrich ammo” in the form of a simple set of questions for your obstinate republican friend or uncle. Asks RD:

1/ Who is "the enemy" in Iraq?
2/ How do we "win" another country's civil war?
3/ What end game to we hope to achieve by arming both the local Sunni militia and the majority Shiite "government"?
4/ The result of arming both (all?) sides in the Iraqi civil war is likely to be: a) pretty b) not pretty
5/ Is this “fighting for a clearcut goal”? Is it even nation building?

Bear these questions in mind while dropping by a cogent article: Iraqis Wasting An Opportunity, U.S. Officers Say. “Senior military commanders here now portray the intransigence of Iraq's Shiite-dominated government as the key threat facing the U.S. effort in Iraq, rather than al-Qaeda terrorists, Sunni insurgents or Iranian-backed militias.”

RD: Whomever "the enemy" in Iraq is at any given time should always be referred to generically as "the terrorists." Then, if "the enemy" later changes, you can still refer to the new "enemy" generically as "the terrorists" without having to amend all previous statements. Note, for example, how the Sunni insurgents were, until recently, simply "the terrorists." Now, however, it can be said of the Sunni insurgents, that we are now arming, that they have "shown great patience" and "they have got to eat." Meanwhile, the Shiite "government" that we installed is now "the key threat facing the U.S. effort in Iraq."

In the end, your typical ostrich cannot describe a cogent view of who our allies are in Iraq (because we have none) or why this exercise in “nation building” is wise (when Republicans used to howl at the very notion.) Nor even what our goals are, anymore. (Who are the “Iraqis” we are asking to “stand up”? The ones in the government who are sure to ally themselves with... Iran?)

What it DOES boil down to is personal trust. “I like and trust the leaders of my political side and if they say this is the right course then those who disagree are fools or traitors.” Recent work in social psychology has shown that this really is a key part of the conservative mind set. It helps to explain how nearly every principle of Goldwater-Dole conservatism has been reversed in recent years, without engendering any rebellion among the ranks of GOP members -- except the furiously angry military officers and civil servants, who have to deal with the real-life mess these policies produce.

Think of all the reversals of conservatism that have been rationalized away, simply because the movement’s leaders (and Fox) have said so. A proclivity for prudence has transformed into recklessness. Insularity has become international adventurism. Pinch-penny fiscal circumspection has become spendthrift budget-busting. Belief in accountability has swerved into passion for secrecy and crony-management. Demure courtesy has switched over to bilious rage, nastiness and a belief that we can “lead the world” by relentlessly insulting every foreigner. Courtesy transforms into shrill wrath. From a belief in States Rights, we now see the movement stand for unprecedented centralization of federal power. The list goes on and on. But (except among the professionals) none of this swerving and swiveling causes any cognitive dissonance in the typical ostrich, because loyalty to one’s social side is the paramount conservative -- and ostrich -- virtue.

Do not get me wrong. As an ornery contrarian, I can criticize in all directions. Both lefties and liberals (two entirely different species) have their own psychological drives, some of them relentlessly self-destructive, as we see so many opponents of the neocons start lining up to march to Karl Rove’s election year drumbeat, like lemmings, yet again. But these character flaws are nothing compared to what’s exhibited by the ostrich millions on the right, who rationalize away the tsunami of evidence that their “side” is being led by bona fide monsters.

Rant mode off. Anyway, I am p[reaching to folk who’ve heard it all before, alas.

MORE POLITICAL MISCELLANY

“Flush with cash, Canada plans to slash taxes.” Reuters, Oct 30. So THAT’s what happened to the real Republican Party; it moved to Canada!

Under the “we’re STILL WAITING” department... remember when Republicans accused Bill Clinton of murdering an Arkansas state trooper to supposedly cover up alleged "evidence" of Clinton's multiple rapes. At one point, the endlessly futile “most investigated in US history.” even centered around Bill Clinton's Christmas card list!

Ah, remember when Stephen Hess called Clinton Admin the “most investigated in US history?” But with what kind of results?

Will there ever come a time when this kind of calumny butts up against the test of reasonableness? After billions of dollars and diverting FBI agents from protecting us, to search for ANY Clinton smoking guns, will any amount of failed investigations finally get those people to apologize?

Be angry. In 2006, a Blackwater SUV collided with a US Army Humvee. Blackwater guards disarmed the U.S. Army soldiers and made them lie on the ground at gunpoint until they could disentangle the SUV.That's US soldiers being assaulted and held at gunpoint by Blackwater. Oh, if this had happened under Clinton!

12 former army captains speak out about the futility of the Iraq intervention and its destructive effects upon the US Army.

Enough. The lesson is clear. Don't get complacent. Stay angry. Think of the celebrations that will explode, around the world, when the Bushites lose power. The litmus between mad neocons and the rest of us is basically this. To them, America's present unpopularity is proof that Bush is right. To the rest of us, it is clear evidence that we are losing any power, influence or right to lead the world.

52 comments:

Brother Doug said...

True but you are mostly preaching to the converted. The Limbaugh lemming was a great zinger but I think you have about beat this topic to death. It does not seem like you get much traction considering the time you put in.

On another topic did you notice the recent national geographic where they pointed out that Europeans were significantly taller than Americans. Men born after 1975 are almost two inches taller in the Netherlands, and they live longer too. They attributed the increase to national healthcare. Wondering what you think about that as a dedicated libertarian? Is it a good thing making more healthy and intelligent citizens or unwanted government interference that damages the economy?

David Brin said...

My version of libertarianism is a very odd-angle and heretical one. The LAST of my worries is Big Government, so long as that government is open and transparent and subject to relentless criticism.

As a libertarian, I am pro-freedom, not anti-government, for the simple reason that government has proved vastly effective at fostering freedom.

1) by providing a center of elite power that was (until the Bushites) inherently competitive against other elites, allowing us to pit them against each other. (For a movement obsessed with the advantages of competition, today's doctrine-libertarians seem dismally opaque to this vital process.)

2) by helping equalize the base-level playing field for young people from all castes and classes, thus engendering social mobility, which all true libertarians ought to favor... but hardly ever do.

Their contempt for mass public education, for example, is ungrateful and hypocritical and - worse - "time stupid." Yes, today's public schools are failing to keep up with the needs of a vastly advanced and intricately technological civilization. And yes, new competitive processes may be needed to fill these new gaps. But the gaps ARE new! And thatntricately technological civilization was brought about via -- mass public education.

Just because a precious generation's solution needs adjustment for changing times, that does not mean it was wrong in the first place. The greatest social mobility era - when entrepeneurship blossomed better than any time in history - was in the 50s-90s, when the government primed the pump below... while NOT confiscating too much at the top.

Can you see now how a libertarian (of sorts) can also see an important role for the state? Dig it, the state is a TOOL! If we are smart, we can use it as a tool in favor of freedom. As it was when the state researched, supported, created and then devolved the Internet.

Yes, states are dangerous. Always keep Orwell in mind, every hour of your lives. And remember Communism. But also remember 6,000 years of aristocratic rule, while we see that old way attempt to steal our freedom as FDR never did.

At one level, I despise Michael Moore. He is a scoundrel who never tells the whole truth. I sit through his movies shouting "Yes, but!" every few minutes. Still, the part of the truth that he does tell, in SiCKO, is overwhelming. All children should get free care. To rationalize any other approach is not only stupid. It is raw, distilled evil.

David McCabe said...

The problem I keep getting into when talking with ostriches is this: They make up their own facts.

"But we *are* meeting the benchmarks in Iraq! Where did you hear to the contrary?"

"The NY Times."

"Oh, nothing but lies!"

Not really sure how to get around this problem. Advice is welcome.

David Brin said...

If absolutely every benchmark WERE being met, these people should all still be jailed for treason.

for destroying the US Army and National Guard

for driving off all our allies and wrecking America's position of leadership in the world

for making the US more despised than at any time in our history

for stealing or helping others to steal half a TRILLION dollars

for waging war against the US Officer Corps and becoming the one president more hated by our flag officers than any in a century

for leaving us virtually defenseless by destroying our military readiness

for fomenting "culture war" and dividing our nation as never before since the Civil War

for using "emergency" declarations to bypass competitive bidding and give billions to personal cronies and hire other close cronies to build private armies at public expense

...and on and on.

You cannot let them pick and choose their rationalizations. What you must do is pick the battleground by relentlessly going down my "ostrich ammo" list and spotting which items make them twinge.

As for Iraq, even if every benchmark were met, we'd have a "democracy" like Iran or Pakistan, filled with fanatical folks who all hate our guts. For THAT we spent our kids into debt?

Derek Benson said...

Dr. Brin, I often get the feeling that it's too late for conservatives. That is, that they simply wish for their own country.

On the Fox late night show "Red Eye," they've been known to joke "Let's just kill all the liberals."

Has anyone heard this in mainstream "liberal" circles? It seems to me that "Culture War" is mostly fought from the right, ignored from the left.

TC said...

I’m a recovering ostrich. It wasn’t malice that kept me from understanding the scope of the betrayal -- it was the scope of the betrayal itself. President Bush’s style of governing when he was in Texas was collaborative. That appealed to me, and I trusted him. I voted for him twice. Now, I’m considering registering as a Democrat.

I thought my wife would need an ambulance when I told her.

I think I came across a way to get other ostriches to better comprehend the situation. I was talking to my brother, who’s in the financial services industry like me, about whether we would we be better or worse off if Al Gore had won the presidency? As an avid reader of your blog, I listed off the points you made, but you know the one that really got his attention? One simple question:

How could Al Gore possibly have blown 1.6 trillion dollars?

That question has no answer. There’s nothing short of starting a war that would burn that much cash with that little reward.

Sometimes, abstracts just don’t get the point across, even if they’re not abstract to you. Raising a family and keeping a job is a lot of work, and it leaves little time for pondering national or world issues.

The only problem with using the cost of the war as one of the questions is that we’ll constantly have to update it!

For what it’s worth.

David Brin said...

tc, thanks for sharing your story. I wish I could afford the time/cash to set up a vivid Ostrich Site to post excellent True Confessions like yours.

Ironies? I re-registered Republican, so I could more likely affect the politics in my district.

Derek, you hit a key point. This is evidently a resumption of the same cultural rift that was behind the Civil War, the Civil Rights Era schisms and... most likely... the Jacksonian "revolution" of the 1830s. Throw in William Jennings Bryan and you have something that seems almost cyclical, in which mass populism plus anti-urban regionalism mix with nostalgic pastoralism to rile up passions, threatening to tear America apart.

The emotion-drenched phenomenon is always the same. When they get control of the federal government - as under Jackson and Buchanan - their aim is to crush every opposition. When out of power, they whine and shout and try to break away... as when they broke their oaths and seceded in 1861, without ever even trying to negotiate with Lincoln. Or the way they screeched and tried desperately to reverse the elections of 1992 and 1996, casting libelous, never-proved aspersions on Bill Clinton, without ever negotiating with him.

The behavior of a cranky boy who stomps away with his ball, when the other team gets its turn at-bat.

Ostriches need to be awakened to the fact that these lemmings have hijacked conservatism for entirely different purposes. Culture war really is "cultural." And hypocritical to a degree that beggars the imagination.

Urban America pays most of the taxes... yet is willing to pay for a modern nation... while redders demand tax cuts for their favorite aristocrats. The same way that confederate troops willingly died for a veneer of slaveholders. And that merits respect?

Urban America is in the crosshairs of terror... yet urbanites see no "emergency" or "war" that merits destroying our institutions, values or fiscal health. The only panic is displayed by those screaming "terror!" from the safety of the countryside.

Of course this oversimplifies. There are urban ostriches and lemmings. And there are rural people - even Republicans - who are loyal to America and the future. Still, we cannot ignore any longer the searing, bilious roots of culture war. I am afraid we may have to fight it.

That is why I feel the Ostrich campaign is vital to pursue, even if it seems likely a democrat will win in 08. Because, alas, Hillary or Obama would be intrinsically unable to calm or unite this country. We have already seen what one-third can do, if drenched with hate.

We have to EITHER fight this out at the grassroots and marginalize the haters, by reducing them below 20%... or...

...or draft Al Gore.

Tony Fisk said...

One man alone isn't going to save the world. I think Al Gore is far more effective doing what he does now.

I find it interesting that the climate nay-sayers have made little use of the recent judgment in the UK. Even though it wasn't so much a refutation of 'An Inconvenient Truth' as it was a correction ( nine 'facts' could not be deemed proven.) I'm sure the spin masters could make a meal of that.

Now *this* is crazy talk:

Australian PM-elect Kevin Rudd announces that he intends to:
- ratify Kyoto
- reverse industrial reform (the main thing that bought the Liberals down)
- withdraw troops from Iraq (but not Afghanistan)
- seek to end the head butting over growth vs environment, left vs right, industry vs unions, ie dichotomies in general.

Why, this is.. is just... sane!!?

Actually, even at his most patriarchial, I do not believe Howard has ever been allowed to slip into the same level of divisiveness as the current crop of US cons. He just... lost touch.

I do not see the same cultural divide between urban and rural in Australia. Oh yes, there are tensions, but they aren't really any worse than different life values arising from different lifestyles. Ironically, the tendency is for those in the bush to view city dwellers as the ones who are out of touch. Even in good times, it is a harsh country, once you get away from the coast and over the dividing range, and you need to be a realist to make anything of it. I think the last couple of years have shown climate change to be more than a hypothetical. (The Murray-Darling system has never had the same flow, but just try and contemplate the prospect of the Mississippi running dry!)

Oh well! It remains to be seen whether our new leader can make his actions suit his words.

Brother Doug said...

David I agree totally, well stated and that idea may have some traction with a wider audience.

I have this theory that Regan and the GOP actually meant what he said about the government being the problem. The GOP see the United states military as part of the government and so started the war in Iraq as a way to destroy it. In their place they put private contractors to replace the work the military used to do. Plus they get to create a new mafia without links to the left or labor unions. Sort of a Manchurian scenario in plain sight. Plus they got away with it in El Salvador with the contras. I am almost finished with Eienstein book by Issacson and was shocked to find that 1938 Hitler was voted “Greatest living person” in a survey of the incoming class at Princeton here in the USA. The way I see it big government is here to stay because people like the economic security it provides and our economy demands it.

zorgon the malevolent said...

Kudos to Dr. Brin for trying to use reason on the half of the country that wants to take us back to the middle ages. Probably won't work, but it's worth trying. People don't seem to get galvanized politically by logic and facts, but by emotion.

My sense is that the neocons are circling the bowl not because of the evidence against them, but due to a general sense of disgust at their behavior. Unfortunately, that's a two-edged sword. I got the same nationwide sense of disgust at Bill Clinton toward the end of his term. There's a world of difference twixt the criminals in power now and Clitnon, but gut emotion doesn't draw that kind of distinction, alas.

Dr. Brin seems to hope we can end the culture war with a decisive liberal win. That's not how it works. A huge liberal landslide in 2008 will just confirm the medievalists in their determination to strike harder and attack more savagely next time. Nobody can win this culture war. We need to end it.

Excellent article about Obama and his potential to do just that:
The Atlantic magazine: "Goodbye To All That"
http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200712/obama/3

A generational divide also separates Clinton and Obama with respect to domestic politics. Clinton grew up saturated in the conflict that still defines American politics. As a liberal, she has spent years in a defensive crouch against triumphant post-Reagan conservatism. The mau-mauing that greeted her health-care plan and the endless nightmares of her husband’s scandals drove her deeper into her political bunker. Her liberalism is warped by what you might call a Political Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Reagan spooked people on the left, especially those, like Clinton, who were interested primarily in winning power. She has internalized what most Democrats of her generation have internalized: They suspect that the majority is not with them, and so some quotient of discretion, fear, or plain deception is required if they are to advance their objectives. And so the less-adept ones seem deceptive, and the more-practiced ones, like Clinton, exhibit the plastic-ness and inauthenticity that still plague her candidacy. She’s hiding her true feelings. We know it, she knows we know it, and there is no way out of it.
Obama, simply by virtue of when he was born, is free of this defensiveness. Strictly speaking, he is at the tail end of the Boomer generation. But he is not of it.


But the fact is that the culture war just escalated in a huge way. Newsweek just hired Karl Rove as a columnist. Think about it: imagine if Time magazine had hired Senator Joseph McCarthy as a columnist after the Army-McCarthy hearings... Would America ever have recovered from McCarthyism?

Hiring Rove and Kos as columinsts fills me with despair because it means the culture war has now inserted itself like a retrovirus directly into our most mainstream discourse. From now on, Rove is free to scream insane lies and hysterical smears from the pulpit of one of the most widely-read newsmagazines in the country. Kos isn't much better. Kos stands for better things, but they're both wildly partisan extremists. In fact, Rove and Kos are the two most extremist partisans in the country.

The DailyKos site has been a big problem for the Demos because Kos and his people seem to think the way to deal with the Republicans is to become more like them. More savage, more vehement, better at pushing emotional buttons, quicker at hitting back with oppo research and sound-bites... That's the road to ruin. We go that direction, America slides down the toilet into civil war. We need to end this insane process of fanatical attacks at anything and everything the opposition says and does. Demo pundits now talk about how conservatism itself is outight evil and unworkable...that's crazy. (My ideal candidate right now would be Dwight David Eisenhower -- a staunch true conservative ruthlessly opposed to the military-industrial complex!)

We need to end the culture war, not win it. But Newsweek's hiring of Rove has instead placed the culture war in a permanent sinecure at the center of our national discourse. It's horrible and disgusting. At this point, I think that's it. Game over. The culture war will never end. It will just get worse and worse, the smears and lies and attacks and screams of hate getting louder and louder from both sides until they fill not only the fringe lunatic sites like Little Green Footballs, but now Newsweek.

It's appalling beyond words. And the whores at Newsweek are rushing in to make money off the culture war by pumping it up to even higher levels.

Edwards and Ron Paul seem to be the only candidates talking about restoring the constitution. People are now wondering aloud whether Hillary, if elected, will eschew the "unitary executive." That's lethal. We've got to make it clear that this "unitary executive" horseshit is dictatorship. It's illegal. It's unconstitutional. It has to be banned. We've got to shut that evil sadism down. And John Edwards and Ron Paul are the only people who seem to be talking seriously about doing that.

When Edwards said, "With me, the constitution returns," he became my condidate. I don't hear Obama or Hillary talking about restoring habeas corpus. I don't hear them talking about ending torture. We need to call a grinding screeching halt to all this illegal tyrannical lunacy right now, today, this instant. This isn't some fancy soundbite like "the unitary executive," it's tyranny enforced by torture and government-approved kidnapping. It's dictatorship when peaceful PETA protestors are denied the right to leave the United States because their names are now on a watch list. That's the kind of evil shite we saw in Romania and East Germany and the USSR, that's not America. I don't give a damn if America even has a military if the FBI can drag people off the streets in black hoods and torture 'em indefinitely without an arrest warrant or a trial. The military is unimportant compared to that. The budget is unimportant. Everything is unimportant. If we're living in a dictatorship, it doesn't matter how great the economy is or how wonderful America's military is. Nothing else matters if someone legally protesting the government's policies can be hauled off in an unmarked van and "disappeared" into a torture chamber until he turns up dead by the side of the road.

Obama seems to be getting a little more fire in his belly. Here's the Obama speech from the Jefferson/Jackson dinner everyone is talking about:
http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post_group/ObamaHQ/C5Q2

Meanwhile, Pat Buchanan claims in his latest book The End Of America "America is coming apart...decomposing":
http://drudgereport.com/flash9pb.htm

The funny thing is that Buchanan is right about most of his prescriptions, except for his worries about Hispanics taking over the Southwest U.S. and his notion of stopping immigration. Hispanics always owned the U.S. Southwest, we just stole it from 'em. Now they're taking it back. Doesn't matter, since with global warming the entire Southwest will have to depopulate anyway, so we might as well just give it back to Mexico. It's worthless. Arizona and Nevada are unsustainable in the face of global warming. Humans won't be able to live there, nor in Southern California. Best to evacuate the Southwest of the United States now, before the Colorado River runs dry and the water riots start.

Ron Davison said...

As I get older, I grow more convinced that bad policy stems from sloppy thinking.

We need to liberate and fight the Iraqis. Which is it? We're helping and fighting the same people - "them," whoever they are.

burg said...

Talking to a recently returned Major in the Army who served in the northern part of Iraq, he seems convinced that the war in that area is going well. The enemy is simply those who do not want government and most if not all the people he actively fought were mercenaries from foreign countryies - Syrians, Iranians, Chechnyans. His contention was that things were getting better there and that 10 to 15 years more was a good price to pay to ensure stability.

You can guess what his contention was about the news we hear daily about things not going so well and was a bit taken aback when I mentioned I believed most of the new media was either run by neocons or people greedy for sensationalist copy that sells, not by liberals of any stripe. He blamed our lack of knowledge of what is actually happening in Iraq at the media's (liberal) feet.

Although it is good hear things are going well somewhere in Iraq, and with the support of the vast majority of the population, this does not extend to everywhere, it is not simply the few cases we hear about as real body count goes up. Nor can we afford to keep paying for this for 10 to 15 more years. (He then offered that this war is costing us less per capita than any previous war. While I question his (sources) figures (fox), even if it is, we are being bankrupted by the simple lack of monetary support from the traditional areas for this war, thus making the stress on the "middle" incomes even greater, not to mention the huge mounting debt we are incurring that we've never had before. 10 to 15 years is not even on the table when we may not make it a few more.

In short, some in active service are not seeing what we see because they are being fed a selective set of facts and because they only see part of the actual situation on the ground. Converting them is difficult at best, especially if they still think the media is "liberal."

Brother Doug said...

As to waking up the lemmings I don’t have a lot of hope. However I think the economics of the 1.7-2.5 trillion estimated by the GAO combined with the a dollar worth half a Euro and our billions/trillions in debt /pension obligations will eventually put an end to our war in Iraq. I don’t expect anything else to do it. The Saudis are the only ones still buying dollars and only because they are afraid of it dropping even more. Even the Kuwaitis are selling oil in Euros’. And Europeans are not recycling the dollars they have with tourism because of the travel restrictions.

In Iraq the argument seems to be “the genocide is slowing down, we must be making progress.” I say its ten steps back and one forward. I don’t think even Eisenhower and Marshal could fix this mess, as much as I admire them. Don’t forget they were the ones to secretly overthrow Mohamed Mosidec in Iran, and then they sent over Nixon to show our support and enraged the people in riots all over Iran. Eisenhower’s administrations real flaw they never understood the importance of transparency.

Personally I am considering a move to New Zealand or some other country with more openness. The pacifists are always the first to be put in jail once an autocracy comes to power, so I have kept my families passports up to date.

David Brin said...

Zorgon proves (unintentionally) how desperately we need new online methodologies for conveying meaning. (The kind that I offer at http://www.holocenechat.com)

Seriously, he's a smart guy, but where the $$# did he get the following?

"Dr. Brin seems to hope we can end the culture war with a decisive liberal win. That's not how it works. A huge liberal landslide in 2008 will just confirm the medievalists in their determination to strike harder and attack more savagely next time. Nobody can win this culture war. We need to end it."

Um. I am the very one preaching exactly that! I do NOT want Liberals to attack all forms of conservatism, in general, but rather to reach out to moderates and "decent conservatives." With the aim of:

1) creating a big enough coalition to yank all strings of power out of neocon hands (except their grip on mass media and to make them nervous about that.)

2) Help and empower decent conservatives to wrest control of the GOP away from kooks and thieves and monsters, so that the apparatus - and reflex loyalties - associated with a major party are no longer in their grip.

3) Enabling the next president to negotiate with adults and govern well.

These three things (plus a few media reforms) will marginalize the know-nothing movement. If it dropped below 20%, a trend of rising embarrassment could add further leakage until they resume their rightful place, as the John Birch Society of the 2010s.

In order to do this, we need to (a) speak reason to the center, (b) assertively grab the lapels of the "ostrich" right, awakening them to how their movement has been hijacked, and (c) aggressively answer the rabid "limbaugh-lemming" right with searing, short, sharp shocking doses of their own medicine. Shocks that even Bill Maher has been too tepid to offer.

Look, I agree that Hillary seems to be concentrating on soothing the saner wing of the aristocracy. I don't mind that. I really believe we need to harness them, because otherwise we simply will not have enough power to pound the insane wing flat. If "sane" means somewhat "satiable" of even long term self-interest, they may even accept a slowing of the class spread. In any event, we need a great big tent. A huge, internally contradictory tent.

And we need the next prexy to step up and say "you don't want me to have the presidential powers that you fought to give Bush. So I am giving them up. But in return, you must......"

burg... we are seeing the formation of the next neocon bulwark. The Saudis will clamp down on their own people and stop (temporarily) sending funds to insurgents. Things will "improve" in Iraq and the right will crow "victory"... without ever - as ron said - calculating if vicory simply means a tense, less violent and wholly undemocratic Iraq, at the cost of 1.5 trillion dollars and demolition of America's military and our standing in the world. Yum!

Tacitus2 said...

I have been away a while. There is life off the 'net, you know, a living to be earned, places to visit. Also I was finding the tone of conversation here to be declining. I enjoy open minded civility, and it is a rare commoditiy these days.

I have been reading a bit too. I encourage you all to pick up A Savage War of Peace by Alistair Horne. I have been a fan of Horne for many years, but of late he has been a star ascendent. Many, too many of our mistakes in Iraq are just a rewind of the blunders of the French in their Algerian War. Horne's other works are equally good, especially his three part history of the Franco-German conflict 1870/1916/1940.

As to current politics.....Geeze, whats the rush? The current crop of candidates will be around for quite a while, no hurry to judge them too soon.

Personally I have no idea of who I will vote for yet, or even which party. My Presidental election track record is something like 1 independent 1 democrat, 5 republicans. I am going to look hard at the serious candidates, harder still at the (presumably) two finalists and make the decision that I think is best for the country. If my pick wins, great. If not, I will be a member of the loyal opposition, respecting the institution even if I sometimes have to disagree with policy.
Can you open minded folks make a similar promise? I am not holding my breath.

Tacitus2

David Brin said...

Tacitus, I made that vow in every other election of my life. And I lived by it, both voting against Ronald Reagan and defending him from those who would exaggerate and call him an enemy of all decency. (The crooks he vrought with him were satiable and self-limited by both patriotism and noblesse-oblige.

Likewise, his foreign policy lunacies were based upon, well, lunacy rather than outright treason. The biggest one, saber-rattling the soviets into choosing between spasm-war or surrender, happened to work out extremely well... in THIS parallel universe, aided by Gorbachev and many social factors that RR had nothing to do with, especially the long term effects of George Marshall's grand strategy. Stilll the number of parallel radioactive ruins is probably immense...

...and yet yet, I refuse to badmouth success. Despite many, many sins, he was no disaster. And I believe he wanted us to prosper.

But Tacitus, this case is different. These thieves are insatiable. These "leaders" have driven off all our allies, ruined our leadership of the world, raped our finances and endangered us all. They aren't legitimate political opponents. They are bona fide monsters. And quite possibly deliberate traitors.

Hey, the left could have produced this danger. There were times in America's past when it seemed about to. This is not about left-right. It is about Americanism vs something horrendous.

If you want "politics" with a Democratic and Republican and maybe a Libertarian Party arguing fairly about differeing policy methods for enhancing the common interests of a prospering America in an increasingly hope filled world... terrific! I yearn for it too.

Just don't be deluded into thinking that's what is going on right now. We are fighting for the very survival of our Constitution, our country, our civilization. And while I preach moderation and reaching out, I do so MILITANTLY!

I am willing to fight and die to save my country. My civilization. If it came to that, tomorrow, I would do that. I would.

Would you?

Welcome back.

Anonymous said...

Off topic:

Huge 'Hole' in Universe

Yet another cosmic structure too big to be explained in a 15 billion year old universe? Nah, the string theory people will come up with sufficient hand-waving to 'save' the Big Bang, again.

Anonymous said...

So if we are to go to war militantly, let's do what the Bushies failed to do... plan things through. Let's start with some clear, discrete goals or at least the problems as you see them.

Example of goals:
-> An easy way to access information about what does happen. A Left, Right, and Middle source for each when possible.
-> Effective Government which uses Compromise rather than majority on contentious issues.
-> The death of the 30 second TV ads.

Then lets talk about practical ways to make the above happen.

Example of Acts:
->Start or tie websites together which provide this information.
->This may have to be done by electing enough representatives so they can ignore the fanatics.
->Develop Tools for the above website that make it desirable to go to for deciding your candidate.

Frankly I don't know what goals and methods should be at this point. I'd like to hear your thoughts on what needs to be changed and importantly how to go about doing it. Obviously you believe that Bush needs to be out of office. But instead can we focus on how to prevent someone such as he to never get in there in the first place.

zorgon the malevolent said...

Let's just hope tentacled critters with mile-long spaceships 'n death rays don't come pouring out of that "hole in the universe" (if that's what it is)... :-)

The northern part of Iraq is peaceful because the Kurds have created their own country in all but name. It's actually illegal to display the Iraqi national flag in Kurd-controlled areas -- the Kurds don't recognize it. The Iraq civil war is between the Sunnis and the Shia, and the Kurds have effectively seceded from Iraq.

Bonzo the Chimp's co-star was a senile criminal and an all-around monster. Every grotesque violation of the constitution we see today started under Reagan. Signing statements? Check -- Reagan invented 'em. Phony news stories? Check -- Reagan started that. Religious fanatics running government policy? Yup, that was Reagan. Official lies shamelessly raised to the level of state doctrine even after they got revealed as blatant lies? Check, Reagan cranked that evil trend up to a new high with his lies about "welfare queens driving Cadillacs" and his lies that "forest fires have created more pollution than all the factories in history." Mindless superstition in place of science and reason? Yes indeedy, Reagan scheduled his public announcements according to astrological charts.

The only difference between the senile monster Reagan and the current group of Jeffrey-Dahmer-wannabes in the White House is that the current bunch are alert. Fortunately for us, the Cruel Man with the Kindly Smile suibmerged into Alzheimers while in office, so his ability to do damage was limited.

In fact, the senile sociopath Reagan proved far worse than the current crop of fringe lunatic criminals in the White House in one sense -- because he somehow got his gullible victims to love him. The loathsome thug Reagan left his victims adoring his depredations. That made him much more dangerous in a way than the sociopaths now in power. The current crew is so deeply hated no one's going to be nostalgic for another Cheney. The Great Hater Reagan crushed the middle class, filled the streets with homeless people, wrecked America's finances, locked a generation out of college education by slashing their student loans, the monster Reagan starved poor children by declaring ketchup a vegetable and then he laughed about it (like Stalin, to Reagan "each death was a strawberry / sweet on his tongue" in Mandelstam's words), the Great Hater filled the White House with religious loons, veered the Republican party down a cul de sac of mindless hate and demonization of the center/left wrapped in sugary patriotism, the psychopath Reagan greatly prolonged the Cold War and destroyed America's military with ruinously expensive unworkable superweapons (like Star Wars) while hollowing out our conventional forces.

Reagan was the worst plague on America since the flu pandemic of 1919. Everything that has gone on in America since Reagan slithered out of office in a haze of dementia has been the working out of the profoundly evil policies and the sadistically feral politics of hate he inaugurated with his immortal proclamation, 2 months prior to the Kent State Massacre, "If it takes a blood bath, let's get it over with." [Ronald Reagan, 1970]

tacitus2 said...

David
I would too.
You are entitled to your opinions, but using terms like monster, traitor, thieves...and to imply illegitimacy. Its a bit too far for me. I will check back in a while. You may resume the sermon to the choir.
Tacitus2

Tony Fisk said...

Tacitus, respecting the institution is a given. As a courtesy, that respect is extended to the people who fill the roles defined by that institution. That respect becomes conditional where people choose to extend themselves beyond those roles, or modify those roles to their own purposes.

Case in point. I respect John Howard as a basically decent man with a sense of values. That his values and mine are radically different in many ways does not temper that respect.
What *does* temper my respect was the manner in which he sometimes chose to use the institution to impose those values.

Still, in all I believe John Howard to be far more decent than George W Bush, and I am very relieved to see the back of him. Roll on 2008! I hope to view the field from afar with the same degree of impartiality as you desire, Tacitus, but with a sense of history.

...oh, and sorry to greet you back with a rant!

----

David, a couple of off-hand remarks in your last comment triggered a couple of things:

These thieves are insatiable.
Brain scans 'may detect OCD risk'
Brain scans may be able to reveal which people are at genetic risk of developing obsessive compulsive disorder, researchers say.


...the number of parallel radioactive ruins is probably immense...
...which prompts the panglossian thought that maybe we exist in the best of all possible universes (having been killed off in the alternatives)
... which prompts a real poser: where did President Gore go wrong?

David Brin said...

Aw geez. Extravagant and passionate, I am. Unreasonable? Unwilling to argue? Show me when and where!

Here's a challenge, Tacitus (if you are still there.)

Defend these guys.
In this case, the job is easy (or should be).
You do not have to prove that the Bushite neocons are right.

All you have to do is show us any reason to think they might MERELY be honest-but-incompetent. Or even just a bit crooked, instead of stealing hand-over-fist.

Imagine all of the very worst things that were said about Bill Clinton. Now cut out the nookie in a hallway.

Now show us that these guys are MERELY that bad.

Michael said...

I think you need to clarify the "bit crooked" to make it determinable.

I propose "Not in the top five percent of modern political crookedness" as the standard.

Zechariah said...

Off topic, but too fun not to share.

In France the Untergunther, a group of covert guerilla anti-vandals, snuck into the Panthéon and repaired the old, rusting, broken clock. Authorities were clueless until they got were informed they should go wind it up.

For Pics of the clock before and after:
http://www.urban-resources.net/untergunther.html

For a reputable news source:
http://arts.guardian.co.uk/art/heritage/story/0,,2217212,00.html

And for the Untergunther website (which is French):
http://www.ugwk.eu/

Tom Bombadil said...

I like your take on freedom and government from a Libertarian ("of sort" ) perspective.

- I quote -

"As a libertarian, I am pro-freedom, not anti-government, for the simple reason that government has proved vastly effective at fostering freedom.et.
(...)
Yes, states are dangerous. Always keep Orwell in mind, every hour of your lives. And remember Communism. But also remember 6,000 years of aristocratic rule, while we see that old way attempt to steal our freedom as FDR never did."

- endquote -

Well put!

Very refreshing, and deserving, I think, of a post of its own - it'd fit right in with the Ostrich paper. No small part of what has happened in this country, obviously, is that libertarianism has been recuperated and twisted into a propaganda tool for the marketing of the Gingrich/Bush revolution. Or as Zompist.com puts it, the GOP has taken the libertarian "Government is Bad" horse and ridden far with it. But what we have here, as a result (Blackwater and what-have-you) is not very libertarian at all, now, is it?

Or maybe it is.

I don't know.

It is good that people are beginning to speak of such things.

I ran into the following comment onto a related thread while surfing the web on a concomitant topic:

Welcome to Blackwater Libertarian Paradise, people. Private Military Companies like Blackwater, whether they are hired by governments or by private clients, like communications, petrochemical and insurance companies, and other corporate interests all the world over, are the way of the Libertarian New World Order not just in Iraq, but everywhere, including here at home. Remember, these guys were really the "first responders" when Katrina devastated New Orleans. Of course their mission was not to help the poor dark-skinned people left homeless by the floods, apparently the "Christian thing" to do was to protect the property of the rich whites living on the high ground. First things first.

While, there is always, in such comments, some degree of flippant derision about them (which is also their interest, to me - i.e. they speak from the heart and are usually devoid of any of the inhibition or self-censorship that one would expect of, say, an academic essay written on a similar topic), it is hard not to concede that the author of the comment has got a point. There is something there definitely worth exploring.

What do you say, David?

David Brin said...

I often have to cite my earlier essays about libertarianism.

A big four-parter can be found at:
http://www.reformthelp.org/rights/generalizing/foe.php

A simpler, older one is at:
http://www.davidbrin.com/libertarian1.html

One point I make is that the end goal is vital. Both Marxists and libertarians dreamt of a future without states or coercion, where individuals are creative as they see fit.

But HOW do you get there?

Socialists think a powerful state can prescribe to get there.

Romantic libertarians think (without supplying a single historical precedent or argument based upon human nature) that simply tearing down the state will achieve this.

The third notion is that minimalized coercion and maximum (harm-free) personal liberty are natural things for ANY calm, educated, sane, satiated, tolerant and confident people to want. And thus a large part of getting there will be to offer all of those attributes to the masses, in whatever combination of processes can get us there.

And what civilization HAS come close? Or at least vastly closer than any other? Why... ours. A combination of competitive markets plus regulation to KEEP the markets fair (free from too much cheating...)

...plus some state intervention to boost the bottom so those markets are fed lots of extra innovators, players and savvy consumers...

Has got us to a point where we are so powerful we must choose between self-indulgently destroying a whole world or getting serious enough to deserve to manage it. Wow. That's power.

And it did NOT come for simplistic oversimplifying prescriptions. It came by pragmatically mixing a whole bunch of solutions and finding what works.

Dogmatists are a bane on this kind of civilization. In our context, they are sick almost to the point of being lethal to the very things that gave them comfort and plenty. But there's the thing about moderate pragmatists. The worst thing we can imagine DOING to these dogmatic enemies is... talk to them some more.

... while keeping them from veering us off a cliff.

TwinBeam said...

DB: "As a libertarian, I am pro-freedom, not anti-government, for the simple reason that government has proved vastly effective at fostering freedom."

I wish you'd give up that nonsense. Why are you so eager to undermine the meaning of "libertarian"?

Yes, you like liberty in some areas - most people do, but most people are not libertarians. Libertarians believe liberty yields the best results in the long term, even if it's not immediately obvious how, even if it looks like something they'd dearly like to see happen, may not.

Would you rather have free (tax paid) medical care for all children, or less taxation? If you can't bring yourself to answer "less taxation", you aren't a libertarian. You want to force others to pay for something you consider important.

Note that I'm not arguing that libertarians are correct - maybe you're right and tax supported medical care will work out better. But you aren't a libertarian if you believe that.

Michael said...

I honestly do not see how taxation is anti-liberty.

Without the government, you wouldn't HAVE money in the first place.

Without modern society, you wouldn't be able to make nearly as much as you can.

Even with taxation, you come out ahead.
I mean, yes, to call yourself libertarian you should view liberty as the overriding principle at all times ... but I still don't see how that's inconsistent with taxation. (Hmm, on a tangential note, what would be a good term for one who views transparency as the overriding principle...?)

That said, I can see the liberty-related problem with property tax. But not income or sales tax! Or "capital gains" which I don't see the relevant difference between that and income, but hey.

Woozle said...

On the subject of "using terms like monster, traitor, thieves" (tacitus2) -- while I agree with the sentiment, there is another term which I find more compelling: playground bullies.

They're all grown up now; their sticks are sharper, their stones are larger and more subtle -- but they still have the same morality (a pack of jackals), they'll still take your lunch money and convince you to bring more next time (and that it's in your best interest not to tell anyone), they'll still crib your homework in exchange for the privilege of not being beaten up more than usual, and they still manage to be seen as the shining example to everyone they need to impress.

To drive the point home you can always point out that the lunch money is now a trillion dollars, beating up smaller kids behind the gym has now matured into hiring mercenary thugs to beat up US troops and threaten them with guns away from the embedded cameras in Iraq, and cribbing homework has graduated to starting phoney-baloney "institutes" and hiring "scholars" to intellectualize and justify whatever thuggisms they want to promote, spin, and market.

This comparison does not require as much sophistication or prior understanding as the monster label does ("But surely you can't be saying Karl Rove has tentacles and slimy skin and eats babies? OH, wait, I get it, it's a METAPHOR. Yeah, okay, they're REALLY REALLY BAD. So's my mother-in-law. What's your point?") -- it's less extreme, without being less damning; it grants the essential humanity (as in species homo sapiens) of the perpetrators, while emphasizing the barbarity (and counter-civilization essence) of their behavior.

---

Now, on Michael's comment: "Without the government, you wouldn't HAVE money in the first place." This was a thought-provoking comment, but there are several possible interpretations; each one leads down a different path:
- Only governments print money. I don't think this has historically been exclusively the case, though it may depend on what you mean by "money". I define it, tentatively, as "exchangeable tokens which the issuer will redeem for tangible assets on demand". Given that definition, there's nothing to stop (say) Amazon from issuing tokens redeemable for store credit, or Microsoft from issuing tokens redeemable for stock. What makes it money is when anyone would be willing to accept such tokens in lieu of actual goods. Imbuing tokens with that sort of universality may require an entity of governmental scale.
- Without government, money is meaningless because there is no law enforcement to prevent forgery. Assuming you are an entity with enough resources to be able to issue redeemable tokens that anyone would actually want to have, you probably have enough resources to go after forgers.
- Without government, civilization could not be as prosperous as it is, and money wouldn't get printed because we wouldn't have the resources (or at least there wouldn't be any point in doing so). I think this conflates government and civilization. We need civilization, but (at least from a libertarian point of view) civilization does not depend on government, though it's not clear where the discipline necessary to make this work will come from. (Libertarians apparently believe they already possess it, which may be true -- but what do they plan to do about everyone else?)

From my point-of-view... well, I'm working on this idea called "citizen government" (related to the "United Members of Civilization" idea I've mentioned before) wherein individuals stop thinking of themselves as The Governed and start thinking of themselves as custodians of civilization, and tackle the situation like a programming team fixing a broken- yet- massive- and- crucial software installation. Will post a link when I have something presentable.

Hawker Hurricane said...

There have been privately owned currency issueing banks in the past. These banks would issue banknotes redeemable for valuables (gold, usually) for use as money. You could trade these banknotes for goods and services, just like government issued money.
The problem came when these banks got caught issueing more banknotes than they had gold to back it up...

Dr. Brin, I agree: both Libertarianism and Marxism describe perfect societies without a reasonable effort to get there from here. Marxism comes closer, since it claims that they'll "Teach people to be perfect, then the state will go away" as oppossed to Libertarianism's "If the state will go away, people will be perfect".

It is interesting to note that the English word for a perfect society is "Utopia", which comes from a Greek word meaning "nowhere".

reason said...

Michael...
curious comment. You will enrage all the left wing Libertarians (who claim the Propertarians stole their name), by turning their tax ideas 100% on their head. I take it you have never heard of Henry George.

Michael said...

You're correct, I haven't heard of Henry George. Having just looked him up, he definitely has a strong point.

On the other hand, I people (my in-laws, for instance) for whom property tax is a large burden - they're closing in on retirement age, and own their home. When they finally do retire, they're in a degree of trouble; if land prices change, they might be forced to sell their home or the like, due to being unable to pay property tax if it increases and their incomes don't. (which, being retired, they won't.)

Of course, that's fundamentally a pragmatic concern ... but then, my arguments on taxation were, admittedly, from a perspective not precisely my normal one - I view most things from the pragmatic perspective and would NOT call myself a libertarian, though I agree with them on many things.

And it's not like avoiding offending people at the cost of total honesty is practiced by our host, either. ;-)




As to the money issue: Hmm. In retrospect, I'm not sure I can justify my comment, but I still think it's valid, though possibly overly strong. I agree with Woozle's definition of money, and am aware there were private currencies ... so what did I mean? I think I meant something along the lines of "governmental actions increase the value of money more than taxation takes it away" ... but I've been sleep-deprived these past few days, so I'm not sure if anything I'm saying makes sense right now.,

David Brin said...

twinbeam forgive me, but you seem to fall back on the old method of "defining" people out of your camp when you disagree. That, of course, reflects exactly the kind of dogmatic (and bullying) instinct that libertarianism is supposed to oppose.

What you do NOT do is answer any of the fundamental questions that I have posed. For example,

1) Why does the doctrine-driven wing of libertariansim obsess solely on bureaucratic government? Consider how utterly bizarre this fixation is! Freedom and markets have had a myriad enemies, across the last 6,000 years. And paternalistic bureaucrats certainly are worrisome. Especially when taken to the extreme of communism.

But, if you exclude communism, how on Earth can you justify obsessing on one of the LEAST destructive of those enemies? While utterly and obsessively ignoring the other foes?

I "define" libertarianism as being vigilant toward the forces that destroy liberty, and seeking always to expand it. by THAT definition I am vastly more libertarian, because I look at history and human nature, and I am willing to notice that 99% of open societies and markets were destroyed by conspiratorial aristocratic cliques.

In fact, only one civilization has ever staved off obligate coups by such cliques for more than a generation. Here's a hint. It is the same civilization that propagandized suspicion of authority as mother's milk... and created a generation with more libertarians in it than any other.

Oh, it also happens to have been the civilization that voted for FDR. Sorry!

2) You "define" libertarianism as anti-taxation. That is precisely how the New Masters want you to define it. SO they can rob us blind and use government as their private pig trough and pour out clouds of secrecy and stymie science WHILE NOT helping to pay for a society that engendered their wealth and helps them maintain it...

Sorry, but I see liberty measured by what fraction of the population rises up fully fed, educated, with mighty brains and fizzing with ambition, ready to take part in competitive markets. (Without making them state largess addicts) THAT is my measure of a healthy, free civilization. And if the tools to bring that about require some taxes, I am willing to pay.

Note, there is an intrinsic moral imperative here. Like most Americans, I am far more willing to engage in socialist activities when it comes to children. Not only because they are helpless, but also because that is genuine pump-priming... creating the feedstock for competition as adults.

AND like most Americans, I am much less touchy-feely about compensating adults for their own mistakes or bad luck. Some? Sure. But I am wary of that road. I've lived in France.

YES, there are problems inherent in all socialist "solutions" and I applaud all efforts to offer market based solutions to raising healthy, dynamic kids. Indeed, I call myself "libertarian" because I believe we should always prefer competition-based solutions. (And the aristocracy hates competition!)

BUT it is in our common interest to ensure that it is done, at least at a basic level.

twinbeam, lecture me about definitions of libertarianism when you are prepared to deal with the historical facts. I'll be happy to discuss it.

---
Woozle, good pt re playground bullies. I find especially telling the way these guys treated the NEOCON THEORISTS like Wolfowitz, Nitze, Perle, etc, many of them blatant Jewish nerds of the same kind these frat boys gave wedgies and forced to write their term papers. As adults, they saw the usefulness of these nerds and invited them to a few parties, slapped their backs, flattered them into writing TONS of term papers for AEI and the Heritage foundation, justifying the coming Rape of America...

...and then left many of them hanging out to dry, when the time came.

But yes, you point out the flaw of Libertaians' obsession with hating government. Govt is a tool. We the people should be masters, and the LP should be the force urging us to use it with a light touch, always seeking alternatives.

Brother Doug said...

Regarding the use of language that seems to be angering people, and causing some to leave this forum. If we use a term that even vaguely implies judgment such as traitor, thief, monster, or even bully we may succeed in getting our side motivated but it will put a immediate mental block on those we need to reach the most. The problem is that such language is what we have all been taught and it can be hard to break that mental conditioning. I think most people are going to make those judgments but in my experience that will prevent real communication from happing. I am not perfect in this regard but I invite people to try this and see for yourself if it works.

Getting back to Brins an original point in the first post about desertion in the military. This morning I just finished The Deserters Story about an Iraq veteran from Oklahoma who escaped to Canada. The impression I got from that book was that on a emotional level the problems of Iraq veterans make books like all quiet on the western front look like a weekend in the park. Truly disturbing and now I half a dozen images in my head that I don’t even want talk about they are so unpleasant.

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

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article17271.htm

TwinBeam said...

Michael:

Suppose I were to offer you a deal - from now on, you don't have to pay any taxes, but in return you're not allowed to start working before April 30th (Tax Freedom day) each year. So financially you break even, and you've got 4 more months of vacation. Would you consider yourself more or less free as a result?

Yes, you get some benefits back for your money - but do you honestly think you're getting your money's worth, in terms of benefits of which you actually approve?

I suppose if you like a huge standing army AND an inefficient social welfare system AND over-priced infrastructure building projects AND medical research that leads to few real cures AND politicians who respond to whoever donates the most to their campaign AND an educational system that equalizes by dumbing down instead of lifting up AND thousands of other examples of big government, you may feel you are getting your money's worth.

Note that I'm not saying government has never done any good. Just that most of the good it's done could have been done for far less than we've put into it, and that it causes huge amounts of harm along the way to doing those few good things.

David Brin said...

Oh now this is just silly, twinbeam.

Among the many benefits of this civilizations approach has been a plethora of guys LIKE YOU!

Again, the burden of proof is on you to show that the ONE civilization that engendered the most freedom and education and productivity -- by far -- is also a benighted, over-regulated, tax-oppressed hell-on-Earth.

Dig it, the people have repeatedly ratified the Rooseveltian bargain - with hiccups and reforms - and overwhelmingly have voted to retain a state-private balance. Dogma-libertarianism consists largely of shouting "The people are stupid!" Without ever contemplating the possibility that it is someone else.

Again, I hurl the challenge. If America is so benighted, how come it engendered the only civilization that has ever even remotely come close to what you want?

How come it engendered YOU?

Above all, why do none of you dogmalibs EVER address the thousands of years when the prime enemy of markets and freedom consisted of the rich?

TwinBeam said...

DB:

If you'd read a bit closer, you'd see that I did not say that nothing good ever came of government.

However, unlike big-government fans, I attribute most of what is still good about this country to the limits we used to have on government, which are now almost gone.

Government should NOT be a tool - it should be an impartial guardian.

Unfortunately, it *has* become a tool, and golly, gee - look who have grabbed that tool and put it to use - those very same rich oppressors from whom you thought big government would protect you.

Libertarians don't think people are stupid - that doesn't fit with their belief that free people can best run their own lives. Perhaps lazy and short-sighted and maybe greedy - but mostly just trapped in a system that tells them they can't expect anything better.

I consider myself a moderate, not a libertarian. I do share the libertarian's preference for liberty, and oppose the use of force (including blank-check taxation) to solve social ills.

But I also share the liberal's belief that social ills can and should be fixed. And unlike the typical libertarian, I don't assume those problems will all automagically fix themselves in a society freed of heavy handed government (though some would).

I also share the conservative's cynical perception that "the people" are prone to forgetting the value of liberty and trading it for a mess of pottage - where libertarians seem to rarely think beyond obtaining liberty, as if once obtained it would sustain itself.

Michael said...

Do politicians suck? Yes. Do businessmen suck? Yes. So that argument just doesn't go anywhere.

Do I have a problem with the current state of the US army? Yes, I do.

Do I have a problem with education? That depends - could it be better? Yes. Would I be ANYWHERE near where I am without it? No. Would I trade it for what existed, say, two hundred years ago? HELL no.

As for an "inefficient social welfare" program ... you are aware of the administrative costs of Medicare, and how they compare to the administrative costs of non-governmental health insurance programs, right?


And of course, you identify the classic targets - and ignore the fundamental GOOD things.

What would happen if we shut down all government-operated roads?

What would happen, seriously, if we stopped any form of governmental-funded education?

What about the governmental influence on the internet?




Is the government the correct solution to all problems? No, it's not. But neither is the free market. What we need to do is identify when the free market can solve problems better than the government, and identify when the government can solve problems better than the free market, and then address each problem correctly.

And most of all, we need to prevent the kind of cronyism that's causing so many problems right now - it killed Enron, it's causing the Blackwater scandals, and it's how we managed to lose ... how much was it, again? by the side of a road in Iraq.

That is the problem. Not the "power of government", which is a very nebulous phrase indeed.





And on the taxation issue: If one holds that all taxation is theft, as the doctrinaire libertarians seem to ... then the ONLY viable conclusion is that the government should be shut down.
I can't agree with that conclusion, so I have to reject the premise - government is necessary, and government requires money. Could it be improved by cutting taxes and spending simultaneously? Perhaps. But cutting taxes without cutting spending certainly isn't working too well, is it?

reason said...

Twin Bean (going back to your previous post), most of what you say I agree with.

But
1. Don't forget Rawls - how would you feel about many Government programs that don't benefit you now, if you were about to be born into some randomly chosen social position?
2. Granted the democratic process doesn't work perfectly - but have we a better evolving process for making decisions for the whole society? And doesn't a lot of the fault for it not working well, lie with us? Can we have the benefits without the costs?

You arguing that things could work better is part of the process of making them better. Just don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

reason said...

Twinbeam - an adendum to what I wrote before -

Don't forget that America was formed in a revolution. (Now personally, I don't think that always makes for the most objective evaluation of constitutional alternatives - I think an evolved system is better. But I digress.) That should make you more aware than others, that the systems of government you employ (the rules AND the rule making process AND the rule enforcing process) depend on popular acceptance of their legitimacy.

Do you think your ideas of what would be more effective, can override this need for legitimacy? I personally do not think effectiveness (who judges?) is the only criteria for judging government.

Tacitus2 said...

Oh gracious, it would take a lot more than ill chosen words to make me angry, and I have not left. See original post regarding enjoying life off the net.

My point is mentioned by others, that if you want to actually speak to those who see the world differently watch your words carefully. Your points, if there are some actually there, get lost with inflammatory languege. I take words seriously, and David, as a writer I should think you would too. Are they actually "the father of deeds?" Maybe. Traitors should be arrested, tried and shot. Illigimate governments should be overthrown. Not that you are advocating such, but if you mean what you say it could follow directly. If you don't mean what you say you are taken less seriously. Playground bullies seems fair game. Thieves (given my attitude towards both parties) I can live with. Beyond that you lose most outside "the choir".

Regarding you kindly offer to have me disprove the notion that Bushco are all of the above shades of evil, I can but quote Creswell (Plan Nine from Outer Space) "My friend, you have seen this incident, based on sworn testimony. Can you prove it didn't happen?" Uh, no, guess I can't. Another day I might take a swipe at it, but the limits of communicating over an internet forum are daunting.

See you around, occasionally.

Tacitus2

David Brin said...

Aha, Twinbeam. Instead of “stupid” you call the people “lazy and shortsighted and maybe greedy - but mostly just trapped in a system that tells them they can't expect anything better.” And then go on to say: “I also share the conservative's cynical perception that "the people" are prone to forgetting the value of liberty and trading it for a mess of pottage ...”

In other words, you utterly and completely concede my point! Dogmalibs are inherently smug and superior and contemptuous of the very same masses they claim should have sovereign will! Okay, you define yourself as moderate. I won’t play left-right games. But contemptuous is at right angles to that axis, and you cannot keep yourself from (honestly) expressing it.

Hey! I been there! ALL bright guys have been! Contempt has a voluptuous and sweet attraction. I would just like to hear you admit it. Come on, Twinbeam. I know you can do it.

Having said all that, let me add that there are countless ways that I’m a bona fide libertarian. Try dipping into those essays of mine. You’ll be surprised. I’d love to engender more competition, especially by prying elite paws off of the tiller of our government. In fact, like Barry Goldwater, I’d love to see a DOZEN clubs and magazines like CONSUMER REPORTS going to every family in America, competing with each other to inform the citizens how to play the market game better. Hey, it’s called capitalism... in its best aspect. Read up on how Goldwater thought that insurance companies could be redefined to take over many paternalistic govt services like the FDA!

Still, I’d like twinbeam to say it -- or refute it. That 99% of markets and free societies were wrecked by conspiratorial elites, not bureaucrats. Admit it and deal with it! Eliminating govt doesn’t cure that. The only society that ever managed to get what we have, is the one that created a NEW elite, to use as a counter-tool to balance power against the old ones.

Only now, those old elites have seized our tool.

Reason hit on it. don’t forget America was born in a revolution. We are something radical. A moderate, but militant radicalism. We stand for a calm, tolerant, pragmatic, problem-solving and future-looking new way of doing things ... that can only be defended through utterly fierce devotion to reasonableness! Yes, it sounds contradictory. But the human penchant for dogmatism is too strong to be defeated by anything other than truly militant determination.

A dedication to keep things open, defend rights, let everyone speak, help every child to compete, and to solve problems without letting “one-way!” preachers guide us into quicksand. The way they misguided every other civilization that ever existed.

Tacitus, glad you hung around. And yes, my language can sound UNreasonable, for a guy who calls for calm reason. I acknowledge the apparent paradox... and deny there is one in fact. Because there comes a time when you clearly recognize that some people - who have wrested power over every lever of power and mass media - are determined to bring back the dark ages that quashed everything that’s great about our revolution.

It is not inconsistent for tolerant people to feel intolerant toward intolerance! Yes, it’s tricky. That’s why tolerance-folk talk so much! But it isn’t inconsistent at all. It is abso-freaking-lutely necessary.

Note that I use all those words about the Bushites - WHILE urging that we reach out to decent conservatives and respect their values. Find one other pundit who offers this mix! But it makes sense. Because this crisis is not left-right. It is light-vs-darkness. And let there be no mistake, these people have broken their oaths. They have driven off our allies, made us hated, ruined our defenses and put our kids into debt while betraying the Constitution at every level.

Yes, I asked you to prove a negative. Mea culpa. Sorry. And yet, note, that you use that polemical excuse to wave away any obligation to support your case. You’ll not even try to address the POSITIVE list of crimes that, if true, would make these people bona fide traitors. I have made my assertion. Yes, it is a bold and aggressive one. But I have offered copious floods of evidence.

Can you contemplate the possibility that this indictment may be true?

If it is... and you do nothing, not even arguing about it... what does that make you?

Marc said...

Mr. Brin said;
"
1) by providing a center of elite power that was (until the Bushites) inherently competitive against other elites, allowing us to pit them against each other. (For a movement obsessed with the advantages of competition, today's doctrine-libertarians seem dismally opaque to this vital process.)
"
>> I don't think a Progressive could have said it better.

Unlike Liberals, we do not have Faith in government -- we just know that it provides oversight, and if we are involved enough in the process, it reflects what MOST PEOPLE want.

I was predicting two years ago that you would join us Progressives, and I think that the only thing left for you to do, is to realize that "your flavor of Libertarianism" is a good twist of phrase -- but not really the philosophy you ascribe to. This is fine, because in the "wild west" concept of free markets, you only have freedom if you can afford it. What is the true state of "Liberty" in Mexico vs. Norway? I've heard many attributing their success to just oil, but you have a lot of highly successful Nordic and socialist nations, that have high education, great health and universal healthcare, and people not going nuts about where they fit in the future. In Mexico, you don't have all those pesky labor standards, rules, or anything getting in the way of a good buck being made. I'd say there's about as much money made in both countries. So in which nation would you rather live?

Norway has bout 35% tax rate and a 25% sales tax -- it goes up progressively with wealth. Well heck, other than that sales tax, I'm pretty sure after you calculate all the hidden taxes and costs of health care for employees, Oxley Sarbanes, and other clap trap in our system, I think I pay 35% on a $75,000 wage.

We have a lot of corruption in our system, and I pay even more for healthcare than does a Norwegian. 50% of every dollar goes to an insurance company. 52% of the money in the healthcare system is actually taxpayer money, trying to keep those emergency room cash cows going for people getting medical treatment AFTER it's gotten to the expensive point. 35% of that 50% that actually goes to the medical side of health care is spent on Administration; you know, haggling with insurance companies.

To jump on another "efficiency" our free market has given us. We drive cars with one or two people in our cities, that are honeycombs of roads, rather than having light rail systems. We have cars that have an average fleet mileage about equal to the Model-T car, but without the ability to use different fuels (the first fuel being bio-diesel). Did you know that 1/3rd of today's gasoline is just toxic waste, and it's cheaper to put it in our gas tanks than to dispose of it (what is Benzene for anyway)?

I just realized this past year that the whole Conservative Movement was just a scam to take power away from the people and destroy the middle class. It is mostly successful. I look at how my dad worked about 40 hours a week in 1975, and my mom didn't. With this job, my dad had two cars, a nice house in Scarsdale, everything paid for (no mortgage), and financial security. We all had health care and my dad had a pension with IBM (OK, that was a good company to be with back then). Later, he could put all the kids through college (we also worked).

Today, I work 60 hours a week, with 2.2 jobs, my wife works part-time as well, with a trade-off of her job not really making enough to compete with a $800 "tuition" for day care (we can save money at a place that doesn't wash their hands enough to be fair). I don't expect I will send my kids to college at this rate. We have health care though. We have two cars, they are worn-over old models but none are leased, and I have a home with a half-paid 15-year fixed mortgage. I consider myself a bit saner than people who have nice SUVs on leases and 40-year mortgages with ARMs because it was less money per month when the bought it. I squeak by with about $100,000 a year as a couple. I don't live in a really expensive part of the country.

So, I'd say, no matter WHAT BS the government gives you, that I'm JUST BARELY in Middle Class. I look at middle class as comfortable, with a home and kids going to college -- I'm not so sure about that last bit, but we shall see, right?

At $100,000 per year, I'm in the top 6% of the nation in income. What? Where the F@CK is the Middle Class? If I'm just barely making a heating bill in a warm state with the privatized Gas company that quintupled the prices after taking it over from the state-run natural gas company, where the heck is everyone else who is supposed to be with me in the "middle." I'd say the MEDIAN-Class is a better term, and they are probably making $45,000 a year, and have $10,000 in credit card debt.

Taxes hit hardest from $90,000 to $300,000. Over that, and you have the where-with-all to set up an LLC and make money on money, or set up a really sweet offshore account. I'd say anybody wealthy, makes less than they really make -- if you know what I mean. But only after you get above $300,000 are you actually getting to the people "getting ahead."

But I have to wonder, why it's taken so long for people to catch on to this scam... I mean, if 95% of us are fighting over how to make it work for 3% of us, we are just really, really nice people, fighting for the interests of the wealthy and powerful. MOST PEOPLE think they are middle class -- but by lifestyle and income, they are wrong. And after the dollar collapses, the outsourcing of jobs to "globally compete" and the importing of lead-painted Chinese toys because apparently it's too expensive to test things, I'm sure everyone is going to feel really great about bailing out the banks AGAIN. You know, like when I invest in the stock of a company and it goes south, but the government gives me all that back and says; "cheer up"?

Yes, things are starting to get interesting. And I think that a lot of Libertarians are going to rediscover that being a Capitalist, means having Capital (investments), and that only about 3% of the people in America can even be considered a Capitalist -- the rest of us are just their fan group. Yeah! Go team!

Tony Fisk said...

I think people can relate to the term 'bully' far more than they can 'monster' (more having had a Close Encounter of the Shed Kind than the Third). It also keeps the person in question within the realms of humanity.

They'd be less comfortable with the more technical and precise terms 'psychopath' (overloaded) and 'narcissistic personality disorder' (a mouthful)

(There are profiling tests that reveal these traits. How long will it be before companies and governments start applying these when screening candidates? What would it mean?)

----
Interrupting one discussion with a cross-posting: Jamais Cascio's rebuttal of a recent piece by Robert Cottrell is an interesting example of in vs out thinking.

I never thought of futurism as innate and unimprovable behaviour before!

---

Oi, Marc! Greetings from another time poor family member!

kenofseattle said...

Lemmings don't actually run off of cliffs. There is some footage of them doing so, but they were being herded by an overzealous nature producer. They just don't behave that way, so your analogy is broken. Do the Dittoheads still exist? Yes. Do they follow blindly? Yep. Are they lemmings? Nope. Lemmings are smarter.

David Brin said...

Apologies to lemmings!

Marc, you describe a whole raft of symptoms of our problem. The latest attempt to re install obligate oligarchy on the only civilization that ever defeated it for more than a generation at a time. Count on me as a sergeant in this fight.

And yet, one of my jobs is to point out missed opportunities. Overlooked dangers. Bypassed allies. Because we simply cannot afford to let labels deny us any help in this struggle.

Why do you think I have striven so hard to portray the Bushite crimes in conservative terms? Concentrating on their military, readiness, fiscal, moral and diplomatic sins? Because the liberals -- (both in the modern sense and the classic Locke/Smith meaning of the word) -- are already lined up for this fight! I don’t benefit the cause by awakening you! But if I can help rouse a few thousand betrayed “decent conservatives”... and they get angry enough to waken others...

Likewise, libertarians. Imagine, for a moment, that this movement actually shook off the Randian madness, the historically loony obsession that freedom and markets have only one enemy -- paternalistic bureaucrats. If the entire libertarian movement took a moment and looked across that tragicomedy of 4,000 years, and realized that the age old enemy -- the one most hated by Adam Smith -- is hammering at the gates...

...might they join our cause? Even if just briefly, till the danger passes? Whereupon we can resume debating HOW to make the future better and more free?

I reach out to conservatives and libertarians because I know that many of them want the same things we want. And we cannot afford to spurn any allies, right now. Especially when those two groups include many very rich or very clever people. Or henchmen who might wake up to their duty and blow whistles on the treason tsunami.

Yes Tony, bully is better. But I honestly do believe it has gone way beyond that. Somebody has to crack the semantic barrier and make reasonable people contemplate the unreasonable. If these people aren’t destroying my country deliberately, then they are doing a great job of imitating it.

Jamais’s essay is cool. But I have better rejoinder. Some “futurists” are simply better at it than others. John Brunner in 1969. Me in 1989. I could name others.

I never predicted food pills and flying cars and mass starvation and anti gravity/downloads. So those example-accusations just bounce right off of me. I did forecast web pages, blogging, POD publishing, VR overlays, privacy wars, subvocal input, multi-tool cell phones, global warming, peak oil, smart mobs, endangered species Life Arks, China Risen, and the breakup of the USSR.

And I’ll defend another futurist. I think Alvin Toffler was totally right about Future Shock. How else do explain how wretchedly cowardly the 21st Century has been, at its inception, with the Noughties featuring utter retreat from modernist, problem-solving ambition? With conservatism becoming almost defined as anti-science and liberalism flirting with something similar -- anti-engineering?

I agree with Jamais that prediction markets may be over-rated because of GIGO assumptions. Moreover, Cottrell appears to suffer from an added problem that Jamais never mentions, ingratitude. Because certain kinds of predictions, made in the past, had their greatest impact NOT from coming true, but from frightening people into making the forecasts NOt come true! Herman Kahn’s THINKING THE UNTHINKABLE. Rachel Carson’s SILENT SPRING. And anything by that dour Jeremiah Paul Ehrlich, (who can never perceive that his best use is to be proved wrong, because we listened.)

The self-preventing prophecies are by far the most important ones. Now, if only I - or somebody - had forecast the neocons.

Heinlein did. Look up Nehemia Scudder.

TwinBeam said...

Reason: I'd take Rawl's deal.

I don't blame "us" for big government - just those who deliberately work to enlarge it.

They never seem to notice that their clever "programs" never work nearly as well as they were supposed to. It's enough that they feel good that they "did something" - even though an objective evaluation would find that such programs often end up institutionalizing the problems they were supposed to solve.


Michael:

Taxation as currently implemented is theft, because it amounts to a blank, unsigned check that the robbers get to cash by reaching into our pockets.

If the extent of government were as stringently limited as was originally intended, taxation would be well under control. It'd grow roughly in proportion to population, and shrink as a fraction of GDP as the nation got richer.

So no need to "shut down the government". Just the vast array of stuff it's not supposed to be doing. Leave those things to the states, or the people, as was intended.

At the state or city level, if you think your state taxes you too much, you can move out, yet keep your rights as a citizen.

TwinBeam said...

DB:

I explicitly stated that :

(a) I am not a libertarian, despite (unlike you) knowing what they are, and sharing some of their perspectives;

and that

(b) my belief that people will forget the importance of liberty over time is something I share with CONSERVATIVES, not with most libertarians.

You're the only one here saying that the latter means people are stupid. Since people manifestly *have* allowed a lot of their liberty to slip away, I guess that means YOU think people are basically stupid.

Actually, no, it just means you don't read very well - merely looking for bits and pieces to splice together make it look like you're making a winning argument, rather than actually considering what was written.

And no, you're still not a libertarian. "Competition" is not a fundamental tenet of libertarianism - it's just something that arises naturally out of liberty, that has some practical benefits. All you care about are the practical benefits, not the liberty.

You are better far described by the term you so often claim for yourself - a pragmatist. You prefer things that work. If you think a liberal big government program will work, you favor that. If you think competition will work, you favor that.

A libertarian, on the other hand (and let me again remind you, that I am not one) prefers liberty, and BELIEVES it will always work out for the best overall, even if not for the best in a particular case.

Finally, if you actually had read anything I've written, you'd realize that I am not a fan of conspiratorial elites, and have no problem "admitting" that elites conspire for power. And with rare exceptions, government power is their tool of choice.

What you apparently fail to see, is that big government is mostly a result of elites seeking to concentrate more power where they can conveniently use it. Some elites sincerely believe they're doing it to benefit society, such as those who imposed compulsory public schooling. Others just see the power and want it.

David Brin said...

This person needs a job. This individual seeks an executive position. He will be available in January 2009, and is willing to relocate. (Please don't skip the last section!)x/f

RESUME
GEORGE W. BUSH 1600 Pennsylvania AvenueWashington, DC 20520


EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE:

Law Enforcement:
I was arrested in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 1976 for driving under the influence of alcohol. I pled guilty, paid a fine, and had my driver's license suspended for 30 days.

My Texas driving record has been "lost" and is not available.

Military:
I joined the Texas Air National Guard and went AWOL. I refused to take a drug test or answer any questions about my drug use. By joining the Texas Air National Guard, I was able to avoid combat duty in Vietnam. When in office as President, I appointed hundreds of political hacks to bully professional officers and show them their place.

College:
I graduated from Yale University with a low C average. I was a cheerleader.

PAST WORK EXPERIENCE:
I ran for U.S. Congress and lost.
I began my career in the oil business in Midland Texas , in 1975. I bought an oil company, but couldn't find any oil in Texas. The company went bankrupt shortly after I sold all my stock.

I bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in a sweetheart deal that took land using taxpayer money.

With the help of my father and our friends in the oil industry (including Enron CEO Ken Lay), I was elected governor of Texas.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS GOVERNOR OF TEXAS: I changed Texas pollution laws to favor power and oil companies, making Texas the most polluted state in the Union. During my tenure, Houston replaced Los Angeles as the most smog-ridden city in America.

I cut taxes and bankrupted the Texas treasury to the tune of billions in borrowed money.

I set the record for the most executions by any governor in American history.

With the help of my brother, the governor of Florida , and my father's appointments to the Supreme Court, I became President of the United States, after losing by over 500,000 votes.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS PRESIDENT:
I am the first President in U.S. history to enter office with a criminal record.

I invaded and occupied two countries at a continuing cost of over one billion dollars per week. I spent the U.S. surplus and effectively bankrupted the U.S. Treasury.

I shattered the record for the largest annual deficit in U.S. history.

I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12-month period.

I set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month period.

I set the all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the U.S. stock market.

In my first year in office, over 2 million Americans lost their jobs and that trend continues.

I'm proud that the members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in U.S. history. My "poorest millionaire," Condoleezza Rice, has a Chevron oil tanker named after her.

I set the record for most campaign fund-raising trips by a U.S. President. I am the all-time U.S. and world record -holder for receiving the most corporate campaign donations. My largest lifetime campaign contributor, and one of my best friends, Kenneth Lay, presided over the largest corporate bankruptcy fraud in U.S. history, Enron. My political party used Enron private jets and corporate attorneys to assure my success with the U.S. Supreme Court during my election decision.

I have protected my friends at Enron and Halliburton against investigation or prosecution.

More time and money was spent investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair than has been spent investigating one of the biggest corporate rip-offs in history.

I presided over the biggest energy crisis in U.S. history and refused to intervene when corruption involving the oil industry was revealed.

I presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history.

I changed the U.S. policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts. I appointed more convicted criminals to my administration than any President in U.S. history.

I created the Ministry of Homeland Security, the largest bureaucracy in the history of the United States Government.

I am the first President in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the Human Rights Commission. I withdrew the U.S. from the World Court of Law. I refused to allow inspector's access to U.S. "prisoners of war" detainees and thereby have refused to abide by the Geneva Convention. I am the first President in history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 US election).

I set the record for fewest numbers of press conferences of any President since the advent of television.

I set the all-time record for most days on vacation in any one-year period. After taking off the entire month of August, I presided over the worst security failure in U.S. history.

I garnered the most sympathy ever for the U.S. after the World Trade Center attacks and less than a year later made the U.S. the most hated country in the world, the largest failure of diplomacy in world history.

I have cut health care benefits for war veterans and support a cut in duty benefits for active duty troops and their families in wartime.

In my State of the Union Address, I lied about our reasons for attacking Iraq and then blamed the lies on our British friends.

I am the first President in history to have a majority of Europeans (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and security.

I have so far failed to fulfill my pledge to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice.

RECORDS AND REFERENCES:
All records of my tenure as governor of Texas are now in my father's library, sealed and unavailable for public view.

All records of SEC investigations into my insider trading and my bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

All records or minutes from meetings that I, or my Vice-President, attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public review. I specified that my sealed documents will not be available for 50 years.

___________________________________________________________
"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger." -- Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials



ADDENDA

I presided over the steepest-ever decline in United States military readiness, with the number of US Army brigades that are prepared for national land war plummeting from thirty, when I entered office, to just two when I left.

Exploiting the "emergency" clauses in federal law, I bypassed regulations that were designed to ensure competitive bidding for government contracts, so that I could award them instead to family cronies, without oversight, thus proving what kind of "capitalism" I prefer.

I sent twelve billion dollars in raw, unmarked cash into a war zone where most of it was "lost" by my agents, including about a billion "inadvertently" left by the side of a dark road. And yet, I have managed to keep my supporters diverted with endless stories of "Whitewater" - involving amounts one hundred thousand times smaller.

Entering office with a promise to find the "smoking gun" on my predecessor's "corrupt" administration, I was embarrassed by the fact that a billion dollars worth of investigations had turned up absolutely nothing on him or his appointees -- not one of whom was ever actually indicted for a crime-of-office. So I re-assigned federal agents from duties having to do with terrorism in order to look harder... just before the worst terror attack in US history.

I have personally, and through surrogates, helped to push "culture war" until my nation is more divided and bitter than at any point since the Civil War.

Waging war against the professionals of the civil service, the diplomatic corps, the scientific and education communities, the intelligence services and the U.S. military Officer Corps, I have managed to do what no other president could, uniting nearly all of these skilled public servants in bitter loathing against me and the unqualified political hacks who I appointed to run roughshod over them.

All records of my tenure as governor of Texas are now in my father's library, sealed and unavailable for public view.

All records of SEC investigations into my insider trading and my bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

All records or minutes from meetings that I, or my Vice-President, attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public review. I specified that my sealed documents will not be available for 50 years.

___________________________________________________________
"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger." -- Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials



ADDENDA

I presided over the steepest-ever decline in United States military readiness, with the number of US Army brigades that are prepared for national land war plummeting from thirty, when I entered office, to just two when I left.

Exploiting the "emergency" clauses in federal law, I bypassed regulations that were designed to ensure competitive bidding for government contracts, so that I could award them instead to family cronies, without oversight, thus proving what kind of "capitalism" I prefer.

I sent twelve billion dollars in raw, unmarked cash into a war zone where most of it was "lost" by my agents, including about a billion "inadvertently" left by the side of a dark road. And yet, I have managed to keep my supporters diverted with endless stories of "Whitewater" - involving amounts one hundred thousand times smaller.

Entering office with a promise to find the "smoking gun" on my predecessor's "corrupt" administration, I was embarrassed by the fact that a billion dollars worth of investigations had turned up absolutely nothing on him or his appointees -- not one of whom was ever actually indicted for a crime-of-office. So I re-assigned federal agents from duties having to do with terrorism in order to look harder... just before the worst terror attack in US history.

I have personally, and through surrogates, helped to push "culture war" until my nation is more divided and bitter than at any point since the Civil War.

Waging war against the professionals of the civil service, the diplomatic corps, the scientific and education communities, the intelligence services and the U.S. military Officer Corps, I have managed to do what no other president could, uniting nearly all of these skilled public servants in bitter loathing against me and the unqualified political hacks who I appointed to run roughshod over them.

reason said...

David,
it reads well, but of course some of it is pure rhetoric with little substance (the stock market and employment especially are exagerated claims using nominal and real/per capita measurements). While he is culpable for some extent for the collapse in credit worthiness of the treasury, Administrations have less power of the macro-economy than they like to think they have.

Marc said...

Mr. Brin,
I knew there was a reason I liked you... if anyone asks me, who are the great thinkers that you admire, I would rattle off Richard Feinman (more for his philosophies of life and HOW you solve problems), Jimmy Carter, Thom Hartmann and of course David Brin (I should have a longer list and some other folks in there -- but, I've been off of the Gratitude and hero worship phase of my life for 7 years). I'm not looking at politics -- it's from the standpoint of people who can think with both sides of their brains. It's one thing to be smart and to use your enemies strengths against them (the Art of War), but it's another thing to make your enemy a better person. Hats off to you -- I am chastised. Of course you are trying to communicate with them on their terms, so I won't let the cat out of the bag. None of this is about some philosophical discussion of politics, but about balancing society so that we can survive to the next generation.

I remember doing a book report in College about Erasmus (before Heinlein came along, he was the world's most prolific writer), who tried to mend ties between the Protestants and Catholics. Both groups might have created a more open and decent religion, had they tried to work out the differences, instead they just created different, forgetting perhaps, what the whole point was originally about. The Catholics stopped selling advices at least. But just watch the 700 Club and tell me if the show "Wheel of Fortune" wouldn't look right at home.

I should know by now. I remember a few "almost" discussions with some NeoCon friends of mine (far deeper in their own dimension than Republicans), and even though I voted for Ross Perot twice, I thought I had to defend Clinton, because I thought the BJ trial was a sham, and a last ditch effort to go after a sitting president when a Melon Scaithe conspiracy spent 7 years and millions of dollars not getting him on anything. From then on I was "one of THOSE Liberals." Somewhere I think, I must have voted for moral decay.

So, I won't try and out you.

Oh, and please come out with more books like the Uplift War. I think you probably took it too it's ultimate conclusion, but It's a nice relief to look at humanity as the smart monkeys that solve problems over the backs of calcified know-it-all races. I think even then, you were showing the power of enlightened self-interest over merely self-interest. I think the thing that most endeared people to Star Trek was the idea that we were the good guys (humanity) and what would that look like? We need something like that again. What would society look like, if people did it right? I was working on a Sci-Fi book myself at one time, playing with a society that was made up of scientists and intellectuals who broke off relations with the earth after having created self-sufficient colonies on the moon and mars. I look hard at how they had to be extremely intrusive on education, health and hygiene (because, you know, air filters don't have politics), and that some of their justice was summary and quick (heads lopped off Samurai style, but only for propaganda and pushing illegal drugs -- the tame ones all being legal). ON the other hand, the society was very loose, in every other aspect. Way before we had Wikipedia, or the internet, I was looking at hyper-linking documents for attribution. In the techno-meritocracy, there are no businesses formed, but collections of efforts could be coordinated and attribution maintained. The government, merely worked to evaluate the worth of various tasks, based upon what the society as a whole needed -- that was it. If they needed military and police, they would merely credit those tasks more -- kind of like eBay setting the prices.

You don't pay for anything -- you just use what you want (within some limits). The credit for it is allocated out of all the excess output of the colony since the government is able to "inspire" work that creates more then people use. Two forms of credit; Leisure and Resource. To guarantee that people get enough of the first, and not too much of the second, and leisure not being tradable. Of course those with more usage of their production get more resources. All policies are voted on by everyone directly -- there is no representative government. Again, all Government does is value jobs. There is also a mandated "job appreciation" program, where people are forced to spend time in other careers.

To show the differences of the two societies (the other being, a more Oligarchic and brutal regime left on earth), I unfroze a truck driver (Buck Rogers style), who then becomes a pot-bellied sex symbol in the off-shoot society (which averages 6'5" and the bodies of track stars). On a raid on earth, to collect genetic material from a Seed Bank, the Offshoot group defeats their earth rivals by not breaking their computer encryption, but uploading un-purchased software programs. The military hardware shuts down due to not having adequate licensing, DRM and economics superseding the trivial needs of actually winning a battle in their society.

I still need to finish that book. But I've always felt that most people could definitely enjoy believing in humanity again. Perhaps a very good story from you is the most subversive thing. Push for a television series; I know that "artists" hate the idea of selling out, but there is no painting in any museum to rival the impact of Star Trek. Our culture today pivots on TV and video games, and that is where future societies will look back to to see what was driving us.

You said; " Yes Tony, bully is better. But I honestly do believe it has gone way beyond that. Somebody has to crack the semantic barrier and make reasonable people contemplate the unreasonable. If these people aren’t destroying my country deliberately, then they are doing a great job of imitating it."
>> Once you think the unthinkable, that the past 27 years has been a process of "boiling the frog" and that what we see now in America is much like what happened to Chile -- then, yeah, you need to crack heads to get people to understand "it can happen here." In Mr. Bush's 2nd term, the first thing he tried to do was privatize Social Security -- that's what they did in Chile as well. I don't think these people are incompetent where it counts -- they just want to make government fail, and incompetence is a great cover. If the pattern holds true, the next big shock to our system will be hyper inflation.

>> To read some of the blog posts here, ranting about "taxation" as theft, it makes me sad. Sure, we all want more of our own money -- but you pay 10% less at the IRS for 90% less in services -- is that a bargain? The example I always use; I can become more independent by learning how to pave my own road, but is that an efficient society to have everyone carrying around their own asphalt? I don't go to the QuickTrip, but I do visit my neighbor. I'll charge you rent for using my road neighbor. Now, anyone have a lead testing kit for my kids toys I can borrow? Do these pioneer spirits have any idea how interdependent society is? If every business and every citizen pays the same -- that's the cost of business. It factors into the costs and becomes invisible -- does nobody get that? The only problem in taxes and regulations arises when one group can "get away with more" or when you have a disincentive for something society needs more of. I'd rather not go into that too much, the big scary issue is that people are ranting about taxes when the government passes the Military Commissions Act, and follows that with (I think it's bill 1955) but I'll just call it the Thought Crimes Act. The bill seems benign in going after Domestic Terrorism, but it re-defines a dangerous group as one that organizes people who contemplate extreme acts. You know, like MoveOn.org getting people to call their senator.

Why would our government put everything into place, to create a fascist totalitarian society, and NOT do it? What is this, a "just in case?" Are some people just hopeful they will get to pay less FICA and they don't mind because they don't have anything to complain about?

>> DB, on that Resume for Bush, I would add to the third paragraph that Bush's military records were also "lost" and then talk about the two (was it four?) Insider trading lawsuits that went against him and were dropped and the paperwork was lost. Then, talk about the babysitter he lost, who was run over by her own parked car (duplicating the usage of the word "lost" as a subtheme -- I look at the village idiot saying; "Oops. How did all this money fall in my pocket again?" Good screed, though it would take 10 times more to summarize ALL the crimes. By the way, George Washington was off more in one year than Bush -- although at that time, it was a part-time job. The stock market, I believe, didn't lose as much real VALUE -- just the numbers. We haven't yet regained the 2000 level in inflation adjusted value yet. I disagree with "reason" about employment -- our government numbers for employment and inflation are almost pure fiction now. Reconstituted M3 puts us at about 12% loss in value year over year. For better info on these economics than you can get in the press, please read; http://www.urbansurvival.com/week.htm

TwinBeam said...

"If every business and every citizen pays the same -- that's the cost of business. It factors into the costs and becomes invisible -- does nobody get that? "

Hmm - so if we all paid 100% of our earnings, we wouldn't notice any change? 90%? 50%? At just what point in your version of economics do taxes become "invisible"?

If everyone had to pay 15% - 25% of their income to mobsters for "protection", the mobsters would just spend that money - and that'd help stimulate the economy, right? So - no harm, no foul - just an invisible cost of doing business?

And why is it that when big-govt apologists want to justify all that taxing and spending, they bring up streets?

Interstate highways and such are less than 2% of the federal budget. Can't you think of any way to justify the other 98%? And federal highways (you do realize we're talking about big FEDERAL government, right?) could easily be turned into privatized toll roads, or just turned over to the states to run.