Sunday, October 12, 2008

What-ifs to Watch For: A Bouquet of October Surprises

Off the top: in the latest issue of Discover Magazine, a featured article "Advice for the Next President" includes my own humble thoughts, alongside to those of Edward O. Wilson, Steven Weinberg, Jack Horner, C. Everett Koop, Danny Hillis, Peter Singer and other luminaries. Our combined suggestions - to whoever wins the White House - are important, if we're to reclaim America's role as a dynamic leader in world science, education and technology.

= What-ifs to Watch For: A Bouquet of October Surprises =

With four weeks to go, and the GOP writhing in desperation, I find myself doing what I am paid to do, as a thriller-writer... coming up with “what-if” scenarios for the next four weeks till the election... and the next four months till inauguration. Caveat: I do not necessarily believe any of these. But I have ranked them in order of likelihood.

And you are welcome to place bets on InTrade. Each may be lower than 50%, but the odds of something jarring happening before February? Almost certain.


1) John McCain will vacillate till the end over whether or not to go for the respect and reverence that were the rewards given to Wendell Wilkie, Barry Goldwater, Robert Dole, and Jimmy Carter, after they lost elections but -- having behaved well and honorably -- came away with respect as elder statesmen, consulted by the mighty. I expect that, if he had taken the High Road, McCain would arise out of defeat as a beloved figure, invited by President Obama to serve as a right-side conscience. (Perhaps in a manner that I recommended to the Obama Campaign: See my article: Honoring the Losing Majority.)

Instead, alas, we have wild oscillations that exemplify the word “erratic.” At one moment, a churlish, snarling, bitter side of John McCain, both in his own words and through proxies, who egg crowds until some spontaneously erupt with Obama-hating shouts like “Kill-him!” Yes, McCain has lately tried to quell this a bit. But not enough to have any real effect upon the wave of Timothy McVeighs who are sure to swell over our nation, as the inevitable fruit of Culture War. Indeed, the more he swings toward being a reasonable adult, the more surely he will be blamed for the Republicans' coming electoral debacle.

Let’s make this plain: in times of national crisis, to pre-wound the next freely-elected president, deliberately striving to reduce his effectiveness, is nothing less than an act of selfish egotism. By some interpretations, it is outright treason.

Obama would be well-served to make as big a contrast with this churlish immaturity, as possible. He should speak of how he will support McCain, if he becomes president, and invite McC to say the same. Obama should even state that after taking office, he will seek McCain’s input! (See below.) Nothing will make the contrast more stark or better put the lie to charges of “radical.”


2) OBL's Ghost still haunts. Catch a guest editorial by Rany Jazayerli, concerning how Osama Bin Laden -- remember him? -- who influenced our US elections on October 29, 2004, by railing against Bush (thus helping him), will almost certainly release a tape during the next few weeks, attempting to do the same thing.

Barack Obama should pre-message, or pre-massage, this possibility -- along with all other October Surprises -- with a few choice words. Just a few generalities, dropped in passing, might ring out as prescient and wise, in the event that OBL speaks out, or a terror strike hits, or... anything a thriller writer can come up with.


3) Vote stealing. Duh. We are already seeing mass disenfranchisement in battleground states. The New York Times finally has a piece on purging voter rolls. The officials behind it should be told that they will be sued - personally - for civil damages, by voters they de-registered unfairly. In times like these, a direct prospect of being cleaned out may mean more than prosecution. Ditto Diebold.

So far, we are talking about “surprises that will not surprise me at all. Now to the less likely.


4) The Clemency Crush. I have spoke elsewhere of how it’s time to talk about (and prepare for) George Bush’s post election "pardon tsunami" -- relied-upon by several thousand kleptocrats. This cannot be prevented -- indeed, the promise of pardons may be what’s saving us from an even more desperate October Surprise.

(Hint to one disgruntled White House employee/staffer. If preparations for this post-election amnesty-festival -- or some other stunt -- are already underway, do you have any idea what a celebrity you’ll become, if you blow the secret before the election? Why, you might even keep your job.)

Still, there are ways for the Democratic Congress to possibly “corner” those pardons. For example, by passing a law that defines a presidential pardon as only applying to actual crimes that the recipient openly confesses in sworn testimony. The best way to start a genuine Truth And Reconciliation process that can begin the healing. (Note some interesting aspects, since this would be the inverse of an executive “signing statement” - and it would be inherently popular. And, of course, it would allow direct civil redress for economic damages. Pardonees would have to choose between escaping jail and losing the yacht, or fleeing to Dubai.)

Sure, this Supreme Court will probably quash any such law. But even that will raise an outcry, since the principle seems so reasonable. Note that just the right response to the "pardon tsunami" might seal the fate of the GOP and perhaps even disgust middle America enough to end Culture War.


5) Resigned to being unforgetable - unfortunately. Only now let’s gild the “pardon lily” by adding an even more paranoid scenario. Though one that’s not at all inconsistent with what we’ve seen. Let’s try to picture the ultimate "up yours" from Bush to the nation. What could that be?

Imagine if W were to resign a week ahead of the inauguration and force us to admit, into the registry of chief executives, "President Richard Cheney."


Yep. Portraits. Coins. History books. All the paraphernalia... and we’d be stuck with this “asterisk” forever! Sure, it's unlikely -- ten-to-one against -- if only because Bush will want to squeeze out every last "hail to the chief." And his GOP friends will beg him not to. Still, this move does have some advantages from his point of view. It would:

a- let him pay off all debts to Cheney (and do you doubt that RC has "leverage"?)
b- let him stick it to the historians and to the 75% of the public who consider him "worst president ever."
c- let him get HIS OWN PARDON from Prex Cheney, after he has pardoned Cheney and several thousand others.

Yeah, if one of you wants to go on InTrade with this, hold out for long odds. Heck, twenty to one. At that level, it’d be worth a few bucks.

6) Maximize the loot - maximize the damage. Will my darkest “manchurian” fantasies about this administration prove to have been right? I've long held that the Standard Model -- simple venality combined with moronic imbecility -- breaks down trying to their perfect record at harming America and - more significantly - destroying Pax Americana. Mere moron-crooks would have done ONE thing beneficial to the Republic, if only by accident! If the darker explanation is true, then you can bet they won’t miss any opportunities to wreak maximum harm, from November to January. These would be the truly awful surprise scenarios. If the Manchurian Nightmare is true (and right now I give it 30%) then be ready to head for the hills.

Finishing up, let me reiterate.
-Spread the word that our eyes are open. That may have some deterrence effects.
-Buy canned goods (that you’ll reasonably use, later, when things blow over!)
-Sign up to take CERT training.
-Join the National Guard.
-Above all, be ready to be like the passengers of Flight 93. We’re all of us potential American heroes.


=== BONUS SECTION (And possibly even better!) ===


--- Two Important Jiu Jitsu Riffs that Barack Obama Might Use --

I'll post later about this idea, but in raw form -- if BHO seems headed for a surefire win, he needs to turn his attention to the Congressional and Statehouse races! While listening to the 2nd debate on our way to see Neil Diamond (yeow!), I came up with these two suggested riffs. One of them you've heard before. (I’ve given up channeling these through my cousin. Might as well let em percolate.)

Imagine Barack saying this:

1 - "Now there are a couple of areas where I think John has been a little farther ahead of the curve than I was. His attacks on earmark spending have been a bit theatrical, and the amount saved would be small. Still, I believe that if John were president, he would attack that one problem with vigor.

“And you know what? When I am president, John McCain will attack Earmarks with vigor! Because - if he'd accept - I will appoint him to head a team to do just that!

“This isn't grandstanding. After all, John made a promise like this first! When he was asked who his top candidate for Treasury Secretary would be, the first name he thought of was MY economic advisor, Warren Buffett! The “World’s Greatest Investor,” who warned us all about this looming economic crisis, since 2002. Of course, it would be even better if John fired his own economic advisor - Phil Gramm -- who rammed through the total deregulation of the derivatives market and sent us down this road, proclaiming that it would all be just fine.

"But if John would praise and hire Warren Buffett, then I'll return the favor and praise and hire John McCain for the jobs that he's best qualified-for. Along with dozens of other smart, capable Republicans, I'll find tasks for him, don't you worry. Ways for John McCain to keep serving America."


Now THAT would be jiu jitsu! And here's another one

#2 -
"Look, I honor John McCain, not only for his military service and inspiring spirit of utter determination, but also for the fact that, yes, he has been a maverick at times... maybe ten percent as often as he says he's been!

"True, he supported George Bush 90% of the time and surrounded himself with the same crowd of Usual Suspects. But let's give him credit for having at least verbally distanced himself from his own Party. He now joins me and millions of Americans in blaming the 12 year Republican Congress for removing most regulation and supervision of Wall Street, for plunging our children into debt, for refusing to act on climate change, for neglecting our science and infrastructure and for sabotaging energy research for an entire wasted decade. Since his nominating convention, he's reversed official GOP policy on most of these of issues, and dozens of others. (Though of course, these switches were following public awareness, not leading it.)

“Look, whether you believe McCain and Palin are true "rebel-maverick-reformers"... or you see their long list of Bush-era advisors as proof that they aren't... either way... I am glad John McCain has joined me in urging that Americans out there fire the Republican members of Congress who did all that!

“Let the GOP clean its own house, before we let them back near positions of power. Let fresh blood and fresh ideas rise up within the Republican Party, so it can come back to us in the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower and Barry Goldwater. I'm glad John and I agree on the need for that era of change and renewal, in a Party that promised so much and delivered us only pain. Especially Republican Congressfolk who really should be sent home to think about how they could have served us better.”


Note that if it looks to be a landslide, this isn't simply a gambit, it is a moral necessity for Barack! He is behooved.


Finally -- SOME OF THAT GOOD OLD COMPARISON AMMO ---

A comparison of economic performance under the two parties leaves the standard republican rationalizations shattered. The comparison on dems vs gops in economic stats reveals dems as decisively better managers of the economy.

Notes: bear in mind that the one major democratic outlier the - 1944-48 “Roosevelt-Truman” term - had to manage the end of WWII and the biggest conversion of the economy in history, finding employment for five million soldiers re-entering the civilian economy. In fact, that term ended very well and was arguably the best -managed in all of US history. Likewise Roosevelt III - both waging WWII and yanking us out of a depression might offer an excuse for that outlier in government deficit. Otherwise, democrats (and Eisenhower) always do better at balancing budgets. Always.

Likewise, without question, stocks do better - on average - under democrats, especially if you (properly) pull Eisenhower out of the Republican column, since his version of republicanism bears no genetic relationship with today’s. Note also that Truman again took a difficult transition and turned it into a boom.

Of course, the most recent year of Bush 43 is missing from these stats, where stock losses and skyrocketing deficits would extrapolate the “red” republican blood-draining to truly vampiric levels.

There is, of course, one exception to the dems’ almost perfect record of better economic performance... the inflation figures for (especially) Jimmy Carter’s term. Though one could easily blame that on backlash effects from trying to do both guns and butter earlier, during Vietnam.

Missing from this tally... and I suspect potentially just as devastating... would be Small Business Startups. I’d also be interested in rates of GDP growth and rates of monopoly aggrandizement. These last three would put the final nails in the coffin.

---- Miscellany ---

There are roughly 4000 political appointees in the federal government of which about 1100 require Senate confirmation. When you elect a president, you are electing a political party, including those 4000 political appointees and the people they hire.

Those of you interested in pinning the blame for the present economic mess, have a look at Russ Daggatt’s latest blog where he lays out the case against former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan... and ends with a truly macabre quote from John McCain.

See a funny -- and prescient -- explanation of the subprime crisis, from John Bird and John Fortune, two British comedians, who anticipated what we're watching today, way back in 2007.

“whenever the topic turns to earmarks, I always suggest that folks go play around with the Sunlight Foundation's Interactive earmarks map.http://sunlightlabs.com/earmarks/ Earmarks are rarely obviously wasteful. Rather, they're small appropriations that exist beneath the urgency level that would merit federal consideration.”

“In the early ‘90’s, before Republicans took control of Congress, the number of earmarks was under 1000 and totaled less than $3 billion. The use of earmarks peaked with the last budget Republicans passed before losing control of Congress in 2006 – at over 14,000 earmarks worth more than $27 billion. Since then, Democrats have cut them by a third – this year they total $18 billion. But let’s put that in context. $18 billion is a whole lot less than a trillion.

As it turns out, the Queen of Earmarks is Sarah Palin. According to the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense, Palin hired a Washington lobbyist to secure earmarks for tiny Wasilla , Alaska when she was mayor. The town of 6,700 received nearly $27 million in federal dollars from 2000 to 2003. Alaska has the highest earmark use of any state in the country. As governor of Alaska , Palin requested $198 million worth in next year's federal budget.

She learned from the master himself, the former chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee when Republicans controlled the Senate, Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). She ran his 527 group “The Ted Stevens Fund” (this is the “independent” political entity that Stevens used to raise unlimited funds from corporate donors). Stevens is currently standing trial in federal court for bribery.

Eloquent Ostrich Ammo: Share and spread around -- and read aloud to your ostrich -- this “Letter to My Republican Father.”

77 comments:

Jester said...

The cleanest knockout Obama could deliver on Weds. ?

As soon as McCain goes for an Ayers riff or some such crap - and he's going to have too...

"John, we don't have to do this. We have a choice.

We can try to feed the basest nature of the most extreme elements of our supporters, or we can decide that America is more important.

When your campaign tactics were compared to those of George Wallace, I rejected that comparison even though it came from a brave man who you and I have both had a great deal of respect for over the years.

Do you know why, John?

Because that kind of inflammatory rhetoric endangers the country, and could easily serve as self-fufilling prophecy.

You've said that I'm a good man, a good American, and that people shouldn't fear me being President. I've said the same about you dozens of times, John, and I said it - like you did - because I know it to be true.

I know it to be true in my BONES John. Because I know that a man doesn't risk his life and devote himself for 50 years to serving a nation unless he truly loves her.

But, neither of us can guide the ship of state through these rough seas without the support of the American People, and we both know that. Either of us may be president in 92 days, but neither of us will be able to lead a nation inflamed by hatefull partisan rhetoric.

I'm not going to talk about the Boards you served on 24 years ago John, or what unpleasant people may have given you a donation without your personal knowledge, or who you might have shared a cup of coffee with.

I'm going to debate the issues with you, and I'm going to state my agreement with you when you're right and my disagreement when you're wrong, and I will continue to do that no matter which one of us goes to the White House and which of us goes back to the Senate.

What I will not do, John, is try to inspire our fellow Americans to be suspicious of, or fear, or distrust your motives in seeking the Presidency of the United States of America - because nothing will be more important to our recovery from this crisis than REMAINING United.

A great man...who we both revere...and who happened to be a founder of YOUR party and who made it possible for me to be sitting here debating with you today...once told us that a house divided against its self cannot stand.

I promise not to try to divide our House, John. Will you take my hand and make the same promise?"

But, I'm just an out of work trucker with a GED. What do I know.

I think it's better than offering what could be spun as bribe offers.

William_Shatner said...

What Ifs...
One "What If" I'd like to get out of the way and it may be a shocker but only 25% chance of being true; McCain is trying to sabotage his own election. He is still a patriot and a hero and he realized in 2000 that the only way to short-circuit BushCo was to take them from the inside. He pretended to roll on his belly and give them everything to gain their trust. He acts vindictive and feeble minded to make Rove et al feel comfortable. Meanwhile, he reveals the inner Klansman underneath many of the Bush base. But he keeps it neck and neck and lets them rig elections and pull out all the stops -- just keeps them hoping they can win it without resorting to "Plan B." At the last minute, McCain could then withdraw and give Bush a big "F You."

But more likely the oscillations are the last vestiges of integrity and sanity leaving McCain's body. He is probably on a lot of drugs like Laura Bush, just to cope with the painful process of leaving one's dignity at the door.

>> I think Obama does see that McCain is also poisoning the well for the next President, and his strategy all along was to be as dignified and humble as possible. More than likely because he DOES want to see America better off than become President. I get that feeling from this guy -- as unlikely as our system makes it, we may have the "real deal" in Obama. So double the Secret Service protection please.

Dr. Brin -- I humbly suggest you save all those What Ifs and turn them into short stories. I remember reading a few short stories about WW II and "What If" the Nazis had one.

Not to introduce the "blog destroying meme" so early,... but I think it's pretty clear that IF we go with the McCain group -- we will get more of the same. He has rehired most of these BushCo alumni. So, continued dependencies on fossil fuels and wars to "stimulate" the economy and get us some raw materials or at least restrict them.

While some may cynically think this game is nothing new. Humanity and the Earth are at a cross-roads. We can either go with a green economy and lead the world in innovation, or my kids will be drafted into Corporate Wars while everyone fights to grab the diminishing resources and sometimes just to reduce populations. Take any shade of Dystopian society you've ever read -- see if you want to live in any of those worlds, even the "nice ones."

There are a lot of things that can happen before November. Martial Law, an attack on Iran that unleashes war around the planet, another border skirmish with Russia that helps sell weapons to their former satellites -- Dubai should like that since they own more of our manufacturing in that regard.

When I was in 6th grade, my fellow miscreants and I were going to a school for the troubled and gifted. We used to plot out "things we can do with firecrackers" -- but in my chemistry class, we actually learned how to make interesting things, that today would get a school shut down for encouraging the wicked. I imagine that we would be exactly like Bush and his friends today, if we had never evolved from 6th grade -- without the vicious streak of course.

So I recommend that you get a team of 6th graders, and ask them; "What could you do to screw up America?" Then from there, add your adult point of view of sophisticated ways to garner plausible deniability and how to involve the greedy and stupid without their knowledge so that they can help cover up for you through human nature alone. Don't throw out the ideas like "flushing a million toilets at once." We fail to anticipate NeoCons because we are way too high brow.

>> Merely the appearance of something could spook people now. I look at how McCain is trying to whip up his base, and it makes me think that if you left a truck load of weapons in most cities in America and had massive unemployment, you could create a home grown insurgency in a week -- Democracy is pretty fragile for some when there is no sense of a rule of law.

There are so many things you COULD DO, that I would look at what the benefits would be first. I'll go with three goals:

1) Make my base feel like it is under attack. Provoke of simulate a Liberal insult on the most rabid. Bill OReilly will announce that a new battleground in the War on Christmas has opened up.

2) Cover for looting? Make sure there are announcements of Cyber attacks on various financial institutions. Then have something like a EMP pulse go off. Major collapse of the financial district. Who is going to be able to track if a few large financial houses caused various companies to go under by programmed shorting? You know, like when Building 7 got destroyed and the News didn't mention the evidence against ENRON and the Bush families Treasury Note frauds being in that building -- or how Gold goes missing due to fire.

3) Wild Card. Think of all the things you expect and then know that they won't happen. You can't go back to the same well to get water after you pee in it. Remember the imaginative 6th graders feeling how clever they are. Now there are different factions with different goals, but with the NeoCons -- you can definitely tell that this is about ego. They will pull over the motorcade to kick a Liberal in the ass who is helping someone out of the ditch.

>> That last bit makes me think that if I were Bruce Wayne, I'd schedule some huge event, that looks like it has loose security, and could easily be turned into a fiasco. Up until the event, I would make a big deal about how "people were setting aside differences and coming together" -- you know, peace, love and people power. It would be impossible bait for a group that loves to hire rock throwers. Make sure you show some tie-die on the commercials leading up to the event. Ask some of your good writer friends who do espionage thrillers on how best to create an irresistible "Tar Baby." Hint that Barbara Streisand and Share will attend. At last count, there were 1.2 Million Drag queens who would beg you to play this role.

Then, when you let all of the infiltrators in, everyone pulls off their outfits and the whole group is populated with public officials kicked out for whistle-blowing, defrocked NSA and CIA agents with a conscience -- everyone that BushCo took out of the game. The Press will turn out to be more of the same, as our dis-info made the stations think they already sent a news crew. But there is no press. Just a big vat of Tar and Feathers. They can either sign a confession for past misdeeds or jump in the tar.

Yeah, OK, I'm more of a fantasy writer than sci-fi today.

;-)

>> I like how you think with the OBL rumors. I suggest a letter-writing campaign. Get a few Social Workers to go into prisons and have inmates sign request for Presidential Pardons. Whip up the media and get the public really pissed and associate Pardons = Guilty. Believe me, Rove wishes he did this when Clinton left office.

The new Law for pardons is within Congress's power I suppose, to require a confession. But why not do a little Dis-info. These bullies never expect the Liberals to fight back. So what we should do is just before the pardons go out, is to send all the likely crooks a phony pardon. Knowing the lack of communication within the BushCo administration, it is likely that everyone will just assume that the pardon process has been completed, and they can go to washing their hands of the distasteful deeds.

William_Shatner said...

Brin,

The idea of Obama letting McCain go after earmarks is brilliant. You really would have fit in well with my 6th grade carpool -- are you sure you didn't go to some Academy in Georgia many years ago?

The other thing is that McCain would have to bow out of going after earmarks. Without being able to give pork, nothing would make Republicans more outcasts in their own kleptocracy than going after wasteful spending. They'd rather call the advanced imaging devices in Planetariums "slide projectors" and then approve a billion dollars for a missile shield that can never work in the real world.

>> But Obama cannot be TOO successful TOO early. That is the real danger here. If the NeoCons think they can get a crony back in the white house -- and I'm sure they are confident of winning with anything less than a 10% lead by Obama, then they may not get really desperate.

I'm almost sure that Obama knows this, and that is why he is saving his best ideas for the last two weeks. The Republicans usually like to release their largest, scariest unfounded rumors just before the polls open, So that frightened people can say; "It may not be true -- but what if it is?"

Look, any decent financial accounting of who is financially backing various NeoCon think tanks and McCain directly, would throw up a Who's Who list of enemies of America.

Personally, I think your 30% chance of a dangerous Manchurian with the NeoCons is a little optimistic. I cannot find any reason for outsourcing the CIA and Nuclear Weapons manufacturing to countries that have a dubious record of being allies for any other reason. I will always remember, that while the Bushies were looking really incompetent those first few weeks after the Katrina hurricane, they managed to elect a Supreme Court Judge who was a fascist and close something like 144 public schools in New Orleans. Such people could do anything if they didn't think you were in their club.

tacitus2 said...

I only write non-fiction, in part because I have a rather vivid imaginination, and would feel awful if anyone took a wicked idea of mine and tried it....

October Surprises almost by definition are a nasty bit of politics held for last minute timing. They can be true, semi-true or fabrications, so long as there is no time to respond.

Real surprises don't count, so for instance a genuine Bin Laden tape is not an O.S. A fake one where Brother Barack is welcomed back into the bosum of Islam would be. And I suppose such a thing could be done.

The race is not close enough for Dem O.S. to be likely, but who can say what a loosely connected 527 would do? How 'bout revelations that an internet pharmacy had been making deliveries to one of McCains Several Houses....Aricept (for alzheimers), Depakote (mood stabilizer), Viagra....This would be an easy trick, and very effective.

I have said that I do not think there is an O.S. waiting to hit Obama. If there were a nuke on the rack the Clintons would have reached for the red button months ago. Oh, there is likely some low grade stuff out there. His undergrad years are pretty thinly documented, and most of us do a few foolish things at that age.

The only bomb grade stuff would be plausible allegations that the Dem congresspeople triggered the current economic melt down. I could write a decent scenario along these lines.

But under the current condtions it would not fly. It would sound desparate (and would be), and given the current low esteem for the news media, it would not be believed. Huh, Republicans done in by their efforts to portray the media as untruthful. Irony does indeed ghostwrite a lot of history.

Nah. The next phase should be McCain mellowing out. He really has provided many of the classy touches of this campaign. Braving the boos of idiots to say Obama is a decent, family man they need not fear. Running ads the night of Obama's acceptance speech congratulating him on his historic acheivement. Only a couple more weeks and you can stop maligning one of the most decent politicians on the current tawdry stage.

Tacitus2

CSM said...

I have been hearing some paranoid talk on the local Air America station about purging the voter rolls. Maybe it's justified, or maybe, just maybe, it's housecleaning long overdue.

I once did a bulk mailing in my county using the voter registration database. We asked for notification of bad addresses. Huge mistake! About a third of the addresses were bad. Nearly bankrupted the party paying the additional costs. It would have been much cheaper sending first class.

True, that was the Libertarian list, so maybe Libertarians are more transient than Ds and Rs. However, a former Republican chair here described similar bad address figures, and that was on a mailing targeted to single-family house neighborhoods; i.e., no apartments.

Having such a huge pool of nonexistent voters on the rolls is a recipe for serious Chicago style vote fraud.

David Brin said...

Oh, the blame game has already begun. Thing is, the loons on the far right do not have to make sense. They do not need evidence, only "rhetorical plausibility". Hence, they will:

- blame the democrats for the financial mess

- blame McCain for being a closet liberal and walk-over

- blame anything that seems to have been compromise

- blame "Washington" and "Wall Street Fat Cats" without ever looking at Republicans or the actual specific fat cats.

===

Palin Quoted Anti-Semite In Convention Speech

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/09/10/palin-quoted-anti-semite_n_125429.html

David Brin said...

I actually hear the conservative side of this voter fraud argument. I would be happy to see a shift toward more careful registration and a mild version of requiring positive ID...

...in return for nonpartisan inspector generals to ensure fair running of elections... plus vigorous high school based registration programs... plus a total investigation and alteration of Diebold.

We need an era of compromise...

Tolo Lucerne said...

"I would be happy to see a shift toward more careful registration and a mild version of requiring positive ID..."

Saved me some typing here..

Widespread voter fraud is a not a factoid.

I would not be surprised to learn the winning margin in this upcoming election is smaller than the number of votes attributed to Daffy Duck and the rest of his family who, btw, get to vote multiple times in many States, and this in concert with their many illegal alien buddies who are also voting this year. The college crowd is already bragging about having done so in early voting.

My vote is less than null if we allow it to be illegally negated multiple times. This is failure to validate is so wrong.

It also penalized States that have validation. In some States, you merely walk in and register using the last 4 digits of your SS#. Imagine, they all have the same last four SS digits as me, 1234!!! What a coincidence.

We apparently put a very small price tag on the value of an individual's vote.

Tolo Lucerne said...

Illegal Immigrants Are Voting in American Elections

In 2005, the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that up to 3 percent of the 30,000 individuals called for jury duty from voter registration rolls over a two-year period in just one U.S. district court were not U.S. citizens. While that may not seem like many, just 3 percent of registered voters would have been more than enough to provide the winning presiden­tial vote margin in Florida in 2000. Indeed, the Cen­sus Bureau estimates that there are over a million illegal aliens in Florida, and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has prosecuted more non-citizen voting cases in Florida than in any other state.

Florida is not unique.


http://www.ksat.com/news/16925054/detail.html

Excellent article which documents the extent of voting fraud by illegal aliens in America. Also presents interesting side issues such as the ramifications of Illegals serving on juries.

Tolo Lucerne said...

Sorry, the above link was wrong. This is the link to use.

Illegal Immigrants Are Voting in American Elections

tintinaus said...

Enrolment in Australia

I am changing my enrolment details since I have recently moved, and have the form in front of me. What does the Australian Electoral Commission want to know?

Name, Address(residential& postal), DOB, Place of Birth, if Naturalised - Citizenship #, Drivers Licence #. Me and a witness sign and away I go!

If I didn't have a drivers licence I would have to show proof of Address documents to someone on a list of 39 approved professions, and if I couldn't produce proof of Address docs, two people on the electoral roll who have known me for at least 1 month must sign also.

The AEC runs all our elections. It is responsible for changing electoral borders to keep up with population shifts and decides where polling places should be(mostly local schools & kindergartens since they tend to be in a nice central locale).

There is almost no serious corruption of the system(there parliamentary oversite) and this can be shown by the fact that one of the reasons why John Howard our last PM lost his seat was because of changes to electoral boundaries.

I am involved in one of our major parties and the first time I helped out at a polling booth as an official rep of my party I was told I could go in and scrutineer the vote count but it wasn't really necessary because the party didn't believe that counting fraud was an issue any more .

Pinku-Sensei said...

For an interesting, if extremely unlikely, take on why nearly everything Bush has done working to weaken America, surf over to Thrasymachus's post from 2 years ago.

http://thras.blogspot.com/2006/05/does-bush-hate-us.html

Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea might find the idea interesting, if rather perversely applied.

Tony Fisk said...

Like tintinaus, I am a little bemused by the voter registration shenannigans you have. Australia seems to have weeded out the gerrymander issue as well.

I am involved in one of our major parties and the first time I helped out at a polling booth as an official rep of my party I was told I could go in and scrutineer the vote count but it wasn't really necessary because the party didn't believe that counting fraud was an issue any more .

Counting fraud is what I'd call a 'heisenberg bug': it goes away when you look for it.

Keep looking.

====

Oh, and a predictive hit, rather in keeping with the election you're having:

There's gold in them there landfills

William_Shatner said...

>> Lucerne ... the 1980's called and said they wanted their Propaganda back -- I mean, learn some of the NEWER bullshit. I doubt anyone is going to debate all the points you brought up, because they are things that people have debated in the past, with a bit more rigor.

But just get off the culture war stuff. Left vs. Right is a pillow fight, you worry about these little "teen pregnancy issues" that could easily be solved but aren't because it is a great thing to get people to argue about. 90% of the discussion here is about the Top vs. Bottom battle. Did you notice that there are Trillions of dollars about to wreck our economy? If even a fraction of that money were spent, every teen mother in America could go to MIT with free prenatal and dental. But whatever legislation or slight difference could be made, is going to be moot if the bill for the excess of the betting rich are allowed to be passed onto mainstreet. Especially if McCain's dumb-ass idea of bailing out loans FOR THE BANKS ever becomes a reality.

You may have some good points to make -- but don't do it by making these buzzing noises that remind everyone of a mosquito in the tent. The effort to catch the elusive and pesky bug far outweighs any satisfaction in the task. But if you ignore it -- nobody gets any sleep.

Sorry -- I don't need to beat you up, but my desire to be alliterative and make metaphors of mosquitoes gets the better of me.

I look forward to some productive comments but try and keep up. There have been less than 100 cases of voter fraud in the last few years and maybe 15 prosecutions -- and God knows there is a cookie waiting for a federal prosecutor to actually land some intentional voter fraud.

Republicans are not hampered by the truth, so repeating that voter fraud is even a factor works for them. Compare that to voter purges and the FACTS about voter machine screw ups that always favor the corporate republican.

That is why America is going down the tubes -- so many people who want to win at all costs that they don't understand why they were playing the game at all.

tintinaus said...

I think the party officials keep a very close eye on things overall and would demand a recount if figures from a booth looked outside their projections, but also they have faith that the AEC is employing people who won't corrupt the data. Lots of David's institutional workers, not beholden to anyone just doing a good job

Tony Fisk said...

Cool but totally off-topic (unless we add the tags 'neo meltdown')

As reported last week, the sky fell when, for the first time, a meteor was detected just prior to impact with earth.

A triumph for NEO tracking efforts! Not that there was much we could have done about it. Fortunately, it was only about 3m across and burnt up over the skies of southern Sudan.

Given the location, it is unsurprising that no one on the ground managed to film its entry. Fortunately, a weather satellite did pick it up (and therein lies a little mystery. I suspect Emily has the hit on the solution, but it's interesting)

David Brin said...

Watch the interview with George Soros... it is necessary.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1obF7AIc3aY

David Brin said...

GOP Attacks on American Voters Turn Desperate, Ugly and Dangerous
By and Harvey Wasserman
http://www.opednews.com/articles/GOP-Attacks-on-American-Vo-by-Bob-Fitrakis-081011-558.html

renzo said...

I didn't want to post this, hoping it would quietly disappear from Google Video's main page . . .

But so far, it hasn't.

(A self-titled "October Surprise").

Unsurprising?

Jester said...

His mom didn't even have a passport at the time of his birth.

This is...well...just stupid.

renzo said...

Completely. Yet claims far stupider have instilled uncertainty before . . .

I can only hope the critical curious are responsible for its rapidly increasing viewcount.

Robert said...

Man. That video was so boring I shut it down before one minute passed. They have to learn how to GET TO THE POINT early on and the to use data to reinforce their points of view. Of course, considering they're idiots who don't know their asses from their elbows and who see no problem with lying to get their way, I didn't miss anything, I'm sure.

Rob H.

renzo said...

Extremely encouraging response.

arcanedesigns said...

Several months ago, I began to expect a grand drop in gasoline prices as an October surprise, but the Republicans are staying well away from claiming it now that it's happening.

Jester said...

So, McCain says his going to "whip Obama" out of the same mouth that claimed the word "erratic" was an ageist slur.

I really thought the guy had turned a corner.

On the bright side, some of his supporters are probably stupid enough to start trying to show up to rallies with whips.

Gilmoure said...

Looks like others are finally talking about the loss of professionals from the government.

Per Paul Krugman (congrats on the big penny!): I also wonder how much the Femafication of government under President Bush contributed to Mr. Paulson’s fumble. All across the executive branch, knowledgeable professionals have been driven out; there may not have been anyone left at Treasury with the stature and background to tell Mr. Paulson that he wasn’t making sense.

Luckily for the world economy, however, Gordon Brown and his officials are making sense. And they may have shown us the way through this crisis.

Robert said...

I've already written up on this on my own site, but I thought you'd be amused to hear that the recent YouTube feature that reads comments aloud for commentators before they post. The amusing thing? The webcomic xkcd actually suggested this in a comic a couple weeks ago. A spokesperson in Australia admitted the feature was inspired by the xkcd webcomic, which featured a girl writing a virus to force YouTube comments to be read aloud so posters could hear how inane their comments might sound. ^^

As Oscar Wilde said, life imitates art. And it's kinda cool to see a webcomic get the nod for having inspired technology.

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

Tolo Lucerne said...

William Shatner said: "you worry about these little "teen pregnancy issues".. these buzzing noises that remind everyone of a mosquito in the tent... cases of voter fraud in the last few years"

I had already come to the same conclusion, so a beating would be well justified.

The teen preg. post was in reaction to a commentary posted elsewhere by our esteemed (we still love ya!!) host. His comments somewhat disparaged, maybe inadvertently, whole regions of the country and they needed a challenge, and it did evoke a knee jerk response.. Was in another thread so have to apologize for not posting it there in that thread.

And from my personal observations, I do think there is a lot more dirty going on behind the scenes with voter registration this year than you believe is happening but the topic is off track here. And the link was wrong again too!! But will drop it in this tread...

I hate mosquitoes.. Rather be the dragonfly.

I'll comment on the economy, when I can make any sense of it. Every run I make at it comes up the same, we screwed the pooch... Once the powers that be stop vacillating, and today it does appear they are off their hands, I'll figure out who gets the bill (aside from we-the-people) and who it affects.

William_Shatner said...

@tolo lucerne,...

Thanks for being a good sport about my teasing. I think you may be a great barometer for the collective unconscious. Not to be taken the wrong way -- but I think you are going through a huge change in the way you view the world. A new reality is emerging and people are trying to make sense of things.

I went through the same thing after 9/11/2001. I started to realize that I had taken politics and the world around me for granted. That history is often a white wash. I realized I didn't know anything.

We can't throw out any FACTS about current events, that don't have 10 times the caveats of Evolution Theory. Like Evolution; we weren't there to catch it in the act. While the strata of the earth may have the fossilized bones of long dead creatures -- that's about all we can know; the name, date, and location of the remains of Wachovia or Ken Lay.

OK, Ken Lay allegedly died in Aspen. Only one doctor and his family can attest to that before he was cremated. His dying before sentencing means his family keeps tens of millions in ill gotten gains and he is not "convicted." The same hospital where Collin Powell and other bushies were at the time. See! You can't even be sure of who is dead anymore.

Saddam and He could have plastic surgery and be enjoying some resort right now for former players in this grande game. When the ancient kings used to ransom knights, I'm sure they would have loved plastic surgery.

OK, maybe now I'm buzzing like a mosquito.

>> Anyway, I'd recommend people wait and see on the currency and getting back into the market. The Euro is taking a trouncing but the fundamentals of the US are as bleak as ever. From my world-view it looks like a game of consolidation and realizing fantasy profits. The US dollar will follow because all the Fed can do now is print more paper -- they have nothing else left. I hope I'm wrong, but I still expect things to get MUCH worse.

Rocky Persaud said...

Ken Lay sighted!

Tolo Lucerne said...

William Shatner said: Thanks for being a good sport about my teasing. I think you may be a great barometer for the collective unconscious. Not to be taken the wrong way -- but I think you are going through a huge change in the way you view the world. A new reality is emerging and people are trying to make sense of things.

Actually, I've been expecting this correction, collapse?, for a long period of time. You may only play the Ponzi game for a little while before it turns around and bites you.

I'm actually somewhat confident and not a little positive about what is happening. We strayed away from our roots some time ago. We needed a swift kick in the rear to push us back on course.

People have to come back to the realization that worth in an economy is not measured by how many dollar bills you will juggle all at one time. There is some requirement that there be inherent value attached by the end consumer and also the seller.

We have forgotten that goods and services and an expanding knowledge base are the bricks with which an economy is built.

Passing dollar bills back and forth while taking a cut each time and wishing the value up, will result only in worthless paper.

Those canny others to whom we defaulted our economic fundament, may eventually stop taking our worthless IOUs! We may be forced to try to eat that valueless paper and to try to shape it into a toaster, an automobile, or another needed product or service.

Instead, maybe now we go back to creating new innovative goods, improved products, increase our efficiency, and ameliorate services. Maybe our corporation heads will see, or be forced to see, employees as with value, instead of a necessary evil to be tolerated until a cheaper, foreign replacement may be had; no matter we use slave or child labor, as long as it isn't in our back yard. Maybe we take a little pride in our workmanship and that of our neighbors.

A few months ago, I listened to a company CEO make what I considered a damning statement, to me an indictment of American industry, He said, in essence, manufacturing is only a very small percentage of a product's cost today and therefore it doesn't matter that we did not design and produce it.

So, lets see, we give away our technological base to an external entity, one with not a lot of scruples, maybe even sticky fingers. Let this entity design and build. We buy the product from them. We slap a label on the product, and assume that this is value added and we somehow made a contribution and improvement to the product! Later when they start to sell our product directly to our customers, we complain. They hit us upside the head with a bat, a better bat than they sell to us!!..

So we run off to get help? From whom? Oh, ah, yes, we are orphans now and we ran off our only friends long ago.. The police and courts don't much like us either..

Yeah, right! This is their idea of how to run our nation, our economy, companies!

Our values. the foundation, the basic underpinnings of our society, have been toppling for some time now. We need to fix this. Maybe we do a little maintenance repair and push it back upright. Take pride in learning, teaching our kids, building new and rebuilding old infrastructure, inventing, innovating, creating. We might stop all the collectivist labeling and get back to respecting our fellow man as individuals. We might even get rid of that elitist attitude that makes us disdain the products of our, and our neighbor's, hands.

So, actually, I'm looking forward to the future, abet with a little pessimism. We get it right this time, maybe.

William_Shatner said...

Will this ever have a good ending?
Here is Bill Kristol, saying what we all have worried about -- apparently, because there are still people left not shell shocked; Kristol: Bush might bomb Iran if he thinks Obama will win

Is this like yelling fire in a crowded theater, or admitting that you are planning to burn the theater down with people in it if they don't give your movie a good review?

David Brin said...

Um Robert thanks for crediting the Youtube politeness checker to that comic. But, anyone who remembers a little, prescient thing called EARTH might also remember my riff about a virus program called EmilyPost?

And, yes, i'd benefit from such a thing. We can all think of others, recently, who woulda,coulda,shoulda...

-----
Tolo I did not disparage certain regions of the country for their problems. I disparaged them for the utter-howler crime of hypocrisy. Loudly and venomously proclaiming their moral superiority while failing every statistical measure of it. Prescribing disproved methods for teaching teens sexual responsibility, compared to the despised blue-liberals, whose methods actually result in more moral behavior. I would taunt in much milder tones, with less schadenfreude, if they had argued with us in lower tones with less sanctimony, or if they were even remotely willing to accept evidence of failure as reason to re-evaluate.

You suggest the South has some terror targets, too. Sorry. Doesn't wash. A few easily guarded refineries, far from population centers? Feh Big cities are the crosshair targets for suitcase nukes and designer bugs and powder toxins and nearly every other nightmare scenario. There are red cities, but would external terrorists, who get their picture of America from Hollywood, actually go there?

Dig it, blue America is precisely the part that didn't panic! That hasn't screamed "war!" and "Terror!" at full throat, but instead stood atop the rubble, faced east and demanded "Is THAT all you got?"

I am sick of supposed fellow countrymen buying into the "decadent Americans" gambit... defining their own countryboy asses assomehow different and better and earthier and less prissy and all around more courageous, when NONE of them can hold a candle to those men and women from Boston and New York who stood up on Flight UA 93 and won the terror-war, the same day it started.

Well, they've had their way. Had their sanctimony, while praying for the end of the world to come and thus, the end of the United States. Yattering that half their fellow citizens are damned to hell? Accepting net tax inflows while railing against taxes? Inflicting upon a great nation rule by a kakarchy -- rule by the dumbest -- who have raped and pillaged and sucked out the lifeblood of an America that had been riding high as the most admired and respected entity the world had ever known?

I could go on. The indictment is long and long and long. ... and it will get MUCH longer, when the followers of Timothy McVeigh start spewing out of a thousand pus-filled basements.

Oh, sure, I am being unfair to the majority of decent souls in every "red" county. Fairness would cause me to back off, re-state my case with all sorts of qualifiers and statistics and exceptions and renewed offers to negotiate with the better side of conservatism (and there is one, buried under twenty years of horrid drivel)... in other words, behaving like your typical "blue intellectual..."

... and I have had it with that. We're not the ones who started this "culture war." But if the spiritual sons of Jefferson Davis and Orville Faubus want to wage Civil War Part III, then let them just go ahead and put their wagers down. Let them put money on it! Go ahead and bet that we don't have the same guts that our ancestors showed on the battlegrounds of Gettysburg or Selma.

That is the kind of anger they have roused, and they had BETTER hope we blues calm down. Back off and give us some time to clean up this mess, so we can restore prosperity so we can be taxed so the money heads into red pockets.... Because if they DON'T back off....

"Mine eyes have seen the Glory of the coming of the Lord...."

And He won't be coming through the $%$# insane acid trip of some insane Book Of Revelation scenario. He will come by helping us do what He really wants from us. Growing up.

William_Shatner said...

Lucern said...
I'm actually somewhat confident and not a little positive about what is happening. We strayed away from our roots some time ago. We needed a swift kick in the rear to push us back on course.

Yes, in those terms, a downturn is almost necessary. Won't be good for the health clubs -- but we should all get a bit healthier riding bikes and getting our hands dirty again.

This would be good, if the bubble burst of imaginary money is confined to the uber wealthy. This may be inevitable because interest must require more debt to be created to pay back the banks. But, Paulson and Bernanke and other regulators seem to be working for the uber rich -- not you and I.

The worst scenario is if massive poverty coupled with all the uber wealth sitting on the sidelines, creates a situation where all the means of profit are owned by others not in our country. We could never "pay off what we owe."

The best thing to happen would be that the bubble pops at the top, and Billionaires are made Millionaires while Work and Labor regain value -- since food still needs to be put on tables and trucks need to run.

The Financial sector, which I'm a part of, never created anything. The marginal fiction that justifies any of it, is to produce capital so that projects can be started in the hopes of creating a factory or a business that can satisfy a need. If you wait for each bit of money to come back from each sale -- expanding is very difficult. But for that little service, the value of transforming paper fiat money into other forms of fantasy money, has sucked up all the profits.

Various financial services wouldn't be necessary, if the government were supporting the public for the common good. You know, the commons.

I'm afraid that this little financial Circus, where a disaster arrives, and suddenly goes, and money and capital changes hands based solely on companies going bankrupt overnight and being swallowed by bigger companies. The holders in the stock of Lehmans lost everything, while the insiders got bought up. Now after a 900 point gain it will probably be sold as if nothing happened. Did we forget $850 Billion or the small investors or the 401k so soon? Those lost.

Why does the bible outlaw the charging of interest? Is it something that inevitably leads to a debt that cannot be paid?

The story isn't over. It is likely things will swing up and down as they steadily go lower. Took about 3 years of steady declines in the Great Depression. But we got into this on the "surprise" by Paulson. You know, when I saw that stinking "Bankruptcy Reform" bill -- I knew that massive bankruptcies of the public weren't soon behind. So the interest of the people will not be served until we force them to serve it. These are the same disaster capitalism games that preceded the Iraq war. I still wonder about the Rothschilds who once owned half the world -- did they sell it off? How do people EARN that much? Or the NeoCons, who do these Globalists work for? We don't know who the richest people in the world really are, and what we speculate on is their puppet show.

William_Shatner said...

Brin said...
I am sick of supposed fellow countrymen buying into the "decadent Americans" gambit... defining their own countryboy asses assomehow different and better and earthier and less prissy and all around more courageous, when NONE of them can hold a candle to those men and women from Boston and New York who stood up on Flight UA 93 and won the terror-war, the same day it started.


You truly are the voice inside my head.

Yeah, Rush Limbaugh is so much like Goerbels -- the same playbook. Appeal to the insecurities of people by propping them up and heralding every one of their worst attributes. If a Reagan Democrat rubbed himself with feces, this would be the quality of all heroes sung by the bards.

There is no more loyal person, than a three time loser given a gun and a badge and the right to bust someone who went to school upside the head. Que Blackwater, Homeland Security, or the Brown Shirts. Did you know that a lot of the people given big salaries to work in Abu Ghraib paid as "consultants" (and I'd also heard that about half the Air Marshalls) were people recruited from amongst people kicked out of Corrections Facilities?

The Brown Shirts were volunteers, Germans fed up with France and a lot of outsiders rubbing their face in their own defeat. Jingoistic nationalism was coupled with a Christian philosophical certainty. These were good people who were angry, and they got an excuse to hate by their leaders. If you give up decision-making to some higher authority, be it God or Reverend Haggard, you lose all responsibility or guilt. Things that no individual would do to a dog become OK as long as it is the person your leader has said it is OK to hate. The point of some of the wacky ideas that faithful have to commit to in Religion isn't about the importance of talking Salamanders, or Snakes -- it's about the exercise in being good by simply submitting to the group think.

Maybe we aren't going to that dark place -- but the lack of critical thinking and the reflexive dismissal of blame is the same. The Left, has been critical of shortcomings in America's actions around the world, and much of the right has portrayed this as hating America. Do I hate my kids when I tell them that they've done wrong? No. But we have a culture of giving candy to bullies who pick on little kids. The argument about terrorism is a great example; "They hate us for our freedoms" vs. "A criminal organization that recruits from amongst people who believe the US has had a hand in suppressing them." We got rid of a lot of our freedoms -- do THEY hate us less?

>> I'm not saying that the Red states are 100% in this profile, nor that Liberals are not sanctimonious. It is, as all things, on a curve. But the instinct of the Red states has been to move more towards ignoring deficiencies and externalizing all problems. The Critique of American exceptionalism from the Blue states has not been from the point of view that they aren't members of America.

Cliff said...

william_shatner, you bring a lot of stuff to think about to the blog, but damn, man! After reading a few of your posts I feel like I should be building a bunker in my apartment and stocking up on rations!

Also, it's a damn shame that Zorgon had to mouth off like that. (I would have said this below but it looks like the thread is dead.) The dude was abrasive, but he brought a lot of info to the table.
I really do wonder why he salted his rants with random vicious personal attacks.

David Brin said...

I too mourn, as if losing a prodigal son.

William_Shatner said...

cliff said...
william_shatner, you bring a lot of stuff to think about to the blog, but damn, man! After reading a few of your posts I feel like I should be building a bunker in my apartment and stocking up on rations!


Well, won't you feel better if it comes in handy!

I try not to obsess on this. I am definitely not a survivalist, or even very prepared for the things I'm concerned about. But I it is hard for me to become emotionally connected to what my logic is telling me; that we are at the end of our rope for our lifestyle.

Our 10% year over year capitalist model is unsupportable on the earth. While human population grows -- it would normally peak and level off, probably at about 9 Billion. But I think that religious groups and cynics work against this. All you need to do is push for women's rights, and reduce infant mortality and most people choose to have fewer kids -- unless of course you are from one of those religious groups that treats child bearing as some sort of arms race. D├ętente people -- please!

I read a lot of a certain site that seems to often be bearish but seems to get good results on future predictions -- just along the lines of what Brin talks about with his prophet project; http://www.urbansurvival.com/week.htm

The economic crisis came right on the October 7th date they predicted. They also said that there would be about 40% economic, 40% military, and 20% earth disaster that would create a great "releasing" period of pent up anxiety in people around the world. The other shoe is yet to drop on that regard. Though as a prediction, that is pretty vague as well.

>> But as a culture we are getting more out of touch with the idea of the "Common good." The idea that a science observatory that spends a million to show children the wonders of our Universe is wasteful, when we spend $1 Billion on a bomber. That is a culture that is sick.

A collapse isn't all bad. It's just traumatic. But occasionally, a person has to have a fever to throw off a bad disease. The real concern isn't having a financial crisis -- it's how we address it. The worst thing is if NeoCon cronies of Bush go unpunished for their crimes, and are allowed to sneak away to Dubai with billions -- to haunt our elections and our economic system forever.

I damn well would feel OK about taking a bicycle to work as long as I wasn't the only one (kind of dangerous in Georgia with the cars and all), and feeling better about the integrity of my nation. Life is NOT about getting a bigger screen TV. Having real opportunity to shaper our destiny and maybe help to make the world a better place.

Does anybody know of any GREAT thing we've done in the last ten years? Anything to match the moon landing? We build efficient buildings but we've lost the whimsy, purpose, and sense of our own ability to solve any problem. Decadence will destroy us as well as any monetary adversity. And I don't think of this in terms of Communism vs. Capitalism. We just have become a bunch of wimps who would bomb another country so that we can biggie-size our Freedom Fries.

This Liberal isn't so afraid of a little sweat. He is afraid of being alone in a nation of pigs.

>> Don't worry about Zorgon -- he will be a better person for his time in the wilderness. People need to respect even those they think are lesser than they. We all need to realize we are part of a community -- we can compete, and criticize, but we cannot forget our decency.

William_Shatner said...

Oh, and waxing philosophic here, reminds me of why one of my favorite series of books of all time was Brin's; "The Uplift Wars."

It's the same thing that made me love the old Star Trek, and just merely enjoy the newer incarnations (which didn't "get" Gene Roddenberry's meme).

The idea that people can become "better people." That we can choose to improve, and find a way. And the clever monkey's in Uplift War beat out the smart and decadent -- just like Captain Kirk. The bad guys are always bigger, stronger, have more resources. The Bad Guy sits on his heals and over-estimate his own importance or superiority, while the upstart is sneaky and uses judo.

The sad thing is that we look like the Bad Guys about to get their clock cleaned in a Brin epic. WE let ourself be ruled by vain, egotistical blow-hards who wrap themselves in the accomplishments of all those brainy, elite College students they ridicule. The only clever thing they've got going is how to get money from the people who worked for it.

Star Trek made money and ideas of "difficulty" old myths. Nobody ever stopped and said; "But how much will I get paid," while Scotty did complain that the engines would blow, he'd get it done anyway. Real people are motivated by the worthiness of the task and accomplishment. Einstein wasn't pushing the theories of Relativity, because it was going to get him a nice Mercedes.

I'd like Capitalism as long as it didn't always get in the way of doing things worth doing. Does anyone leap into a book, and spend hours covering all the paperwork and forms that allowed the hero to get that lawsuit passed that saved the day? No? Well that seems to be all that counts in this nation of accounting procedures. If you are poor, the machine runs you as you spend most of you spare cycles thinking of how to make money for the next bill. If you are wealthy, you are bogged down in the paperwork trying to protect the money that buys your printing press.

I love some of the principles that Conservatives have of of De-regulation if they would just end our paperwork. My dad died a few years back of cancer, and he spent the last two weeks filling out forms from accountants so that he could pass on a legacy and not a burden to his family. That was heroic -- but it shouldn't have to be.

But the argument for a simpler life doesn't seem to be making much play. It's for venal goals, and trying to explain that a person is more worthy because they have more money -- which seems to be the sole justification for having even more money than someone else.

>>Anyway, I hope that was interesting and not long-winded. We need more Sci-Fi that is clever and hopeful and we need more things worth doing. While some people want things to collapse so they can be Mad-max (they are always in their mind the survivor -- not the statistic) or meet Jesus, I just want things to change so that we don't have to live a life of paperwork.

atomicsmith said...

I think this may have been posted here before, but in light of recent events:

The Theory of Interstellar Trade, Paul Krugman, July, 1978. [PDF]

The remainder of this paper is, will be, or has been, depending on the readers inertial frame, divided into three sections.
...
Readers who find Figure II puzzling should recall that the diagram of an imaginary axis must, of course, itself be imaginary.
...
These complications make the theory of interstellar trade appear at first quiet alien to our usual trade models; presumably it seems equally human to alien trade theorists.


Makes me wonder if Einstein ever wrote any joke papers...

Tolo Lucerne said...

William Shatner said: ....idea that a science observatory that spends a million to show children the wonders of our Universe is wasteful, when we spend $1 (1000 million) Billion on a bomber. That is a culture that is sick.

The thing that boggles my mind is that we are talking about numbers like $700,000,000 millions of dollars!! $2.5 million buck for every man, woman and child in the US!!! The whole gross world product is only $54,000,000 million!! The GDP of the US only $16,000,000ish millions. Energy cost for the US is only about $1,500,000 million. (Am I figuring this wrong or would making energy a completely domestic operation add almost another 50% to our GDP taking into account the multiplier effect?)

How in hell can the derivative market be soooo huge? And they complained about a paltry 7,000 million for ALL our children's health care.

I damn well would feel OK about taking a bicycle to work as long as I wasn't the only one (kind of dangerous in Georgia with the cars and all), and feeling better about the integrity of my nation.

Atlanta has a good rail system and lots of buses!!!

Does anybody know of any GREAT thing we've done in the last ten years? Anything to match the moon landing? We build efficient buildings but we've lost the whimsy, purpose, and sense of our own ability to solve any problem. Decadence will destroy us as well as any monetary adversity. And I don't think of this in terms of Communism vs. Capitalism. We just have become a bunch of wimps who would bomb another country so that we can biggie-size our Freedom Fries.

I haven't seen any great achievements in a long time. We can't even seem to be able to repair the aging infrastructure that we already have. Funny, last night, I was watching an old Star Trek myself. (Denny, you did good!! Have another cigar!) And was thinking much the same. Worse, we do nothing to infuse those attributes in our children. It seems that for every physicist, engineer, mathematician, or chemist, we graduate thousands communication majors and the like. No one wants to take on the hard stuff...

And that is sad. It's where all the fun is!

Joshua said...

Have we done anything great in the last 10 years?

Greatness is in the eye of the beholder, and I'm not sure who counts as "we", but I'd argue that the rise of Google (reasonably efficient information search, which is getting better and broader in scope all the time) and Wikipedia (collaborative creation of a centralized reference) should count for something.

I admit, I work for Google (since January) so I should be presumed to be biased. But I'd argue that they've changed the world in a big and positive way (think about how you use your favorite search engine, and how much you _don't notice doing it anymore_), and tried their hardest to do so without losing track of their principles--mostly successfully, I believe. And I'll admit that Wikipedia has many, many flaws...but what the project has achieved and shown to be possible is stunning nonetheless, overall.

Rob said...

In the last 10 years?

If we want to talk about humankind as a whole, there is:

1 -- The rise of India and China as economic forces.
2 -- The economic unification of Europe. Would Europe's bailout even be possible without a central bank, there?
3 -- The maturation and growth of the first global network.
4 -- Google, of course, but only as an example of robust private enterprise.

Sure, we Americans haven't been at the forefront of space exploration, except that we have, if only with robots. The Chinese, though, are replicating the achievements of the United States and Russia.

I for one am not (too) disappointed that American influence is waning in these areas, while at the same time decrying the lack of interest and education we US-ians have shown which would keep us on top.

Rob said...

Talking salamanders, Shatner?

I've actually studied that in a bit of detail, and I think you put it in there to tweak at me; it's far too obscure a reference to make any kind of general impact here.

The salamander stuff was confessed forgery. Mormons don't believe it, and I don't know of any other group who would...

This is as good a place as any to post a correction: My faction's maligning in the last round didn't come from Z (it came from William_Shatner), and I apologize for saying as much, in the hopes that it will clear the air a bit more.

Sociotard said...

Am I missing something? What comment by Zorgon got him banned? I tried looking in the last couple of comment sections for him, and the last post I saw was not offensive at all.

Were the damning screeds deleted?

Robert said...

@sociotard: Yes, the comments were deleted. They were... offensive and the sort of thing you don't want children (or women) stumbling across. No doubt Zorgon didn't mean to be offensive and just to (for shock value) get his point across (that cops cannot be trusted and would abuse their power), but in doing so he offended Dr. Brin, Dr. Brin's wife, and several other people on this blog (including myself).

@Dr. Brin: I've not seen your story on the EmilyPost virus. What I was reporting on was the news article (which likewise focused primarily on xkcd.com and the upgrade to YouTube), which likewise never mentioned your own story. Whether Randall was inspired by your own story or just came up with it spontaneously, I cannot answer.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Brin,

Red States have PLENTY of terror targets. Every single village and town.

Take out an entire town, with sniper rifles.

Then you see all the fear break out.

I think that red state culture may be more predisposed to fear due to having less experience with strangers in general

arcanedesigns said...

Seems like the games to discredit voter registrations just reached a new level...

Multiple Registrants Say ACORN begged for signatures

Teenager Freddie Johnson said he was offered smokes and dollar bills to fill out voter registration cards. And now the Cuyahoga County Elections Board has 73 cards with Johnson's name on them. . . . "They'd come up with a sob story why they needed the signature," said Johnson, of Garfield Heights. Johnson, 19, said he mostly was trying to help ACORN workers who begged him to sign up because they needed to keep their jobs. ACORN leaders have acknowledged that workers paid by the hour were given quotas to fill.

Fake Names in Florida

Mickey Mouse tried to register to vote in Florida this summer. Orange County elections officials rejected his application, which was stamped with the logo of the nonprofit group ACORN. . . Yes, that's their logo. But they say their workers routinely scanned all suspicious applications. "We don't think this card came through our system," said Brian Kettenring, ACORN's head organizer in Florida.

ACORN estimates it flagged 2 percent of its Florida registrations as problematic because they were incomplete, duplicates or just plain bogus. . . . The GOP accuses ACORN of registration fraud all over the country. . . . "This is part of a widespread and systemic effort … to undermine the election process," says Republican National Committee chief counsel Sean Cairncross, who describes ACORN as a "quasicriminal organization."


Then, what's even more amazing is the list of 29 GOP supportive, ACORN accusative comments on the article, all posted within 2 minutes of each other. Here's a few samples:

Democrats control America. Obama's connections to ACORN is mute because he doesn't have to answer to anything. The only people that answer to the pulic are republicans. Democrats have already destroyed our country. Soup lines for everyone soon!

its not just 23 bogus applications, it is 15,000 here in Ohio 25,000 in Indiana and attempt to attempt to assure victory by fraud from sweet " Community Organizers"

Barack Hussein ObamACORN Barack Hussein ObamAYERS Barack Hussein ObamAnti-America! NOT ANOTHER HUSSEIN! McCain/Palin 2008

Wake up America. Someone is behind this left swing that will bring us down. Please united and fight this. Remember who we are, not socialist terrorist, but Americans.


The only one remark of 30 is dissenting...

The Republican attack against ACORN is proof of their racist attitude and hartred of people of color. It it was an organization that attempted to give support to white "Hockey Moms" or white "Joe Six Packs" all we would hear is how good ACORN is.

It's hard to tell, but it doesn't look like tampabay's comments are collected and then released in spurts, other stories have far more varied posting times... with the occasional long run of posts in the same minute (with sometimes opposing views). In this case it looks like someone tried really hard to create an image of a 95% republican favorable populace.

Just to say the obvious, the more minor voting issues can be focused on, the less time can be given to the massive voter caging et al. I'm not convinced of it, but I can easily see two or three individuals being hired by the shadier parts of the GOP to get themselves registered as often as they can. Seems more likely than one area being worked hard enough to register the same man 73 times.

Jester said...

"Earth" is a must-read.

I'm not trying to push royalties for Dr. Brin or anything, but when I said he'd written 9 world-class novels and some other really great stuff....

Earth is one of the 9.

That's where you'll find the idea of the EmilyPost virus, and a lot of other really interesting ideas.

Jester said...

The guy who registered 73 times?

All 73 where in a pile marked "suspect" by ACORN.

I hope we all understand a little better the organized snearing repetition of the words "Community Organizer" at the Republican Convention.

Anyone who has ever Registered voters knows that ALL Registrations *MUST* be turned in to the Registrar.

Even if a Registrant writes their name as I.C. Wiener.

NOT turning in such registrations means serious prison time.

The reasons should be obvious - Imagine that ACORN was trash-canning some registrations, and some of them were Republicans?

There is no "fraud being uncovered" here, virtually all of the bogus registrations were flagged - by ACORN - as problematic.

This is like saying the Bank of America is engaged in fraud if they call the Feds to report that they believe they have received hundreds of counterfeit 20's, and hands them over...and then it turns out that a dozen fake bills slipped by them in the course of a year.

I don't think the goal this year is to throw the election to McCain, but rather to create a feeling of hatred and disenfranchisement on the part of defeated Republicans, giving them something other than the failures of the Bush administration to lash out against.

The secondary purposes is to avoid humiliating losses in traditionally "Red" States like Ohio and North Carolina that would lead to a re-thinking of current Republican Dogma and a move toward the center.

Robert said...

Oh, I'm sure. I have a bookshelf with over half a dozen novels by Dr. Brin. But I only buy what I come across, and certain bookstore chains are discriminating against decent authors by letting corporate favorites have the shelves and by understocking decent writers. For instance: I am unable to find anything by Martha Wells on the bookshelves and if I wanted to purchase her trilogy "The Fall of Ile-Rien" I'd need to go to Amazon.com.

It's corporate censorship, and it's perhaps more insidious than that of people trying to ban books in libraries. And as a writer who hopes to be published... I look at this and wonder just what I'm entering into here. Unfortunately, the alternatives are not as good; publishing online (posting the writing on a website) may result in more readers, but profits are problematic at best (not to mention there's something comforting about holding a novel in your hand and not worrying about computer glare).

Rob H.

Tony Fisk said...

The EmilyPost virus got a further mention in 'The Transparent Society', where Brin gives the hackers' response.

there's something comforting about holding a novel in your hand and not worrying about computer glare.

Agreed.

However, keep your eye on Pixel Qi, and what they've achieved with the OLPC

Rob said...

Re: Earth I completely agree. I would loan you my copy, but it is signed by its author, who wrote in "IAAMOAC - Fellow Citizen of Earth."

Thus, I cannot part with it without risking parting with something that makes me smile, every time I see it. Sorry!

David Brin said...

Aw shucks....;-)

Oh. Thanks for the link to that hilarious paper written by Paul Krugman in 1978 on Interstellar Trade.

Also, as Making Light has pointed out, he says that the Foundation series got him into economics in the first place.

http://blogs.nature.com/news/thegreatbeyond/2008/10/paul_krugman_nobel_prizewinner.html

See? That sci fi stuff can come in handy!

Doug S. said...

Does anybody know of any GREAT thing we've done in the last ten years? Anything to match the moon landing?

The Human Genome Project?

Cliff said...

rob - I read that paper you posted at parasiticmeme.com. Interesting, but it's not too surprising that rulers throughout time have bolstered themselves by appealing to "natural order," however that is defined.

William_Shatner said...

rob said...
Talking salamanders, Shatner?


I just watched Religulous from Bill Maher -- I was just using his list of the quick and ridiculous. Saying that "now" we don't believe that Joseph Smith was talking to a Salamander seems a bit of editing -- like trying to take out the stuff in the bible about Lot and his daughters because it's kind of creepy. There is plenty of fanciful stuff in all the world religions and the only thing "more" legitimate with the older ones is all the witnesses have been in their graves longer. We can't know what happened during 9/11 much less one old man going up on top of a mountain and proclaiming what a burning Bush said -- "hey, it's a Miracle, so I feel that its true." I'm not picking on anything, just bringing up an example of things that some people accept as an exercise in faith. It can also be Humans walking around with Dinosaurs. There are a lot of things we are in the dark about, but we somehow muddle through our lives anyway. I'm OK with that as long as it doesn't get us people like George Bush or Palin. But hey, look what happened!

For that matter, there were many Gospels, and the 4 we get in the New Testament were weeded out from numerous others. After reading the Gospel of Mary Magdalen -- that is the one that is most sorely missed and would help in the modern age. She said that JC declared that he would eventually let everyone out of Hell -- that eternity of punishment thing being kind of overkill.

But one of the few interesting things I saw in Maher's movie, was that the story of Horus (and Mithras) pretty much exactly echos the main highlights of Jesus. Even down to the December 25th birthday. Resurrection in 3 days, being a carpenter, and healing the sick. I'd heard something of Horus before -- but not that he fit the entire checklist with 12 disciples to boot.

We could also use examples from non-religious dogma; some alien abduction myths seem to always requires small grey aliens with large eyes. You can't be a "serious" UFO buff if you haven't been abducted by them. At least we can be sure we will someday interact or NOT. The Problem is Dogma and "correct thoughts" have become more of a virtue to some Evangelicals than good works. I guess we can liken it to the fixation of protecting the wealthy and bankers over the workers or the commons. If you just take care of the little guys -- there will always be rich people -- but if you don't take care of the latter, the top tier really doesn't matter. CEO's aren't doing a company of one, are they? We are back to the "magic" of religion and looking at the pious Pharisees, rather than they humble aide worker. I'm just trying to be equal opportunity here, and I think WHY people believe things and what they do is way more important than WHAT they believe. Church's are no more likely to produce nice people than shopping Malls, and no less likely either.

The Left Behind Crowd and Domnionists are a bigger concern than most. Why plan ahead or support peace? They even believe that the anti-One, will be a person attempting to bring peace to the middle east. Wow. Who needs God to bring about Armageddon with attitudes like that?

I'm not directing any Ire at any particular group -- it's just the one that came up and I have more experience with. I'd even forgotten that "Rob" was the person who was Mormon. I don't lay awake thinking about Religion anymore - thank God. I find it annoying and counter productive.

Now I might have mentioned some Buddhists or other Eastern religions -- but their mythos seems to be more story-telling than any "proof of believing these things means you are good" issue. By and large they aren't forcing themselves on others and starting wars over which end of the egg should be up. In the US, I have felt under assault by Religion. I can't get a good break on day care unless I want my kid indoctrinated. These tax free mega churches have their own zip codes in Georgia. I pay for them with my tax dollars and they tell people to vote for Republicans -- I can't win. There are plenty of good Christians on the Liberal side -- but they seem to be pretty quiet.

>> Speaking of Religuolous; it missed on what it attempted. It was kind of funny -- but not very. It was slightly insightful -- in a superficial way. The main take-home point, was; "Is religion holding society back from real progress?" Mahr talked about faith but did not distinguish the "different types." He was also a bit heavy-handed with Muslims, where as typical in the West, he went with the acts of a few extremists to extrapolate to the "violent religion." Well, not every bit of the Bible is practiced and there is a lot of violence in that. I understand there are good Christians on the Liberal side, but they seem to get no air time. And overall, I'm pretty sick of the idea that government functions can even be done by charities. Can they coordinate a relief effort in even a small city? Do they do anything other than eternally raise money for Cancer, kids, starvation and NEVER seem to solve the problem. When we shirk our duty that we can actually solve these great problems of mankind, and act like it is some eternal struggle -- we do nothing but "feel good" gestures towards resolution.

This is a great deal for the Robber Barons, who continuously shift the burden to the taxpayer, and prophet from the worlds great problems like hunger and war. It's a nice tax write-off to send expired drugs to Africa, but it does little to help people in Darfur when its all about China's need to steal oil.

Personally, I do think that we need to have a "expectation" of reason, and take to task those things in practice. But I would say that MOST of our problems right now in this Democracy stem from the attack on Reason and the lack of Civics classes in schools. We can solve the problem of anti-intellectualism and useless bake sales to solve social ills after we stop the major hemorrhaging.

>> Google is a great company and an accomplishment -- but it is like watching Michael Jordon -- WE did not do this, some company did. America's environment might have fostered such an entrepreneurial venture. But I was thinking more collectively.

>> Read Denninger today -- it will make you angry. The bail out was 100% rip off and he tells you in simple terms why.

Stefan Jones said...

RE decadence, I think we are instead suffering from a case of Main Street.

As in, the novel by Sinclair Lewis. Highly readable and entertaining after 80 something years. It is about a college girl who moves with her doctor husband to his rural home town. She has a really hard time fitting in. There are a lot of hard-working and practical folks, but they aggressively object to change and attempts to broaden their horizons. There is bigotry and sexism and economic inequality.

It ends with the lead character telling her husband:

"Do you see that object [their newborn daughter] on the pillow? Do you know what it is? It is a bomb to blow up smugness. If you Tories were wise you wouldn't arrest anarchists; you'd arrest all these children while they are asleep in their cribs. Think of what they baby will see and meddle with before she dies in the year 2000! She may see an industrial union of the whole world, she may see aeroplanes going to Mars!"

Right on. Bruce Sterling sprung a great line once in one of those online discussions: "Real futurists have kids." I think that's the key. Raise a generation of kids who are skilled and open-minded and let them do the advance-civilization thing.

William_Shatner said...

doug s. said...
Does anybody know of any GREAT thing we've done in the last ten years? Anything to match the moon landing?

The Human Genome Project?


Yeah, that fits. Good basic research. Maybe we can build a list of what we are thankful for. I'm sure that during the 90's you could find more than during the 21st century.

The internet would have also been a good one -- but it is too long ago now and all the Telcos have stolen the fiber from the people and continued to charge us through the nose. They seem to see more customers as "burdens." How DARE people use their unlimited internet access for unlimited access -- the thieves!

We could have saved a lot of money by making our communications system ALL internet based and gotten rid of switching. With IP-6, you could directly access any device or computer in the world, with sub-networks routing to the location. The central switches of AT&T are anachronistic buggy whips. But still I have to pay for a cell phone, a local phone, DSL, and TV access -- and then AT&T spies on me after taking $200 out of my pocket each month for sitting back and using the taxpayer purchased fiber and infrastructure.

And then the Service Providers have the nerve of interfering in city governments from offering free internet access and Wi-Fi. Companies do not have the right to make a damn profit by LIMITING services. The whole idea of incorporation has been stood on its head. I can't wait until they charge us to store the water landing on our heads or the air we breathe.

David Brin said...

Anyone know Krugman? I'm curious as to whether he's read FOUNDATION'S TRIUMPH.

William_Shatner said...

stefan jones said...
RE decadence, I think we are instead suffering from a case of Main Street.

As in, the novel by Sinclair Lewis. Highly readable and entertaining after 80 something years. It is about a college girl who moves with her doctor husband to his rural home town. She has a really hard time fitting in. There are a lot of hard-working and practical folks, but they aggressively object to change and attempts to broaden their horizons. There is bigotry and sexism and economic inequality.....


You just described the TV Show "Green Acres," without of course, the intellectual punch-line.

>> I'm looking for a better word than "Decadence." Numb, Satiated, over-stimulated, apathetic, malaise. I know I should act and be outraged, a participant in life, yet I ponder and spout about my impotence. I blame Sodium Fluoride which is shrinking my Thalamus and Pineal Gland. Who knows, I could be right. I certainly don't feel like I actually control own will. I even shop too much when I know I could be buying Rain Barrels with the money.

A word like "Truthiness." Perhaps Californication comes close. Maybe Apathetafornication. Whatever describes the equivalent of playing with oneself instead of running out of a burning building.
;-)

William_Shatner said...

david brin said...
Anyone know Krugman? I'm curious as to whether he's read FOUNDATION'S TRIUMPH.


No but I've read it. My main theory about any "science" to human history is that history repeats because Robber Barons repeat what works. The stock market and humans are chaotic in nature because each element serves to best take advantage of their immediate situation. You can't know what any one individual element will do -- but you can plan traffic patterns on the basis of everyone trying to get ahead with various degrees of success.

>> By the way, maybe a certain author here could put up a pay-pal link to allow people to buy Autographed copies of that authors books. Maybe with the CITICOKI -- or however that "transparency" acronym goes.

David Brin said...

My inestimably perspicacious webmaster, Beverly Price, supplies this:

"Here's a graph which may convince the people who cling to the belief that Republicans are better for the economy than Democrats:
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2008/10/14/opinion/20081014_OPCHART.html

To which I add:

Now more graphs please!

1 - deficit spending and accumulated debt

2 - size & growth of the non-defense government work force (excluding Hoover & Roosevelt perhaps)

3 - small business startups

4 - middle class real wages

5 - relative advantage in wealth of the top 1%

6 - readiness level of US Army brigades (devastating!)

======

Anyone wanting to order autographed books via paypal has only to visit:
http://www.davidbrin.com/offers.htm

!!!!!

Stefan Jones said...

If you're feeling bummed about the future going nowhwere, start small. Go get a copy of MAKE Magazine. Or just look at the website: www.makezine.com

Lots of people learning new skills and building cool stuff.

A bunch of them are getting together in Texas next weekend.

Jester said...

How long can a Big Lie survive?

40 gibbering borrow and spend idiots have been on my TV today claiming that raising taxes during a recession prevents recovery and turns it into a depression.

Uhhhhhhhh.....

Clinton took office in a recession, Right?

The first thing he did was raise taxes, Right?

We recovered without going into a depression, Right?

They must be trying to sell this to the senile.

David Brin said...

Depends whose taxes you raise.

Supply side is disproved. Tax cuts for the wealthy are NOT spent... nor invested in innovation. They are used by the rich to BE RICHER.

Taxing them more will not remove spending or innovative investment. They'll spend the same.

Rob said...

rob said...
Talking salamanders, Shatner?

I just watched Religulous from Bill Maher -- I was just using his list of the quick and ridiculous.


Ah.

Maher is a demagogue who doesn't check his sources. The salamander documents were forged, and the press around it notably and provably sensationalist and anti-Mormon.

A fine piece for Maher to sing to his choir, believing what even the Mormons' enemies have refuted. (It's hard to stand by a forger who kills people to hide the forgeries.)

And fine, I took something personally I shouldn't have. I couldn't have known; the last time you swiped at the Mormons you managed to miss the whole target.

For what it's worth, I'll stand with you to refute Palin's faction long before I'll stand with her. Her faction thinks I'm headed to Hell, which is far more offensive.

Rob said...

David, the fact that that graph is published by the New York Times means that I can't use it as a tool to inform my conservative friends. They will ignore it and scream about the bias.

I even had a cousin discount stuff David Brooks wrote, because the NYTimes published it. For crying out loud *he's their resident conservative!*

Rob said...

rob - I read that paper you posted at parasiticmeme.com. Interesting, but it's not too surprising that rulers throughout time have bolstered themselves by appealing to "natural order," however that is defined.

Glad you thought it was interesting. What struck me from my survey course was how completely consistent it was throughout history. And it got me an A in the course I wrote it for.

I could probably have demonstrated that we're still doing it today, by citing from the Communist or Humanist manifestos, as well as probably any number of Protestant confessions, except for the fact that the course cut off at 1480 C.E. or so, and I was constrained to eight pages.

zarahemla can't exist said...

rob --

While talking salamanders may be LDS heresy, Kolob is not.

David Brin said...

If you look toward the end of my too-long original post, you'll find where I refer to an article in a business forum that lays out many of the comparisons.

It's where I start :
- Finally -- SOME OF THAT GOOD OLD COMPARISON AMMO ---

A comparison of economic performance under the two parties leaves the standard republican rationalizations shattered. The comparison on dems vs gops in economic stats reveals dems as decisively better managers of the economy.


I also discuss some of the details. And note that these tables do not include Bush's last year!

I find the most devastating items for brittle-stubborn goppers is the state of the military. ALL brigades "ready" under Clinton and NONE ready today, with the quality of recruits plummeting.

Rob said...

@z-c-e

I refuse to belabor the point, here, and hijack David's blog.

@David

Certainly supply side economics is disproved, which gives the lie to any need for preferential taxation for the wealthiest of Americans, or, for that matter, anyone who makes all his money through some kind of arbitrage.

Alas, the state of the military won't help your cause, either, since my conservatives are "values" and "character" voters, for whom the demagoguery is enough to dissuade.

They're also concerned about a social agenda they know McCain will resist. That is more important to them than economic well being.

Joshua said...

quoth William_Shatner:
Google is a great company and an accomplishment -- but it is like watching Michael Jordon -- WE did not do this, some company did.

And then you go on to give a nod to the Human Genome Project. Which I completely agree is a project of potentially huge significance, and a worthy addition.

I don't mean to beat this into the ground--and to be perfectly honest, I'd still be of the same opinion were I still working for Microsoft (or doing research). But in what way is the Human Genome Project a "collective" endeavor where Google is not? In what way did "we" do Apollo?

Sure, Google isn't funded by taxes, so that does decrease the sense of 'ownership'. But any specific project that you can think of--even Wikipedia--is worked on by a very small percentage of the population of the country.

Anyway, I'm done. I'm mostly just bemused (and confused) by what I perceive to be your criteria.

David Brin said...

Oh, the military thing is well worth at least mentioning, since it is an example of "things are exactly opposite". Like GOPPERS being terrible for free enterprise or the military or the fact that Bush crippled the Border Patrol after Clinton doubled it...

But one could imagine going after the social things the same way. "Are you interested in the means or the end? If one method results in teenage girls having Less and later and more careful sex, then having marriages that last longer and involve less brutality or divorce, should you not approve of that?

But they aren't rational beings. All this does is drive them to retreat behind the last refuge, abortion. Which became a polarizing right wing core issue PRECISELY BECAUSE it can be clutched rigidly, impervious to all evidence or appeals to practicality.

Tony Fisk said...

I wonder if referring to today's GOP as 'the self-servatives' would make a few ostriches re-assess their brand loyalty?

Cliff said...

Probably a dead thread, but:
Maher is a demagogue who doesn't check his sources. The salamander documents were forged, and the press around it notably and provably sensationalist and anti-Mormon.

Agreed on the salamander issue. "The Mormon Murders" goes over all this stuff. The guy who forged the papers was a gigantic con man who got in over his head.

(Full disclosure: I've got Mormon relatives in SLC so I know a fair bit about the church.)

Nisha Thompson said...

Thanks for pointing people to our earmark visualizations! Also check out http://earmarkwatch.org/ to really dive into what earmarks are and if they are worthy of being funded or are just pork.

Nisha Thompson
Sunlight Foundation
nthompson(at)sunlightfoundation(dot)com