Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Under-Appreciated Issues that Nobody Talks About

Once upon a time, I was an engineer and a scientist... till I realized this civilization will pay me more to be interesting, than to be right.  Ever since, I’ve made a living by poking at things people take for granted -- through novels or nonfiction or punditry about the future.  My aim: to offer a skewed or unusual angle on things, knowing that some of these perspectives will seem “crackpot.”  No matter, if fraction also prove useful.  Anyway, at least they don’t burn guys like me at the stake, anymore!

Not yet.

So, in that spirit -- poking away at assumptions -- let’s begin examining some under-appreciated issues of our current political season.  Matters that might make a small difference if someone paid attention.   We’ll start with a simple action item.  Not the most urgent, but one where time is running especially short.


  ----- Under-appreciated Issue #1:  Students and absentee ballots.

Millions of young Americans are more involved than ever.  Voter registration in the under-25 age demographic has risen sharply.  It also tilts heavily democratic. Yet, if history is any candidate Barack Obama will be lucky if 40% of these people vote.

Another factor: disproportionate numbers of politically active young people -- university students -- cluster either in states that are already blue, or in college towns that have been gerrymandered to limit their effect upon state offices and Congressional representation.

Are there ways for Democrats might help mobilize this friendly, but marginalized age group? Surely they have activists busy on many campuses.  One can hope they’re also busy near military bases and urban zones young people cluster.  These areas should get heavy get-out-the-vote action, come election day. (And volunteers are needed.)

Far more useful would be to press hard, right now, for young people to get absentee ballots, vote early, and mail them in.  Early and relentless nagging may be more effective than a flurry of effort at the last minute.

Even better?  Students in already-liberal college towns might register instead in their home districts and vote absentee there.  Especially if home lies in a battleground state, like Ohio, Michigan or Florida.  And even more so, if it has competitive races for Congress or State Assembly.

Yes, this adds a level of complication, so it should be urged only upon those who are reliable -- those who care enough to maximize their voting impact, and who will follow through without nagging.  Still, doesn’t that describe a lot of Generation Next?  Anyway, how many of us get this option?  To pick between two residence areas and vote where it might have the greatest impact?

Drawback:  There’s little time to act on this. Contact the young people you know!  Extort that vow to register and vote. Then follow up.  Even better, contact your local university political club and ask what help they need.  And if none of these things seem practical, well, there’s always money.  Send some.


  ----- Under-appreciated Issue #2:  The “Ostriches.”

It is a matter I’ve raised extensively elsewhere.  Each of us knows republicans of the sane/decent type, whose conservatism is sincere and worthy of respect, the way most people admired Barry Goldwater for his principled adherence to prudence, sobriety, constitutionalism, international caution and love of country.   Some of these decent conservatives have awakened - or partly-wakened - to the way that their movement has been hijacked, for a generation, by forces that Barry Goldwater angrily denounced, just before he died.  Forces that have transformed a commitment from:

* prudence to recklessness
* accountability to secrecy
* fiscal discretion to spendthrift profligacy
* consistency to hypocrisy
* civility to nastiness
* international restraint to recklessness
* efficiency to no-tomorrow wastrelness
* dedicated cleanliness to filthy habits
* logic to unreason.

Is it worthwhile trying to rouse that decent, sweet uncle of yours, out of his state of “ostrich” denial?  Or your gracious but delusional aunt to finally concede that her beloved party has been hijacked by a gang of thieves?  Yes, it will be a hard sell.  We’ve seen that long lists of facts are useless against thick-skinned rationalizations.

ostrichpapersStill, remember, one converted ostrich can sometimes become ten.  A seed-crystal, catalyzing others.  In any event, I have created a couple of sites. See The Ostrich Papers: How it will take ALL Decent Americans to Restore Decency to America.

For more “ammo” that anyone can use, in relentlessly yanking on their favorite, beloved deniers, hoping to eventually get their heads out of the sand, see A Cheat Sheet for Ostrich Hunters: What would you have said if Bill Clinton....
 
Enough for now.  This is just part one in a lengthy series that will briefly touch on issues that seem to be under-examined.  You thoughts and comments are welcome.



PS... folks on this blog, please also visit the new/occasional one at OpenSalon and help boost the numbers there!

147 comments:

David Brin said...

Actually, this is the OpenSalon entryway:

http://open.salon.com/user_blog.php?uid=4802&view_sort=recent

tacitus2 said...

I wonder if there is any way to offer people a tax deduction, say,
$100 for each primary, local or national election in which they can prove that they voted? I suppose it would have no appeal for the very rich, but they vote anyway. And maybe folks who pay no taxes would be unimpressed. But it would catch the attention of several under represented groups. It might favor one party a bit more than the other, but improved participation in civic duties would be worthy on its own merits.

Oh, and somewhat irreverantly, I did catch myself thinking the other day about the possible political implications of giving Uplifted neodogs the franchise!

Tacitus2

Tony Fisk said...

...maybe for a time when the proverbial 'drover's dog' could win an election?

Cliff said...

I found it interesting that the proposal was geared towards billionaires.

In my mind, sitting around waiting for a billionaire to save society is like sitting around waiting for Superman to pull me out of a burning building.
Perhaps it would be more practical to create a fundraiser to get the cash for the whistleblower prize.
There's a precedent for it - ActBlue has gathered hundreds of thousands of dollars recently for democratic candidates, and for ad campaigns to be run against the filthy Blue Dog democrats that keep voting with Bush. I don't see why it's not possible to set up a whistleblower prize through similar means.
I'd throw down a Benjamin for it.

huxley said...

So, Dr. Brin, you never got back to me. How goes your efforts to uplift the "ostriches" to the light? Have you really had any success with your approach? If they resist do you start ranting at them, as you did with me?

The young voters have been the great Democratic hope for several elections, but so far they haven't turned out enough to offset the voters who have grown older and somewhat more conservative.

The Democrats have enormous structural advantages this year, yet the race is neck and neck with current momentum to McCain, plus the polls usually overstate the Democrats' standing when it comes time to vote.

It's going to be an interesting election. I imagine the debates will tell the tale, though all sorts of wildcards remain.

Matt DeBlass said...

The New York Times doesn't seem that impressed with Palin at all:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/14/us/politics/14palin.html?em

I'm trying to gently work on the several ostriches around me. Here in good ol' Blue Jersey there are still some GOP holdouts, namely the county I live in and the neighboring county I work in (interestingly enough, the two GOP-dominated counties have some of the HIGHEST property tax rates in the US)

But I it seems like, no matter how much they dislike the candidate, a lot of folks here can't bring themselves to vote Democrat. They'll elect a Republican they hate instead. It's not rational at all, but it's tough to get around. It is changing little by little.

Jersey has also been a holdout for the Rockafeller Republicans, the ones we meet day-to-day on the local level are moderate, reasonable fellows, which makes it harder to point and say "look, we need to clean house here."

Of course, the reign of the moderate, old-school conservatives in Jersey is, sadly, fading too.

Still, trying to chip away at the ostrich armor where I can.

Robert said...

I believe that Dr. Brin is correct when it comes not only to the increased youth vote this year and on methods of encouraging these youths to vote. And that is through absentee ballots.

One of the biggest reasons why so many voters end up not voting is time. They don't want to stand around in line while being harassed by both sides to vote for candidates that are more and more abstract and outside their venue. This is why the youth vote doesn't happen. These youngsters would rather stay home and socialize online and play games and watch TV and do things that are interesting rather than vote for a candidate they aren't sure they believe in. And this is part of the McCain strategy: to tarnish the image of Obama and encourage the youth of America to once again sit an election out and in doing so hand it over to McCain and the Republican party.

Absentee ballots is the perfect solution for this. It is also the intelligent method of voting for several reasons. First, it is the least likely to succumb to voting fraud. If ballots are "missed" (hidden) and come out? They can be counted and if they prove the other guy won? Court case. I suspect the Supreme Court would rule against a sitting president if it was shown the other side legitimately won through ballots that were not counted. In fact, I think it would be a constitutional issue, because these votes were not counted and that's infringing on the constitutional rights of these voters.

As these votes are not tallied electronically (or at least, not completely electronically) and leave a physical record behind, it's not easy for the votes to be altered. Can you imagine the outrage that would occur if someone went and counted the ballots by hand and found that the electronic compilation was wrong by ten thousand votes? People would say "fraud!" and lynch mobs would form. People would be so against McCain and Palin that even martial law would not suffice... and these two might very well be forced to step down for the good of the country (and to preserve the lives of the Republicans in Congress). The world would also condemn the election results if it were proven false, and the false Presidency would have NO political power at all. Few world leaders would listen to the person who cheated his way into the White House. The cost would be too high.

Think of that. If, say, China recognized the McCain Presidency after it was learned that McCain used fraud to get in... even with martial law and all of that, even using strong-arm tactics to stay in office... the U.S. populace could punish China by refusing to buy anything made in China. And I suspect China would anticipate this... and thus fail to recognize McCain.

So, absentee ballots can help protect against voter fraud and provide a paper trail to ensure that democracy is legitimate in this country.

Next, it allows the voter to take his or her time in choosing candidates. The voter can research each candidate, determine what the positions of the candidates are, the voting records of incumbents, any ethics violations, and so forth. It will allow the intelligent selection of political candidates instead of merely party-specific candidates or last-second-whims.

This is big. This is absolutely huge. Think of it for a moment: you can spend your time researching candidates you don't know to choose the best candidate for the job. This changes the ballgame entirely. This takes politics out of the hands of people who look good and can speak a good game and puts it in the hands of those who have the skill and ability to do the job and do it right. And also to ensure that the most ethical candidates get in.

Third, it saves time, and is safer. Safer, I say? Yes, safer. People don't have to worry about being threatened because they're black or hispanic or gay or anything else like that. You can vote from the privacy of your own home and you don't have to listen to people yelling at you and trying to frighten you into leaving. And again, it saves time in that you don't have to spend three hours waiting in line, and suffering through ballot shortages and the like. Of course, the more intelligent voters who have internet or library access may spend that saved time doing actual research... but that is still time constructively spent, rather than time wasted standing around doing nothing but wait.

So... perhaps we'd be best suited to change the voter system entirely to absentee voting. The drawbacks of course are that once you send in your ballot, that's it. You're on course, even if later on you find out that the candidate you voted for isn't the one you truly want (because, say, of ethics violations or because of a serious gaffe showing they're not the person they pretended to be, or anything like that). But by doing research ahead of time, you can hopefully choose the best candidate and not be caught with your pants down by the candidate doing something stupid.

So... perhaps we should change the entire voting system to absentee voting. It would save time, money, and be the most ethical system in place. It would also be least likely to succumb to fraud because of the paper trail that exists... and through the use of such systems as... I'm blanking on the name, but basically having the voter get a post card stating "your vote has been received and processed" would ensure that votes aren't just "lost in the mail."

Thoughts?

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

Tony Fisk said...

Robert,

You may find my thoughts on an open system, online voting system parallel those you express for absentee voting.

- Rather than post a ballot, you go online.
- For a hard record, apart from printing it out, I describe a system of allowing individuals to check their online vote record.
- Change your mind? Vote early and often. (Only the last vote is counted!!)

Such a system would certainly be big, and in ways other than you have thought.

Still, all this is for the future.

huxley said...

I believe that Dr. Brin is correct when it comes not only to the increased youth vote this year and on methods of encouraging these youths to vote. And that is through absentee ballots.

Is there some large GOTV campaign already in place to encourage youths to vote absentee?

The mania for Obama is over. I see no specific reason to suppose that the youth vote will be any higher this year than it has been previously.

Sociotard said...

I was really dissapointed by Dr. Brin's method. I acknowledge his point about how the upper echelons of the republican party have become corrupt. However, I still hate the mud-slinging, and that's all you seem to have.

Like your point about cronyism. I asked you to tell me how you know that one of Obama's virtues is that he would base appointments more on merit than loyalty.

You never managed to tie that directly to Obama.

You pointed to Clinton, but Obama is not Clinton. He doesn't get to take credit for anything Clinton did.

How about his West Point appointments? Each Senator is allowed 5 appointees to West point at any given time. Did Obama use Competitive appointments or Principal? How often was he accused of knowing the cadet or his/her family personally/politically?
Same question for other military academy schools?

How about his sentate office staff, or page nominations? (has he had any pages? probably not, given how new he is)

Another poster (not you, please note) tried to point to Obama's top advisors. That was actually good, although the ones I looked at had Chicago political machine connections, like William Daley.

At any rate, your whole argument that Obama would be more meritocratic than McCain is based soley on Party history. It's worthless.

huxley said...

I'm trying to gently work on the several ostriches around me.

Does it occur to anyone here to consider those on the other side from you as equals, as citizens who have thought these matters through and simply come to a different conclusion?

Instead the language here is to demean them "ostriches" ... at best. The rest of the opposition, according to Dr. Brin are psychopaths.

David Brin said...

Gotta watch:
http://www.nbc.com/Saturday_Night_Live/video/clips/palin-hillary-open/656281/

Huxley is warned. One more crack and he is outta here again. We have decent conservatives here. Jerks have plenty of places of their own. Self-pitying "ooh, I'm a victim!" ones are probably spat on even there.

Sociotard, party history is entirely relevant. There is a vast array of several thousand top people in each party who are look-to folks whenever the party enters power. McC has made it clear he will oust maybe 5% of the worst of these who now serve Bush, and keep nearly all of the rest. Obama has already surrounded himself with a great many Clinton-era appointees, former undersecretaries and such. So looking back to that era is not unreasonable.

I also know of a number of career civil servants who have resigned to join his campaign. And at least thirty generals and admirals who retired in order to do so. In any event, how many shills could he even know? What possible reason would he have to appoint SOBs? He can't sell the positions for money, nor does anybody, even his enemies, accuse him of graft. Beyond political IOUs (of which he has the lowest of anybody around) amounting to a couple of hundred positions at most, why other criterion WOULD he use, other than being qualified for the job?

Remember this. America has no more reserves. Either he starts governing well, or we hit a wall... and he loses power. Duh.

tacitus2 said...

Huxley

I am with David here.

As one of the few (secular of course) Conservative missionaries among these unenlightened primitives I can assure you that name calling does you specifically, and conservative views generally, no good.

David goes on a rant now and then. It is his site and he is entitled.

We differ in various ways as to what problems we see America facing, but should agree that bipartisan solutions are preferable to the current crap.

If you feel David, or others are willfully not seeing your points you could, at the last resort, use the term Struthius Liberalis.

Tacitus2

David Brin said...

A reminder to blog addicts out there. Keep your eye on the Russ Daggatt blog! And tell him I sent you. http://daggatt.blogspot.com/

David Brin said...

From Daggatt:

As Jay Leno said this week: “John McCain and Sarah Palin are talking about how they stood up to the Republican party, they fought the Republican establishment, and they battled Republicans. Their message: Vote Republican.” It’s amusing to watch Republicans seeking to distance themselves from Bush after being in lock-step partisan support of everything he has done for the past (almost) eight years – even while they embrace no change in those policies. It must take incredible mental filters and emotional defenses to reconcile all that cognitive dissonance.

Gilmoure said...

Interesting economic development: Frantic day on Wall Street as banks teeter

In one of the most dramatic days in Wall Street's history, Merrill Lynch agreed to sell itself to Bank of America for roughly $50 billion to avert a deepening financial crisis, while another prominent securities firm, Lehman Brothers, hurtled toward liquidation after it failed to find a buyer, people briefed on the deals said.

The weekend that humbled Lehman and Merrill Lynch and rewarded Bank of America, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, began at 6 p.m. Friday in the first of a series of emergency meetings at the Federal Reserve building in Downtown New York.

The meeting was called by Fed officials, with Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. in attendance, and it included top bankers. The Treasury and Federal Reserve had already stepped in on several occasions to rescue the financial system, forcing a shotgun marriage between Bear Stearns and JPMorgan Chase this year and backstopping $29 billion worth of troubled assets — and then agreeing to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The bankers were told that the government would not bail out Lehman and that it was up to Wall Street to solve its problems. Lehman's stock tumbled sharply last week as concerns about its financial condition grew and other firms started to pull back from doing business with it, threatening its viability.

Without government backing, Lehman began trying to find a buyer, focusing on Barclays, the big British bank, and Bank of America. At the same time, other Wall Street executives grew more concerned about their own precarious situation.

[cut]

Administration officials acknowledged this week that more bank failures were inevitable, and the main protection for depositors — the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation — is likely to exhaust the reserves it has built over the years from bank insurance premiums.

"What we need now is a systemic solution and to admit that this is an extraordinary situation," Meyer said. He said the government should go to the heart of the crisis — the mortgage market — and start buying mortgage-backed securities in a broad rescue.

That is similar to an approach urged by Alan Greenspan, Bernanke's predecessor as chairman of the Federal Reserve. Greenspan, who has long been a staunch opponent of government intervention in the economy, said Sunday that the federal government might have to shore up some financial institutions.


If this is what is hitting the papers, things are likely worse than they print. Darn these 'interesting' times.

Brian Claymore said...

The concept of doublethink is alive and well in the modern Republican party. While there are definitely good conservatives and republicans, there are a powerful few who have seized control of the party and twisted its agenda.

I reread 1984 a couple years back and the parallels between the "The Party" and the modern Republican party are frightening. I really should make a blog post on it. Remember, change is keeping the same policies.

Even more revealing is the following:

Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan said the team of nearly two dozen staffers at the opposition headquarters will be "fact-checking" statements made by the Obama campaign and by speakers during the [Democratic National] convention.

"Just consider this the Ministry of Truth," quipped Dick Wadhams, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.


Source

Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction...

Golem said...

* fiscal discretion to spendthrift profligacy
* efficiency to no-tomorrow wastrelness

There is no way that I will defend this. It's indefensible.

* prudence to recklessness
* consistency to hypocrisy
* civility to nastiness
* logic to unreason.

I'm so glad to learn that these qualities exist exclusively, or even primarily, on the Right. I'm sure you'll provide data from "objective" sources to support this.

* international restraint to recklessness

Yes. We should pull out of Iraq. We should instead concentrate on Afghanistan. We know that Bush doesn't care about Afghanistan. I mean, if he did, you would support him. Right? Right??

Of course Bush cares about Afghanistan. The left's concern with Afghanistan is based on anti-Bush talking points, and nothing more.

* dedicated cleanliness to filthy habits

What the hell is that all about?

zorgon the malevolent said...

Dr. Brin makes several excellent & insightful points, as always.

One caveat: his claim "Millions of young Americans are more involved than ever" flatly contradicts the facts. Take a look at the historical chart of the percentage of young people 18-25 who vote. It shows a monotonic decline starting in 1972, when they first got the vote. Ever since then it has gone down, down, down, straight down, with a small blip in 2006 and a flattening-out of the rate of decline during this presidential campaign.

The reality is that millions of young people are more involved in politics than they were prior to 2006. But that merely means that their decline in turnout has slowed -- temporarily.

Most disastrously of all, young people's voting percentage drops off a cliff in the tween-years non-presidential elections.

Link.

I have said over and over again that if young people voted in numbers even remotely equal to the percentages at which the over-55 age cohort vote, young people could radically change the world. If 70% of people age 18-25 voted consistently, year after year, in the between-years elections as well as presidential races, they would transform the world *F*A*R* more than all the dolphin-suited anti-globalism anarchist marches and St. Paul anti-RNC sit-ins and save-the-rain-forests-tree-spikings in the world.

There is just no excuse for young peoples' low turnout. Blacks have gotten energized since 1972 and their turnout keeps climbing. Yet blacks in America has gotten the shaft much worse than young people since 1972. They have been far more shunned, brutalized, ignored, marginalized and treated like scum by the beltway D.C. elite and Washington power structure. yet black people realize what's at stake and they keep turning out in greater numbers. The spoiled fashionably jaded young people are much more shielded from the economic and social brutalization of this class war of the top 1% against the bottom 99%, because, after all, when the young 20-year-old loses her job, she can always move back in with mommy, and when the 22-year-old loses his Pell Grant and has to drop out of grad school, there's always a Burger King job waiting. When a black person loses that stuff, s/he winds up homeless living on a steam grate.

tacitus2:
Bribing people to vote sounds like it might offer some hope, but in those first world countries where it's been tried, evidence seems to show it doesn't help much. In any case, it can't be a tax break, since lifetime earnings peak around age 50, so any tax break for voting would merely push the over-50 vote even higher. Voting turnout, like per capita gun violence or serial murders or rapes, seems to derive from deep underlying societal forces. American social scientists should do controlled studies of those first world countries with the highest voter turnout and see if they can identify specific societal factors with a causal connection to low youth voter turnout. And low voter turnout in general, by the way! Just as America not only has 80% of the world's serial murderers, it also has far more per capita handgun murders and far more per capita knife murders and much more per capita wife-beating than other first-world countries. America is simply a much more violent society on a per capita crime rate measure than other members of the G8, by orders of magnitude. (the failed states have the world's highest crime rate by far, way off the charts, which is why, travc, I will continue to talk about 4GW and failed states. In fact, when you and Brin dismiss 4Gw as "drivel" and "crap," it redoubles my conviction that failed states + 4Gw represents one of the 5 biggest problesm of the 21st century, along with global warming, peak oil, the unchecked growth of corporate power, and economic globalization.) In the same way, America has far lower voter turnout across the board than other g8 members. We need to do some serious scientific studies to see if we can identify the causes, before we can fix it. Right now, we just don't know why Americans have such abnormally low voter turnout.

cliff:
Alas, you're quite right. Billionaires have little genuine power or actual money in America. If you look at the really big concentrations of money and power in contemporary American society, they all center around giant bureaucracies -- either multinational corporations, or, more particularly, government institutions like the Pentagon and the social security administration.

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, the two wealthiest billionaires in America, command between them around 200 billion. That's only one sixth of the current U.S. department of defense budget per annum, and it's less than one seventh of the U.S. medical-industrial complex administered by medicare. Just one B2 bomber costs 1.2 billion. Our government bureacracies command sums that makes the wealthiest billionaire look like a pauper. And our government affects a far greater percentage of people in our society than Gates or Buffett ever can. Billionaires get all the hot press and the neon and the klieg lights and the juicy quotes, but the real power in America belongs to gray bureaucrats sitting in cramped fluorescent-lit 1970s-vintage cubicles in giant government buildings. The DHS bureaucrat who decides to promulgate the rule that if you enter the U.S. at a border, your laptop e-mail must be checked for "subversive material" and your laptop's hard drive must be scoured by porn, has a far greater impact on every American than Gate and Buffett and Carlos Slim and the Bass Brothers and Paul Allen and Jamsedji Tata and all the other billionaires put together.

matt deblass:
The nytimes remains a reliably left publication. We expect them to hammer Palin. As we've seen, the left hammering Palin does no good. In fact, it is counterproductive, and makes her seem like a poor set-upon helpless soccer mom. The Demos need )rehotrically speaking) to feed McCain into a wood chipper, feet first. Palin offers a dangerous distraction.

Brian claymore:
You've nailed it.

Two excellent discussions of that point here:
No One Here Gets Out Alive

and

The Bums' End Run.


Dr. Brin:
I vehemently and strenuously object to banning huxley. It's crucial that every sensible person remember what we're up against. Huxley should be encouraged to admonish us all that he's a sensible rational just warrior for truth and decency and honesty and justice and the American way when he supports and defends torturing little children in Abu Ghraib and murdering women and children in Iraq for no reason and befouling the earth with toxic waste and shredding the constitution and abolishing the 900-year-old principle of habeas corpus and doing away with jury trials and repealing the inalienable American right to peacably assemble.

It's absolutely vital that when huxley defends the sociopathic compulsive liars and thieves who have run America right off the cliff into an Orwellian nightmare of eternal war and totalitarian total surveillance and doublethink and facecrime and torture and murder and genocide and unrprovoked war of aggression...which the Nuremberg Commission identified in 1947 as the greatest crime of all against humanity, we remember that he truly honestly believes in his heart of hearts that he's advocating this monstrous insanity out of love for us and his belief in the truest and deepest American values.

It's vital that we remember exactly who we're up against. We need to hear the lies from the people who are destroying America by plunging it back into barbarism with torture sans charges or jury trial, with official state censorship, with Orwellian mass lies and with universal police-state surveillance, and even more importantly, we need to see that they are perfectly sincere and gentle and kind and honest-seeming as they advocate our torture and murder. Only when they grind their love for us and their worship of American values into our faces like the jagged end of a broken bottle, will we understand at a gut level that 50% of Americans will love us with Jesus' kindness when they torture us to death, and they will pledge allegiance to the flag with tears of adoration in their eyes as they wipe out the right to jury trials and trash the constitution. Only then, when huxley speaks directly to us, do we really get an inkling of what we're up against.

I urge Dr. Brin to let huxley continue to post. Every time I listen to this guy, a cold chill runs down my spine, and I find myself impelled to redouble my resolve to save American civilization. Huxley is a like a giant shot of steroids in my determination to defend reason and common sense and skeptical critical thinking against the rising early-21st-century tide of barbarism and lynch-mob mania.

zorgon the malevolent said...

Folks, don't despair, don't lose your hair. Good news continues to surge over us in waves:

Flower-shaped nanoparticles could lead to superior batteries.
Link.

Bionic contact lens with embedded light-emitting circuits may create heads=up displays overlaid over normal vision. (Shades of Snow Crash and Rainbows End, eh?)
Link.

Artificial flexible eye lens to restore vision in older people "available in five years."
Link.

Sednoids, new class of object from deep space (really sounds like a race of evil alien from Dr. Who, doesn't it?)
Link.

New research from Indiana University has found evidence that how we look for things, such as our car keys or umbrella, could be related to how we search for more abstract needs, such as words in memory or solutions to problems.
Link.

conventional antibodies, which must be injected, are limited in the parts of the body they can reach.
Next-generation antibody fragments, which are a fraction of the size, are potentially more flexible, cheaper to make and could lead to the development of drugs that are inhaled, used as eyedrops or given by mouth.

Link.

New theory explains proton spin as the result of moving quarks.
Link.

New method for creating inducible stem cells proves remarkably efficient.
Link.

...A recent study shows that a similar mechanism [to James Clerk Maxwell's fanciful "demon"] may drive a motor switch in the bacteria Escherichia coli, and may be responsible for many other signaling systems in biology. Researcher Yuhai Tu at IBM?s T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York, explains how E. coli?s Maxwell?s demons work in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Link.

Original paper here but requires registration, blah blah woof woof.
"The thermodynamics of writing a random polymer" PNAS 2008 105:9451-9452
Link.

An international team of researchers working with staff at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics has now tested a measurement method that will allow [more detailed astronomical time and distance] measurements to be carried out. The scientists use a frequency comb to determine the colour of the light emitted by a celestial body with great accuracy. In a frequency comb, spectral lines, whose colour can be very accurately determined, are lined up in sequence.
Link.

New much faster computer simulations of the early universe's reionization epoch "...Will enable the new simulation to give cosmological theory a good workout. The faster simulation will aggressively pursue more parameters in more tests, closing in on ratios that describe the universe’s stellar production and ionization efficiency."
Link.

"Protecting the LHC from itself"
Link.

Computational biologist uncovers molecular clue to evolution.
Link.

"Scream of black hole's birth detected from halfway across the universe."
Link.

tacitus2 said...

Zorgon
I was not actually proposing to bribe people to vote.

Our tax code rewards other behavior that we consider to be in the general good, like charitable donations. Outright handing folks a few greenbacks at the polling place seems crass, and even variations on this like the "walking around money" you hear about sometimes in voter turnout drives make me queasy.

It was an off the cuff idea, which I tossed out for comment.

I think I already made the point that the well off would not be impressed. But for people of modest means a few hundred bucks might count for something. And if we can create some linkage between people's taxes and who they put in charge of them...

But I concur, complex thing how and why people vote.

Huxley seems determined to annoy Brin. What he gets out of it I am not sure.

Look for a list of recipiants of Fannie and Freddie campaign donations. It could be an eye opener.

Tacitus2

Travc said...

Gilmore helpfully reported:
He said the government should go to the heart of the crisis — the mortgage market — and start buying mortgage-backed securities in a broad rescue.

Wow, I think most of us see what this is. Under regulated 'financial' markets are allowed to simply make shit up and claim it is worth X... when people start realizing it isn't worth nearly that much, the government has to come in and buy it for X-epsilon? WTF.

People like pointing to the collapse of the Soviet Union and say "see, communism doesn't work". Well, now we have: see, capitalism (at least neo-liberal free-market-uberalis) doesn't work!

Right hand + left hand is the only sensible way to go. How this isn't obvious to everyone (we have had damn good evidence for over 80 years) astounds me.
--

Zorg, I think the core ideas of the G4W stuff are pretty decent. What I deride is all the management-speak nonsense and attempts at a grand-theory so over generalized it says nothing useful.

We shouldn't get into an argument over this really. Your points about failed states and asymmetric conflicts are good... all the G4W stuff just obfuscates the actual points IMO.
--

I think the "ignorant not really stupid" point is a good one. Perhaps a different framing of the 'ostrich' problem... Too many people have misconceptions about what the national level GOP has become.
--

The mysterious "youth vote". Zorg is correct about the historic perspective. I would not bet the election on youth turnout... the Dems always over-estimate (or at least hype) it.

There are some real system / security problems with absentee voting, but in comparison with polling-place problem that exist today, absentee is not bad. A 'good' voting system would probably not rely heavily on absentee (much less online) voting though... there are intrinsic problems we just don't know how to solve yet. Alas, this is a very interesting but long derail to get into some other time.
--

Robert and Dr Brin's points/ideas on youth voting are generally good, but I have an addition which may be more practical and effective for individual action.

Host voting 'parties'. Very simple, just invite a group over and go through the sample ballot together (or encourage/host/finance for us older farts). One doesn't have to make their voting choices known if they don't want to. The main point is to get more info on the candidates and issues (especially down ballot). Internet access is pretty much required, and food ;)

I'm sure others can come up with some interesting ideas along this line. There have to be some sort of amusements which can be crafted around it. Maybe some sort of true-or-bluff thing? Buzzword bingo? Trivia contest?

Hell, it could even be actual fun ;)

Tony Fisk said...

One could always make voting compulsory...
(Not for this cycle, obviously. Just stirring a few possums)

Actually, the youth vote in Australia doesn't appear to lead to any world transforming resolutions.

Zorgon, you appear to have changed tack a little (not your opinion, just your tactics).

Robert said...

@Zorgon: You may actually be misinterpreting Huxley and his motives here. You see, there is a difference between people who honestly believe that Bush and co. are good for this country because they've either not suffered the slings of the Bush Years (and some haven't), and provocateurs. Or in the nomenclature, a troll.

I have, in the past, given trolls the benefit of the doubt. Every single time I end up having that troll prove me wrong, having that individual show that my calls for leniency and tolerance were wrong. There comes a time when you have to stand up and say "enough!"

Whether Huxley is a troll, an individual who is having some bad days and taking it out on those around him online, or someone who honestly believes this discussion group to be a bunch of ultra-far-left-liberals who need a "voice of reason" isn't up for me to decide on. And that's a damn good thing, because I'm not a good choice of judgment when it comes to potential trolls.

Besides. It's not my discussion site. It's Dr. Brin's. It's his call.

Now, on to your comments about youth voting. Yes, the HISTORY of your beliefs about youth voting is correct. However, change is a constant in the universe. It could very well be that in this presidential election, with a youthful and energetic president, that the youth vote will actually move and accept a rallying cry of "Yes We Can" and vote to change the course of the country.

Why do the youth of America fail to vote? Because they feel their votes don't matter. But the youth vote is more than partly responsible for Barack Obama being the Presidential Candidate rather than Hillary Clinton. They have had a taste of what they can do. And they have also seen efforts by the Powers That Be to disenfranchise that vote.

You want to get young people to do something? Tell them they can't. Tell them that if they vote for Obama, they'll lose grants or they'll no longer be tax writeoffs for mommy and daddy or tell them any number of lies. And they'll dig in their heels and say "f##k you!" and spit in your eye. It is a form of rebellion... and voting for a young man who is dark skinned for the Presidency of the United States... what greater form of rebellion against Bush and all those who embody the stereotypical "parent figure" can you get?

For them, Barack Obama is the ultimate protest vote... and one that has a very strong chance of succeeding. For once, they matter. For once, they can make a difference. For once, one vote truly can change the world. And a thousand? A million? Alter destiny itself.

Statistics deal with history. They are dry, dead facts. What we're dealing with is the future... which is alive and vibrant and changeable.

Besides. You yourself noted a "blip" on the screen in 2006. What if that's not a blip... but rather the start of something new?

Rob H.

Robert said...

We've been wondering about an October Surprise and what will happen in the future. Well... I'm thinking rather than an October Surprise, we just got hit with a September Surprise, and I can't see how this won't hurt McCain and help Obama.

Merrill Lynch is being bought out by Bank of America, while Lehman is filing for Chapter 11. Two of the Wall Street giants have been felled by the single stone of the real estate market instability. And this happened under the Republican watch... with Republicans having eased restrictions and regulations.

McCain had admitted, time and time again, that he's not that knowledgeable about the economy. He is also surrounding himself with lobbyists and the like, the people who worked hard to ease government regulations so their businesses could work without that pesky government telling them "you can't do that."

Governor Palin is likewise weak economically. This is where Governor Romney would have shone brightly... and he was cast aside for a bright and perky young lady who would energize the Religious Right.

In addition, Alan Greenspan has stated that McCain's tax cuts are not good for the country, unless they are matched by cuts in spending (which McCain has not stated he'd do). This happened before this latest economic upheaval, but the timing couldn't have been better.

If the political campaign is about Obama and about Palin and McCain, then McCain will likely win. Attention has just been yanked, hard, away from personalities and lies and back to the biggest issue of all, and the one where McCain is the weakest: the Economy.

What's more, Obama has already multiple ads out there talking about the economy and his plans on improving it. People are going to be wondering "what is going to happen next?" and then seeing commercials where Obama talks about homegrown green technologies and millions of new jobs under his administration.

The worm has turned, and this is going to potentially give Obama a far bigger bounce than the national conventions did. It's also going to seriously damage McCain... and only if a terrorist action on par with 9/11 happens in the next month and a half will you see McCain regain any real head of steam.

Nor can McCain use negative advertising against Obama on this venue. He's already launched his salvos. He's already been called a liar on national television. His reputation has taken multiple hits, and people will see any negative ads stating Obama won't help the economy as traditional Republican smear tactics.

Note: McCain can still strike hard against Obama on taxes. If Obama is smart, he'll start immediately advertising how his tax plan will cut taxes for 90% of Americans, and show much much taxes will be cut for a family making $100,000 a year... and how those savings will only go up for those making less than that. By beating McCain to the tax punch, the negative "tax-and-spend" comments McCain will inevitably pull out of thick air will sound flat and old.

If McCain beats Obama to the punch and starts attacking Obama on taxes before Obama gets his own message out, then it's more iffy. McCain is still weak on the economy... but taxes are a big issue with Americans.

It'll be interesting to see how this turns out.

Rob H.

occam's comic said...

The shorter Zorgon:
Young people suck,
They suck way worse than back folks.

tacitus2:
Did you know Americans are poor citizens who don’t care about democracy and they are really violent?

Cliff,
Billionaires are powerless compared to faceless bureaucrats.

Dr Brin,
Don’t ban Huxley, I get inspired by raving lunatics.

huxley said...

Huxley is warned. One more crack and he is outta here again. We have decent conservatives here. Jerks have plenty of places of their own. Self-pitying "ooh, I'm a victim!" ones are probably spat on even there.

Dr. Brin -- I ask whether people who disagree with you are equals and other substantive questions. I don't get any substantive responses.

Instead I get a threat, apparently, to censor me and the thought that I should be "spat upon."

From what I can tell those are simply the facts of life in your world. I don't particularly care; I'm certainly not surprised.

huxley said...

How do you people handle dissent from your views?

It's been many years since I read The Postman by Dr Brin. As I recall, it was about a decent liberal guy trying to do his bit to kickstart a return to civilization out of post-apocalyptic barbarism by founding a new postal service. One overarching idea seemed to be that communication made a difference in civilization.

I think so, and I think civilized communication makes even more of a difference. So I'm sad to see that Dr. Brin's posts do not model that value. Instead, Dr. Brin makes it clear that those of us who support the Iraq War and the Bush administration are simply beneath contempt and debate. That we do not "think" that we are "ostriches", "looneys," "monsters" and suffering from "psychopathology."

Instead of debate, I got polemical assertions about the FACTS and then "Oy, I am giving up on Huxley."

And now a threat to ban me.

David Brin said...

H. You seem (like many trolls) to be inherently unable to hear your own nastiness, but there is universal agreement that you began this round, unprovoked, with creepy and snarling sneers.

The threat stands. ONE more nasty howl of self-pity and you are out of here. It's not your politics. It is your very bad table manners.

David Brin said...

McCain has finally (6 weeks late) allowed his campaign staff to answer the "14 questions" about national science and technology policy.

http://www.sciencedebate2008.com/www/index.php?id=42

Mostly pablum, but some good stuff, too and well worth a side-by-side comparison. The ScienceDebate2008 people deserve our thanks, for having forced both candidates to get all this down. In particular, McCain is now formally committed to CAFE standards and cap and trade limits on carbon emission. Now to get Palin to commit, as well.

Robert said...

And the site has been derailed very much like the Presidential Campaign by claims of lipstick sexism and other such assorted silliness.

So. The topics on hand:

* Youth vote and if it will be significant this election cycle

* Absentee Ballots

* The recent economic upheaval and its effect on the political campaign

* Cool science stuff thanks to Zorgon and also Dr. Brin's comments about McCain's science-fu

Rob H.

David Brin said...

McCain’s War Cabinet. OMG any group of “advisors” that includes Bolton and Kristol.... we’ll start right off without a single ally on the planet other than Albania.
http://thinkprogress.org/wonkroom/2008/03/17/mccain-advisers/

Of course, the most prominent – Randy Scheunemann (McCain’s top foreign policy advisor) – is probably the most radical of the bunch. He was the chief backer of Chalabi, whose "intelligence" about Iraq turned out to be 100% self-serving lies.

Boot said...

Hi Robert,

Concerning Absentee Ballots. How much flexibility should all citizens have in determining where their vote counts?

If a student can choose to vote at College or at Home? Can't someone who owns multiple properties vote in the district which they think need the most attention?

(Yes people who own multiple properties isn't likely a huge voting block.)

Abstractly, I have some concern about the possibility of micro-properties (say 1 foot square - or whatever would legally work) allowing people in safe districts putting their votes in nearby swing districts.

Specifically, I have a co-worker that sends winters in NC and summers in IN. Should he be allowed to vote in choice? Should he be allowed to vote in both? (He pays some taxes in both and both affect him. Would it be taxation without representation to not allow it?)

I don't have a position here, just concerns. Thoughts?

Robert said...

Boot: I honestly don't know. I suspect that it would depend primarily on tax records and what state that person lists as their residency. But then, some states demand taxes from people even if they don't live there but work there. So we have a very shadowy area on what "residence" should be.

Personally, I think such a person should be examined carefully to ensure they don't vote in both states. Absentee voting might be a more effective method of ensuring this if there was a national database that utilized people's social security numbers to track potential fraud.

------

Considering the damage that has been done to Galveston, TX, and rumors that FEMA is dropping the ball once again, do you see this as potentially damaging McCain further? Obama has been painting McCain with the Bush brush, linking the two at every possibility. This latest hurricane is bringing up flashbacks of New Orleans... only showing that even the Shrub's home state is not immune to bureaucratic ineptitude.

Ironically, mandatory evacuations were called for and ignored. This is where it differs from New Orleans... though my fears that New Orleans citizens might ignore future evacuations is probably for naught as New Orleans is seeing in Galveston an echo of what happened to them with Katrina. And Katrina was a more powerful storm.

Galveston and Texas knew what was coming for them. But we've the same situation with refugees happening once again, showing that efforts to prepare for these storms are not up to par.

Will this reflect badly for the Republicans? Texas is a Republican state, after all. And by association... will Galveston also sink McCain?

This is the second strike in as many days that McCain has suffered from. They say these things happen in threes. You have to wonder... what is going to happen to McCain next... and just how bad is it going to be?

Rob H.

Boot said...

I like the national database linked with Tony's Internet voting.

-----

It would be wrong and distasteful to blame/point McCain with anything having to do with the current FEMA. (Unless I'm missing something.) That said, McCain lost any chance of my vote when he lost himself.

Anonymous said...

Why would anyone who recognizes that the GOP is no longer Goldwater's vision (not that it ever was) vote for a Democrat?! The Dems are even further from the Goldwater vision than the GOP!

Ymarsakar said...

It is rather sad that the author of the Uplift novels, stories about the responsibility and duty owed by more powerful and wealthy species towards those younger and weaker than they, would so willingly support the Democrats in demolishing those weaker than the Democrats.

Where has the idealism for a universal standard of ethics gone? Where has the concept of fair play and justice gone, when a man who writes about the requirements of justice will not apply that justice against the Democrats and their actions in this election?

David Brin said...

It would be one thing, if these were normal times. Goldwater's version of conservatism had much to recommend it... though even he, late in life, looked with chagrin at the things that he opposed, like civil rights bills and environmental bills, with regret.

But these are not normal times. By any stretch og the imagination, Republican rule has been catastrophic for the United States of America. The US army has been nearly destroyed, the reserves demolished, our allies driven away, our finances ruined, our credit gone. There are NO metrics under which the previous democratic administration was not better.

That's the problem with guys like the two (above) who come in and wave a general and theatrical statement, without offering a single reason why it would actually be so.Even worse than the harm done to America has been the harm done to Pax Americana. In 2000, the US was the unipolar leader of the world, respected, admired, and apparently all-powerful. All of our brigades were combat ready (none are today), were were strong by every possible metric.

I invite these fellows to offer one unambiguous and clearcut-provable way that things are better. Instead, we have seen a tsunami of outright corruption and theft.

Travc said...

Did you hear about the shiny new Biosecurity Level 4 (BSL4) lab in Galveston? Someone needs a swift kick in the head.
Here are some details
--

I'm all for teaching civics throughout K-12. Funny that I actually agree with the religious right complaints about how public education doesn't teach ethics and morals. Of course, secular public ethics and morals are not what they are thinking of.

Anyone have ideas on how to bring this sort of thing back into public education?
--

Boot et al... Internet voting is a bad idea (at least for now). It really all boils down to needing a vote to be human-readable physical token of some sort. Without that, a voting system ultimately relies on 'trust me'. Without the ability to independently audit, there is no basis for trust.

If, at some point in the future, we develop a cryptographic system, a completely trustworthy database and key-server, and a ubiquitous tamper-proof interface... then maybe internet voting would be a good idea.

Anyway, the place where computers really can help with our voting system is with registration. Every adult citizen should be registered to vote automatically. There are only 3 pieces of info the government needs to accomplish this, and that info is something the government really does have good reason to keep track of for other reasons as well...
1) Name / ID
2) Citizenship
3) Address of official residence

My idea would be to have the USPS keep this information.

PS: There are some cool extensions (including biometrics) on the Name/ID side which could make for an actually trustworthy ID system... but those aren't really strictly needed for a voter registration system better than the current one.

Most any additional info stored (like biometrics) should be encrypted with a key held by the individual (an ID card), and the system is only capable of verifying a match (the info encrypted with the individual's key matches the encrypted info on the DB) so there is practically no way to 'steal' the info unless the ID card has physically been stolen and the key read from it. This can be made quite difficult by making the ID card itself an encryption device, which merely takes a data stream and spits out an encrypted stream.

Sorry, a bit of a tangent. The real point is improving the US voter registration system is where we should be focusing our technological fixes. The actual voting system is best kept very simple.

SteveO said...

I think the Obama campaign needs to abandon the "McCain=Bush" meme, actually. If McCain sells his "maverick" meme, "four more years" will lose whatever sting it has. It seems to me to be placing all one's eggs in one basket.

I have to admit I liked Zorgon the Less Malevolent's politic-fu in the previous section: Obama drops the change message (that round was won - which change is now the issue) and moves to a leadership message (can McCain/Palin lead when they lie/are clueless about the world). It would feel more substantive too, since "change" is not operationally defined, so it can serve either side. Couple that with a, "Here is what I would do..." message, and people have something to chew on.

That said, Dr. Brin, I am losing faith in the ostrich analogy. My ostrich started off hating McCain, but since he was nominated, she has resisted fact after fact with all the reasons everyone has stated, and is now using Palin as the excuse to say, "Now I am excited to vote for McCain."

I even told her she was going to vote for someone who's own tax plans would result in a smaller tax break and showed her the data as to how Obama's plan would benefit her more. Her response? "Well, that is just what they say they will do. Who knows what will happen?"

Uhm. This, to me, indicates very hardcore ability to select only those things that support your preconception.

Cliff said...

Huxley:
I ask whether people who disagree with you are equals and other substantive questions. I don't get any substantive responses.

Several people, including me, have tried to have substantive discussions with you. When presented with evidence of our claims, you wave your hands and say, "Politics as usual" or some other such nonsense.
When pressed further, you disappear for a month.
I see no reason to take your opinions into consideration.

Zorgon:
Every time I listen to this guy, a cold chill runs down my spine, and I find myself impelled to redouble my resolve to save American civilization.

Wow. I just get irritated at him.

You made a good point on billionaires, which reinforces my image of Warren Buffet in a Superman costume.
I still think that they could be very effective if they apply leverage in the right spot (as Dr. Brin suggests), I just think they have no incentive to do so.

Travc said...

Anonymous and Ymarsakar...

Why the fear/dislike of Dems? What makes them so immoral? I honestly just don't get it.

For the last 30 years, the Dems generally have been much more pragmatic than the GOP. Both parties shifted. The GOP shifted far more and towards a strange far-right married with neo-liberal ideology. The Dems have become more centrist (center-right even).

My personal political POV comes from more of a 'little-l' libertarian perspective, and I'm not wed to either party's ideology. But at least right now, the Dems don't put ideology above pragmatism (which is actually quite frustrating on occasion) and the GOP does.

Anyway, you (and others) may be interested to actually read the
party platforms.

Boot said...

Travc can you point me towards discussions on the topic of why Internet voting is a bad idea? No need to rehash it unless you want to, I'll read up before continuing.

Joshua said...

A simpler solution than tax deductions or all-absentee-balloting, with some of the same benefits, would be to make Election Day a national holiday. This would also make it easier for people to vote in the first place.

Robert, I vote in person at the polls...but I spend time ahead of time looking at the voter's pamphlet (which we get in the mail) and doing research. Having absentee ballots neither makes this easier nor harder.

David Brin said...

Voting absentee frees up time for you to volunteer as a nonpartisan poll watcher or as a party precinct worker.

Both are urgently needed in states that have a republican serving in the office of Secretary of State, probably the most systematically corrupted office in the land.

Your local congressional candidate - or the nearest one who is in a contested race - will probably be able to put you to work most knowledgeably.

Tony Fisk said...

Boot. travc raises quite valid concerns about the trustworthiness and accountability of internet voting. The root problems with the current crop of one-armed bandits is that they are closed, provide no mechanism of accountability, and have been shown to be tweakable.

I don't think any of these problems is insurmountable, given the will to do something. I did try to address them by allowing voters to review (and print) their online votes at any time, with a few confidentiality measures included. (how effective they would be is debatable)

Possibly of greater concern with online voting is cyber warfare.

Tony Fisk said...

More stuff for the cool news basket:

exo-planet directly imaged

Dust devils caught passing Phoenix

Sort of relevant to the online voting discussion: Tim Berners-Lee talks about how to make the web more trustworthy.

Some US courts still appear to be functional: the Virginia Supreme Court lets a spammer walk
(Ah! but curb your gheerish indignation reflex, and find out why.)

Travc said...

Boot, sadly I don't know of a good concise discussion. Voting systems really are a 'systems'/organizational problem, not a technological one.

The Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project has lots of good info. Despite having "technology" in the title, they do 'get it'.

The most fundamental key is not to require trust in any step of the process. Everything must be independently verifiable. There is just no way to do that (that we know of) if votes exist only as electronically stored info at any step in the process. All the verification ideas I know of either open the door to vote selling or would be too weak to catch manipulation reliably (or both).

On the less theoretical side, a DDoS attack on election day would be very easy to carry out and very bad... and just imagine the carnage a DNS exploit and/or man-in-the-middle could sow.

Boot said...

I'm going to move this discussion to Tony's site (http://castinglight.blogspot.com/) which is devoted to the subject. I don't want to steal David's thunder or from the other topics mentioned.

Thanks for the link Travc.

Travc said...

This short video of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse questioning offshore drilling advocates is simply brilliant.

zorgon the malevolent said...

Shorter Occam's Comic:
"I don't have any ideas or information to contribute, so instead I'll ridicule other people by distotrting what they say."

When 80% of people polled say the nation is on the wrong track, why do the polls show 50% of people planning to vote for McCain?

Best answer I've seen.

Ymarsakar said...

Why the fear/dislike of Dems?

Since the reasons and history are too numerous to list, I'll settle on the sentiments of people who have written similar thoughts on the net.

Link

What makes them so immoral?

Lack of ethics is not the same as lack of morality or even having the wrong morality.

For the last 30 years, the Dems generally have been much more pragmatic than the GOP. Both parties shifted.

The GOP shifted back to Abraham Lincoln and the roots of the radical republicans while the Dems shifted to the party of personal destruction. Not so much Thomas Jefferson's enemies as Jefferson's so called allies in the media.

The Dems have become more centrist (center-right even).

Not even going to touch that de-orbit.

Anyway, you (and others) may be interested to actually read the
party platforms.


In history, what matters are people and their integrity, not the stuff written about them or even by them. None of them have meaning at the time they are written. Their meanings are added on as history goes on. But it is safe to say that character and a history of recorded actions applies whether it is the present or it is the future.

The US army has been nearly destroyed, the reserves demolished, our allies driven away, our finances ruined, our credit gone.

Nearly destroyed? Talk about inaccurate military conception here.

There are NO metrics under which the previous democratic administration was not better.

By the fake metrics that the sun is going nova tomorrow, obviously there are no previous actions that could not be "better" by that criteria.

without offering a single reason why it would actually be so.

Wolf Howling and the other people you lack communication and empathy ties to, David Brin, has covered that adequately without me needing to. The fact that you haven't seen the material or choose not to bring it up, doesn't mean it ceases to exist for people like me.

In 2000, the US was the unipolar leader of the world, respected, admired, and apparently all-powerful.

Another one of those myths. Obviously somebody, BIn Laden, didn't see this honorable and respected nation after Vietnam and Somalia. Then there's Europe's several century long hatred of America via anti-Americanism. That never got old or young.

All of our brigades were combat ready (none are today)

They would be, on paper, in a peace time setting. That's what generals get promoted for in peace time. Those that have their brigades looking combat ready on their peace time fitness reports starts looking good. It's not like there's any real war to prove that these reports are false. Lots of things look good on paper. Means jack in a real fight, however.

Tony Fisk said...

Shamble back to your superior plane, Ymarsakar, the one where the terms 'metric' and 'self-serving waffle' have become one and the same.

...and put that bottle of indignohol back! There's enough of that where you came from!!

Travc said...

Ymarsakar,
Very seriously, you need to detox off of the right-wing noise. There is such a thing as objective reality.

BTW: I can pretty much guarantee you have never met an actual socialist much less a leftist if you think the Dems are not a centrist/center-right party. I can also assume you are American (as am I).

David McCabe said...

The state of Washington already uses absentee voting almost exclusively, no sign-up necessary.

Anders Brink said...

ymsarkar and huxley,

Both of you are incredibly biased and clueless about what is long term American interest. As a foreigner, I look upon people like you with disgust. David Brin is right. In 2000, America was the pinnacle of civilization: respected everywhere and slightly feared. Now in 2008, everything is different. A ton of debt, a war that goes nowhere, a financial mess, a laughingstock everywhere. Do you neocon Americans honestly not have any idea of the pain you cause poorer nations everywhere?

I see your opinions not as mainstream (even if they are lots of you in America). Your opinions are downright loony and would not be respected as "conservative" in any Asian country. This is how I know you are not real conservatives. Plus the mismanagment of your own country, you have very little business telling the Democrats how to run your country.

Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar and Obama is a legal scholar. It requires brains to be those things. What is McCain and Palin?

Oh but I forgot. The US education is so bad that people like you don't know how to make smart people like Obama and Clinton _work_for_you_. This is how clueless you've become.

Robert said...

The neocon movement is a disgrace. If the Republican party continues down its current path, it will go the way of the Whigs and the Federalists. The one hope Republicans have is if they return to their roots: smaller government and lower taxes. This has not happened under the Shrub Administration, the previous Bush Administration, or even the Reagan Administration.

This Administration has forced me to admit that the Clinton Administration wasn't nearly as bad, gotten me to vote Democrat, and destroyed my respect for what once was a decent group of Americans. And what's more, the Republicans are brazen in their corruption and wallow in it like Scrooge McDuck swimming through piles of money.

You have sold out the Republican party, sold out America, and sold out on moral legitimacy. I will applaud when the corrupt bastardized remnants of the Republican party collapses under its own weight and is replaced by a party that truly understands the conservative ideals that once were the foundation of what it meant to be a Republican.

Rob H.

Ymarsakar said...

The intellectual snobbery here and false self-righteousness is rather interesting.

You can't argue the merits, so argue your own superiority, eh?

As for socialists, obviously people have different world views on that, not just different political views.

zorgon the malevolent said...

Actually, in between some gibbering lunacy, ymarsarkar makes some excellent points.

For example, ymarsarkar challenges Brin's implicit assertion that there's no reason to dislike the Demos -- and clearly, ymarsarkar is correct. 50% of Americans have been roused to a wild fury of mindless hatred by rationality, common sense, pragmatism, logic, facts, and skeptical critical thinking. Many millions of Americans rage in speechless fury at rationality. We saw it at the Rebpulican National Convention: thousands of people chanting, "Drill, baby, drill!" in outright defiance of common sense and documented facts.

Ymarsarkar is right, and Brin is wrong. Hundreds of millions of Americans clearly do have reasons for screaming with mindless rage at rationality and common sense. The problem is that their reasons are batshit insane. However, that doesn't change the fact that hundresd of millions of Americans are still enraged far beyond the capacity for rational thought at the Democrats, and at logic and facts and skeptical critical thinking. Those of us in the "reality-based" community had better come to grips with that fact.

Brin asks "What makes [Demos] so immoral?" Ymarsarkar links to a crazy website heaped high with slander against Demos, and if you read between the lines, you'll find there are good solid reason why Repubs consider Demos immoral: Demos refuse to go along with the herd even if the herd denies reality, Demos refuse to bow to religion if religion tells us to crazy evil things, Demos demur from respecting authority if authority becomes corrupt and incompetent. This is a clear difference twixt Demos and Repubs. We need to recognize it and take it into account.

Brin points out that for the last 30 years Demos have been much more pragmatic than Repubs, and yamrsarkar goes berserk. His response is so insane it's really worth saving for posterity. Repubs "returned to Abraham Lincoln." Absolutely. I remember reading in the history books about Lincoln ordering the torture of Confederate soldiers. It's a holiday we celebrate every year, National Torture Day.

Brin goes on to claim that the Demos have become more centrist, which is actually arguable. The last 8 years have arguably pushed the Democratic party quite a bit to the left -- along with the rest of the country. In any case, ymarsarkar can't deal with Brin's question and freaks out.

But now ymarsarkar makes some good points again. Brin claims that we should read the party's platforms -- but the fact remains that the platforms of LBJ in 1964 and Nixon in 1968 and Reagan in 1980 and the drunk-driving C student who infests the Oval Office right now said pretty much the exact opposite of what those presidents actually did. In fact, I have a little riff I run that gets people laughing uncontrollably: "Johnson promised he'd never send young boys to die in Viet Nam, Nixon promised he'd make America safe for law and order, Ford promised he'd never pardon Nixon, Jimmy Carter promised he'd Whip Inflation Now, Reagan promised Morning In America, Bush 41 promised a `kinder, gentler America,' Bill Clinton promised he'd restore dignity to the Oval Office, and the drunk-driving C student current in the White House promised `a humbler America...that will not engage in nation-building.'" Everyone always starts cracking up by the end of that riff. Because it's true.

Brin claims "the U.S. army has been nearly destroyed," which is wildly exaggerated. What is actually happening is that the current U.S. military is hugely unsuited for the kinds of military actions which are likely to become the norm in the 21st century: 4GW against insurgents in failed states. Buck Rogers superweapons, stealth cruisers, giant nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, and laser-beam death rays are useless and worthless for that kind of warfare. To the extent ymarsarkar makes this point, he is right, and Brin is wrong. Clearly the U.S. army is still functional -- it's just worthless for the jobs it is being called on to do in Iraq, namely, 4GW against urban insurgents in a failed state.

Brin claims "there are NO metrics under which the previous administration was not better." ymarsarkar denies this, and of course he's right. There are plenty of metrics under which the current gang of corrupt incompetent thieves scores much better than the Clinton administration.

For example, if you're a grossly incompetent CEO, the cutbacks on corporate regulation let you pillage your company mercilessly and then quit with a gigantic golden parachute.

Another example: if your daddy is a billionare, the elimination of the state tax is a huge boon for you. You would have done much worse under Clinton.

Once again, if you fly to work in a helicopter and make hundreds of millions per year from capital gains, then the reduction of long-term capital gains tax (which must only be held 18 months to qualify) to 15% down from 28% during the last 8 years is a huge windfall for you.

So there are plenty of metrics by which the current gang of corrupt thieves in the White House is much better than Clinton. For the people in the top 1% of the economic pyramid, the last 8 years have been a bonanza. It's surprising Brin doesn't realize this. Moreover, for the top 20% of the income bracket, the last 8 years have been very very good. Much better than under Clinton. Denying this reality doesn't help. We need to realize that there's a powerful and wealthy segment of the American population who love the last 8 years and have benefited immensely from the last 8 years.

Moreover, you don't even have to be in the top 20% to adore the last 8 years. If you're a cop, you love being able to batter down anyone's door and shoot 'em dead and never have to show probable cause and always get exonerated in a whitewash investigation. It makes life so much easier now. If your victims are innocent...too bad, you don't have to apologize. And if your victims shoot back, why, then you can go berserk, as in Waco. Bring on the SWAT tanks and helicopers. For adrenaline junky power freak cops, the last 8 years have been better than 6 flags magic mountain.

If you work as a prison guard, you're livin' large because of the last 8 years, my friend. You are on the gravy train. Marijuana arrests are up 257% over the last 8 years. Just think of all those juicy new prisoners to abuse -- and they're not hardened cons who know how to fight back, either, they're soft defenselss hippies. Just the kind of victims sadistic prison guards adore abusing. The last 8 years have been heaven for prison guards.

If you work in health care, as tacitus2 does, the last 8 years have been a dream come true. The money gusher never ends, the insurance companies keep denying claims for those pesky sick people, and the salaries and perks just keep spirally upwards as health care costs explode.

No, there are plenty of metrics by which the last 8 years have been wonderful for a whole lot of folks in our society, from polluters who befoul the air and water in defiance of EPA regs which are now no longer enforced, to employers who cut back on worker safety and now no longer need worry about OSHA busting them for violating the law...for many folks in our society, the last 8 years have been heaven on earth.

Once again, Brin misses the point when he claims that Repubs typically rant and rail that an Obama administration would be a disaster and a McCain presidency would be awesome, "without offering a single reason why it would be so." But Brin isn't paying attention, and ymarsarkar is right once again. Repubs are offering plenty of reasons -- they're just crazy reasons. For example, Repoubs adore moral certitude...even if it means denying documented facts. Repubs worship clarity of vision, even if it comes from taking nutty passages of the Bible like the Book of Revelations literally. Repubs adore strength, especially if it means the strength to stand up and tell repeated lies in public even when you've been called out on them.

What Brin doesn't seem to realize is that there are plenty of reasons why Repubs despise Obama and hate Clinton and adore McCain...they're just insane reasons. But that doesn't make them any less compelling to the Repubs who espouse 'em, as we saw during hte outbreak of mass insaity misnamed the Republican National Convention.

Brin goes on to claim that "In 2000, the US was the unipolar leader of the world, respected, admired, and apparently all-powerful." Ymarsarkar retorts, "another one of those myths." And here I have to agree with ymarsarkar once again. In 2000, all the evidence converges on the conclusion that America was a hollow shell, a paper tiger, a nascent police state festering with economic corruption and gripped in the throes of a giant casino-economy bubble even as it destroyed its own citizens' jobs with feverish outsourcing and pumped up a massive steroidal military-industrial complex that have all now come crashing down in ruins. But the thieving lying criminals in the White House didn't start that process of hollowing out the American economy and trashing the U.S. military by turning it into a sinkhole powerpoint-obsessed bureacracy obsessed with worthless non-working insanely overpriced Buck Rogers superweapons. The current subprime crisis may be wrecking Wall Street, but it actually started in the 90s with the crazy internet stock market bubble. The current sadistic police state may have gotten comepletely out of control with the TSA and DHS and warrantless wiretapping, but it first started to run off the rails with Ruby Ridge and Waco and the exoneration of the police sniper Len Horiuchi who received a meritorious conduct medal for shotting down an unarmed woman while she held a baby in her arms.
As for warrantless wiretapping...Clipper Chip, anyone? The current NSA scheme is just the Bill Clinton's Clipper Chip on steroids. And boy, did Bill ever love the Clipper Chip.

Brin cuts his won throat as a grand finale with the bizarre claim: "[under Clinton] all our brigades were comabt ready (now none are)."

Ymarsarkar retorts that this only true on paper, and that the paper "readiness" is meaningless -- and ymarsarkar is exactly right, alas. The U.S. army is worthless and useless for the military conflicts of the 21st century, the asymmetric warfare wages in failed states against 4GW insurgents. And during the Clinton admisntiration, the U.S. military was just as worthless, just as ueless, just as impotent, just as pitifully mismatched to its new mission. And the greatest proof of that is debacle of Somalia.

Somalia represents the future of the U.S. military, a future for which the Pentagon and our Joint Chiefs of Staff and all our soldiers and our entire training and procurements system is woefully and utterly unprepared.

America today is a pitiful helpless giant, an impotent musclebound mongoloid idiot thrashing and flailing uselessly against a legion of Amazonian army ants which quickly strip it to the bone in any 4GW conflict in a failed state. Martin van Creveld is right and David Brin is wrong: Iraq will end as Viet Nam did, with U.S. troops clinging to the skids of helicopters as our soldiers frantically abandon their overrun outposts in wild panic.

The U.S. army is no less prepared for Iraq today than it was prepared for Samlia in 1993. The American army and navy and air force are completely mismatched for the conflicts of the 21st century, and as a result they are worthless. We the American people would be better off jumping up and down and hooting throwing rocks at our prosepctive 21st century enemies as the apes did in the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey. At least we wouldn't go broke doing it, and we'd have about the same effectiveness as our current military is having against 4GW insurgents in failed states.

tacitus2 said...

Levels of civility seem to be in decline here. I suppose it is an albedo effect from the election....

Anders Brink
Might I ask what country you are from? A Dutch name and references to Asian countries would make Indonesia a guess, but the world is a smaller, well stirred bowl these days. I find your observations on America interesting, but to respond at all some frame of comparative reference would be helpful.

Ymarsaker actually did raise an important point, only to be slapped down rudely.

David's assertation that the US Army has been "nearly destroyed" seems a bit broadly painted, and he would be disappointed in us all if we let such things go unchallenged.

Could I have a recent reference please on the zero brigades combat ready? And the questions on "ready for what" are highly germane. If the standard is, ready to keep the Red Hoards from pouring through the Fulda Gap, we need to re-examine things a bit. The Red Army is contracting, and their Georgia gambit aside has some serious structural problems.

The classic military mistake is fighting the last war. Do you question that we are better now that before in such areas as UMV drones? IED disposal? Civilian affairs?

Wars take a terrible toll. But combat does make better soldiers too.

Feel free, if it improves your day somehow, to call me a Rethuglican, Neocon, warmonger. But when, as is likely, Obama goes from being a Presidential poseur to the real deal, he has suggested he will be needing to deploy more brigades to Afghanistan. Has anybody told The One that our armed forces are now the equivalent of Barney Fife with an unloaded gun?

Sorry to get a bit snarky, as I said, it seems to be in the air.

You are all smart people, when you make the effort. I strive to keep you from getting lazy.

Tacitus2

Tony Fisk said...

t2: David's point wrt armed readiness has been made independently by some senior military figures (offhand I can't recall the reference, but will go ferreting if you desire)

y is a troll offering no constructive criticism at all, and deserves the slap-down.

tactitus2 said...

Tony
Yes, this seems like an important question. If you have a reference I would like to peruse it.
There does seem to be a proliferation of trolls on sites across the political spectrum.
Thanks
Tacitus2

oh, and I see Red Hoards in my last post. Wouldn't mind a sack of petro-rubles.
But the Red Hoardes we can do without.

Robert said...

I notice that Ymarsakar and Huxley ignore my comments. The truth hurts, after all, and it's far easier to ignore honest complaints with lies and slander, as Senator McCain has found out during this election process. And I must applaud Senator McCain for somehow having the audacity to claim the title "Straight Talk Express" even while he slandered his fellow Republicans during the Republican primaries.

Ironically enough, there is one thing that the Shrub did in his eight years that may be of benefit for the U.S. - he seasoned all of our troops. If Russia ends up becoming militarily adventuristic, then the fact our troops have faced significant action and have fought in an urban setting will work to their benefit in fighting the Russians. The Russian military actions have mostly been on par with Desert Storm: rolling in, overwhelming everything, and chasing off their foes, rather than hard serious fighting.

Sadly, the increased tendency toward military adventurism by the Russians is thanks to the Shrub's own military aggressiveness. If we'd not invaded Iraq, focused only on Afghanistan, and focused most of our efforts on diplomacy, it is far more likely that the Russians would not have shifted into a military mindset.

Hopefully, our next political leader will use diplomacy as his first weapon. Militarily, we won't defeat the Russians. At most, we can hope for a draw... and pray to whatever divinity you worship that neither side uses nuclear weapons. Because once that line is crossed... it may very well be too late to stop.

"There are no winners in nuclear war. Only losers."

Rob H.

occam's comic said...

Hey Zorgon,
If you are doing a “shorter Occam” you really should try to be significantly shorter than me.

I am sorry kido, if you don’t find any value in the Shorter Zorgon, maybe you should try to view it a demonstration of Reader Response Theory. I am sure you are trying to compose messages that you think are long, insightful polemics but what is received by me is a couple of banal notions encrusted in mega-syllabic verbiage.

For example your latest missive can be summed up:
Pay attention to me Brin!!! I am making all sorts of straw man attacks and blatant distortions of your views while being as insulting as possible. I am Glen Close and I WILL NOT BE INGORED!!

zorgon the malevolent said...

tony fisk:
Google is your friend. References on the lack of combat-ready brigades in the U.S. army prove easy to find. Here's one:
Link.

However, I would suggest that combat readiness remains a much mroe complex issue than tyipcally dealt with in army measurements.

For example, a prominent reason why brigades are no longer combat-ready is lack of equipment. But this is not the result of the corruption and thievery in the current White House, surprising as that may be. All modern brigades in all modern hi-tech armies quickly lose their combat readiness because the weapons they use are so expensive that they burn through 'em very quickly. For example, during the "shock and awe" campaign, America burned through essentially its entire supply of cruise missiles. Building those missiles is a complex labor-intensive job, requiring lots of expertise. Once the cruise missiles were gone, it took months to produce more.

Ditto M1A1 tanks, and particularly the sighting and targeting systems in the M1A1, which is much more easily damaged than the tank itself. Insurgents in Iraq have now grown expert at disabling our M1A1 tanks using cheap homebrew IEDs. Once disabled, it takes months to rebuild the complex infrared targeting and sighting systems in an M1A1 tank that allow "one shot, one kill."

Likewise, if you visit any air force hangar in a forward area in Iraq, you'll see something bizarre. Hundreds of hollow shells of F18 and F22 fighters and comanche helicophters. These hollow shells have been systematically stripped for parts to keep the other fighter jets and attack helicopters flying. Once again, the tempo of modern 3GW combat is so rapid that real war burns through the complex hi-tech weaponry much faster than we can build new ones. So our air force squadrons wind up progressively cannibalizing themselves, growing smallers and smaller over time in the combat zone because it is not humanly possible to build replacements fast enough.

At the same time, the skills required for today's hi-tech combat are so specialized that when a specialist private gets killed or disabled in the forward combat area, another specialist must be rotated in from an entirely different combat area. But this destroys unit cohension, damaging the entire unit's combat readiness. Ideally, entire units should be rorated in and out of combat. This maintains unit cohesion, which, as any West Point graduate will tell you, proves far more important than weaponry or tactics. But it isn't practical to rotate enitre units in and out of combat in modern hi-tech warfare because of the shortage of specialists, as for example pfcs who specialize in "painting" enemy targets with infrared lasers, or pfcs who are expert at field repair of downed UAVs, or pfcs with expertise in debugging glitching combat network computers. Modern armies are so riddled with such hi technology that one or two of the wrong specialists killed or wounded in a company can cripple it badly. Rotating in replacements from other units badly hurts unit cohesion and degrades combat readiness but there's no obvious answer for that, short of massively pumping up the size of the entire U.S. army -- and that would require a draft.

At the same time, the tooth to tail ratio of the modern army has exploded from 1;1 in Korea & Viet Nam era to 2:1 today, and still rising. As more and more unmanned attack vehciles get deployed (currently mianly UAVs, but Pentagon OpFors planners expect the U.S. army to consist of 20% robots within 20 years), the actual combat units consist of an ever smaller percentage of the overall army. This means that the same casualty rate has a worse and worse effect on combat readiness over time, as the tech gets higher and the combat units make up an ever smaller percentage of the actual deployed brigade.

We need to remember, for example, that each M1A1 tank requires a huge congeries of spare parts trucks, fuel trucks, and other support vehicles and personnel to keep it working. Likewise, each UAV needs a big retinue of support personnel and vehicles, likewise each comanche attack helicopter, each F-22 fighter, and so on. Casualties in the forward areas mainly take out combat soliders, not the support units, so combat degrades a brigade's readiness much faster today than 30 years ago and exponentially faster than 50 years ago.

None of these issues have anything to do with the drunk-driving C student in the Oval Office and his corruption and incompetence. Rapid degradation of all our U.S. army brigades would occur in combat regardless of who was president. We saw this during the Falklands War. Both the British and Argentine navy rapidly lost combat effectiveness and became combat unready because of the massive depletion of ammunition and other weapons stores during the ultra-high tempo of modern combat. And entire fleet battle group can become combat unready due to the loss of the wrong ship from a torpedo or cruise missile, if that ship is a C&C control point. And that was 25 years ago.

Worse: the tempo of combat has gratly increased today, courtesy of GPS and wi-fi combat networking that gives even more info on the sitrep today and allow commanders (encourages 'em, actually) to move quicker so as to get inside the enemy's OODA loop.

The problem with Boyd's concept of getting inside an enemy's OODA loop is that you burn through incredible amounts of weaponry and fuel doing it. And that stuff can't be replaced fast enough to sustain today's tempo of combat for any length of time.

Modern chain guns fire 20,000 rounds per minute. That's a lotta rounds. We literally cannot manufacture that ammuniation fast enough to replace it when it's being used at that rate.

The entire "lack of combat readiness" remains a red herring. It's a smokescreen for the brutal reality that modern hi-tech warfare has become self-limiting and ultimately unsustainable because of the incredible expense of today's hi-tech weaponry, its immense complexity, its proclivity to constant breakdown, and the immense amounts of time required to repair or replace (manufacture) it.

Just one comparison from Martin van Creveld proves instructive:

While the decline in the number of regular troops—both regulars and, especially, reservists—has been sharp indeed, the fall in the number of major weapons and weapon systems has been even more precipitous. In 1939, the air forces of each of the leading powers counted their planes in the thousands; during each of the years 1942–45, the United States alone produced seventy-five thousand military aircraft on average. Fifty years later, the air forces of virtually all the most important countries were shrinking fast. The largest one, the U.S. Air Force, bought exactly 127 aircraft in 1995, including helicopters and transports;24 elsewhere, the numbers were down to the low dozens, or nil. At sea, the story has been similar. Of the former Soviet navy, built by Admiral Sergei Gorshkov in order to project the power of the state, little remains but rusting surface vessels and old, poorly maintained submarines that allegedly are liable to leak nuclear material into the sea. The U.S. Navy is in a much better state, but it has seen the number of aircraft carriers—the most important of its weapon systems, around which everything else revolves—go down from almost a hundred in 1945 to as few as twelve in 1995. The United States apart, the one country that still maintains even one carrier capable of launching conventional fixed-wing combat aircraft is France. That aside, the carriers (all of them decidedly second rate) owned by all other states combined can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Indeed, it is true to say that with a single major exception, states no longer maintain oceangoing navies at all —- and even the exception, the largest navy of all, that of the United States, has been cut by almost half since the late eighties.

In part, this decline in the size of armed forces reflects the escalating cost of modern weapons and weapon systems. A World War II fighter-bomber could be had for approximately fifty thousand dollars. Some of its modern successors, such as the F-15, come at a hundred million dollars apiece, when their maintenance packages (without which they would not be operational) are included; that, even when inflation is taken into account, represents a thousandfold increase. Even this does not mark the limit on what some airborne weapon systems, such as the “stealth” bomber, AWACS, and J-STARS —- all of them produced, owned, and operated exclusively by the world’s sole remaining superpower —- can cost. It has even been claimed that the reluctance of the U.S. Air Force to use its most recent acquisition, the two-billion-dollar B-2 bomber, against Iraq stemmed from the absence of targets worthy of the risk; should one be shot down or lost by accident, the storm of criticism would be hard to withstand.


[van Creveld, Martin, "Through A Glass Darkly"] Link.

The evolution of warfare now trends strongly int eh direction of non-armed conflicts. To turn Clausewitz inside out, we are rapidly entering a world in which finance and information flow become "warfare by other means."

The Chinese are aware of this.

The first break-though text of 4GW was Unrestricted Warfare, by two Colonels in the China’s Air Force: Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui. They describe the 1997 attack by western hedge funds on the currencies of Southeast Asia as the first example of this new generation of warfare.

When people begin to lean toward and rejoice in the reduced use of military force to resolve conflicts, war will be reborn in another form and in another arena, becoming an instrument of enormous power in the hands of all those who harbor intentions of controlling other countries or regions. In this sense, there is reason for us to maintain that the financial attack by George Soros on East Asia, the terrorist attack on the U.S. embassy by Usama Bin Laden, the gas attack on the Tokyo subway by the disciples of the Aum Shinri Kyo, and the havoc wreaked by the likes of Morris Jr. on the Internet, in which the degree of destruction is by no means second to that of a war, represent semi-warfare, quasi-warfare, and sub-warfare, that is, the embryonic form of another kind of warfare.

Financial War

Now that Asians have experienced the financial crisis in Southeast Asia, no one could be more affected by “financial war” than they have been. No, they have not just been affected; they have simply been cut to the very quick! A surprise financial war attack that was deliberately planned and initiated by the owners of international mobile capital ultimately served to pin one nation after another to the ground–nations that not long ago were hailed as “little tigers” and “little dragons.” Economic prosperity that once excited the constant admiration of the Western world changed to a depression, like the leaves of a tree that are blown away in a single night by the autumn wind. After just one round of fighting, the economies of a number of countries had fallen back ten years.

What is more, such a defeat on the economic front precipitates a near collapse of the social and political order. The casualties resulting from the constant chaos are no less than those resulting from a regional war, and the injury done to the living social organism even exceeds the injury inflicted by a regional war. Non-state organizations, in this their first war without the use of military force, are using non-military means to engage sovereign nations.

Link.

Hi-tech conventional warfare is unsustainable for any length of time, even quite short periods nowadays. This offers a better explanation of the pervasive combat unreadiness of U.S. brigades than claims that the Repubs have overstretched the army, or that corrupt Repub no-bid military contractors are shorting our troops. All of that is going on, certainly, but it's irrelevant to the basic reality that even America's titanic industrial might cannot manfuacture the complex ultra-expensive weapons used in today's hi-tech conventional warfare quickly enough to continue combat at the pace required by modern maneuever warfare.

zorgon the malevolent said...

tony fisk:
Google is your friend. References on the lack of combat-ready brigades in the U.S. army prove easy to find. Here's one:
Link.

However, I would suggest that combat readiness remains a much mroe complex issue than tyipcally dealt with in army measurements.

For example, a prominent reason why brigades are no longer combat-ready is lack of equipment. But this is not the result of the corruption and thievery in the current White House, surprising as that may be. All modern brigades in all modern hi-tech armies quickly lose their combat readiness because the weapons they use are so expensive that they burn through 'em very quickly. For example, during the "shock and awe" campaign, America burned through essentially its entire supply of cruise missiles. Building those missiles is a complex labor-intensive job, requiring lots of expertise. Once the cruise missiles were gone, it took months to produce more.

Ditto M1A1 tanks, and particularly the sighting and targeting systems in the M1A1, which is much more easily damaged than the tank itself. Insurgents in Iraq have now grown expert at disabling our M1A1 tanks using cheap homebrew IEDs. Once disabled, it takes months to rebuild the complex infrared targeting and sighting systems in an M1A1 tank that allow "one shot, one kill."

Likewise, if you visit any air force hangar in a forward area in Iraq, you'll see something bizarre. Hundreds of hollow shells of F18 and F22 fighters and comanche helicophters. These hollow shells have been systematically stripped for parts to keep the other fighter jets and attack helicopters flying. Once again, the tempo of modern 3GW combat is so rapid that real war burns through the complex hi-tech weaponry much faster than we can build new ones. So our air force squadrons wind up progressively cannibalizing themselves, growing smallers and smaller over time in the combat zone because it is not humanly possible to build replacements fast enough.

At the same time, the skills required for today's hi-tech combat are so specialized that when a specialist private gets killed or disabled in the forward combat area, another specialist must be rotated in from an entirely different combat area. But this destroys unit cohension, damaging the entire unit's combat readiness. Ideally, entire units should be rorated in and out of combat. This maintains unit cohesion, which, as any West Point graduate will tell you, proves far more important than weaponry or tactics. But it isn't practical to rotate enitre units in and out of combat in modern hi-tech warfare because of the shortage of specialists, as for example pfcs who specialize in "painting" enemy targets with infrared lasers, or pfcs who are expert at field repair of downed UAVs, or pfcs with expertise in debugging glitching combat network computers. Modern armies are so riddled with such hi technology that one or two of the wrong specialists killed or wounded in a company can cripple it badly. Rotating in replacements from other units badly hurts unit cohesion and degrades combat readiness but there's no obvious answer for that, short of massively pumping up the size of the entire U.S. army -- and that would require a draft.

At the same time, the tooth to tail ratio of the modern army has exploded from 1;1 in Korea & Viet Nam era to 2:1 today, and still rising. As more and more unmanned attack vehciles get deployed (currently mianly UAVs, but Pentagon OpFors planners expect the U.S. army to consist of 20% robots within 20 years), the actual combat units consist of an ever smaller percentage of the overall army. This means that the same casualty rate has a worse and worse effect on combat readiness over time, as the tech gets higher and the combat units make up an ever smaller percentage of the actual deployed brigade.

We need to remember, for example, that each M1A1 tank requires a huge congeries of spare parts trucks, fuel trucks, and other support vehicles and personnel to keep it working. Likewise, each UAV needs a big retinue of support personnel and vehicles, likewise each comanche attack helicopter, each F-22 fighter, and so on. Casualties in the forward areas mainly take out combat soliders, not the support units, so combat degrades a brigade's readiness much faster today than 30 years ago and exponentially faster than 50 years ago.

None of these issues have anything to do with the drunk-driving C student in the Oval Office and his corruption and incompetence. Rapid degradation of all our U.S. army brigades would occur in combat regardless of who was president. We saw this during the Falklands War. Both the British and Argentine navy rapidly lost combat effectiveness and became combat unready because of the massive depletion of ammunition and other weapons stores during the ultra-high tempo of modern combat. And entire fleet battle group can become combat unready due to the loss of the wrong ship from a torpedo or cruise missile, if that ship is a C&C control point. And that was 25 years ago.

Worse: the tempo of combat has gratly increased today, courtesy of GPS and wi-fi combat networking that gives even more info on the sitrep today and allow commanders (encourages 'em, actually) to move quicker so as to get inside the enemy's OODA loop.

The problem with Boyd's concept of getting inside an enemy's OODA loop is that you burn through incredible amounts of weaponry and fuel doing it. And that stuff can't be replaced fast enough to sustain today's tempo of combat for any length of time.

Modern chain guns fire 20,000 rounds per minute. That's a lotta rounds. We literally cannot manufacture that ammuniation fast enough to replace it when it's being used at that rate.

The entire "lack of combat readiness" remains a red herring. It's a smokescreen for the brutal reality that modern hi-tech warfare has become self-limiting and ultimately unsustainable because of the incredible expense of today's hi-tech weaponry, its immense complexity, its proclivity to constant breakdown, and the immense amounts of time required to repair or replace (manufacture) it.

Just one comparison from Martin van Creveld proves instructive:

While the decline in the number of regular troops—both regulars and, especially, reservists—has been sharp indeed, the fall in the number of major weapons and weapon systems has been even more precipitous. In 1939, the air forces of each of the leading powers counted their planes in the thousands; during each of the years 1942–45, the United States alone produced seventy-five thousand military aircraft on average. Fifty years later, the air forces of virtually all the most important countries were shrinking fast. The largest one, the U.S. Air Force, bought exactly 127 aircraft in 1995, including helicopters and transports;24 elsewhere, the numbers were down to the low dozens, or nil. At sea, the story has been similar. Of the former Soviet navy, built by Admiral Sergei Gorshkov in order to project the power of the state, little remains but rusting surface vessels and old, poorly maintained submarines that allegedly are liable to leak nuclear material into the sea. The U.S. Navy is in a much better state, but it has seen the number of aircraft carriers—the most important of its weapon systems, around which everything else revolves—go down from almost a hundred in 1945 to as few as twelve in 1995. The United States apart, the one country that still maintains even one carrier capable of launching conventional fixed-wing combat aircraft is France. That aside, the carriers (all of them decidedly second rate) owned by all other states combined can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Indeed, it is true to say that with a single major exception, states no longer maintain oceangoing navies at all —- and even the exception, the largest navy of all, that of the United States, has been cut by almost half since the late eighties.

In part, this decline in the size of armed forces reflects the escalating cost of modern weapons and weapon systems. A World War II fighter-bomber could be had for approximately fifty thousand dollars. Some of its modern successors, such as the F-15, come at a hundred million dollars apiece, when their maintenance packages (without which they would not be operational) are included; that, even when inflation is taken into account, represents a thousandfold increase. Even this does not mark the limit on what some airborne weapon systems, such as the “stealth” bomber, AWACS, and J-STARS —- all of them produced, owned, and operated exclusively by the world’s sole remaining superpower —- can cost. It has even been claimed that the reluctance of the U.S. Air Force to use its most recent acquisition, the two-billion-dollar B-2 bomber, against Iraq stemmed from the absence of targets worthy of the risk; should one be shot down or lost by accident, the storm of criticism would be hard to withstand.


[van Creveld, Martin, "Through A Glass Darkly"] Link.

The evolution of warfare now trends strongly in the direction of non-armed conflicts. To turn Clausewitz inside out, we are rapidly entering a world in which finance and information flow become "warfare by other means."

The Chinese are aware of this.

The first break-though text of 4GW was Unrestricted Warfare, by two Colonels in the China’s Air Force: Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui. They describe the 1997 attack by western hedge funds on the currencies of Southeast Asia as the first example of this new generation of warfare.

When people begin to lean toward and rejoice in the reduced use of military force to resolve conflicts, war will be reborn in another form and in another arena, becoming an instrument of enormous power in the hands of all those who harbor intentions of controlling other countries or regions. In this sense, there is reason for us to maintain that the financial attack by George Soros on East Asia, the terrorist attack on the U.S. embassy by Usama Bin Laden, the gas attack on the Tokyo subway by the disciples of the Aum Shinri Kyo, and the havoc wreaked by the likes of Morris Jr. on the Internet, in which the degree of destruction is by no means second to that of a war, represent semi-warfare, quasi-warfare, and sub-warfare, that is, the embryonic form of another kind of warfare.

Financial War

Now that Asians have experienced the financial crisis in Southeast Asia, no one could be more affected by “financial war” than they have been. No, they have not just been affected; they have simply been cut to the very quick! A surprise financial war attack that was deliberately planned and initiated by the owners of international mobile capital ultimately served to pin one nation after another to the ground–nations that not long ago were hailed as “little tigers” and “little dragons.” Economic prosperity that once excited the constant admiration of the Western world changed to a depression, like the leaves of a tree that are blown away in a single night by the autumn wind. After just one round of fighting, the economies of a number of countries had fallen back ten years.

What is more, such a defeat on the economic front precipitates a near collapse of the social and political order. The casualties resulting from the constant chaos are no less than those resulting from a regional war, and the injury done to the living social organism even exceeds the injury inflicted by a regional war. Non-state organizations, in this their first war without the use of military force, are using non-military means to engage sovereign nations.

Link.

Today's hi-tech conventional warfare is unsustainable for any length of time, even quite short periods nowadays. This offers a better explanation of the pervasive combat unreadiness of U.S. brigades than claims that the Repubs have overstretched the army, or that corrupt Repub no-bid military contractors are shorting our troops. All of that is going on, certainly, but it's irrelevant to the basic reality that even America's titanic industrial might cannot manfuacture the complex ultra-expensive weapons used in today's hi-tech conventional warfare quickly enough to continue combat at the pace required by modern maneuever warfare.

zorgon the malevolent said...

Shorter Occam's Comic:
"Ow! Oh! Ouch! Zorgon hit the mark, a hit, a palpable hit. And now I'm beating my little high chair with my little spoon in an enraged tantrum!"

Robert said...

Zorgon: That was a very intelligent, well-thought-out argument. It reminds me of something said in a Japanese animation, the OVA of "The Irresponsible Captain Tylor" where an Admiral of the Raalgon Empire (the antagonists of the series) noted "Peace is war by another name." In this, I believe he was suggesting that in peace, you still wage war... it is just your weapons are not guns and missiles, but words and economics.

occam's comic said...

The Shorter Zorgon:
My next brilliant insight in ten thousand words or less: Complicated stuff breaks down.


and Occam's comic is a baby.

(Occam's comic here: Please stop, Zorgon your devastating wit has cut me to the core.....not! BAH, HA, HA)

David Brin said...

Z - Tim Wise is witty & I found the following informative: “White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll “kick their fuckin' ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.” Yipes.

And yet, Wise is also clearly in a state of panic. If Obama wins, his premise for a round the clock self-doped indignation high will evaporate and he’ll have to find something else to rant about. So will that of a small but significant fraction of black Americans. One reason he and they must feel ambivalent, right now. In fact, I can think of few more effective bits of “ostrich ammo” than to tell your grumbling Uncled Frank “elect Obama and you can tell Al Sharpton to shut the F*** up!” No, I am not proud of that thought. But someone oughta try it on an ostrich. Vote once for Obama and you cover your racist ass from then on. And if he wins, you can tell the Reparations Loons “get over it.”

Ymarsakar, I thank you for coming back and trying to engage us by answering questions. The effort is honored. Nevertheless, all you did was whirl around a lot of words. Fancy flowing and very very indignant words (and metaphors!) But not a single metric to justify continuing Republican rule.

Socialist???? Your leaders are the ones sucking the public teat so fard we’re skeletons. You supposedly like capitalist competition? But the Iraq war was one big excuse for Bush to hand out no-bid contracts worth hundreds of billions to close friends.

Fact, the stock market and small business and Main Street and the middle class all do better under democrats. Not just slightly, or a statistical blip, but proufoundly and overwhelmingly better. Under Clinton, government secrecy was cut in half (NOT the thing crooks would do.) Under Bush, secrecay has multiplied by a factor of TEN.

You guys howled at Clinton over his losing $80,000 in a failed land deal. George Bush lost two TRILLION dollars of our money. He sent ten billions in raw case to Iraq and when it simply vanished out of American hands, he diverted the inspector general from investigating. After a billion dollars of investigations over 14 years, not one clintonite was ever even indicted for official malfeasance. yet you wave indignant words, as if, by magic, you could make democrats seem dishonest.

On paper???? I have been to Fort Irwin, the place where (under Clinton) brigades used to train for war. Whole brigades, in fierce exercises against a “red team” brigade that was the toughest military unit on the planet. That training enabled the 3rd infantry division to defeat SEVEN Iraqi divisions in 2003, in quick succession. But today? Ft. Irwin is almost shut down. A few platoons come through for SWAT team training. The Red Team brigade is disbanded. The US Army has been converted into a swat team unable to wage war. The captains and sergeants are leaving in droves, recruitment standards have been slashed, oh, but guys like you don’t care about facts...

Go an meet a US Flag Officer. These guys were all republicans (though they respected Clinton.) They now loathe Bush with red hot passion. The army we sent to Iraq in 2003 does not exist. We could not have helped little Georgia, even if we wanted to. And now ask about the state of our reserves.

I would send you to
http://www.davidbrin.com/ostrich2a.html
but your eyes would blur over in rage. Still, if you had the redeeming trait of CURIOSITY (and since I don’t really know you, you might!) you could go down the long list of things that would have outraged you, if Bill Clinton had done them. But that you ignore, because they were done by your “side.”

It has reached a point far beyond “sides.” Show us a metric. a single metric. By which we have been well governed. One.

---

Ah, but am I leaning over too far backward? Most feel this guy’s a troll. But I want our first reflex, here, to be welcoming. If he rises to the challenge, let’s continue to be friendly and welcoming. Frankly, we could use a real neocon here. (Tacitus2, you are far too reasonable! ;-)

Anonymous said...

October Surprise: U.S. selling bunker-buster bombs to Israel.


http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080915/ap_on_re_mi_ea/
ml_israel_bunker_busters_1



November Surprise: Absentee ballot irregularities.

http://www.michiganmessenger.com/4282/rove-rove-rove-the-vote

Anonymous said...

.....20080915/ap_on_re_mi_e
ml_israel_bunker_busters_1

should be

....20080915/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_bunker_ busters_1

Long links sometimes get clobbered.

Doug S. said...

The solution to 4GW is, as always, emulate Rome. Make a wasteland, and call it peace. To be blunt, we in the U.S. may very well need to do unto much of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and possibly Iran and Saudi Arabia as well, as the British did unto the Boers, as the Romans did to the Jews, as Saddam did unto the Kurds, as Hitler did unto the Czech, as the Russians are doing unto Chechnya, as the Syrian government did unto Hama, and as the United States did unto Imperial Japan.

It may not be triggered until someone actually detonates a nuclear bomb on New York or Tel Aviv, but if we get pissed off enough, the Geneva Conventions will go out the window. (I'd give at least a 10% chance that the U.S. and Pakistan will be at war with each other sometime in the next fifty years. And it may very well be a nuclear war. A Pakistani government that acts according to the will of the Pakistani people would be our worst nightmare. Most Pakistanis support Osama bin Laden!)

As a certain troll pointed out, yes, the West is, in fact, in an existential war with political Islam, and we should admit that. We must also keep in mind, however, that political Islam is an extremely weak foe. Ridiculously weak. Absurdly week. At its strongest, all it managed to do to the United States, physically, is knock down a few buildings! Hitler did more physical damage to England in a single day of bombing than Osama bin Laden could ever hope to do to Secular Civilization. Stalin and Khrushchev, had one of them given the order, could have turned much of the U.S. into a radioactive wasteland. Its greatest weapon, perhaps its only significant one, is its own complete disregard for self-preservation. It's a lot easier to do damage if you don't care about surviving the aftermath. To quote a character in a movie:

"I'm not afraid of the man who wants ten nuclear weapons. I'm terrified of the man who only wants one."

There's a big difference between someone who wants a nuclear deterrent and someone who believes that martyrs go to Paradise and is willing to act on that belief. Which is why political Islam is potentially more dangerous than Soviet Communism. If someone with Osama bin Laden's ideology had Stalin's resources, we wouldn't be alive to talk about it. Which is why we have to set a threshold beyond which, if it gets powerful enough, we will throw the Geneva Conventions out the window and unleash our own nuclear arsenal.

And I pray to the Flying Spaghetti Monster that political Islam stays as weak as it is, so that it never comes to that.

David Brin said...

Dog said:
"As a certain troll pointed out, yes, the West is, in fact, in an existential war with political Islam, and we should admit that"

Well, in fact, I do not.

Yes, I was among the very first to predict (back in 1987) that the early 21st Century would feature a "memic war" against macho culture led by elements of Islamic society. But that is a very different and more subtle thing than "existential war."

Nothing will more surely lose the meme war than to wage brutal "existential war". We are supposed to be smart.

Indeed, it's what our enemies want. It is what they persuaded the neocons to do.

tacitus2 said...

Zorgon
An interesting perspective on military preparedness. One might almost come away with the conclusion that maintaining a military effort was a damned difficult thing, and that wear and tear could happen for reasons other than the treasonous doing of their C of C.

But that link on brigade readiness?

It is from August 2006, regarding the "findnigs" of a hand picked group who just maybe, might have been telling Pelosi what she wanted/needed/paid to hear in an election year. As data it does not pass the smell test.

David, you are passing along an anecdote. Fort McCoy, near where I live, is hoppin'

I had already done some Google search and was having difficulty finding credible info on US Army readiness. Do you gents have other info to profer? As I said, it is a very important question. Usually you folks have much firmer foundations for your assertions.

Tacitus2

Robert said...

I think I may have found a stealth attack to use on ostriches. Scott Adams did a poll of economists paid for out of his own pocket. The results? Kinda interesting.

Of 13 points, only in two did the economists state McCain's policies were preferable. Only two (international trade and reducing waste in government).

Food for thought, no?

I know I'm sending this to an ostrich I know who is anti-Obama but not pro-McCain.

Jester said...

McCain, 3:45pm. Monday - September 15 - The fundamentals of the Economy are strong

McCain, 7:15am. Tuesday - September 16, The Economy is weak

McCain, 345pm. Tuesday - September 16, Bad Economy - Bad Economy

Obama needs to do a "what a difference a day makes" ad, just running the song with a smiling picture of McCain on screen and those three lines appearing.

huxley said...

Huxley:
I ask whether people who disagree with you are equals and other substantive questions. I don't get any substantive responses.

Several people, including me, have tried to have substantive discussions with you. When presented with evidence of our claims, you wave your hands and say, "Politics as usual" or some other such nonsense.
When pressed further, you disappear for a month.
I see no reason to take your opinions into consideration.


Cliff -- Untrue. I have had substantive discussions with several people here and worked hard on my posts and responded civilly. I ended our last conversation with "Politics as usual" but that was the only one, as I recall. That was my honest opinion and sometimes that's the way these things go. What seems like a huge issue to one side may not seem so to the other.

As to my disappearing, I have other obligations in my life. The comments here move very quickly. A day or two passes and it can be hard to catch up on what people say and next thing you know, a new thread has begun.

You can respond to my posts as you wish, a right I reserve for myself as well.

huxley said...

Huxley

I am with David here.

As one of the few (secular of course) Conservative missionaries among these unenlightened primitives I can assure you that name calling does you specifically, and conservative views generally, no good.


tacitus2 -- I do very little name-calling. As tit for tat, I do sometime let some snark creep into my tone.

David goes on a rant now and then. It is his site and he is entitled.

To be sure...I was just surprised to hear it and the venom of it. Once upon a time, he was one of my favorite SF suthors.

We differ in various ways as to what problems we see America facing, but should agree that bipartisan solutions are preferable to the current crap.

It often seems to me that people who call for bipartisan solutions are saying let's everyone do things my way. If Obama wins in November, I doubt we are going to see a new era of bipartisanship.

As I recall, the resolution for military action in Iraq was passed overwhelmingly by both parties. Later the Democrats decided against the war and have been working to end the war. Now that is their right, of course, but what does bipartisan mean when fighting a war? One either fights to victory or decides not to. Doing both at the same time is usually worse then picking one path or the other.

huxley said...

ymsarkar and huxley,

Both of you are incredibly biased and clueless about what is long term American interest. As a foreigner, I look upon people like you with disgust.
...
Your opinions are downright loony ...


anders_brink -- Apparently we disagree.

huxley said...

I notice that Ymarsakar and Huxley ignore my comments.

robert -- Which comments do you have in mind? I can't speak for Ymarsakar, but I didn't notice you addressing me and I haven't posted much.

Woozle said...

I just have to butt in for a second with regard to internet voting, even though it's kind of a non-issue for this election.

The problem is not that an internet voting system can't be made reliable and verifiable (and inexpensive). If you need an example of how this might work, let me know; I suspect Tony Fisk would have something to say as well.

The actual problem with it is that we lack a political mechanism with sufficient integrity and intelligence to identify a truly valid system (i.e. to distinguish systems that are truly verifiable from those that claim to be but aren't).

In the event of any initiative to allow internet voting, both legislators and voters will be on the receiving end of severe propaganda claiming that the actual-best voting system is corrupt and vice-versa. They will have to be able to pick a system using better criteria than "gut feeling" -- and unfortunately, "gut feeling" seems to be prevailing heavily at the moment, with intensive nurturing by the media.

(I'm working on a somewhat radical way around the whole schemozzle, but that's a different discussion.)

Typing this with a bit of a head-cold, so my apologies if it makes less sense than it seems to subjectively at the moment...

huxley said...

H. You seem (like many trolls) to be inherently unable to hear your own nastiness, but there is universal agreement that you began this round, unprovoked, with creepy and snarling sneers.

Dr. Brin -- That's as maybe. I disagree with your characterization of myself, as well as many other things.

Leaving our imbroglio aside, I came to your blog, interested in the question of your approach to persuading conservatives to your side. That was the topic of the first thread I entered and one of the topics of this thread.

Bush's current approval rating is ~30%. (For perpsective, consider that Truman's approval rating dropped to 22% while Truman was fighting his unpopular war. Now of course Truman is considered one of the better presidents.) It would seem that you and other Obama supporters need to find ways to persuade that 30%, unless you've given up entirely on them.

But assuming you do wish to persuade those people, how do you do it? If you were talking to a Bush supporter at a barbecue or perhaps even debating McCain in public, would you take the approach you took with me. Would you really just dive in and say:

Yes, I have a point of view. That the GOP has betrayed America with a relentlessness that has undermined every strength we had and sucked almost two TRILLION dollars out of our national life while fomenting a culture war that is tearing us apart without reason...

If you disagree with those FACTS...


It seems to me that political discourse in this country is broken and I'm interested in finding the way out of that culture war.

David Brin said...

Too many postings and far too self-referential. (None of this is ABOUT you, H.)

STill, H has stopped short of the creepy "I am such a victim!" tone that he started with, this time. If he can keep his ad hominem whining down to just this level, and no higher (preferably far lower), he is welcome here.

By all means, H, ask your questions.... and then see how well these guys respond.

But, dig it, McCain's most recent ads brag repeatedly about how he"fought Republicans!" Your brand is in serious trouble. And, since there is not a single metric to which the brand can be attached, that does not connect to destroying the United States of America, one can't blame McC for disassociating himself.

Tho he offers zero specifics re "reform" and surrounds himself with Bush officials and lobbyists.

Seriously. We await a single unambiguous and demonstrable and provable metric by which America -- or Pax Americana -- (two different things) -- are better off than 8 years ago. One.

Robert said...

We all of us have bad days and good days. A couple bad days can go by and we might say things that we think are perfectly reasonable but that angers those around us. I should know. I've managed to step on the toes of quite a few people on several different forums, and not necessarily concerning politics.

While this is a reason for some tolerance toward people's opinions (as their words might not be as politic as possible due to said bad days), it is also a good reason why moderators of forums and discussion lists have temporary bans. These bans are not necessarily a slap down against the person, but a means of letting time go by and tempers cool.

Bans are not censorship. Moderated forums are a necessity, lest a forum or discussion group descend into an orgy of ad hominem attacks and verbal persnicketiness. The 4chan forums are a case in point of what happens when forums are unmoderated or the moderators don't care what is being said or what happens during flamewars.

I should know. I've not only participated in flamewars, I've also moderated forums (and with a stringent eye for spammers and ad hominem attacks). Unfortunately, even age is no cure for this tendency to run off at the keyboard and insert mouse into mouth.

This political season is a touchy one for a number of people. One reason I enjoy Contrary Brin to the extent is because of the intelligent and well-thought-out commentary that goes on here. People do not necessarily agree with each other... but they do listen to each other. That is something I wish sites such as Daily Kos would do, and I'm glad that at least CB does.

Unfortunately, there is also an insular nature to this online community. Thus when people who are not necessarily perceived of as regulars start to say things that are unpopular, other regulars might tend to gang up on them. This is where impartial moderators are best suited... but seeing that this is Dr. Brin's blog (and he's not intolerant of dissension, so long as it's polite dissension) we must abide by his own opinions on impartiality. ;)

Rob H.

grayfort55 said...

Well we ostriches are fighting hard here in Penn. We tend to like our local Democrats because they are fellow hunters and understand local needs. But on the national and state government scale this state is split between rural and urban attitudes across both parties. The hope we have is the McCain/Palin ticket might be enough to finally wrench the state out of the Democratic orbit we have been pushed into by the Philly Democrat political machine over the past decade.

Why just the other day for National Guard drill we were having conversations about the election. Most military go conservative but a fair bit do go progressive or liberal. Most of us senior NCO's and officers are highly educated and give a lot of thought about the leadership issues. The Bush administration really wasted a lot of opportunities with people like Rumsfield, but the surge worked and SecDef Gates is a God send. I still have to go with the blunt but honest view of one a General who was asked whom he was voting for and his response was to the order, "Republican, I spent 35 years fighting Communist and lot a brother in vietnam. I'm not throwing it away to elect a socialist now."

Many of you might think we are stupid, but we also have our views of things. The GOP might have had some real losers on watch the past 8 years, but many of us still remember the diasters the military underwent under the Clinton administration. Kosovo is still a sore point with many Air Force bomber crews, and being forced to lose by our own National Command Authority over Somalia still sets poorly with many older Army personnel.

Gilmoure said...

Greyfort55 said: I spent 35 years fighting Communist and lot a brother in vietnam. I'm not throwing it away to elect a socialist now."

So now I'm a socialist. Wow! I wonder how that happened. I mean, here I am, a veteran, downsized in the first Bush administration (but made it into a reserve unit and was on the ground in Desert Storm), voted Republican up until the 2000 primaries. Voted for McCain back then and when the dirty tricks came out, got so disgusted with Bush/Rove, I ended up voting for Nader. In Florida. By 2004, after Bush diverted focus from Afghanistan to Iraq, I knew it was just a shell game to put one over on America and gave up entirely and voted Democrat for first time in life.

I've seen corporate welfare go up and the very antithesis of open markets happen under Bush's watch. I worked in VA hospitals back in the '90s and we had really good care back then and now I see what they're doing and it makes me sick. Now, I'm a veteran, a property owner, investor, and work for every dime I have. I'll be damned if anyone calls me a socialist!

But if a bunch of crooks have run loose over the country, robbing and pillaging just like the god damn Russian mafia, I'll vote for anyone who isn't associated with them. Meh. Democrats are not socialists. Get over the fucking name calling and herd mentality and look around you.

Cliff said...

Cliff -- Untrue.

On the contrary, it's very true. I supplied evidence of corruption in the EPA, travc supplied evidence of corruption in the DOJ. You gave both of us the "politics as usual" explanation with no supporting information.

I don't recall a substantive discussion you've had with another regular here, apart from drawn out arguments on insults and uncivil behavior.
If I've overlooked an example please let me know.

I also think that perhaps you confuse "civility" with "rolling over and accepting your points" and "uncritically accepting the equivalence of another point of view."

My charge stands: I have no reason to take your opinions into consideration.

David Brin said...

Grayfort, we respect and welcome you here. We honor your service and your viewpoint.

And, yes, ask anyone around here. I was among the first in America (2004) to speak up for the hard-pressed United States Officer (and NCO) Corps. (Ask anyone!) The US Officer Corps makes up the 3rd best educated clade in American life and by far the most dedicated. I am irritated by (some) liberals who reflexively fail to notice that.

As I am irritated by "conservatives" who reflexively keep calling Democrats "socialists" (back it up!) and who refuse to recognize just how much damage has been done to America -- and Pax Americana -- by the monsters who have taken over your movement, lock stock and barrel.

Yes, you do seem very much an ostrich. Typically, you repeat mantras that bear no scrutiny. Clinton left a military in which every brigade was ready for full scale combat, the reserves were in top shape, special forces were all over the world, making useful contacts (that we used in Afghanistan. Re-enlistments soared after the incredibly successful Balkans tiff and standards were high.

To nurse resentment over the Balkans is to zero in on minutiae in order to maintain delusion. All major war aims were achieved swiftly, professionally, and according to military advice. With not one US life lost to combat and all equipment/supplies replaced within six months.

The proof is in the outcome, a Europe at peace for the first time in 8,000 years, with US popularity skyrocketing across all of the continent except Russia and Serbia. And, yes, higher popularity in muslim lands!

And no, popularity is not everything, but it is how to keep allies (and we have pretty much lost all of ours.) It is the fundamental bulwark upon which Pax Americana rested. It reached a pinnacle under Clinton (as did every other measure of US strength, from military to fiscal to economic). And our world popularity, and all other metrics of health, and power, and success, have plummeted under Republican rule.

Socialist? Then why do small business startups thrive under dems, while monopoly soars under gops? The stock market does better, 90% of our national debt was accrued by gops. What the ###$ do you need, before you'll stop pressing your hands over your ears yelling "NAH!" in order not to hear?

Look, you seem a bright guy and I will grant you that there are some liberals who are the fruitcake lefties that you envision. But they do not control a political party. The democratic party is (for now) run by its pragmatists, while yours is run by a pack of raving loonies.

And that includes the same horde that McCain now surrounds himself with, while promising (with no details) reform.

Please try this experiment. Go to http://www.davidbrin.com/ostrich2a.html
and don't just skim it. (Which is what human nature would have you do.) Actually read it all... aloud.
And I mean aloud! Because (as you know) we humans have a million tricks that let us scan-dismiss things we don't like reading.

Okay, skim down to the section that begins "Which President...?" and start aloud from there.

If you do this, it may not change your mind. But at least you'll see why we moderate/independents and centrist liberals are riled up. (And that's only the stuff up to last May. There's been lots more, since then.)

You will have proved your openmindedness and given the moderate opposition a chance to lay out their case. And we will honor you for it.

David Brin said...

Two years ago I published this re military readiness.

http://www.davidbrin.com/readiness2.html

David Brin said...

Heck, also see "War in the 21st Century."
http://www.davidbrin.com/neocons.html

grayfort55 said...

Alright, Dr. Brin

I'll take your experiment. I'll contemplate your points. And I might even tackle the old guard like my Wing Commander who still thinks of all Democrats as socialist.

Tony Fisk said...

tacitus2:
Sorry for the delay (last post was in the wee small hours, and was in the way of a promissary note)

Anyway:
2006: The U.S. Army’s preparedness for war has eroded to levels not witnessed by our country in decades.

2007: Pentagon officials worry that among the just over 20 Army brigades left in the United States or at Army bases in Europe and Asia, none has enough equipment and manpower to be sent quickly into combat, except for an armored unit stationed permanently in South Korea

2008: is this recent enough for you?
A classified Pentagon assessment concludes that long battlefield tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with persistent terrorist activity and other threats, have prevented the U.S. military from improving its ability to respond to any new crisis

Greetings grayfort!
You mention 'being forced to lose by our own National Command Authority over Somalia' as a sore point. I can understand it would have been frustrating. My impressions were:
1. The troops were sent in by outgoing Bush Snr. (possibly as a partheon shot for Clinton)
2. The operation was a bit of a circus from the start.

Please don't take that as a snark. I am not particularly knowledgeable about that operation, and am curious to hear your side of it.

Travc said...

Zorg, when you go on a long rant assuming that authoritative tone, you should be more careful not to make lots of obvious factual errors. Just to note one, there are no F-22 Raptors in Iraq.

I agree with many of your points, but your 'persuasive abilities' make me want to disagree more than I actually do.

On the merits, I disagree about military R&D. What I don't think is wise is deploying incredibly expensive systems (especially in a rushed manner). The capacity to make those weapons systems (should they be appropriate and needed) is a good thing though. That capacity is much more broadly applicable.
--

Robert said:
The one hope Republicans have is if they return to their roots: smaller government and lower taxes.

Wrong frame IMO.
"More local control and less intrusive government" makes far more sense.

Travc said...

Doug s said:
The solution to 4GW is, as always, emulate Rome.

There is another solution. Allow part of the 4GW force to 'win' and become part of the establishment, denying the rest a significant base of support. (Even Rome did this on frequently.)

Think of it as the 'Northern Ireland' solution perhaps. Of course, part of this actually involves giving some ground... which most often is reasonable IMO since 4GW forces don't typically arise without some real injustices/grievances to rally around.

Just saying... one of the classic ways to resolve a conflict is to go for the third-way where the majority of both sides can (often correctly) claim a win.

Tony Fisk said...

The solution to 4GW is, as always, emulate Rome.

...or Malaysia (Really must look into that)

zorgon the malevolent said...

It's hardly possible for me to be more in agreement with Dr. Brin than when he affirms:

Nothing will more surely lose the meme war than to wage brutal "existential war" [with Islam]. We are supposed to be smart.

Doug S.:
Your solution is a short-term solution to 4GW, albeit a fatally self-destructive one, as Dr. Brin points out. There exist at least 2 other solutions, and both are infinitely preferable to delcaring the West to be in existential war with radical Islam.

4GW only occurs in failed 3rd-world states, so we can simply avoid military action in failed 3rd-world states. Yet another solution is to convert radical islamist states with western culture, which is happening in Iran and the Kingdom of Saud and other fundamentalist middle eastern states, albeit slowly.

The problem with using mass murder to win 4GW is that you win the battles and lose the war. The entire international community today viscerally recoils with revulsion from such actions, and if the U.S. engaged in genocidal mass murder to end a 4GW (not necessarily nuclear: viz., using fuel-air munitions, or napalm, or nerve gas), America would become a paraiah state, despised and isolated economically as well as diplomatically from the world community. Our economy would be badly hammered and America's soft power would drop to nil as well. Indeed, this is already happening to some extent.

We live in a very different 21st century world from the one Rome dominated, Doug S. Van Creveld calls it the "New Medievalism," with the U.N. secretary general playing the role of the Pope in the middle ages. Just as during the Middle Ages even a powerful secular state couldn't get much traction without the blessing of the pope, today even the most powerful nation-state can't do much without a dense alliance with many other nations, diplomaticaly and culturally and strategically and economically. Much of a nation's power today comes from int'l alliances and int'l trade and the "soft power" of unique cultural products like Japan's anime or America's hollywood movies, rather than just military force.

As a practical matter, the West is clearly and obviously not in an existential conflict with Islam, as Brin points out. And any effort on our part to falsely portray that we are will lose us the culture war. There's no possible way radical Islam can destroy the west. They can't militarily destroy the West, as radical Islam has no navy or army or ICBMS; they can't defeat America demographically, as we've now restricted immigration from middle eastern countries, and by people with a middle eastern ethnic background, to nearly zero. The attraction of medieval fundamentalist ideas in the West is nil -- on the contrary, the attraction goes all the other way, with young kids in theocratic Islamic dictatorships irresistibly attracted to Western heavy metal music and freedom of thought and womens rights and Western media and Western literature and philosophy and the Western scientific method. So how can radical Islam present an existential threat to America? They can't. It's absurd.

Just the opposite is happening. Western culture is slowly but surely destroying the medieval theocratic culture of the middle east. News stories in which Saudi women demonstrate to demand greater rights grow exponentially more common each year. This is happening throughout the middle east. Young people demand access to Western media, fashionable clothes, banned Western books, etc., and when they can't get this material through official channels, young people in the middle east download it covertly from the internet. The mullahs in Iran are frantically trying to block access to Western liberal democratic culture, to no avail. (The more they ban it, the more attractive it grows to Iranian youth!) All these middle eastern Islam theocracies are leaking Western culture and liberal democratic values and skeptical critical thinking into their population like sieves. There's no way to stop it. Just as with the Cold War against the USSR, all we need to do is wait, and these Islamic fundamentalist theocracies will eventually collapse. They are the ones in existential danger, not the West.

tacitus2:
Your claim about other forts being active is beside Dr. Brin's point because Fort Irwin is the main training facility for the U.S. army stateside. The reason Ft. Irwin has been largely shut down is that their equipment has been cannibalized and stripped for use in Iraq. Burning through expensive weaponry & spare parts is a two- for-one lose-lose situation. Not only does cannibalizing stateside weaponry for use in a forward combat area prevent combat units from being immediately combat-ready, it also impairs training, which damages combat readiness as well.

It's hard for me to see how you can dismiss all these reports that most of our brigades are not combat ready .

In order to dismiss all these reports, you would have to believe in an unreasonably large conspiracy.

travc:
Thanks for the factual correction re: F-22s. That's one mistake, however, which hardly qualifies as "lots of factual errors." Glad to hear my persuasive skills make you uncomfortable. We need to get back to a society in which persuasion rather than bullying or name-calling or demonization becomes the main mode of resolving disagreements.

Travc said...

Tacitus, Fort Irwin is a special (and very illustrative) case. One of the Army's greatest assets was that training team, which has been disbanded and sent into theater.

A sort of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs level of myopic idiocy.

zorgon the malevolent said...

Grayfort:
You sound like a reasonable guy, so I'd like to ask some simple questions. Please don't take offense. I don't mean any.

When your commanding officer says "I spent 35 years fighting communists in Viet Nam, and I'm not going to throw it all away by voting for a socialist," this seems to equate Obama not just with socialism, but with communism. In fact, your commander seems to be equating Obama and the Democrats with the Viet Cong.

Seriously, don't you think this is a little inaccurate? I mean, really -- do you or your C.O. honestly believe that Democrats are going to plant pungi sticks smeared with human feces in your front yard? Do you truly believe that Democrats in your local voting precinct will conceal bouncing betty mines along the places where you walk? Do you or your C.O. really think that Democrats will line up Repubs (if Demos get into power) against a wall and shoot them? Do you or your C.O. genuinely believe that Democrats will lie in wait as snipers and deliverately wound Repubs, in order to draw them in and kill more Repubs as they try to rescue their wounded comrades?

Those are the sorts of things the Viet Cong did in Nam. Democrats don't do those kinds of things in America. Doesn't it seem a little unreasonable to compare the Democrats to the Viet Cong?

Next, when your C.O. decries "socialism," I'd like to ask if you agree with free universal grade school education. America pioneered this practice in the 1850s, and the rest of the world emulated us. Do you believe America would be better off if we abandoned free universal education and went back to the old methods prior to the 1850s, where most of our society was illerate because most people couldn't pay for a private teacher?

You see, the reason I ask is that free universal grade school education is a form of socialism. The evidence seems to show that it has immensely benefited all societies that have used it.

Also, I'd like to know how you feel about public libraries, Grayfort. Do you think they're a good idea? Because free public libraries are also a socialist institution, one started by Andrew Carnegie in this country in the 1870s. Free public libraries seem to have worked out pretty well for us.

Now, let me point out that I'm not trying to claim that all socialist institutions or all forms of socialism are good. Evidence seems to show that many socialist ideas and many types of socialist institutions don't work. For example, centralized economic control is just a disaster, and the evidence on that is absolutely clear. Likewise, social welfare of the kind you get with council flat housing and the dole in Europe doesn't seem to work well either. But this just means that some socialist ideas work, and others don't.

I'd also like to ask you whether you agree that America, and all the other G8 countries, are a mix of socialism and capitalism. We have some elements of socialism, as for example the FDIC which guarantees deposits in banks by the federal government up to $100,000, and that seems to work pretty well. It prevents runs on banks from creating a domino effect that wrecks our economic system. Would you prefer to get rid of the FDIC and go back to the bad old days of the 1906 panic, when a run on a single bank threatened the entire economy of the United States?

If not, well, remember that the FDIC is a form of socialism.

I'd also like to ask if you think insurance is a good idea. Insurance is a form of socializing risk. We could, of course, do without it, but that would make life very dangerous for everyone. One accident, one bad set of coincidences, and your employer could go out of business, you might wind up with a totalled car and no way to pay for it, etc. If insurance is a good idea and works well to mitigate risk in our society, how does that square with your C.O.'s implication that all socialism is bad?

Of course American society also has lots of capitalism free market elements too. Do you think that adding a few socialist institutions, like free public K-12 education or insurance or FDIC deposit insurance, to American society necessarly means that we must eliminate all (or even most) of the capitalist features of our society? If so, why?

Free public libraries seem to have co-existed with American corporate big business and a freewheeling stock market for a long time. Doesn't the evidence seem to show that some elements of socialism in American society can co-exist easily and effectively with elements of capitalism?

Lastly, I'd like to ask about Europe. Right now the French pay 22% taxes cumulatively on average, while on average Americans pay 19% taxes. The French have a lot more socialist elements in their society: they get free health care, they have maglev trains that travel at 300 mph, they have some of the fastest broadband internet connections in the world, they work fewer hours and get more vacation time than Americans. The French seem to be doing pretty well with a more socialist-leaning society than America.

In America, our roads are riddled with potholes, our bridges are crumbling, our water mains are collapsing, our broadband is slower than Estonia or Latvia on average and getting worse, our health care system is a worldwide scandal, our reregulated financial markets are an Enronized joke and they're falling apart from scams and non-stop thievery... The list goes on and on. Europeans seem to be doing a whole lot better under their more socialist societies than we Americans are doing under our wild west devil-take-the-hindmost more laissez faire capitalist system.

So here's my question:

What's so wrong with socialism?

Mind you, I'm not saying "Let's make America into a socialist paradise like France!" France is no paradise, they have their problems too. Higher unemployment, difficulty in hiring because of difficulty in firing workers, a large militant undereducated unassmiliated Muslim minority, a much less dynamic economy than the U.S., a much worse grad school educational system than America, it's far harder to start a new business in France than in America, etc., etc.

All I'm saying is that a lot of Americans are starting to notice that Europe is far ahead of America now in lots of ways (not all, but many), from particle physics at CERN to medical technology with stem cells to maglev trains to broadband internet to health care that's cheap and universally available and actually works. So why does the word "socialism" instantly connote something evil, something to be feared, a demonic force of darkness, a malefic monstrous horror that will eat our souls?

Ymarsakar said...

Ymarsakar, I thank you for coming back and trying to engage us by answering questions. The effort is honored. Nevertheless, all you did was whirl around a lot of words. Fancy flowing and very very indignant words (and metaphors!) But not a single metric to justify continuing Republican rule.

What use are "metrics" when your system of measurement is not equal to my own? There's no standard of communication until there's an agreed upon basis for commonality. And I was satisfied with providing the link and letting people be exposed to it, before I started claiming things that people would find patently insane, by their qualifications. Of course, I spoke too soon. Even general attestations of the classical liberal viewpoint are lambasted as GOP politics.

Once they understood that we do not think like them, yet we both see each other as the unreasonable and incorrect sort, then proper understanding of what is at stake shall start working.

"We", meaning, of course, both classical liberals that started in the Republican party, started in the Democrat party, or just conservatives that came to the same end via religion or other principles.

There's nothing about reaching a common ground to comments talking about me being biased, as if the authors here aren't biased. Being biased is no sin nor trait of dishonor. People too often believe that extremism in defense of liberty is a vice. That sitting on a fence is the real virtue. It isn't the real virtue.

You supposedly like capitalist competition?

I don't like wealth redistribution. Complain about the Republicans all you wish, but it will not change the fact that welfare, buying the votes of the poor, combined with increasing taxes on all levels, is a self-perpetuating Road to Serfdom. Like the EU is currently. This road can never be sustained by the Republicans for many reasons. One, their base won't tolerate. Two, they cannot sustain such programs without raising taxes, at least somewhere, thereby making the economy go into recession and reducing economic growth. Eventually their social pork barrel projects go bankrupt and they get un-elected.

The Democrats have made a business of being corrupt, raising taxes, providing favors and programs to their pals and constituents, and never being un-elected for doing so. Their base doesn't care. They have the media support to prevent negative PR from backlashing at their practices, such as preventing Congress from taking a vote on drilling for oil as gas prices go up and kill people's economic growth. I suppose that's not a problem for Pelosi, but it is a problem for the people she ostensibly represents.

The Republicans do not have the advantages to sustain the Road to Serfdom, while the Democrats do. Putting Democrats into power is not a solution to making Americans more independent of the government. This can be argued candidate by candidate, but we're talking about Obama for the Presidency, here. Not some small town candidate from the Dems or someone like James Weber.

But the Iraq war was one big excuse for Bush to hand out no-bid contracts worth hundreds of billions to close friends.

And so you listened to the Dems on this score as they produced propaganda against Bush for years and Bush did little to nothing about it? And thus you ignore the environmental advantages and rebuilding Bush's forces are doing in Iraq, compared to Saddam's destruction of the marshes and the direct order to burn Kuwaitt's oil fields. Does ecological protection stop just because of Democrat propaganda concerning Bush's "cronies"?

Nobody else was going to do it, except Bush.

You guys howled at Clinton over his losing $80,000 in a failed land deal.

Speak for yourself, David Brin. At the time of 2000, I barely knew what the D and the R after people's names on the news meant. That little partisan history has nothing to do with me.
The US Army has been converted into a swat team unable to wage war.

They are waging war, which is why war "games" are no longer much in vogue. They can get as much war time experience as they want, in Iraq. That is what they are focused on. That is what Petraeus has chosen to conduct as a strategy. Counter-insurgency. Not countering enemy armies.

All war games are results on paper. They're not real. They can be useful, but when was the last time a paper war game produced a successful counter-insurgency, like the one Petraeus has conducted in Iraq? Or do you believe fighting insurgencies, terrorists, murderers, and suicide bombers isn't proper "warfare"? That's what the Army thought after Vietnam. That is the consequence of allowing a war to go into a huge disaster. The consequences for future generations in future wars are quite drastic once you allow people to sabotage America's success in one war.

http://www.davidbrin.com/ostrich2a.html

I have already glanced over that when I read your original post here. It had nothing specific I wanted to bring to contention in the comment threads.

Vote once for Obama and you cover your racist ass from then on.

Do you not realize that any person who steps out of the sanctioned Democrat circle dance, becomes persona non grata? Even hardcore Leftists get attacked for even disagreeing with Leftist policies or methods. Just because somebody votes for Obama, does not mean their arse is covered from then on. They'll be as much targets for character assassination and threats against their families as before, if the Left thinks they are a threat.

Robert said...

The neocon movement is a disgrace.


That's not the truth, Robert. That's just your biased opinion. Not something I need to pay attention to.

It's classical Leftist tactics to start a fight on the terrain they want to fight in. You chose the neocon movement. As if any tactician would accept your choice of battleground simply because not to do so would be 'ignoring you'.

I will applaud when the corrupt bastardized remnants of the Republican party collapses under its own weight and is replaced by a party that truly understands the conservative ideals that once were the foundation of what it meant to be a Republican.

I'll give you a one hand clap to speed you on the way.

Both of you are incredibly biased and clueless about what is long term American interest.

Suddenly a foreigner knows more than I do about American internal politics, but not only that, deems fit to call me clueless in the bargain. Now that's superiority for you.

Didn't know somebody could jump that far in seeking self-justified conclusions.

Do you neocon Americans honestly not have any idea of the pain you cause poorer nations everywhere?

Do you honestly have any idea of what happened in Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan?

I see your opinions not as mainstream (even if they are lots of you in America).

Lots of Guns too.

Your opinions are downright loony and would not be respected as "conservative" in any Asian country.

Nobody said the Declaration of Independence would be accepted as "conservative" in any Asian country, that's for sure.

This is how I know you are not real conservatives.

Damn straight we're not "real conservatives", if by real conservatives you mean right wing reactionist luddites that have no intent to further the progress of the human species towards a more enlightened future. Conservatives in America ain't even the conservatives in Britain, in case people hadn't noticed by now.

Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar and Obama is a legal scholar.

You tell me how Obama got to be Harvard Law Review President without actually, you know, publishing anything of his own in Law.

Very seriously, you need to detox off of the right-wing noise. There is such a thing as objective reality.

Objective reality has something to do with winning wars, like Iraq and Afghanistan. When you lose Vietnam, you lose Vietnam, even if the military was winning it for America. That's objective.

Currently, nobody has addressed the sentiments of honest classical liberals and conservatives at the link I have posted.

All people want to do is to make self-righteous and indignant self-martyrship claims, with the exception of David Brin and Travc.

Oops, Cross out Travc, just remembered who was the author of that comment.

Many of you might think we are stupid, but we also have our views of things. The GOP might have had some real losers on watch the past 8 years, but many of us still remember the diasters the military underwent under the Clinton administration.

Now suddenly the people who attacked me as clueless and in need of "detox", suddenly are stepping more cautiously. Wonder why.

David Brin said...

Grayfort, quick question. Are you in the Air Force? Ah, that explains a lot.

Please, spend time around Army guys. And especially the one service that the Bushites never dared touch. The Navy.

======

Y, are you really unable to listen to yourself? You are very articulate and you bury us under a blizzard of words. But you then deride the word "metric" as meaningless and retort with NOT ONE SINGLE FACT.

I confess it was an entertaining dance, filled with fury at "democrat this and that"... but since your strawman bears no resemblance to anybody here, nor anybody we know, nor anybody but a cartoon boogeyman, it really seems... well... a bit loony?

Again, George Bush has made the matter here very, very simple. We don't have to shout past each other with ambiguities and subjective comparisons. Everything is quite objective. The facts speak for themselves.

Over the last eight years, four nations have grown much, much stronger, while the USA and its "Pax" have deteriorated by EVERY CONCEIVABLE METRIC.

Health of our:
economy
small businesses
private sector innovation
energy
environment
fiscal/debt/deficits
trade
world popularity
alliances
military (in all ways, top to bottom)
intelligence services
the civil service
technology...

...oh, and science. Especially science.

Spin around and around and then stop and point. You will not fail to see a place where our government has failed.

What are those four nations who are immeasurably stronger today, while we weaken?

Iran
Saudi Arabia
Russia
China

These are the assertions on the table. Instead of capering about, hurling ridiculous insults (socialism? My ass.) Kindly look at the assertions and take issue with any of them! Bring facts to the table. Real, honest to God facts.

Again, find one metric by which we have been governed well. One.

timactual said...

" dedicated cleanliness to filthy habits"

"What the hell is that all about?"

Didn't you ever see Dr. Strangelove? "... conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids."

Matt DeBlass said...

Zorgon @ socialism

Very well put. Our government provides a lot of services and institutions that can be considered socialist, such as the ones you mentioned specifically, and also things like roads, bridges, law enforcement and one might even say the military.

But at heart socialism, in the sense we see here, isn't the sort of threatening alien political ideology that the word, in some contexts, seems to connote. It's a business transaction. We give the government money, it provides us services. It's bigger and more complicated than hiring a plumber, but on some level very similar.

Of course, the problem starts when we feel we aren't getting our money's worth, then it's time to talk to Management.

Doug S. said...

So how can radical Islam present an existential threat to America? They can't. It's absurd.

That's basically what I meant when I said that they are ridiculously weak. They don't have the capability to achieve even the smallest fraction of their goals.

Yet.

And that's the problem. Today, they really are just a bunch of guys with AK-47s and explosives holed up in caves in what may be the most backward place on the entire planet. In twenty years - who knows? If Pakistan and North Korea can make a nuclear weapon, any country can, and you don't need an ICBM to deliver and detonate a nuclear bomb.

Doug S. said...

(Note: I agree that going in with guns blazing, today, is probably just going to make us look bad and make people angrier. Just because this really is an existential war doesn't mean that the best way to fight it is to kill lots of people. Considering the amount of damage they are currently capable of doing, just letting them go on blowing themselves up until they're all gone would be cheaper, in terms of both financial and human costs, than sending in the death squads. Once they actually do blow up New York with a fission bomb, though, we'll salt the earth with radioactive fallout and nobody will fault us for it.)

Robert said...

@Ymarsakar: You honestly don't listen to people or bother to observe them, do you. Claiming that I am a liberal is laughable. I am an independent with strong libertarian leanings. I voted straight Republican most of my life (as part of the loyal opposition in Massachusetts; I never voted for a Republican for President (writing in my dead brother's name as a protest vote - my brother, dead, would still be a better President than the fools that we were given a choice to vote for).

My core beliefs are for lower taxes, reduced spending, and smaller government. I have seen the Republican party abandon those core principles and become a business-oriented Democrat party. They are for big government, plenty of taxes, and tax breaks and loopholes for their rich benefactors. They have turned their back on what it meant to be Republican, and this betrayal started during the Reagan years.

Indeed, the last decent Republican administration was the Nixon administration, and he was tossed out of office because of his loyalty to his people (and his willingness to lie to protect them). Well, and other factors as well.

Your insistence that I and people like me are liberals and democrats and socialists proves only that you are prejudiced against those who refuse to vote and believe exactly as you do. Well, just because I don't wear a Red shirt and aren't on "your" team doesn't make me the enemy.

And if your party had had the decency to select someone decent and honorable for the Republican candidate rather than someone willing to do anything to get his hands on power and willing to sacrifice the future of the nation on a bloody toss of the dice, then I very well would be voting Republican.

Instead, I'll vote for what I perceive as the Lesser of two evils. I feel that for all my reservations about Obama, he is a hell of a lot better than McCain. And he's also not a Clinton, which is even better in my book.

Naturally you'll dismiss me and my words anyway. For you have eyes but do not use them, and have the truth before you but refuse to see it. My brother had a saying when he ran for State Representative: There are politicians who can see but are blind. I am a politician who is blind but sees the issues clearly.

Sadly, he didn't make it in, and died before he could try for a second shot. But his words and his ideals mean a lot to me... and I believe he'd be disgusted at what direction the Republican party has turned... with blatant corruption visible at every turn yet pointing fingers at the opposition and claiming they are far worse.

I think thou dost protest too much.

Rob H.

Sociotard said...

Hee-Hee! Bob Barr might not be the right man for President (okay, he's definitely not the right man for president), but he is good for a laugh:

http://www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/politics/entries/2008/09/16/barr_files_suit_to_remove_obam.html

Libertarian presidential nominee Bob Barr’s campaign filed suit Tuesday seeking to remove Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama from the ballot in Texas, alleging that the two major candidates missed the deadline for officially filing to be on the ballot. The lawsuit by the former Republican congressman from Georgia claims that neither McCain nor Obama met the requirement of Texas law that all candidates provide “written certification” of their nomination “before 5 p.m. on the 70th day before election day,” because neither had been formally nominated by their respective parties in time. That would have been Aug. 25. Obama did not accept his party’s nomination until Aug. 28, McCain his on Sept. 4. “The seriousness of this issue is self-evident,” the lawsuit states. “The hubris of the major parties has risen to such a level that they do not believe that the election laws of the State of Texas apply to them.” Pat Dixon, chairman of the Texas Libertarian Party, issued a statement saying, “Libertarian principles require personal responsibility for your acts and failures. Obama and McCain failed to meet the deadlines. They must follow the law like everyone else.” Barr first raised the issue in a press release earlier this month. Ashley Burton, a spokesperson for the Texas Secretary of State’s office, responded at that time, saying, “Both parties made filings with our office before the deadline, supplemented their filings and will be on the November ballot.” Barr plans to hold a news conference at the Texas Supreme Court on Thursday.

Cliff said...

ymarsakar said:
The Democrats have made a business of being corrupt, raising taxes, providing favors and programs to their pals and constituents, and never being un-elected for doing so.

Ha! Hahaha!

ymarsakar strikes me as being the stupid neocon version of Zorgon. Pages and pages of text, but without the educational links.

Sociotard said...

Although, if the above were to work, it would eliminate one of the most valuable Red states . . .

And contribute to the 1000 McVeighs who would say that the election was unfair. Bad Sociotard! No considering rigging elections!

Travc said...

Zorg, re: existential threat thing...
It surprises me you don't consider Islamism / Islamists an existential threat to the US. It is, but not in the way the right-wingers who originally brought it up think.

Isn't this the G4W thing? Islamists provoke the US into actions which ultimately destroy the US as a nation.

Setting the conditions for the takeover of a fascist government that starts WWIII would be a good way to make the US cease to exist (at least in any form we would recognize).
--

Ymarsakar,
My detox comment was directly related to the 'answer' link you posted in response to my 'why so afraid of Dems' question.

'Objective reality' does not refer to the military. It refers to facts/conditions which can be independently observed. Since you seem only interested in discussing your opinions and feelings and not real world facts, I really have nothing to say. If you are jumping to your conclusions with no good basis in reality, you are simply insane from my POV.
--

While we seem to be making political bias confessions...

I generally start from a libertarian POV as my 'default' position. However, there are quite often very good pragmatic reasons do deviate from that default on specific issues.

I really do try to be a good scientist and live by the mantra 'I could be wrong'. So please, do feel free to call me on something if I am mistaken. I only sound like an arrogant bastard ;)

Travc said...

Cliff,
Which Zorg though... there are at least two people stuck in that brain of his ;)
--

sociotard,
Where is that 'slap on the wrist' emoticon?
I thought the exact same thing re: Barr's suit in TX.

David Brin said...

Dang, we have been so busy arguing here in the playground I’ve set up -- talking about how the republicans suck from every conservative or pragmatic or tangible perspective, that I’ve forgotten there are actual leftyliberals out there, who disagree with the GOP re matters of... well... actual left-right policy!

(How quant! Me? I'd vote for Ike if he were around. All I want is somebody who will put the FBI and auditors and inspectors back to work.)

anyway, I watched this item here and found myself fuming “Why are you raising those silly-ass touch-feely liberal issues! They won’t listen to THOSE! " Had to stop and have a good laugh at myself. http://www.synthetichuman.com/imvotingrepublican/film.php

Re socialism, three things:

1- When the dems can point to nearly all recent sins against prudence, fiscal responsibility and capitalist competition coming from the neoconright, that accusation is laughable.

90% of our debt came from 4 repub presidents. Small businesses thrive under dems, monopolies boom under gops. The stock market and economy do VASTLY better! Consistently and always.

That... is... always... Explain that. Ridiculous.

2- Socialism? You Dare? Socialism is where elites pick economic winners and losers, without allowing competition according to open and transparent market conditions. The Republicans have demolished nearly all accountability systems. Most military contracts - especially half a trillion worth in Iraq - are no longer let out for competitive bidding, but are given DIRECTLY to friends and cronies of the Bush and Cheney families. Anyone who protests these “emergency” bypasses of law? They are fired, diverted re-assigned. And, in some cases, they have died.

Oh, and McCain has yet to show a scintilla of awareness of this. Nor offered a single "reform" specific.

3- Grow up! Adam Smith was the father of capitalism, right? Well he laughed at socialism and considered its threat negligible. Communism seemed scary for a while. But Adam Smith - and history - show a far worse enemy of free enterprise and markets. If you do not know what it is, travel in time to 99% of human cultures. See the real enemy. And it’s in charge, right now.

re existential threats. Thing is... we WILL have more terror hits. Blue America is in the crosshairs and will take the harm... while Red America screams fits about “war against Islam.” But blues know, even if they nuke a whole city, that’s small potatoes compared to what we faced daily, all our lives, from a Soviet Union armed with 10,000 bombs. THAT was existential fear.

There comes a point where you need a sense of proportion. Yes, go after the bastards. And not with writs and prosecutors but real force. But surgical force! Not ruining the very thing we supposedly are trying to save.

Again, the beneficiaries of the Bush years have been Iran, SArabia, Russia and China. The victim? Us.

tacitus2 said...

For the many links, many thanks.

Fort Irwin may be a unique case. That elevates it beyond anecdotal.

My reading of all the articles left me with some conclusions and some questions.

1. We would have difficulty rapidly deploying a combat brigade to an unexpected place.
2. most of the articles date from, or refer to 2006, presumably being derived from the OMB report of that year.
3. the most recent one (thanks Tony) expressed a general (bad pun) feeling that the potential threats that would require a combat deployment were less than in the past. Land combat between nations seems to be a little out of fashion.
4.Nobody is questioning our ability to defend our shores, so cancel that drilling on the village green with the militia.

I would have liked a bit more on the methodology of ranking from C-1 to C-4. It made it hard to tell just what the status of these "unready" units was.

I remain unconvinced that the US Army has been severely damaged. It is still ranked the most potent ground force on the planet by people who find it useful to calculate such things. They certainly are being used at their maximum ability, and the argument that we could not respond to a repeat Korea 1950 scenario is valid.

But we also do not have a Janisary Corps ready to march on Tehran, which is some comfort. There is a reason why America had zip for standing army for roughly the first half of our nation's life. Temptations to foreign and domestic adventurism...

Tacitus2

tintinaus said...

Ymarsakar, There have been a lot of conjecture for why the US went in Iraq posted here and some ideas have been seriously whacko. But I think we can now announce YOU the winner of the golden WTF award.

And thus you ignore the environmental advantages and rebuilding Bush's forces are doing in Iraq... Does ecological protection stop just because of Democrat propaganda concerning Bush's "cronies"


Seriously, I haven't laughed so much for ages as when you claimed the Iraqi war was waged for environmental reasons.

Tony Fisk said...

Actually, there has been some ecological good from the Iraqi invasion: the re-instatement of the marshlands (which Hussein had drained to spite the marsh arabs)

But, y is just following an Ed Wood script as far as I'm concerned. His rhetoric is utterly without substance. (Even the link he offered is dud!)

Still, by all means, pay out the hemp!

wrt existential war with Islam. It might be better expressed as Islam being in an existential war with the West. (duh: *asymmetric* warfare!) You don't need the 'radical' adjective: the average middle eastern moslem does not like the West and considers it decadent.

Ah! But things change markedly when you ask the same questions of Western moslems. While there's still a bit of disdain, it's nowhere near as bad.

The message I take from this is that there is a lot of misunderstanding, on both sides. It can be cleared up by better communications and contact.

'War' is the antithesis of this notion, and I will not wage it.

Gilmoure said...

For a brief, straight forward rundown of the why the U.S. is in the economic straights it is and some ideas on what to do next, Joseph Stiglitz pretty much nails it: How to prevent the next Wall Street crisis

For all the new-fangled financial instruments, this was just another one of those financial crises based on excess leverage, or borrowing, and a pyramid scheme.

The new "innovations" simply hid the extent of systemic leverage and made the risks less transparent; it is these innovations that have made this collapse so much more dramatic than earlier financial crises. But one needs to push further: Why did the Fed fail?

First, key regulators like Alan Greenspan didn't really believe in regulation; when the excesses of the financial system were noted, they called for self-regulation -- an oxymoron.

Second, the macro-economy was in bad shape with the collapse of the tech bubble. The tax cut of 2001 was not designed to stimulate the economy but to give a largesse to the wealthy -- the group that had been doing so well over the last quarter-century.

The coup d'grace was the Iraq War, which contributed to soaring oil prices. Money that used to be spent on American goods now got diverted abroad. The Fed took seriously its responsibility to keep the economy going.

It did this by replacing the tech bubble with a new bubble, a housing bubble. Household savings plummeted to zero, to the lowest level since the Great Depression. It managed to sustain the economy, but the way it did it was shortsighted: America was living on borrowed money and borrowed time.

Finally, at the center of blame must be the financial institutions themselves. They -- and even more their executives -- had incentives that were not well aligned with the needs of our economy and our society.

They were amply rewarded, presumably for managing risk and allocating capital, which was supposed to improve the efficiency of the economy so much that it justified their generous compensation. But they misallocated capital; they mismanaged risk -- they created risk.

They did what their incentive structures were designed to do: focusing on short-term profits and encouraging excessive risk-taking.

This is not the first crisis in our financial system, not the first time that those who believe in free and unregulated markets have come running to the government for bail-outs.


***

I apologize for my outburst yesterday. It's not been easy, coming around to from my earlier, naive political beliefs (falling for the socially divisive left/right issues) and I took some rather stupid words to heart. Shoulda' just let them roll off my back. My bad.

Ymarsakar said...

@Ymarsakar: You honestly don't listen to people or bother to observe them, do you.

I don't use the word "listen" to mean as the Europeans used it to mean: to obey without question or logic.

So accusations that I'm not listening to you people are invalid. We're not communicating on the same plane and you wouldn't want to in the first place.

The universal translator was already given you. If you wish to ignore it, that's your prerogative, Robert.

Y, are you really unable to listen to yourself? You are very articulate and you bury us under a blizzard of words. But you then deride the word "metric" as meaningless and retort with NOT ONE SINGLE FACT.

When your definition of a fact is to claim that the Army and Reserves have been destroyed by Bush and his wars, that's not a fact. If you want one of those "facts", then I'm not going to give it to you. For one thing, the fact is that the Army and Reserves have been used, as they were created for. When you make a tool and use it, you do not destroy it. It perhaps needs resharpening but the Army and the Reserves have not had their combat force factors rendered incapable by the Iraq war, but increased to the highest levels seen in, not just world history but American history as well.

Can you then say, after stating your facts, which are mutually exclusive with my facts, that "metrics" still matter? How can they still matter when you view the Army and Reserves as being -100 and I view them as +100. Metrics only matter if two people agree on the same reality. We don't.

Maybe you can have a discussion about metrics and making it matter between one person that believes free will is good and another person that believes free will is evil, but I treat metrics in such situations as non-decisive factors.

And especially the one service that the Bushites never dared touch. The Navy.


You mean the stuff the Diversity Bullies pulled off at Annapolis and various other command parts of the Navy?

Yeah, Bush didn't touch that much.

but since your strawman bears no resemblance to anybody here

As if I would bother talking about anybody here. They are not relevant to the truth. Since when was people's opinions relevant to what is true? It isn't. People's actions are. Propaganda and illusions are for they can convince people of things that aren't true, thus changing people's actions and thus the truth. But simple opinions do not affect the truth or falsity of any one thing.

If justice was your forte, you would have directed the strawman accusations against your commenters who labeled my positions as easily knocked down caricatures to be belittled and shunned.

I, at least, state that there is a mutual exclusive clause at work: which states that both positions cannot be true at once: one must be false. Your commenters simply say self-righteous and unworthy things about they being right and everybody else opposed to them being wrong, whether they know that person or not.

Like Gilmour, who seems to have unresolved issues.

So now I'm a socialist. Wow!

I'll be damned if anyone calls me a socialist!

Meh. Democrats are not socialists.


That kind of logical syllogism is kind of funny.

But, of course, strawmen only come from supporters of the classical liberals for Iraq and Afghanistan, Brin.

That's patently absurd, like the logic that says a conservative is a socialist, therefore Democrats are not socialists because a conservative, who is not a socialist, would never vote for a Democrat simply because they are not GOP/Republican/Bush.

The loops that has to go through is not something I'm interested in addressing.

Again, George Bush has made the matter here very, very simple.

George Bush ain't in on this little argument, Brin. What does he have to do with my positions? Do you just bring him up so you can knock down my supposed arguments more easily?

I don't know who you think Bush is, but he ain't God and he ain't responsible for every disaster you've described, real or imagined.

nor anybody we know
What does the fact that you don't know any of the Democrats, Leftists, Communists, and Socialists that we do, have to do with things? Can we say convenience sample bias?

Everything is quite objective.

Morality is objective? You have got to be kidding me. Facts are objective, but it doesn't mean your "interpretations of facts" are objective as well. Bad logic there.

What people in a society see as morally wrong for Bush to do is going to be different than what other people in a different see as morally wrong. And since there are more than 2 societies currently in America, John Edward's two Americas combined with rich vs poor, black vs white, and the various other identity politics the Left have sweated blood to create in order to divide America up further, you have an easy climate for subjective disagreement.

Your claims of "objectivity", David Brin, have nothing to do with reinforcing the truth of your claims. One cannot claim objectivity as the proof of one's rightness. Evidence proves your rightness, not your subjective beliefs about the evidence you see as real. There's a difference.

The evidence of Iraq, under Bush, is itself perfectly adequate ot disproving your claims, David. You, however, base your arguments upon the logical premise that the evidence of Iraq and the military cannot possibly disprove your arguments. That was never true to begin with.

As for Bush re-directing troops to Iraq, AQ had to do the same and they did the same. This lessened the pressure on Afghanistan to the point where small US forces could continue to fight there, even with useless NATO allies like Germany and France sitting up in the North with their thumbs up their arse.

Now that AQ is pulling out of Iraq, they are now free to devote such resources to Afghanistan, to killing more people there, both American and indig.

This is supposed to be a good thing in some people's viewpoints in their criticisms about Bush directing resources to Iraq. It's not a good thing, however. It's not a bad thing either. It's an action with consequences, and like all actions with consequences in warfare, the responsible adults deal with it instead of finding a god figure to lay all the blame at. People that want to get something done don't play the blame game.

People here want to play the blame game. Well, okay, that's still part of the liberty bought for us by America's armed forces, after all.

Spin around and around and then stop and point. You will not fail to see a place where our government has failed.

You are no god, David Brin. You are not omniscient. Even you must recognize that your "conception" of things is not 100% full proof. A man who has no doubt concerning his plans and statements, is not a man you want in charge of anything important. Doubt is important for those with power to exercise over those weaker than they. Introspection is important for people who believe themselves full of virtue and empty of vice and flaws.

Nobody is right and 100% secure on all things, David. Not even you. Neither Bush, Mcain, nor Obama. Not even America. Which also applies to America's enemies and backstabbing allies.

Nobody that actually recognizes the value of wisdom can say "spin around and around and then stop and point: you will not see a place where [my claims have a deficiency]."

There is no such thing as an impregnable fortress: no such thing as a perfect defense, a perfectly drilled and ready peace time army formation, or any such thing made by the hands of man.

What are those four nations who are immeasurably stronger today, while we weaken?

Why is this a problem in your eyes? When you work your best at weakening the authority of the Presidency, by making all the issues about Bush and his disastrous policies, in your eyes, why do you suddenly then talk about America's foreign enemies after ensuring that America is weak domestically from internal strife and argument?

A house divided falls. That's an age old truism. You think Obama will unite this nation? You think McCain will? I doubt either can, but I do not doubt that McCain will try and Obama will not give a damn, either way.

These are the assertions on the table. Instead of capering about, hurling ridiculous insults (socialism? My ass.) Kindly look at the assertions and take issue with any of them! Bring facts to the table. Real, honest to God facts.

I never once claimed anything about socialism. That was Zorgon and Belle, in this thread, Brin.

You dare to actually talk about me throwing up strawmen and you bringing facts to the table, and then thinking these delusional attempts at making things up will be just ignored by me? I think not.

The facts are that I did not claim anything about socialists or socialism. Search for those terms yourself, if you don't believe me. Zorgon and the person he was responding to, started that topic up, not me. Trying to label my arguments "Zorgon's", is rather deceptive and manipulative.

BTW: I can pretty much guarantee you have never met an actual socialist much less a leftist if you think the Dems are not a centrist/center-right party. I can also assume you are American (as am I).-Travc

Just because your commenters here want to attribute positions to me that I have not mentioned, does not mean you get to repeat such baseless charges, Brin, as if they were true. You do not have the excuse of reading illiteracy on this score, nor do you have the excuse that you forget who these people are. They are your commenters, not mine. I don't know them and they don't know me, but you know them and you know who said what to whom. So do not pretend that there's some legitimate issue of mine that you can address with "Socialism? My ass".

By your own criteria, Brin, there are no "real, honest to God facts" that you will accept as proof validative of you being wrong and your opponents being right. Your certainty on this score is rather clear by now. Constantly asking for such things proves nothing except your belief that none such honest facts exist. All such facts must be dishonest and unreal. And that's how you will treat them as. That is how you have treated them as.

Ymarsakar said...

Seriously, I haven't laughed so much for ages as when you claimed the Iraqi war was waged for environmental reasons.

I am not a child to think that the consequences of one's actions are directly derived from the intentions and reasons behind those actions.

Consequences derive from one's actions and they have nothing to do with your "intentions" or "reasons". Bad consequences will occur whether you had good reasons or bad. Good consequences will occur, regardless of the evil intentions of a person.

To believe that reality is shaped simply by solipsism, is rather useless. Actually, it's entirely useless.

Ymarsakar said...

Alan Greenspan was an inside discipline of Ayan Rand. One cannot truly call her conservative.

Ymarsakar said...

My detox comment was directly related to the 'answer' link you posted in response to my 'why so afraid of Dems' question.

And that's why it is directly wrong.

There was no confusion on this score: at least, not by me.

Robert said...

@Ymarsakar: You are quite talented at political doublespeak. You take fragments of other people's arguments and claim that is the entirety of the other person's argument. You then hit on that distorted view and paint that person as something they are not.

We've seen this before. It's something that was done to Senator Obama time and time again. Are you going to require people to speak in fragmented paragraphs that use none of the rules of grammar and style in order to hold the actual discussion with you? Then again, if you only had fragments that gave you nothing to attack with, you would either ignore that argument or no doubt insult that person by claiming they can't write properly.

As for the topics on hand, you claim that neither Obama nor McCain could be effective Presidents but that McCain is the lesser of two evils in terms of ineptitude. Considering that while Wall Street was tumbling around his ears, McCain was spouting out the same old platitude of "the economy is fundamentally strong" while ignoring the fact more and more Americans are losing their jobs and more and more Americans are losing their homes, I honestly wonder at how you can naively claim the Republicans better than the Democrats in this.

The Republicans got us into this mess. Some of it was signed into law during the Clinton Administration, true, but under a Republican-controlled House and Senate. The deregulations of the financial industry allowed this financial hurricane to form and strike, with repercussions that are being felt across the globe. Yet you claim the very people who poisoned the well and led us to this tainted pool are the ones who will save us.

Even now, McCain offers platitudes and Washington-speak rather than solutions. Obama might not have all the answers. But he's got better ideas than McCain... to the point that McCain has started to borrow heavily from points that Obama has been talking for a while now.

I see nothing in your words that proves that McCain would do a better job than Obama. I see no facts, no links, no proof that the Republicans have a more sound solution for what has happened to the financial structure of this nation than the Democrats. All I see are empty words.

But I do offer you some hope in return. If you truly feel that McCain is not the best-suited candidate... then vote for the libertarian third-party candidate. Protest the Republicans misuse and abuse of government by voting for Barr. Prove your ethics and beliefs are not just more party politics.

You won't, of course.

Rob H.

P.S. - I find it interesting that in the wake of Hurricane Ike's near-annihilation of Galveston, TX and crippling of Houston, TX that we've not seen anything about this situation. It seems that Houston has been abandoned much as New Orleans was... and that FEMA and the federal government have once again dropped the ball.

Ymarsakar said...

It's something that was done to Senator Obama time and time again.

Now people are bringing him in as ammo. That's incredible.

Ymarsakar said...

Incredible in the sense that Obama a victim=good and just. Your opponents when they decry your unjust and double standards, suddenly are trolls.

And that's not caricature or strawmen of people's arguments here.

Robert said...

And you just proved my point. Thank you.

Rob H.

Steve B said...

As Golem pointed out above (and nobody saw fit to reply to), much of the list of changes in the Republican party that David posted in the original post can just as equally be applied to the Democrats. I find them equally culpable in the last 8 years, and especially so in the last 2.

But what really bothers me about the Ostrich argument isn't the list of facts. I don't dispute the facts - eight years of Dubya have indeed been a disaster for this country, and one I'd been predicting since before the 2000 Primaries. (In fact, I made a bunch of predictions about Bush, mostly in 2000 -- the only economic one which hasn't come true yet was that I predicted inflation at 8-10% by the end of his second term -- there's still time for that, though...)

The problem I have can be summed up in one very simple factual sentence: John McCain is NOT George W. Bush.

Now, ignore that if you like. Point out his similarities, sure. I'm not even sure *I* like the guy anymore and I was one of his biggest supporters in 2000. So, is that a reason to vote Obama? Let me add another factual sentence: Barack Obama is NOT Bill Clinton.

Expecting Obama to have similar or even remotely close results to Clinton is ridiculous -- Obama is about as far away from Clinton as you can get within the Democratic party. They're as different as Bush or even Huckabee is from McCain. They will govern VERY differently. Past performance from the party is no guarantee of future results from an individual president, and we've NEVER had anyone like Obama in the Oval Office.

Which brings me down to what each candidate says they will do. McCain kind of makes sense about 60% of the time in what he says. (The other 40% worries me immensely, as does his judgement when he picks someone like Palin as a running mate.) Obama makes sense to me maybe 20% of the time, when he actually says anything at all.

And *this* is perhaps the thing I get the least about the Obama following. How can so many people listen to the nonsense this man spouts most of the time he opens his mouth and still believe he's got a clue? I can only assume it's *how* he says it that makes the difference -- it's clear he's a highly effective and charismatic speaker, especially if he's giving a prepared speech.

Which brings me to a challenge. Regardless of whose side you're on - try this: Don't *watch* either Obama or McCain for a week. Don't *listen* to either of them for a week. *Read* the transcript of what they say instead. Filter out the rhetoric, negative attacks, and media spin and focus only on the specifics they claim they will do when in office. (Yes, I know this doesn't leave much substance on either side, but try anyway...) Think about them and try to make an objective opinion of who is actually making sense.

You may be surprised.

David Brin said...

I gave Y his chance. The resulting extravaganza of words (many of them spuming insults) was truly staggering to behold. Dizzying... especially since I actually gave them a close look.

But he really made things clear when he Joined the postmodernists of the far left in expressing utter disdain for "facts". "metrics" are just a trap. They are inherently subjective and irrelevant.

Okay, fundamentals here. Fellows, we have a postmodernist here. Irrespective of matters of left or right, he denies the fundamental assumptions of the Enlightenment... that hypotheses can and should be tested. And that -- however flawed and misleading statistics can be -- there comes a point and time when they are overwhelming.

I think we can safely -- and after giving the guy several chances -- dismiss or skim past this guy. Unless you are a fan of rhetorical dionysianism. If so, I encourage a couple of you to keep sifting his screed. Report to us when he says something that actually refers to both reason and evidence.

Steve, your rationalization is clever. But it won't wash. The number one issue is not Obama vs McCain, since you can paint whatever image (viscerally driven) that you want, upon these men.

The issue is which party's general establishments and methodologies of government will fill the top 10,000 appointed staff positions in the US Federal government.

Nothing -- and I mean nothing at all -- is more important than this matter. In this fundamental, the parties could NOT be more deeply different.

While he has brought in plenty of young blood (like my cousin Adam). Obama will appoint from the same general pool that Clinton did. He has said so, he has brought them into his campaign. And may I remind you that 1 billion dollars and 14 years of witch hunts never nailed even ONE of these people for malfeasance of office. A truly staggering record, tested by fire.

Not only are these people apparently competent and honest, but Delay's K Street Project made sure they could not have been corrupt, across the last 14 years even if they wanted to be!

We are talking day and night, here, Steve. The republican appointee establishment is utterly corrupt. Despite savagely cutting all the inspectors and white collar crime task forces and diverting the FBI, SEC etc, they are still dropping like flies, right and left. Bush will pardon thousands.

McCain has shown no sign of detaching himself from this fetid morass of crooks and loons. While touting "reform" he surrounds himself with ALL THE USUAL SUSPECTS.

He has not even mentioned the Inspectors General, who need to be released. Nobody can be serious about reform without mentioning them. He is NOT serious. He doesn't mean a word of it.

Cliff said...

All right, so my question is, what does ymarsakar bring to the conversation, besides a bunch of semantics and weak bullshit arguments?

At least huxley keeps his arguments concise and somewhat coherent.
ymarsakar is wasting my time with his nonsense, and I suspect that it's on purpose.
In other words, he's trolling us.

Jester said...

"...Bush's forces are doing..."

Does anyone elses understand why these words cause me to wonder if I ought to own more than one rifle?

David McCabe said...

How are you measuring 'government secrecy', and do you have a reference for its decrease under Clinton and increase under Bush? Thanks.

Doug S. said...

"Johnson promised he'd never send young boys to die in Viet Nam, Nixon promised he'd make America safe for law and order, Ford promised he'd never pardon Nixon, Jimmy Carter promised he'd Whip Inflation Now, Reagan promised Morning In America, Bush 41 promised a `kinder, gentler America,' Bill Clinton promised he'd restore dignity to the Oval Office, and the drunk-driving C student current in the White House promised `a humbler America...that will not engage in nation-building.'"

By the way:

You can start this one off a few Presidents back:

FDR promised to curtail Hoover's vast increases in government spending.

(Really! His first campaign was based on the premise that Herbert Hoover was doing too much to fight the Depression!)

Robert said...

At the bottom of a Daily Kos diary is a quick interview CBS News did with Senator Obama. I think you will probably be tickled by it, Dr. Brin; Obama is hammering home one of your key points. He wants complete transparency in the financial markets and believes only with this transparency that we can avoid future meltdowns.

Rob H.

Ymarsakar said...

Telling the truth in inconvenient places is obviously trolling in here abouts.

I suppose that is your ostrich syndrome. But it's not your opponents. It is yours. And that cannot be denied. At least, not without doublethink.

Real conservatives treat people who they disagree with with both respect and a modicum of empathy. Leftists, extremists, ideologies, people who value passion over reason, they treat people who disagree as people to be purged.

There is nothing enlightened or classical liberal about such actions, people, or commenters here.

Ymarsakar said...

I'm not sure how any humane person could ignore this things and fight for the party and the people doing such things, and still call themselves members of the Enlightenment.

Link

But when there's a will, there must be a way.

Travc said...

Wow, Ymarsakar basically makes no sense as far as I can tell. Oh well, I give up.
--

Steve b... I think you should look at Obama's policy white papers. The idea that he only makes vague proposals (especially in comparison with McCain) is really not well founded IMO.

More generally, a point that I keep making is that the campaign organization is the best indication of what a sort of administration a candidate would have. In this presidential race the contrast could not be more clear.

Blind ideology has gotten us into one hell of a mess. For example, even if you accept deregulation is most often a good thing, it clearly can (and has) been taken way too far. As I see it, the Democrats are currently a much broader coalition which simply cannot maintain ideologically extreme positions without splintering... so they end up governing in a much more centrist and pragmatic fashion.

It isn't all about Obama vs McCain (though I personally think Obama wins such a comparison), but about the party which gives them a political power base and staffs the bureaucracies which really run the government.

The extremist factions which form the 'base' of the GOP should be enough to keep most people from even considering voting for them IMO.

Travc said...

Ok... one more try ;)

Ymarsakar said...
I'm not sure how any humane person could ignore this things and fight for the party and the people doing such things, and still call themselves members of the Enlightenment.

Um... did the 'party' do this?

McCain and Palin (and the GOP as a party) are anti-abortion, so I suppose they responsible for this. The GOP talks up the 'existential threat from Islamists', so they must be responsible for these.

While it would be very easy, I assume I don't need to go on.

I also think you don't quite understand the "enlightenment" the same way I do. Government officials subverting legal oversight is much more fundamentally anti-enlightenment than an individual violating another individual's personal privacy.
--

On this specific case, I admit I'm somewhat conflicted. The invasion of privacy if of course wrong. However, Palin's use of private email for official government business (specifically to make it easier to keep secret and avoid oversight) is very wrong too. It should be illegal, and I think it actually is for the federal government.

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert said...

I do hope, Ymarsakar, that you are not equating 4chan with the Democratic party. 4chan are anarchists who tear everything and everyone down. They are a part of a group of online assholes that network through forum sites such as Portal of Evil, 4chan, and something awful. Though 4chan isn't so much assholes as letting anonymity go to their heads.

I mean, honestly, online anarchists would be the best description for them, and they'd gleefully get a hold of Obama's e-mails if they could.

As for your claims of what "true conservatism" is... you've yet to present yourself as one. You offer no verifiable evidence to your claims, your comments are spacious at best, and you seem to delight in angering people with ambiguities rather than solid specifics.

In short, you're acting pretty much like those forumites at the forums I mentioned.

Rob H.

(Aside: For all of the mischief that could happen with editing posts, it would be nice if we could edit our posts within say ten minutes of our comments. Writing "home" instead of "hope" at the start did throw off what I was trying to say originally. Ah well...)

huxley said...

STill, H has stopped short of the creepy "I am such a victim!" tone that he started with, this time. If he can keep his ad hominem whining down to just this level, and no higher (preferably far lower), he is welcome here.

By all means, H, ask your questions.... and then see how well these guys respond.

But, dig it, McCain's most recent ads brag repeatedly about how he"fought Republicans!" Your brand is in serious trouble. And, since there is not a single metric to which the brand can be attached, that does not connect to destroying the United States of America, one can't blame McC for disassociating himself.

Tho he offers zero specifics re "reform" and surrounds himself with Bush officials and lobbyists.

Seriously. We await a single unambiguous and demonstrable and provable metric by which America -- or Pax Americana -- (two different things) -- are better off than 8 years ago. One.


Dr. Brin -- I'd have to say that you whine quite a lot yourself. I was responding to people who responded personally to me. Of course, I spoke in first person to them, which includes some element of self-reference. How could I not?

It would seem that your answer to my question of how you persuade conservatives is that you first demand that they persuade you. Doesn't quite make sense to me, since you say in this topic you are trying to bring conservatives to your side, but fine, I'll play along.

I'll give you four answers. We are better off because

(1) We have not been attacked again since 9-11.

(4) There has been a significant decrease in Muslim support for suicide bombings and in support for Bin Laden.

(3) Saddam Hussein has been deposed and is no longer threatening his neighbors, plotting for WMD, trying to assassinate our ex-presidents, firing at our aircraft enforcing the no-fly zones, and generally destabilizing the Middle East in his pan-Arabist efforts to unify the Middle East as the modern Saladin.

(4) Our GDP per capita has grown--aside from an understandable post 9-11 dip--since Bush became president.

huxley said...

My question remains -- though I've given up that it will be answered directly -- is this how people in this blog attempt to persuade conservatives, by assuming that they are either ignorant ("ostriches") or monsters?

Robert said...

Actually, that's not true. We have been attacked multiple times. We just have not had a situation where multiple deaths have occurred to the degree that 9/11 had.

Just a day ago we had terrorists in Yeman (I believe) drive a car into our embassy and blow up. We have had thousands of soldiers die on foreign soil from suicide bombers. We had one person with a bomb in his shoe who only failed because of the people around him.

The truth is, not only has terrorism continued in the U.S., 9/11 wasn't the first time we've suffered terrorism. The WTC was attacked in the past. We have had buildings blown up. We have had presidents assassinated. Indeed, you could even state that gang warfare and drug turf wars are a form of domestic terrorism.

The U.S. is not a safer place because of the Shrub administration. Indeed, there is a saying that sums things up succinctly: a people that give up their freedom for security will have neither freedom nor security.

Next, while Al Qaida has lost support, that is because their business model sucks. If they went the route of Hezbollah, building hospitals and schools while killing Americans/Jews, then they'd be a potent and powerful force. Instead, they went with hate and anger and suckered hundreds of people to die for their cause.

The truth is, violence begets violence. Hate begets hate. If we had not gone into Iraq to begin with, if we'd secured Afghanistan after kicking out the Taliban, then we'd be in a far more secure position today. Military adventurism proved deadly for not only diplomacy and our footing with the world, but for national security itself.

And you mention Saddam Hussein. The ironic thing is... Hussein was not the Satan people made him out to be. His WMD program? Was a paper tiger meant to convince the U.S. that Iraq had weapons so that Iran would not attack. Hussein unfortunately underestimated the bloodthirst of the Shrub, and ended up invaded.

And that was a massive screwup. Again. If the Shrub had waited another year and secured Afghanistan, then he would have had the troops needed to properly secure Iraq and prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths. Or he could have used diplomacy with Hussein, convinced him to step down and flee the country, put him somewhere safe, and set up a new government in a bloodless coup. Hussein knew he was on very shaky ground. He very well may have taken such a deal, especially if he knew what the alternative would be. But we'll never know.

As for the GDP... yes, it has grown. But with what has just happened on Wall Street... does it matter? And where is Bush now? Why doesn't he speak out about the crisis on Wall Street? Why doesn't he do something in the final months of his presidency? Why not act... I don't know, presidential? Try to allay fears? Have the SEC look at what regulations would alleviate problems in the short term and examine possible long-term fixes?

Why is he waiting?

Rob H.

Robert said...

As for convincing ostriches... I don't. I tease my family and friends about McCain but I am quite content in the knowledge that my family and friends are voting in a very heavily Democratic state and their votes won't matter. The only friend that is in my state will likely vote against Obama... but she has requested that we don't talk politics and while I forget from time to time, I honor her request.

It's her right and her choice. If we negate each other? Oh well.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Ymarsakar isn't a troll, but he typifies the self-pitying "golem". Yatter and yowl a whole lot of words, while never once, ever offering a single fact or piece of evidence. And those who point this out are persecuting lib’ruls. Despite the fact that a majority here are actually libertarians of one stripe or another! (Heretical ones, sure, but certainly leaners that way.) Oh, btw I am a registered Republican.

Ymarsakar has not been banished. He is welcome to come here and rail about, since his self-pitying has never spilled over into outright , noxious character assasination, (like someone we know used to do.) So come back and post your screeds and I hope somebody reads them, word for word.

And when something cogent and backed-up appears, I hope that person will come up and announce, “Hey! Ymarsakar actually made a cogent argument for his version of conservatism... with some facts and evidence to back him up!”

I’m sure some of us will be interested and come. Till then, I’m afraid we’re doing the worst thing you can imagine. We are yawning.

In contrast.... H attempts to actually offer evidence! Attaboy! Plaudits!!!!! And this proves that was all you had to do, instead of thrashing and moaning. Keep down this road and you'll be a member of this community.

Alas, it's still a rough neighborhood, and I gotta tell you, it's pretty lame evidence. Clinton had just as long a span of no attacks on the US as Bush had. There are scores of possible explanations, including the possibility that Al Qaeda had shot its bolt.

Certainly we never caught the ringleaders, found their money sources, rooted out their backers or dried up the source of recruits. The decline in support for Bin Laden is from PEAKS that were reached in 2006. Sure. stoke a fire in order to get credit for it burning out. Above all, this is totally ambiguous. There is no way this is “evidence” of the sort I asked for, clear and indisputable...

...like the fact that 95% of our national debt was accrued by republican administrations, while the economy, stocks, small businesses, capitalism, the middle class and a hundred other metrics always, always always do better under democrats. And that is ALWAYS! Though monopolists thrive under the GOP.

GDP per capita has grown.... at historically appallingly abbysmal rates!

Okay, time for a lame joke....

How many members of the Republican party does it take to change a light bulb?


Answer: 10

1. One to deny that a light bulb needs to be changed,
2. One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says the light bulb needs to be changed,
3. One to blame Clinton for burning out the light bulb,
4. One to tell the nations of the world that they are either for changing the light bulb or for eternal darkness,
5. One to give a billion dollar no-bid contract to Halliburton for the new light bulb,
6. One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as a janitor, standing on a step ladder under the banner "Bulb Accomplished",
7. One administration insider to resign and in detail reveal how Bush was literally "in the dark" the whole time,
8. One to viciously smear #7,
9. One surrogate to campaign on TV and at rallies on how John McCain has had a strong light bulb-changing policy all along,
10. And finally, one to confuse Americans about the difference between screwing a light bulb and screwing the country.And after all is said and done, no one will notice that they never actually managed to change the light bulb.

Robert said...

There's a fascinating article on Politico on how Senator McCain lost one of his supporters. The article makes some fascinating comments, including the possibility that McCain's "maverick" persona was in fact fake... and that he started positioning himself in 2000 after the Shrub defeated him so to be a "reformer" and the like for political gain, only to shift back to the Right once it was expedient.

Rob H.

Cliff said...

My question remains -- though I've given up that it will be answered directly -- is this how people in this blog attempt to persuade conservatives, by assuming that they are either ignorant ("ostriches") or monsters?

I don't try or assume. They either pay attention to the news and draw conclusions from that, or they don't.

One of my Republican friends started doing so (probably thanks to his liberal girlfriend). He watched "An Inconvenient Truth" and "Sicko" and the news, and now he supports Obama.
He's still a Republican, he just realizes that shit needs to be fixed.

So that's how it is.
You either realize we're in dire straits, or you don't. Every day there are fewer excuses not to comprehend this basic fact.

Joshua said...

Ymarsakar:

Just in case you're still reading this thread...

...why are you even posting here?

You don't seem to think that there's any point to talking to anyone that posts here.

You don't seem to value anything that is said here. (If you do, you haven't mentioned it.)

So why bother?

Ymarsakar said...

So why bother?

It's because I knew what a disaster Brin's vote would be 1 year down the road, or even two years, and I wanted to come back here and have some crow bait waiting for all of you.

Why else?

Environmental catastrophe in the Gulf. Thanks Brin. Nice way to say hello to Mother Earth for us.

Ymar Sakar said...

"I invite these fellows to offer one unambiguous and clearcut-provable way that things are better. Instead, we have seen a tsunami of outright corruption and theft."

Brin is about as self cleaning as he is with all these spam comments on his own blog.

Since Mr. Writer here wanted an unambiguous and clear-cut provable evidence, how about a message about the future?

Link