Monday, November 03, 2008

And now the (good or bad) aftermath....

It may surprise you that, on the eve of the most important election of our lives, I have little further to add... that is, little having to do with the election itself. Of course, some of you still have a long 24 hours ahead of you, stepping up and finding ways to be useful during a day when America will decide whether or not to save itself.

I urge you all to contemplate finding something helpful to do, if only calling your friends and relatives in battleground states and expressing your willingness to talk, if they have any doubts at all.

Oh, one amusing thing you can share: endorsements of Obama by Eisenhower, Nixon, Goldwater and Reagan. (What, no Bush?)

Having said all that, there's little to add except - God bless us one and all.


And so, our attention turns to the aftermath.

Last time, I alluded to what will happen if Obama loses, an event that can only seem possible if attributed to blatant and outrageous/desperate cheating. An outcome that - frankly - I cannot imagine any truly prescient Republican wishing for.

Why? Well, let me offer a parallel in cosmic-level shortsightedness and stunning stupidity -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad expressing a wish and determination to wipe Israel off the map. And the failure of anyone, in the press or at any level, to ask of him - or any other fanatical Middle Eastern leader - the following question. "What do you think will happen to your nation, if you ever succeed in accomplishing this goal -- turning all the world's remaining Jews, including tens of thousands of the planet's finest scientists and engineers, into enraged revenge-seekers with little or nothing left to lose? Do you honestly convince yourself that those biologists and physicists and chemists and engineers will simply leave your cities alone? Or, indeed, any villages at all?"

Was there ever a more utterly clear example of the expression: "be careful what you wish for"?

Likewise, one has to ask those Republicans and redstaters -- and especially the cabal-masters who may be thinking of performing massive electoral cheating: do you really want the America you will then have to rule? Are you so convinced that Blue America will simply lie down and accept it, this time?

Ah, but I reiterate my previous posting and it is time to move on. We'll just see.

What interests me now is the more likely scenario: what happens after Obama wins?

I mean, other than hoping that Obama and Biden never again occupy the same room or come closer then a mile to each other, communicating only by visiphone or whatever.


First: Cabinet choices...

BHO has already made it clear that he plans to reach out to all reasonable and talented people, including Republicans. POLITICO - is out with its predictions for Obama's cabinet and other key staff and the initial list is fascinating. (Those of you still looking for "ostrich bait" could do little better than showing this list, which demolishes all thought of "socialist fanaticism" and supports the image of a fiercely determined pragmatist.)

Still there may be an unexpected side effect of bringing so many moderate Republicans into an Obama Administration -- to hollow out the Realist Wing of the GOP, just when it is about to be plunged into civil war over the heart of the Republican Party. That civil war may be the biggest news of 09. And I will offer more about it, soon.


Second: the reaction on the street and around the world...

It has been said that the Superbowl and World Series are actually contests over which cities will go up in flames, the night the championship is decided. Likewise, is it a nobrainer to expect some smoke Tuesday night, no matter who wins the election? Sure, the reaction will be far more dangerous if people feel Obama lost to cheating. But even if he wins, I'll not be surprised if there are some unfortunate excesses -- even joyful ones -- that end in some tears.

What will amaze Americans even more is the demonstrative spirit we'll see in many foreign locales. Never before has so much passionate interest in an American election consumed the world. Expect some colorful footage. And some re-reaction proclaiming "F### the rest of the world."


Third: The Pardon Tsunami, the whistle-blow tornado, and the rise (at last) of the civil servants

I have spoken often (and almost alone) of the likelihood that President George W. Bush has promised a veritable heap of pardons, in order to buy silence till after the election. I have no evidence, but even if it's true, there's no guarantee he'll keep most of the promises, knowing that too long a list could make life very uncomfortable for him here in the States. If he keeps the list short, then what other options will your typical henchman have, except to hurry and make a deal with the other source of clemency, Representative Henry Waxman. Of course, the quickest to spill his or her guts will get the best bargain.

Will we also see the too-long delayed rise of civil servants who have been squelched by GOP hatchetman political appointees? The paucity of courage has been disappointing, but after BHO is President Elect, there really won't be much that any agency head or enforcer can do to bureaucrats who have kept careful files of a long list of crimes. We'll see if this model pans out... or if the bureaucrats really are as useless as the Republicans have been saying, all along.


Fourth: The recriminations and implosion of the Republican Party.

>>Jacob Weisberg is all over the media blaming libertarians for both the Wall Street collapse and the coming election results (this one is in Slate and Newsweek both). Of course the Goldwater conservatives are the injured ones with a real grievance. The only issue is whether the moderates and libertarians will have the guts to make a major play. If they gather their fortitude and make a real fight of it --

--then does anybody see a scenario under which the GOP survives, as-is? Can the Rovean Coalition really hold together? It certainly would seem more likely that the mods and libs will stalk off to form a new party, leaving the Palintropes in charge of a rump GOP... or else the moderates+libertarians will get the rump and the Palinesques will form the new one. Either way, the lunacy of know-nothing worship will suffer a deadly blow and Culture War might finally ease....

That is... it SEEMS the most likely scenario. Because this Frankenstein monster should never have survived its internal contradictions in the first place...

...which is exactly why I am betting against self-demolition of the Republican Party. Because monsters have a way of surviving, awful stitchwork and all. After all, the key element is already there, an AIDS-like suppression of any immune system against delusion.

Like the delusions of the Libertarian Party itself. Had they done any better, this year, they might have offered an alluring home for the mods and libs thinking of fleeing the GOP. But the LP started off with a reputation for doctrinaire, impractical craziness, utterly contemptuous of compromise or incrementalism. Then they added that piece of work, Bob Barr. The crux? The LP has turned itself into an object lesson against ever trying to form a third party.

So no... the moderates and (quasi) sane Republicans will swallow their pride -- along with all standards of intellectual honesty and decency -- and they'll rejoin a GOP led by the Palin wing. They'll dive into rationalizations and pass up the historic moment. The chance to end Culture War and spare us the REAL crisis... the election of 2012, when Robert Heinlein forecast the arrival of Nechemia -- or Naomi? -- Scudder.

85 comments:

normdoering said...


Vote! Today is your last chance.

B. Dewhirst said...

On the other hand, American Indians were probably well within their rights to suggest in, say, 1700, that the Massachusetts Bay Colony should be dissolved-- this does not necessarily imply killing thousands of pilgrims, but it does imply overthrowing the governance structure of a colonialist power.

Whether Israel, with her top-grade American weapons systems, constitutes a colony is perhaps a disputable point... but there is certainly a difference between (quoting someone else) calling for removing a country from a map (like, say... Iraq? The USSR? Nazi Germany?) and killing all of the Iraqis, West Eurasian Soviet Socialists, Germans... etc.

Again... as you've said... it is a mistake to assume that Iran is fundamentally weaker or stupider than the US.

Their posture towards Israel is fundamentally a defensive one, in the American sense of military defense. Convincing them we want to use the place as an airbase to bomb them from... not so great for Israel.

tj said...

the biggest reason that i'm not expecting that explicit wave of pardons that you mention is because i'm under the impression that language absolving/pardoning the Bush administration including Bush himself was already inserted into the Military Commissions Act.

gmknobl said...

As far as cheating goes, we already had cheating, that is vote fraud, that won the 2004 election for Bush. In 2000 we had both that and a biased supreme court decision that said, in effect, your votes don't count. O'Connor has since said this was a bad decision on her part.

I have no belief that this WON'T be attempted again. But for this to work it has to be both massive and done with lots of cover-up because of the advantage Obama has in the polls. It didn't need to be that massive the last two times because things were quite a bit closer. This makes it less likely to occur. Why? Because to win it has to be much large in scale and much, much easier to discover and discovered on a widespread basis. That will result in a revolt of some sort, endangering both main parties. Dems congressmen laid down last time this happened in order to protect such a two party system (IMO) but many of the rest of us didn't and have bombarded them with email since then objecting to it. Perhaps, finally, they are as afraid of what will happen to them, in their own self-interest, from us as what could happen to the country. We'll see.

I put up a sign for Obama (which was taken down by vandals - yes, the actual Roman-era Vandals came by and took it after sacking Rome ;-), put up another, and gave him my vote. I refused to give him money as a) he's awash in it, b) I gave on the previous two elections to naught effect, c) he doesn't represent many of my views and d) I don't have extra cash this time around as costs have risen to the point where I am struggling to keep my head above water. There's no need to keep doing what didn't work the last two times anyway and I'd be a fool for doing such.

I'd like to point out that the president of Iran has little actual power to do the things he's said and that the translation, taken outside of its cultural setting, is possibly incorrect too. That said, yes, it's a horrible thing to say and people like him aren't needed in the world, honestly.

Bush and Reagan were people much in the same vein though and we don't need them either. Good riddance. Not that I wish they'd die, just that I wish they'd have no power, not even dog catcher level. Reagan is dead now, along with Nixon. It might be wrong of me but I do not mourn their passing. I do mourn the loss of the potential for good they could have accomplished but chose not to. Carter made mistakes too but he's since gone on to try to do good in the world. It's interesting to see what Bush, Clinton and Bush will do and have done. A mixed bag so far. I don't really know what Gerald "Caretaker" Ford did.

Geesh, there really is a lot of work to do, from changing the ruling on FISA, to reinstating posse comitatus and habeus corpus, to putting on old regulations of many types of business (banking, telecommunications for starters), to freeing the enemy combatants and generally to erase MORE THAN the last eight years of misrule. I doubt this will happen overnight if at all, but that's why we have a democracy, to force those with political power to do the right thing by the people, even when they don't want to. But first, we have to make sure they can't take power from us again, by reinstating those first two I mentioned.

Indeed, God bless us, 'cause we're gonna need it. And damn the neocons and those who deliberately helped them. I really hope there is legal repercussions for the if not visible karmic ones.

dmon said...

Here's an as-yet unpredicted side-effect of a (probable, hopefully) BHO victory: the gamblers at InTrade are, as of today, selling the potential 2009 recession like mad. Now that the polls are open and it's looking good for Obama, people are betting _against_ a bad economy next year. He may yet turn around the economy by sheer force of character.

Amazing. It's all psychological.

Cliff said...

The chance to end Culture War and spare us the REAL crisis... the election of 2012, when Robert Heinlein forecast the arrival of Nechemia -- or Naomi? -- Scudder.

What? Did Heinlein get a secret time message from a wormhole and I didn't hear about it? Did he decipher the Mayan calendar?
Why the continued references to Scudder as though it were anything more than fiction?

Robert said...

It's one of Dr. Brin's pet theories. He latches on to Scudder as if he's the coming of the Antichrist.

(Mind you, I've had some rather spirited discussions with a Christian friend of mine who believes Revelations is fact and that all non-Christians will burn for all eternity... but likes me anyway because I'm a decent enough chap even if I'm not Christian. The primary crux of my argument against Rev? If there is such a thing as free will, then Revelations cannot be considered preordained, because the Antichrist could decide "hey, I've seen this ending, I lose in the end, bleep it. I'm going to use my power for good instead!" or even just step into traffic and end his possible threat. The Devil could very well use his free will to ask for forgiveness and thus not burn for all eternity. Yet my friend insists that these will not happen and that these will happen as-written. And doesn't see how this negates the whole point of free will.)

Mostly I think Dr. Brin sees Scudder as a metaphor for the religious right taking control of the country, and how it could then work, using the Patriot Act and other such powers, to ensure it never loses control in the future. Thus Scudder becomes a cautionary banner to fly, warning of the dangers of religious thinking and of letting down our guard against those who would rule over us out of a hatred of us rather than a desire to help.

That, and I think Dr. Brin also is a big fanboy when it comes to Heinlein, despite the fact that his later works were in many ways inferior to the classics such as The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. But we all need our authorial heroes, even when we're popular science fiction writers like Dr. Brin. ^^

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

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

@Cliff

You are watching the sum of this little community's fears, encapsulated as a reference to Scudder.

Personally, I think an ideological tyranny cannot come from the religious right, simply because they are being watched too closely and countered with too much energy. To succeed, any faction bent on tyranny would have to gather at least some power in secret, before springing a populist movement on people.

And, frankly, I think it'll come from either from the left (the hard-left rhetoric is more hateful, which is not to say that the hard-right rhetoric is not) or from some perpendicular-to-axis direction.

Cliff said...

@Robert: The metaphor thing makes the most sense. It's just confusing to me when Scudder and theocracy get presented as an inevitability.

Rob said...

Something somewhat tangential:

Well, let me offer a parallel in cosmic-level shortsightedness and stunning stupidity -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad expressing a wish and determination to wipe Israel off the map.

I would note that, per Juan Cole, this statement never occurred, but was a mistranslation of a Persian idiom.

Matt DeBlass said...

Not political, but very cool.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/automotive/new_cars/4251491.html?series=19

David Brin said...

Joe P wrote in: "While I appreciate that palintrope is a real word, the meaning (part of a brachiopod) doesn't quite seem to fit. I humbly submit "palindrone" - someone who doesn't know if he's coming or going."

Har! Love the cladistic phsyiology ref! Actually, that's "palindrome" = phrases that read the same backward as forward.
A Palin-drone would be someone who follows Sarah Palin blindly.

=== Robert is right that I use Scudder as a dramatic metaphor. Why not? We have learned that metaphors are far more persuasive than statistics or reason.

As for the Book of Revelations, one can point out that computerized syntax programs diagnose John of Patmos as being completely identical to an institutionalized raving schizophrenic or a person on a heavy LSD trip... or that it was voted into the canon by the narrowest of margins at a council that also reconfirmed slavery.... but none of that will get through.

I have found one point that is especially effective on Christians, however. you counter scripture with scripture by citing the Book of Jonah. Go ahead and read it. It is one of the most thoughtful and moving passages in the Bible and diametrically opposite in tone, belying the canard that "the Old Testament is violent and the New is forgiving."

The crux of Jonah's little struggle with the Lord is that he objects to God's propensity for forgiveness and for changing His mind! Not only does this utterly undermine the notion that the Book of Revelation is written in stone (even if Patmos had a holy insight, it may have only been a threat and retracted afterwards, exactly as in Jonah), but it undermines the even deeper malignity, the worst insult to God, the assertion that any sane Creator would ever apply such a psychotic doctrine as Original Sin, pre-damning everyone who does not figuratively drink from the blood of a human sacrifice (another notion contradicted vehemently in the OT.)

The insistence that God is forbidden from changing his mind, no matter how good we become or how hard we try, is not only loathesomely insulting and sacreligious, but also diametrically opposite to what is preached in an earlier book that has far better resonance and provenance.

====Those who make excuses for Ahmadinejad are being just plain silly. So his textual words were different. He has made his general passion and desire abundantly clear.

=== BD, your position re Israel is (sorry) delusional on every conceivable level. Post facto studies showed that every Arab soldier in the 1948 and 1967 wars and on the Syrian side in 1973, had been told to simply kill everything in sight. That is still the FORMAL position of Hamas and Hezbollah, in Arabic texts (not in English language translations.)

Saddam's "big gun" was to be armed with chemical weapons and aimed at Israeli cities.

To call Iran's position "defensive" is ludicrous. And I am saying this as a person who argued AT the CIA HQ in 2002 for a peace offensive toward Iran that might have both helped Khatami and helped create a sensible way to get rid of Saddam. (Starting with a US apology for past mistakes.)

The tendency of the left to swing toward anti-zionism is one of the most insipid reflexes around. It ignores history (the Palestinians were shoveled into those camps by cynical Arab lords) and facts (the Israelis have nowhere else to go and face venomous death if they lower their guard...

...it is, in fact, as stupid a reflex as the right wing's hysterical embrace of abortion as an all-defining issue.

TJ, the Military Commissions Act only covers foreign/military related crimes. It is domestic criminality that Bush et al have to fear getting caught for.

B. Dewhirst said...

My feelings on Israel are not relevant to the present diplomatic situation in the Middle East, which is why I didn't necessarily include them. I tried to include Ahmadinejad's sentiments as I understood them... and those are relevant even if you don't agree with them.

I believe my point was that Iran's position was as defensive as ours is.

Off the top of your head... what was the last country Iran invaded?

Belle Starr said...

David, Mary Sojourner here, NPR commentator and more...I'm working on a book for Seal Press, on women and compulsive gambling. I researched brain chemistry and found your brilliant appeal to scientists to consider studying the neuro-mechanisms of internal self-reward.

I'd love to communicate, have lots of info on brains and slot gambling, which of course, ties in with any VDT game.
My blog is marysojourner.com

gmknobl said...

I do not defend the Iranian president only point out that his words are taken out of context on occasions and used by short-sighted political powers here and elsewhere to stir up hatred and fear. He also does say things that can only be taken in a bad way by the West too for the same reason.

It's best to be aware of translations and make sure you always use a good one that takes into consideration context, especially dealing with a foreign culture. This is not something Bush does nor does FOX. Everyone else who thinks should.

And yes, we (America) did have a golden opportunity to work with the surging opposition in Iran but blew it with deliberately inflammatory statements, something that damaged the region and destabilized it even more.

Gee, Dr. Brin, you are a bit defensive these days.

Anonymous said...

http://www.boingboing.net/2008/11/03/palins-spiritual-war.html

Palin's "Spiritual Warfare" faith shared by Katherine Harris, other pols

http://www.talk2action.org/story/2008/10/27/115813/98





Scudder? Prophetic!

Tony Fisk said...

Well, it's election day, and this sounds promising:

Magnetic shield for spacefarers

The team has had to take into account the physics of plasmas at the comparatively tiny human scale. To create its metre-sized trial, the team used a plasma jet and a simple $20 magnet.

"The first time we switched it on, it worked," said Dr Bamford.


(Wot, no bidless defence contracts!?)

I've been pondering just such a mechanism for passenger vehicles on a space elevator going through the Van Allen belts. Nice to see someone has gone beyond the ponder stage.

On the same topic, and since you're voting for a change of government, you might take a moment to consider and maybe even endorse the Planetary Society's Roadmap to Space, which will be presented to the next president (either one, although one's opinions about planetariums does not bode well).

Original sin: relying on being told things about the world, rather than wanting to figure it out for yourselves. (Maybe I shouldn't have said that?)

verification word of the day: 'reptical' - eyewear for lizards/ a ditto production unit/where you discard Grotty Old Packaging...

David Brin said...

Defensive? Moi? ;-)

Hey, you guys come and camp in my living room and put your feet on the coffee table and scatter crumbs... I can be forgiven a grouchy snap, now and then hm?

I recommend folks drop by
http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/
for some really cogent comparisons of poll data and especially the astounding figures on early voting, this year.

One deep disappointment. There has been so much talk of Presidential and Senate races... and almost none at all about Statehouses where, you'll recall, I think some profound important lies. And where there may be the evening's strongest chances of cheating.

Jester said...

Very bluntly, Dr. Brin, you're falling for a "we will bury you" shoe-pounding.

Don't get me wrong, Kruschev was an @hole and so is Immadinnerjacket. The difference is that one had a heck of a lot more real power than the other. Both were posturing, and both had the posturing amplified by intentional mistranslation.

Iran while likely elect Khatami next year - I mean "likely" to at least an 80% probability. That means an Iranian leadership VERY likely to sign on to the current Arab League plan, which is a damn good plan.

There's no point to letting the horseshit spewed by a lame-duck (and a little duck at that) get in the way of peace.

Israel exists and it's people have the exact same right to self-determination that all other peoples - including Palestinians - have. What is, is.

It's no more use to try to present actual historical fact to a self-proclaimed Zionist than it is to do it with any other embracer of a Culture Narrative. Self-identity is too wrapped into the issue for the "official version" a person suckles from his mothers teat to face meaningfull challenge from something as feeble as fact.

We've all got those blind spots. My Grandpa was bright and open minded man, but trying to explain to him that Cromwell waged war according the rules of the day in Ireland and that the truly horrific abuses against the Cahtolic population came after him and were not at all one sided....good luck.

The fact is that the Igrun and Lehi were engaged in wholesale ethnic cleansing for weeks before any of the Arab powers attacked Israel. The fact is that they repeatedly massacred women and children in a terror campaign.

Palestinians are a people made refugees by the hunger of another people who "had nowhere else to go". People essentialy played for chumps by Israel AND the Arab Powers.

They didn't deserve it or "bring it upon" themselves. Lumping them into some non-existant entity labled "the Arabs" doesn't absolve Israel of the responsibility for the wrongs done to them, anymore than the word "indians" absolves the US of it's absuses against indigenous peoples.

Trying to pass the buck on this one is no different than trying to blame Africans for the Slave Trade. It wasn't the Arab powers that moved polish refugees into Palestinian homes after chasing them off at gunpoint.

Rabin admited that he alone oversaw the forceable expulsion of 50,000...and yet we still hear the old lies about how Palestinians all left of their own accord because they thought the Arab powers would prevail.

Olmert told the truth about the only viable option for peace and Israels long-term survival once he was out of office.

Israel will have to abandon the Golan, pull back to the 67 borders with small scale acre for acre swaps where feasible, and take it's own settlers with it. Otherwise, it's an eternal war that Israel will eventually lose as American military hegemony recedes and Palestinians continue to increase their population more rapidly.

The jets get more and more expensive, the tanks continue to lose the race against man-portable rockets, and more and more Israelis dodge the draft. Compromise without regard to the words of old men writing mytho-narrative several thousand years ago will have to be reached, and Israels position in such bargining will never be stronger than it is now.

The question is whether a small minority of racist settlers - creatures in all honestly FAR scarier than our home-grown American fundy whackos - will get the hell off of Palestinian land without an Israeli civil war.

Well, that's Israels problem at the end of the day, it's tolerance of such beasts is as much it's "original sin" as our tolerance of slavery was.

The test is comming, one day or another, and if Israel is to survive decent Israelis are going to have to stand up just as farm boys in blue coats did 148 years ago half a world away.

They will have to take that stand against the ugliest elements of their *own* society.

Wrong is wrong, and Israelis wrongs are not excused by those of long dead arab leaders, or the fear of Iranian mullahs who all credible sources put at least a decade from a bomb (while Israel sits on the world 5th largest nuclear arsenal - and a lunatic like Netan-yahoo "There is no Palestinian People" may be months from controling it) or Hizbollahs booms-for-booms responses justify continuing to try steal the last quarter of the Palestinian loaf out of pure greed.

Quit blaming the victim, Dr. Brin. You're a bigger man than that. "Someone else raped her too" is no excuse.

Cliff said...

The tendency of the left to swing toward anti-zionism is one of the most insipid reflexes around.

Just to be clear on what these definitions are...
Is it insipid to think that hardline conservative Israelis are causing us (America) headaches with their refusal to compromise?

And Jester mentioned this too - I keep seeing these fundamentalist settlers go into Palestinian land and kick up a ruckus when they're told to leave.

Is there an acceptable middle ground between anti-Zionism and thinking that maybe Israel should stop being such a dick all the time?
(Which is not to say that the Palestinians are innocent, or that Israel doesn't have a right to exist, or that the neighboring countries have no part to play.)

David Brin said...

I wouldn't bet on Khatami, though one can hope. And I hope Biden is on the next jet over.

The Arab League plan is a huge step.... away from venomous total genocide. It still contains poison pills.
Jester, you are like your grandpa in more ways than you'll admit.

The Irgun acted before the arab powers invaded. But NOT before Hitler's pal, the Grand Mufti, sent thousands of assassins out to potshot and slaughter isolated Jewish settlements first. First. And any arab neighbors who wanted to get along.

There were no more Palestinians who left their homes than Jews in Yemen and other arab lands who were forcibly ejected and their homes seized. Homes that could easily have been given to Palestinian refugees in a swap, as happened when India and Pakistan swapped a million people and homes. NOT a morally perfect situation. But while many Palestinians wanted to lurk at the border and hope for a return, MOST DID NOT. They begged to be allowed to resettle in other Arab lands...

...the way refugees do most of the time. But they were absolutely forbidden, when most Arab states fell in behind the Mufti's plan to turn the refugees into a permanent humanitarian crisis. Think about your assumptions! These people are too delicate to adapt, the way all other refugee people have? The way the Israelis did?

Yes, there are MORAL flaws in what I just said. But a better world is also made through pragmatism. And pragmatic solutions were deliberately, callously and maliciously thwarted.

You talk as if the peace that seems to be taking shape was on the table all along. It was NEVER on the table till a couple of years ago, and any true student of history has to be skeptical that it is even on the table now, while the Sau-dis still teach genocide to all of their kids in textbooks.

Yes, the settler extremists are nasty. But so is the fundamentally unfair reflex of the Euro-American far left, to hold Israel to standards that NO other victorious country was ever held to before. It is a nasty reflex, without merit, and it is the left's equivalent of palinesque Book of Revelations thumping.

CSM said...

Ah Revelation, acid trip or coded message? Mostly the latter. The keys to the code are in earlier books, but it isn't easy decoding. References to tribulation and resurrection can be found in the gospels and Paul's epistles. Some of the imagery can be found in Exodus; more in Daniel.

Regarding Jonah: look at Moses' curses at the end of Deuteronomy. He calls for Israel to follow the Law and the consequences for doing so (or not). He then says they won't. But when? Humans may well have a choice in that matter, but simply psycho-entropy arguments indicate at some point enough people will turn away to trigger the events.

(BTW, baby killing was the event that triggered the plagues of Egypt. Take note.)

Anyway, the idea of punishment for nonbelievers per se is very troubling. But this doctrine is questionable. On one of my web sites I point out:

1. Being a Christian has a price. And it's a lot more than an altar call.

2. Unbelievers may well be judged to a lower standard than believers.

3. There are multiple levels of reward and punishment. It's not just heaven or hell.

4. The word "hell" is a translation of four different words. The King James Bible translates the Hebrew "Sheol" as either "hell" or "grave" depending on who is going there.

5. Christians won't get out of the tribulations. The rapture will happen after all the nastiness.

6. There are two different resurrections in Revelations -- a thousand years apart.

Follow the links and you'll find plenty more to chew on.

Tony Fisk said...

Pa and Ohio.

I think the word you are seeking is:

'*PHEW!*'

(I believe there's talk of naughtiness in Virginia, though. Hopefully you'll get Lee this time round)

WV is 'kners': ickless knickers?

Matt DeBlass said...

Even Fox News has called it for Obama. Now it's just a matter of checking the local scores.

Doug S. said...

Well, the election has been called for Obama. Looks like I won't have to move to Canada after all.

Stefan Jones said...

Spent the evening baking. I bake when I'm nervous. Six cakes. I'm not sure how I'm going to transport them to work.

Well, the dog chewed off the top of one layer. Shit. I guess I'm keeping that one.

Ran out for a burger and fries. By the time I got back, it was OVER. Fifteen minutes from "looking good for Obama" to "hmmm, landslide."

I rushed outside to light off a big firework when I heard that McCain called Obama to concede.

I wasn't the only one. Bangs from the neighborhood next door.

McCain's concession speech was underway when I got back in. So far it seems classy.

Once More, With Feeling.

Robert said...

President-Elect Barack Obama.

I think we can rest easier now.

Rob H.

Stefan Jones said...

Dear Karl, Newt, Dick, George, Grover, et al:

You can't fool all of the people all of the time.

Good Night to you.

Rob said...

Obama just finished his victory speech, and my heart soared.

That man is so very good at what he does. And did you see the tears of Joy in Jesse Jackson's eyes! WOW.

Here's to the return of American "can-do".

Friends, I salute you tonight in happiness and victory, and in the feeling that the nation has truly turned a corner for the better, a much larger corner than a simple repudiation of tactics or policy.

Glenn said...

Congratz! USA!

Stefan Jones said...

The Onion weighs in:

Nation Finally Shitty Enough To Make Social Progress

Carrying a majority of the popular vote, Obama did especially well among women and young voters, who polls showed were particularly sensitive to the current climate of everything being fucked. Another contributing factor to Obama's victory, political experts said, may have been the growing number of Americans who, faced with the complete collapse of their country, were at last able to abandon their preconceptions and cast their vote for a progressive African-American.

Citizens with eyes, ears, and the ability to wake up and realize what truly matters in the end are also believed to have played a crucial role in Tuesday's election.

David Brin said...

Yes, McCain was classy... and I noticed that the Arizona crowd was polite and not crazy...

...and the blame is going to come pounding in on McCain, drawing all the wrong lessons.

But of course, it was BHO's speech that all the folks in our living room watched with transfixed attention.

(Oh, we threw an election eve party and you were all there in spirit.)

The speech ratcheted me ever closer to believing that this fellow is what he seems. (Pray God let it be so.) It was brilliant, incisive, completely on target.

He not only spoke about finishing off Culture War and made gracious gestures toward sincere republicans, but also mentioned the issues that matter most to me... a re-dedication toward science, problem-solving and pragmatism, after far too-long wallowing in a national stated of drugged indignation addiction.

I did notice one possible misuse of a word. I was shocked. And it transformed my opinion of this man!

Deeply disappointed, I turned to my friends and said what Anthony Quinn did, to Omar Sharif, in Lawrence of Arabia.

"He... is NOT... perfect."

David Brin said...

Oh.... but we all did pour into my suburban neighborhood at 8:01 pm... and screamed our heads off.

Killing Moon said...

Optimism triumphant!

Rob: elation warranted.

We're back.

Killing Moon said...

And:

how did the Mormons -- I mean, intolerance, win? (Prop 8).

atomicsmith said...

> Oh.... but we all did pour into my suburban neighborhood at 8:01 pm... and screamed our heads off.

If you live near El Cajon blvd. and Park Ave., and scream like girls then I heard you!

Marino said...

Some reaction from the Right:

here in Italy the chairman of the senators of the governing Party of the Liberties (he's a former neo-Fascist)
said tha "maybe with Obama in the White House Al Qaeda is happier"


From a non ostrich conservative (I mean, the ones that "Fox is centrist and Tancredo is soft on immigration and long live Coulter/Limbaugh/Malkin") I met on another list:

So let's compile a list of all the policies we can expect the DemCong to pass.

Amnesty
Path to Citizenship (= residency + registering Democrat)
Military withdrawal from the Middle-East
25% cut to Military budget
Tax Increase
Gun Registration
More welfare (rights "to",including health care, housing, employment, etc,
and damn the cost)
Less national security (dismantling of DHS?)
National ID
"Fairness" Doctrine

What else? They're going to try to pass a wish-list of destructive,
welfare-state, head-in-the-sand, economically-harmful legislation, and President Hussein will pass it all with a BESEG.

Who's on the new cabinet?

Sec. Ed. Ayers?
Sec. Int. Wright?
Sec. Treas. Rezko?
------------

I'm happy: I've witnessed in vivo the first case of rightwing President Obama Derangement Syndrome (as opposed to earlier Candidate Obama Derangement Syndrome) on both sides of the pond...

Instead a friend and relative of mine who's a cartoonist (and who once gave me the Italian translation of Earth as gift published a webcartoon whose characters say:
"Obama will export the American dream"
"because Bush has already exported all the nightmares?"

William_Shatner said...

Yes we can!

What a great motto. I am so happy and relieved that we are finally (nearly) off the short bus the Republicans have been driving this country off a cliff with.

There is a lot of work for the future, namely in keeping Obama honest, and not letting the special interests hi-jack his administration. But right now I feel the burden of 8 years of depression, and 30 years of anti-intellectualism melting away.

>> Brin, thanks for all you've done spreading the good arguments that Conservatives can hear. It is a special talent to see both sides as legitimate -- something I've lost the past 7 years. I remember in college writing a 25-page report (only 8 were necessary) on Erasmus, before L Ron Hubbard, he was the most prolific writer in history. He also intrigued me, because he was very instrumental in reforming the Catholic church -- trying to reconcile the legitimate claims of corruption with the new religious movements. If you really look at what the Catholic church is like today and compare it to what it used to be, in many ways it is more changed than the Protestant and Lutherans that spun off.

I was most impressed that Erasmus didn't get hanged or something -- a real talent trying to be a peace-maker when you are in the cross-hairs of both sides. There is safety in extremism, if you look at our history of Castle-Building.

>> I have to correct something. I don't speak the language in Iran -- but I'd heard from a few Persian speaking people on Air America broadcasts that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not actually say he wanted to wipe "Israel off the Map," -- he said that he wanted to "re-write the map of Israel that put it back to where Palestine had the agreed upon borders." Meaning; that he wanted Israel to meet the commitments it made in earlier treaties because they've been encroaching on Palestine for the pas few years.

I cannot say for 100% certainty what was said, but the track record of the right wanting to twist the words of their opponents and not being hampered by the truth, makes me suspect their version of it. I mean, Al Gore did not claim to invent the internet, right?

So, your example of consequence is great -- but you might want to make sure you aren't repeating propaganda. I know it is pretty dang hard to do, but I figure you would appreciate the FYI.

>> Anyway, I'm trying to contain my glee. Even though the Electoral College makes it a blow-out, this was as close as the Reagan/Carter election and even more critical. Reagan swept the electoral colleges but did so with a very small lead in the vote.

There was some good efforts by a lot of lawyers this time. Rove and his buddies were not idle on this election and I expect that we will find just how much of a battle behind the scenes was going on and how many millions of votes were lost -- but that is for another time.

Right now, I'm going to just enjoy the joy,... I can worry about all the mudslinging to correct tomorrow.

Yes we can! It sounds like the 21st Century and the return of "Can Do America" just got started.

William_Shatner said...

@b. Dewhirst

You bring up a good point. Even though I don't think Ahmadinejad said; "wipe you off the map" but said; "rearrange the map is Israel" it is important to remember that Saddam Hussein -- not a crazy man at all, pretended to have a nuclear weapons program for the very reason that NOT having such a potential deterrent would mean that Iran with it's much larger army might invade.

There is a reason for crazy talk in some circumstances to defend a nation -- because even if he is smaller and weaker, nobody wants to mess with the crazy man with nothing to lose. It does not, however, work to well with a super power, because it means the reverse; "If they are going to destroy us anyway -- what do we have to lose?"

>> Political posturing should be looked at in the context of historical action. From any point of view -- even with their Hammas (or is it Hezbollah), Iran is not an aggressive nation. After 9/11, they had the biggest showing of sympathy and support for the USA outside of our country -- and we had an 85% approval rating in an international survey. We only got a 65% approval rating from England in that survey. Iran sent troops with the US to help against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

So what did we do? We put troops on three borders, and Bush gave a speech about the "Axis of evil" two weeks before Iranian elections. Then we support Mech, a Talaban terrorist organization inside of Iran. The Bush administration did everything in their power to alienate Iran, which WAS on the cusp of becoming a very good ally, as the young kids there are sick of the reign of Mullahs and want to live a more Western lifestyle. They love blue jeans and nose jobs -- heck, they could become Hollywood.

Supplying weapons to a terrorist organization inside of a country is NOT a good way to build allies, right? If we were on better terms, it would have been another Iran/Contra. BushCo seems only comfortable getting rid of the moderates and selling weapons -- which of course, Carlysle Group still is doing with Iran. And it wasn't until the middle of 2007 that our government stopped selling them F14 fighter jets.

>>> From WayneMadsenReport.com;
World celebrates Obama victory. Obama, Japan holds celebration.

Pravda: United States welcomed back to international fold with Obama election. Paper says only Satan would have been worse than Bush regime.

Arab world expresses hope in Obama victory. Many warn of influence of Israel Lobby over Obama's policies.


Kenya declares holiday for Barack Obama. Mass celebration planned Thursday in Nairobi.


And in Brazil, where election law allows for candidates to choose any name they want; 5 candidates campaigned under the name; "Barack Obama."

>> The only countries that were "Red" supporters for Bush? There were three; Cuba, Iraq, and Nigeria (not 100% on the last one). I suppose, when you need a big bad enemy to keep your lousy government afloat -- having someone like Bush around is a "good thing." Still, that list surprised me. The world, however, seems extremely happy with our choice.

>> I feel extremely positive -- but we really did miss a HUGE BULLET on this, and the NeoCons are not done yet.

If people were to look at it from Iran's perspective, they might be amazed at how much forbearance and decency they have shown. I expect that under an Obama administration, we will quickly build

Ilithi Dragon said...

Been lurking for a while, and I have a query to pose to the group.

My best friend is convinced that electing Obama president is a mistake, and a disaster for the country, because she is convinced that he will be assassinated because he is the first 'black president', and that because of that fact, his assassination will ignite an open civil war, and destroy the country. I can kind of see how she can hold that opinion, but still don't see it as something that could realistically happen. It's been troubling me, though, because my friend's opinions and conclusions are usually very well thought-out and insightful, and so I find myself wondering if anyone else sees this as even a remotely realistic possibility.

Rob said...

@Killing_Moon

Properly speaking, Prop 8 has not passed at this time; there are still half a million ballots to count and read. If 85% of those uncounted ballots are "No", then 8 doesn't pass, but just barely. And I'll reserve my own analyses for the final result.

(There's not any point in exulting over whichever result prevails. No 52% victory is a mandate of any kind, in my opinion.)

William_Shatner said...

dmon said...
Here's an as-yet unpredicted side-effect of a (probable, hopefully) BHO victory: the gamblers at InTrade are, as of today, selling the potential 2009 recession like mad. Now that the polls are open and it's looking good for Obama, people are betting _against_ a bad economy next year. He may yet turn around the economy by sheer force of character.

Amazing. It's all psychological.


Psychology is based upon rationality too. If Obama reduces our waste on wars and invests in the infrastructure -- then foreign countries will buy our debt. We were EXTREMELY CLOSE to having a total loss of faith in the dollar. Get Paulson and Bernanke out, and put in some oversight again -- and the PSYCHOLOGY will be based on real things. The problem with the melt-down is that nobody can trust the valuations of companies who guarantee payment on all the unregulated derivatives markets.

Any other country seeing a McCain administration in power -- putting the same cronies back in their jobs, might have a Psychological concern that the same errors and rampant corruption would continue.

The most money in the world is moving around these unregulated and dangerous markets -- and it ALL depends upon FAITH in whoever is backing the guarantees. It's crazy that our world now rests on such intangible things -- but that is where we are. One camp thinks that lying repeatedly, is more important than actions -- and on a short term basis with good media control, that works. Long-term, however, and you lose faith -- which is ultimately the only credit of value.

The US needs to regain trust -- that is the most valuable commodity in the world. About $1.2 Quadrillion as a matter of fact.

B. Dewhirst said...

Much more likely scenario:

Someone takes a couple of pot shots at him, but Obama is saved by modern medical technology and gives a rousing speech about forgiveness and milks it for everything it is worth.

Suppose he is killed, though, and we get some rioting... that doesn't lead to a civil war.

Democrats will stomp the face of anything that looks like a genuine threat to their power faster than you can say "Chicago 1968."

Civil wars generally start with the Right escalating to militarism (they attacked a Federal fort in the Civil war, they decided to secede, etc. The French Revolution was begun by... rather short sighted... nobles. The American Revolutionaries weren't exactly leftists, and there were certainly what look like rightist incidents by the British-- shot heard round the world and all that... the Spanish Revolution was begun by the fascists... and on and on.)

Until you see Cheney in a tank heading for Boston, no need to sweat it. The rich have too much to lose-- the rich backed Obama, in fact.

William_Shatner said...

====Those who make excuses for Ahmadinejad are being just plain silly. So his textual words were different. He has made his general passion and desire abundantly clear.

Well, I make the argument that he is Bush's baby, and without our government constantly threatening Iran, he'd have no support there.

Bush is Ahmadinejad's "Bin Laden."

And I don't think you would disagree with me on that. His posturing with Israel is BECAUSE they are such a threat, and the Likud party is so earnest in taking Iran out -- that it is almost required of him to preach a "scorched earth policy." I'm not voting for the man, but I can see WHY HE GOT ELECTED.

If we stop supporting the NeoCon nuts in Israel, and of course Saudi Arabia, then things will calm down a lot. I think that we need to earnestly give them an olive branch and make Iran an ally -- because THEY ARE GOING TO BE, the super-power in the region. It is only Dubai, BushCo corruption and Saudi Arabia with the Billions made from Oil that have provided any credible opposition.

I expect oil prices to go back up -- if not now, then in January when Obama takes over -- just like Jimmy Carter had to deal with. Might as well get the profits going as much as possible before the adults spoil the fun.

>> Other than this one abhorrent nutball in Iran -- this is a good country (from my limited impressions). You can say the same thing about the USA. But attacks bring out our dark side. The absolute best strategy, would be making Iran a trading partner as soon as possible.

Oh, and end the embargo on Cuba. We trade with North Vietnam for crying out loud.

B. Dewhirst said...

I think that we need to earnestly give them an olive branch and make Iran an ally --

Look more closely on the language Obama uses. I agree that this is the strategy we should use (and, near as I can tell, this was one our fine host was talking about years ago)... but don't think it very likely.

William_Shatner said...

cliff said...
The tendency of the left to swing toward anti-zionism is one of the most insipid reflexes around.


Sounds like the "liberals are against the troops" argument.

We are against fascists like BushCo. And they've got NeoCon nuts in Israel as well. As a parent of two boys -- I love them, and I do criticize them when they misbehave. The only evidence of "anti-zionism" I've ever seen from the West is; "Hey, stop trying to invade other countries!" Like I tell my son; "Put that stick down or you might poke someone's eye out." Apparently, my anti-child policies are endangering my family from this perspective.

I grew up in a Jewish Neighborhood. And the pro-Israel stance from Bush only occurred AFTER a NeoCon took power under strange circumstances (a near successful assassination that left the previous leader incapacitated). We can also see that they had better relations with France once the put Sarkozy in power, after some strange election shenanigans and cars set on fire by alleged "Muslim extremists."

Let's hope the future doesn't have any more of these convenient coincidences.

William_Shatner said...


b. dewhirst said...
I think that we need to earnestly give them an olive branch and make Iran an ally --

Look more closely on the language Obama uses. I agree that this is the strategy we should use (and, near as I can tell, this was one our fine host was talking about years ago)... but don't think it very likely.


Why? Doing this quickly will help to undermine the futility of the Cowboy Stance, and show great benefits of diplomacy. I think if Obama headed down there with a TV Crew, and just walked in public without an armed escort, and told the story of how the average Iranian (was) a peaceful person, it could change the mindset in America overnight. Just a little light on the subject. We've been educated by bimbos and bim-bobs on Fox and CNN for too long.

The behind the scenes players kind of depend on controlling the discussion. The "not likely" is based upon current policy, money, and keeping the military contractors flush with money. But a savvy person could keep the momentum going for "people power" and bypass all the usual conduits of power.

>> I would do this even before talking office -- to shortcircuit any more "unfortunate incidents" like BushCo has been doing in Syria and other nations with their last minute pot-shots.

B. Dewhirst said...

Dr. Brin means left-as-in-Chomsky, not left-as-in-Clinton in the statement you're referencing... and he is applying it to me accurately, regardless of how I feel about the accuracy of his following statements.

Leftists are not altogether fond of liberals.

B. Dewhirst said...

William, if you're not going to scrutinize his speeches, take a look at his cabinet. Albright isn't a dove.

B. Dewhirst said...

Ah, I get your misunderstanding now.

I'm not saying Obama is incapable of making peace. I'm saying he isn't inclined to take the path you suggest.

You're assuming he has goals which... he doesn't have.

William_Shatner said...

marino said...
Some reaction from the Right:


Yes, thanks for reminding us what we have to look forward to.

I already expect all these comments and the "welfare state ruined our economy" 2 days after hey takes office.

It will be a great way to put a stake in the heart of the NeoCon movement, as we see them throw rotted fruit at the administration that takes America on to greater things -- despite the best efforts of the NeoCons.

We in the middle and on the left have learned a lot of things, but mostly, we've learned that the right is not just guided by an alternate vision of America, but by a desire to just WIN at all costs.

We just defeated Scudder -- who I think was Palin. Because McCain's health problems are probably a lot worse than we know. The NeoCons took control of a lot of fundamentalist movements in the US two decades ago.

I think the NeoCons have already "done their worst." I watched a bit of Fox News after the Obama victory, and every NeoCon like Kristol and Rove was as gracious and thoughtful as they could be. They talked about working together, and respecting the victor. Of course, they couldn't help but call from the bench about making mistakes like Clinton who started off much more on the Left. Well, Clinton went right to the Middle with NAFTA and welfare reform, and the NeoCons spent 8 years trying to use prosecutors to get him out of office anyway.

Saddam Hussein actually did get rid of all his WMDs. Where is he now?

>> So what we learned from the NeoCons, is that there is NO BENEFIT TO EVER LISTENING TO THEM about how to make nice. They are only gracious when they are worried about being indicted, and they are only nice until they can stick a knife in your ribs. Never let them get close -- never forget.

The main failing of the left, is that they think that the right is like them. They think people are driven by a desire to be good. They are too trusting.

And Obama will get a lot of emails from me if he tries to "heal America and reconcile our differences." I want a lot of prosecutions in February and I won't wait until March for that. I love and respect this new leader but I will have him on a short leash -- as any patriot should. Respect but never trust the people in charge.

>> I love the quote at the end;
Instead a friend and relative of mine who's a cartoonist (and who once gave me the Italian translation of Earth as gift published a webcartoon whose characters say:
"Obama will export the American dream"
"because Bush has already exported all the nightmares?"

William_Shatner said...


b. dewhirst said...
Dr. Brin means left-as-in-Chomsky, not left-as-in-Clinton in the statement you're referencing... and he is applying it to me accurately, regardless of how I feel about the accuracy of his following statements.

Leftists are not altogether fond of liberals.


Chomsky sells books. He is a brilliant guy, but he isn't running for office either. Daring stuff to put on a coffee table. Sometimes I totally agree -- sometimes not. But I don't think anyone agrees with me all the time -- they'd have to be a genius of historic proportions ;-)

Clinton was NOT a Liberal in much other than how he peppered his speeches. I've had the same talk with my Mother and Sister (who helped in Obama's campaign) about not really knowing if he will be a force for good.

You misunderstand my misunderstanding; I'm saying what I WANT Obama to do. We need to start the parade and make sure he stands in front of it like a guy holding a baton. Nobody likes to walk through a street without a baton and no parade -- they tend to get run over by the cars.

Sure, Obama has some hawks in his crowd. However, I've been staring at the ass end of satan for 8 years and he is a welcome sight. My first preference was for Dennis Kucinich. He CANNOT get elected and I think Obama is the BEST we can elect given our current condition. He is MUCH BETTER than Hillary Clinton -- who is way too friendly and accommodating to NeoCons.

Obama does worry me. But I think whereas Bush sucked BECAUSE he actually went through with some things he promised -- I'm hoping that Obama was just trying to get elected. The Media, and the Financial Elite, the lobbyists, the pundits, and even his own Democratic party, would have torn up Obama as "not realistic" if he had NOT campaigned the way he did. If he did much beyond great speeches of what "Americans can do" and started talking about the FCC media consolidation, military war profiteering, or the need to stimulate the economy with Public Works projects -- he wouldn't have made it to first base.

>> Political reality does not mean that Obama isn't MORE Liberal in his heart. I really hope we don't have a Republican light again like Clinton. I'd rather have an Eisenhower or a Jimmy Carter. This is just how you play the game. Make the stuffed suits feel like they will keep their jobs.

Kucinich scared the hell out of the Pundits. You cannot be too honest and too good to get elected. You have to pretend a little bit of Larceny, if you want the crooks to hand you the keys to power. I think Obama is the Manchurian Candidate of the People -- he seems like someone who can plan for 10 years with a secret goal to DO THE RIGHT THING. Hopefully, the NeoCons and Fascists won't see him coming until he sticks the knife in -- I'd say that is fair play.

Even if he isn't a Great Man, we just jumped from the frying pan, onto a very hot plate. For now, let me enjoy the cool refreshing breeze, OK?

Kimmy said...

Okay. Say Obama gets assassinated (5% chance?). Biden takes over. All the powers that be love Biden, D-CreditCard.

No need for riots in the streets. No mess, no fuss.

The fundie Jews in Israel are scary -- settling all the Palestinian lands is a mistake, and a big one.

But there is hope! The Kadima leader decided to hold elections again, rather than let the Religious Jewish Right be in the coalition! That Is Historic!

Please, can we be allies with both Iran and Israel? I think we somehow manage to be allies with Taiwan and Red China, so it could happen!

B. Dewhirst said...

Please, can we be allies with both Iran and Israel?

When we're selling F22's to the one that also indisputably has nuclear weapons while trying to prevent the other from ever getting them?

Frankly, we ought to be more afraid of Jewish fundamentalism...

Anonymous said...

From the blog "Cosmic Variance" yesterday:

"... this time we were all speechless. In awe of my Uncle Chuck.

Uncle Chuck is my favorite uncle – we are the scientists in the family. He came home after serving in the Navy in the South Pacific during WWII and went to school on the GI bill. Ended up with a master’s in mathematics. Worked at Oak Ridge National Lab on the very first computer systems. Went on to NASA and was one of the folks in charge of the computer program rewrites to get the Apollo 13 astronauts safely back home. He has done tremendous things and is very smart. But, he’s lived most of his life in the deep South and has somehow developed a deep racial prejudice that most of the family can’t understand. We have cringed for years whenever he has espoused on the virtues of the Bell Curve in regards to race. I could go on, but think I’ll hold back and just say he is the most racially bigoted person I know. I can’t fathom some of the things I have heard him say.

On Saturday, I learned that Uncle Chuck cast his early ballot for Senator Barack Obama for President of the USA. Nothing could have surprised me more! No matter what happens with the election tomorrow, Obama has already stirred deep, positive change in our society."

http://cosmicvariance.com/2008/11/04/your-most-memorable-moments-of-the-election/

William_Shatner said...

Reading the response of nations to the Obama presidency -- this was one of the most interesting to me;

The most important thing that Barack Obama brings to the presidency is his willingness to reason. He won his presidency not as a black American but as a reasoning American who happens to be black. America needs a change from the reign of "obtruding false rules pranked in reason's garb" — to use John Milton's words. Attacking Iraq for an imagined link with 9/11 was daft. Having unaffordable health care is not a reasonable way to run a rich society. Destroying the environment is not smart. Spreading the wealth a bit in a deeply unequal society is not as offensive to reason as it appeared to Joe the noncertified Plumber.

The economic crisis has been caused by doctrinaire economic policies, and the solution calls for remedial actions that are reasoned — and seen to be reasoned, to generate confidence. In politics, the alienation of the world is not only because the U.S. has been so unilateral but also because the unilateral choices often have been so dumb.
Reasoning also demands re-examination. Obama has to reassess whether he has got the right balance in policies on trade. On Afghanistan, he must examine how to balance his military toughness with the building of social infrastructure there and finding ways and means of getting Pakistan's energetic — and largely secular — civil society on his side, not against him. Obama may have to reassess some of his campaign rhetoric while firmly retaining his largehearted reasonableness.

—By Amartya Sen
Nobel Prize–winning economist


In truly Brin "Ostrich" fashion, he is talking not about evil, but pure stupid and short-sighted.

William_Shatner said...

kimmy said...
...

Please, can we be allies with both Iran and Israel? I think we somehow manage to be allies with Taiwan and Red China, so it could happen!


We will never NOT be allies with Israel, they have too many good LIBERAL folks here, and of course the Mossad to see to that (kind of kidding).

China and Taiwan is an interesting comparison. China is friends because we dare not, and Taiwan is a friend because we dare. Bush backed off of saying we would come to their aide.

I'd say we could have better relations with both. But we must lead with the Iran olive branch, because the Liberals in Israel need our help. The NeoCons need to replace one fear with another -- they need to be more worried about LOSING our alliance than they are with an Iranian invasion -- which won't happen because they could re-arrange Iran's map with a button.

>> I see the issue with Israel and Palestine more along the lines of what will happen with America and Mexico if we don't do something about trade and labor laws. Palestinians are tolerated in Israel, even after all the bombings, because they sweep the floors and take out the trash and do the jobs that people don't want to do. In exchange, they get no opportunity for college, and a short leash on any opportunities in general. Israel's NeoCons have used all stick and no carrot on their neighbors and that isn't just wrong -- it is stupid. Inevitably, things will get so bad that they would move towards a "clean slate" and you need to look up what THAT policy means and then understand the context of Iran's statements. Whereas it is alleged that Iran's president has said such a horrible thing -- it is actual policy for the NeoCons in Israel.

If America does not force Mexico to share the wealth with its people and stop ILLEGAL EMPLOYMENT in the USA -- it won't be long before we have the same problem.

>> I think there is a bit if a historical resentment -- but kids are willing to put aside the gripes of their parents because we are all born with the desire to do great things and be left alone. Obviously, a Palestinian kid does not see much potential for that -- so they are easy recruits for violence. I don't think that anyone chooses this path for no good reason.

>> So we start with Iran, and then the backing of the Palestinians to do violence will dry up. The Conservatives will freak and the only option left will be to follow the Liberals into honoring their agreements with Palestine. Then we welcome them back as good allies ... even though they have a really checkered history in that regard but I'm thinking after the last 8 years we need to let a lot of things slide.

Robert said...

A couple of quick thoughts here.

First, I find it quite fascinating that there were no reports of overzealous celebrations, no violence in the streets, no accidental riots, no looting, no crime. In fact, the Democratic celebration was restrained in several ways, and seemed absolutely civilized.

I think this says a lot for the Democratic party... and will do a lot to alleviate fears among closet Republicans and conservative Independents that the Democrats are in fact young monsters that will destroy the country.

Next, I met two people last night who didn't vote. One worked 1.5 hours from where she worked (as a bartender at an Applebees) and wouldn't get home in time to vote. The second was a teenager who was old enough to vote but thought he had until 8 p.m. to vote (the polls in NH closed at 7 where he lived). This is kind of sad, and I think that we need to fix the problem by instituting Election Day as a National Holiday, and require by law any company that remains open that day to ensure its employees are registered, and given absentee ballots so that their votes can also count.

Third - it's tragic that the country took one step back even as it took two steps forward. The banning of gay marriage in California is a massive setback... and I can honestly see one solution to it.

As it is the responsibility of the government to protect minority rights from the majority, and as marriage is an aspect of religion that has been adopted into secular life despite the U.S. Constitution stating there is a Separation of Church and State, I feel we need to remove marriage from the legal books and replace it with Civil Unions.

Separate but Equal ends up not being equal at all. We saw that with decades of civil rights abuses against blacks and other minorities in the U.S. and by insisting gays and lesbians cannot marry (and thus gain the civil protections marriage offers) it is obvious then that this religious institution needs to be removed from the law books before it divides the country further.

The new law for Civil Unions would take all existing marriages and grant them a grandfather clause allowing them to become Civil Unions under the law. In addition, Civil Unions will grant people all the legal rights that marriage formerly gave. While people are free to get married in a church, they will not benefit from social services, tax services and benefits, insurance benefits, or other benefits that marriage once legally gave until the couple obtain a Civil Union license.

This will also replace the need for a marriage license with a civil union license.

Rob H.

Cliff said...

I've been celebrating on other blogs, but in the quirky and cantankerous spirit of this one, I'll air my unconventional concerns:

I hope this isn't a morality play, staged to redirect the progressive movement into a harmless pursuit.

Anyone remember Dune? The Baron's plot was to install Beast Harkonnen as ruler of Arrakis and let him go to town. Then Feyd could step in, and he'd be so much better in comparison that he'd garner native support and cement Harkonnen rule.
I hope Bush =|= Beast and Obama =|= Feyd.

I hope Obama isn't a snake oil salesman. I really don't think he is, but I am concerned about being unintentionally blinded by a person who has learned how to tap into our hopes and inspirations.

But really, I am 10% worried and 90% jubilated.

Rocky Persaud said...

Michael Crichton succumbs to cancer.

Killing Moon said...

@rob,

Thanks for your example. I'm inspired to be less apathetic. Perspective, after all. (Obama won! Hugely!)

Cliff said...

william_shatner, I didn't say that about the Left and anti-zionism, Brin did. I was arguing with him.

Speaking of which:
But a better world is also made through pragmatism. And pragmatic solutions were deliberately, callously and maliciously thwarted.

Here's some pragmatism:
How about we stop getting our chops busted because Israel can't bring itself to compromise?

Obviously you have a far better grasp of Israeli history than I do.
But I still feel that it's folly to constantly garner the hatred of Islam for our unequivocal support of Israel, just as it's folly to be constantly brought to the brink of wars we cannot afford for their sake.

I'm not saying that their neighbors are great people. I'm not saying that we were wrong to give the Jews a homeland after WWII.

I'm saying I would like to see the unconditional support stop, because I feel it's one of the things ruining us.
I also feel that too much of this conflict is based on weird religious reasoning.
The theocons love Israel because it gets them one step closer to birthing their Armageddon Baby.
Then there's the Jews and the Muslims dickering over Jerusalem.

I don't care. I don't. Wall it off and let them fight it out with axes, so that we can stop basing our foreign policy on this crap.

Killing Moon said...

"The theocons love Israel because it gets them one step closer to birthing their Armageddon Baby."

Am I allowed to put that on a t-shirt?

David Brin said...

AtomicSmith, We live a bit farther northwest than you could have heard... anyway, I also belted our the first stanza of America the Beautiful. In a tenor voice that once sang semi-semi-professionally in a Caltech men's choir in Yugoslavia. But it doesn't carry like it used to ;-)

But Nov 7, I sit for an informal PBS TV interview on the future at the Red Fox Club off El cajon Blvd. Possibly with Deepak Chopra.

Marino: It is time to get aggressive toward those jerks. DARE him to put those predictions down as wagers, backed by real money! (Re-establishing the Fairness Doctrine sounds likely.)
In fact, this victory calls for much more assertiveness than before... toward the Coulter-types... while offering a hand of friendship to conservatives who will take it.
WS: The left, too, rewrites language to suit itself. e.g. relentlessly spending 40 years ignoring the fact that Arab leaders say one thing in their Arab-language pronouncements about Israel... and something diametrically different in the English translations.
Oh, and Saddam's fear of Saddam was precisely the thing we could have used, if my advice at CIA in 2002 had been heeded.
Ilithi we can pray that fear never happens. But even if it does, BHO was elected by the nation. Nobody can blame the nation, then, for the act of a few.

Prop 8 is passing... and I have to shrug. I voted against it. But none of my neighbors who supported it, including a nearby "Mormon cluster", wanted to revoke Civil Unions or any of the practical aspects of marriage. ALL they wanted to take back was a word. If gay rights activists are willing to compromise over that, just the word, they'll get a bill passed in a microsecond that makes this whole turmoil moot.

"Garriage." Live with it.

Far more disrupting, to me, is Prop 11 that ends gerrymandering in California!
Yipes! California democrats just cut themselves off at the knees, while giving me something I have long wanted...but NOT in a way I preferred. Well, maybe this will make the national DemoParty eager to fight hard for a national solution.

Michael Crichton -- yipes!!! I modeled a character after him in my current book!

I met the man once, when I appeared on TV with him and Octavia Butler. He was very tall, very pleasant, and as obsessively afraid of the future as Stephen King was of things that go bump in the night. Nevertheless, he drew millions into discussing things they never thought of, before. And this news is sad.

Robert said...

Once again, Dr. Brin, I state: Separate But Equal is never equal. The black population of this country can tell you that. The other minorities that were so victimized can tell you that. Having gays with a "separate but equal" version of marriage would result in their being discriminated against.

My solution takes the ball away from both sides. You don't want to play fair? Then marriage is a word and a religious institution, and EVERYONE gets Civil Unions.

Equality for all. And it will also force people to live up to their own prejudice. Are they trying to save the sanctity of marriage? Or are they trying to discriminate against gay people? Because if they are against calling marriage "civil unions" for their own... then their prejudice is laid bare for all the world to see.

(Besides, then Catholics can get divorced and end up with someone else in a civil union. It's not marriage so they can't really be excommunicated for it... though they might not want to admit to their priest that they had sex with their civil union partner...)

Rob H.

B. Dewhirst said...

I don't think gays will be able to secure their rights without a willingness to indicate just how unwilling they are to be pushed around.

I'd have thought that Mormons still remembered the dangers of being an unpopular minority, that Catholics were smart enough to keep their mouths shut about sexual "impropriety" after the last few years in LA...

Apparently not.

William_Shatner said...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7706844.stm
A magnetic shield for Astronauts is a good thing.
One of the many projects I never finished was a sci-fi novel about a society formed out of a moon base full of scientists, when a large resource war broke out on earth, and the community of international scientists said; "screw it, we aren't taking sides." And in a futile gesture, try to resurrect an UN in exile in outer space.

Anyway, one of the technologies they develop for space travel was a sort of ferro-fluid anti-freeze. Humans are resource intensive in a spaceship, and while its interesting to do science between planets -- it isn't necessary and it is resource expensive. So better to cold sleep.

The gelatin laced with Neodymium magnets, graphite, with a magnetic field running through it is the medium for suspended animation. Of course an organic antifreeze found in the blood of some little fish in the arctic added to the blood while the traveler is brought up to a couple-hundred atmospheres of pressure to lower the temperature where ice crystals form. Also, a mix of oxygen and helium is used for breathing -- just like deep sea divers, to prevent Nitrogen from bubbling in the blood. When re-animated, only helium with a 1% mixture of oxygen is used, and only slowly is more oxygen added over 30 minutes to prevent cell death. I borrowed a lot from deep sea diving and some Jacques Coustea videos. That's also the place where I got the idea to replace drift nets with "bubble netting" to scare fish into scoops -- it would save turtles and dolphins and I'm guessing a rubber pipe with air-infused water is a lot cheaper than a mile of nets -- but someone else already patented this.

.. but anyway, the ideal "shielding" for a spaceship, to my mind, would be to have ferrite in oil, or even permeating a aerogel between the two walls of the outer skin of the craft. It serves the purpose of insulation and slowing any punctures from micrometeorite collisions. I would keep a magnetic field contained however by the use of silver threads to screen out the electromagnetic interference.

I think the basic principle is that when a charged particle passes through a magnetic field, it does work -- which reduces the charge. A ferro-fluid gets harder with a magnetic charge, because the ferrites attract each other as magnets and that structure turns it into a solid. I was using it also as a type of instant impact armor that was normally flexible. Anyway, I think you could force the charged particles to do more "work" in less space if you magnetically charge some medium first.

William_Shatner said...

Sorry, too excited today!

@Robert.

I agree that Prop 8 is wrong. One day this will be looked at as a civil right -- like any other.

But Brin is right; make it just "civil unions" and be done. There are more important things to deal with, the economic tie makes the rest just window dressing. The Unitarian church can marry them, and all their friends can say that they are married. The important part is the courts -- and that is where the first battle should be won. Leave the semantic games to the clergy.


@Cliff & Brin
Point taken. I'm just stating the pragmatism. Israel is only a good ally, because they've instigated the mess we have to clean up. I understand the Arab nations say one thing out of both sides of their mouth -- they've made it an art form Iran is Persian by the way. I'm for doing a reverse of the Bush policies because it is only the crooks, banksters and oil men who have us in this weird alliance with people who play both sides against the other.

We should weaken ties with Israel a little, and make great friends with Iran. THAT will unhinge all issues. But really, I don't think it is our support of Israel that is the problem -- it is our economic support of all the oil dictators in the region -- people hate us for OUR terrorism.

Robert said...

My point is that if you have civil unions for gays and lesbians, and marriage for straight people, civil unions will be useless. Insurance companies won't offer civil unions the same benefits that married couples get. People will be taxed differently. Hospitals will refuse to let the civil union partner enter to be with a partner because they are not married or related.

My alternative is to level the playing field for each side, which would ensure equality in the face of the law and for all the benefits that come because of it.

Now I just need to figure out how to word such a bill and find someone who would be willing to introduce it to the House of Representatives and fight to ensure it doesn't get buried and ignored until it dies.

Rob H.

David Smelser said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Smelser said...

California already has a domestic partnership laws and gay couples are experiencing the problems Rob identified.

Also, because California uses the term 'domestic partnership' instead of 'marriage', federal protections may not apply because they only apply to 'married' couples.

Rob, is your intent to introduce this at the state or Federal level?

Robert said...

Federal. For one thing, I don't live in California or Florida, so it wouldn't matter. For another, I figure if we do this on a national level, it diffuses the entire mini-culture war that is starting to brew over this issue.

And I believe that by deliberately altering the language to be "Civil Union" for everyone, the existing constitutional changes on the State level will not have any effect on the new law, and thus no specific state can claim their state constitution invalidates the Federal law.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

This thing about "uncompromising Israel" is pure denial. For its first 25 years it was led by the Labor Party, which begged, every year, for a peace conference.

The fact that the fast-breeding religious wing kept growing... and radicalizing in the face of relentless Arab promises of genocide, is a phenomenon that is rooted in the same cynical ploy perpetrated by those who herded the Palestinians into camps.

Ironically, the result was a new people - "Palestinians" - an ethnicity that never existed before, but now resembles Israelis in many ways, girded by persecution, far above average in education and urban-sophisticated. They are increasingly dangerous to the roils and that may be why the roils seem finally ready to budge.

atomicsmith said...

@David

Interview with Chopra! That could get... lively. Any idea when it might air?

------

RE: Prop 8 &

[G/M]arriage & civil unions/partnerships.

Whatever it is and whenever it happens, it's got to be federal. Not only would that override discriminatory state laws, but the federal Defense of Marriage Act, keeping many federal rights/affordances from same-sex couples like tax benefits and fast-track citizenship for spouses.

Matt DeBlass said...

I've actually argued for pretty much the same thing as Robert in the past: if "marriage" is considered primarily a sacrament, that is, something sacred, it belongs to the church.
I see it this way, the legal language would refer to all romantic partnerships as "civil unions" or "domestic partnerships," the word "marriage" would be reserved for church and, of course, common usage (my friend who have domestic partnerships or civil unions in their states refer to themselves as "married," and, of course, I know people in states where same-sex unions get no legal recognition who still get married within their church).

Religions are allowed to discriminate or not, that's one of their freedoms, but the government should treat all people equally. I can't get married in a Catholic church again, because I was already married. My wife split, nothing I could do about it and we got a legal divorce, but the church says "till death do you part." I can still marry in another church, or a civil marriage (but I can't get a civil union, unless I marry a guy, which strikes me as somewhat unlikely considering my preferences).

Overall, though, I think it's time to grow up and get over the gay marriage issue. It doesn't hurt any of us straight folks (and the more cynical of us might say "why should straight guys be the only ones to suffer *rimshot*), so why shouldn't we give it the go-ahead?

And no, it's not the most important issue facing the country as a whole, but for a number of people I know, it really, really matters.

Rob said...

Regarding marriage, if the debate can move from a "let's redefine marriage" argument to "let's extend rights to alternative household arrangements", including removing the word "marriage" from federal lawbooks and replacing it with "household", using a broad definition...

...I doubt the Mormons will bat an eye. The official stance (on the Church's website) appears to be sanguine about everything from civil unions to adoption rights for anyone.

For myself, I've wondered aloud here before about the wisdom of pushing a social change through the courts when it is too unpopular to get majority support. At this point in California, proponents of the implicit gay marriage right have lost more rights than they sought to gain, by forcing a judicial decision, and seeing it reversed by constitutional amendment.

This has happened even given the advantages of a governor and popular presidential candidate opposed to the measure, and of an attorney general and state department willing to word the proposition in terms specifically advantageous to its opponents.

I think the issue is far from settled, of course, since Prop 8 itself was too unpopular to suggest any kind of new social mandate. 48% of any electorate is still a minority which must be treated with respect, and must be listened to, as the CA legislature constructs a balance based on the new amendment.

Rob said...

I would love to offer every Palestinian 17 year old a seven-year visitor's visa to the United States, if he or she came to be educated, free of tuition and books charges, at any university in the country to which they could gain admission, overseas transportation included, all the way to the Master's Degree level.

We could take the funding for that from the Defense budget, since arguably, winning hearts reduces the burden on the Army.

I think that kind of goodwill would go a long way toward diffusing extremism, and they'd actually get to meet the Americans they think they're supposed to hate.

David Brin said...

Amid all the attention given to other matters, something truly earth shaking has happened in California, Proposition 11 imposes neutral redistricting upon the state - to the detriment of the majority (Democratic) party - an act of civiv-minded fairness on the party of a largely Democratic electorate. One almost certain result will be the loss of Democratic seats in Congress and the state legislature, in 2010.

This clearly moves the problem of gerrymandering up to the front burner of American politics.

The effects are blatant everywhere. Despite this being a "landslide" year for the Democrats, they gained only 18 net seats (out of 435) in the House of Representatives. Why? Because of gerrymandering of safe districts. This malignant sickness is also responsible for some of the radicalization of Republican officeholders, who can safely ignore the clear will of most Americans that pragmatism and moderation ought to be the rule of the day.

For more, see:
http://www.davidbrin.com/gerrymandering1.html

Cliff said...

This has happened even given the advantages of a governor and popular presidential candidate opposed to the measure, and of an attorney general and state department willing to word the proposition in terms specifically advantageous to its opponents.

Weird. It's almost as though there were some sort of outside influence, pushing this legislation through despite massive resistance.

Rob said...

@Cliff

For an initiative, in a contest where both sides talk well and truly past each other?

Funding against Proposition 8, according to the LA Times, was higher by almost $2 million, than the contributions for its passage. Money raised from *outside* California was also greater for the opponents of Proposition 8, by $1 million.

Wondering aloud if undue outside influence was applied is, in this case, a dual-edged criticism.

Cliff said...

Rob - I hadn't been aware that the push against Prop 8 had received more funding than the push for.
I knew it had been getting a lot of outside resistance - digby's blog, for example, kept railing against it.

Which shows how much resistance against gay marriage there is, if the proposition still passes despite so much resistance.

Still, I can't help but resent the Mormon Church's influence in this. Their funding for Prop 8 probably came from tithes and properties like their cattle ranch; do you know if the push against was funded by anything much larger than individual donations?

Rob said...

@Cliff,

There's a spreadsheet of donors at spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pe2023SzWXxE8wYX5qWeoIw

From the Utah addresses, ZIP code 84150, there are two direct donations from the Church totaling just under $5000, given in late October and early November. The data matches the LA Times compilation.

I'm relatively confident, based on that, that no tithes were expended for the campaign, since that fund is directed at Church operations, such as paying light bills and property taxes on buildings.

I've filed tax returns under 501(c)(3) before for non-profits, and I know that a $5000 expenditure doesn't come close to the thresholds permitted to churches with revenue streams the size of the LDS Church's, for issue advocacy.

The largest source of funds from Utah came from Alan Ashton ($1 million "for") and Bruce Bastian ($1,010,000 "against"). Five others in Utah gave in the over-$100k range, and the difference from Utah came to 638 individual or corporate donors, 129 "against."

The LA times thing is instructive on the matter. Of course, you are welcome to feel how you like about what happened, but your ire is properly directed at the individuals encouraged to donate, rather than the Church which simply said that they ought, without suggesting expected amounts.

(I got the same letter where I live and didn't send a dime.)

Rob said...

And, of course, it should put to rest the case of undue influence on the outcome, since for every out of state dollar sent to CA for Prop 8, a little more than a dollar was sent against it, probably to help counter the influence.

If there had not been that countering influence, I'd be willing to acknowledge a disparity that might have thrown the election. But we can't point to foreign money amounts as the cause of Prop 8's success.

Ilithi Dragon said...

The problem I see with restricting the word 'marriage' to a religious definition only, aside from the problems with 'separate but equal' and how completely the word has pervaded our culture, is that it ISN'T a strictly religious word or concept. Mariage is not, and never has been, the sole 'property' of religion. Atheists get married, after all, and even many people who believe in a religion still opt to have a civil ceremony instead of a religious ceremony.

Ultimately, the problem comes down to the official stances of the different religions, and the individual interpretations of the theology. The idea that homosexual marriage is wrong is purely a religious viewpoint - there is no non-religious argument for not allowing homosexual marriage. As such, banning homosexual marriage is, constitutionally, illegal. Religions and denominations can dictact what is and is not a sacrimonious marraige within their church, but they have no right to dictate that to everyone else. Yes, they think it's wrong, but their reasons are based solely on the teachings of their faith, and it is against one of the most fundamental principles of this country, violating our First Amendment right, for any church to force those teachings on everyone else. It is no different than if the Catholic church tried to get legislation passed to make it illegal for ANYONE to remarry unless their spouse is dead. If your religion teaches you that gay marriage is a sin, more power to you, but that's not my religious beliefs. A religion has the right to refuse to marry anyone they see fit, based on the principles of the religion, but it does NOT have the right to say those people can't get married outside of that religious denomination. It's not a matter of compromise, it's a matter of constitutional law.