Sunday, October 04, 2009

A rant about stupidity... and the coming civil war...

An article on Salon asks "Why Can't We Have Smarter Right Wingers?"

It's been my own stark plaint for a decade -- and not from any lefty reflex. Rather, as one who openly avows some libertarian and classic "conservative" views, sprinkled in a mostly-progressive goulash.


Shouldn't there be clear-headed voices, articulating the attractiveness of balanced budgets, national readiness, genuinely competitive free enterprise, and caution in international entanglements?  Isn't it good to have someone in the room demanding: "Prove that something really is broken, before using the the blunt instrument of the state to fix it"?  


I've long felt that the best minds of the right had useful things to contribute to a national conversation -- even if their overall habit of resistance to change proved wrongheaded, more often than right.  At least, some of them had the beneficial knack of targeting and criticizing the worst liberal mistakes, and often forcing needful re-drafting.


That is, some did, way back in when decent republicans and democrats shared one aim -- to negotiate better solutions for the republic.


=Does The New Right Even Have an Agenda Anymore?=

Alas, today's Republican Establishment seems not only incapable but uninterested in negotiation or deliberation. It isn't just the dogmatism, or lockstep partisanship, or Koolaid fantasies spun -up by the Murdoch-Limbaugh hate machine.  Heck, even though "culture war" is verifiably the worst direct treason against the United States of America since Fort Sumter, that isn't what boggles most.


It's the stupidity.  The vast and nearly uniform dumbitudinousness of ignoring what has happened to conservatism, a transformation of nearly all of the salient traits of Barry Goldwater from:


* prudence to recklessness

* accountability to secrecy
* fiscal discretion to spendthrift profligacy
* consistency to hypocrisy
* civility to nastiness
* international restraint to recklessness
* efficiency to no-tomorrow wastrelness
* personal rectitude to flagrant licentiousness
* cleanliness to filthy habits
* logic to unreason

...and more, reversing:

* from respect for science to incantatory voodoo

* from an almost pedantic love of history to near total ignorance of the past
* from individual-based deliberation to lockstep party-line voting
* from belief in federalism and states' rights to excusing monolithic presidential power
* from negotiated problem-solving to strawman-based politics
* from a bookish love of statistics to justification by anecdote
* from country-first patriotism to the flagwaving kind that can instantly turn into rants about secession, the killing of civil servants and praying for the president to fail, even if that means the country going down with him.

This is not about classic left-vs-right anymore. (As if that metaphor ever held cogent meaning.) Not when every measure of national health that conservatives ought to care about -- from budget balancing to small business startups, to military readiness, to States' Rights, to the economy, to individual liberty, to control over immigration at our borders -- does vastly and demonstrably better under democrats.  With nearly 100% perfection.


(Fact avoidance is even worse when you encompass ALL of history.  Ask today's conservatives which force destroyed more freedom and nearly every competitive market, across 5,000 years.  Which foe of liberty and enterprise did Adam Smith despise?  Hint: it wasn't "socialism" or "government bureaucrats.") 


No. Given their lack of any other tangible accomplishments across the last fifteen years, one must to conclude that the core agenda of Rush Limbaugh, Rupert Murdoch and their petroprince backers really is quite simple.

culturewarbattlegroundTo find out just how far they can push "culture war" toward a repeat of 1861.

=Is the Agenda Civil War?=

Does that sound florid and paranoid?  Well, I do try to be entertaining! 


Anyway, bear with me a bit, because the parallels are eerie.  Not only on the geographical electoral map, but in the way that vast swathes of the South would only see or hear just one point of view (in uniformly pro-slavery newspapers, back in 1861, or via talk radio today), or propounded from every white pulpit -- an incessant drumbeat of regional, ethnic and partisan hatred.  With predictable results: the demolition of national discourse, along with the murder of census workers and the bubbling froth of a new wave of Timothy McVeighs.


Obviously, this is blatantly the agenda of Murdoch and Limbaugh and their foreign backers, since they do not even offer their own measures or agenda for deliberative negotiation with the party and president chosen by the American majority. They never even try to assert that any tangible improvements in national health occurred during their long tenure in power. Indeed, can you name any effective accomplishment -- consistently pursued and unambiguously achieved -- other than to push America toward Civil War?


Why they have been doing this is open to speculation. I have my theories.  You may have yours. 


But even without knowing their true motives, one can look ahead to outcomes.  And so, I have to ask these fellows one question --


Let's say that you succeed.  Suppose, driven by your potent and effective propaganda, America's "red" population rises up and Culture War finally goes all out... do you actually think that subsequent events will be to your liking?


=The  Mistake Made by All Our Enemies=

Step back for a minute and note an important piece of psychohistory -- that every generation of Americans faced adversaries who called us "decadent cowards and pleasure-seeking sybarites (wimps), devoid of any of the virtues of manhood."

 
TYTLERCALUMNYElsewhere, I mark out this pattern, showing how every hostile nation, leader or meme had to invest in this story, for a simple reason.  Because Americans were clearly happier, richer, smarter, more successful and far more free than anyone else.  Hence, either those darned Yanks must know a better way of living (unthinkable!)... or else they must have traded something for all those surface satisfactions. 

 Something precious.  Like their cojones.  Or their souls.  A devil's bargain.  And hence -- (our adversaries told themselves) -- those pathetic American will fold up, like pansies, as soon as you give them a good push.


 It is the one uniform trait shown by every* vicious, obstinate and troglodytic enemy of the American Experiment.  A wish fantasy that convinced Hitler and Stalin and the others that urbanized, comfortable New Yorkers and Californians and all the rest cannot possibly have any guts, not like real men.  A delusion shared by the King George, the plantation-owners, the Nazis, Soviets and so on, down to Saddam and Osama bin Laden.  A delusion that our ancestors disproved time and again, decisively -- though not without a lot of pain.


But let's get back to my question for Murdoch and Limbaugh and their puppetmasters.  All right, so you are pushing us toward another 1861, betting that we'll tear ourselves to shreds, and that the "red" portion will dominate whatever's left standing. 


But do you even remember what happened in 1862?  In 1863 and 1864 and 1865? 


(A side bet?  Ask any of the flag-waving jingo-patriots you know, "Have you ever fantasized about riding with Nathan Bedford Forrest?"  (Name's unfamiliar? Wiki him and read it all.)  My experience, asking that question? A shockingly high percentage of the loudest "patriots" have daydreamed about riding with that brilliant traitor, cutting down their fellow citizens -- both blue and black -- with a whoop and a holler, while screaming damnation at the United States of America.  Some patriots.)


=Have They Really Thought It Out?=

RedFamilies-BlueFamiliesBut all right, Rush and Rupert and Sean and Glenn and Tafik.  Go ahead.  Push hard enough to finally wake up the real United States -- the "Blue America" that seems all mushy because it always tries reason first. The citified sophisticates who have, for generations, sent vast net-flows of their taxes toward the red counties that then bit that generous hand with rants about the "decadent cities..." even though those cities have proved to be more moral, by far.  (Compare rates of divorce, domestic violence, teen sex, STDs and yes, even abortion!) 

Even though those cities are the front lines in the modern war on terror.  Even though it was city folk who proved their courage and resilience, standing up for their country on 9/11.


Remember what finally happened almost a century and a half ago, Rush.  Pushed too far, and as a last resort, those "decadent" Americans rose up.  They donned that color blue and wore it proudly to defend the Union -- and the dream -- with their very lives.


(And this isn't just regionalist bigotry, speaking.  In every state of the Confederacy -- except South Carolina -- regiments of volunteers  marched off to wear blue and fight for the country they had given sacred oaths to defend, showing even more courage than boys from Indiana or Maine.  Ultimately, it wasn't North vs South)


 So, Sean and Glenn.  Do you have any solid reason to believe things will go differently, this time? That we, the heirs of Fremont and Hancock, are made of lesser stuff?  Really?  You think so? 

Well, you seem determined to find out.  So keep pushing. The Union will awaken.  It always has.  We always will.


=Is it Useless To Say Any Of This?=

Folks, the truth is, these guys really haven't thought it out. 


JEFFERSONRIFLEIt's never occurred to them, for example, to ponder the reason why liberals aren't even tepidly trying to pass Gun Control laws, anymore. Because, after eight years of power-grabbing, centralization and abuse by the Bushite Cabal, they came to realize that they might need protection and militia recourse, someday, after all.  Especially at a time when their red neighbors are packing away bullets so fast that the factories have to work overtime, while screeching about using violence against their own freely-elected government. 

No, Hannity & co haven't thought that out, so wedded are they to the Decadence Assumption.  The smugly satisfying but ultimately fatuous notion that wimpy cowardice is all you can expect from anyone with a post-graduate degree.  (Tell it to Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.  Tell it to George Marshall.)


=Why Do All Fools Think They Are Wise?=

And so we have circled back to where we started -- the sad decline of American conservatism into cartoonish idiocy.  The puppeteers may be rich.  They may be talented provocateurs and con artists... but talent does not equate to brains.  Not when the GOP has driven off almost everybody in America who actually knows stuff, including nearly all the scientists, the skilled innovators, and most of the U.S. Officer Corps.


Alas. This is no longer even about "conservatism" anymore.  Barry Goldwater lived long enough to denounce what he saw happening to his beloved movement, and things have plummeted even father, since that great man died.


Nowadays, bottom-to-top -- and especially at the very top -- it is all about stupidity.


----------

* Oh. There was one exception to the rule that all our foes have committed the Decadence Assumption.  Ho Chi Minh never underestimated America.  His avowed hero was George Washington and he remained in awe of the U.S., all his life.  He remains the only enemy leader who ever defeated us at war, and then only because our hubris (not decadence) got the better of us.

194 comments:

Anonymous said...

Goldwater had his share of serious problems, even if he realized towards the end that the movement had been hijacked by people like Pat Buchanan.

Conservatism has been under attack from religious nutjobs, racism and rank stupidity since before the time of Father Coughlin and Joseph McCarthy. Rather than reject the extremists elements, conservatism kept incorporating more and more of the insanity, until we have finally reached the pinnacle of stupidity we see today.

FYI, the posting at your Dailykos diary has a number of html errors; you cannot use span attributes.cownmenc

GreyHawk said...

David -- pls go check your dKos post; the HTML is showing.

Michael Swaine said...

David, you're pissing people off by cross-posting to Daily Kos without looking at what you've posted to see if it's readable and then not sticking around to converse about what you posted.

W.B. Reeves said...

Thought I pop by to let you know there was an HTML failure in your cross post at DKos. I'm afraid it's not readable.

Tony Fisk said...

Without a monolithic clear and present external danger to divert attention (Germany, then Germany, then Russia) this bit of 'unifinished business' has been deferred. It started coming to the fore when the Soviet Union imploded. Interestingly, though, it has *not* receded as a new threat has reared its head...

Were he alive today, events (ie the way Virginia voted) would have impelled Robert E Lee to throw in his lot with the North.

Mitchell J. Freedman said...

The problem is the right wing has the guns. We have people who can write "good songs," as Tom Lehrer famously quipped in his song, "Folk Song Army."

Not good, my friend.

David Brin said...

Mitchell -- the Union has every biologist, chemist, physicist and cyberneticist who's worth a damn. And now, 80% of the flag officers in the military. And, if we can calm down Holder and the liberals, also the intelligence community.

Yes, the Air Force is teetering into Red Territory -- Colorado Springs has been tipping over into Nehemia Scudderdom for some time. Scary. But we have the Navy and most of the Army. The New Confederacy has some oil and most of the food. That last bit is troublesome. But Farmers are practical folk and are likely to listen to reason. Especially when actual arguments replace rush-rants on the air.

Look, I am not saying it will come to this. I pray it won't. But at least for the moment our national hierarchy isn't part of the plot to tear apart America.

Tim H. said...

The goal might be to create chaos for an excuse to set aside the constitution, or we might be seeing a hunger with no moral compass but the bottom line now, the bottom line tomorrow, the bottom line forever. And there is such a thing as democrats with guns, liberals have gone to war, George McGovern is a good example, Harry Truman's another.

Tony Fisk said...

Here's another conservative who believes in global warming.
Enough to put it to his party that they can either let the Rudd government emissions trading scheme pass, or find another leader.

More on the civilising influence of cities.

steves said...

It's never occurred to them, for example, to ponder the reason why liberals aren't even tepidly trying to pass Gun Control laws, anymore. Because, after eight years of power-grabbing, centralization and abuse by the Bushite Cabal, they came to realize that they might need protection and militia recourse, someday, after all.

Interesting theory. Is there any evidence (anecdotal or otherwise) to support this. I am a part-time firearms instructor and haven't seen this yet, though I wouldn't be surprised if it happened. IMO, the tepid support for gun control has more to do with the fact that there wasn't really a tremendous amount of support for it in the first place.

Contrary to the Walter Mitty-ish people with secessionist fantasies, most right-wing gun owners are content to be left alone and have no desire to start a revolution at this point. If it ever did reach that point, this would be very bad, to say the least.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Brin

Your writing reveals such a deep intellect and broad erudition, that I am never quite certain whether you are 'playing it' or revealing actual blind spots. But considering that you are a consummate winner in life, I do get the impression that you haven't sufficient exposure to the 'dark side' of life about these states to grasp fully the depths of ignorance-bread evil in so many hearts.

Such as your take on the highly educated, fully credentialed professionals throughout government service. Many, if not most of that group, have earned the freedom to work in fields they enjoy and avoid or at least control their exposure to distressing information that would serve to better balance their grasp of the greater reality. I can easily imagine that this factors into the circles in which you must socialize, tending to confirm your more optimistic biases.

I assume it was a slip to put Murdoch with Limbaugh underneath the puppetmaster rubric, surely Rupert is, along with Scaife and others, of puppet-master class himself. What I really can't fathom is your assumption that either the puppetmasters or their Beck 'n 'baugh, et al. puppet mid-levels could really give a rat's gas for Your America (& my 'merica, brother,) or have any concern whatsoever for either ideology or the lives of citizens red or blue. Of course these people would be untouched by even the most extreme scenarios of domestic war, in which they are certainly positioned to profit from economically. And what possible concern would the rich have for the environment? The only concern is for relative net worth as the top dog is sure to get the last fish, the last breath of clean air, when it comes to that.

This culture war thing is no gentleman's debate, and the characterization of the 'left elites' as "decadent cowards and pleasure-seeking sybarites" is not far off the mark by my perspective. What would We do with the festering mass of mental illness hiding from enlightenment in the rural areas of this country? Gently educate and reform them or set ourselves up with protection to ignore them as if we were obeying the Prime Directive. The puppetmaster crowd would entertain themselves by putting them to war, the same way they have always trimmed that herd. They would place bets and prefer the more primitive weaponry for more colorful effect. It's no accident that superpredators hunt for pleasure. Cheney seemed to snarl less after satisfying that subconscious(?) urge to shoot a friend in the face.

C'mon folks, let's get over these awful sporting events, we could be farming salmon in an underground ocean on the moon for what we spend on the defense budget. For those trillions of dollars burnt a la "1984," we could be growing tropical fruit, manufacturing interferometric 'scopes to put Keck to shame, building Mars colony cargo ships, and opening a theme park, all with mined lunar material. These puppetmasters don't like forward, they like backward...big history buffs I guess. Maybe it's a deep prejudice against hippies or Heinlein? Or, zooming out to contemplate from "pale blue dot" perspective, just maybe this mental, mutant cousin of Pan Paniscus is by no means ready for the Tech Singularity?

Anonymous said...

Previous anonymous comment attributes to Zaz, who seems to have lost contact with his neglected old blogger acct, likely lost en route to Saturn to meditate upon his pale blue dot homeworld.8-/

Stefan Jones said...

David Brooks suggests that the conservative ranters might not be as powerful as they (or the GOP believes:

The Wizard of Beck

They pay more attention to Rush’s imaginary millions than to the real voters down the street. The Republican Party is unpopular because it’s more interested in pleasing Rush’s ghosts than actual people. The party is leaderless right now because nobody has the guts to step outside the rigid parameters enforced by the radio jocks and create a new party identity. The party is losing because it has adopted a radio entertainer’s niche-building strategy, while abandoning the politician’s coalition-building strategy.

The rise of Beck, Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and the rest has correlated almost perfectly with the decline of the G.O.P. But it’s not because the talk jocks have real power. It’s because they have illusory power, because Republicans hear the media mythology and fall for it every time.


I certainly hope he's right.

I'd join a Union militia in a second. I'd probably end up as the company clerk or a speechwriter.

Anonymous said...

Without a monolithic clear and present external danger to divert attention (Germany, then Germany, then Russia) this bit of 'unifinished business' has been deferred. It started coming to the fore when the Soviet Union imploded. Interestingly, though, it has *not* receded as a new threat has reared its head...

Were he alive today, events (ie the way Virginia voted) would have impelled Robert E Lee to throw in his lot with the North.

4:01 PM
Blogger Mitchell J. Freedman said...

The problem is the right wing has the guns. We have people who can write "good songs," as Tom Lehrer famously quipped in his song, "Folk Song Army."

Not good, my friend.

4:14 PM

Mitch - "The moral is to the military in about a ratio of three to one." Remember when Stalin asked scornfully "How many divisions has the Pope"? Which of those two men won that debate int he long run?

Long live the folk song army.

Pat Mathews

Sociotard said...

First, Ho Chi Minh was not the only one to ever defeat the US military. Try Pancho Villa, who managed to do it on US soil.

Second, I think much of your post can only be responded to with one of your own posts:

Link

Kolodko’s key point is that saber-rattling and “axis-of-evil” rants have only served to delay an inevitable transformation in this country, which is the ONLY one in the middle east where the neocons’ dream (establishing an oasis of democracy in the Middle East) would seem to have a chance of actually coming true.
. . .
The worst cliche of strategic thinking is always this one: “If we smack our opponent hard, across the cheek, he will respond by backing down.”
. . .
The assumption that your (dehumanized) foe will react to force in the exact opposite way that you would is not only stupid, it is cosmically self-indulgent and unsupported by history. We always need to ask - “How would Americans react, if such a strike was aimed at Duluth.” Indeed, how DID we react to the slap of 9/11?

This is a fundamental fact, one that the right wing needs to have crammed down their big, loud craws.



What I'm saying is that this post is sabre rattling. The red-staters will not back down because you remind them that people from blue states could defeat them as they did in the past.

Tony Fisk said...

I get the impression that the 'red staters' (or those that style themselves as such) will not back down. Period.

Hopefully, Brooks has their number.

abledoup: any report that 'Dumbledore lives'

David Brin said...

"Of course these people would be untouched by even the most extreme scenarios of domestic war, in which they are certainly positioned to profit from economically. And what possible concern would the rich have for the environment? The only concern is for relative net worth as the top dog is sure to get the last fish, the last breath of clean air, when it comes to that."

I am torn. Certainly one gets an impression that these people are driving America - and the Enlightenment -- deliberately toward a cliff. My essay contends that they cannot be as bright as they think they are, since past enemies of America fared worse than they imagined possible. These jerks seem to have no awareness of the allegory of the Golden Goose.

But there is a power center that might push for such a demolition. It is foreign, VASTLY richer than Murdoch, and has openly avowed its wish for a world they control, and without us in it.

But then I part company from you, vigorously. "The RIch." aren't the problem, as a monlithic class. Even Ralph Nader (a genuine putz-dingbat, but an unvenly brilliant one) says so in his new book ONLY THE SUPER-RICH CAN SAVE US. He lists two dozen "good rich" guys like Gates and Buffett. If you cannot distinguish among them, then you are part of the problem.

Stefan, I hope Brooks is right. But it will depend on Obama's jiu jitsu brilliance, demo-solidarity (a contradiction in terms?), a revival of the civil service, perhaps a special prosecutor or two, plus a lot of luck...

...plus local dems smart enough to push for MORE Blue Dogs, not less! Because all the low-hanging fruit has been picked and the ONLY growth potential for the progressive/Enlightenment coalition, in this gerrymandered world, is among moderate conservatives!

We need to recruit hundreds of ex-military officers who are decent guys and compassionate future-oriented, science loving, eco-believing problem solvers,...

... who also love guns and beer and stock cars and military readiness and free enterprise solutions to problems. ONLY such guys can go for the next level of fruit and really punish the redder assholes.

The price? It will be a demoparty that's RIFE with Blue Dogs! Sorry! But they will be the "decent conservative" wing of a new body politic. And we'll be the better for it.

You see? I've changed. Our hope is not to rescue a decent fringe of the GOP. It is to grow the dems until... MITOSIS!


"What I'm saying is that this post is sabre rattling. The red-staters will not back down because you remind them that people from blue states could defeat them as they did in the past."

Wrong. right now, they hear NOTHING masculine from their left. It is a language they understand and they need to hear reminders that the decadence rationalization always failed. A few of the history buffs may grasp the point.

But it isn't the redders who need to hear this! It is the bluefolk. The people of the Union.

They need to start humming the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Sing it at rallies. Make up some new verses! (And keep/co-opt "the coming of the Lord.") Start waving flags and wearing blue and singing that song... the point will start to be made.

Don't tread on me.

netsettler said...

David, great post. It touches on a number of issues I've been pondering myself.

Regarding civil war, which it does seem they're nudging, my big fear is that they've imagined they'll be “greeted as liberators” and will find themselves in charge. I don't think they understand that war involves a natural amount of chaos, and many of them are as likely to be casualties themselves as heroes and rulers of what follows. Not to mention the fact that if our nation started to decay visibly in any way, we'd probably immediately be occupied by foreign governments insisting on protecting their investments. They may be willing to play hands off just now because they don't want to destabilize things, but once it's not stable, I think there are a lot more options.

Further, I think any America not under central command would be an immediate security threat to the world under pretty much the same rationale as we're always citing about other countries—that bombs need to be in the safe hands of a stable government where rogue elements are not able to act independently, etc. It seems, as you say, extraordinarily poorly thought out, and yet it seems to be playing just as you say. Scary.

I was also just listening to the audiobook of Blackwater, and a small observation made early on in the book continues to echo in my mind—the notion that certain people define democracy as dead when they no longer get their way. That is, there seemed to be a preconception that democracy is “the thing that gets me what I'm used to” and that when things change, democracy must have broken. This reduces democracy from being a tool for serving the majority to instead being a tool of a specific majority to justify why it gets to stay in power. So when that power is threatened, another tool needs to be found to implement and justify that party's continued rule. That's a terrible recipe for disaster.

I refer you, by the way, to my post at Open Salon from last election season, An Inconvenient Hate. It seems suddenly relevant again in this context.

Catfish N. Cod said...

There's an important twist to viewing the Culture War as the (accidental or deliberate) preparations for a Second Civil War -- a point that I've also been trying to make for years, by the way!

The Civil War was a disaster for the South. There's no avoiding the fact. We got crushed, then ground to powder. Even the most ardent neo-Confederate knows this well. This is why, in order to survive, Nixon's "Southern Strategy" had to -- had to -- be paired with the myth of the "Silent Majority".

Present the possibility of creating a new Confederacy -- confined to the geographic South, while leaving the rest of the Union intact -- and even a loony will consider whistling up the psych ambulance. They know perfectly well they'd get crushed again. Oh no, any push for their position must be supported all over the country. Thus the "9/12 Project"-type efforts to depict the Not-Yet-Lost-Cause as spanning the fifty states; thus the "Constitution Party" (read their platform sometime!).

The exodus from the South that occurred after the War helps, of course. There are many places in the Mountain States and Alaska that were settled by ex-Confederates out of luck and looking for a second chance. Sarah Palin, both as an Idahoan born and an Alaskan transplant, exemplifies the ex-pat neo-secessionist. (What, you didn't think Todd Palin's membership in the Alaskan Independence Party was a coincidence, did you?)

But this new strategery isn't done simply because the neo-Confederates have learned the importance of a fifth column. With the effectiveness of regional independence discredited by the experience of the War Between the States, they can't really bring themselves to conceptualize their dream as a sectional conflict. No, now it has to be about "breaking federal power", about universal transfer of power to "right-thinking" people (like, of course, themselves). Think about the stated motives of the vanguard -- McVeigh, Kaczynski, Rudolph. It's always about the Feds as Feds -- never about sectional goals (whether cities vs. country or North vs. South).

Which brings me around to the supreme irony. Pointing out how the Culture War has become sectional is actually a powerful anecdotal meme! Right-wingers -- especially Southern right-wingers -- have a giant red flag in their minds just waiting to be tripped. Convince them that their Movement is making a major tactical error by making themselves geographically isolated, and alarm bells will go off. I assure you, repeating 1866 is something every neo-con(federate) wants to avoid.

Catfish N. Cod said...

The Profit Motive

And that brings us to the insidiousness of the forces spurring on the New Know-Nothings. Very few of even the puppetmasters care much about the effects of their demagoguery. The owner of Fox couldn't care less about the aspirations of the ignorant wing-nut; all he knows is that they're terribly easy marks for making a quick buck.

At least the plantation-owners who masterminded the run-up to the Civil War knew what they were after-- maintenance of the socio-economic status quo and continued dominance by a developing aristocracy. I don't really think the puppetmasters would enjoy living in the centralized theocratic imperial-expansionist empire, with an agenda at once Christianist and Social Darwinist, that would result from the awoved aims of the nut-right. Their money couldn't completely isolate them from the effects of such a regime, any more than money did much good for the puppetmaster industrialists of Germany and Italy when the Waffen-SS or the Brownshirts came a-calling. The goal for a puppetmaster, after all, would be feudalism, not fascism.

But few even of the supposed puppetmasters have questioned the paradigm that made talk radio and the business of movement conservatism possible -- the infrastructure of think tanks and parallel educational systems and publicity houses and indoctrination programs. Who, ultimately, funds all that? The answer surprises most Republicans -- it's some of the most quiet wealthy families in America. The most feudal in mindset... just like their friends, equally theocratic and feudal, in the world's last powerful absolute monarchy. The chumminess their ultimate funders have with the bankrollers of their supposed enemies would horrify most of those in the ranks... if only they knew.

WiseLalia said...

As you've said, the Red State culture seems to have left reason behind entirely. I think the most effective counterargument is to hold up the benefits of living in a large, pluralist nation with the world's number 1 economy: namely the "comforts" of that society. And the price of living in this comfortable environment is allowing others to live their lives without interference.

Tim H. said...

A couple of books to add to the reading lists, "America, what went wrong" Donald L. Bartlett & James B. Steele And "Deer hunting with Jesus" Joe Bageant. These should shed a little light on red state America. Aside from red stater's ability to believe balderdash, what most of these people want is a little space, a decent job that will finance raising children that transcend them, sometimes in amazing ways, with enough left over to spend a three day weekend at the lake. As long as they can take care of these basics, they could care less about a reborn confederacy. When lives are disrupted, a reception can be found for pus and venom from many sources, who would rather use people as cannon fodder than see them live. One has to wonder if at some level the feudalists, free traders, oligopolists and, yes, dark greens are colluding on the Compound Failure of the United States.

Anonymous said...

Tom Friedman wrote a column recently making the same points as David Brin:
"Where Did `We' Go?"

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/30/opinion/30friedman.html

Brin asks "Why do fools always think they are wise?"

It's called the Dunning-Kruger Effect and psychological experiments have demonstrated its reality. See the American Psychological Association paper "Unskilled and Unaware Of It" here:

http://www.apa.org/journals/features/psp7761121.pdf

Brin mutters darkly about Limbaugh's and Murdoch's alleged "foreign backers." Does Brin have any evidence to support the assertion that these people are being paid or instigated by foreign interests?

The HTML problems with Brin's post are due to the way the Mac G4 handles carriage returns and line feeds. His older Mac automatically inserts only a 0D hexadecimal character at the end of a paragraph whereas HTML requires a 0D 0A combination for a new paragraph. In the absence of the 0A, the blogging software reacts unpredictably, resetting the default font. So the HTML problems aren't really Brin's fault.

Tim H. said...

Anonymous, could you be more specific about Power Mac G4 carriage returns and line feeds? The various G4s were built over the course of 7 years and used operating systems ranging from 8.6 to 10.5.7 (So far).

David Brin said...

Catfish: "I don't really think the puppetmasters would enjoy living in the centralized theocratic imperial-expansionist empire, with an agenda at once Christianist and Social Darwinist, that would result from the awoved aims of the nut-right."

Of course, my own hypothesis depends on who the ultimate puppetmasters are. If it STOPS with Rupert Murdoch and his pals -- even including the Wa'ltons -- then the diagnosis is profound, shortsighted stupidity, because the neo confederates will NOT like whatever outcome results from their civil war. On the other hand, there is a group that's far richer and that owned and operated the Bushite Cabal. The only group whose interests were always served by W & Cheney. That group is both smart and clear-eyed about what it wants. The demolition of our renaissance and civilization, top to bottom. That clade has only one fear -- that we'll wake up.

Note, the neo-confederacy isn't just the South... red counties span America and the buttons being pushed are only somewhat racist or regionalist. (True, in the South there is genuine lack of alternate media voices, while in most red counties, the white-redders have to self-edit by watching only FOX.)

To a large degree it is rural vs urban, but even that masks things. What Limbaugh tries to do is corral white who are angry over America no longer being so clearly white, anymore.

----
Wow, thanks for the word about my G4's carriage return. I keep the old clunker because it is the last machine in the world that will run the only good word processing program, Word Perfect for Macintosh 1997. No loner supported and usable only on old Power PCs. Alas.

Tim H. said...

David, while it might complicate things to work with a second application, you might try doing html in TextEdit. Your problem sounds more like an artifact of an old word processor than a generic condition of G4 PowerMacs.

gmknobl said...

Will someone email me and tell me why I should hold at any level of reverence Barry Goldwater? Why should I care for anyone who said extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice? To me, that sounds like the rallying cry of the neocons right now - only of course they aren't defending liberty at all but just their own piece of the pie.

Seriously, why should I care about that philosophy at all? Did I take it out of context?

David Brin said...

Alas, that isn't the case. I DID edit this piece in TextEdit.

Actually, I am pretty sure it had more to do with my tendency to use ASTERISKS when I make lists... as I did in this posting. Apparently some HTML systems go berserk over asterisks.

gmknobl said...

Apologies for the double post.

I believe we may not see the inclusion of more "blue dogs" into the democratic party. I hope we don't as they are seriously messing up any chance at good healthcare reform as I see it.

Rather, I think we may see a splintering of the Republicans into two separate groups, the "moderate" or as the neocons would describe them "liberal" or "Rino" Republicans, the neocon Republicans and possibly other fruitcakes that neither coalition may want (ala Palin). Democrats will of course benefit from this but be too comfortable in their control of national government. The neocons and fruitcakes will remain vocal but loose any lasting control of politics on a state level to be replaced by the more traditional conservative Republicans. As the liberal democrats grow louder, conservative "blue dogs" will drop out of the democratic party and join their true home, conservative Republicanism. Then in anywhere from 10 to 20 years, this branch of republicans will regain control of politics nationally. I believe this branch of republicans will retain that name while the other fruitcake and neocons will change their name to something else.

The only questions I have deals with how much progressive reform will result from the complacent democrats before they loose power or will the more corrupt among them cling to whatever policies are pushed by those that "fund" them, as they loose control?

Tim H. said...

Might be worth a try to look at your preference settings, TextEdit 1.5 offers different HTML and CSS settings in "Open and save" settings. Which might be applicable to someone running 10.4 Tiger, the last with classic support.
BTW, Stewart Brand has interesting things at http://longnow.org Ecopragmatism is something I could, mostly live with.

David Brin said...

ABOUT BARRY GOLDWATER

Goldwater's 1964 speech was VERY amateurishly vetted and he simply never expected a majority to interpret his words they way they OBVIOUSLY would wind up interpreted. He meant "an extreme devotion to liberty"

Frankly, he deserved to go down in flames and America was better for it.

But he grew. He was a courtly and civil man, dedicated to reason, and he willingly adapted to continuing proof that he had been wrong. Later, along with Billy Graham, BG embraced the Civil Rights Bill he had opposed. He berated wingnuts for their nonsensical attacks on the Clintons...

...all without being a convert to lefty government-centered solutions. What he DID recognize, however, was something even the most sincere conservatives seldom recognize -- that problems need solutions and when the market doesn't come up with them, it may be because something's gone wrong with the market.

Biggest example... "regulatory capture" is when a government solution to a perceived problem gets taken over by the industry it was meant to regulate. A common flaw in lefty solutions. It has always been the DEMOCRATS who later took the lead in demolishing captured agencies, like the ICC (railroads) CAB(airlines) etc. Generally, Republicans fight to save the regulators! But not Goldwater. He worked with dems to enact some of the great DE-regulation efforts.

(Hence he was not a hyprocrite, unlike most gopper politicos.)

But far better than that, he actually thought about how the right might actually be asserive toward free market problem solving. He realized that almost the entire insurance industry had been "captured." Logically, insurance companies should compete with each other to make their clients live longer! And thus make money by having to pay out less often.

Except for Underwriters Labs and industrial Fife Insurance... the whole Insurance Industry has grown lazy, uncompetitive.. Worse they are the natural locus of potential competitive solutions to the problems that government tries to solve via alphabet agencies, like the FTC, FDA, OSHA etc!

In other words, instead of the drooling hypocrisy of most conservatives and libertarians __ who screech that the agencies should be torn down first, and then wave their arms, saying "the market will then solve all problems!" -- BG said:

"Hey, let's start business competing against government solutions, and maybe the government one will THEN wither away."

And in fact, that is precisely what happened, after he helped to usher in relaxation of laws concerning parcel post. Result? Fedex and UPS surged and the Postal Service now struggles even to stay in that business! All it took was some clever re-adjusting of market rules. NOT demolishing the Postal Service first, which dingbat libbies rant for.

MORE RE GOLDWATER -->

David Brin said...

After that, Goldwater said: "How could we tweak the insurance market place so that insurance companies will NATURALLY want to be assertive with their clients, sending out wellness newsletters, insisting on regular checkups, giving lifestyle discounts, even insisting on doing a home or workplace inspection, once a year, so that you'll not mix the wrong chemicals and medicines... wouldn't that start a market methodology for solving a lot of the food and drug and safety problems, without Big Sister paternalism?

It was a brilliant, assetrive and sincere proposal, in true keeping with the best notions of free market conservatism. (BG also wanted more vigorous breakup of monopolies, to spur competition!)

Did he get any support?

Some....

...from democrats. From fellow Republicans? Almost none at all.

Hence my stand on conservatism. It is possible to come up with a version that is sincere, righteous, creative, constructive, logical, scientific and participatory in our civilization's general/pragmatic problem-solving processes!

Alas. Such versions are not on the table. With Goldwater's passing, they are barely even on anybody's horizon, anymore. So that most of the problem-solvers, these days, simply assume that nothing good can come from that direction.

That is false. Worse, it is stupid. And, with the right far down the road of terminal stupidity, we cannot afford to let ourselves get entranced by left-wing stupidities!

There is no corrective balance on the right, you see! If we tip the other way too far, into the madness that awaits there, then all will be lost, and the fault will be all ours.

Ilithi Dragon said...

On the impending re-arrangement of the American political parties:

A schism between the more liberal democrats and the more conservative 'blue dog' democrats is generally expected after the collapse and/or marginalization of the current GOP, either forming a new republican party with other moderate conservatives who are currently independent or still clinging to the last vestiges of what once was the Conservative party of the U.S.

Here is another possible scenario that I think may play out, though I do not assign it any greater likelihood than any other possibilities (save the GOP's delusions of relevance and competence coming true).

The GOP continues to radicalize itself out of power, with moderate and generally reasonable conservatives abandoning it almost entirely. Many such conservatives, the so-called 'RINOs', still shy away from jumping in bed with the Democratic party and the liberals, a hesitation that will generally increase with the delay in abandoning the failing GOP. Finding membership with the Democrats distasteful, yet having abandoned their former home in the GOP, they form a new conservative party, based on more traditional conservative values, and adopt the Rhino as their party mascot, and thus turning what is now a GOP insult into a point of pride and strength.

As the conservative movement loses a strong political force with the collapse of the GOP into marginalism, and while the 'Rhino party' struggles through its infancy, the differences of view and opinion between the liberal Democrats and the blue-dog democrats will gain greater attention, creating a rift between the liberals and conservatives in the party that ultimately results in a schism. Many blue-dogs would fall in with the Rhinos, though the more centrist and somewhat left-leaning conservative democrats see too many differences of opinion to avoid another schism with the new conservative party, and form a new, centrist party, adopting the blue dog as their party mascot, as it very nearly is already.

This would then create a new American political scene, with mulish liberals stubbornly pushing to the furthest left they've been in decades, the bullish rhinos rebuilding a strong, though sometimes short-sighted new conservative party, and depressed centrist hounds constantly pulled back and forth in a media battle to define them as liberal or conservative, and leave the marginalized GOP neo-cons the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about.


Testr: Prototype iPhone app for use by the public school system.

Rob said...

How could we tweak the insurance market place so that insurance companies will NATURALLY want to be assertive with their clients, sending out wellness newsletters, insisting on regular checkups, giving lifestyle discounts, [etc]

David, at least in the case of my region, which is dominated by Kaiser and one Blue Cross franchisee (which in turn dominates the entire Northwest area of the country) they do precisely that!

We get regular newsletters, and Kaiser in particular bends over backwards to give away lifestyle enhancement classes to its members.

Just not the lifestyle discounts, because, you see, the State apparatus has made it completely illegal to do so, except for a) tobacco use, and b) being younger.

Even with all that, the individual insurance market is simply fubared; those efforts don't address the controlling costs of health care. (Reining in imaging, equipment, and drug costs *do* control the full cost.)

The insurance "exchange" can't come too soon, nor the "public option".

Catfish N. Cod said...

Dear Dr. Brin:

"Of course, my own hypothesis depends on who the ultimate puppetmasters are. If it STOPS with [them], then the diagnosis is profound, shortsighted stupidity..."

But it's profound, shortsighted stupidity anyway; that was one of my points. Whether the poor-excuses-for-Illuminati are hardcore domestic feudalists, dedicated r'oils, or both -- their goals are NOTHING like the neo-confeds they're using. This means the mouthpieces of their "movement" are

1) dumb as rocks and as manipulable as marionettes, and/or

2) bought-and-paid-for traitors to their own cause, and/or

3) manifestly insincere perpetrators of malfeasance [or, as Senator Franken puts it, "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them"].

Various public "movement" individuals may be any, some, or all of these; but the one thing they can't be is independently sincere. And that's the weakness of the whole set-up.

Oh, I'm not saying a mass defection of the top "useful idiots" could be easily provoked. There will be defections, like June Morgan in Earth, but the sickly sweet addiction to infrastructure and support, to sinecures and the undergirding of a cocoon, is proof against systemic collapse.

But what of the rank-and-file under them? The low-level organizers that put all these local committees and demonstrations together? What would they think when, suddenly and under their nose, evidence turned up showing what utter contempt their "betters" held them in?

Actually, we already know. They become David Kuo. A sincere believer in "compassionate conservatism", he worked his way up to the interface with the self-appointed Masters of the Universe... and found out what contempt his followers were held in. Afterwards, he tried to tell all; but of course, he was declared a 'liberal' and cast into outer darkness for speaking against Dear Leader.

Every time this happens, several more of the second- and third-level organizers -- people who were once rabid fighters for the "movement" -- turn away, unable to accept yet another aethestic deletion from the political record. One of the latest has been Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs, who can no longer stand the hypocrisy of the "movement" and now works assiduously to bring their malfeasance to light.

"They" have been steadily eroded since 2002; partly by their own actions and partly by the courage of patriots like John Ashcroft and Jack Goldsmith who loved the Republic more than the agenda. All that must be done is to keep this steady pressure up, and soon they won't have a leg left to stand on.

Don't be distracted by the concentration of crazy as the endgame approaches. We are winning. And the sooner this malarkey is pitched by the wayside, the sooner we can have a sane conservative party again.

David Brin said...

Catfish - one major nightmare of the puppeteers is, of course, that the puppets might wake up. But, frankly, I am holding out little hope for that. During the Civil War, only a few % of poor whites were able to let themselves see how the landed aristocracy was using them, while giving back nothing, in return.

One of the personality traits I refer to often, of "depressive" conservatism, is frenetically desperate loyalty, of the kind that can allow anything at all to be rationalized, even direct reversals of dogma. (The "manic" nature of lefties makes them BOTH dogmatic and spectacularly fickle.)

True, there are elements in the fundie community that show glimmers of genuine populism -- as opposed to the incredibly hypocritical/manipulated FauxNews -Teaparty kind. Mike Huckabee is genuinely scary... to everybody... because he seems rational, likable, decent and uncontrollable by puppet strings. If he managed to marshall a big enough following, he might BOTH force the fundie movement to be less hate-drenched AND terrify Murdoch et al, by actually putting the redder morals agenda highmost and slamming aristocratic privilege.

One could spin that scenario down either hopeful or chilling paths (the latter toward Nechemia Scudder), but either way, he is not happifying for the puppeteers.

David Kuos are welcome, in abundance. But what's needed is a few of the CPAs and accountants to lie low and spend a couple of years copying everything in sights, while recording emails and conversations. What's needed is a special prosecutor.

Robert said...

There is one way that a "New South" could successfully secede from the Union and repel any wars to bring them back into the fold: they need to possess nuclear weapons and then tell Washington D.C. that they will use them if they are invaded.

Of course, in order for that to happen, they'll need to subvert the military branches that control the silos or the bomber-deployed atomics. But it is still possible. And would make for an interesting science fiction story, no?

Rob H.

Tim H. said...

Rob H., James P. Hogan had an early novel in the area you describe, "The genesis machine" in which a pair of physicists use a high-energy breakthrough to subvert war. It was still fun, last time I read it.

David Brin said...

Rob, the Air Force was slipping, dangerously. I am hoping that Gates has quietly taken corrective measures.

In any even, "blue America" now includes the top southern university towns....

David Brin said...

Wonderful article in Salon!

See my letter that follows it.

Salon interviews the late Adam Smith
http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2009/10/06/adam_smith/index.html

matthew said...

Sorry David, that link does not work.

Try
http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2009/10/06/adam_smith/

Catfish N. Cod said...

One major nightmare of the puppeteers is, of course, that the puppets might wake up. But, frankly, I am holding out little hope for that. During the Civil War, only a few % of poor whites were able to let themselves see how the landed aristocracy was using them, while giving back nothing, in return.

Well, with a nod to Mr. Clinton, that all depends on what you mean by "wake up". It's much easier for the neo-confeds to read the schills out of the "movement" (as the puppeteers have done to so many) and soldier on, than to actually see their own self-destructiveness. Remember the fate of Robespierre. Heck, just look at Cheney, who is poised to try and declare Bush a 'librul' for belatedly growing a brain and questioning the untrammeled growth of paranoia.

I take your point on the usefulness of loyalty-through-depression; it has been a successful tool of control in the South in nearly unbroken line from the Civil War to the present day. (The breaks get really scary. One thing they made sure wasn't taught in schools was the Wilmington Insurrection of 1898.)

But you don't have to actually cut the strings; just tangle them. To continue your parallel: if more serious, compensatory emancipation programs had been floated in the 1850's, a core of the plantation owners (particularly in South Carolina, the most echo-chambered state in the Union) would have still fought on. But others would not have been as sure.... and the "Solid South" would have had trouble materializing so quickly or easily. Divide et impera; muddying the waters can be both cheaper and more effective than actually reversing a trend.

I actually think that's more useful than following the money. Sure, to people who actually care about the law and justice, tracking the links and identifying the control points would be valuable. But I've watched, over the last twenty years, how any prosecution of a "movement" figure for any crime (short of sexual misconduct) is deemed "political persecution". Throwing puppets and/or puppeteers in jail might only increase their power and control.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Dr. Brin, great Salon link, very interesting article and some good points in your letter response (which I was able to identify as yours with just the first three words, btw).

It's disappointing and angering how what capitalism once was has been so perverted today, as, too, the great concepts and good ideas on which socialism was founded have been perverted in the public mind to gross caricatures of what they actually are. If only we could abandon such easily-distorted labels as 'capitalism' and 'socialism', though that will be as difficult a task as throwing off the yoke of the public concept of 'Left vs Right.'

Gilmoure said...

There's a way to run Word Perfect 3.5e on Intel Macs, from within a Mac Classic virtual machine: Word Perfect Appliance. (hosted at Columbia U.)

The WPMac Appliance is a “virtual” early-1990s Macintosh that runs in a window on your
OS X desktop. It contains four versions of WordPerfect for the Macintosh: 1.0.5, 2.1.3,
3.5.4, and the final 3.5e version (3.5 Enhanced). It is the fastest and easiest way to view
and print old documents created in WordPerfect for the Macintosh (WPMac).
Start the WPMac Appliance by double-clicking the WPMac Appliance icon that the
installation program places on your OS X desktop. A window will open and display the
desktop of an early-1990s Mac. This virtual Mac is created by software called Basilisk II;
the title of the window will be “Basilisk II”. Shut down the Appliance either by choosing
Quit from the Basilisk II top-line menu, or by choosing Shut Down from the top-line
Special menu inside the Basilisk II window, just as on a real 1990s Mac.
To open a WPMac document from your OS X disk, click the “Unix” icon on the
Appliance desktop. The “Unix” disk is actually your home folder on your OS X system, so
if your OS X user name is Roscoe, the “Unix” disk on the Appliance is another name for
the “roscoe” home folder on your OS X system. You can open a WPMac file from the
“Unix” disk; edit it and save it (perhaps in another format) exactly as you did when you
used WPMac on a real computer. If the “Unix” window does not show a file that you
know is in your OS X home folder, close the “Unix” window and then open it again.


Mitchell J. Freedman said...
The problem is the right wing has the guns.

Actually, most of my friends and I are voting, activist liberals who also own guns. And most of us are veterans. We're just not the type that look like stereo-typical gun owners. There's VW's, Hondas, and Suburu's in our driveways, and dockers and izods in the closets. Things aren't so black and white concerning gun ownership. Would be interesting to see an update of this Gallup Poll on gun ownership from 2005.

David Brin said...

The interview with adam smith is at:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2009/
then
10/06/adam_smith/index.html

Blogger cuts up URLs so you must combine the pieces yourself.

Thanks Gilmoure! If my G$ ever must give way, this emulation sounds like a helpful bridge. Alas, What I'd prefer is if a modern company actually made a word processor that good. But user interface appears to be a field run by people from Planet Lobotomy.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Hmmm... Some of the computers here at my work still have Word Perfect 9 on them, and some of the positions I've had here have necessitated their use. I didn't find it to be all that more intuitive than MS Word, and found several frustrations with it, though much of that may have to do with my general familiarity with MS Office, since the old '97-'03 versions were what I grew up on, and one of my college courses covered the new '07 version, which I've used almost since it came out.

What is it in particular that you find so superior about Word Perfect, Dr. Brin?

Tim H. said...

Most likely, better things to do than learn yet another user interface.

Rob said...

The later Mac versions of WordPerfect were made of pure awesome. No company did word processing better than them, until they died their Novell death.

David Brin said...

Alas, later WP versions copied the Word formalisms, like "Document and paragraph" organization for adjusting format... completely nonsensical.

To me, the worst aspect of Microsoft products was never the balky code or incompatibilities. It was the brutal ILLOGIC in which the steps you must take are never the simplest ways to get things done.

Tony Fisk said...

Since we've been talking about 'burdens of proof' recently, it might be constructive to list those 'illogical' steps for a single action (to keep it short), and then describe how you think it ought to be done?

rewinn said...

If the rightwing can't get 50% of the citizenry to do something so easy as to VOTE, they aren't going to get 50% of the citizenry to risk taking a bullet.

So they have to rely on dominating a more specialized sector. Certainly there are (...let us speak plainly ...) some fascist sympathizers in our military. It would be interesting to count them; one hopes their various Intelligence Services are keeping track.

But the Wars of Bush have created over a million veterans of an ugly ground war, who are for the most part very unhappy with that miserable adventure; while maybe not "liberal" they're certainly not gonna flop pro-Confederacy. The racial and gender minority segments of that group are HUGE and completely hostile to Confederate values. Can even the most favorable pro-Confederacy assumptions include even HALF of the white male veteran or active duty population? I don't think so, but even so, that would still leave them vastly outnumbered by the loyal Union forces.

Of course, the superiority of today's offensive technology means that a few idiots that strike first can cause insane amounts of harm. We really need to keep our nukes locked down hard; imagine Timothy McVeigh with a nuke ...

=========

As to the forces behind the nuts, I suggest that part of the problem is that some of the forces are nonhuman. Organizations exhibit emergent behavior. If Glenn Beck were to become Alan Colmes, Fox would just hire another clown ... not just because Murdoch profits from it, but because the organization Fox wants evil clowns to peddle its propaganda.

The corporate form is a powerful tool, both for good and for ill. Its instantiations can be flexible, powerful, nearly immortal, completely amoral ... and very very hungry.

The only serious countervailing forces are governments, which (as others have posted above) are subject to subversion by those same entities, and now ... something new ... communities of interest connected by the web. I don't know whether the latter is actually powerful, or whether I'm fooling myself via observer bias, but I'm heartened that 9/12 claims of 2 million marchers were roundly mocked because the community has learned to demand proof, e.g. an aerial photo.

I just don't know, but I am heartened.

Anonymous said...

Hello Mr. Brin,

I just read your book "The Postman" and I wanted to say thank you for writing it. It is a perfectly written book which illustrates what's coming. There WILL be a need for a "Restored United States" if we can make it through the next 3 years of Obama and a Democrat Congress which is spending us into oblivion.

I really appreciate this PRO-American work at a time when the administration is being anything but.

Thank you sir!

Anonymous said...

Wow!

I can't believe the hatred and vitriolic nature of this blog. This is absolutely disgusting.

Who are you people? Do you really think that there is a "Civil War" brewing? Talking about who has the scientists, doctors, intelligence people, and higher ranked officers? Seriously?

You are actually theorizing that people will get to a point where they have to "choose sides" in this country?

Mr. Brin, you're an intelligent man but this is pure lunacy. This is absolutely insane. Who are you people?

Sincerely,

A saddened and shocked reader

Tony Fisk said...

The trolls are becoming ironic.

Except... Ah! I see that our friend has just done a double take!

anon, the general tone here may not be to your liking, and you might find this easier to take as a 'hypothetical' (ie a civil war is a possibility given the way some folks are talking). Still, I believe the policy is that courteous disagreement is welcome.

Up to you, but you might like to start with why you think the current administration isn't pro-american.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Ah, yes, this isn't exactly the best blog post for someone unfamiliar with Dr. Brin's contrary nature and previous political discussions.


Nobody here is hoping for a new American civil war, but most of us fear it, based on the vitriol, ignorance, and vicious propaganda circulating through mainstream conservatism, and the very disturbing similarities to the mentality and maneuvering of today's mainstream conservatives and the secessionists and confederates in mid-1800s in the run up to the American Civil War.

It's a disturbing trend that Dr. Brin has commented on before, and this particular blog post gives more attention to it, but is in no way urging or hoping for such a conflict.

As Tony said, though, dissenting or disagreeing opinions are quite welcome here, so long as a civil tone is maintained, and we would all be quite happy to discuss or debate anything on the matter with you. As Tony also said, perhaps you could start with your obvious griefs about the current administration?

Tim H. said...

One of the events described in Jon Meacham's "American Lion" is South Carolina's attempt to nullify federal law if they found it unfavorable. Andrew Jackson's deft use of carrot and stick delayed seccession for a few years. In the 19th century a partisan could find a newspaper that would be agreeable to their views, now, media is even more fragmented, the intolerant can be relatively isolated from contrary views, or find them represented by strawmen. It is very possible that a large percentage of the population could be brought up to a boil over something. Myself, I hope moderation prevails.

gmknobl said...

Thank you Dr. Brin for you reply to my question on Barry Goldwater. I do appreciate the honest response you gave my honest question.

Tim H. said...

The civility here is a treasure, even if one has an opinion that Dr. Brin really does not like.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Yes. So long as you're not an ass to Dr. Brin, and especially to the rest of us (the good Dr. doesn't take kindly to people insulting his guests), dissenting opinions are welcomed. Just be aware that they are likely to get poked at, because it is Dr. Brin's nature to be contrary.

denparser said...

I hate war.. I hate Gun... I hate explusion.. I hate killings... Why people make war? this stupid thing makes the world chaos.

Gilmoure said...

Nisus Writer is another word processor that's native to Mac. Was one of the first to easily handle left to right and right to left text as well as other language fonts like Hebrew. Is pretty cool beast and control panels/tool bars/menus are pretty customizable.

Anonymous said...

Tony,

You have no idea of who I am or what my political ideology or philosophies are. Please do not "assume" that my disagreement regarding the ridiculous tone of this blog puts me on one side.

The tone is about the next Civil War and Mr. Brin's discussion about taking up arms. ARMS, Tony. Instruments of death and destruction which snuff out human lives like candles.

I also find it laughable that Mr. Brin uses the words "Union" to categorize one portion of the country vs another and pretends that those who believe in the "Union" hail from a particular political mindset. That is utterly ridiculous for someone, of Mr. Brin's intelligence, to assert.

What does this sound like to you when the Brin asserts:

"the Union has every biologist, chemist, physicist and cyberneticist who's worth a damn. And now, 80% of the flag officers in the military. And, if we can calm down Holder and the liberals, also the intelligence community."

Does that sound like a peaceful and rational assertion or does it sound like "the Union" has the ability to unleash weapons of mass killing upon AMERICANS who don't agree with with his chosen political philosophy.

In the end, I will ask again, what's wrong with you people? Sure Limbaugh is an idiot but do you really think that you're HELPING the situation by posting such a militaristic blog as a response?

Sure you may criticize the right for saying what they're saying but be aware that you have become just as fanatical when you respond in kind.

Absolutely disgusting.

Anonymous said...

This also laughable and contradictory...

From Lithi-Dragon..

"but most of us fear it, based on the vitriol, ignorance, and vicious propaganda circulating through mainstream conservatism, and the very disturbing similarities to the mentality and maneuvering of today's mainstream conservatives and the secessionists and confederates in mid-1800s in the run up to the American Civil War."

And you believe that Mr. Brin has NOT just exactly the same thing from an opposite side? Do not forget, that there was also plenty of "war fever" from the North in the buildup to the Civil War which exacerbated the situation in a snowball effect.

Both sides thought they'd "Whip" the other side quickly within weeks if it ever came down to war.

As I said, this is lunacy. After reading it, I will no longer be able to read Mr. Brin's works which is sad.

Anyone who advocates violence against their fellow AMERICAN citizens, is problematic to me.

Anonymous said...

"When the Almond Tree Blossoms."

http://www.amazon.com/When-Almond-Blossoms-David-Aikman/dp/0849936411/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1254946411&sr=1-1

Tim H. said...

Anonymous, I believe you're reading more into Dr. Brin's words than I see. Red staters are being ridden by a cruel master, who would like to see the United States remade, closer to their dark hearts. Speaking in defense of the union is something less than advocacy of murder. And if you stop reading the works of all authors who hold an opinion you find repugnant, you'll cut yourself off from most of them.

Anonymous said...

"Red staters are being ridden by a cruel master, who would like to see the United States remade, closer to their dark hearts. Speaking in defense of the union is something less than advocacy of murder. And if you stop reading the works of all authors who hold an opinion you find repugnant, you'll cut yourself off from most of them."

What do they want remade? Most "Red Staters" don't belong to any far right churches. All they're asking for is less government spending, better education for their children, economic freedom, and a recognition of the Constitution which is supposed to LIMIT Government power, and protect individual liberty from Government abuses. Don't forget the growing the dislike of "positive rights."

Read John Locke.

How is that so "Dark Hearted"? Your statement is laughable and full of ignorance.

As for the the majority of the people, they identify themselves as Conservatives.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/120857/Conservatives-Single-Largest-Ideological-Group.aspx

Therefore, you may all rail on about how "Conservatives" aka CLASSICAL Liberals (look it up) are a dangerous minority in the country but as more and more of the American people wake up and dislike the direction that this country is headed in.

In the end, stand on your soap box, yell as loud as you can. Sure you might badger a few people into going along with you, and for a short time it make you feel mighty, but in the end, it won't make ANY of what's being said in Mr. Brin's post, right.

Good luck everyone. I guess I'll see you in no man's land.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Anon,

First, it's ILithi, 'eye el eye tee ayche eye', not Lithi. It's a common mistake, because of the similarities between the capital i and the lower case l (damn sans-serif fonts, I hate them with a passion). No offense or anything there, just noting for future reference.


As for the militant nature of Dr. Brin's blog, I think this is a case of the 'out-of-context conversation,' where two or more people are having a conversation, and someone walks into the middle of it during a statement that, without knowing the context of the conversation, is completely off-putting.

Dr. Brin is in no way advocating a civil war, or providing any hope or support for a new civil war.

Dr. Brin has long commented on the similarities between the mindsets of the Southern 'rebels' during the period that led up to the Civil War and the mindsets and ways of thinking/viewing the world that have become increasingly common in the mainstream Republican party, and that are supported and promoted by much of the mainstream conservative media. He has long noted this, and cautioned that, left unchecked, this growing mindset could lead to a similar situation.

Dr. Brin has also long discussed the concept of 'culture war', and how many of the cultural conflicts of the Civil War did not end with the war, and how many of those conflicts, coupled with echoes of old resentments from the period and the periods following, still continue today.

Dr. Brin has also noted the apparent concerted promotion of the regressive mindsets that would hark back to the 'glory days' of the Confederacy, and the fanciful aristocratic society of feudal nobility that the rich white land-owners tried to establish (on the backs of slaves and the poor white 'commoners'). The focus hasn't been specifically on the glorification of the Confederate States, but it is a frequently recurring subject because of the parallels between the mindsets of the secessionists at the time, and the mainstream 'neo-conservatives' of today.

This blogpost is simply the latest of several that have examined the intentions of the 'powers that be' that appear to be guiding this rise in willful ignorance, and the possibility that those intentions, or the unintended consequences of the social manipulations going on, could lead to a new attempt at civil war. This particular blogpost is ranting about the stupidity and short-sightedness of allowing or encouraging the American political scene to devolve into such animosity, because the groups that show support for or toy with the idea of secession or armed rebellion to overthrow the 'illegal raghead nigger and his liberal commie czars and cronies who stole the presidency', though often loud and hard-blowing, would lack the support of the majority of the population.


In short, this is not in any way a show of support for a new civil war, or the militant oppression or destruction of opposing political views, not in the least. This particular blog post is merely a hypothetical examination of the possibility of militant neo-conservatives making an attempt at a secession or coup d'etat through force of arms.

Tim H. said...

Anonymous, you should read more of Dr. Brin's essays before you pronounce judgement. And there are conservatives of a wide range, I know of one conservative blogger that opposed the war in Iraq. And the former confederacy has done as much as anyone to neccessitate constitutional precedents that eroded state's rights, BTW, read up on Andrew Jackson.

Anonymous said...

"This particular blogpost is ranting about the stupidity and short-sightedness of allowing or encouraging the American political scene to devolve into such animosity, because the groups that show support for or toy with the idea of secession or armed rebellion to overthrow the 'illegal raghead nigger and his liberal commie czars and cronies who stole the presidency', though often loud and hard-blowing, would lack the support of the majority of the population."

And that's where the fallacy of the article and your statements arises. Not ONE of the commentators which Mr. Brin takes a shot at, have ever said these statements. Neither, I might add, have the MAJORITY of the people who increasingly ally themselves with Classical Liberalism.

Your final statement, which utilized racial slurs, is a misleading one. By stating such, and your use of broad, general strokes, you are attempting to stereotype anyone who is not in lock-step with this administration or your ideals. There ARE some people who question his eligibility. Your statement would make them racist. This is not rational. There ARE people out there who question the thoughts and motivation of Obama's Czars and their previous political associations. These associations have been proven correct and questionable associations remain. These associations are the antithesis of our government system and have been historically antagonistic and aimed at ruining our nation. These are valid concerns and questions. Once again, you would lump them as crazies or racists.

Furthermore, there IS a sea of red in the country and, once again, to assert that all of those people concerned about the course of government are participating in some type of "Neo-Confederate" ideology are totally ignorant of history and current realities. Both you AND Mr. Brin, are wrong on these accounts and you are attempting to mislead people by creating these associations.

You have adopted the language of "Neo-Confederacy" as a starting point of reference. In dong so, you automatically insert a racial and negative tone into your portrayal of average, common, and the growing number of American citizens who are vocal with their concerns. The people who are participating in the "Tea Partie" not "Fort Sumter Parties" are, if anything, utilizing imagery from the American Revolution. As you know, the Founding Fathers DID try and create a balance between the Federal Government and the individuals states in the new country they called The United STATES of America. I guess, the Founding Fathers, and their creation of the 10th Amendment and the Bill of Rights were Confederates as well.

Anyway, back to the Tea Party people utilizing American Revolution iconography. We can't have that can we?

Hmm.. how to combat it... how to combat it.. Eureka! I know, we'll call them "Neo-Confederates!"

We'll change the languages. We'll take the FRINGE, extract a few things from them, inflate it, overshadow all of the OTHER concerns Americans have, and overshadow them with that which we've inflated. Brilliant!

These people are no longer Tea Partiers, they're now spooky "Neo-Confederates" hoping for the rise of a new racial state opposed to our black President. And we... Why we'll be the virtuous "Union" who is stamping out all of those who oppose OUR forms of Big Government which are ultimately DAMAGING to individual liberty and progress. Glory! Glory! Hallejujah! Our Progressive truth marches on!

It's the only way you can win the debate. Salinsky's rules for radicals are in play.

However, it's not working is it? The American people are on to it and they're pushing back. The harder you try to change the language and repaint the picture, the more that people will distance themselves from your assertions and attempts to divide.

As I said, it's a LAUGHABLE assertion and misleading.

Good luck with that.

Tony Fisk said...

There WILL be a need for a "Restored United States" if we can make it through the next 3 years of Obama and a Democrat Congress which is spending us into oblivion.

I really appreciate this PRO-American work at a time when the administration is being anything but.


Anonymous: You're quite right, apart from expressing a keen dislike for the current administration (and inferring that all the woes of the US can be laid at its feet), I don't know who you are or what your ideologies are.

Nevertheless, your first comment seemed to slip into the conversation like a stiletto between the ribs. That's what prompted the troll comment, which I am happy to retract in light of subsequent remarks, which adopt a fairly civil, if robust, tone.

Maybe we do get a bit carried away with hyperbole and extrapolating trends in uncivil behaviour. If so, there's no harm in it being pointed out.

Getting carried away is a seductive thing, though. For your part, I note that you appear to *like* using such words as 'saddened' and 'shocked' and 'disgusting' to describe other peoples' opinions.

For this reason, I think you might find Brin's article on addiction and righteous indignation interesting reading.

Meanwhile, while I find time to check out your reference, you might find time to answer my earlier question?

Robert said...

While Mr. Trolonymous is undoubtedly already gone, laughing with his 4-chan buddies that he's riled up this community, on the off chance that this is legit, I want to comment on one thing:

Dr. Brin's comments on how 80% of the scientists, flag officers, and others are on the side of the "Union" is not stating that pro-American forces are going to pick up guns and start shooting anyone who dissents. No, his comments are meant with a historic view: because so many of our military minds and others are for the Union to remain intact, the chances of a successful initial attempt at secession from the United States is unlikely to occur.

Think on that for a moment: if it was not for the brilliance of Generals Lee, Jackson, and so many others who decided to side with the Southern states over the Union itself back 150 years ago, then at most one or two states would have seceded from the Union, and undoubtedly would have been brought back without nearly the loss of life and property that occurred. Indeed, it is even likely that blacks would not have been freed outright, and that instead, laws would have gone into effect stating "no new slaves are to be purchased" and "children born of slaves are free," allowing slavery to literally "die out" naturally. In the 1930s or 1940s we'd probably have had newspapers reporting on one or two old slaves who finally were dying... and ironically enough, they probably would have been treated fairly well as the South tried to end a tragic chapter of the Union's existence on a more positive note. (That, and any slave which was mistreated would undoubtedly have died before reaching 70 years of age.)

In short, there was a massive loss of life and destruction of property because Southern politicians were too proud to accept their political defeat and they had the support of the military to back them.

While modern conservative politics seems to have this similar inability to accept that their views have been voted down by the majority of Americans (and that is the thing about Democracy: it is the power of the majority that enacts the laws... which means if multiple minorities unite and work together, they can prevail against the diminishing pseudo-majority that conservative politicians claim to support). However, they lack the military support and military leadership (and stupidity) to actually try to secede from the United States.

Dr. Brin was not urging people to shoot conservatives or the like. Indeed, he identifies with conservatives as he has a libertarian bent to his philosophy but has been forced into supporting the moderates and liberals that have united together to try and lessen the corruption that has been imbued into the very essence of conservative politics during the Bush Administration.

If the conservatives got off their fat asses and enacted some long-needed reforms of their beliefs and policies, and also put forth a Code of Ethics that every single Republican would be required to follow (signing a contract in fact, and with a penalty of being removed from the Republican party should they violate the terms of this Code of Ethics), then you might see them actually having a chance in this modern America.

But they do not. The Republicans refuse to see what they have done wrong. They point fingers at Bush while denying their own fingers were in the till and that they too were to blame. They have become the Party of No, rather than work with Democrats to put forth moderate legislation that works best for all Americans. And if they continue down this path, they will become yet another failed political party, much as other political parties have historically failed in the past.

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

Anonymous said...

"If the conservatives got off their fat asses and enacted some long-needed reforms of their beliefs and policies, and also put forth a Code of Ethics that every single Republican would be required to follow (signing a contract in fact, and with a penalty of being removed from the Republican party should they violate the terms of this Code of Ethics), then you might see them actually having a chance in this modern America."

LMAO You were saying about a Code of Ethics?


http://biggovernment.com/2009/10/07/alg-condemns-house-for-blocking-resolution-removing-rangel-as-committee-chair/

Ilithi Dragon said...

Anon said...
And that's where the fallacy of the article and your statements arises. Not ONE of the commentators which Mr. Brin takes a shot at, have ever said these statements. Neither, I might add, have the MAJORITY of the people who increasingly ally themselves with Classical Liberalism.

The funny thing is, almost every source that I have seen, has indicated that the mainstream Republican brand of conservatism, "Neo-Conservatism", or the radicalized so-far-right-it's-off-the-map mentality promoted by Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh, et al, is decreasing in actual population, while the noise generated by neo-conservative media figureheads and politicians increases along with their radicalization.

We are not talking about Classical Liberalism here, but neo-conservatism. Have you seen Team America: World Police? The "American! Fuck yeah!" mentality so brilliantly parodied by that movie is what we are discussing and criticizing here.

Anon said...
Your final statement, which utilized racial slurs, is a misleading one. By stating such, and your use of broad, general strokes, you are attempting to stereotype anyone who is not in lock-step with this administration or your ideals.

You are misunderstanding or strawmaning my comment. Yes, it was a broad brush, it was intended to be, to cover all the absurd and ridiculous challenges to President Obama's legitimacy. Yes, a racial slur was included, because I was painting with a broad brush, but your narrow focus on that one point is as much a strawman of my statement as you claim my statement is of the questions to the President's legitimacy (and for the record, I work with people who DO actually follow the mentality I described with my broad brush, not just in part, but in its entirety, with the exception that they don't say 'nigger' aloud or in public).

Anon said...
Furthermore, there IS a sea of red in the country and, once again, to assert that all of those people concerned about the course of government are participating in some type of "Neo-Confederate" ideology are totally ignorant of history and current realities. Both you AND Mr. Brin, are wrong on these accounts and you are attempting to mislead people by creating these associations.

Again, by nearly every measure I have seen, outside of those provided by the likes of Limbaugh and FOX News, the 'red sea' has been steadily shrinking.

Again, we're not talking about Classical Liberalism here - the traditional principles of which many of us here actually agree with. We are talking about neo-conservatism, or the self-serving, self-righteous sunshine patriot mentality that has been replacing traditional conservatism in the Republican party for the last 40-50 years.


Anon said...
You have adopted the language of "Neo-Confederacy" as a starting point of reference. In dong so, you automatically insert a racial and negative tone into your portrayal of average, common, and the growing number of American citizens who are vocal with their concerns.

As others have mentioned, you really should read more of Dr. Brin's blog posts and articles before passing judgment. The "Neo-Confederate" slur is a play on Neo-Conservatism adopted for the context of this particular blog post, nothing more.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Continued...


Anon said...
The people who are participating in the "Tea Partie" not "Fort Sumter Parties" are, if anything, utilizing imagery from the American Revolution.

The irony here is that the Boston Tea Party was in protest to unfair taxes on the common people, and on goods used by the common people, in addition to other grievances imposed upon the colonists by the British. The new 'Tea Parties', on the other hand, are protesting a tax increase on the rich, the top 1% of earners in this country, the people who make more, in one year, than I, or most of the so-called 'Tea-Baggers/Tea-Partiers' will make in ten years, or more. There is NO comparison to motives and ideals of the Revolutionary War, because the colonial protests and grievances were NOT over taxes in general, and in fact, most of the Founding Fathers and other key figures of the Revolution actually favored heavy taxes on the rich. Thomas Paine, for example, whom Glenn Beck quoted in support of the Tea Parties, promoted heavy property taxes on wealthy land-owners, to fund stipends to be paid to each and every individual upon reaching the age of 21 and upon reaching the age of retirement, in sums equaling some $20,000.00 and $15,000.00 in today's money, respectively. In other words, Paine, by all modern definitions, was a Socialist, and Beck quoting him to support a protest against a tax increase for the rich (and, technically, not an increase but a restoration of the taxes that Bush cut) is one of the great ironies of that whole ridiculous movement.


Anon said...
As you know, the Founding Fathers DID try and create a balance between the Federal Government and the individuals states in the new country they called The United STATES of America. I guess, the Founding Fathers, and their creation of the 10th Amendment and the Bill of Rights were Confederates as well.

And here you go doing quite a bit of strawmanning of your own. Where did any one of us say anything about states' rights?


Anon said...
Anyway, back to the Tea Party people utilizing American Revolution iconography. We can't have that can we?

Hmm.. how to combat it... how to combat it.. Eureka! I know, we'll call them "Neo-Confederates!"

We'll change the languages. We'll take the FRINGE, extract a few things from them, inflate it, overshadow all of the OTHER concerns Americans have, and overshadow them with that which we've inflated. Brilliant!

These people are no longer Tea Partiers, they're now spooky "Neo-Confederates" hoping for the rise of a new racial state opposed to our black President. And we... Why we'll be the virtuous "Union" who is stamping out all of those who oppose OUR forms of Big Government which are ultimately DAMAGING to individual liberty and progress. Glory! Glory! Hallejujah! Our Progressive truth marches on!


Wow, you're on a roll with the strawmans here. This is a ridiculous perversion of what has been said in this blog, and half of it has nothing to do with what any of us have said.


So, are you actually going to participate in civilized discussion, or are you just going to go on ridiculous strawman campaigns? The former is welcome, and we will engage you in such civil discourse with glee, but if you continue with the latter, you will get shot down.


Orgomy: An intricate, though gruesome Orcish practice of folding people into ornate designs.


P.S. I really hate character limits...

Anonymous said...

"For this reason, I think you might find Brin's article on addiction and righteous indignation interesting reading."

Yes. Funny how you ascribe those traits to ME, however did you READ Mr. Brin's post?

"Righteous Indignation" in his word choices and criticism.

(A side bet? Ask any of the flagwaving jingo-patriots you know, "Have you ever fantasized about riding with Nathan Bedford Forest?" (Name's unfamiliar? Wiki him and read it all.) My experience, asking that question? A shockingly high percentage of the loudest "patriots" have daydreamed about riding with that brilliant traitor, cutting down their fellow citizens -- both blue and black -- with a whoop and a holler, while screaming damnation at the United States of America. Some patriots.)

or

Righteous Indignation?
Saying that Rush Limbaugh, and others, are out to push into a Civil War, and Mr. Brin's "indignation" and ad hominem attacks on these figures reeks of it.

"Remember what finally happened almost a century and a half ago, Rush. Pushed too far, and as a last resort, those "decadent" Americans rose up. They donned that color blue and wore it proudly to defend the Union -- and the dream -- with their very lives. "

LMAO

Perhaps Mr. Brin could review his OWN writings as well.

Anonymous said...

"Again, by nearly every measure I have seen, outside of those provided by the likes of Limbaugh and FOX News, the 'red sea' has been steadily shrinking."

Sure about that? LMAO

http://www.gallup.com/poll/120857/Conservatives-Single-Largest-Ideological-Group.aspx

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/Has-the-liberal-moment-come-and-gone-62842512.html

http://www.gallup.com/poll/123326/Renewed-Desire-Gov-Promote-Traditional-Values.aspx

http://www.gallup.com/poll/113980/Gallup-Daily-Obama-Job-Approval.aspx

http://www.gallup.com/poll/1576/Abortion.aspx

Have fun with that! You guys crack me up. :)

Anonymous said...

So, are you actually going to participate in civilized discussion, or are you just going to go on ridiculous strawman campaigns? The former is welcome, and we will engage you in such civil discourse with glee, but if you continue with the latter, you will get shot down.


Lol My, as you call them, "strawman arguments" are probably the most realistic assertions, and foray's into reality that this post has.

Tony Fisk said...

Dear Mr. LMAO

Oh! I don't think Brin has ever denied being immune to bouts of frothing indignation.

Thing is, he admits it.

You, however. shrug off the assertion with a prim and righteous 'LMAO'.

So, yes, I do apply it to you.

Another symptom is to respond to slights rather than requests.

Read the article.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Yet you can't address our statements without applying ridiculous caricatures of our arguments. That is an Appeal to Ridicule, and a logical fallacy (albeit an informal one).


As for the links you provided, they do not necessarily prove anything. First of all, the abortion example proves nothing, because abortion is an issue that is only divided strictly along party lines in the mainstream media. I'm a centrist, often mistaken for a liberal, and I oppose abortion (though I also oppose banning abortion except for late-term abortions, for pragmatic reasons, but that's digressing from the issue at hand), and my former roommate, a moderate conservative, favors abortion. I know several other conservatives who favor abortion, and quite a few liberals who oppose it.

As for conservatism having a 40% majority, that, too, does not address nor disprove what I was saying. As I have said several times over, we are not discussing classical liberalism or traditional conservatism here. Many here ARE conservatives (or in cases such as mine, agree with many traditional conservative values/principles), including Dr. Brin. The man is a self-avowed conservative with Libertarian leanings, and even key-noted a major Libertarian convention. He is proudly contrarian (and most of us love him all the more for it, though perhaps a little less so when we're the ones he's poking at
} ; = 8 ) ), but still a conservative.

But as I said, we are not discussing Conservatism or Classical Liberalism, but rather the loud brand of it that dominates the media that is known as Neo-Conservatism.

Anonymous said...

Ilithi...


Are you INSANE? Do you REALLY think that taxes will only impact the top 1%?
Hell, cap and trade is 15% tax PER family as it is. The Baucus bill would raise your taxes by another 13%. Let's not forget rising energy prices which impact ALL American families. Oh, and the printing of money and the 2009 $1.4 TRILLION Deficit alone will mean that ALL Americans, not just Obama's $250,000 earners and above, will be taxed. lol


As for the Founding Father's and taxes, they did NOT FAVOR heavy taxes on the rich.

What book are YOU reading son? You need some more schooling. :)

Ilithi Dragon said...

Note: Above was directed at Mr. LMAO, and not at Tony. Just to avoid any confusion (great epithet, btw, Tony).

Anonymous said...

"Yet you can't address our statements without applying ridiculous caricatures of our arguments."

But that's what they are. Ridiculous caricatures and full of error.

Yes. I AM Mr. LMAO. I've laughed so hard at everything you've asserted and it's ridiculously funny. Except for your flirtations regarding physical violence.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Mr. LMAO,

I never said anything about Cap & Trade, etc. I was talking of the original premise of the Tea Parties, which was focused on the proposed tax increases on the top 1% of Americans.

Yes, Cap & Trade, etc. will likely affect most Americans, but that is not what I was addressing.

David Brin said...

Naturally, I am saddened that anonymous came here in joy... and was shocked by what he found.

Let me say this. I am the author of The Postman because I deeply believe in the American Experiment. No other civilization would have made the likes of me... or most of the members of this community. Indeed, it is ironic that much of what Sean Hannity says -- about America being "the greatest" in so many ways -- is literally true.

But vile people can say true and admirable things, in order to achieve vile ends. Hannity'd "America is great!" screed aims at portraying liberals as anti-patriotic. This is culture war. And Culture War IS the greatest treason against America since the Civil War.

Indeed, it is amazing how prescient The Postman was, about this.

Look, I have made it clear that I respect decent conservatism and libertarianism. I gave a keynote at a libertarian convention and I often aim potshots at lefties.

But there is no question where the madness is, right now....

But I've made those point. And so anonymous, the question is this. Will you stay and engage with us, instead of hurling insults? You will find this a dynamic and mostly courteaous gathering of pretty sharp minds. You'll be in a minority, but not the only conservative voice here.

David Brin said...

Well, I sent that last while still hopeful that anonymous -- having earned some goodwill by praising The Postman -- might actually be willing to engage us in cogent argument.

We do have some libertarians and conservatives in our community... though none who will defend Bush or the neocons. Hence, having one such who might politely and systematically engage our preconceptions struck me as attractive.

Alas, anonymous has only spewed generalities. "You're all ridiculous!" Sigh. And THAT is argument?

Specifically, anon, I'll make it easy for you, Please answer even one of the following questions:

1) name a major metric of national health that UNAMBIGUOUSLY IMPROVED under George W. Bush. Since our national debt, finances, small business startups, military readiness, border immigration control, science, and health of the middle class all declined HUGELY during the GOP's tenure in power, can you name one metric that provably did?

2) Now find all those metrics -- and note that I chose ALL CONSERVATIVE ONES! -- and tell me which ones did NOT improve under Bill Clinton?

3) Yes, education does not automatically make one wise. But when your side has lost nearly all the scientists, entrepreneurs, and top military officers... in fact almost everybody who is highly educated or who knows a lot... isn't it, maybe, time to re-evaluate? Even a little?

Oh, I could go on and on. But seriously, I've waited for a neocon to answer these, for a very long time.

If you are an honest person, you should be able to. Or else admit that something is wrong with your side.

Tim H. said...

Just back from taking my daughter to see "Capitalism: A love story", towards the end they had some old newsreel footage of FDR proposing an economic bill of rights, details here: http;//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/second_bill_of_rights
My, what we've lost. A point Mr. Moore may have overlooked, we need an economy that's strong and vibrant from the bottom up, so thosr miserabe rich "F⇑!s" won't have to gamble for their investment income.

Robert said...

Note to Trolonimous: That's one. Let's see the rest do that. Let's see the Republican Party write up a Code of Ethics, and have each and every single one of them sign it like the Declaration of Independence. Let's have some ethical bits such as: "I promise to be completely transparent as to who donates money to my campaigns and on how my various votes affect these companies." Or "I promise to stay faithful to my spouse and not to cheat on him/her physically, via cybersex, or any other such illicit relations... and not to carry on a relationship that could be viewed as improper (such as romancing someone via telephone, internet, or written communication) while married to my spouse." Oh, just that latter would result in so many Republicans being tossed out on their ears. And yet this is where they claim to be strongest.

And now I lay forth a challenge upon you, oh Anonymous One. Create an account. Forsake your anonymity. Become part of a community. Not everyone here as part of Contrary Brin accepts everything Dr. Brin says. There are people who are vocal in their disagreements and intelligently put forth reasons as to why they believe this.

And just presenting a bunch of blind links that I'd have to cut-and-paste in order to read isn't going to convince me otherwise. That's just noise. It means nothing. It presents no reason as to why I should create those links (not even click them, mind you, but cut-and-paste them? In this day and age of lazy internet readers? You DO know about the < a href= >< /a > command for linking posts (with "" marks to enclose the URL), don't you? Hell, the Preview function allows you to mouse-over the links to ensure they work!) and without reason, then all it is is wasted effort.

Prove your case. Take your evidence and expand on it. Otherwise it will go ignored. As eventually will your posts without a means of presenting a reason for it.

Because I'm no ally of the liberals. I've long detested them. But the enemy of my enemy is my enemy's enemy, and may be utilized against my enemy until I can get my goals accomplished. Conservatives long proved to be against the very philosophies of smaller government and reduced government spending that they long claimed to be. So neo-libertarians such as myself have to look elsewhere to cast down the Republicans... and watch the party shatter so that it can be rebuilt on a purer foundation.

Rob H.

Rob said...

Hear Hear. I use my name. Use yours.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Brin was not urging people to shoot conservatives or the like. Indeed, he identifies with conservatives as he has a libertarian bent...

I know that none of you will do this.. but honestly WATCH this video in it's entirety and ask yourself if his speech isn't more LIBERTARIAN than Conservative in tone.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qtvtBGWgBc

David Brin said...

The values that Limbaugh claims to adore and promote are just like Hannity's "America is the Greatest Nation Ever" riffs. It is easy to mealy-mouth praise of motherhodd and apple pie stuff...

...only doing it in a way that CLAIMS those symbols as your own, while not-subtly claiming that your enemies are evil because THEY HATE MOM AND APPLE PIE!

Orwell would be proud. Limbaughs strawmen don't exist in this world. But his followers are dumb enough to wave pitchforks and torches and set fire to scarecrows. And make him rich while he weakens America.

Anonymous said...

1) name a major metric of national health that UNAMBIGUOUSLY IMPROVED under George W. Bush. Since our national debt, finances, small business startups, military readiness, border immigration control, science, and health of the middle class all declined HUGELY during the GOP's tenure in power, can you name one metric that provably did?


1. National Debt: This DID increase under Bush. The main cause for this increase was tied to military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Before you all jump onto the "Iraq was a lie!" bandwagon based on faulty intelligence, let me cut you off at the pass. Yes, the intelligence WAS faulty however most of the worlds major intelligence services were in consensus that Iraq possessed, had, and had at various times USED weapons of mass destruction.

The Duelfer Report, aka the Iraq Survery Group Final Report had several salient points:

A.) Saddam Hussein had an active nuclear weapons development program at the time of the U.S. invasion in March 2003

B.) Duelfer testified that Iraq was "preserving and expanding its knowledge to design and develop nuclear weapons." One Iraqi laboratory "was intentionally focused on research applicable for nuclear weapons development," the top weapons inspector said.

C.)e Oil-for-Food to boost his military procurement budget to $500 million annually &$0150; a 100-fold increase from 1996 to 2003.

D.) He was planning on RECREATING, not CREATING, his WMD program.

So yes, for better or worse, we DID go into Iraq. Personally, I believe that this DID improve the situation in the Middle East. Saddam was the cause of numerous disruptions to the region, an ACTIVE supporter of Palestinian terrorists, invaded Kuwait in 1990, and was the cause of several near conflicts during the Clinton Administration.

Do I think that this was a POSITIVE step in removing Saddam from power with national security ramifications? Yes. I do.

A book called "The Pentagon's New Map" discusses two arcs in the world. The first is the arc of stability which is regulated through trade and economic commerce which includes the United States, Europe, the Asian rim, and parts of Africa and South America which require stability in certain areas of the world that provide resources necessary for their economic functioning (aka the Middle East).
The second area is an arc of instability where various ethnic conflicts, political conflicts, and conflicts which involve vital national resources, have the ability to affect the operation of the whole.

Was Saddam a threat to this? Yes. Was he destructive? Yes. Is it better for ALL of those in the region, and the security of the United States that he's gone? Yes.

Furthermore, please remember that a NEW version of the 19th century's "Great Game" in Afghanistan, India, and the Middle East is occurring. I believe that Russia, seeking to become a major oil power, as exemplified through their 2008 invasion of Georgia, the only country that has a pipeline leaving the Caucus' that ISN'T under Russian control, is seeking to use Iran as a proxy in which to destabilize the price of oil.

Our strategy, (which some will wail at it and say "See! It's all for oil!) is done in the national interest. Believe it or not, ALL modern nation states act in their interests. However, don't forget that much of what the United States does, partly because of our nature, and partly as a consequence of being a world "hyperpower" following WWII and the collapse of the former Soviet Union, also helps stabilize and AID more than you know.

(cont)

Anonymous said...

I'd hate to throw this in, but this film, which is no longer posted on the youtube (this is the trailer) discusses our global strategy and the American place in the world.

"The World Without Us."
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Py4jVOJDwXU

Economics and Tax cuts...

In 2005, the New York Times (Oh my gosh!) stated that the Bush Tax cuts actually SHRUNK the Federal Deficit by $100 Billion.

Why? Well, the tax revenue was generated by HIGHER returns from the SURGING Stock Market, remember it GREW at it's greatest pace in HISTORY for 6 YEARS, and growing business income.

Funny how that works eh? Tax cuts=more money for business investment. More money for business investment means expanding business. Expanding business=more employees. More revenue for business means that, while paying a lower tax rate, they are actually providing MORE money to the government than they would under a HIGHER tax burden.


Another cause of the Deficit increasing, was Bush's foray into the Prescription Drug benefit through an injection of government money. I believe they projected that program at $300 billion.

So hmm... government dabbling into healthcare under Bush= questions to explain major metrics of national health that UNAMBIGUOUSLY IMPROVED but Government dabbling into healthcare under Obama= Progress? Hmm.. how does that work?

The Housing Situation...

In 2003!, according to the NYT, Bush tried to REGULATE the Housing Situation at Fannie May. That was shot down. Is Bush SOLELY responsible for this? (2006 and beyond=Democrat majority)

No.

Border Security..

20,000 NEW Federal Agents hired, which, btw, are being hamstrung by Janet Napolitano who was INFAMOUSLY opposed to the Border Patrol when she was New Mexico's governor. (Former BP Agent here.)

Military Readiness...

Hmm... Clinton CUT the Navy from 600 ships down to 300 ships. Clinton CUT the number of troops which had a role leading to the manpower shortage we currently face. (So do Liberals who call American soldiers idiots and uneducated morons and block recruiters from college campuses I might add.) Clinton also CUT our intelligence apparatus and our resources on the ground, instead, opting for electronic surveillance.

(cont)

Anonymous said...

Bush REFORMED how our intelligence services operated and how we combat terror. His administration REBUILT our reliance on hard intelligence (Iraq was an error in the Clinton organization of the agency) and assets.

Under Bush it increased. The military received higher pay, new military systems were proposed (missile defense anyone? Oh right, Obama is playing Superman IV)

Hey, don't forget, that after all of the military's GUTTING under Clinton, that it costs MONEY to refurbish it.
The two don't occur separately in a vacuum from each other. There IS a continuity to consider Dr. Brin.


2) Now find all those metrics -- and note that I chose ALL CONSERVATIVE ONES! -- and tell me which ones did NOT improve under Bill Clinton?

Yes, there was an improvement of economic factors under Clinton. However, medical care costs continued to increase, educational reform was not addressed, the military and national security of the United States was CUT, and terrorism was a growing storm.

Economically, it was an improvement. However, look at the context of technology development which occurred during his Presidency. An entire SLEW of new and unused products were introduced to the average consumer related to the tech industry and private industry lead to the increasing use of the internet and new mobile technologies. People were buying products and new services which had not existed before for mass consumption and the Stock Market was indicative of this fact.

As for who controlled CONGRESS during much of President Clinton's tenure? (Much of Clinton's Peace Dividends and cuts to the military occurred BEFORE the GOP gained control of Congress) Bush's economy, as I noted before, was 6 years of unprecedented growth following the 2001 bubble AND the economic hardship dealt to us after 911 AND two wars. The situation became worse AFTER the 2006 Democrat acquisition of Congress.

3) Yes, education does not automatically make one wise. But when your side has lost nearly all the scientists, entrepreneurs, and top military officers... in fact almost everybody who is highly educated or who knows a lot... isn't it, maybe, time to re-evaluate? Even a little?

Do you REALLY believe that one side has truly LOST or on side GAINED all or the other? Come on Dr. Brin. Seriously. This is childish reasoning.

Oh, I could go on and on. But seriously, I've waited for a neocon to answer these, for a very long time.

Lol. I'm NOT a neocon. Stop assuming this. Classical Liberal=Believe in Natural Rights (not positive ones), Laissez-Faire economics, the Bill of Rights (speech, assembly, RELIGION, and limited Government as originally intended by the Founding Fathers. While I can defend some of President Bush's more hawkish ventures, I don't agree with all of his fiscal measures. However, I do allow for some understanding and a few circumstances which helped increase our national debt, which you, in your attempts to strike at me with a hammer, do NOT.

By all rights, there ARE many things I disagreed with Bush about.

I did NOT agree with Bush on some of his spending. The Prescription Drug Benefit, his attempts at Immigration Reform, No Child Left Behind (horrible), and his Iraq policy PRIOR to the Surge. I most certainly disagreed with TARP.

Now, please tell me what you disagree with Obama on?

Anonymous said...

"The values that Limbaugh claims to adore and promote are just like Hannity's "America is the Greatest Nation Ever" riffs. It is easy to mealy-mouth praise of motherhodd and apple pie stuff..."


Did you watch the entire video?

Judging by your response.. I guess you did not.

Hmm.. I'll bet that you don't even listen to his program. Instead, you rely on points drawn from the Progressive cultural ether to formulate your opinion.

You are an intelligent man, and a brilliant writer, but sometimes your responses are incredibly simplistic.

Anonymous said...

In the end, it's your blog. I'm sure, that you will do your best to marginalize my points, increase your narrow-minded perceptions, and with your like minded readers, say that you're right under, wait for it, "self-righteous indignation" as a previous poster commented.

In that, all I can say, is that many here fit within Voltaire's definition of madness: "To have erroneous perceptions and reason correctly from them."

With that, I bid you adieu.

See you at the polls in 2010.

Anonymous said...

P.S. Dr. Brin, look up the definition of "neocon".

One can be hawkish about military security and national interests without being a neocon which generally accepts the welfare state and intrusive measures of government invtervention into the economy.

You continue to misuse the word and ascribe it to Beck, Limbaugh, etc. etc. etc but you are NOT correct.

Once again, stop plucking terminology which you hear, and please learn what your terminology actually MEANS before using it recklessly.

You'll have a much more cogent argument.

Robert said...

Trolonymous, what value is a weapon you never use, and that the use of which is decried by nearly every nation in the world? There is one reason for our nuclear weapon arsenal. Deterrence, also known as MAD. Mutual Assured Destruction. Under MAD we lived for decades under fear. Yet it was genuine diplomacy that helped the U.S. and the former Soviet Union cease being enemies (or as severe of enemies at least).

Here's something for you: your hero, Ronald Reagan, tried to eliminated nuclear weapons. The sticking point was a defense system nicknamed "Star Wars" which still doesn't work all that well with 20 years of technological advances. If Reagan had agreed to eliminate his beloved Star Wars program... we may very well have eliminated nuclear weapons... and undoubtedly pressured China into getting rid of them as well. With the three major powers having eliminated their nuclear arsenals, it is unlikely that India would have developed them... Pakistan wouldn't have had reason to, and Iran would be under a hell of a lot of added pressure concerning its own nuclear ambitions.

So your cries of "reducing the nuclear arsenal" are so much bullshit, considering Obama is only following in the footsteps of a Republican icon, Ronald Reagan.

Rob H.

Tony Fisk said...

Comments about indignation were spurred by the general tone that accompanied your initial posts. That tone seems to have moderated since... although there are still traces of it in your parting shots.

It can't be denied that you stepped up to the crease when asked to. I found some your remarks quite interesting, especially in light of how these points have been covered in previous posts. However, since Brin did the asking, I don't want to pre-empt his responses.

Tim H. said...

Anonymous, I don't think I'll take you as a definition of conservative. But then, I don't find Clinton or Obama all that liberal, at least, not compared to FDR. As far as military downsizing, there is a size of defense establishment appropriate to a republic, and a quite different size to fit an empire. The United States has been undecided about which it is. Fact is, many implements of destruction don't age gracefully, losing effectiveness over the decades and becoming dangerous to the troops that use them. You overlook a grave danger in the de-industrialization of the United States, but since so much of it happened during nominally conservative administrations, a blind spot is understandable. The theory being that in a really serious war, we'd just go nuclear, and industrial capacity would not be missed, and we'll never have to ask China, hat in hand, for military spares. Not to mention the reduction in the number of engineering teams because of collectivization,oops, mergers.

rewinn said...

Anonymous accepts that America's health, as measured by debt, is much weaker as a result of the Bush presidency.

Good start!

Anonymous dismisses this metric by arguing that Bush's war of aggression against of Iraq was a good idea, because (he says) the Middle East is a better place than before. He offers no metric in support of that claim, nor does anyone else, because it is simply false. The Middle East is worse off as a result of Bush's invasion, in terms of lifespan, economic health and even individual liberty (assuming that you consider "women" to be human beings; the status of the average women in today's Iraq is far worse than in the days of the murderous Saddam ... which is a terrible indictment indeed!)

Of greater interest is that to support his argument, Anonymous claims that foreign intel agencies believe Saddam had WMDs in 2003. The weakness in that claim is that
every such agency drew those conclusions based on the evidence given by the President of the United States, in the form of a forged letter, satellite photos cherry-picked to give a misleading impression of weapons development, and an outright lie about aluminum tubes. (Even the Brits acknowledged that the Uranium Letter was forged, which is why the famous "sixteen words" needed its careful wording.)

It is therefore completely incorrect to cite those agencies to buttress ANY argument ...

except the following ...

In a time that I yet remember, the solemn word of the President of the United States on a matter of war was the gold standard. Bush's outright lies on Iraq destroyed that valuable (albeit unquantifiable) asset.

No person believes that the forgery could have been done by accident. No one can believe that the careful selection of satellite photos (out of hundreds of thousands of images) could have been by chance, nor that the bit about aluminum tubes were mere mistatement. The falsehoods were intentional; the harm to our great nation was huge.

When a wall of text starts with so egregious an error, I don't feel it's worth anyone's time to respond to the rest ... except to note that there is no such thing as "Fanny May".

Let us compare, instead, how an actual conservative of the Goldwater or Nixon stripe responded to electoral defeat. There were no attacks on the parentage of JFK or LBJ; no "Unarmed This Time" posters; sharp policy disagreements to be sure, as was their duty, but none of the hints of violence that Rush and Beck play with so coyly ... or not so coyly. Instead, they got to work ... and Nixon at least eventually won.

IMO the GOP today has a problem: its ideological leaders are not thinkers like Buckley and Friedman, who were IMO wrongheaded, but definitely patriotic. Instead, the GOP today is lead by hateclowns who actively profit as their base shrinks, and by shills for corporations so corrupt that they voted yesterday (30 of them) to keep rape victims out of court rather than inconvenience the corporations who hired the rapists.

I sincerely hope that you Libertarians, with whom I disagree on many many points, take over the Republican Party. Now is your chance, and it would be better for the America that we all love, than the crazies.

LarryHart said...

Anonymous said lots of things including:


And that's where the fallacy of the article and your statements arises. Not ONE of the commentators which Mr. Brin takes a shot at, have ever said these statements. Neither, I might add, have the MAJORITY of the people who increasingly ally themselves with Classical Liberalism.


Chris? Is that you?

Except for the part about having read "The Postman", I'd bet money on it. If so, glad to see you here. Really.

- Larry Hart

LarryHart said...

David Brin said:

Naturally, I am saddened that anonymous came here in joy... and was shocked by what he found.


Dr Brin, I don't like to speak out of place in someone else's "home", but you did welcome me here a few weeks ago.

I can't be entirely sure, but I'm wondering whether this particular "Anonymous" is a guy I know very well on another site. If so, he's my own personal "honest conservative" I've been trying (without much luck, mind you) to convince by cross-posting many of your statements. I hope you guys won't run him out of town, but seriously engage him.

And if he's not really Chris, well, he's close enough that my point stands metaphorically.

David Brin said...

Dang. I asked, and anon responded.

Alas, not a single paragraph directly answered the challenge. I asked for even one metric of national health that UNAMBIGUOUSLY IMPROVED during the very long tenure when the GOP controlled every lever of american power. Without accompanying arm-wavings.

If you have to arm-wave and rationalize EVERY metric away, then you are simply a fool.

What anon did give us is packaged rationalization a-plenty. example: he admits that our national finances went to hell under Bush... he blames a "necessary" war -- let's put aside that it was justified with lies -- and focus on one fact... the Iraq War was a fingernail of the deficit, compared to continued tax breaks for the rich,

The GOP mantra was : "Good times? Cut taxes for the rich! Bad times? Cut taxes for the rich! Surpluses? Cut taxes for the rich! Deficits? Cut taxes for the rich! They are still unable to see this as monomaniacal. Anyway, it was the only "war" in american history in which the rich did not step up and offer to help pay for it.

The first. Ever.

As for Iraq, it is hilarious to see "oil for food" dragged out. Dig it, anon. After the invasion, Bush put in charge of the Iraq oil ministry mafioso cronies of Bernie Kerrick*, who engaged in more corruption IN ANY GIVEN WEEK than the maximum POSSIBLE corruption from ALL the years of oil-for-food combined. Where's your outrage?

Like when Bill Clinton sent 12 BILLION dollars into Albania as RAW CASH... nearly all of which was "lost" and unaccounted for. One billion of it left by the side of a road and "misplaced." Without any attempt to find it or hold anyone accountable.

You found that pretty upsetting when Clinton did that, didn't you? That is more cash lost than other administrations "misplaced" in the entire history of the republic. Combined! Clinton should be FRIED for doing that. Right?

Ooops. Replace "Clinton" with "Bush" and Albania with Iraq. Where's your outrage?

*Oh, Bernard Kerrick. A known mafioso who worked for the Saudi Royal House as a personal bodyguard... Bush appointed this Saudi house lackey to HEAD HOMELAND SECURITY. What? No alarm bells? And if Clinton had done that?

Sorry, you hurl rationalizations and incantations at us, and you seem completely unaware that SEMANTICALLY you are not making falsifiable statements! You ASSERT all sorts of Limbaughisms about Saddam's WMDs.... but if such facts existed, the world would know because Bush would have spent BILLIONS showing us all the evidence. Instead, you declare faith in angels atop pins.

It is like the ASSERTION that the Clinton administration was the "most corrupt ever!" You guys take this as holy writ, ignoring the fact that the GOP and special prosecutors and the Bush admin and congressional committees spent BILLIONS searching for a Clintonian smoking gun..... That's BILLIONS of our dollars, diverting scores of FBI agents from other duties before 9/11... all in desperate search of a way to send EVEN ONE Clinton era appointee to jail for malfeasance in the actual performance of official duties. The sum result? ZERO. None, nada zip.

But are you even capable of re-evaluation, in the face of facts?

Nah.

David Brin said...

CONTINUING


You writhe and spew. But in fact, every measure of national health you should want went UP under Clinton. The border patrol doubled -- as it just has under Obama -- and you writhe about Napolitano, gawd!

Dig it... Bush CRIPPLED the BP! Aren't you even curious as to why? A man with a curious mind would be INTERESTED! It turns out there's a blatant reason why dems would want better border enforcement (while talking sweetness) while the goppers would weaken the BP (while talking tough). It's actually fascinating. But the crux is YOU AREN'T INTERESTED!

You aren't here to learn anything, just to yatter Limbaughisms.

Fact. BOTH Bush Sr and Clinton reduced the military size in response to the fall of the USSR. Clinton followed suggestions of the Joint Chiefs PRECISELY and was spectacularly loved by the senior officer corps. All the generals and admirals I know say he was the best and most respectful president they remember, and ALL US BRIGADES WERE FULLY COMBAT READY when he left office.

Bush so enraged the generals that they had to revolt, in 2006. Most refused to hang his picture. They hated him with livid passion for virtually destroying the Army and reserves and saddling them with fanatic/crazy civilian staffers.

The intelligence services? Gah! They hate Bush even more!

Face it, anon. YOU KNOW NOTHING. Moreover, you cannot even take a dare. At the end of all your screeds, you still did nothing with the basic challenge. ALL metrics of national health plummeted under the GOP's misurule. They do not even try to assert otherwise. Nearly ALL metrics skyrocketed under demo rule. THAT IS FUNDAMENTAL.

If you were an honest person, you would stop trying to writhe and rationalize that blatant fact, and see it as a reason to bring complexity and subtlty and CURIOSITY to your politics.

Alas, it is sad. I had hoped we had an interesting new member here. But - guys - it was just another anonymous, drive-by spewer.

David Brin said...

Oh, regarding Limbaugh and the Foxites. The test would be simple.

Have guests on your shows who challenge you.

Simple.

Jon Stewart and Colbert regularly have conservatives on. They touts Bill Kristol's book and Bill O'Reilly and encourage their admittedly liberal audiences to branch out.

And Hannity had Colmes... a setup strawman if ever there was one, and finally tossed him.

No, these are not men interested in intellect or challenge or ideas. They spew. Some of the words they spew are polysyllabic, sure and some of them are motherhood and apple pie.

But they are spewers and their job is not reason. It is to foment civil war.

matthew said...

Anon said -
"In 2005, the New York Times (Oh my gosh!) stated that the Bush Tax cuts actually SHRUNK the Federal Deficit by $100 Billion.

Why? Well, the tax revenue was generated by HIGHER returns from the SURGING Stock Market, remember it GREW at it's greatest pace in HISTORY for 6 YEARS, and growing business income."

Note that the repeal of the Glass - Steagall Act was in 1999. A (shamefully) bipartisan act of national suicide, headed up by Phil Gramm (R) and signed into law by Bill Clinton (D). Now, look at this chart, about halfway down the page here: market oracle . Notice I use a nice conservative source to make you feel at home. Or maybe because the conclusion is so obvious that the underlying data cannot be twisted.

Note that indebtedness as a percentage of GDP jumps amazingly in 1999. Now look at your statement about the growth of the stock market over six years in the Bush presidency.... See any connection?

Yes, the stock market will grow when all sane barriers to unrestrained lending are removed... for a little while.

Or to put it bluntly, your data shows that the pro-banking industry forces in the US caused a false inflation of the stock market, predicated on the growth of debt (read: housing prices) as a percentage of our GDP.

Or, in other words, your point is crap, dear Anon.

matthew said...

Going on point by point

Anon - "Another cause of the Deficit increasing, was Bush's foray into the Prescription Drug benefit through an injection of government money. I believe they projected that program at $300 billion.

So hmm... government dabbling into healthcare under Bush= questions to explain major metrics of national health that UNAMBIGUOUSLY IMPROVED but Government dabbling into healthcare under Obama= Progress? Hmm.. how does that work?"

Well, the 2003 prescription drug benefit specifically banned the Federal Government from bargining to lower drug prices, resulting in record big pharma profits. See
Wikipedia page on 2003 Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act . This was a huge giveaway to big pharma, coupled with marginal increases in Medicare drug coverage, that resulted in record profits for drug companies. See The Truth About the Drug Companies.

Smell the manure you're shoveling yet....?

matthew said...

Quote Anon -
"20,000 NEW Federal Agents hired, which, btw, are being hamstrung by Janet Napolitano who was INFAMOUSLY opposed to the Border Patrol when she was New Mexico's governor. (Former BP Agent here.)"

You ^%$#* idiot, JN was the *Arizona* gov. See Janet Napoltano , and you didn't add your ref to your point.

Get your facts straight, you piece of trollish poo.

*matthew* lived in NM for 17 years and hates it when trolls get SW states confused.

David Brin said...

Matthew... be nice.

I'll settle for anon even trying, remotely, to address the topic. Which is to stopr armwaving excuses and show us where national health improved under the COMPLETE and total control of the GOP...

...or a single way that it DID NOT improve under Clinton.

Armwaving excuses may even be valid in one case, or two... but ALL of scores of metrics?

In fact, the attempt to appoint Bernard Keerick as head of DHS was the smoking gun. It proved that the very most extreme possible explanation for the "reversal of metrics" effect is, in fact, the correct one.

Robert said...

I still want to see "Anon" to cast aside his cloak of anonymity and create an account. If he is so sure of his views and his beliefs, then there is no need to hide who he is.

Though I suppose it's ironic that while I dislike people hiding under the cloak of anonymity on the Internet, I'm not for the "tracking" chips that were a part of the Intel processors (and which is why I purchase AMD-run computers instead). ^^

Rob H.

occam's comic said...

Just to continue the rebuttal:
"Bush REFORMED how our intelligence services operated and how we combat terror. His administration REBUILT our reliance on hard intelligence (Iraq was an error in the Clinton organization of the agency) and assets."

The Bush administration used torture to obtain false confessions that linked Al Queda to Iraq. The false confessions were used to gin up support for a war of aggression that has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths.

You know, if someone would have told me 10 years ago that torture would be an applause line for Republicans in the not too distant future, I would have said that they were nuts. It is really scary to see a return to barbarism on the part of some of my fellow americans.

Anonymous said...

"I still want to see "Anon" to cast aside his cloak of anonymity and create an account. If he is so sure of his views and his beliefs, then there is no need to hide who he is."

Lol. Why does that matter to you? It's the internet for Christ's sake. Are you going to Joe the Plumber me?

Rob:

"Here's something for you: your hero, Ronald Reagan, tried to eliminated nuclear weapons."

Yes. He did use that rhetoric during a time when it seemed like there was an increasing chance for war with the Soviet Union and a major nuclear exchange. Anyone facing that situation would use the rhetoric of elimination to tone down boiling temperatures. However, Reagan, even though he said so, was still a realist about WMD's. Obama aka Rainbows and Unicorns... not so much.

Hell, even Sarkozy, called President Obama naive for his recent statements about limiting nuclear weapons when there were at least TWO Rogue nations fervently developing them. Hell, there's a third if you count Israeli airstrikes on Syria not too long ago.

"The sticking point was a defense system nicknamed "Star Wars" which still doesn't work all that well with 20 years of technological advances."

Well, we'll never know because 1. It wasn't really a system under Reagan, but it DID spook the Russians into spending all of their money to collapse their system. (Which, I might add, under Obama we're doing the SAME thing that the Russian's did.)
2. We'll never know how well a missile defence shield would work today because Obama sold it down the river. To quote Joe Biden, "Mark my words," in 20 years you'll see a Russian expansion into Eastern Europe again because of Obama's unwillingness to assert missile defense and stand by our allies in Eastern Europe.

"If Reagan had agreed to eliminate his beloved Star Wars program... we may very well have eliminated nuclear weapons..."

Key word... is "If." (A BIG if) If you REALLY believe that nations would have given up the bomb, you're not living in reality. You're living in land of hopes and dreams, and some dreams are like rainbows, only idiots chase them. :)



"and undoubtedly pressured China into getting rid of them as well."

China would not have gotten rid of them. You don't know much about the Asian concept of "hegemon" do you? Not to mention the contentious relationship between the Chinese and Russians."

"With the three major powers having eliminated their nuclear arsenals, it is unlikely that India would have developed them... Pakistan wouldn't have had reason to,"

Another "if" statement from lala land.

"and Iran would be under a hell of a lot of added pressure concerning its own nuclear ambitions."

And why can't that happen today? Hell, it SHOULD be happening today. You have a nation whose leaders 1. Deny the Holocaust and 2. Said they'd like to destroy Israel.

I don't know about you, but nuclear weapons free world or no, ALL nations should have a bigger outcry about that.

But hey, since we're making assumptions about ME, and who I am, I'll assume that you're one of those people who is anti-Israeli and tries to assert a "relativist/post modernist" understanding of Iran's plight.

Get real.

Anonymous said...

"Dang. I asked, and anon responded.

Alas, not a single paragraph directly answered the challenge. I asked for even one metric of national health that UNAMBIGUOUSLY IMPROVED during the very long tenure when the GOP controlled every lever of american power. Without accompanying arm-wavings."

Lol. I gave you sufficient answers. I guess FACTS don't matter to you Dr. Brin. That's very, VERY sad.

Also, I never called the Clinton administration "corrupt." Don't lump me in with others. However, all of YOU are saying this of Bush. How.... partial of you guys.

Is there a little projection going on here? LMAO

"Face it, anon. YOU KNOW NOTHING. Moreover, you cannot even take a dare."

I know more than you think. LMAO and I'll judge that I know a great deal of things which you don't. Hell, after all of your responses, I'm absolutely CERTAIN of it. :)

As for the dare, I responded to it. I came on here, outnumbered and surrounded by different minded posters. The fact that I posted things you don't AGREE with, doesn't mean the shirked from attempting to answer them. :)


Also, you did NOT address my points. You diverted the conversation into other areas. You did NOT post facts refuting the statements I had given and you instead de-evolved your argument into tangents.

I provided you answers and you failed to examine them. Therefore, my responses to your inquiry stand as valid points until YOU can sufficiently examine them instead of throwing out the words "lie, torture" etc. etc. etc. Those words may work well to stir up negative emotions and perceptions, but they DON'T address the PROCESS which lead us into war, either rightly or wrongly, AFTER the fact.


Plus, I was at least open minded to address the problems where I (points at self) disagreed with Bush. You, however, remain unable to present ANY points likewise in criticism of the current administration. This, my dear Doctor, is cool-aid drinking of the highest order.

Anonymous said...

(cont)

Matthew:


Matthew: As I noted, the national DEBT did rise. Once again, what are the factors that lead to it? The Clinton Crash, 911, and War. Already addressed that.

Matthew:
Y"ou ^%$#* idiot, JN was the *Arizona* gov. See Janet Napoltano , and you didn't add your ref to your point."

Omg! You actually got one! I will admit that erred here (it was late when I wrote it.) However, Janet NapolItano (Omg! You %##$ idiot you mispelled her name! I hate when people get former Governors' names wrong!) WAS anti-Border Patrol. Hell, just the other day she...

http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2009/10/arizona-sheriff-joe-arpaio-says-he-will-continue-his-controversial-crime-suppression-operations-despite-a-department-of-homel.htm
"Well, the 2003 prescription drug benefit specifically banned the Federal Government from bargining to lower drug prices, resulting in record big pharma profits. See
Wikipedia page on 2003 Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act . This was a huge giveaway to big pharma, coupled with marginal increases in Medicare drug coverage, that resulted in record profits for drug companies. See The Truth About the Drug Companies."

And I already said that I did NOT agree with it. I know, I know, you didn't see that. Because you guys blindly follow your party, you assume that I must do so as well.

I AM stating that those of you on this board have a double standard. Under Bush=it's bad. Under Obama (which is a giveaway to Unions and Lobbyists and Trial Lawyers)=it's okay? Double standard.

Matthew, Dr. Brin, and others...
Cutting taxes DOES work.

http://www.heritage.org/Research/Taxes/bg2001.cfm

Lastly, Dr. Brin, you CONTINUE to employ, after I (points at self) addressed your inquiry, the names of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Beck, ad nauseum. Don't you have anything better to do than to return to the same old tired mantras? Its bad enough that you don't even WATCH them, but to continue to utilize THEM to rebut MY response to your inquiry is laughable.

Oh.. and P.S. I'm NOT Chris. I honestly came to comment on the book "The Postman" and I honestly WAS shocked at the tenor and tone of Dr. Brin's article.

With that said, I will admit that I've not been the nicest fellow in ratcheting down the language myself, but in all honesty and brevity, I was, and am, mighty pissed off at what was said. Do two wrongs make a right?

Absolutely not but in this case, I can live with it.

Now I'll trouble you no more.

tacitus2 said...

Well, well, well.

When I first read the article that hovers somewhere at the top of all this I was undecided as to whether delete Brin from my favorites list out of disgust or to compose a harsh screed in response.

In the end I did neither. This level of discourse is not good for me. Or for you.

Annonymous. A couple of thoughts. Pick a nom-de-cursor and use it. Otherwise it will soon be impossible to tell who is who. And stop trying to fight the entire liberal mindset singlehandedly and on all fronts. Its not good for you.

I suppose I need to prove my conservative credentials to have you listen to me. sigh. very well.

Brin's initial post as non fiction is just weird. I do hope he is not incorporating it into his upcoming novel, because as fiction it would get the editorial heave ho it deserves.

Tacitus2

Anonymous said...

Actually...

"You writhe and spew. But in fact, every measure of national health you should want went UP under Clinton. The border patrol doubled -- as it just has under Obama -- and you writhe about Napolitano, gawd!"

Doubled under Obama? What sources are YOU reading. The doubling occurred under Bush. lol. The BP HATES Obama. (Friends in the and Ex-Border Patrol). Honestly, on the BP forums they want Napolitano FIRED.

I.C.E. is angry at her as well for her new policies.

http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2009/03/28/20090328immig-ON.html

No offense, but after reading this, my appreciation for your intelligence has taken a TREMENDOUS nosedive.

"Dig it... Bush CRIPPLED the BP!" Lol. That's the most hilarious thing I've ever read. Seriously.

" Aren't you even curious as to why? A man with a curious mind would be INTERESTED! But the crux is YOU AREN'T INTERESTED!"

I'm interested in FACTS Dr. Brin, not innuendo and mantras aimed at Fox News, they lied, Halliburton, etc, etc.

It's worse than listening to a broken Aerosmith record.

lol.

NOW, I'm out. To quote your beloved Chuck Schumer, you "chattering classes" may return to your blog now.

Oh.. and... for you economists out there...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeCf5Xq0YSc

Tim H. said...

Anonymous, I remain unconvinced that Iraq was important enough that we had a dog in that fight, in 1991 or 2003. Even if they'd retained WMD. Better if we had dusted off Carter's ideas on energy independence and defunded Sadaam.

gmknobl said...

I'd say that on Anon here was just a troll.

Tim H. said...

Most likely, at least a bit more civilized than M-80s in cow pies, even id the intellectual content was similar.

Tony Fisk said...

I kind of feel that the fox has bolted after ruffling the chickens' feathers (who knows, maybe we will hear from him again in 2010?...Oh wait. He is back!).

Hit and run would be typical troll behaviour. There are certainly similarities between his behaviour and the unlamented 'huxley' of a year ago
(synopis: 'I come here seeking enlightenment and find darkness... let me show you the errors' .. proceeds to present data proving the Iraqis approve of the invasion by cherry-picking one metric from a report with a couple of dozen of other metrics showing they don't. Snootily says we can't criticise his stance because we don't understand it. Ends up flouncing off by snidely saying Brin can't debate... just after Brin has clocked off on leave)

No this isn't necessarily you, anon, but you will see that experience makes us treat you with some reserve. To date, you have shown a certain amount of substance, so I will respond with my coppers' worth.

Deficit certainly went up because of the Iraq invasion. Did it need to go up as much as it did? No.

We agree that Saddam's removal was a desirable outcome of the Iraq invasion. It appears to have been the *only* desirable outcome.

The rest was handled with such shocking disregard for the consequences that it totally negates the above benefit and has raised questions about the intentions of the Bush administration in invading.

Believe it or not, ALL modern nation states act in their interests.

Yes, but who defines what is meant by 'State'? The concern is that, under Bush, it was a lot more insular than the founding fathers envisaged. Still, you have stated that you weren't happy with the way Bush ran things either.

The gutting of the military under Clinton?
Hmmm! They seemed to handle Serbia pretty efficiently, Afghanistan went pretty well, too (Bush might have ordered it, but the plan was already drawn up)
Meanwhile, under Bush, the capacity to handle a conventional war has dwindled... to virtually nothing.
This is Clinton gutting the army?

Obama has indeed upped the border patrol
(Brin discussed the issue in May, with links, if you have had enough of his style of argument.

(You're interested in facts? So are we. And trends)

Other stuff has been handled by other people, so I'll skip to the final point:

In the end, it's your blog. I'm sure, that you will do your best to marginalize my points, increase your narrow-minded perceptions, and with your like minded readers, say that you're right under, wait for it, "self-righteous indignation" as a previous poster commented.

It is the nature of a rebuttal to counter the argument. No apologoes there. Countering the arguer is 'ad hominem' and a rather shabby tactic. To forestall it by claiming that that is what will happen to you is ingenious but irrelevant because we aren't into the either/or dichotomising here.

So far, you present an irritating but defensible viewpoint. Others have come here frothing and have yet managed to settle down. (I'm not talking about T2 BTW, who has always presented well)

You can present arguments quite well but it seems to me that the indignant label is making you squirm a lot more than I would expect from someone it clearly should not apply to. I'm keeping it handy.

In that, all I can say, is that many here fit within Voltaire's definition of madness: "To have erroneous perceptions and reason correctly from them."

Reason is a tool that can be used with equal facility by scientists and zealots. Spot the difference. (not hard)

Voltaire's definition rings true to me, but I wouldn't categorise it as madness... or maybe we're all mad? Anyway I will defend his right to say it.

'phashin' phishing for buttons to push

David Brin said...

Let me reiterate. Bush reduced operational manpower at the border. You may know some BP guys. I know the head of the Bureau.

Yes, you'll find some good old boy sergeants who adore W, despite facts. But the higher you go, in ANY professional service, the more they loathed him. The generals and admirals despised him almost to a man. The CIA hated his guts with red-hot passion.

No curiosity at all though, as to why your impressions might be diametrically opposite to fact.

In fact, the reasons are plain. The dems want LEGAL immigration because such people can join unions and eventually vote democratic. ILLEGALS do NOTHING for the dems inherent constituency. Sure, they talk goody-goody about being nice to undocumented workers. But ALL dem prexies have stiffened the BP. Always.

And ALL gopper prexies weaken it, because THEIR constituencies want cheap, union-busting labor. Hence they TALK about stiffening the border patrol, then eviscerate it.

Fact is you are very good at typing the letters "lol" and ranting that you have "the facts"... but we're not hearing anything but a rude fellow who knows nothing.

Again, I have challenged you repeatedly to NAME ONE UNAMBIGUOUS METRIC OF NATIONAL HEALTH THAT UNAMBIGUOUSLY IMPROVED UNDER BUSH. OR THAT DID NOT IMPROVE UNDER CLINTON.

You have spun and danced and writhed and capered about with this and that anecdote. But there is not a single line in which you actually attempted to meet that challenge.

We are not interested in how creative you are coming up with spectacularly implausible EXCUSES for why budgets, readiness, immigration, small businesses, middle class incomes and FIFTY other metrics plummeted under GOP rule. We are asking you to actually show us AN ACTUAL STATISTICAL MEASURE OF NATIONAL HEALTH THAT IMPROVED, UNAMBIGUOUSLY.

OR ONE THAT DECLINED UNDER CLINTON.

Blame the war? Hah! Clinton had a war. He actually worked closely with the generals, did not run roughshod over them, used excellent intelligence and diplomacy... and WON IT within 6 months, at zero impact on our readiness or budgets and with ZERO American lives lost. Leaving Europe at peace for the 1st time in 4,000 years and - oh - improving our popularity with Muslims.

That is what my friends in the flag officer ranks LIKE about well run wars. They surgically do what's necessary without repeating a draining Vietnam quagmire.

But that's just one example from among millions.
And I drift.

Bernard Kerrick was a smoking gun. The reason why EVERY measure of national health plummeted under Bush is simple. Because it was what the Saudis wanted.

Yeesh.

Come back when you can point to ONE actual non-rationalization that shows that we were well-governed under those monsters. Till then "lol" yourself to your heart's content.

I am the author of the Postman. In serveral parts of the world it is taken as an ICON and BEACON for liberation movements who want to emulate America. I have shown my patriotism in every word and deed. I've accomplished FAR more for my country than you ever have by "lol"ing and spewing hatred.

Your disrespect and dogmatism are fortunately, NOT what this country is about.

atomicsmith said...

OMGWTFLOLBBQ!!!11


Obama.

Nobel Peace Prize.

9 months into his term!?

Tim H. said...

Yes, I heard, entirely cool. Do wonder if this is partially in gratitude for the shrubbery moving to Texas.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Yeah, that's interesting. I can definitely understand why they chose him, though I do think it's a little on the early side for that. Makes me damn proud, though, and it's heart-warming to know that our reputation and good standing is starting to recover.

I also do have to wonder if being preceded by Bush had an influence on the decision... After Bush's near-complete failure at diplomacy and actually striving for peace, the bar for a stark contrast to that isn't exactly very high...

David Brin said...

Silly. They actually did him little good by doing this.

I agree, it's basically a cathartic sigh of relief, over America's return to (tentative) sanity.

Or, maybe, they want him to get it before the McVeighs come out in full force.

Tim H. said...

Michael Moore made the point better than I can, but, a gainfully employed "McVeigh" is an asset to the nation. Take care of them and Wall $treet will do fine, perhaps better than crowding to the head of the line has done for them, in the long run.

Rob said...

No, guys, honestly, as sympathetic as I am toward Obama, as excited and interested as I was during his campaign, and as hopeful as I am that many or most of his ideas will take root and flourish...

...this was a stupid, domestically and internationally damaging move on the part of the Nobel committee. It cheapens the award, and I hope Obama has the sense to turn it down.

It would be a jiu-jitsu move that might confound a few Republicans.

Or, he could take the award, donate the money away to some good cause, and use the Nobel pulpit to offer an explanation, by examples, who would have been better.

It certainly won't help the debates back home.

Ilithi Dragon said...

I agree, Rob. I'm happy for Obama, and it does make me happy and hopeful to see our reputation, etc. recovering around the world, but I think they could have found a better candidate, and this definitely won't be very helpful here at home.

Robert said...

I know people who are frothing at the mouth over this. Look, if Obama manages to convince the Taliban to put down their firearms and become a peaceful political movement within Afghanistan... or manages to negotiate an actual reasonable division of state for Palestine and Israel... or even manages to create a measure where the U.S. reduces greenhouse gas emissions... then he'll deserve being up for nomination. But for being the first black President of the U.S.? No.

Rob H.

rewinn said...

I appreciate that we as Americans think our POV is the only one that matters but, please, the award rationale is spelled out quite clearly in the official announcement.

I challenge anyone to describe one six-month period that has seen greater improvements in the march toward peace. The restoration of multilater diplomacy is a dreadful polysyllabic concept but none-the-less dreadfully important, for all that it gets fewer headlines.

We may criticize Obama because not all problems have been solved, but by that standard few prizes of any sort would be awarded.

It's quite likely that AfghanNam will undo Obama's good works, but Afghanistan is not a priority to most people in the world. If it were, we might get a few more people to help.

And Iraq? We can't even pay nations to help us there anymore. It is a concern mostly as a propaganda poster for AlQaeda.

For restoring the (still) most powerful nation on our planet to the path of multilateral cooperation, if Obama retired today, he'd have made one of the biggest positive changes ever ... it's just not the sort of bleeding firey explosion that sells ad space.

That he has not eliminated the PATRIOT ACT, Gitmo et cetera is all the greater tragedy ... but it's an AMERICAN tragedy, not a world problem.

rewinn said...

But for being the first black President of the U.S.? No.

Rob H.


------

Sir, that remark was beneath you.

Robert said...

A small aside going back to a previous debate concerning "science" in Nazi Germany... I'm curious of something in light of a recent article on Nobel Prize Winner incidents: how did three German scientists almost get Nobel Prizes if there was no scientific research in Nazi Germany?

"When the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the German pacifist journalist Carl von Ossietzky in 1936, who was at that point imprisoned in a concentration camp, Hitler ordered that no German could receive a Nobel Prize. Consequently, the German prize-winners Richard Kuhn (Chemistry, 1938); Adolf Butenandt (Chemistry 1939) and Gerhard Domagk (Medicine, 1939) were all prevented from accepting the Nobel Prize "

The entire article can be found here. (Of interest is that some wit had the audacity to put Adolf Hitler up for a Nobel Peace Prize.)

Robert said...

@rewinn: Why is that comment beneath me? Because I feel there is a greater reason for a Nobel Peace Prize than race? Because I believe that while Barack Obama has proven to be a charismatic and influential politician, that it is the American People themselves who are to be applauded for electing Obama President of the U.S.? Or because I had the audacity to say that being the first black President of the U.S., while noteworthy and historic, is not in and of itself something that deserves a Nobel Peace Prize?

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Nobel prizes are generally awarded at least 10 and often up to 30 years after the research in question. No one denies that Germany was a leader in science until Hitler took over... indeed, it had considerable momentum all the way until war clouds loomed. There is nothing inconsistent in Robert's story.

Indeed, Hitler banning Nobel acceptance is totally consistent with driving most high quality German scientists either out of the country or into meek and unprovocative fields of pursuit.

Robert said...

Okay. That makes sense. Though I am curious then... when a Nobel Prize is given for non-scientific reasons (like in the pursuit of peace via political means), what is the timeline for nomination? Because when Obama was nominated, he was not yet sworn into office and had not pursued any of the policies he later has in the pursuit of diplomatic peaceful resolution of various situations the U.S. was embroiled in.

This seems to diminish Obama's winning the Nobel Prize to a gesture much akin to earning an honorary degree at a university. (Hmm. Is that "an university" or "a university" anyway? Hell, I have a Bachelors in English Lit and I'm unsure. Someday someone is going to have to sit down with the English Grammar and give it a good haircut...) Thus the outcry over this Prize. Even Obama's supporters (of which I nominally am one, in that I support him over what the Neocons continue to try and do to America, even if I believe he's fallen a little shy of his idealistic rhetoric when running for the Presidency) feel it's not the time to give Obama this award.

Hell, what do we do if Obama manages to negotiate peace between Palestine and Israel and also talk Iran (somehow) out of its nuclear ambitions and to become more accepting of other beliefs and the like? Give him a second one?

Rob H.

rewinn said...

@ Robert :

Sir - When you claim that President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize because of his race, you betray that, at best, you have failed to read the announcement concerning the prize. Before you attribute the award to race, you must first dispose of the reasons given.

Go ahead. Quote the award announcement and argue against it.

Otherwise, we may conclude that your remark was, indeed, unworthy of a gentleman (...or gentlewoman...

rewinn said...

P.S. as to the "nomination timeline" talking point, that is easily disposed of as meaningless.

That Obama was nominated in January 2009 is not significant; THOUSANDS of people are nominated for Nobel Prizes. Anyone can nominate anyone; you can nominate me.

The DECISION to make the award was extremely recent, after his successful diplomacy in a number of areas; rather than repeat the reasons for the award, I suggest you read the press release.

Robert said...

Obama has done nothing that other U.S. presidents have not tried to do. Did President Clinton get a Nobel Prize for his efforts in Palestine and Israel? Did President Reagan get a Nobel Prize for trying to talk the Soviet Union into a total elimination of nuclear weapons?

President Carter only achieved one in 2002, after DECADES of work. In 1919, Woodrow Wilson was given the Nobel Prize for the creation of the League of Nations. And in 1906 Teddy Roosevelt was given one for negotiating peace between Japan and Russia. That's the three U.S. Presidents that I found. (There was a U.S. Vice President, Charles Gates Dawes, who earned it with Sir Austen Chamberlain for creating the Dawes Plan.)

What has Obama done that puts him up with such notaries as Roosevelt, Wilson, and Carter? He's tried, yes. But you could say that Bush tried to spread Democracy across the globe. He never earned a Nobel Prize (nor do I think he would deserve one). There are far more and far better suited people who should have gotten this prize for 2008. Let Obama get his feet wet a bit more, let him get some successes under his belt. Otherwise, it diminishes what the Nobel Peace Prize is about.

Small note: here is an interesting article by Politico which shows the politics behind Obama's earning the Nobel Prize. Now, I doubt Obama had any idea this was in the works... and I also suspect Obama is a canny enough politician to have urged the Nobel committee not to give it to him if he knew this was in the works. But this will bite Obama, and give the Republicans even more reason to oppose even the most reasonable of suggestions.

Rob H.

rewinn said...

@Robert - since you have not cited to the award announcement, we may assume that it does not support your line of argument.

In addition, let us note that many Nobel Peace Prizes are awarded in media res. For ezample Aung San Suu Kyi still has not freed her Burma from its tyranny, yet no-one can possibly criticize the justice of that award and its usefulness in forwarding her work.

Tacitus2 said...

I am at a loss to think of any figure in recent history who has attained such heights not on what he has accomplished, by what he is expected to accomplish; not by who he is, but by emphatically, who he is not.

Are we in this announcement seeing the collective raised middle finger of the world directed at Crawford Tx?


But I think we for good or ill retain just enough "tribalism" that accolades or insults to our leaders are indirectly kudos or deprecations of us all.

So as a conservative I congratulate my President on this honor. Just as I recall my progressive fellow citizens uniting in condemnation when another President had a shoe tossed at him.

As to whether this will help or harm Obama, it depends on what lies within. Will it provide much needed gravitas? Or will it aggravate hubris?

Tacitus2

Robert said...

Personally I think it would have been a crowning moment of awesome if Bush had caught that shoe in hand mid-flight. And I say that as someone who detests the Shrub. ^^

Rob H.

David Brin said...

"Are we in this announcement seeing the collective raised middle finger of the world directed at Crawford Tx?"

Of course we are! And while I feel it was a doofus, wrongheaded move that may have actually harmed Obama, the fact THAT the world feels that way about Bush shows one more reason to realize that we looked like total jackasses, for choosing such a man.

BTW, I was angry at the shoe-thrower.

occam's comic said...

After catching the shoe, the president was overheard saying
"hh- the deal came with cat like reflexes-- hh'

zaz said...

Dr. Brin said:
These jerks seem to have no awareness of the allegory of the Golden Goose.
...

But then I part company from you, vigorously. "The RIch." aren't the problem, as a monlithic class. Even Ralph Nader (a genuine putz-dingbat, but an unvenly brilliant one) says so in his new book ONLY THE SUPER-RICH CAN SAVE US. He lists two dozen "good rich" guys like Gates and Buffett. If you cannot distinguish among them, then you are part of the problem.

and my response:
I agree wholeheartedly, it was due to unfortunate wording on my part to give impression that I think of "the rich" as anything resembling a monolithic class.
Closer to my thinking, I wished to convey that the "bad guys" or even the jerks of screaming mass media, can at least imagine themselves well insulated or insured against unrest and environmental issues by virtue their relative wealth. Therefore these guys likely have little fear of killing the proverbial Goose.

I'm more forgiving of Nader than you are, he means well, but his gaffes are becoming more apparent, such as allowing the inclusion of the word "ONLY" destroy the credibility of an otherwise reasonable book title.

Sure, white-hat megalomaniacs are likely to do enormous good by aiming their power at well-chosen targets.

As often occurs, you do well waving your hands and pointing at things hiding in MY blind spots, I admit to giving insufficient thought to this:

"But there is a power center that might push for such a demolition. It is foreign, VASTLY richer than Murdoch, and has openly avowed its wish for a world they control, and without us in it."

It serves us well to understand and grapple with our domestic bogeymen, but there are always more dangerous ones lurking in dark places.


Superb post rewinn! and thanks for shining the laser pointer on the real deal! The Peace Prize rationale is so much better coming from the Committee awarding it! It's posts like yours that keep me struggling to keep up with this fast moving blog and like Dr. Brin so graciously exemplifies, suffering the trolls in the quest to increase understanding wherever it may take root.

I prefer anonymity myself, but a pseudonym is sufficient. How many Anon's are we supposed to sort out for sufficient modeling of their position? I got a blogger account just so I can at least begin to give others a point of reference and bring efficiency to discussion.

In response to this:
"I still want to see "Anon" to cast aside his cloak of anonymity and create an account. If he is so sure of his views and his beliefs, then there is no need to hide who he is."

you get this:
Lol. Why does that matter to you? It's the internet for Christ's sake. Are you going to Joe the Plumber me?

No worse troll behavior than wasting thoughtful people's time. By all means, smack me good if you catch me or my persona doing that.

BTW, guy running my local liquor store said the shoe got bid up to millions on Ebay. ;)

Robert said...

That's because the shoe missed. If it had hit, it would have been tainted irrevocably and thus been worthless. ^^

Ian said...

"Elsewhere, I mark out this pattern, showing how every hostile nation, leader or meme had to invest in this story, for a simple reason. Because Americans were clearly happier, richer, smarter, more successful and far more free than anyone else. Hence, either those darned Yanks must know a better way of living (unthinkable!)... or else they must have traded something for all those surface satisfactions. "

Interesingly, this also describes a popular view of Europe (and Australia and Canada) held by many Americans.

David Brin said...

Ian, you are not the first to conflate my words, even though the meaning is right there in the text. I spoke of "all enemies" or "every hostile nation, leader or meme".

Um...So why are you listing Australia and Europe in that category?

While many of our friends share a milder version of the decadence assumption toward America, I was not talking about them, at all. Indeed, when you focus solely upon enemies, please name one that was ever richer or happier or more free?

The logic holds, completely and top to bottom.

An aside though. How many of those allies and hope-filled nations actually OWE much of their success to the US? WOuld Australia have blossomed under Japanese rule? Europe without the Marshall Plan and protection from Stalin?

Or Japan and China and Malaysia and India, without the fast flowing spending of the AMerican consumer, and trade policies that - for the first time in all of history - favored industries in developing nations over those in the homeland of the era's "pax" empire?

(If that latter point is difficult, wrestle it with someone else here. It is an important point. Perhaps THE greatest act performed by Pax Americana and the single greatest reason for hope in the world today. Yet no one will thanks us. Ever.

Ian Gould said...

I;m sorry David, it appears I was unclear.

I was suggesting that many Americans subscribe ro a view of Europeans etc as weak, decadent, amoral and so on.

I should point out that I myself am an Australian.

David Brin said...

Ian, sorry. Yes, the one-third of America that is "red" appears to be parochial, xenophobic and very "non-cosmopolitan." Given that the Obama Nobel can have only one explanation -- an uplifted middle finger aimed at Crawford, Texas -- they will simply shrug and dismiss the opinion of the rest of the world as unimportant...

...an odd position for those who arrogate to being leaders of the world.

(Ironically, I think Pax Americana is terribly important and still desperately needed. If this premature but frenetically eager Nobel is any indication, much of the world agrees... they just want it to be the "good America.")

LarryHart said...

I was suggesting that many Americans subscribe ro a view of Europeans etc as weak, decadent, amoral and so on.


I find it completely amazing that we live in an era in which it seems perfectly logical and reasonable for Americans to scoff at Europe for being too atheistic and too pacifist.

Given the history of Europe, I'd say thank God for both of those things. And I mean that from the point of view of conservative America.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin,

Recent discussion of The Postman led me to remember something that seems strange (or perhaps ironic) now that I know what affection you have for California. When I first read the novel back in 1987, it seemed to me that Gordon's migration from Minnesota to Oregon was in many ways a typical "Go west, young man" adventure, but that such stories typically (perhaps stereotypically) end up in California, and that you must have made a conscious, affirmative decision to tweak the destination.

While I'm on The Postman here, may I also say that that was my introduction to your fiction, and that one reason I'm a fan is that I absolutely loved the notion of the university community as the good guys fighting for the continuation of civilization. Specifically, I enjoyed the fact that, while the scientists and the Holnists found it necessary to fight each other when brought into proximity, neither group had opposition to the other group as its essential "raison d'etre". Perhaps I need to explain that I've been a big comic book reader for 40 years, but I am so TIRED of heroes and villains who exist soley for the purpose of battling the other, and who can credibly say things like "You can't defeat me because you can no more exist without me than you could exist without your shadow. I am the dark mirror that reflects you."

Francois said...

This my first post after having discovered (or may re-discovered) this blog. To understand my point of view you have to know that although I am French, I have been living in the United Arab Emirates for the last 7 years. My main objection to the otherwise very interesting post of Dr. Brin, is: you are overestimating the Saudi princes.
You assume they wish to see the disintegration of the United States of America; nothing could be further from the truth. On the other hand the clerics might be more hostile to the USA, they have the moral high ground but they have not the money. There is checks and Balance in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, it just not democratic at all.
The princes are sure to loose in the event of the disintegration of the USA, the power vacuum would benefit Iran (more a problem for Qatar and the Emirates than the KSA) and the Al Qaeda. Do not forget that the original goal of the Al Qaeda was to purge the Holy Land from the corrupt and “westernized” Al Saud. Actually, the official clerics are likely to be purged with the Al Saud for being too moderate (it would be laughable if it were not tragic).
The Prince, I believe, are buying the republican mystic: military Might (good), Religious belief (although the Saudi do not like the Christians, they understand them especially the fundamentalists, they can never trust or even understand someone who profess moderate belief and atheism is even worse), denial of global warming (because the system of favor is so fluid, the second tier princes need to squeeze as much profit from the Oil industry in the short term before they fall out of favor).

Tacitus2 said...

LarryHart

I think it is perfectly American, and in keeping with the precepts of the Founders, to not want to duplicate the failings of Europe. American "exceptionalism" has a somewhat bad odor of late, although even David admits to a bit of it. We do not have to be just like them.

David, I must confess I have been toying with your oft issued challenge regards the Clinton vs. W. Bush years. You paint with such a broad brush that I think I could, to the satisfaction of this community, prove that not every aspect of American life went to hell between 2000 and 2008. And you seem to indicate, in big 'ol caps at that, that a singular example would suffice.

Now, as the challenged, I would expect a small degree of latitude with respect to the selection of weapons. That is how these matters work. And, having some real world committments stacking up, it might take me 10 to 14 days.

I don't suppose you want to scroll upward, re-read your challenge and modify it at all?

I would say that my Seconds would be in contact with yours, but as one of the very few conservative voices here, I am not sure I have a Second!

Tacitus2

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2, regarding my original comment that it's ironic that we live in an age where Americans--epseically conservative Americans--can criticize Europe for being too atheistic and too pacifist...

I wasn't really taking issue with such criticism, but rather remarking on how much has changed in order for such criticism to even come up for consideration. I think it was when the war started in Iraq that I heard conservatives complain that they couldn't get Germany to share the military load, and all I can think of is "Thank God the prevailing criticism of modern Germany is that they aren't militaristic enough!"


I think the change in Europe is for the better. And if it has led to OVERcompensation on Europe's part, if they've gone too far the other way--I think we can live with that. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, "The only thing worse than a pacifistic Europe is a NON-pacifistic Europe".

lc said...

I wonder whether Obama was NOMINATED for the Nobel Peace Prize because of the Presidential DEBATES.

David Brin said...

LarryHart - WAY cool thoughts. I, too, despise the stark images of good and evil that are seen in comix and dumb movies (see my book STAR WARS ON TRIAL.) Spielberg shows flawed men who decide to rise above themselves and do the right thing. And he shows this being done by average (or merely above-average) men.
Francois, I understand your perspective. Billions have been spent trying to convey the absurd notion that the princes are victims of the clerics and Al Qaeda, instead of the direct and obvious sponsors. But the proof is in the textbooks with which every kingdom child is raised. These texts are so virulently anti-western that they are kept hidden as state secrets. SOme of them make no secret of the long term goal of restoring Uma -- the Caliphate -- and demolishing decadent western "crusaders."

If there were true tension between the long-time allies of the roial hous and the wahh'habi priests, then why do they still intermarry, like crazy? Would not some money have gone to subsidizing clerics who preach moderation?

I do not claim that my theory is verifiably correct. But the standard model, which you expressed so well, has been pushed with a billion dollar public relations campaign. I am merely suggesting (it is my job) that other explanations are consistent and logically possible. Also, my explanation helps to explain the steep decline of the United States of America.

Am I wise to even say all of this, though. We'll see. If I suffer an "accident" or come down with cancer... well, spread the word and get a little paranoia stirred up.

Tacitus, yes! Of course my broad brush challenge is absurd! For one thing, even if (as the crackpot/paranoid hypothesis goes) our fantastically consistent decline was driven by deliberate enemy action at the top, one has only to poke a bit and find examples where that decline was stymied by a powerful force -- the skill and professionalism of our public servants. Hence, despite relentless obstacles thrown in their path by horrific neocon appointees, the IRS and state managed to corner hundreds of tax scofflaws. Even more important, the stunning skill of our officer corps managed to turn things around in Iraq, despite levels of maniacal political meddling that made Vietnam look tame.

Let me step up first. While No Child Left Behind was stupid in many ways, I'll be willing to wager that just shaking up the system resulted in some local waves of innovation. There might be "results" to cite, tho nothing spectacular. See? I am willing.

Have at.

Larry, when I lived in London in 1986, I bragged about how our legislators were independent delegates while Euro politicians tended to hew to party lines. I also said "The US has the best environmental laws on the planet." It was true then.

Argh..... irony!

LarryHart said...


Larry, when I lived in London in 1986, I bragged about how our legislators were independent delegates while Euro politicians tended to hew to party lines. I also said "The US has the best environmental laws on the planet." It was true then.

Argh..... irony!


Dr Brin, your comment evoked one of the funniest lines in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", when the detective says (in 1948) "Who needs a car in L.A.? We've got the best public transportation system in the world!"

I hope I'm not getting too fan-geeky, but the two "Startide Rising" trilogies were constant summer companions during the latter half of the 1990s, and "Earth" really spoke to me a few years back. I already mentioned "The Postman". It's a thrill to converse with you in this manner.

I was compeltely tongue-tied the when I met Dave Sim (of "Cerebus the Aardvark" comics fame) in person, and I could only wish--now tragically impossible--to have spoken just once to Kurt Vonnegut.

Tacitus2 said...

David

If you are referring to your apparently absurd challenge as, well, absurd, I suppose you and I can both engage in more useful activities than bandying about US Census stats.

Of course, many things improved between 2000 and 2008. And some got worse. Our political leadership is only one factor.
It is the natural tendency of America to move onward and upward, either helped or hindered by our leaders.

I shall stand down for the moment.

Tacitus2

Tacitus2 said...

LarryHart
I was careful not to single out the errors of 18th, 19th, 20th or 21st century europe.
Tacitus2

David Brin said...

Tacitus do NOT stand down! I consider my challenge to be an oversimplifying exaggeration... of an utterly chilling basic fact, and I will NOT let that basic fact be shrugged aside.

The core fact is that none of the predictions made by the neocon community came true, in any meaningful way, Supply Side has an almost directly REVERSE correlation with actual outcomes, and neocon rule proved to be incredibly devastating, in nearly all ways to the American Republic and western civilization.

I still would like to see examples of any large scale metric of national health that unambiguously improved during (and because of) neocon rule,

Larry thanks! I blush!

Oh guys!

http://travel.yahoo.com/p-interests-29995119

Ian said...

"But the proof is in the textbooks with which every kingdom child is raised. These texts are so virulently anti-western that they are kept hidden as state secrets."

how do you keep a textbook used to educate "every kingdom child" a "state secret"?

Deos every Saudi chuld sign their version of the Official Secrets Act on the first day of school?

I'm sorry David but I'm afraid that despite my enormous respect for your work, I fidn your thesis that the Saudi royal family are the secret foreign puppetmasters plottign the destruction of the Us simply incredible.

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Francois said...

Further to Ian objection, upon which I completely agree, I would like to ask you a question: How does the disintegration of the USA, at this point of time, further the Saudi Princes agenda? They certainly wish to work towards the world’s caliphate, if only because they see it as a good thing. They are convinced, sincerely, that a Muslim is a better, more balanced, happier individual and that if every body would submit to the word of God the world would be a better place. And they are not alone, Usually by the time of Ramadan, at least one of my Muslim friends inquire politely if I have given a thought at converting, but in the Emirates it never goes much further than that. However I cannot see how they can be so deceived that the disappearance of the United States is good for them. They need the western world to keep importing Oil, not only to pay for their standard of living but also to buy influence in the various Muslim communities around the world. Most importantly without the US to keep in check Iran, he independence of the Arab countries along the Gulf would be a thing of the past, it is likely that, even, the Eastern Province (Damam) will turn in a Iranian protectorate, while the rest of the KSA will be left to deal with the internal crisis. Even If the old power structure survive (and I agree both the Prince and the “Approved” clerics are part of it and complicit), not all princes and their family will survive.
If you are looking for puppet masters, I suggest you look a little further East wise. So far Iran (and their Allies Hezbollah and Hamas) have been very apt at having their enemies blundering where they want them to be. I would not discount that the Iranian are getting the Saudi to bank a policy that in the long term will hurt them.

LarryHart said...


LarryHart - WAY cool thoughts. I, too, despise the stark images of good and evil that are seen in comix and dumb movies (see my book STAR WARS ON TRIAL.) Spielberg shows flawed men who decide to rise above themselves and do the right thing. And he shows this being done by average (or merely above-average) men


My complaint was very specific. More than simply "stark images of good and evil", I was objecting to the heroes and villains whose sole motivation in life seemed to revolve around fighting each other. And it's worse when the characters actually behave as if they CAN'T defeat each other because without the other, their own life is purposeless.

To me, a hero's victory over a villain is meaningless if that villain wouldn't exist without the hero in the first place.

That's why I loved the fact that "The Postman" presented Gordon as joining the University community when he encountered them, and battling the Holnists when he encountered them, but that neither of those encounters were sought intentionally or were presented by the author as his "inevitable destiny" or anything like that. He might never have encountered the Holnists, but he did and stuff naturally followed.

In the bad version of what I'm talking about, the book would have begun with Gordon sharpening his sticks and lock-and-loading a gun or two for the express purpose of hunting Holnists (who had undoubtedly killed his father or some such). And there'd be an early scene of Gen. Macklin briefing Colonel Bezoar about "A new enemy that must be dealt with--Gordon Krantz." Oh, and Bezoar's woman would be listening in, thinking "At last, a real man!"

Thank you for not writing THAT book.

David Brin said...

Ian says: "Deos every Saudi chuld sign their version of the Official Secrets Act on the first day of school?"

Unnecessary. The sanctions are known and extremely severe. And foreigners are watched carefully.

"I'm sorry David but I'm afraid that despite my enormous respect for your work, I fidn your thesis that the Saudi royal family are the secret foreign puppetmasters plottign the destruction of the Us simply incredible."

Alas, you don't get what this is about. I am "contrary Brin." It is my job to point out when and where people are accepting a Standard Model too readily. I do not actually believe the puppet masters hypothesis. But I feel that it so blatantly fits the facts that it seems bizarre that nobody will even glance in the general direction of any alternatives. Not even when the alternative fits every aspect of motive, means and opportunity and coincides with clearly satated dogmas and goals.

Francois, you assume that smart people always work out in detail the consequences of their actions. But the root posting (above) shows that the American Right is incapable of doing exactly that. They assume they will benefit from a shattering of US society into civil war, when they actually cannot.

Likewise, every effort of the Bush clade (at minimum close pals with the r'oil house, and very likely much closer than that) has eviscerated every American effort toward energy independence. Had the US pursued the research and efficiency methods proposed 20 years ago, we would be safer, less dependent upon Gulf sources, less beholden to bond holders... and those Gulf sources would be much less rich than they are.

You seem to think my theory would amount to killing the golden goose. But how, in even the slightest way, has a single Saudi interest been set back, across the last 14 years? The "weakening" of the US has been precisely in ways that now only sap our strength and vigor, but also make us deeper addicts to the suppliers of our addiction?

You seem to think I envision "destruction" of the US. But no, enslavement is sufficient. And slavery can take many forms.

Sorry, the bogey man of Iran serves many purposes. But the Saudis have a far greater fear than the current Ayatollahs. What they dread most is that reformer/modernists might take over in Iran. The unleashed super-educated population, if it joined the West in restored friendship, would be their worst nightmare.

Larry, if I ever write crap like that, kick me.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Dr. Brin, if you ever write crap like that, I do believe that there will be no shortage of feet ready to provide rehabilitative kicking of your shins.
} ; = 8 )

On a similar note, I hate superheroes, and most specifically, the notion that superheroes are a good thing. Dr. Brin has more accurately described why I hate superheroes in his articles on fantasy and science fiction, like those comparing Star Trek and Star Wars, and examining The Lord of the Rings, than I ever could.

Now, I don't have a problem with super-humans, and indeed, I'm currently (attempting) to write a novel series that revolves around the super-human nature of the main character, and her species, but there is a difference between someone having abilities superior to those of a human being, and occupying the role of a superhuman, existing effectively above the law, with no real accountability, distributing justice by his/her own judgment, as some kind of deified demigod. To use one of my favorite quotes of all time (from the movie Watchmen, which I found to be interesting but not particularly outstanding beyond the darker light it cast on the idea of superheroes), which is quite applicable: "If that statement starts to chill you after a couple of moments' consideration, then don't be alarmed. A feeling of intense and crushing religious terror at the concept indicates only that you are still sane."

If I ever get my book series published, I think you might enjoy it, Dr. Brin, or at least some of the main themes, since much of the core of the story is of taking magic from the hands of a few who practice it in secret, with ultimately decaying results regardless of their intentions, and placing it in the hands of the many, to be used as an open and public tool (and indeed, you have been one of the main inspirations for those themes).

iDshes: MP3- and MPEG-playing, smartphone dinnerware sets recently developed by Apple. An app to select music based on the food or beverage the dish is currently holding comes pre-loaded.

David Brin said...

Sounds way cool, Ilithi. Good luck and joy in writing it!

Ilithi Dragon said...

Thanks! I'm still very early in the process (I just finished what I am presently calling chapter 5 last night), but I already know where the main arc and most of the major details are going to go from start to finish, and have for some time. I've had fun with it so far, though my biggest challenge has been finding the time to work on it.

LarryHart said...

Oh, and since I'm turning this into the "Postman" letter column, let me add, Dr. Brin, that it worked much better that Nathan Holn was already dead than it would have to have him as a living presence out there. I presume you thought about it both ways and made a specific decision to go with the story as you wrote it.

Oh, and was the name NATHAN Hold by any chance inspired by Nathan Bedford Forrest?

Tony Fisk said...

Five chapters, eh?
With the draft of one short story that's been rattling around for ages, you're doing far better than me, Ilithi!
(Meanwhile, my daughter narrates Icelandic* sagas about her toys and I hear that a nephew has completed the first draft of a book, so I'd better do something before the whipper-snappers catch up!!)

* well.. Greenlandic, actually. Don't ask!!

I never really followed comics, but can see the problem with perpetually perfect super-heroes saving the world from perpetually imperfect super-villains. (indeed, this may be why I never followed comics!?)

Having said that, there do seem to be a few more comics around these days that are willing to extend and develop characters over the course of a story. Gaiman's 'Sandman' series in particular, has a multi-threaded narrative: one of which could be interpreted as: can a God evolve? (answer: no...and yes. Definitely *not* one for the kids, BTW!!)

suptic: when superman goes bad

Tim H. said...

If memory serves, didn't Clinton appoint an arabic speaker to serve in Saudi Arabia? And the Saudis sent him back for fear of picking up opinions outside of the government.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Tony, don't feel bad. This isn't the first attempt I've made at writing a book, though it probably is the furthest I've gotten so far. This is probably the eighth or ninth book that I've actually tried to write since I was fifteen, and only one of I think three that got beyond the first chapter. Whether or not this will meet with significantly more success than my previous attempts has yet to be seen, though I have given myself some more incentive with this one by posting it to a private forum shared with a few close friends, in an attempt to try and get myself to continue writing regularly (and for the peer review aspects).

As for comics... I never really got into them much, either, though part of that was a lack of exposure to them. I still have yet to hear of a superhero story that assume, on some level, the inherent right of the superhero to keep his/her abilities to him/herself, and his/her inherent right to be above the law by nature of being a superhero, except maybe Hancock.


Tim H., I seem to recall hearing something about that, too, though I can't remember any specifics.

Tony Fisk said...

I hadn't heard that tale. It makes an interesting contrast to the Chinese allowing Kevin Rudd to address Beijing University... in fluent Mandarin!

What is the arabic term for 'Zengyou'?

Francois said...

What is the arabic term for 'Zengyou'?
Habibi (Sincere in the friendship rather than honest)

Tacitus2 said...

Francois

I am a very long way from fluent, but I think "habibi" translates roughly to "sweetie", a rather diminutive form of friendship. Guys used it in speaking to their donkeys. I got the impression it would work talking for to women, but if you think I am going to try that in rural Egypt, well.

"Shadeer" might be more what you want for friend. "Shadeerkee" being "my friend".

Anyway, I made it back home without needing to be bailed out by the embassy or anything!

Tacitus2

Tony Fisk said...

'Sweetie', eh? (or 'how to make an ass of yourself')

as in: 'We want Australia to be a sweetie to China'?)
That puts a different interpretation (literally!) on why Rudd's speech was received so well by University students.

'Ich bin ein Berliner'
(lit: 'I am a donut' ..according to legend at least...except it seems 'berliners' are only donuts to non-Berliners and... Oh dear! This is getting way too involved for me!!)

flarg: badly cooked flarn (or is it a bad Minbari cooking flarn?)

Rob said...

Regarding "Berliner", they're called "Berliner" in the places in Switzerland and Germany where I once lived. But the Berliner know the berliner as a fried pastry.

To every other German in that country on that day, though, the Kennedy gaffe was retranslated correctly in every non-contemptuous German's head to the correct usage, and the mistake was instantly forgotten. They knew what he meant, and they cheered him on, as I recall reading in my history books.

Tony Fisk said...

Yes, I think it was one case where you could have one's cake and eat it as well!

(ie: relish the intention and the alternate meaning)

Francois said...

I cannot Speak forr Egypt, but here in Dubai Habibi is more than "Sweetie". It is used among men to mark a long friendship as in " Francois, Habibi, my brother; do you need help with your tyre" [Yesterday 2:15 pm]. Used by Iraqi and Emirati alike (never heard it from a lebanese though, when the lebanese use it is for a child).
Shadeer is more formal, I hear mostly at 3rd person. Mostly "[May]I introduce Francois, he is friend of mine"
That's based on my experience locally in the Emirates.

Francois said...

I forgot to state that I am not fluent in arabic either (it is hardly a necessity here) but I put some effort into learning and understand most of what is said when Arabic is spoken in front of me. I do not speak and do not read very well (like a 5 year old, letter after letter).

Sociotard said...

For a fun comic satiring hollywood's standard brand of science fiction, try this:

http://dresdencodak.com/2009/09/22/caveman-science-fiction/

Gilmoure said...

Tony Fisk said...
(Meanwhile, my daughter narrates Icelandic* sagas about her toys and I hear that a nephew has completed the first draft of a book...)


Daughter (just turned 9) has taken to using a digital camera, toy ponies, and her computer and making Pony War comics. I help her out with Photoshop, to create special effects (beams, lightning, and fire) but she does the rest. She figured out the green screen process herself, after having trouble removing background objects too.

So far, her stories are usually about one pony who finds something that gives her powers and then the pony decided that she wants all the candy or baby ponies or such. The rest of the regular ponies then work together to capture the bad pony and tell her why she's bad. Pretty basic story telling. Is interesting how girls seem to think about working in a group to begin with. Growing up, I always pictured a single hero saving the day. Weird!

***

Is it wrong that I now hear the word 'habibi' in Flo's truck stop waitress accent?

Tacitus2 said...

Interesting, Franscois, but I suppose not surprising. In America for instance it would be considered quite acceptable in the South to refer to a woman as Sugar, or Darlin' or Honey. I think in New York or San Francisco it would get you in trouble.

My Arabic is rudimentary, one major objective being successful tours of the markets (souk). Eventually my son and I worked out a good routine. We would jabber away to each other in Klingon, ignoring the merchant's appeals to us in multiple tongues. If we were interested in something I would say, no doubt with poor grammer, "anna min Tegwar". This threw them for a loop. These guys are very good, but do not speak Tegwari. We could browse unharassed, eventually switching to German for actual negotiations.

Tegwar is an acronym for The Exciting Game Without Any Rules, from the classic baseball book, Bang the Drum Slowly.

Tacitus2

Ilithi Dragon said...

Tacitus2: LOL! Klingon language skills FTW!

Rob said...

Yes, I think it was one case where you could have one's cake and eat it as well!

(ie: relish the intention and the alternate meaning)


The irony being, compared to other pastries you can get over there, berliner cakes just aren't all that great...

I'm sorely tempted after those stories to learn Klingon, though I imagine that Deep South Texan would probably also do the trick. :-)

ingeteni -- uniquely shaped pasta laced with too much castor oil

David Brin said...

Erudite Tacitus!

Francois, I just wrote a scene set inside the Grand Mosque, when the Black Stone comes alight. Think you might want to read/critique it?

Another jocular comic. ener

http://www.slowpokecomics.com/strips/

then append (before return)

terminatrix.htmlterminatrix.html

Ilithi Dragon said...

Hahahaha! Nice! I saw another comic/political cartoon with a similar bent the other day... I'll see if I can dig it up again.

LarryHart said...


So far, her stories are usually about one pony who finds something that gives her powers and then the pony decided that she wants all the candy or baby ponies or such. The rest of the regular ponies then work together to capture the bad pony and tell her why she's bad. Pretty basic story telling. Is interesting how girls seem to think about working in a group to begin with. Growing up, I always pictured a single hero saving the day. Weird!


Hey, I've got a seven-year-old daughter who writes her own stories too. I overheard her playing ponies with her best friend, and my kid felt it necessary to steer the story toward "And then a big hurricane came up and blew the ponies out to sea." The friend wanted to know why something bad had to happen, and my seven-year-old patiently explained that that's what makes the story interesting.

As for the superhero thing, someone else mentioned Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" series, which is where I had it explained to me that having secret powers is a boys' fantasy, and the equivalent girls' fantasy is more like "Some day, my real parents--the king and queeen--will show up and make it clear to everyone that this mundane life is just an act."

Tony Fisk said...

Ponies are a common theme.
(My daughter throws in pandas... and turtles... *lots* of turtles!! Without any recourse to Pratchett!!!)

Girls can enjoys tales of secret powers as much as boys... try 'My Secret Unicorn' or 'Stardust' series.

David Brin said...

On to next post!

Jon Sills said...

Jumping back a bit...

"Or, he [Obama] could take the [Nobel Peace Prize] award, donate the money away to some good cause, and use the Nobel pulpit to offer an explanation, by examples, who would have been better."

Well, we're halfway there - he's already donating the money to charity...

Incidentally, I do take exception with those who say, absolutely, that Obama has done nothing to promote the cause of peace. It has to do with the same issue I used to have with the people who said, absolutely, that Obama had done nothing during his short time in the Senate.

You're probably familiar with the Nunn-Lugar bill, which authorized the US government to spend money to either acquire nukes from the nations of the former Soviet Union, or assist them in the destruction of said nukes, in order to keep them off the black market. However, you may be less familiar with the Obama-Lugar Bill, which did the same thing for "conventional" explosives, and shoulder-launched antitank and antiair weapons. It proved less successful, because it had no mechanism to force Congress to actually appropriate money for its purpose, but contrary to those absolutist statements, it was at least something...

sabose: when attempts at verbosity are stymied by a stutter.

WiseLalia said...

Dear David,

Please find a way to exclude opportunistic messages, and non-English messages, so that this can actually an idea-focused dialogue.

Thanks.

ravenclaw-eric said...

I would say, from speaking to them, that the "blue" side is the one that never hears a dissenting voice. I live in deep "red" territory myself, and, trust me, we get a lot of the "blue" point-of-view from the newspapers and the television screen.