Friday, January 29, 2010

Treason Against Conservatism

I beckon everybody to go visit the blog of one of the most incisive political observers around, Russ Daggatt.  In this posting, Russ points out that the current GOP lockstep-disciplined partisanship has nothing to do with conservatism, or patriotism, or deliberation or governance... or even dogma.  

For example, just yesterday, the Republicans in the Senate voted in perfect formation against re-instituting "pay-as-you-go" budget rules that require tax cuts or spending increases be matched by revenue measures that keep the effect debt-neutral.  Or, as Daggatt's put it:

It was these rules, which prevailed during the ‘90’s, that were largely responsible for the record budget surpluses inherited by President Bush. And it was Bush and a Republican Congress allowing those rules to lapse in 2002 that cleared the way for the record budget deficits that followed.  The measure passed the Senate today 60-40, on a straight party line vote.  Again, not a single Republican voted for this fiscal discipline.  Not one.  Not Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins or Mr. Fiscal Responsibility, Judd Gregg or “Maverick” John McCain.
 
As I’ve noted before, over 75 percent of our national debt was racked up under just three Republican presidents – Reagan, Bush I and Bush II.  That is the debt that we must pay down or continue to finance with interest.  The interest (and the interest on the interest) just for that Republican debt will amount to trillions of dollars over the next decade.  Is there some symbolic message that we are supposed to glean from the refusal of Republicans to allow the US government to finance the debt accumulated under their leadership?

Or, as President Obama noted in his speech:
 
At the beginning of the last decade, the year 2000, America had a budget surplus of over $200 billion.  By the time I took office, we had a one-year deficit of over $1 trillion and projected deficits of $8 trillion over the next decade.  Most of this was the result of not paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program.  On top of that, the effects of the recession put a $3 trillion hole in our budget.  All this was before I walked in the door.

Go read Daggatt's whole piece.  It shows what fools the democrats are, for not realizing what the real issue is.  The issue that could let them attack the republicans where it would hurt them most -- as traitors to conservatism.

 I've said it before.  The state of Arizona is drawing half of its electricity from coils and magnets that are placed around the spinning, in Barry Goldwater's grave.  I could list three dozen simple statements or Fox-simple talking points that would eviscerate the GOP as having betrayed the very cause they pretend to represent.  Here's just one.

Conservatives supposedly revere Military readiness and spread the truism-lie than Bill Clinton undermined it.  But the US Officer Corps admired Clinton and despised Bush.  Moreover, at the end of the Clinton Administration, ALL of our US Army brigades were rated "fully combat ready."  That's 100% of them.

At the end of the Bush administration, the number that were rated combat ready was 0%.

All right, such blips are simplistic.  But that's what we're down to, now.  And a media campaign that racked up and fired two dozen such bullets, all at once, would make it hard even for Fox to spin them all away. Moreover, if corporations, many of them foreign owned (Fox is up towards 10% held by Saudi princes) are going to blitz America with political ads, then it is time to get gut-simple in response.

This is their weak point.   Show the republicans' betrayal OF conservatism... and then hurl a hundred blue-dog, retired military officers straight at GOP reps in their home turf, where they think their gerrymandered districts keep them safe. 

Oh, just for the record: blue dogs aren't the problem, they are the solution.  The way to form a new home for America's tens of millions of decent conservatives, allowing them to finally abandon a party that has gone stark, jibbering mad.



=======

Oh, one big point.  The democratic caucus in the US House of Representatives can change the game, now.  If Nancy Pelosi can get them to simply PASS the Senate's Health Care Bill... promising to amend it later.

Then the dems will have a victory and momentum, Obama will be "formidable" again, the GOP can be blamed for not deliberating to improve the bill... and let Fox howl.

If Pelosi cannot do this one simple thing, then she should be replaced.

  And new democratic candidates should step forward right away, in the primaries, to challenge those who couldn't do this one thing for their party and their nation.

 

 

79 comments:

Stefan Jones said...

I can't watch streaming media at work, but I'm told that Obama's Q&A with GOP congressional leaders made the latter look rather silly:

http://cspan.org/Watch/Media/2010/01/29/HP/R/28993/President+Speaks+at+GOP+Retreat.aspx

Robert said...

Sorry, I disagree with you about the Blue Dogs, but only in part. The Blue Dogs are currently a source of corruption and cronyism, but this is due to the power that was given to them because of the supermajority. By negating any need to negotiate with Republicans, the Blue Dogs were able to force their own beliefs down the throats of the Democratic Senate. However, the elimination of the supermajority will force Democrats to talk to their Republican brethren, at which point one of two things will happen:

First, in theory actual dialogue will occur, and we may see more balanced legislation be passed. I state in theory because prior to the supermajority, Republicans were already drawing lines in the sand and refusing to play ball. They were insisting all or nothing.

Second, if Republicans as a block refuse to play ball and negotiate honestly, then government will grind to a halt. Democrats will then have a legitimate weapon against Republican Senators and may end up winning more seats and regaining a supermajority. At this point the Republican Party will start dying a final death and very likely a fiscally conservative party founded by the non-party-affiliated Tea Bag organizations will form.

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

Ilithi Dragon said...

And here I was hoping that Obama calling the goppers on that to their face the other night might actually stir them to do something just to prove him wrong.

It was a minuscule hope, admittedly, but it was still there.

That said, maybe this will finally convince my parents that, while the Dems are certainly typical politicians (relative to the global and historical scale), the Reps have gone stark raving mad...


Rob, I'm hoping for (and betting on) the latter occurring. I'm afraid, though, of the damage that will be done by a GOP that refuses to budge on anything that is not exactly what they want. How many more critical bills like the debt expansion bill that just barely cleared yesterday, or the wartime spending bill the goppers tried to filibuster just before Christmas are coming up for vote in the next few to several months? How many of them can we withstand being shot down by a nihilistic GOP before the country, and the world, begins to suffer grievous wounds?

If that happens, I'm fairly confident that the GOP will be effectively pulling the trigger on the other end of the shotgun barrel they're chewing on (I'd wager around 60%-70% odds that enough of the population gets pissed enough to wake up and clear a few goppers out and restore at least a minimum Dem supermajority, and if that happens, a 60% chance that the GOP and GOP momentum and favor with the population will be seriously damaged), but at what price would that come to the nation? What damage would we suffer to cut out, or at least curtail that cancer? And what if continued/magnified GOP obstinacy is NOT enough to swing the polls in November? If we have to withstand another two years of GOP stonewalling and complete dysfunction of government, what then?

That's what really scares me now...

David Brin said...

Go read daggatt's blog, guys....

Tacitus2 said...

I am having some difficulty finding an actual text of the "pay as you go" bill.
We need to be cautious....the Devil is so often residing at his usual address, in the details.

Do you honestly think the Dems would have any interest in mandating that they raise taxes to account for the notable deficit spending in the current budget cycle?
That's not the third rail of American politics, that's opening the door of the nuclear reactor and relieving oneself on the glowing graphite rods!
Tacitus2

Tacitus2 said...

Ah.
I found it. Darned if I can tell if it actually means anything. It seems to mostly be about reporting what things cost. I do not see anything there about mandating budget neutrality.
This is actually an amendment to the debt ceiling bill, so I suppose opposition to one means opposition to both.
And Reid introduced it, which makes me suspicious from the get go.
Tacitus2

David Brin said...

How can any citizen judge such things at a passing reading. All I can say is the dems have credibility, because the last pay-go led to surpluses.

Tacitus2 said...

And as it has always been, thus shall it always be. David, in your own way you are more conservative than I am.

It is one of your more endearing features imho

Tacitus2

Tim H. said...

I guess these days "Bread & Circuses" have been replaced by "Tax cuts & War", and the theme music for conservatism as portrayed by Fox would be "Free Ride".

"anglevoi", peeping Tom with a mirror?

Robert Leyland said...

It's not often I agree with you 100%, but this time I sure do!

keep up the good work!

cheers,
Robert L

Stefan Jones said...

John Scalzi dug up this nugget:

"It occurs to me that the arguments for recent GOP successes are rather like Republican arguments concerning our wars abroad. Bear with me. What I mean is that Republicans have been treating temporary, tactical political victories as if they were far more significant, strategic victories, when, in fact, they have no political strategy worth mentioning. This is how many Republican hawks have approached problems in Iraq and Afghanistan. Especially in Iraq, the strategy has always been unclear, unrealistic or even non-existent, so there is great emphasis on finding tactics that “work” to make a basically incoherent policy seem successful on the surface.

The Republican glorification of the “surge” is a case in point. A change in tactics was widely hailed on the right not only as a “new strategy,” which showed that the people saying this did not understand what strategy was, but most Republicans took it to be a vindication of the entire war. Tactical success later matters more to them than the strategic folly they committed earlier. It is almost as if resisting Obama tooth and nail counts for more to them than the utter failure of their time in government, and they fully expect to be rewarded with a new chance at governing on account of their blocking maneuvers. As time goes on, however, the limits of this approach become clear. Having no understanding of strategy and no definition of the long-term goals to be achieved, they are ultimately not going to succeed in any remotely enduring way. Tactical victories simply delay the final reckoning and prevent the recognition that the policy or agenda is bankrupt and useless.
...
Is the GOP in a worse position than a year ago? On the surface, no, it isn’t. Once we get past the surface, however, the same stagnant, intellectually bankrupt, unimaginative party that brought our country to its current predicament is still there and has not changed in any meaningful way in the last three years. Why would it? The party’s leaders have no clue, its pundits are reveling in the luxury of opposition, and its rank-and-file has been whipped into such a state of agitation over their own impotence that they cannot see that they are led by people who will ignore and abuse them the moment they are no longer needed to win elections. It may seem that the GOP has derailed the majority’s agenda, but in reality it is the GOP that went off the rails long ago and has yet to begin to recover."

Where did it appear?

Ian said...

Robert wrote: ...the elimination of the supermajority will force Democrats to talk to their Republican brethren, ...


But wher's the incentive for their Republican brethren to talk to them.

Total obstrcutionism (and we know the Democrats talked at length to at least one Republican Senator - Snowe - on health care) has produced great electoral results for them.

why would they desert a successful formula?

Ian said...

"I guess these days "Bread & Circuses" have been replaced by "Tax cuts & War", and the theme music for conservatism as portrayed by Fox would be "Free Ride"."

Only one thing worse than a tax-and-spend liberal, a borrow-and-spend conservative.

Tacitus2 said...

Another try at linking....if it works it will be a first!

foundation?

thought provoking if it works.
curse provoking if it does not!

Tacitus2

David Brin said...

Alas, though he makes great points, Scalzi misses the core.

This is about the American Civil War, Part III. The reds do not deal in facts anymore, only narratives, stories, anecdotes. Hence, Bill Clinton "destroyed the military" even though the generals respected him, his war was a spectacular success, and all our units were left in perfect readiness.

Hence, Obama is a spendthrift, budget destroying socialist, despite 3/4 of all American debt being accrued by Reagan and both Bushes, and the utter failure of a single supply side prediction, and even 75% of OBAMA's deficit is directly attributed (by neutral agencies) to the Bush tax-gifts to the rich.

You could recite these facts, and they would not change the narrative.

Obama, going to plead reason at the GOP caucus, is like Abe Lincoln appealing to the seceding states to at least let him enter office and negotiate and actually DO something worthy of their grievance and betraying their sworn oaths.

The situation, states, personality traits and basic cast of characters are precisely the same, with one difference.

Both confederate insurrections were superficially about Know-Nothing populism in defense of the indefensible. But deeper, they were both about the protection of the wealth and privileges of a narrow, inherited oligarchic class.

The difference, this time, is that the Fox-propaganda isn't pouring through a few hand cranked newspapers. This time, the monopoly of treason-messages pours from the air. Oh, and this time it is financed by foreign powers that want America to fail.

David Brin said...

And ultimately... Foundation's Triumph?

;-)

Alas, "Foundation" also correlates with Al Qaeda

Catfish N. Cod said...

Dr. Brin:

How can any citizen judge such things at a passing reading. All I can say is the dems have credibility, because the last pay-go led to surpluses.

CITOKATE: PAYGO is not a solely Democratic initiative -- it was first passed in '90, under #41. It was re-upped in '93 (pure Dem) and '97 (Clinton-Gingrich era). It is true, however, that its abandonment in '02 was pure GOP.

@Scalzi via Stefan: "What I mean is that Republicans have been treating temporary, tactical political victories as if they were far more significant, strategic victories, when, in fact, they have no political strategy worth mentioning."

No, it's worse than that. The Republican Party apparatus no longer have any concept of strategy, under that name or any other. There is a hole in their minds, to quote Straczynski. Their last strategy formulation, that of DeLay and Rove, was simply that by repeated and overwhelming combinations of bludgeons, gerrymanders, and tactical victories, the Democrats could be sufficiently cowed as to institute a one-party Republican state. However, in the process, the tactical victory was elevated to the epitome of political art in Republican circles. A generation of politicians has now been trained without any awareness of even the possibility of having a larger overarching theme or strategy. The result is plainly visible to anyone with eyes to see; the GOP could do nothing on Friday but offer lame gotcha questions to the President, which he deflected and riposte'd with ease.

This is why I wept when DeLay ousted Gingrich; as vicious a tactician as he was, Gingrich was the last leader of the GOP to have any sort of strategy or practical vision for American governance at all. Since then it has been nothing but expediency uber alles.

Back to Dr. Brin:

"This is about the American Civil War, Part III. The reds do not deal in facts anymore, only narratives, stories, anecdotes."

This is, in truth, just another face of the same coin. A strategy is born when a overarching narrative -- a vision -- is solidly connected at many points to underlying facts that make it possible to be translated, however imperfectly, from fantasy to reality. Tactics, on the other hand, do not require facts at all; since they are short-term only, one may maneuver away before the fact-checkers catch up with you. Instead, political tactics rely on base emotion. Clinton reduced the size of military, and so he "destroyed" it even though the military he left behind was more capable than the one he inherited. It felt like it was "destroyed" to discharged grunts, and so it had the ring of "truthiness".

Obama didn't walk into the lions' den because he thought the lions would play nice. There are a few 'pubs that actually do remember how to do it, but the current leadership would rather die first (and Ai'les wouldn't allow it anyway). No, it was to show the border states, um I mean independents, which side here is the one pushing the conflict -- and which one has the long-term upper hand. The GOP think they're 'doing something right' when all they are doing is riding resentment that economic recoveries are not instant. When things finally do recover -- and it's not a question of if or when but how much -- where will their nihilism leave them?

David Brin said...

Obama's visit to the Republicans' gathering would only make sense if it were followed with "all right, we tried, one last time."

And Pelosi then passed the Senate's bill.

It is the ONLY Judo move on the table. It would make the dems formidable again, energize them. There is no excuse for not doing this.

Ian said...

"Hence, Obama is a spendthrift, budget destroying socialist, despite 3/4 of all American debt being accrued by Reagan and both Bushes,..."

Hands up everyone who knows the projected ten-year cost of Bush's Medicare-drug benefit.

Where were the teabaggers when it was passed? How many of them read it?

Ian said...

"No, it's worse than that. The Republican Party apparatus no longer have any concept of strategy, under that name or any other. There is a hole in their minds, to quote Straczynski. Their last strategy formulation, that of DeLay and Rove, was simply that by repeated and overwhelming combinations of bludgeons, gerrymanders, and tactical victories, the Democrats could be sufficiently cowed as to institute a one-party Republican state."

I believe it was Cheney who declared that "Reagan proved deficits matter."

That statement only makes sense if you regard winning election as the only criterion for what matters.

David McCabe said...

On CERT and readiness:

The Willamette Week, an alternative paper here in Portland, ran a story on the threat of a magnitude-9.0 quake in Portland.

They mentioned NET, our local chapter of CERT,so beloved of our host. (We already had a program called SERT, so they used the name NET instead.)

Sadly, the paper didn't make it clear that anyone can and should become a member of NET with just a few hours of free training. I will write them a letter in the hopes of raising awareness.

For my part, I'm just waiting for a semester where I don't have to take a class at a conflicting time with the training. As this article points out, Portland is at a high risk of a major quake, and isn't prepared.

David Brin said...

Great Dave.

Catfish, yeah.

Gingrich is tragic, since he's obviously smart with SOME notion of wanting a better America... but also with a dirtied and thoroughly compromised set of terminally leveraged and sin-laden principles.

He could be important again, the moment he had an epiphany, the way Goldwater did... but he won't.

LarryHart said...

David Brin said:

Alas, "Foundation" also correlates with Al Qaeda


How so?

(If that was a joke or a pun, I don't get it)

I am reminded, though, (for no particular reason) that one of the names Paul went under in "Dune" was Usul, which supposedly meant "the base of a pillar", which is another literal translation of "al Quaeda".

LarryHart said...


Hence, Obama is a spendthrift, budget destroying socialist, despite 3/4 of all American debt being accrued by Reagan and both Bushes, and the utter failure of a single supply side prediction, and even 75% of OBAMA's deficit is directly attributed (by neutral agencies) to the Bush tax-gifts to the rich.

You could recite these facts, and they would not change the narrative.


Unfortanatly, this is all too true. Notice how "We didn't get hit by terrorists on Bush's watch" is firmly part of the narrative now, with 9/11 ITSELF being relegated to "Clinton's fault" or "No one could have seen it coming, but once we noticed them, then...".

I have an online acquaintance who is a full-blown conservative Christian from Texas, and he firmly believes that the economy was doing great under Republican rule until 2006, and that the precipitous declines since then are directly attributable to the DEMOCRATS regaining power, first in Congress and then in the White House. It seems inconcievable to me that anyone can believe such things (I'm more of the opinion that True CONSERVATIVES should be outraged at Bush fiscal policy), but he will hold fast until his dying day, and he's younger than I am.

Ian Gould said...

Larry,

Al Qaida translates literally as "The Base of The Tower" or "The Foundation".

Soem peopel have suggested a deliberate reference to Asimov's First Foundation - a tiny disregarded group that goes onto conquer a mighty empire because the forces of history are on their side - but that's almost definitely spurious.

Ian Gould said...

"I have an online acquaintance who is a full-blown conservative Christian from Texas, and he firmly believes that the economy was doing great under Republican rule until 2006, and that the precipitous declines since then are directly attributable to the DEMOCRATS regaining power, first in Congress and then in the White House."

Ask him if he credits the Democrats for the success of the surge in Iraq.

David Brin said...

"9/11 ITSELF being relegated to "Clinton's fault" or "No one could have seen it coming, but once we noticed them, then...".

Follow that point with the tidbit that Bush:

1) Had re-assigned dozens of US agents from normal duties to searching - frantically and futilely - for a "smoking gun" on Clinton era corruption ... direct and culpable malfeasance... during the 6 months before 9/11.

2) The much ballyhooed Cheney anti-terror task force NEVER MET till AFTER 9/11.

3) The 9/11 Commission itself said that Bush's anti-terror efforts relaxed and were less than Clinton's, till 9/11 happened.

4) Not counting Iraq-related attacks overseas is pure hypocrisy.

But none of that will do any good. You have to make it a narrative-story.

Fox is Saudi-owned. THAT is the narrative. Even if they poo-poo it, the factoid will have truthiness that lurks at the back of the mind. Especially if you also plant:

"Ask yourself, with every Fox story... "Now why would the princes and the moguls and super-rich and Murdochs WANT me to think that?"

Tacitus2 said...

David

I have not remembered to say so previously, but Foundations Triumph was a nice bit of work. It was stylistically very much in the mode of Asimov (not all good, his characters are prone to speechy exposition!). And to knit all the disparate loose ends of Foundation into a neat explanation was impressive. Clearly you have the ability to take mismatched stuff, even a few parts that fit poorly, and put them together.

Don't make a general habit of it though!

Tacitus2

Tim H. said...

Another angle on the fall of conservatism from it's principles, when they thought they found a simple way to shrink government, by merely cutting off revenue. Understandable that they would wish to avoid the drudgery of evaluating programs one at a time, dealing with political opposition on a case by case basis, and cut taxes when the budget was in surplus, which would have been a good thing. My wish is that conservatives learn (Some have.) that a "BFH" is seldom the appropriate tool.

David Brin said...

Tacitus, thanks. I tied together WAY more than all the foundation books in FT.

I am still waiting for the extreme Asimov junky to notice that I also tied together CAVES OF STEEL, THE STARS LIKE DUST, PEBBLE IN THE SKY, CURRENTS OF SPACE and all the lost obscure parts of the series!

SOMEBODY out there HAS to have had the giggle fits over all those tie-ins. But nobody has ever written in.

Robert said...

Hmm. I didn't know you'd written a Foundation novel. I feel rather embarrassed now; I'll have to find and buy it.

Rob Perkins said...

I read it; I giggled a little at a few of them. Mostly, the confusing directions Benford took the series which you tied up, David, was what stood out.

That trilogy suffered from both too many Really Big Ideas. Hey, that kind of describes Asimov! :-D

Geno said...

Nice posting.
And about all the tie-in's, I was just thinking about a reread of all the various books. It has been many years and I have yet to read your addition. Looking forward to it though.

Stefan Jones said...

HEY!

Please note that I wrote that John Scalzi DUG UP that essay.

Did anyone bother to see where the link leads to?

* * *

If you haven't heard about the Amazon / Macmillan kerfuffle, please find out!

Ian Gould said...

Just curious David, did you read Donald Kingsbury's Phsychohistorical Crisis?

I thoghgt it was excellent and I'm rather surprised by the number of Asimov fans who've never even heard of it.

David Brin said...

I know Don K well and skimmed his book. I wish I had time to do more. He is brilliant... and odd... and fun.

A sign American civilization is starting to turn back around!
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/01/21/freshmen#

Tony Fisk said...

Off topic:

A certain author and futurist once jokingly(?) referred to efforts that confidently expected a breakthrough in nuclear fusion in another twenty years... as of 2040!

However, for a change, it appears they had a breakthrough in laser fusion last week

annially: the frequency with which Apple launches a new product

LarryHart said...

David Brin said:


I am still waiting for the extreme Asimov junky to notice that I also tied together CAVES OF STEEL, THE STARS LIKE DUST, PEBBLE IN THE SKY, CURRENTS OF SPACE and all the lost obscure parts of the series!


I read FT when it was first published, and I don't remember all the specific now. I had been disappointed in the Benford/Bear chapters of the trilogy (the whole Voltaire thing seemed extremely out of place in the series), but you were the one sf author I trusted could do the subject proud.

But the thing is, as far back as "Foundation's Edge", Asimov HIMSELF had made it clear that the Robot novels were now part of the Foundation "universe". In fact, an afterward to the 1983 book listed all those books you just mentioned individually, which is what promted me to seek out and read those earlier Asimov novels in the first place. Every Foudation novel (sequel and prequel) from then on that until Asimov died included some mention of Robot history and R Daneel Olivaw.

So if I didn't notice at the time that you included all those Asimov elements into the series, it was only because it wasn't exactly a surprise.

Sorry.

LarryHart said...

David Brin:

"9/11 ITSELF being relegated to "Clinton's fault" or "No one could have seen it coming, but once we noticed them, then...".

Follow that point with the tidbit that...


Well, for once, I wasn't talking about a personal argument I was having with an individual right-winger. I meant that that narrative ("We weren't hit on Bush's watch; we've already been hit on Obama's") seemed to have become a truism in the minds of FOX viewers since the day it was repeated ad nauseum on all of their shows.

You can't argue against "the narrative". They just hit the playback button on FOX talk shows and they're done listening.

I don't think most people even realize what is so scary about 9/11 or about "another 9/11". Horrific as the original attack was, it's not likely to be repeated (passengers and crew would no longer cooperate). The shoe-bomber, or the Christmas-bomber, even if they had SUCCEEDED, would only have killed the 300 (or so) people in the plane itself. They would not have been able to use the plane as a missile to attack American cities.

No, 9/11 put an existential fear into the minds of Americans that the NEXT attack would be nuclear. I'm not sure that's a CONSCIOUS fear, but it's there in the background. It's the only thing that explains the ridiculously-extreme directions we've gone as a country since then.

So by that measure, we weren't attacked on Bush's watch (9/11 itself not counting) because we were so sure al Quaeda would hit us with a nuke, and they failed to do so. That's what "Bush kept us safe" from.

The Christmas bomber and the guy at Ft Hood--of course these were lesser incidents, but in the FOX-deranged worldview, the "success" of these attacks demonstrae that they COULD have used nukes and that Obama would have been ineffective at stopping them. Hence the "Bush good/Obama bad" meme evolves and survives.

Ian said...

Has it ever been stated explicitly that the Second Foundation's telepaths are descended from the telepaths in Nemesis?

Pat Mathews said...

I noticed the Senate Republicans voted en masse against pay-as-you-go. I should have thought that would have been a key Republican goal, to get the government on a pay-as-you-go basis!

I swear, if Obama were to advocate their entire, loudly stated, agenda, they'd vote 40-0 to block it.

Hey ... there's a suggested tactic for him. You can always manipulate a hard-line contrarian with reverse psychology. Ask anyone who's ever had a 2-year-old.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Ian: "I believe it was Cheney who declared that "Reagan proved deficits matter."

I think you mean 'deficits don't matter'?

That statement only makes sense if you regard winning election as the only criterion for what matters."

You have stated succinctly the essence of Rove:

After a bit, I said, "What do you mean, deficits don't matter? Don't you remember the 1990s?" "No, no, no, no, Andrew," he replied. "What I mean is that people don't vote on deficits. That's why they don't matter."

Of course (as Sully points out), in 1992, deficits did matter. Doesn't anyone remember Perot and all those charts? In large part, deficits were why Clinton was elected. And now that deficits are a Tea Party issue, suddenly deficits do matter again -- and Rove (and WSJ, and FNC, and the whole panoply) uses them to attack Obama.

This is what I mean by "tactics are everything". It's not just narrative -- the narrative must be mutable, applicable to the tactical situation of the moment. This requires Orwell's Memory Hole; but sadly many people don't need a Ministry of Truth to fit facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts.

But it also absolutely precludes an actual strategy... because a strategy would narrow tactical options. At least, from the standpoint of politicians and their operatives.

That's not to say that the men behind the curtain don't have a strategy. They just don't share it with their minions. Why open an opportunity for them to think for themselves? They just spent twenty years stamping out coherent, long-term, and independent thought in the GOP.

@Stefan:Did anyone bother to see where the link leads to?

Yeah, but I'm not surprised. Eunomia is another of those little mountain valleys where the last few survivors of intellectual conservatism huddle around campfires while the invaders solidify their hold on the fertile valley below.

David Brin said...

Youmight be interested in this conversation...

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/25689?in=00:00&out=44:31

Jamais Cascio and Mike Treder hold a fascinating conversation about environmental ethics. See Jamais work out the fact that each big cheesburger results in the emission of 4.5 kilograms of greenhouse gas! (From famers' fuel to fertilizer to cattle farts to transport etc.) Leading to about 20 million tons of co2 coming from America from just the cheeseburgers it eats. (I don't think he included the resulting human farts.)

Rob Perkins said...

I think human flatulence is carbon-neutral. And if you're in the process of gaining weight, you're a carbon sink!

Therefore, all children are carbon sinks. QED. :-D

David Brin said...

Obama offers a huge boost to commercial space operations, including manned flight. Exactly what all my libertarian buds have wanted, for ages. Watch. He’ll still be called a socialist. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100131/ap_on_sc/us_sci_space_taxis

Ian said...

Rob, it's not the carbon that's a problem it's the methane in our farts.

but human farts are a trivial source compared with the cow-farts.

The frustrating thing there is that cows don't produce methane, micro-organisms in their stomachs do and id you can change the micro-flora the methane goes away.

Oh and the micro-organisms in question are parasites that reduce animal health and productivity so there's a double bonus if we can find a way to get rid of them.

If peopel really are concerned about the impact of their cheese burger there's an easy solution, you don't even need to stop eating beef.

just switch from lot-fed US beef to grass-fed Australian or Argentine beef.

Growing grain (using artificial fertilizer) is a major part of the carbon footprint of beef production. australian and Argentine cattel are fattened on grain for a couple of weeks before slaughter, US beef is typically fed on grain for several months.

Rob Perkins said...

Aw Ian, you took all the fun out of it.

Did the switch to grass-fed years ago, actually. The grass-fed beef is also found in Oregon off the sustainable ranch networks there. It tastes better and once you get accustomed to it the more mass produced lot fed stuff just tastes terrible.

Tacitus2 said...

David,
You were encouraging a poster to use the "Fox is Saudi owned" line of argument. A bit more homework is in order, lest you and he look a bit unprepared.
Fox is a part of Newscorp, a very, very large corporation. It owns tons of stuff. A newspaper in Papua New Guinea..half of the Australian Rugby League..media holdings around the world. And Fox.
29% of Newscorp is owned by the Murdoch family.
7% is owned by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal through the Kingdom Holdings fund. Before you muster a boycott, said fund also owns parts of AOL/Time Warner, Amazon (ad for same your site!), Apple, Ford, Ebay, Citigroup, Walt Disney...you get the point.
Now, the Saudis could in theory use Fox as a crucial lever to sway US opinion, but it is in fairness a very small cog in a very big machine.
Back in the mid 90's the FCC ruled that Murdoch's ownership of TV stations, which was under dispute as he was then a foreign national, was "in the public interest". Such Clinton era malfeasance!
What little I have seen of Fox News suggests it is more barking dog entertainment than serious political fodder.
But I have been openminded in regards your placement of them in the vast right wing conspiracy. As character limits loom, may I ask your patience while I spin an alternative in a second post?
Tacitus2

Tacitus2 said...

The Washington Post group is legitimately a major political entity. The WaPo itself, Newsweek magazine, Slate. These are widely read, well connected media outlets.
They can and should take whatever editorial stance they prefer, and I think most would consider WaPo mildly pro administration and Newsweek emphatically so.*

Why?

The largest shareholder in Washington Post group is Berkshire Hathaway at 18.2%. The legendary chairman of same, a Mr. Buffett, is a major Obama supporter and donor, who once said he would need a lobotomy to support John McCain.

An opinion many here would share.

Another take.
When the Whitehouse cut a backroom deal with Big Pharma for their support, they became in effect, partners. It is also where the Healthcare reform process first went off the rails, but that's another story.
A recent edition of Newsweek contained 17 pages of advertising. 11.5 were from Big Pharma. 1.5 were debatably health care related, vitamins, diet programs etc. The rest of the commerical world managed 3.5 pages of ads, and one of those was for some kind of odd non profit organization!
My point being, that when supporters of this, or any administration, are major owners of the key news media, and control the majority of the advertising revenue; you will NOT have the press fulfilling their key role of asking the difficult and sometimes awkward questions.
I could go on at greater length, but will add two footnotes.
1. almost all the pharm ads were for high end brand names for which there are or will shortly be, excellent generic options. Oh, too bad the back room deal makes drug importation and mandated generic use not options
2. Past 12 months, Return on Investment data
Washington Post 0.9%
Newscorp -8.9%
Food for thought I hope

Tacitus2

*each does have some "conservative" viewpoints presented.

Ian Gould said...

Tacitus, you miss the point which is not that Saudi/Fox connection is true but that it makes effective propaganda when competing with people who have themselves demonstrated no concern for truth.

Certainly, it has a better grounding in fact than "death panels".

Also, I think if you look further the Murdoch family holdings are pretty heavily leveraged - and much of their private debt is held by the Saudi royal family.

Murdoch has long had the problem that he's trying to maintain control of a huge and fast-growing company with a relatively small shareholding and because the Newscorp share price has tended to row faster than its dividends he's struggled to finance the acquisition of more shares to prevent his shareholding being diluted by new stock issues.

It's ironic because it means he is to some extent a victim of the company's success - which is largely attributable to his management.

If he weren't a truly repellent individual I'd shed a tear.

Stefan Jones said...

There's also the embarrassing bit where Murdoch asked that Saudi prince to give his blessings for Murdoch's son to be heir apparent.

Saudi Prince approves next Fox News head!

Robert said...

I think the outcry is that the Saudis are aiming to increase their share of ownership of Fox (and related media). In other words, they are spending oil money to buy a larger share of the one "bastion" of conservative media (assuming you ignore the internet).

Rob H.

Tacitus2 said...

If you read the source material it speaks of wanting to increase the presence of NewsCorp in the Middle East. Having seen some Egyptian and Saudi TV, I think anything would be an improvement!

And personally, I ignore Fox but find all manner of interesting things on the internet, which is the new "agora" for those able to remain objective.

No thoughts on my "alternate" bias scenario? I don't particularly care to be manipulated by Americans either.

And Ian, I am afraid I am having a little difficulty understanding your point. Clarify?

Tacitus2

Ilithi Dragon said...

Tacitus,

An interesting alternative bias theory. However, I think a closer examination of the percentage of pharma-related ads in news and magazines in general is warranted before any significant conclusions or theories can be drawn from this. I don't read many magazines, but the occasional ones I have picked up tended to be rather heavy on the pharma-related ads, regardless of the publication.

Whersic: Nausea and vomiting induced by the low hum of spinning mechanical apparatus.

Ian said...

Tacitus, if I understand David's point he isn't jumping up and down saying "look Fox is secretly controlled by the Saudis" he's saying "If you find yourself arguing with a "conservative" who blindly believes everything Fox says and refuses to look at the evidence that they're wrong, lean over and whisper "Did you know Fox is secretly owned by the Saudis?"

Because if you can't move people by reason and evidence you might as well exploit their prejudices because that's what the pther side is doing.

If on the other hand you were referring to the actual Fox/Saudi links, I'm just saying the Saudies may have more influence than their 7% Newscorp holding suggests because Murdoch reportedly owes them a ton of moeny.

Tacitus2 said...

Ian
Oh. In that context your point makes sense. But truth (7%) is generally better than BS.
If Murdoch is actually in hock to the Saudis for lots more, that would be very, very relevant information. Oh, where are the investigative reporters of old?

Otherwise the Oil money vs Pharma money comparison holds up fairly well.
Each industry has extracted large amounts of cash from our economy and spends it to their benefit. Each has shady business practices. Each produces products that are neither inherently good nor bad. The gasoline powering a generator in Hati...the Oxycontin being abused in rural America.
Each is founded on a business model that must discourage alternatives (fuels, medicines).
I guess Big Pharma has not gotten us into foreign wars, but as I see it, they are part of the health care problem, which remains one of our biggest domestic/cultural issues.

Just trying to stimulate some thought and discussion.

Tacitus2

Ian said...

Tacitus, the Australian media follow the internal workings of ther Murdoch dynasty like the old Kremlinologists. ("Rupert says he rang Lachlan first after his operation so clearly Lachlan will inherit the kingdom.")

But offhand I can't find anything about the debt position of the Murdoch family private companies.

The Murdoch family interests are Byzantine in themselves.

Murdoch owns some shares in his own right. Other parcels are owned by his sisters and his mother (if she's still kicking). Rupert is the trustee for some of those shares but some are controlled by his nieces and nephews.

Rupert has passed some small share parcels to his children directly but a much larger chunk is in a family trust which at one point at least was actually controlled by his ex-wife Anna, who also got a parcel of shares in the divorce settlement.

I think she eventually passed control of the family trust to one of her sons.

It's starting to look like King Lear.

Robert said...

So. Obama has put out his new budget and as anticipated, he's axed Bush's call to return to the Moon and establish a base. He's also axed NASA's Ares and Orion system, calling instead for private industry to do the footwork and develop their own systems instead of continuing a project that, while over budget, has been showing good progress and seems quite viable for ferrying our astronauts to the International Space Station.

Needless to say, I think this is a massive mistake. I think there is a good reason to return to the Moon, and also to continue the Ares rocket program. I just think it should be modified a bit; rather than a U.S. initiative to return to the Moon and create a base, we should continue the international effort started with the ISS, and have an international effort to send a multinational team to the Moon and work on perfecting the technologies needed to send an international manned mission to Mars.

Note that I'm emphasizing the "international" aspect of this. If each of the spacefaring (and nations interested in joining this group of nations) each chipped in part of the cost, no one nation would have to do all the work. In addition, subcontracting to private contractors (and on an international level!) would be possible, which would increase the viability of the private aerospace industry.

This is one fight I suspect Obama is going to lose. There are too many interests among too many Senators to just axe Ares. The question is this: is Obama planning on this, to unite Republicans and Democrats to work together to save NASA and the Ares program? And will he offer to allow Ares to continue (and perhaps the Moon program) in exchange for promises to enact his own agenda, perhaps with climate legislation or regulatory reform of the financial industries?

Rob H.

rendapp: what Apple does to apps it doesn't like

Ian Gould said...

"I just think it should be modified a bit; rather than a U.S. initiative to return to the Moon and create a base, we should continue the international effort started with the ISS, and have an international effort to send a multinational team to the Moon and work on perfecting the technologies needed to send an international manned mission to Mars."

From an interview with NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver:

"We all believe that the seventh time we land on the moon will be with our international partners, in a different way, with new technologies," she said, referring to the 6 Apollo landings between 1969 and 1972.


http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18456-nasa-nixes-moon-plan-leaving-options-wide-open.html

I agree entirely with this and just wish Australia would put more more into space research.

Just don't let the Russians fuck it up like the ISS.

Tony Fisk said...

The Planetary Society's preliminary opinion of Obama's proposals can be read here

merspi: an elusive odor only reported in spacesuits.

Ian said...

Quickipedia: an open source web-based reference work devoted to casual sex.

Tony Fisk said...

Wikileaks is temporarily shutting down due to lack of funds

Tony Fisk said...

...'begorize': to censor by denying funding.

Hank Roberts said...

cross-reference:

http://www.ginandtacos.com/2010/02/02/an-open-letter-to-tim-pawlenty/comment-page-1/#comment-21795

David Brin said...

All of the major cable new outfits began carrying live feeds of President Obama's meeting with the Republican Caucus in Baltimore. A fascinating and frank exchange that allowed him to confront dozens of pat, party-line narratives.

An interesting thing thereupon happened. CNN and MSNBC and CSPAN all continued the live feed, throughout. Guess which cable-"news" -- after seeing the way things were going -- rushed to cut the feed, switching to spin commentary, instead, to keep the narratives alive.


"calling instead for private industry to do the footwork and develop their own systems instead of continuing a project that, while over budget, has been showing good progress and seems quite viable for ferrying our astronauts to the International Space Station."


Um... Not? These programs were all being run out of Marshall Spaceflight center. I'll concede you have a point... if you can show me a single project they have taken to actual completion, since they foisted the horrific space shuttle on us?

MArshall spends billions on paper studies and never ever ever launches a thing. Ever.

Fool me once, shame on you. And to anyone who believe in fairytales from Marshall SFC... shame on you too.

Too bad about Wikileaks. If there were any billionaires who REALLY wanted to save the world, they would fund my "Henchman's Prize" and save the world.

Tony Fisk said...

Off topic (although sort of topical in terms of space exploration and head banging. Plus it's a cool shot)

When Worlds Collide!

egograi: The confused state of mind that results from insisting you're right all the time.

Dwight Williams said...

Would you be willing to put together a posting specifically addressing the NASA/budget issue?

I'd be particularly glad to see your perspective on probable implications and consequences, because I'm beginning to suspect that your POV may be somewhat more optimistic than some of the prevailing opinion already in play. And if it isn't, it would still be a constructive one.

Tony Fisk said...

I have seen comments about the 'death-march of human space exploration' put about by certain senators but the overall response appears positive.

Check out the Planetary Society's response, above.

bachesti: a card game for musicians

Tim H. said...

Concerning the shuttle, Jerry Pournelle posted a letter (After the Columbia disaster.) that claimed the configuration of the shuttle was dictated by missions the air force needed it to fly. In hindsight, the decision to use thermal tiles on a vehicle with an external cryogenic fuel tank seems strange, also the apparent lack of concern over ease of maintenance in a reusable vehicle.

Tim H. said...

Something else interesting
Free speechforpeople.org
Looks like something to be scrutinized by folks who don't think of Randy Newman first when they hear the words "Political science".

Ian Gould said...

So why not just go back to the Saturn 1B or Saturn V?

They're proven human-rated design with a decent track record.

Just make minimal changes to incorporate improved materials and sensors.

The Saturns were replaced by the shuttle which was supposed to deliver cheaper launches. I know the shuttle never achieved its targets, I don't know if it was substantially cheaper than the Saturn missiles.

Tim H. said...

Ian, it wouldn't be inexpensive to restart a program that long dead, but a large, new booster that made use of the same engines, with updated avionics and designed with missions we want to fly now would be possible. We should even call it "Saturn VI".

"flesm", if an english speaker makes this sound, they're in distress.

Dwight Williams said...

Rather, "Saturn X"?

Tim H. said...

Buzz Aldrin had interesting comments on boosters here:
Better Boosters

Catfish N. Cod said...

Rob, Tim, you better listen to Uncle Buzz. Ares was another slow-motion disaster of the sort that NASA planners, Boeing, and Lockheed are very good at. For the last thirty years, the Shuttle and Station were to be protected at all costs, so any 'next-gen' projects were used to do risky tech development -- but the most important task was to make sure the ship as a whole failed before it became a threat to Shuttle/Station and their entrenched workforces and congressional votes.

This is not a recipe for maintaining competency in systems engineering. And thus NASA can't do it anymore.

-----

We don't need to use the Saturn V as a base for the next heavy lifter, nor should we. First off, we don't have the complete designs and tech-specs for all components of the Saturn V; a lot of it was built with now-discontinued parts or custom-built stuff. Furthermore, we don't *want* to; the Saturn V was built with the limits of '60's tech... and tech has come a long way, baby.

For example: the Instrument Unit, the Saturn V computer, was the best MIT could put together in '67. Your phone is smarter... and thanks to GPS, it knows more about where it is than the IU did.

The *concepts* of the Saturn V, though, are well worth learning from. For instance, the first stage (the Saturn I) didn't use overengineering, fancy-schmancy hydrogen fuel. It used cheap, simple kerosene. Why? Because brute force was more important than efficiency for that first stage. It made engineering the pipes and the F-1 first stage engines a lot simpler, too; they didn't need all the extra leak protection that hydrogen (the smallest gas particle) requires.

Lesson: don't do what is cool (PR-wise or engineering-wise); don't do what is politically expedient or makes contractors happy; do what is brutally practical. If that means buying from Ace Hardware rather than Thoikol, so be it.

We have plenty of good engineering lying around between the Saturn engines, the US cargo rockets (the Atlas and Titan and Delta and Pegasus and Falcon programs), the Space Shuttle components, the X Prize competitors, and the cancelled, designed-to-fail tech demonstrators we've wasted money on in the Shuttle era. Between all that, I *know* a far better heavy-lift rocket can be designed... if we actually free people to design the best rocket possible.

reali: what the Ares project ignored, minus a cup of tea.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Dr. Brin: Marshall does launch something... Station payloads. On the Shuttle.

Oh, you meant boosters? I'll give you that.

-----

As for internationalization: it should be possible but not necessary. Many of the problems with the ISS arose because international cooperation was mandatory; indeed, it was the reason the Station wasn't cancelled in the early nineties -- the shining symbol of the End Of The Cold War, the union of the Russian and American space programs. Except that, just as the attempted union of civilian and military spaceflight led to poor design choices for the Shuttle, the successful union of multiple countries' space programs led to poor design choices for the ISS. In particular, the high inclination orbit was chosen specifically because Russia, even after all these years, has yet to secure a low-latitude launch site for its rockets, when every other spacefacing nation understands the supreme importance to long-term exploration (not to mention the cost savings!)

There are benefits to internationalization, too. We can afford to shut the Shuttle down because Russian Soyuz capsules can deliver crew, and European ATV and Russian Progress cargo ships can deliver supplies. We get more personnel, more equipment, and more experience by including others on the project. But all the world's space agencies learned painful lessons about the difficulty of harmonizing engineering across so many different teams in the course of the ISS project. While having common standards for interlocking systems is good, it behooves us to make things less crucially interdependent in future projects (like the Moonbase) than they are on the ISS -- so that the whole project is not held up by Russian manufacturing delays, or American launch problems, or European contract wrangling.

cruplind: what happens to projects when its bureaucracy becomes entrenched.

David Brin said...

There is a SETI related panel at AAAS meeting in San Diego, in a couple of weeks. http://aaas.confex.com/aaas/2010/webprogram/Session1723.htm

Alas, I have no official affiliations to pay my admission. As a freelance writer with teens heading to college, I doubt I can afford to attend. Too bad.

I have spent years lobbying the AAAS to hold a session on METI. They are the only venue where a truly eclectic mix of advanced minds might truly enlighten the issue.

Pity.

Tim H. said...

The first message we get back might be "STFU!, there's something really evil listening!".

David Brin said...

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