Friday, October 22, 2010

The Real Reason for Tea Parties

Lighting the political lamp (it may be on for a couple of weeks), let me begin with a disclaimer, for those of you who don't know me ... I despise all dogmatists, including those on the far-left. As a one-time keynoter for a Libertarian Party Convention, I have the bona fides of someone who has read and understood Adam Smith.  In fact, it is for that reason that I know which party the "First Liberal" would vote for, today, if he could. And it's not the one that touts his name the most.

Moreover, if communism was a principal threat to freedom, a generation ago, can there be any doubt that the madness and danger is coming from a different direction today?

=== TEA PARTY INSANITY ===

To see just how crazy it is out there, you really must read this.  Confessions of a Tea Party Casualty:

“It was the middle of a tough primary contest, and Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) had convened a small meeting with donors who had contributed thousands of dollars to his previous campaigns. But this year, as Inglis faced a challenge from tea party-backed Republican candidates claiming Inglis wasn't sufficiently conservative, these donors hadn't ponied up. Inglis' task: Get them back on the team. "They were upset with me," Inglis recalls. "They are all Glenn Beck watchers." About 90 minutes into the meeting, as he remembers it, "They say, 'Bob, what don't you get? Barack Obama is a socialist, communist Marxist who wants to destroy the American economy so he can take over as dictator. Health care is part of that. And he wants to open up the Mexican border and turn [the US] into a Muslim nation.'" Inglis didn't know how to respond....”

Neither do the rest of us, Bob.  Apparently, the flabergasted Mr. Reasonableness who sits in the White House simply cannot pause - in his relentless attempts to negotiate - and parse out exactly what it going on.

So let me put it  simply.  The whole nation knows that the Republican Party was a festering nest of corruption and incompetence, since 1996 or so.  (I do not include the first year of the Newt Gingrich Revolution, during which actual conservative values were negotiated with the sitting president, and the parties, together, enacted both Welfare Reform and budget restraints -- a brif era of maturity for which Gingrich was resoundingly punished, by his own party, as it chose to plunge into lunacy.)

Under that party’s misrule, America experienced a steep plummet in nearly all unambiguous metrics of national health - from GDP to home values, from patent rates to small business startups, all the way even to military readiness!  The near-perfection of this national decline has never (for some strange reason) been laid out openly by the President or the democrats... probably for the same neurotic reasons that keep them from appointing a special prosecutor, to expose Bushite corruption and theft.  But the people clearly know that the Republican brand is soiled, almost beyond repair.

That left only one hope for the masters of that undead elephant... to market a populist rant that Democrats are even worse.  And since there is not a scintilla of real evidence for systematic Democratic wrongdoing or mismanagement (not a single Clintonite ex-official was ever covicted, even indicted, for malfeasance of official duties, and Clinton paid down the national debt), this populist rabble-rousing must take the form  of legerdermain and magic! Unproved or unprovable assertions, Beckian hornswaggle and Limbaughian incantaions of towering indignation.

The list of counter-points that the dems could use is astonishing... primarily in their total absence-of-use.  For example, picture a 60 second television spot describing what would have happened to Ma and Pa’s Social Security, if the GOP had been allowed to “privatize” it, back in 2004... and who the winners would have been.   Or the truth about which party does a better job beefing up the Border Patrol and actually limiting illegal (as opposed to legal) immigration? (Hint, it ain't the GOP, by a thousand miles.)

Or point out that Obama’s so called “socialist” health insurance bill was based on the Republicans’ own 1994 alternative plan. Sure that's well known to folks on the Sunday talk show circuit, but it would be devastating in a 60 second spot... purchased on Fox.

Let’s be clear about the poisonous nature of this campaign to win back Congress by painting the democrats as “even worse.”  In order for them to be worse than the Bushites, they must be portrayed as satanic beings... the very same way that the Southern press depicted northerners and Abraham Lincoln, in 1860.  The potential effectiveness of this populist campaign of lies is seen in the way a quarter of a million poor southern whites marched off to fight -- very bravely and well -- for the “cause” of protecting the interests of their local lords and cotton barons and slave-owning oligarchs.  Hey, don't under-rate it! The method worked for the Rupert Murdochs of past eras.  It's working for the Rupert Murdochs of today.

In fact, ok, it is that time again. Cyclically, regularly (and always) keep checking on the Fox News Boycott.  You have a right to make your purchasing judgements based on many criteria.  Including a list of those who advertise with Glenn Beck.


=== AND A POLITICAL MELANGE! ===

PROFILES IN COURAGE -- A group of 23 Communist Party elders in China has written a letter calling for an end to the country's restrictions on freedom of speech. I'll be commenting in detail about this, soon.

It can be fascinating to see how memes spread across the web, passed from peer to peer. But how can one tell what ideas are grass-roots and which are spread by political campaigns or corporations? Truthy, based at Indiana University’s School of Informatics and Computing attempts to chart the diffusion of information & misinformation on Twitter – by tracking keywords and retweets.

Take a tour of “Richistan...” the America that Fox is so frantic to get average citizens to ignore.

"The revelation that Rich Iott, a Republican candidate for Congress from Ohio, was an active member of a group of dedicated to understanding the experience of soldiers who served in the Nazi Waffen SS by dressing up in their uniforms — and staging recreations of their battles — has forced historical re-enactors to defend their hobby. "That Mr. Iott engaged in this pastime came to light on Friday, when Joshua Green of The Atlantic published photographs of him in an SS uniform beneath a headline asking, “Why is This GOP House Candidate Dressed as a Nazi?” Um... the SS?  Jumping Jehosephat, if a democrat had done anything remotely like that....

Here's a terrific take-off on WWII cautionary posters about "loose lips sink ships."

The respect-worthy Amitai Etzioni - who is no pantywaist - is pushing for a simple “take care of America first” withdrawal from Afghanistan.  (And if they become an enemy state again?  Heck, enemy states are FAR simpler to topple than it is to fight a grueling insurgency.  Think about it.)  Anyway, we could sure have used the three trillion dollars these wars have cost.  Spent on R&D, it would have left all our enemies -- and our trade rivals -- in clouds of our (by-now) nearly transhumanist dust! Ah, parallel worlds.

Finally, see a county by-county map of education levels... and how this affects disparities in income.  From this it seems self explanatory why - and how - the Fox distraction campaign, to aim the ire of the ill-educated against the well educated, is working so well.

Find the nearest close partisan race and contact the HQ of the candidate you prefer... and help get out the vote!

=====

For more of my articles on see: Politics for the 21st Century

95 comments:

Tony Fisk said...

Hey! Don't you get it? rallymao = rally4mao: It's a Chinese plot!

If you're going to these pinko subversive jamborees*, then I'll repeat an earlier suggestion that you print off a few badges with the quip:

'I am a Member of a Civilisation'

(Moved by: me. made by: Ilithi)

Heh! Send a few to Stewart, with the background to *that* bookcover, with the offending element (Stewart) removed!

* Why are some of these listed in Europe, Asia, and Africa? Are they training camps.. or US bases?

Jacob said...

Point of correction. Clinton reduced the deficit. The Debt went up 1.4 Trillion dollars during his two terms. He represents the most fiscally responsible President in my lifetime.

Tacitus2 said...

I guess if you want to discuss metrics of health you could go quest
But that would not be adding levity to the debate, not heft.
Regards Democratic administrations there is something of a dearth of data points. The Carter years were not so great. Clinton is, as you point out, looking better retrospectively than he did at the time. You could have a long discussion on this....actual GOP cooperation, the "peace dividend" from the end of the Cold War (and this was more psychological than monetary), but I think some contribution may be from the reality check of his first mid term election. This gives me hopes.
We can soon start adding data from the Obama years, be they four or eight. Some metrics may not look so hot.
I don't blame the man on a personal level, he has some big mondo challenges to face. I don't think he has some secret muslim agenda. I do think his competence can fairly be questioned.
Politically, well, the poor guy. He was never going to attract many conservative votes. The independents are likely the smartest, most attentive voters out there and they don't like what they are seeing.
All he has left is to attempt to "energize the base", and the college student staring at daunting job prospects, the lower income citizen who is hit the hardest by the recession, the public union member who is starting to feel the unpleasant, if tardy, attention of the press...they can be forgiven for a bit of lassitude.
I am not expecting anyone here to have a Damascene Road moment. But here's a thought..if the Tea Party were not a genuine grassroots movement, if it were directed from above by sinister hands, don't you think some of the stupid fringey candidates out there would have been given the ixnay?
And a correlary, if the Tea Party movement survives and matures, don't you think the 2012 crop of candidates will be better and stronger?
Tacitus2

Tacitus2 said...

Sorry 'bout the garbled syntax above...editing on screen does not come naturally to me.

Tacitus

Ian said...

"The Carter years were not so great."

Carter inherited the worst economic situation since Roosevelt, at that point - subsequently exceeded only by the Bush 43 mess inherited by Obama.

In his term he reduced the national debt by over 3% of GDP and grew the economy by 9% - less than either Reagan term but better than either Bush managed.

Carter's economic record is marred by persistent high unemployment and also by the generally negative view of his presidency.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_debt_by_U.S._presidential_terms#Gross_federal_debt

Ian said...

That link also has a great summary of the average performance of the US economy under Republican and Democratic presidencies since 1978.

The pattern is exactly when David has been pointing out.

Average increase in public spending [er term:
Dems 9.9%
Reps 12.1%

Average rate of economic growth:

Dems 12.6%
Reps 10.7%

Average increase in public debt as a percentage of GDP GDP:

4.2%
36.4%

Voting Republican is a wealth hazard.

Ian said...

Since World War I, the only Republican President to cut the deficit has been Dwight Eisenhower.

http://home.adelphi.edu/sbloch/deficits.html

Eisenhower essentially continued the post world War II cut in public spending started by Truman.

To put their relative contributions into perspective, Truman cut the deficit by almost $37 billion per year, Eisenhower by a bit under $800 million a year.

David Brin said...

Tacitus raises a solid point:

"I am not expecting anyone here to have a Damascene Road moment. But here's a thought..if the Tea Party were not a genuine grassroots movement, if it were directed from above by sinister hands, don't you think some of the stupid fringey candidates out there would have been given the ixnay?"

Sorry, but you are conflating connect-the-dots conspiracy theorizing with Paranoid-All-Powerful-Foes! conspiracy theorizing. If I were doing the latter, Rupert and the Princes would be seen with their hands in EVERYTHING!!!!!

But no, what I see is Fox. It is a powerful instrument for stirring up tne anomie of ill-educated whites, who viscerally feel "their" country is being taken away by an unholy melange of snooty intellectuals and immigrants and minorities...

...but it is a BLUNT instrument. The Tea Parties can be stirred up with Beck-lunatic ravings... and that will certainly help to re-aim populist ire away from oligarchic thieves toward Blue Americans. But it does not allow for fine-tuning of the specific nut cases that the movement then chooses at a local level.

I connect dots... I follow the money and motives. I am not a raving paranoid.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Looking at the map of counties with a higher proportion of educated folks, I have to wonder about the attractiveness of the area around the Idaho-Wyoming border. What's there, besides very pretty country?

Nylpsili: ridiculous behavior at a big political rally

TheMadLibrarian said...

Fox: yellow journalism at its finest. And that's a disservice to the muckrakers who actually campaigned for social change in the last century.

Bedires: anti-bedbug measures

Anonymous said...

Mr. Brin, don’t you think that fundamentally the Tea Party is a kind of tribal reaction to the currently fashionable American notion that we can invite people of every culture, ethnicity and religion to our shores, and somehow we can all live together happily in dollar worship and legalistic union?

Historically, has such a “multicultural” society ever existed? What makes anyone think that this project has any chance of succeeding? Aren’t culture, tribe and religion the glue that holds a nation together, not laws, economic theories or political philosophies? Human beings are hard-coded by hundreds of thousands of year of evolution for tribalism, and the idea that somehow now we have overcome that seems rather shallow and naive. In times of affluence these divisions can perhaps be kept under control, but as anyone who has been to prison will tell you, in difficult conditions human beings divide along tribal lines as a survival instinct. As we enter difficult times, this is exactly what I see happening in the USA -- hence the Tea Parties.

Personally I think the Chinese model of a culturally united civilization-state or a Scandinavian “national socialism” looks more powerful than the Western multicultural capitalist model at this point. Further, I think the entire post-Enlightenment liberal project is in danger of unraveling, as it has pushed Western peoples too far, too fast in an “unnatural” direction. A vast peasant revolt seems to be brewing against this project across the Western world, which may get ugly before this is through. But you can’t really blame these Tea Parties for trying to restore sanity to their societies, which have been uprooted and thrown into cultural chaos by the most disruptive social force in human history: globalist capitalism. The capitalist cultural destruction once visited upon the native American tribes is now being visited upon the European ones, and so they are starting to fight back. I think that’s what’s really at the root of all this turmoil, but you won’t hear this being discussed in the mainstream corporate media because, like radical Islam, it is a fundamental rejection of their vision of civilization that can’t be defeated by rational argument or bought off with money.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Brin, don’t you think that fundamentally the Tea Party is a kind of tribal reaction to the currently fashionable American notion that we can invite people of every culture, ethnicity and religion to our shores, and somehow we can all live together happily in dollar worship and legalistic union?

Historically, has such a “multicultural” society ever existed? What makes anyone think that this project has any chance of succeeding? Aren’t culture, tribe and religion the glue that holds a nation together, not laws, economic theories or political philosophies? Human beings are hard-coded by hundreds of thousands of year of evolution for tribalism, and the idea that somehow now we have overcome that seems rather shallow and naive. In times of affluence these divisions can perhaps be kept under control, but as anyone who has been to prison will tell you, in difficult conditions human beings divide along tribal lines as a survival instinct. As we enter difficult times, this is exactly what I see happening in the USA -- hence the Tea Parties.

Personally I think the Chinese model of a culturally united civilization-state or a Scandinavian “national socialism” looks more powerful than the Western multicultural capitalist model at this point. Further, I think the entire post-Enlightenment liberal project is in danger of unraveling, as it has pushed Western peoples too far, too fast in an “unnatural” direction. A vast peasant revolt seems to be brewing against this project across the Western world, which may get ugly before this is through. But you can’t really blame these Tea Parties for trying to restore sanity to their societies, which have been uprooted and thrown into cultural chaos by the most disruptive social force in human history: globalist capitalism. The capitalist cultural destruction once visited upon the native American tribes is now being visited upon the European ones, and so they are starting to fight back. I think that’s what’s really at the root of all this turmoil, but you won’t hear this being discussed in the mainstream corporate media because, like radical Islam, it is a fundamental rejection of their vision of civilization that can’t be defeated by rational argument or bought off with money.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Brin, don’t you think that fundamentally the Tea Party movement is a kind of tribal reaction to the currently fashionable American notion that we can invite people of every culture, ethnicity and religion to our shores, and somehow we can all live together happily in dollar worship and legalistic union?

Historically, has such a “multicultural” society ever existed? What makes anyone think that this project has any chance of succeeding? Aren’t culture, tribe and religion the glue that holds a nation together, not laws, economic theories or political philosophies? Human beings are hard-coded by hundreds of thousands of year of evolution for tribalism, and the idea that somehow now we have overcome that seems rather shallow and naive. In times of affluence these divisions can perhaps be kept under control, but as anyone who has been to prison will tell you, in difficult conditions human beings divide along tribal lines as a survival instinct. As we enter difficult times, this is exactly what I see happening in the USA -- hence the Tea Parties.

Personally I think the Chinese model of a culturally united civilization-state or a Scandinavian “national socialism” looks more powerful than the Western multicultural capitalist model at this point. Further, I think the entire post-Enlightenment liberal project is in danger of unraveling, as it has pushed Western peoples too far, too fast in an “unnatural” direction. A vast peasant revolt seems to be brewing against this project across the Western world, which may get ugly before this is through. But you can’t really blame these Tea Parties for trying to restore sanity to their societies, which have been uprooted and thrown into cultural chaos by the most disruptive social force in human history: globalist capitalism. The capitalist cultural destruction once visited upon the native American tribes is now being visited upon the European ones, and they are starting to fight back. I think that’s what’s really at the root of all this turmoil, but you won’t hear this being discussed in the mainstream corporate media because, like radical Islam, it is a fundamental rejection of their vision of civilization that can’t be defeated by rational argument or bought off with money.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the duplicate posts, had some browser trouble :(

LarryHart said...

Dr. Brin:

I have the bona fides of someone who has read and understood Adam Smith. In fact, it is for that reason that I know which party the "First Liberal" would vote for, today, if he could. And it's not the one that touts his name the most.


In that case, did you see the Adam Smith quote I mentioned last topic? Thom Hartmann did a rant on how a few words are always left out of this famous line from "The Wealth of Nations" when quoted by libertarians and free-marketers, which changes the meaning considerably:


Every individual...generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2, a question for you that is not meant so much as a political question as one about the mechanics of the health-care industry itself. Anyone else can chime in, of course, but I'm asking for an insider perspective from someone in the health-care industry.

It seems to me that the biggest issues leading to the heatlh-care CRISIS in this country might have been dealt with within the system (evolution rather than revolution) had a distinction been made between two very different cases which are treated as the same thing:

1) waiting until an expensive medical condition is identified and then trying to ACQUIRE insurance afterwards

2) CHANGING insurance plans (whether by individual desire or because of eligibility changes such as a new job) after a medical condition has already been identified

I've been diagnosed diabetic for ten years now, and even though my blood-sugar levels are under control with about $20 worth of medication a month, I am considered uninsurable by Blue Cross and (I presume) any other major health-insurance provider. I'm currently covered through work, but if I lose my job, I can't just go buy insurance on the individual market. This also means I can't insure my nine-year-old daughter privately, because the insurance companies now require an adult to be on the policy with a child.

My question is, if it's not acceptable to petition government for relief of this situation, what IS the right thing for me to have done? Buy private insurance for my family all along? I did that for years, but the trade group that I did that through no longer offers health insurance because it was too expensive. The purpose of paying more for private insurance would have been portability, but in fact I lost access to that policy anyway. Had I turned down my most recent employer's policy in favor of a private one, I'd have lost the group eligibility to that employer policy as well (after 31 days). As things currently stand now, I've lucked into the situation of having myself and my family covered through work. Which means as long as my current employer doesn't outsource my job, and as long as I'm willing to consider myself a serf with the swrod of Damocles hanging over my head, I'm covered for the time being. That's hardly the freedom touted by the libertarian right.

I'm asking--if I accept the Republican memes about the free market (good) and socialism (bad) and the inherent goodness of letting the insuance companies do as they will, then what course of action that was available to me did I miss?

LarryHart said...

And Dr. Brin--just so you know. I'm just about to start "Foundation and Earth". I have very little interest in re-reading the retcon books right now (maybe at some future time), so I'm going to jump right to your "Foundation's Triumph" book after that.

David Brin said...

"But you can’t really blame these Tea Parties for trying to restore sanity to their societies, which have been uprooted and thrown into cultural chaos by the most disruptive social force in human history: globalist capitalism."

Sorry, but the oxymoron of "tea party" and "sanity" had me boggled for a while.

Look, I have written at length about the Look-bak and Look-Ahead world views and why some folks feel anomie toward the future. See: http://www.davidbrin.com/tolkien.htm

Also:
http://www.davidbrin.com/libertarian1.htm

This distinction today maps onto the Blue-Red divide. You mention another... those who fear that ill-educated whites will soon be a minority in the US. Another trauma I've mentioned... the grinding insult in red-america, of every year watching their best and brightest high school graduates flee for the blue cities, as fast as they can.

There are many factors.

But the biggest is simply this. The fifty years of flat social orders, without much of a class system, that arose in the Roosevelt era, is now over. We now have a major international oligarchy... SOME parts of which definitely want to control their destiny and do not see open enlightenment systems as their friend. They know that traditionally, the poor resented the rich, and they want to delay this realization as long as possible, so they can continue the Bush era vampire feeding frenzy.

Fox does this for them, by aiming populist ire at every type of elite in society that could resist the oligarchy. Government, civil servants, academics, science, even the military officer corps, and certainly all the universities and cities and other places where sophisticated people can see what's going on.

ALL of the above are set up as bogey men. Limbaugh recently made it very explicit.

LarryHart, I feel the WORST of countless polemical sins of the democrats is their failure to embrace Adam Smith as their patron saint. Even if it occurred to the liberals to adopt the First Liberal that way... the liberals would be blocked by their unreliable allies -- the lefties -- from extolling a champion of competition.

Jonathan S. said...

For myself, Anonymous, I don't agree with anything you said (including your opening - it's Dr. Brin, not Mr. Brin).

What makes me think the "Melting Pot" concept could possibly work? Well, there's the fact that until relatively recently, it was working - up until certain political groups decided it would be in their best interests to subdivide people into subgroups, and play those subgroups off against each other in order to gain and maintain power.

prepe: a thin pancake, rolled around a filling of creamed preppy - just another tasty treat from your friends at Soylent Foods!

Tacitus2 said...

Darn ya, LarryHart, I was supposed to be doing my pre-nightshift power sleep the past few hours but you have me fretting about providing some kind of answer to your questions. I even considered whether a partial answer would be worse than no answer, but that inconvenient Tacitan Prime Directive about responding won't allow me to ignore this!

It will be a two part answer, potentially in two posts if I get verbose.

The simple but so difficult answer is that the cost of health care needs to be drastically reduced. Say by 25%. At that point your trade association will be able to keep offering insurance. And private insurance, while not appropriate for everyone, will be practical for most people who do not fit into a big company system.

That's why for me, the wheels came off the bus way back on May 11, 2009. Remember? That's the date of the big White House press conference where the AMA, the Pharmaceutical Assoc., SEIU, the Hospital Assoc. and various other "stakeholders" announced their support for healthcare reform and their committment to reducing costs.

Wait. A. Minute. You have Billy Tauzin and Andy Stern talking about reducing the money their fiefdoms charge?

Of course there had already been a back room deal with Mr.Tauzin's Pharmaceutical clients. Roll over and don't oppose this, and all attempts to force generics and ease importation go away. No doubt similar assurances were offered Mr.Stern regards the labor situation in health care.

A Prussian general once said "In a campaign any mistake can be corrected, except errors in initial deployment".

A really lavish health care benefit package became a goal in and of itself, like a good 401k, rather than as a means for your nine year old to get a flu shot.

From that point forward the numbers did not work, and in fact would never work. The few cost containment measures that were not flimsy window dressing (significant tax on Cadillac plans, real penalties for razzing the individual mandate, funding for liability reforms) all were tossed out unceremoniously.

The administration had accomplished what I had deemed impossible. They made the American Health Care system worse.

I am getting verbose. Break to next post where I will wield imaginary god like powers!

Tacitus2

Anonymous said...

Part two.

LarryH.
As a parent you have the obligation to do whatever it takes for the well being of your child. At the present time large employers and governmental bodies generally have no pre existing conditions limits, the thought being that they are big enough to absorb statistical outliers (to put a polite term on hideous medical events). So, you certainly sound like the kind of guy who would jump in front of a bus for your daughter, all the current system is asking is that you work for Weyland-Yutani or the Feds, whichever you can best stomach.

But if we had a rational health care system, where generic drugs were mandated where bioequivalent, where funding for primary care was increased and that for sub specialty care decreased, where public assistance recipients had case workers overseeing random ER use, where healthy competition between organizations did not warp into gross duplication of top end services, well, you catch my drift.

A well regulated diabetic poses slight increases in potential costs. If it can be shown that such an individual is doing his or her part (keep that HgbA1c down, negative urine for tobacco byproducts, all your prescribed meds and routine visits happening on schedule) you get a whoppin' rebate. Or your employer does if they are paying the bills. Providers need to be motivated a little too.

It may sound like I am proposing a system filled with restrictions and potential penalties. Perhaps. But I am not a real conservative on this one singular issue.

Ultimately health insurance is not about eliminating unfairness. It is about mitigating the worst of it. You cannot stop your nice neighbor from getting pancreatic cancer. Your daughter is stuck with a family history of diabetes. We can do our best, but there will always be that fundamental truth that frustrates and bedevils idealists with tinkering on their mind.

Barely time for a shower and gotta run! Thanks for hanging in there this long.

Tacitus2

David Brin said...

At minimum the health insurance system should parse which portions even CAn be considered inherently capitalistc, and which are inherently non-market, by nature.

The notion that children - the society's ultimate investment - should ever lack for preventive care or remediation that could enhance their future taxpaying ability, is positively insane and deeply evil.

If Obamacare had not passed, I was pushing for the dems to simply define anyone UNDER 25 as qualifying for medicare. They are vastly more inherently the business of the state, than old people are!

This is an example of why the thinking on ALL sides has been skewed and idiotic. Heinlein himself said that some things should be socialistic and some rampantly competitive. Figuring out WHICH should be our business, instead of yattering oversimplifications straight out of the 19th century.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus, thanks for the thoughtful answer, even though you basically confirm that under the current for-profit system, there was never a damned thing I could POSSIBLY do to provide my family an endlessly-renewable policy against future catastrophic health-care problems. Employer-based (which I have) is the current best option but it's then up to the employer's unilateral decision whether the policy stays in force, how much of the cost they pass on to us, and whether (and under what conditions) to employ me at all. The other option--a portable personal policy (even HAD such a thing remained affordable) really isn't any more secure, since the insurance company then has the unilateral right to drop unprofitable clients.

As long as insurance policies are finite in length (typically annual) and a condition discovered in one period is considered "pre-existing" in the next, the long-term insurance is something impossible to provide.

Which is why SOMETHING has to be done about the rules of the game. I 100% agree with you that what you call (and my daughter's best friend's parents) call ObamaCare ended up totally fucked up. What he tried to do was to have the government essentially make sure everyone was allowed (and simultaneously required) to play the current game BY the existing rules instead of using the force of government to improve the rules. That's the equivalent of requiring everybody to buy their own $100,000 SUV as "public transportation".

However, I'll ask you to note that my daughter's best friend's parents (and perhaps yourself?) were oposing the concept of "ObamaCare" long before it came out in final form. The tea-party opposition was to the very CONCEPT of "ObamaCare"--to the very concept that anything was wrong with the rules of the game as they currently exist. I gave my personal story as an example of why (to mangle a Reagan quote) the rules of the game as they currently exist ARE the problem.

Tacitus2 said...

LarryH
I did not use the term Obamacare in my posts, but have occasionally done so. I do not regard it as pejorative, note Dr.Brin's use of it.
I supported the administrations health care reform efforts up to the point where it became clear to me that it was a financial flim flam. That would be late summer when the Senate version was eviscerated in committee.
I sympathize with your frustrations providing what is needed for your family.
But no, you can't lock in an "endlessly rerewable policy". Lord knows insurers don't deserve much sympathy, but with the degree to which health care is in flux, only a batch of fools would lock in a long term open ended committment. And fools they are not.
Tacitus2

LarryHart said...

Again, Tacitus, thanks for the insider response.

Sure, I understand that nothing can guarantee "unlimited" coverage. I do think there's a basic unfairness in the power balance between insurer and insured that makes it impossible to treat them as free and independent traders with each other. This basic inequality is reflected in the sense that it's pretty well accepted reasoning that I can't wait until I know I have an expensive condition before buying insurance, but an insurance company CAN and DOES wait until I have an expensive condition and then cut off my benefits.

Moving off to a tangential subject, that is analogous to the unfair balance of power between the owners of food, water, energy, land, etc vs consumers of the basic necessities of survival. Libertarians talk a good game about "If someone is WILLING to work for , then they've determined it to be a fair trade," but that way lies serfdom and slavery. I reject the notion that access to the basics of survival belong as the private property of a small elite, to be traded on their terms or none at all. How much does health-care belong in that category? That's the essence of the question we've been debating.

In discussing Ayn Rand, Dr Brin has mentioned something he refers to as the "hypergamous surrender reflex". That seems to be what libertarians perscribe for dealing with monopolistic corporations for our survival. "Figure out who to surrender to and on what terms." If jobs are being outsourced to China, then demonstrate that you're willing to work for LESS than the Chinese are. In a feudalistic world, there's a certain amount of sense there, but is that really the "America" we've been taught to love and cherish against all enemies, foreign and domestic?

LarryHart said...

My formatting got lost above. I MEANT to say:


Libertarians talk a good game about "If someone is WILLING to work for FILL-IN-UNCONCSIONABLY-LOW-COMPENSATION-HERE, then they've determined it to be a fair trade," but that way lies serfdom and slavery.

David Brin said...

I am appalled that 99% of American are unaware of what we have accomplished.

Nearly all of world development has been financed by American purchasing power... us buying countless trillions of $ worth of crap we never needed. Wal*Mart has lifted more people out of poverty than all the "aid" given by all nations, across all of time.

Our trade deficits have been sacred and noble things.
Today, as we speak, even in a recession, we are lifting the economies of China AND India... at the same time.

But how have we afforded to do this? Every decade, it was predicted that calamity would result, and it never happened.... till now.

The reason is simple. HALF of all gDP growth - since WWII - occurred because of scientific and technological advances. Jest, satellites, pharmaceuticals, computers, the Internet... you name it. We created new patents faster than others could steal them!

This is why the right's endless rants against both science and labor unions are monstrously stupid and self-defeating. The solution is not to drive working Americans into penury. Nor is it to hate the smart people who kept us dining on golden eggs of new discoveries and inventions.

We are seeing the result of the Bushite War Against Science. Ronald Reagan shifted R&D from Carter's energy program (which would have taken us off of the Middle-East oil teat, by now) and onto frantic overkill in developing things we prayed that we would never use! But, even still, at least in those days, Republicans liked technology! And some science.

Reagan's version of the War on Science was mild. He funded some research and listened to OSTA, now and then. In contrast to the neocons, I miss him, terribly.

The 21st century saw the first US leadership that directly and deliberately undermined the basic source of our power and the strength of the Middle Class. The font from which we took IN so much wealth that we were able to uplift the world, through trade.

Whether the parsimonious explanation is true -- that this was done deliberately -- or the preposterous story that is believed by nearly everybody -- that such a perfect record of harm to the United States was wreaked unintentionally, out of staggeringly uniform and manic stupidity -- either way, the harm has been grievous... and ongoing.

The relentless campaign of propaganda that manifests in Fox and the Tea Party Movement has one common them... Hatred of All Smartypants. Fuming, smoking spite toward America's "creative minority" --

-- the same minority of smart folks that the great historian Arnold Toynbee once called the core to any great nation's success. The same segment of society that Rush Limbaugh recently spewed venom toward, in openly-declared hatred and in extremely clear, general terms.

Let us be clear. They want us to cook the goose that laid golden eggs. And to serve it to an oligarchy that is almost as profoundly short-sighted and stupid as it thinks itself smart.

Tim H. said...

Some aspects of the environmental movement might be considered as a precedent for the war on science.

Tony Fisk said...

Dogmatists, on the right *and* right.

Aspects of the environmentalist movement *might* be considered warring on science (or, at least, the uses it's put to, eg GM fud).

Do not presume to include all environmentalists, however, many of which have science degrees.

On political lamps. It's intriguing me that a lot of elections recently are ending up 'hung'.

ABC has a story on the mid-term races that includes a quote from J. Duffy:
"Republicans are going to walk through fire to vote in this election and Democrats remain a little bit lethargic,"

So, the strategy seems to be: get 'em stoked, and get 'em pointed at a polling booth?

(Put like that, the situation sounds hilar-offically like the game play for 'Plants vs Zombies'! Which reminds me that undead were-elephants feature in the Sluggy Freelance episode: 'Torg Potter and The President From Arkansas': notable also for a plot resolution worthy of the Methods of Rationality!)

David Brin said...

Tim, I never said the Left didn't have its anti-future troglodytes. I hate them just as I despise those on the right. But let's be clear. The lefty-maniacs are a spent, insipid bunch of lame-losers who barely talk to each other, let alone control a major party, or a nation. They do not represent "liberals" though some (even some liberals) fail to make the distinction. Indeed, the Techno-Liberals like Stewart Brand are now championing nuclear power!

I tell everyone on the Kos site about this distinction and the lefties get furious! And the liberals say "tell me more!"

That kind of adaptability is not seen on the right. The neocons have hijacked conservatism, top to bottom.

Read this. http://www.davidbrin.com/1947.htm
and weep.

Tacitus2 said...

several points.
our competitive position in the world has been undermined not only by our lavishing our treasure on Asian trinkets, but by providing the military shield behind which the world hides, and the safe oceans over which said trinkets travel. In addition to being the world's cop, and the best customer for their Koolaid stand, we are their school teachers. The world comes to America for post grad ed, and takes the lessons home. It is a more competitive world than it was a generation ago. And we created much of it.

Regards the conservative antipathy to "science". Can we be more specific? If you include various soft sciences like sociology, economics, psychology, then yes, conservatives are leery. And rightly so I think. These are areas where "laws" are mutable, and where political taint has much precedent in history. In the "intermediate" disciplines there is skepticism of climate change, and a degree of antipathy towards stem cell research involving embryos. But to some degree these have become "stalking horses" for political causes as well. Opposition to the latter being a shorthand for opposition to Roe v. Wade for instance. I say this without comment on the merits of either field btw.
But for the "hard" science fields I am not seeing much antipathy. We all think its cool when astronomers find another potential earth for instance.

Regards the unions....recall that the union of 2010 bears only superficial resemblence to its antecedents. Most union members are in the service industries, and this year for the first time, over half of union members work for some element of government. Are you really suggesting that DMV clerks are engines of innovation? God help us. Even in the private sector, has the UAW done much to make it easy for GM to build better cars? They have an obligation to do the best they can for their members, but will do so at the expense of their employers ability to fund innovation.

Tacitus2

Ian said...

A somewhat different perspective on the contemporary world economy:

India is investing billions in Africa in areas including infrastructure; mobile phones, horticulture and manufacturing.

The things that deter developed world investors - corruption; violence, poor infrastructure; desperately poor consumers and an underskilled workforce - are all things they've been coping with for decades back home in India.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-24/ethiopian-rose-fields-give-india-billionaires-tips-on-african-buying-spree.html

Meanwhile Daimler and China's BYD are to bring an electric car to market worldwide in 2012.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-23/daimler-byd-have-made-good-progress-on-new-car-zetsche-says.html

Critical, this isn't a matter of the Chinese company simply bashing tin for the Germans.

BYD is bringing its world-leading Chinese-developed Lithium-ion battery technology to the joint venture.

The Singapore and Australian Stock exchanges are seeking approval to merge to create on the world's largest stock markets and to compete more effectively against Hong Kong and Tokyo for Asian IPOs.

The US remains a vitally important part of the world economy but its no longer dominant.

Tim H. said...

Tony, Dr. Brin, I did not intend to generalize, I meant mainly the darker greens, who say no almost like "republicritters", doing their best to convince people there is no possibility of negotiation, a gift to Limbaugh & Beck.

"nonsf", boring books.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin said:

Let us be clear. They want us to cook the goose that laid golden eggs. And to serve it to an oligarchy that is almost as profoundly short-sighted and stupid as it thinks itself smart.


And the oligarchy, salivating over the meal they're looking so forward to certainly "loves" that golden goose they're about to consume. But the mistake we somehow let the Republican brand get away with is that "loving America" in that sense is anything remotely like patriotism.

Tony Fisk said...

No problem, Tim.

Wherever it derives, dogmatism does tend to quash any interest in spirited discussion.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

Ultimately health insurance is not about eliminating unfairness. It is about mitigating the worst of it.


I forget where, but someone I know described the problem that health insurance is designed to fix as (paraphrasing):

Depending somewhat on the whims of fate, your personal costs for health care this year might be $40, or it might be $40 Million. There's no rational way for the individual to budget for that.

Insurance is risk-spreading in order to make the risk affordable to all who share it. I couldn't bear the personal cost of replacing my house if it burned to the ground, but I can easily pay a few hundred dollars every year, which (pooled with the money of other like-minded people) covers the probable chance that my house (in particular) needs replacing.

Health insurance maybe was like that at one time, but it has morphed into an entirely different animal--a sort of hybrid of insurance, welfare, and feudalism which really DOES seem designed for "everybody to live off of everybody else." No wonder the system is broken. The big problem is that the (political) system for fixing such things--rational people debating real solutions--is also broken.

Carl M. said...

The reason why medicine is so expensive is that it takes months to calculate a bill. It's caused by too much insurance and not enough simply paying doctors out of pocket.

Here's a twelve minute video by a doctor who charges $49/visit in return for not filling out insurance forms. Quite enlightening.
http://vimeo.com/10884852

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

If I do not buy the health insurance, and there is a catastrophe, I will become bankrupt, because I can't afford all that expensive care.

If I buy the health insurance, and there is a catastrophe, I will become bankrupt; the out-of-pocket maximums exceed my ability to pay and if more than two family members are part of it, my ability even to make payments on a plan.

That's the place we find ourselves in today. Given that set of choices, "don't buy the health insurance" really seems to be the least insane.

David Smelser said...

Housing went to hell when financing of homes turned into a profit center. Education (for-profit education) went to hell when financing of education turned into a profit center. Medical care went to hell when indurance changed from cost pooling to a profit center.

I think I see a pattern here.

rewinn said...

"...Regards the conservative antipathy to "science". Can we be more specific?"

I am young enough to recall when conservative scepticism delayed anti-smoking efforts for decades. There are still those who deny that nicotine is addictive.

Today, pollution in general and global warming in particular are canonical cases of conservative antipathy to science, and stem from much the same combination of causes.

David Brin said...

Tacitus, your first paragraph about "our competitive position in the world" is cogent and as well-stated as any that I have seen! It aggravates me that there is so little gratitude in the world, for the calmly generous-protective role that Pax Americana has played...

...though in fact, gratitude is not richly endowed in human nature. The best we can hope for is to be the LEAST HATED empire in the history of the world. And that is almost certainly the case.

Alas, your second paragraph is less wise. Gimme a break. The FIRST thing the goppers did, taking over congress in 1995, was to trash the OTSA ensuring there'd be no inconvenient fact-checking science and technology unit inside congress. If I had all day (I don't) I could talk till I drop about the War on Science... but get the BOOK by that title!

The denialist cult attacks science at its root and the reputation of scientists as a clade, using the EXACT same consultants who worked for Big Tobacco and the same ground troops who push creationism.

The AAAS poll showed only 5% of scientists still call themselves republican, a plummet from 50% that MEANS something!

If you've had your head in the sand for 12 years (as a member of this community, you haven't but that para sounds like it!) then you might still be able to rationalize this.

Your para re unions was just silly. They aren't a force at all, today. Except that, like college lit profs, they make good bogeymen for Beck to yell at.

---

Carl M... Is there some archived site I can send people to, for those REFORMTHE LP pages of mine?

-----

LarryHart said...

David Smelser said:

Housing went to hell when financing of homes turned into a profit center. Education (for-profit education) went to hell when financing of education turned into a profit center. Medical care went to hell when indurance changed from cost pooling to a profit center.


I can almost hear the righty talkers responding with their snide "You just want to soak the rich because you're jealous of the profits they've rightly earned." However, don't let them get away with that one. It's one thing for someone to become rich by providing value and exchanging it for money freely paid(say Bill Gates). It's another thing entirely for someone to figure out a way to game a system so that they can get rich skimming profits off the top, LOWERING the value actually provided.

It's a truism that a business can't be a money-LOSER for any extended length of time, and therefore, that profitiablility is a necessary condition of success in any field. But it does not follow that it's any kind of natural law that a business must have MAXIMIZING profit as its first and only goal. Corporations don't exist in nature--they are chartered BY governments for specific societal purposes--to build a railroad or to provide electricity to a locality, or to report on the news (for example). When a business's mission statement isn't about doing SOMETHING useful, and is reduced to ONLY "maximize profit", then it might as well be that fictitious company in Doonesbury whose only product (this was during the 90s stock boom) was printing shares of its own stock.

Which is my long-winded way of agreeing with you--not because profit is bad in and of itself, but because profit has replaced the original reason any of those businesses existed in the first place.


I think I see a pattern here.


Don't forget "News went to hell when news broadcasting turned into a profit center."

Rob Perkins said...

David, I don't agree with you about unions. The PSW's in my state have tremendous obstructive power when it comes to their benefits, which because of the perfect storm of investments crashing, health care inflation, and pension underfunding, means that the costs are getting astronomical. And they're not negotiating in good faith.

Tacitus2 said...

Now, David.

'Twas you that mentioned the unions in the post to which I responded. I was just suggesting the possibility that the version current in 2010 might in some respects be an impediment to invention and ingenuity. You can agree with me, disagree or ignore me. Silly was a bit harsh.

And what I was asking in the "can you be more specific" phrase, was for more detail on the poll of scientists. Guess not. No matter, you are a busy guy so I looked it up myself.

AAAS does indeed have sections in the physical sciences as well as softer areas like psychology etc. The poll, done by Pew in 2009, was of a random internet selection of members. A fair sized selection, true, but in the spirit of critical thinking I was alluding to the possibility that the shocking results might be, er, worthy of additional checking? The percentage of independents among scientists for instance struck me as low.
You could cheat on this kind of study by weighting the sample in different ways.

Just trying to keep an open mind after all. Occasionally when you stick your head in the sand you find things that people are trying to bury!

Tacitus

Stuart said...

It's another thing entirely for someone to figure out a way to game a system so that they can get rich skimming profits off the top

I recently read a story about stock trading computers whose owners are moving them physically closer to the stock exchanges in order to gain millisecond advantages over their competitors. The story bragged that such a setup earned as much as $150,000 per day by acting on minute fluctuations in the market before anyone else could.

My first thought was: Someone lost all that money.

The operators are not providing a service or manufacturing a product. They're Richard Pryor in Superman 3, stealing everyone's half-cents.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin said:

We are seeing the result of the Bushite War Against Science.


I miss Kurt Vonnegut. This is from his most recent article (published during the Bush years)
over at "In These Times":


...
We must acknowledge, though, that persuasive guessers—even Ivan the Terrible, now a hero in Russia—have given us courage to endure extraordinary ordeals that we had no way of understanding. Crop failures, wars, plagues, eruptions of volcanoes, babies being born dead—the guessers gave us the illusion that bad luck and good luck were understandable and could somehow be dealt with intelligently and effectively.

Without that illusion, we would all have surrendered long ago. But in fact, the guessers knew no more than the common people and sometimes less. The important thing was that they gave us the illusion that we’re in control of our destinies.

Persuasive guessing has been at the core of leadership for so long—for all of human experience so far—that it is wholly unsurprising that most of the leaders of this planet, in spite of all the information that is suddenly ours, want the guessing to go on, because now it is their turn to guess and be listened to.
...

Carl M. said...

All your articles are still there. The old site is under www.reformthelp.org/reformthelp. For example, part 1 begins here:

http://reformthelp.org/reformthelp/marketing/positioning/models.php

(The new owners of the site had ambitions of using Drupal which never came to fruition.)

Carl M. said...

Let me try again. Blogspot cut off part of the URL. I'll make it a link.

Models, Maps and Visions of Tomorrow

Anonymous said...

It's amazing that mentally-challenged movements like the tea party can so quickly impact the political landscape. Of course, it is is a propaganda creation of Fox and some shrewd Republican operatives. But where is the effective response by those who should know better? Are John Stewart and Steven Colbert are best counter response? Frankly, some major scifi thinking should go into how we salvage this country. How about developing a think tank at your website David? Maybe a third party option should be considered.

Blight said...

As I study are present political/economic trajectory, it reminds me of Paul Theroux's O Zone. The Oligarchy, at some point, will need to bunker itself up in the U.S., or set up shop in a safer country. The criminals of the U.S., being constantly minted in our prisons, may join up with gang members of the Mexican narco state. The Tea Party members having no absolutely no remedy for a crashing society (but energetically making things worse) may exercise their second amendment rights. Then perhaps a new-corporate-darling savior will take the fascist reigns of government into his or her hands (no, him, Glenn Becks are putatively male). If we are not more inventive, we may be writing a rather unpleasant script for ourselves. As Ben Franklin noted about the tech level of his time: No man should really need to work more than 5 hours a day to enjoy all the benefits of society. paraphrase.

David Brin said...

Anon... I've tried for years to "think tank" at a level that will actually be heard where it can make a difference. Even with friends and a cousin INSIDE the White House, I am left feeling like a peripheral yapper... just big enough to have my emails actually answered, but only rarely seeing my talking points adopted. (And never acknowledged.)

Yeah, I have more influence than 99% of my fellow citizens... and it's enough to be very frustrating.

We don't need a third party. We need libertarian-leaning conservative Americans to wake up to how their movement has been hijacked and GIVE US BACK a decent conservative-libertarian party in this country!.

It could happen. See:
http://www.davidbrin.com/1947.htm

Nothing proves the banality and stupidity of the oligarchy more than their pell mell rush to create the conditions that might result in a radicalized citizenry and a massive wave of AT BEST confiscation. (At worst? Look up "tumbrels.")

I want there is be rich people. I want to be one. I am a better acolyte of Adam Smith than any of them. I want to solve the populist problem by resuming our positive sum rush to get everybody rich fast... while the Winners just get richer a bit faster and have a bit more fun, amid everybody having fun... the kind of game the tech billionaires along the west coast believe in!

The negative-sum game of those who seek COMPARATIVE wealth over their neighbors is not only sick, and treason. It is profoundly stupid.

David Brin said...

Thanks Carl!

Guys, spread the word to look at this series!

http://reformthelp.org/reformthelp/marketing/positioning/models.php

Tim H. said...

Andy Ihnatko makes a rare observation on politics:
http://ihnatko.com/2010/10/23/dumbest-political-attack-ad-ive-seen/
Kind of a relief from wondering whether the GOP does a "Mr. Creosote" after ingesting the TEA party, or becomes nastier than ever.

Rob Perkins said...


It could happen. See:
http://www.davidbrin.com/1947.htm


David, how many years and how much pain had to pass between the beginnings of Soviet-style "Communism" (in what? the 1920's?) and the sea change in 1947? More to the point, which events were extant to convince people on the "liberal" side to support things the way they did?

Where are conservatives, along that analogous road?

Ian said...

*If all that the US imports from China is "cheap trinkets" and if those imports have devastated US manufacturing that seems to suggest that all the US was making was "cheap trinkets".

David Brin said...

Rob I will tell you what it took, in 1947. The break had been building... the liberals becoming ever-more convinced that the "tea party" crazies of the left were NOT their friends...

...but the precipitating event is very clear. Stalin raounded up many of Eastern Europes TRADE UNIONISTS and tossed them out of third story windows in a plague of "suicides." or simply disappeared them.

Turns out to have been the worst mistake that SOB ever made. For it galvanized George Meany and Walter Reuther and the AFL CIO into a rage of red-hot anti-communism. All traces of Marxism were purged and the Democratic Party waged the Cold War more fiercely than the republicans (barring Reagan) ever did.

Tony Fisk said...

I think Rob's point is that the galvanising action was pretty extreme.

What equivalent modern day 'defenestration'* is likely to occur?

*This sounds eerily like the 'defenestration of Prague', which precipitated the Thirty Year War (Ooh! Fun.. not!)

Ian said...

Rand Paul supporters attack a protester and force her to the ground, whereupon one of them proceeds to stomp on her head.

http://gawker.com/5673264/womans-head-stomped-at-kentucky-senate-debate

Ian said...

World's first biodegradable paper watch.

http://www.ecouterre.com/altanus-introduces-patch-the-worlds-first-biodegradable-paper-watch/

Technical details are scanty but I assume the digital display is an organic LED.

Tim H. said...

The conservatives might have a revelation if the GOP assimilation & marginalization of the tea party fails. A spiral of who's most conservative will leave most them without a party, just as the game of who's more Reagan has left moderate republicans out in the cold. (BTW, I think Reagan never intended things to come to this pass.)

LarryHart said...

Tim H said:

(BTW, I think Reagan never intended things to come to this pass.)


As fans of Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" are all too aware:

Intent and outcome are rarely coincident.

Tony Fisk said:

I think Rob's point is that the galvanising action was pretty extreme.

What equivalent modern day 'defenestration' is likely to occur?


As the definition of "Republican In Name Only" is pushed further and further to the extreme right until Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon become part of the out-group, it may only be a matter of time before the sorts of harm the tea-partiers inflict on "liberals" like ACORN, Van Jones, and company are inflicted on those now in power in the GOP.

For the moment, it's "acceptable" to them for Limbaugh and Beck to whip up an audience to murder an abortion doctor (he's evil, after all), but wait until that happens to one of THEM.

I give John McCain credit for one thing. Very late in his campaign, he seemed to see the monster his vice-presidential choice was getting ready to unleash on the country, and he actually tried to reassure some of his supporters who were terrified of the alien Muslim Obama that "Senator Obama is a decent man who wants what's best for the country, just as I do." It might have cost him support of his party's insane base, but for one brief shining moment, he decided not to be "that guy", and possibly KNEW he was forfeiting the presidency by doing so. "Country first" indeed.

Tacitus2 said...

Ian

Instapundit, which is sort of Grand Central Station for (imho) reasonable conservative/libertarian thought, features the incident you mention front and center with the admonition to arrest, charge, prosecute and punish the responsible party, preferably both more rapidly and with greater severity than the equivalent case involving alleged SEIU members.

For those who retain some gauzy notions of an independent press, an item from today's St.Paul Pioneer Press (MN). Several column inches on revalations from Minnesota Public Radio on their Freedom of Information Act findings that Paul Wellstone got angry phone calls. And a gratuitous denial from the FBI that there was any nefarious sabotage in the fatal Wellstone plane crash. I mean, its not like there isn't anything else going on in the political world, or even the world of Public Radio.

I second LarryHart's kudos to John McCain, an honorable politician. May a new generation be found. Somewhere.

And if it makes you all feel better, I am just as aware as you are of the potential for tumult and trouble after 2 November.

Tacitus2

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

For those who retain some gauzy notions of an independent press, an item from today's St.Paul Pioneer Press (MN). Several column inches on revalations from Minnesota Public Radio on their Freedom of Information Act findings that Paul Wellstone got angry phone calls. And a gratuitous denial from the FBI that there was any nefarious sabotage in the fatal Wellstone plane crash.


I'm not sure I understood the sense in which you posted this, or any associated sarcasm.

But has anyone actually done studies about the breakdown (Democrats vs Republicans) of influential politicians who die in mysterious plane crashes? My totally-unscientific gut feeling is that it happens to Democrats too regulary for comfort.

How serious am I here? Al Franken's book (from before his Senate election) would refer to it as "kidding on the square".

Blight said...

From a historic perspective, perhaps America is a speed dial copy of the Roman empire. Yes, we made an attempt at empire with the Neocon's New American Century. And so we began bankrupting ourselves with wars. But wait maybe we are really more like Spain, which bankrupted itself with the Spanish armada. But then again like Rome are internal corruption, plutocracy and political discord is also destroying us. Frankly, its hard to see America pulling itself out of this one. There are too many powerful parties with money and political clout to allow meaningful change in a dynamic world economy. Consequently, I think its time to begin building life boats. In the middle ages fortified monasteries preserved civilization. Not disposed to mere idle chatter,I would like to offer my ranch in Montana as one sanctuary as America descends into anarchy. And I think we might want to build underground because later we may need to terraform the earth.

LarryHart said...

As a slight alternative to what Blight suggests (and perhaps more in line with the character of this blog), it might be time to begin establishing two Foundations at opposite ends of the galaxy.

Rob Perkins said...

From a global perspective, which shouldn't mitigate any effort to reduce corruption, we have the least corrupt government. It's on par, in that respect, with the British Parliament, or the Swiss national assemblies.

Just for perspectives sake, that. My parents are currently living in the Philippines, and the stories they tell me about the kinds of problems the people there have are to our "health care crisis" what a food riot would be to a squabble over the size of slices of cake at a birthday party.

David Brin said...

re the woman stmped at the Rand Paul rally:
http://gawker.com/5673264/womans-head-stomped-at-kentucky-senate-debate

eek.

I have yet to find a single person who will follow me down the rabbit hole of wondering if this Civil War is something that someone out there would WANT to see happen to America... and thus something that some group might be actively trying to foment.

Irony? I quasi predicted it in 1989

http://www.davidbrin.com/newmemewar1.html

rewinn said...

"...it might be time to begin establishing two Foundations at opposite ends of the galaxy"

I'm sure LarryHart is jesting, and yet ... even assuming that most human knowledge is essentially safe from loss, there may be values that are not. Given the rise of "Idiocracy" from comedy to political platform, it may indeed be wise to create refuges from which to rebuild (not geographically based; that's rapidly becoming an illusion). But how might this be done, and what should be conserved?

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

I second LarryHart's kudos to John McCain, an honorable politician. May a new generation be found. Somewhere.


I thought that President Obama was one of those, and look what happens to him. Or to McCain for that matter.

rewinn says of my comment:

"...it might be time to begin establishing two Foundations at opposite ends of the galaxy"

I'm sure LarryHart is jesting, and yet ...


More like "kidding on the square". Deliberatly extrapolated to absurdity, and yet, to a great extent not really joking.


even assuming that most human knowledge is essentially safe from loss, there may be values that are not. Given the rise of "Idiocracy" from comedy to political platform, it may indeed be wise to create refuges from which to rebuild (not geographically based; that's rapidly becoming an illusion). But how might this be done, and what should be conserved?


The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution?

The complete "Schoolhouse Rock" collection? (Sounds like I'm joking again, but at least those songs are catchy enough that kids would memorize multiplication tables AND basic facts about science and history.)

"A Tale of Two Cities"? As a warning or a bitter reminder.

Blight said...

David, some of America's militia groups might be quite happy with civil strife (a good opportunity to use the hardware). Osama should be pleased (he helped trigger the unpaid for wars). China can't lose (it's loaning to a financial heroin addict)and its more than willing to fill the power vacuum when America bites it. Of course, if we are damaged too badly, the bankers may find it harder to loot the American treasury. Corporations, having outsourced American jobs, may need to relocate to other countries for safety reasons. Security businesses like the company formally known as Blackwater should do well. There will be a lot of scavengers picking America's bones (think feeding frenzy - like in the mortgage processing scandal. The bone picking will include many prominent politicians and CEO's, who, for that matter, are already picking America's bones. And then there is the Tea Party; every great tragedy demands a comedic element. In fact, this great tragedy is best viewed as a comedy.

Naum said...

Interesting take on reading Adam Smith *Wealth of Nations*

Blogging Adam Smith

I read *Wealth of Nations* back in college, and then a few years ago, gave a reread as a lot of rhetoric tossed about by conservatives and libertarians didn't seem to gel with what I read — it seemed, just like the Bible, people did a great deal of proof-texting, lifting out and clipping little blurbs of text to support their dogmatic approach, and omitting or ignoring those parts that contradicted their unified philosophy.

Ian said...

"it might be time to begin establishing two Foundations at opposite ends of the galaxy."

We already exist.

Tony Fisk said...

We already exist

19 hours into the future...

(...and how is it down at Mawson, Ian? ;-)

Ian said...

Having been raised in the subtropical splendour of Brisbane, I hope never to find out.

Tony Fisk said...

I sort of knew that, and was simply thinking in terms of foundations at opposite ends of the galaxy.

OTOH, we might *have* to find out, if this report has any merit.

Ian said...

If we follow the books, the other foundation will probably be based in the Smithsonian

LarryHart said...

Dr. Brin said:

re the woman stmped at the Rand Paul rally:
http://gawker.com/5673264/womans-head-stomped-at-kentucky-senate-debate

eek.

I have yet to find a single person who will follow me down the rabbit hole of wondering if this Civil War is something that someone out there would WANT to see happen to America... and thus something that some group might be actively trying to foment.


The idea that a metaphorical (culture-) war is intentional and is preferred by one side of the aisle is so obvious as to go without saying.

The idea that a group of Americans might prefer and encourage an actual SHOOTING war between Americans...I suspect no one will go there because it's too frightening to contemplate.

I confess that when I hear about the Rand Paul stomping (a local Chicago news columnist referred to it as "Don't Tread On Me; I'll Tread On You!" my thoughts go less to the Civil War and more to the German brownshirts. Once again, the right-wing seems to have brilliantly maneuvered the national debate so that any comparison to THEIR methods to the Nazis is gauche, partisan, and bad form, whereas it's perfectly acceptable and "makes a lot of sense" to equate Obama and Hitler (even while simultaneously equating Obama with Stalin). So it's supposed to be off the table to point out that the the executive power-grab following 9/11 is eerily reminiscient of that following the Reichstag burning, or that brutal violence and even murder of political opponents of the type that preceeded Hitler's election is being actively encouraged by today's shrill anti-Democratic (and anti-democratic) right.

I've got to say...there's a small but growing voice in my head wondering if now might be a good time to invest in guillotine manufacture.

Doug said...

"Given the rise of "Idiocracy" from comedy to political platform, it may indeed be wise to create refuges from which to rebuild (not geographically based; that's rapidly becoming an illusion). But how might this be done, and what should be conserved? "

If you read Neal Stephenson's _Ananthem_ you'll see one take on this idea -- preservation of knowledge and the culture of learning through monastic, walled communities of scholars. I have a small farm I'd donate to such a movement, but it's probably too close to D.C. to be an effective retreat in times of nuclear war.

Anonymous said...

there was never a damned thing I could POSSIBLY do to provide my family an endlessly-renewable policy against future catastrophic health-care problems

You could move to Canada. Or Sweden. Or the Netherlands.

LarryHart said...


You could move to Canada. Or Sweden. Or the Netherlands.


They'd just take me in?

Blight said...

Since I raised the issue of sanctuaries to preserve what can be preserved of civilization, I would like to elaborate more on my scheme. First, these sanctuaries could grow to be little cities. They should be organized under a nonprofit charter, perhaps religious - so no taxes. Presently, small rural towns are dying in the west, so the addition of any of these entities would increase economic vitality. The sanctuaries would use cheap, green building techniques - like earthships. Based on a farm or ranch base, the small population could take care of its own food needs. However, by use of the internet, Sanctuary pioneers would be expected to continue their education. Sanctuaries would be similar to our Montana Hutterite colonies. These colonies have communal living down to an art. They also provide valuable labor (barn building) and naturally grown food to the larger community. People also like having Hutterites as neighbors. Presently, large parts of Detroit are vacant, offering possibilities for Sanctuary sites (although there are plenty of ranch possibilities in the west). Also it would be nice to start producing an alternative to regular news - Sanctuary Sanity News, which would compare various spurious stories against the facts. Sanctuaries could also help support forward thinking political groups and actions - as all of us should do now. In the future, Sanctuary living might look quite good - when compared to permanently un or underemployed, in a shrinking zero sum rat race.

David Brin said...

LarryHart said:"The idea that a metaphorical (culture-) war is intentional and is preferred by one side of the aisle is so obvious as to go without saying. The idea that a group of Americans might prefer and encourage an actual SHOOTING war between Americans...I suspect no one will go there because it's too frightening to contemplate."

Thanks for proving my point. I have repeated my hypothesis relentlessly for 5+ years and still no one will parse it out . Your para above still glides AROUND the point!

Which is that our present, mostly non-shooting civil war IS harming America and it is precisely what an enemy would want us to be doing, right now. Given that we do have enemies who want us to fail, that they have trillions, that they have invested some of that money into the chief engine of Culture War... why is my notion so hard for anybody... for everybody... to grasp?

Blight said...

David, what more needs parsing out? Our nation is awash with guns and sales of ammo skyrocketed after Obama's election. Is it possible that some shadowy group is intentionally funding future civil strife? Look at Fox and the recent packing of weapons to political events. (Doesn't Fox have major investment by the Saudi's?) If the economy worsens and the unemployment checks stop, you are going to see more major distress among Americans. If riots and shootings begin (the Rubicon is crossed), a strong fascist leader can then step forward for the best interest of the corporate elite. The gun-packing thugs will also get some well deserved resources. Or perhaps we shall slowly decline like the British Empire - or perhaps scientific advances will once again save our bacon. All good citizens must remain vigilant and prepared to fight for our democratic institutions - and I think we really do need to start thinking outside the box. We made this reality and we have the power to change it.

LarryHart said...

Ok, Dr. Brin, I think I see what you're getting at. Saudis, Iranaians, Murdoch...maybe other suspects...have a whole bunch of money (much of it American), would love to see America (qua America) fail, and are in the process of buying that failure.

On the one hand, I still think is so obvious, it goes without saying.

On the other hand, the party and the population cohort that once would have been MOST up in arms about such a thing (conservative Republicans) seems content to watch it happen.

Either Marx or Lenin is purported to have said that capitalists will cheerfully sell them (commies) the rope they use to hang us. In other words, we capitalists are so darned short-sighted that we'll engage in any profitable transaction without giving a thought to "Is there any non-monetary reason I don't want this transaction to happen?" I'm afraid we're living that out before our eyes.

David Brin said...

Blight... you still miss the point!

"We" didn't make this reality alone.

See this:
http://www.davidbrin.com/blackmail.htm

What is so hard to imagine that we were deliberately maneuvered into repeating America's two worst mistakes? Civil War and a land war of attrition in asia?

Spell it out and try it aloud. The present situation is a deliberate result of planned enemy action. Try it on for size. True or false... it FITS everything we see.

David Brin said...

And no one... not even the most paranoid, or the most fervent Bush haters... will EVER try the idea on for size.

Not even as a plot for a bad thriller. I repeat that. Nobody will even taste it, mull it or contemplate it.

I guess that is why I am so fascinated/attracted to it!

Tim H. said...

Oh, let me guess, an element of society that feels it can stay out of the way of the shooting, then set up whatever they wish, in the name of order after the combatants have worn themselves out. The suspect element would be one with secure bases and enormous resources, people who could use the existing conservative movement as hand puppets (And doubtless, others.). People who might miss the good old days when they could greet angry peasants with boiling oil.

rewinn said...

"...What is so hard to imagine that we were deliberately maneuvered into repeating America's two worst mistakes? Civil War and a land war of attrition in asia?"

From the start, did you not choke back a laugh whenever some fan of invading Iraq claimed that Russian and Chinese intelligence told us that they thought Saddam had WMDs? People who on any other issue would assume the "Chess Masters of the Kremlin" were lying would on this *one* issue assume that Putin's boys were both truthful and well-meaning.

On the larger point, I don't know whether there may be a single, master-planned conspiracy, so much as skilled players with strong strategic vision.

Although - were I to write that novel - I would have Chinese intelligence take compromising photos of the teenage son of the American Chief of the US Liaison Office as a matter of course. You never know who will one day become president.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Or people who just want to see America fail. We have enough foreign enemies who wouldn't need to worry about holding on to anything here if we collapsed into civil war, after all.

So who would MOST benefit from the collapse of the U.S., and who would benefit most with different degrees of collapse?

David Brin said...

SHeesh, you know who I'm talking about. And it ain't the Chinese.

rewinn said...

Ok, Doc, I understand and agree. The Aristocracy has more in common with each other than they have with the peasantry. Not that they don't squabble among themselves, and maybe even foment a little revolution among the peasantry ... in the territory of a rival Aristocracy. But fundamentally they support a sort of semi-feudal system which transcends any particular Great House. The extent of their loyalty to a "nation" can be measured by the rapidity with which they plunder their own treasury, launch wars to enrich their followers, and locate their treasure vaults offshore.

One might write a fine fantasy series by putting a d-and-d overlay onto American history 1980-present - the problem being we're only partway through volume 2 of the triology, and we don't know whether it's comedy or tragedy.

===
As for a refuggio - I'm not sure that the traditional geographic locals would work. There just aren't any plausible lost islands, valleys or horizons anymore. We need a new concept of a virtual refuge; unfortunately I'm not clever enough to suss it out.

Ian said...

David, I find your theory had to swallow because the Saudis know that if the US collapses they'll go with it.

The Saudi rulers aren't the religious fanatics you seem to believe, they're western-educated technocrats playing at religious fanatics because they need the support of the conservative minority within Saudi Arabia.

David Brin said...

Ian... you actually swallow that depiction, that has been financed and promulgated at great (but highly affordable) cost?

Yipes? How likely is it that a huge family of bona fide geniuses (according to all testimony) who ere raised in total arrogance and steeped in a culture of utter-macho, with recidivist grudges going back thousands of years... told endless stories of a lost caliphate that SHOULD be theirs...

...while marrying into the most fanatical line of theocrats on the planet...

...would actually be as they are depicted, by their OWN hired publicists?

They do NOT go down with us, if we go down the way we are going down, right now... into silliness, culture war, superstition and penury, bickering and spending into THEIR pockets.

But see what I mean guys? No one... not even YOU guys!... will even try it on for size. They are Rupert's partners and GW Bush's god-uncles. But nobody will even LOOK at the possibility that what we see was actually somebody's desire.

Heck, at this rate, if I'm all alone out here, I might as well admit it. If I can't fight em, I might as well look for a good job with them.

David Brin said...

onward to next posting