Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Task Ahead of Us


All right, summer is over (despite four weeks remaining till the equinox). It is time to kick off the sand, put on our shoes and see to our civilization.

In some ways, the coming November elections are more important than any presidential year that we have known. If ever there was a need for at least one house of Congress to be controlled by a different party than the one occupying the White House, this is that year.

Please. Even if you are a Republican... even if you (for some mind boggling reason) have convinced yourself that President Bush and his friends are doing a great job... even so please ponder how often you praised divided government back in the old Clinton days.

Didn't you (once upon a time) claim to believe that unaccountable and unquestioned power corrupts? That it will corrupt anybody, even your side?

Aren't you even a little disturbed by an administration that -- while controlling every single lever of power --has dropped over us a veil of secrecy deeper than we knew during the deepest depths of the Cold War? Take just one example. When one party in power feels free to abandon all of the contract and accounting and competitive-bidding rules, in favor of ten thousand "emergency" no-bid contracts... contracts that always go to their pals (coincidence!)... don't you think that somebody, somewhere, ought to be asking questions?

You won't see questions being asked in the present Congress of the United States, amid their pork barrel feeding frenzy. A Congress which has held fewer days in session, fewer committee meetings, fewer inquiries, fewer debates, and issued fewer subpoenas than any other in the last hundred years.

A Congress that intentionally dissolved all of its own nonpartisan scientific advisory staff, in order to spend ten years of dogmatic monomania, avoiding hearing anything that its leading members do not like to hear?

Is this really what you want? Even as a lifelong Republican?

Especially as a lifelong Republican? For a century, the great American political tradition was one of independent legislators, only marginally beholden to party leaders. Do you really want an era when The Party controls and dictates everything from on high? Didn't we see enough of that in the failed Soviet Union?

No, even if you despise liberals and hate Democrats, this is a time when the opposition simply has to be given some back some power. Enough power to throw open the doors and windows, to let in some light, to ask questions, hold hearings...

...and if those hearings uncover bad things, well? Do you really prefer that bad things stay hidden from sight, to fester and sicken our republic? Was all of your earlier, Clinton-era talk about accountability just a sham?

No, this is the time when even conservatives... that is, conservatives in the tradition of Dwight Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater, even Bob Dole... need to decide what's more important. Partisanship and endless "culture War"? Or letting some healthy light and air onto the nation's bitter wounds.

With the presidency not at issue... this is the time to overwhelmingly change our legislatures, demanding that they get back to business, back to supervision and professionalism and asking hard questions. Back to Advice and Consent.


Okay, that was an attempt to parse the present issue in terms that anybody might copy and offer to the sincere and decent Republicans they know. If they have a scintilla of self-honesty, it may provoke a little introspection and thought... at least in those who are able to open their eyes. Who know that something's wrong. People who normally could never bring themselves to hold their noses and vote in some "dang lib'rals"... but now can see that things are very different. It is time for a change.

But don’t just make this a one sided attack! There is one thing you Dems and Libs can offer in return. (And you had better offer something; people do not give concessions without something in return.) Please gather your own sense of honesty and courage and nonpartisan decency, to say:

"If Democrats ever have this much power in the future, and seem similarly reckless or partisan, or awash in secret deals, or as determined to lie and cheat their way into perpetually unaccountable power, I promise that you can turn this around on me. I will open my eyes, and I will listen."

Make that vow, and you might achieve the miraculous. Budge the unbudgeable. Move the un-movable. Persuade some of the millions of decent (but obstinate) American conservatives to meet you - to meet their country - halfway.

That's the best any honorable person, citizen, or patriotic American can ask.


All righty then. As November approaches, we have several priorities.

1) Try the argument above on every decent conservative you can find. Don't give up on them! Many are sincere, and simply have gone ostrich, covering their eyes and ears and shaking their heads, going "Nah-Nah!" to avoid facing the obvious.

Don't push them in a corner. DOn’t be rude. This is too important. We aren't in this to punish them for past mistakes. (Hey, a lot of liberals swallowed lies about “Uncle Joe” during the thirties. The situation is very similar!) No, do not rebuke.

But be insistent. Call them to duty. Remind them that the state of Arizona is drawing power from coils that surround the spinning in Barry Goldwater's grave! These horrific neocon monsters aren't "their" conservatives. Your friends and relations should disavow ‘em. And November is their chance. Their chance to stand up. To save their country.

2) We tend to forget the main task for September until it is too late. Everybody, please, take part in voter registration efforts near you. Especially near Universities, schools, wherever large pools of the unregistered may be found.

Ask every single young person you meet if she or he is registered AND IF THEY HAVE ASKED FOR AN ABSENTEE BALLOT! Sometimes that is the only way to make sure that they vote. By relentless nagging and making sure it gets done before election day. Indeed, in California and many other states, you can grab a handful of registration cards and hand them out yourself!

SERIOUSLY this is the most efficient way for you to double or triple or multiply your vote. By ensuring that several (or several dozen) people do this.

3) Don’t forget the state Assembly races! In fact, find out which race near you is the most contested and help that one, even if it doesn’t seem sexy. Loosening the neocons’ grip on States is key. Only then will they become desperate to drop their criminal conspiracy of rule-by gerrymandering. (And if the dems then refuse? Then it will be time to go after them!)

4) Above all -- Talk up the inevitable October Surprise.

If ever history revealed a time when unscrupulous men would deliberately harm their own country, in order to preserve power, this is it.

Can anybody seriously doubt that something "dreadful and unifying" will happen before the election?

Seriously, things are desperate for the neocons. Their slow coup is at a critical phase. They cannot afford to let go of even one power lever. The press, the Senate, the House, the FBI and Civil Service, The Court. If any one of them escapes control and starts doing its job, they are dead... or rather, prison-bound. So do not under-estimate the lengths to which they will go.

We have only two ways to foil this dismally predictable scenario. First, we must call upon the professionals, at last to stand up, to step forward, to blow whistles, to tattle and risk their careers for the sake of the nation that they have sworn to protect.

Alas, that has happened so very little, during the first awful years of the 21st Century. Hence, it may be up to the rest of us to cancel out the coming treason, by innoculation ourselves and our neighbors with the armor of cynical expectation.

Make bets! Predict the blow in advance. Stake real money on this. That kind of assertiveness will focus the attention of others on a topic most would rather not contemplate.

And if you are proved wrong? Suppose, in that happy event, you must fork over a few bucks, so what? Pay all the doubters and be filled with joy.

But you and I know that you will win these wagers, as sure as the sun sometimes ducks behind the moon, casting a terrible - but brief shadow across the land.

======     ======     =====

Finally, Google is at it again, unleashing another new service - Google Video - in beta. See my own two posted video interviews.

(In one I am identified as “Libertarian author David Brin.” My main quibble is with the capital “L”. Most freedom-loving people can agree with a lot of libertarianism... in lower case letters. Without the lapel grabbing dogma... which is the very topic that my video interview is all about. The other video, taken at a special UCSD alumni event, also features authors Vernor Vinge, Kim Stanley Robinson and Greg Benford! A great show.)

While I’m at it. Here are links to where some radio interviews have become available via audio online:

Just don’t overdose on Brin! It can get grating after a while, I’m told ;-(

Now let’s get serious.


Anonymous said...

David Brin wrote:

...Ask every single young person you meet if she or he is registered AND IF THEY HAVE ASKED FOR AN ABSENTEE BALLOT! Sometimes that is the only way to make sure that they vote...

Another good reason to vote by Absentee Ballot: if electronic voting machines are used at their polling places. Their votes might not count there any way!

Tony Fisk said...

Plus, there may not even be a voting machine in their district (dang shame!)

For what it's worth, I've set up a wiki at, where you can all enter your favourite October Surprise scenario (And any supporting data).

Password is 'paranoia' (as you will see when you log in)
Trolls and grafitti? We have our ways of confounding ...

Xactiphyn said...

I just saw this and thought it worth sharing:

Keith Olbermann had some very choice words about Rumsfeld’s "fascism" comments tonight:

The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack.

Donald S. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable comments to the Veterans of Foreign Wars yesterday demand the deep analysis - and the sober contemplation - of every American.

For they do not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence - indeed, the loyalty — of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land;

Worse, still, they credit those same transient occupants - our employees — with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.


And yet he can stand up, in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emperor's New Clothes.

In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised?

As a child, of whose heroism did he read?

On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight?

With what country has he confused… the United States of America?


Anonymous said...

Dr. Brin -

I would like to ask your kind permission to quote this entry at length in my own blog(s). You have said far more eloquently than I could ever manage, things that I have tried to get across to many of my friends (especially the ones who stick with the Administration because they self-identify as conservative - and don't listen when I try to point out that BushCo is/are about as "conservative" as Jesse Jackson...). I can't always get them to follow links - but at least I can sometimes get them to read my blog! :-)

Don Quijote said...

Looks like US citizenship isn't quite as rock solid as it use to be, Two U.S. citizens related to a Lodi man convicted of aiding terrorists are in virtual exile because federal authorities won't let them return from Pakistan until they submit to FBI lie-detector tests.

Anonymous said...

I think the capital "L" libertarian in the Google Video result was simply because it was the first word in the sentence describing the video. Nothing to be too concerned about, really.

David Brin said...

Dang, Mark, Olbermann was amazing.

Jonathan, you may clip and repost (with link).

For those of you who remember my earlier post on the subject, now is the time to remind folks of the Miracle of 1947. When liberals and democrats stood up, accepted that they had been worng to make excuses for "Uncle Joe," and declared war on the vicious evil of Communism.

Disavowing themselves from monsters and admitting that "the far left can go mad", they ensured that liberalism would follow the path of the AFL-CIO, Martin Luther King... and ultimately Google.

Can decent American conservatives do any less today, when the "far-right has gone mad"? The danger is - if anything - far worse, because the enemy is inside the walls and owns the castle-keep.

If these millions of sincere conservatives stand up. If they disavow the monsters, they may not only save their country, they may save conservatism.

For, when we finally defeat these would-be masters -- the way Americans have always defeated the monsters of each generation -- there had better be millions of conservatives among us, helping to restore democracy.

Or else, I am afraid, the GOP will be as dead in this country as the power of old King George.

Frankly, in memory of Ike and Goldwater and other fine American conservatives, I would find that sad. But dig it. Cowardly ostritches who ignore bad news, burying their heads in the sand, soon go the way of the dodo. They are unworthy of an agile and dynamic civilization.

They are dinosaurs.

Tell your friends to either stand up like men or get out of the way! We have a nation and world to save.


Cool wiki, Tony. Alas, I cannot contribute much. The worst "surprises" that I have helped concoct for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency are... well... too scary and rather secret.

All I can tell you is that there is a big range of nasty things.

On the bright side, they must be getting nervous about their henchmen! Any day, any one of their subordinates may decide: "I have had it with this!" Just one or two, blowing the whistle at the right moment, with well-documented revelations, could save us all.

THAT is an "October Surprise" our descendants will celebrate in legend and song.

Shazam McShotgunstein said...

I happened to see this prediction of an October surprise right after reading Bush Delivers Strongest Statement Yet to Tehran... "there must be consquences."

Yikes! Anyone doubt Ahmedinejad's willingness to go along and respond predictably to such sabre-rattling?

For what it's worth, I was a solid Republican voter... until 2002. I can't imagine a thinking Republican, even if they isolate themselves from contrary opinions, listening to a campaign platform based on "the boogeyman might pop out any minute and getcha! our only hope is to surrender all possible power to the state!" and not feeling viscerally repelled.

Anonymous said...

About scary things that could happen, I see what you mean. Thinking 10 minutes about it, I came up with nearly 20 methods, if I was determined, unscrupled and with resources in money/men, with wich I could wreak havoc on a modern country like ours. Granted, on more toughtfull reflections probably 90% of those ideas would prove unfeasible... maybe all of them... but I only used 10 minutes, and even only one would be more than enough.
Truly, more I reflect about this, more I find the thing strange. I mean, given enough resources and will, using guerrilla techniques and proved and true common-criminal methods, the level of damage you could deal should be much more than the few sporadic episodes we've seen until now. Let's say that most of those methods would be difficult to implement in the U.S. for logistical reasons... well, why have we not seen these applied in europe then, where the islamic population is so widespread that in some places one could forget still being in europe..
Consequence of this reflection: are our leaders so efficient in stopping them behind the curtains (but they usually make a lot of noises when they tell that they've fooled one plan or other), or maybe that danger is not so great and with not so many resources?

Anonymous said...

My problem with the terrorism plans isn't that I can think of a dozen ways off the top of my head to cause widescale damage from a small clique with moderate resources. It's that I can think of three or four ways to cause millions of pounds worth of damage from one single person acting alone with no resources beyond a car and access to $1000 or so.

And David, how do you get involved in official brainstorming sessions such as the Defence Threat Reduction Agency? I'm not sure our gov't listens to ours however as they do silly security things such as parking tanks outside airports to show they are doing things.

mw said...

"Try the argument above on every decent conservative you can find."

Hear Hear! I've been beating this drum on my blog since April. More ammunition for the argument:

Links to William Niskanen article (former Reagan economic advisor) and white paper, providing unassailable intellectual foundation for the beneifts of divided government.

Disgruntled Conservative Book Club.

The fiscal damage done by administration, in terms of comparison to LBJ (guess who is worse?)

and for the small "l" libertarian in your life, a voting strategy for libertarian relevance.

SpeakerToManagers said...

Quoth David Brin:

Can anybody seriously doubt that something "dreadful and unifying" will happen before the election?

The first such something has already happened: the US government was in a great hurry to publicize the "liquid explosive" plot, when the British cops wanted to wait and gather evidence. It was clearly all about the timing relative to the election, or perhaps to the anniversary of Katrina.

One of the problems in getting Republicans to vote against the kleptocrats is the way issues have been used to divide us.
I think I've developed an election strategy that many Democrats and Republicans alike could get bnehind.
It's based on a single issue: "George Bush is a liar and a moron, and if elected I will oppose him." Stating this allows a candidate to distance himself from the cabal without running against issues that may be dear to his constituents. And it provides a banner behind which to rally liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican together

Anonymous said...

That is a truly horrible pun. As a man who appreciates horrible puns, I salute you. For more horrible puns, I recommend Irregular Webcomic.

Rob Perkins said...

I've seen Card's column. I wish he'd unpack his labels a bit more, but I understand that it hits a dead-tree newspaper before being posted online, so maybe his editor won't let him.

Card is right in one sense, and maybe only one: Bush, Cheney, et all, certainly didn't think they were lying. All that confidence came from

a) All the gathered intelligence
b) Some groupthink *about* the gathered intelligence
c) some *very* American SOA about foreign tyrants. (How many of us, for example, *really* believe that Castro cares about Cubans?

So when Cheney gets up before the invasion and claims it all with certainty, it was true that *he* didn't think he was lying. He thought it was true, and the sheer white-hot power of his faith in it drove his sincerity.

The fact that it dovetailed with his faction's desire to oust Saddam was certainly also a factor, but then again, Clinton wanted that, too, as did all of the Congress.

It simply stands to reason that he wanted it without committing ground troops to cause it, since that's the way we operated in Serbia (an effort I also opposed, since I don't want to be the kind of American who invades and points guns in order to get what I want.)


I saw the libertarian video with David in it, and wish that they'd have chosen a less noisy venue, since the message of that background noise was exactly that of "two libertarian kook-heads gabbing about stuff in a corner, while everyone else ignores them"

One wishes they'd have used an actual studio.

Anonymous said...

Not all of we Republicans are thrilled with every aspect of the current administration or claim that they are doing a great job. What we are responding to is the refusal of the Democrats to defend the country or even acknowledge that that the country is under threat or worthy of defending. So please have these young people at least ask the potential recipients of their vote if they are willing to defend the country against threats other than the purported government "veiled in secrecy" black helicopters.

Tony Fisk said...

No doubt about it: you can come up with some scary scenarios in a very short space of time.

However, people mulling over October terrorist scenarios should realise that the aim of such things is to make people think they are better off with the current administration. Successfully blowing up boats next to oil tankers etc. would only highlight inadequacies. Heading such attempts off at the pass, on the other hand...

I've heard the reports that the London conspiracists were moved on prematurely at the insistence of the americans, but I'm not sure the timing serves quite as well as it would had they let 'em bubble away for another month or so. (Maybe they should look to John Howard for a better sense of timing.)

Chuck, what makes you think the Democrats won't respond to or recognise a threat to your country? (this isn't a dig: I'm not resident to the US so I'm a bit vague on the local politics)

Anonymous said...

Could you give me any evidence at all that the Democratic Party is refusing to defend America please? And could you give me evidence that the Democratic Party does not think that America is worth defending.

From everything I've seen, the former belief comes from the fact that the way the Democratic and Republican parties wish to defend America differs. And the latter belief comes straight out of the right-wing spin machine (lead by Fox News and Cato), and assisted by a very minimal number of Americans too far to the left for Berkeley.

And the threats aimed at America from external forces seem quite frankly pathetic. And were truly risible before the current administration and its attempts to "defend" America stirred things up.

I am not an American so there may be a lot I am missing - but I have seen absolutely no evidence (but multiple claims) of the points I am questioning.

David Brin said...

Having never seen Chuck's name before, I assume he is a drop-in and won't see this.

Alas, note the technique of the Big Lie through distraction.

"refusal to defend this country"????

Almost monthly, I attend meetings with US military officers who are in a state of despair over the collapse... not decline or wearing-down... but collapse of America's state of military readiness under this administration.

While military budget soar, the fraction that is going to sweetheart, no-bid pork contracts has soared even faster. The professional officers are increasingly out of the loop, with all of the decisions made by political appointees.

Meanwhile, the troops in the field are suffering horrid attrition, their equipment is worn-down, the reserves used up, the Guard effectively destroyed. Re-enlistments are plummeting along with morale.

Under Clinton, the argument was whether the US could meet its goal of being able to fully fight two major surprise wars at the same time. TODAY the military openly admits that it could not handle even one. Not one. Not even a mid-level surprise engagement.

(Well, actually, the Navy is ready. The only service that can say that. And the only one that has so far resisted most political meddling.)

So, Chuck, exactly how are you defining "defend"in that wild and scandalously slanderous accusation? Oh, because democrats doubt that the Iraq War has ever been handled well?

Or that it should have been the nation's central and budget-busting core priority to plunge into another land war of attrition in Asia?

Chuck, answer honestly. Were you one of those guys who spent decades saying "we lost Vietnam because of meddling by politicians?" Well, Robert Macnamara was positively benign compared to the meddling by Cheney-Halliburton. And if you do not know this, if you cannot even see, then you are evading even looking.

Oh, about Saddam. Consider this. What right do these jerks have to lecture anybody about Saddam?

The EXACT same list of names - Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Powell - are the ones that ordered General Schwarzkopf to stop short of Basra, where the Shittes were rebelling BECAUSE WE ASKED THEM TO and preparing to welcome us as liberators. Instead, we consigned them to mass liquidation by Saddam and left Iraq to suffer 12 more years of utter hell.

THESE are guys who have a right to lecture us about Saddam?

No Chuck. Don't you dare try to push the notion that this is about defending America. It is AT MINIMUM about being led by utter morons. (The GOP can do better. Hell, I'd rather have YOU as president, sight unseen!)

Alas, that is the BEST interpretation. The most likely one is treason.

Anonymous said...

"What we are responding to is the refusal of the Democrats to defend the country or even acknowledge that that the country is under threat or worthy of defending."

There you go again.

That's what's called a "straw man argument."

I'm sure you can drag up some talking-point examples of folks on the left who refuse to defend the country, or that don't believe there's a threat. These people are marginal wankers. They are not representative of mainstream Democrats and to imagine otherwise is intellectually lazy, unfair, and insulting.

What mainstream Democrats are unhappy with is BLITHERING INCOMPETENCE IN THE CONDUCT OF THE "WAR ON TERROR."

It is the way that the effort has been planned and led, and the way it has been represented, that is the problem.

Anonymous said...

Ah, DB responded more forcefully and authoritatively than I did.

RE "drop ins:"

There are PR organizations out there which PAY people to represent their customers' point of view on blogs.

That is, paid BS artists who visit a discussion group and deliver the latest talking points.

Websites of the shill-organizers:

Newsrack Blog's investigation into the practice:

Anonymous said...

O come on Chuck G I just met with one of my reprehensive in the house on Monday. Who is a Democrat and on the armed service committee and whose husband served in Vietnam. And who has continually voted money to the military and to Veterans. One of my liberal democratic senators who has been the one pushing hardest for better medical services to our wounded troops. I met with her staff member the week before and all of them want to defend this country with violence. I think you have been misinformed if you think they don’t want to defend the country by any means necessary.

On a personal note I am a pacifist, and pacifists like the recently martyred Tom Fox have given there lives for this countries interests time and time again in virtually every war we have fought. But they get no respect from either major party. Which is why I for the first time I have gone to meet with them to impress on them the heroic nature of the work of non-violence. They risk their lives yet get no respect gratitude, protection, health care, pensions or salaries like our military does. Yet they are every bit as patriotic and willing to put there lives on the line.

Anonymous said...

(Well, actually, the Navy is ready. The only service that can say that. And the only one that has so far resisted most political meddling.)

I'm not even sure I'll let you have that one, David. But for once the reason has nothing to do with political mismanagement. After the Van Riper fiasco in the lead up to the Iraq War, there is strong evidence that the current US surface navy is approximately as obsolete as a Battleship navy would have been in WWII - small speedboats are cheap enough to take 100:1 kills and come out waaaay ahead - and fast enough to choose when to engage. Strap missile packs on them and you can take out the destroyers, cruisers, and carriers of any surface navy in the world. The other issue is that the Soviets came up with something that could revolutionise navies at least as much as HMS Dreadnought did. The Ekranoplan - although there are more than slight issues with getting them working. (Think plane speeds with boat fuel efficiency when close to the ground and 100 tonnes+ of storage capacity).

Anonymous said...

Chuck, I'm kicking myself for taking your bait, but when have the Democrats refused to defend the country? Not to be antagonistic, but can you name a single occasion? It was Nixon that fled Vietnam, Reagan that fled Beirut, Bush the Elder who left Saddam in power. Clinton fled... um... Somalia? We had a whopping 160 special forces there.

We are faced with a slew of very dangerous terrorist organizations. Democrats understand that perfectly well. I suggest you look back on the votes for the PATRIOT Act and the authorization for the use of force in Iraq.

The British foiled a plot with police work. In the US, the 1993 WTC bombers were dealt with by police work.

After five years, the Taliban are regrouping and control swaths of Afghanistan. In Iraq, more bodies turn up by the day in what is for all intents and purposes a civil war (I believe the military is crrently using the term "low-level civil war").

Where is Osama?

Anonymous said...

Correcting an error, we had more than 160 Special Forces in Somalia, but we didn't have a large occupation force.

David Brin said...

Caramba. I have got to stop being lured into repeating talking points that I already have posted.

Please see "War In The Twenty First Century" at:

Above all, do a line-by-line comparison of Clinton's Balkans Intervention with the horrific Iraq War, in which our troops have been used as toy soldiers by very large and very mean little-boy politicos.

The comparison is not arguable or based on differences of opinion but on simple facts.

Like this one.

We achieved all goals in the Balkans within 6 months, while strengthening every alliance (except with France) and INCREASING our popularity in the Muslim World.

Valuable result: a Europe at peace for the 1st time in 4,000 years.

Level of political interference, after the alliances were lined up and the go order given? Very low.

Cost to our readiness: nil.

Cost in US Servicement lost to enemy action: None.

Zero. Zilch, nada. None whatsoever.

Do it yourself.... go to the article and do the complete comparison, then tell us who is best at operating the AMerican Pax

DoctorB said...

re: Chuck
I have considered doing seminars on logical fallacies and how to spot them since Republicans stick to the basics (Straw Man, Red Herring, ad hominem, etc).

Whenever W starts a sentence with "Some people say..." you can look for the straw man immediately. Its the same thing that Rumsfeld used in his speech last week that drew Olbermann's eloquent response.

Xactiphyn said...

The EXACT same list of names - Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Powell - are the ones that ordered General Schwarzkopf to stop short of Basra, where the Shittes were rebelling BECAUSE WE ASKED THEM TO and preparing to welcome us as liberators.

And before that, check out the video from Baghdad on December 20, 1983. (More details of why Rumsfeld was shaking hands with Saddam here.

I'm sure David and most others at this site have seen this before, but others might have missed this little piece of history. I'm not sure why this wasn't on every Democratic commercial back in 2004.

Anonymous said...

I don't think many Americans think logically, DoctorB. I'd guess maybe 5% do. Your lectures on straw men and such would be wasted.

I wonder if the Republicans really want the Demos to win control of a house of Congress so they can share the blame for the coming pullout from Iraq and a possible whopper of a recession?

How much could the Democrats accomplish with Bush in the White House anyway?

Don Quijote said...

For those of you who remember my earlier post on the subject, now is the time to remind folks of the Miracle of 1947. When liberals and democrats stood up, accepted that they had been worng to make excuses for "Uncle Joe," and declared war on the vicious evil of Communism.

I an assuming that by Uncle Joe, you mean the guy whose army destroyed the German War Machine and won WWII for us.

As for the miracle of 47, was that the year that the Liberals decided that they could screw over the working class and get away with it?

Disavowing themselves from monsters and admitting that "the far left can go mad", they ensured that liberalism would follow the path of the AFL-CIO, Martin Luther King... and ultimately Google.

And those members of the far left who went mad were?

Don Quijote said...

How much could the Democrats accomplish with Bush in the White House anyway?

Impeachment would be a good start.

Rob Perkins said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rob Perkins said...


The next time you get the urge to impeach and convict W, I want you to repeat to yourself the following mantra while meditating in lotus position:

"Pressssssssssssident Cheneeeeeeeeeeeeeeey"
"Pressssssssssssident Hasterrrrrrrrt"
"Pressssssssssssident TED STEVENNNNNNNNS"
"Pressssssssssssident CONDOLEEEZA RIIIIICE"

Get to it, young man! Your "good start" doesn't sound like much of an idea to me...

Anonymous said...

Well, I think impeachment would have to really proceed on both King George and Queen Cheney for starters. But what it would accomplish is not that it would provide and effective change of who has power in Washington, but it WOULD give whoever ends up in power a swtift kick in the pants to really think about how secure they are in that position and to reconsider the kinds of policies that would ahve gotten W impeached in the first place.

In that sense it could prove useful a tool to attempt to reign in the overreaching power grab the current cadre of kleptocrats are preforming.

Don Quijote said...

Get to it, young man! Your "good start" doesn't sound like much of an idea to me...

Order of Presidential Succession

Vice President
Speaker of the House
Senate president pro tempore

Since there is no way that Charlie will be impeached and convicted by a republican house or senate, I am not going to lose any sleep over President Hastert, and since there is no way that Edgar can survive Charlie's impeachment, can you say President Pelosi? or even better President Byrd?

President Pelosi, now doesn't that sound lovely?

Shazam McShotgunstein said...

Sometimes a group's rhetoric is so rotten that it is plainly apparent they are corrupt without learning anything more about them. Like a group that says "War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength", or "I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace", or "You're either with us or against us in the war on terror", or "[the opposing political party refuses] even [to] acknowledge that... the country is... worthy of defending".

Whoever is posting comments like that, I hope they keep it up, because it can only prompt anyone who hasn't surrendered both their brain and their conscience to pause and ask themselves why the reigning political movement has to attack their fellow Americans with such desperate slander and hate-mongering.

Anonymous said...


I think you've mentioned this on the officer's corps being under assault, so forgive me for the repeat.

But, one other thing to mention to true conservatives and Republicans is that the Democrats have a huge host (something like 50 or so) of veteran candidates looking to pick up Congressional seats this election. If the current admin was truly about defending the country or doing something besides grinding our military machine to dust, would these guys not be running as Republicans?

David Brin said...

Odin’s Eye, good point about the Fighting Democrats... the vets running for Congress. The very best possible outcome? If Dems retake Congress mostly due to these guys!

What a fantastic double blow for the middle, against the extremes! The very image of the Dems in the American mind would change, making it even more likely to pummel the Neocon Coalition to death in 08.
Quijote, Joe Stalin was an absolute monster. He virtually invited Hitler to invade, sending strategic supplies to Germany ON the very day tanks crossed the border going the other way. He shot nearly all of the Soviet upper Officer Corps, leaving it leaderless when the blow struck. His political meddling ruined several counter-attacks. In all, he personally lengthened the war by more than a year.

And that fails to mention the TWENTY MILLION civilians he murdered.

It was one thing for apologists to make excuses for Stalin during a critical wartime alliance. But after wwII was over, and Stalin murdered all the trade unionists of Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia, and proof of his other crimes came out, the AFL-CIO had enough. It was THEY who pushed Marshall to get moving and do what had to be done... while Vandenberg and Taft and the GOP slid into torpid isolationism.

(The looniness of crediting Ronald Reagan - instead of Marshall - for “winning the Cold War” is like giving all the credit to a relief pitcher who comes in during the last inning, when the team is already way ahead.)

Don, if you accept the dismal left-right axis (almost a litmus test for political infantilism) then clearly Stalin was the “far-left”... and he was madder than a hatter. Today’s far right is subtler and less violent... they have to be... but no less utterly insane.

Rob, yeah! Note that Dems appoint VPs qualified to succeed them and Gops appoint VPs as sniper repellent.

Don, please. Impeachment is not a recourse during a cultural civil war. (a) it ain’t gonna happen... (b) if we win battles in “culture war” we the American pragmatic progressives lose. Our true path to victory over the madness is to END culture war. To wage war against the very notion of culture war. To talk the Confederacy into giving up The Cause at last and rejoining the Union.

David Brin said...

Oh, the latest from Russ Daggatt:

Long-time veterans of the online world will be familiar with “Godwin’s Law” which states, “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.”  As a corollary, once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically "lost" whatever debate was in progress.'s_law

Similarly, TV critics use the metaphor “Jump the Shark” to denote the tipping point at which a TV series is deemed to have passed its creative peak. When a show has "jumped the shark," it has reached a point of irreversible decline.  (The phrase arises from a scene in the TV series Happy Days in which "The Fonz,” on water skis, literally jumps over a shark. The scene was written into the show at a point when the viewing ratings were beginning to drop and it is generally regarded as the creative low-point at which the show finally lost all credibility.)

In recent days, Godwin’s Law seems to have carried over into the general political debate in this country, as the Bush administration and its apologists have begun to punctuate their sentences with references to “Hitler”, “Nazis”, “fascism”, “appeasement”, “Chamberlain” and the like.  It’s now “World War III” and Bush is Churchill.  I think this may be the moment when the Bush administration’s political rhetoric has finally “Jumped the Shark.”

mw said...

"President Pelosi, now doesn't that sound lovely?" - dq

Honestly, it doesn't sound great. But it does sound one hell of a lot better than:

President Dennis Hastert

and even that, is a huge step up from:

President Tom Delay

BTW - DQ, just curious, how often has the Speaker of the House assumed the presidency in our history. I think I've lost count.

Anonymous said...

Brin said:

"Joe Stalin ... political meddling ruined several counter-attacks. In all, he personally lengthened the war by more than a year."

A WWII vet who fought in the German army [volunteered at 17 because he thought the glory and medals would be kinda cool] on the Eastern Front I talked to a couple of years back said just about the same thing.

IIRC he said about 18 months. He was happy, though, that he had not been a POW of the Soviets, as he "should have been".

As it happened, he made it back to Germany before the war ended and surrendered to the Americans. A better deal for him all the way around. Lives kinda sorta near Brin these days in north San Diego County.

Tony Fisk said...

Quoth David and Odin:
Odin’s Eye, good point about the Fighting Democrats... the vets running for Congress. The very best possible outcome? If Dems retake Congress mostly due to these guys!

Shades of Heinlein! This must be the GOP's worst nightmare at the moment!

'The shark wore khaki!'

Which is precisely why I suspect that an 'October surprise' will involve an attempt to discredit this group.

David, I appreciate some of the possibilities you discuss with DTRA might be a little 'sensitive', but you might le 'em know about While there's probably nothing there they haven't thought of already, you never know!

(Keep 'em coming folks! Can anyone guess the significance of latex gloves? Are Google ads trying to warn us about bio-terrorist scenarios??!)

Don Quijote said...

Don, please. Impeachment is not a recourse during a cultural civil war. (a) it ain’t gonna happen... (b) if we win battles in “culture war” we the American pragmatic progressives lose.

There is no such thing as the "culture war", it's just a side show to hold people attention, while the Kleptocracy steals everything that is not nailed down.

Not only is Impeachment a damn good idea that stands up on it's own merits, it's payback time. If there is no consequences for attempting to impeach a Democratic President, the next one who is elected will be impeached.

Our true path to victory over the madness is to END culture war.

If you think that the "culture war" is going to end in your or my lifetime, I have got a bridge to sell you, nice stone work, built in the nineteenth century, connects two NYC boroughs.

To wage war against the very notion of culture war. To talk the Confederacy into giving up The Cause at last and rejoining the Union.


Don, if you accept the dismal left-right axis (almost a litmus test for political infantilism)

"Politics is about who gets what, when and how.", and the left right axis describes the economic aspects of the political system better than just about anything else, it's the "have a lot" vs the "have little or nothing".

then clearly Stalin was the “far-left”... and he was madder than a hatter.

Stalin was just one in a long line of nasty, bloody dictators that have run the Russian Empire, bloodier than most and far more competent than most, but not substantially different.

Today’s far right is subtler and less violent... they have to be... but no less utterly insane.

They are not insane, just greedy.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for voting out the current congress, but who should I vote for instead?

The problem isn't that we don't recognize the shit this administration is doing, it's that it takes too long to figure out who can fix it. (20 minutes is too long according to today's attention span.)

I trust you, Dr. Brin, so save me some trouble and tell me who I should vote for, and I'll do some research from there. Otherwise I'll check off every Libertarian on the list. (Absentee ballets? I did that when I studied abroad in college. Are you saying we should get one of those here, in the states? Is that possible?)

Rob Perkins said...

Only the Vice President has ever assumed the role of President; the order of succession has never been implemented except to declare it.

My point is that the people down the line of succession, even if Don and his faction were to succeed at impeaching and convicting both the President and the Vice President, are no more palatable to him than the current ones.

And, no, I don't agree that impeachment chastens politicians. Clinton is unapologetic to this day, as was Nixon.

Don, your rejoinder doesn't make any sense to me: "Charlie?" "Edgar"? Who? The people in power are named "George", "Richard", "Dennis", "Theodore", "Condoleeza"...

David, all I can really say is, "John Edwards".

Anonymous said...

Impeachment for "payback," or on flimsy technical grounds (e.g., Clinton) would be way dumb.

If, on the other hand, it is discovered that an administration was deliberately undermining the constitution -- engineering a coup, say -- or found to have suborned tampering with elections, then impeachment and vigorous prosecution of everyone involved would be entirely appropriate.

David Brin said...

Rob, Edwards was NOT my choice for Veep. I think it was a terrible mistake for many reasons. Above all, if Kerry had appointed General Clark as running mate, he could not have been slagged by those @$*(#! lying whores, the "Swift Boaters for Truth."

Because while you can slag ONE war hero as an "exception, it gets really hard with two. Especially comparing those two with a clan of preppie-klepto draft dodgers.

Having said that, let me add that there was no particularly objectionable trait to Edwards except for inexperience. He seemed a solid and responsible young feller. But yes. You are right. Nowhere near as qualified to step in as were Mondale, Bentsen, Gore,

In any event, Edwards certainly wasn't sniper deterrent!

Cold Wolf, you ask a question that is at once both difficult and easy to answer. Were this any other era, I would wax long and complex about dividing one's vote strategically and tactically. I always vote for one or more libertarians, for example. Often in "hopeless" categories, but sometimes in actual hope of boosting a particularly good prospect.

I have even voted for republicans, for a wide array of reasons. I am fully capable of despising a local democrat. Either for being a crook or for being a screeching lefty loony.

And if your GOP representative is one of the few remaining Ike/Goldwater types, I can see working to preserve him or her! There must be seeds for rebuilding, after we send the kleptos to jail!

Still and all, this is not a normal era. Our very democracy is under attack by deadly and despicable enemies. They are inside the gates. They have taken the citadels of power. They mean to destroy everything we love and re-install feudalism. I do NOT exaggerate, not even an iota.

For all of its faults, the Democratic Party is the only major institution in American life that is still dominated by its pragmatist modernist elements. That may not last... indeed, it will change if the radicalization of America continues. But it's true now.

In any event, there is a deep and intrinsic limit to the amount of harm that they could do, even if the worst lefty agenda of the flakiest lefty were established. What's the fear? Too big a raise in the minimum wage? A tepid (by euro standards) health insurance bill? Even that's just not gonna happen.

No, we have one hope. To elect enough Democrats to utterly repudiate these monsters. To rock the state houses and Congress and start the subpoenas rolling. It really is our only chance.

Oh, one more thing. If the dems take power bigtime, and they REFUSE to meet our objections over gerrymandering...once they no longer need it to balance the GOP?

Then I say we go after THEM. Hammer and tongs. And you can quote me.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Brin,

Seems to me the problem you call "neofuedalism" is just another way of saying that the wealthiest Americans are getting an increasing share of the economic pie.

If "lefty" programs like national health care and minimum wage increases aren't the solution to this problem...what is?

Even if you manage to chuck the bums out of office, the underlying problem will still remain...

Don Quijote said...

Don, your rejoinder doesn't make any sense to me: "Charlie?" "Edgar"? Who? The people in power are named "George", "Richard", "Dennis", "Theodore", "Condoleeza"...

BOOKS OF THE TIMES; Personality, Ideology And Bush's Terror Wars

This book augments the portrait of Mr. Bush as an incurious and curiously uninformed executive that Mr. Suskind earlier set out in ''The Price of Loyalty'' and in a series of magazine articles on the president and key aides. In ''The One Percent Doctrine,'' he writes that Mr. Cheney's nickname inside the C.I.A. was Edgar (as in Edgar Bergen), casting Mr. Bush in the puppet role of Charlie McCarthy, and cites one instance after another in which the president was not fully briefed (or had failed to read the basic paperwork) about a crucial situation.

Does that clarify the answer?

Rob Perkins said...

Yes, thanks. More than one thing is clearer, now.

Xactiphyn said...

David Brin: What's the fear? Too big a raise in the minimum wage? A tepid (by euro standards) health insurance bill? Even that's just not gonna happen.

monkeyboy: If "lefty" programs like national health care and minimum wage increases aren't the solution to this problem...what is?

I think David was talking about scale more than anything else.

The solution very much involves "lefty" programs, but you have to pick and choose carefully. For example, minimum wage and earned income tax credits are far better than welfare because they encourage work and self efficiency; they hit the sweet spot between "lefty" and "righty" concerns. I'd claim a unionized service industry would help as well, to balance the power between employee and employer.

For healthcare, keep the doctors and pharmaceutical companies off the federal budget, but nationalize health insurance. (It has taken me a while to decide this was the correct course of action, but I've finally been convinced.)

Rob Perkins said...

I'm unconvinced, but also deeply interested in the Massachussetts experiment, since a Republican (and not in name only) governor and his Democratic State Assembly have managed a law requiring universal health care, with both left- and right-handed solutions in its mix.

Romney talks about it with some significant enthusiasm.

David Brin said...

In response to DB:
Don, if you accept the dismal left-right axis (almost a litmus test for political infantilism)

DQ responded:
"Politics is about who gets what, when and how.", and the left right axis describes the economic aspects of the political system better than just about anything else, it's the "have a lot" vs the "have little or nothing".

Thanks, Don. For PRECISELY and overwhelmingly (tho unintentionally) proving my point.

Oh, how tempting to wax on, reciting DOZENS of "left right" definitions that differ entirely from this one, often contradicting. Just one example is "problem solving modalities." Say you see real problems like poverty and want them solved, do you emphasize state (left) or market (right) solutions? That one is almost as ditzo oversimplifying as Don's. But the point is that it's at LEAST as valid.

The one that Don chose is oh so convenient because it makes one side AUTOMATICALLY evil and the other wutomatically generous and good. And yet, we know Stalin, Mao and Castro were evil. And Buffett, Soros, Gates etc are clearly good (in various and tinctured degrees). So, sorry. It don't wash.

Likewise the greed explanation. Fully half of the entrepeneurial class are okay and members of enlightenment civilization. Markets aren't evil. Indeed, they are part of the hope of humankind. Indeed, if he were alive today, Adam Smith would be livid at the market destroying cheaters -- the "cronies of the king" -- who are destroying his "liberalism."

Sorry, Don. But you just proved my very point.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Brin,

So it's to be "benevolent feudalism," where monopolists like Bill Gates get to acquire huge fortunes through anti-capitalistic means...

...and then we cross our fingers and hope that, when they get done living the good life, they will hand some of their massive fortunes back to the "poor" in a manner more efficient than a government anti-poverty program?

David Brin said...

Try that kind of stuff on another site. Since this very post contains railings by me against "neo-feudalists"... um... could it be YOU who is missing the point?

Anonymous said...

Cold Wolf said "(Absentee ballets? I did that when I studied abroad in college. Are you saying we should get one of those here, in the states? Is that possible?)"

I do it here in California, anyone can request to vote that way. You don’t have to actually be absent or disabled to get one. They are a lot easer to vote than going to the polls and standing in line. I signed up a few years ago and I love it. Also it’s much harder to hack the system if you vote absent. And if they purge you from the voting rolls you will know and be able to do something about it.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Brin,

I'm not sure what "that kind of stuff" you are talking about is.

I'm saying I don't understand exactly what it is you are advocating other than getting rid of a bunch of crooked politicians who will have to leave office in a couple years anyway...

You don't seem to have any problem with massive income inequality in America as long as the people at the top didn't acquire their wealth through government manipulation...

Do you?

David Brin said...

There is a level at which I needn't reply. You and DQ are soperfectly illustrating my point about political simplism that little comment is necessary.

Only the dogma-blinkered could have dwelled at this site even once and come away with the interpretation you just gave. I thank you again for this illustration of the FUNDAMENTAL problem. One going far deeper than the current crisis.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Brin,

I'm not trying to do a "gotcha" here.

I'm just saying I don't understand what you are saying.

Could you please explain, in a few short, simple sentences, what exactly you are advocating?

Sure Bush, Cheney, Rummy and Co. are crooks..but at best, they may be getting away with a few billion a year...hardly that much in a $13 trillion a year economy.

I see feudalism as an economy where a few elites have huge incomes, a few of their helpers make a decent living, and everyone else lives in poverty.

That is the kind of economy America is moving towards.

Do you agree?

If so, what, if anything, do you think we should do about it?

David Brin said...

Argh sigh!!!

Look, I have said repeatedly that the Inheritance Tax is the fairest of all and that a decent society has to be very wary of undue welath disparities. Feudalism is FAR more than you describe. It is the natural human system, in which a few atop a pyramid of privilege lord over masses below. If you have not read such things from me TEN THOUSAND times then you've not paid attention in the slightest.

Alas, the dogmatic left (that amorphous mass) sees this problem and prescibes IDIOTIC solutions. "Levelling" or else hatred of entrepeneurial capitalism and markets. Forgetting entirely that liberalism began with Adam Smith!

Human beings are inherently:

willing to cheat
willing to cooperate

What's needed is systems that can harness the best out of these drives and limit potential to do the worst. If you do not by now understand the miracle of Reciprocal Accountability, then why are you still here?

Dig it. Communism and non-Scandinavian state socialism DO NOT DELIVER reciprocal accountability. Never have. Never will. They just drive competition and delusion into other areas.

Castro is not as hated in Cuba as our right wants to believe, because, unlike other commies, he seems to have been sincere in his levelling efforts. But Cuba is a shabby, nowhere land, because his experiment utterly failed to do anything OTHER than level the classes.


True, they need to be prevented from becoming new lords, always. But the ones who got rich that way generally aren't INTERESTED in becoming feudal lords! Buffett, Gates etc may be fierce competitors, but their kids will all start out with less than a billion each. That's self restraint.

The other side of the aristocracy are far more than govt contract cheaters. They want the whole shape of power to change and for reciprocal accountability to end. By coincidence, they represent the side of the rich who mostly did NOT get wealthy by delivering better goods and services.

These are the guys Adam SMith despised. (How strange that I hate em FAR more than you do. Because I know their etiology is far more than "capitalist greed.")

Again, markets are not the enemy. Nor are soldiers. In fact, our openly stated priority should be to SAVE markets... and our soldiers... from these jerks.

You may disagree with my call to liberals (not lefties) to embrace Adam Smith as an icon. Citokate. But first, do you even remotely UNDERSTAND WHY I am making that call? Can you paraphrase my reasons?

Urrrrgh... sorry, I got intense just now. My aim is not to drive off guys like you... of poor romantic Nicq, a week ago. This is not a homogeneous cheering section. Stay and poke. I love it.

Anonymous said...


I don't think it matters much to plantation slaves if the overseer is "enlightened" or seem to think it does.

And I can't believe you are holding up guys like Bill Gates as "free market" defenders...he's personally made more through anti-free market practices than all the crooked government officials throughout American history have made.

I guess when two "rational" people disagree about something, it is because either:

1. They are looking at different data.

2. They are looking at the same data, but drawing different conclusions.

Do you think the American economy is becoming more "pyramid shaped?"

All the data I have seen indicates it is....

David Brin said...

I am done. You have a strawman you are talking to. It bears zero relationship to anything that I have ever said. Indeed, it is diametrically opposite.

You seem quite smug and happy about that. I invite others to look upon you as an excellent example of the problem.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Brin,

You disappoint me.

I spend time posting at a lot of fringe right, pro-Bush, pro-feudlism "monkyboy" and "Bushie" to see some of my posts.

I find your style of debate no different than that of the people who run those hate-filled sites:

1. Post vague, accusatory posts warning people about "them."

2. Call anyone who questions the logic of the posts a "librul" or an idiot.


Rob Perkins said...

The more I watch Bill Gates and the corporate culture he founded the more I conclude that he's not out to be a feudalist lord.

Rather, he's this geek computer programmer with a fierce competitive streak and a knack for hiring motivated people. He employs tens of thousands *like him*. In each of their specialties (marketing, sales, engineering, etc etc) they're blinders-on focused on their stuff.

In that context it's *they* who are blinkered, utterly surprised and generally not paying much attention to the power potential of the vast fortunes.

Microsoft could do *so much more damage* to the world than what it did by stumbling about with bright ideas and the willingness to appropriate them. Consider that.

"their kids will start with less than a billion each". Heh. David, as a guy who would be satiated with 0.4% of that, it doesn't sound like much of a sacrifice...

David Brin said...

I wasn't going to reply to M. But I just want to know from the peanut gallery if I was fair. Frankly, I do not enjoy being strawman'd. Nor do I feel it necessary to reply to someone who accuses me of beliefs dialetrically opposite of those expressed here regularly.

What's hilarious, above all is the absolutist lack of self-doubt. When a decent person is accused of misrepresenting the other, he contemplates at least the possibility of error. This possibility never occurs to M.

Hence, alas, he perfectly illustrates the immaturity we must work beyond. I am done. This time fer sher.

Anonymous said...

Hey Monkey Boy will you please not annoy Dr.Brin. I happen to enjoy this blog and if you keep posting these caricatures of what he believes he will just go back to highly profitable work of writing books and we will all have to wait for months. I have seen this happen on other blogs and I don’t want to see it here.

If you really want to make a difference call the Governator in California on monday and ask him not to veto SB840 the universal health care bill. 916-445-2841

Anonymous said...

Awright, I'm going to take a crack at this. Fools rush in, and all...

Monkyboy, I think you're confusing "wealth" and "power". The two are not equivalent. True, the powerful generally have money as a side effect of their power, but there are those with considerable power in this world who are content with that, and take a pass on great wealth, and others who are wealthy, but wield no power whatsoever (Paris Hilton springs to mind as an example).

Bill Gates has reached his net worth by the simple trick of building a better mousetrap. (Also by dint of the fact that Steve Jobs shot himself in the foot, early on, by making almost everything to do with Apple Computers proprietary - so when prices on PC-related gear began dropping, Apple was unable to follow suit with their technically superior Mac family, as they had to pay for all that in-house development.) You want to tear him down? It can be accomplished by one of two means - build a better product than he does, at a comparable price (and Linux, as it improves in functionality, is gaining ground fast), or catch him doing something illegal. In our (so far non-feudal) system, even the World's Richest Man can be called to account by a poorly-paid public servant with a warrant and a badge.

If money equaled power in such a simplistic fashion, would Michael Jackson have been forced to pull a Polanski and flee the country?

The elites that Dr Brin rails againt do not simply seek to rob you of money - they seek to rob you of even the least control over their actions. One of the beauties of the American system of government has always been that the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of that governemnt have always acted to keep one another in check - even during the depths of the Nixon administration, it was possible for the Vice-President to be indicted for tax evasion, and when the man himself resigned, it was becaue Congress was on the verge of actually starting impeachment proceedings.

Under the current administration, though, the three branches have been packed to a degree that even FDR could only dream. I mean, this VP got away with shooting someone! And can you see anyone in Congress having the courage to start proceedings of any sort against Bush, even though he has already clearly violated his oath of office at least twice (declaring war without Congressional approval, and keeping political prisoners on what is legally American soil [a military installation overseas, like Guantanamo, is legally defined as American soil - there was a pretty big stink about that after the Marine barracks in Lebanon got bombed, back in the '80s...])?

No, BushCo are clearly working toward a New Feudalism, one in which their words as Lords and Masters can go safely unchallenged by mere serfs like us.

I think Dr Brin believed he had made this point clearly enough on other occasions, anough so that he may have mistaken your confusion for deliberate obfuscation...

Anonymous said...

I feel like Charlton Heston on trial in Planet of the Apes here.

1. I say I don't understand Dr. Brin's posts and ask him to explain his position in a more succinct way.

2. He replys with yet another cryptic, verbose post and asks me to paraphrase it.

3. I try my best to paraphrase what I think he's saying.

4. He calls it a "strawman" argument and posts yet another ad hominem attack against me instead of giving me a straight answer.

Dr. Zaius: Have you forgotten your scripture, the thirteenth scroll? "And Proteus brought the upright beast into the garden and chained him to a tree and the children did make sport of him."


Kevin Crady said...

Regarding the "October Surprise" scenario, check this out:

Keith Olberman's "The Nexus of Politics and Terror", a video documenting the correspondance of bad news for the Bushies with loudly announced "terror threats" and hikes in the goofy color-code Terror-O-Meter alert level.

As far as I know, Jose Padilla is the only person actually arrested in 11 cases documented on the video. It seems fairly obvious the neocons (or should we call them "paleocons" because they want to restore feudalism?) are more than willing to use the threat of terrorism to gain political advantage.

David Brin said...

Jonathan, please don't bother.

People who behave abysmally - then sanctimoniously... can be counted on to then cry victimhood when they are called on it.

Anonymous said...


Here's a table of American income distribution that covers the 35 years before the neocons took over:

As you can see...we've been moving back towards feudalism since around 1977.

Hate the game, not the playas...

George Taylor:Does man, that marvel of the universe, that glorious paradox who sent me to the stars, still make war against his brother? Keep his neighbor's children starving?

Anonymous said...

I apologize, Dr. Brin. It would appear that you were right. I mean, I went to all the trouble of typing out what I believe to be your basic argument here (an argument with which I agree, by the way), in the most cogent and coherent fashion possible after midnight, and here I see Monkyboy proceeding as if nothing had been said.


Perhaps one day, I shall learn my lesson, and stop trying to educate those who don't want to be educated...

Anonymous said...

On the themes of "October Surprise":

No. 2 al-Qaida leader in Iraq arrested - Associated Press, via Yahoo News

Anonymous said...

Got this reply to my latest comment in fringe-right land today:

Monkyboy: Aren't you the asswipe who's always stinking up Totten's comments? Fuck off and stop breathing the air.

Posted by ahem at September 3, 2006 08:54 AM

We are actually on the same side...

Tom Craver said...

I don't know if it's realistic to ask Republicans to help his/her party lose power in Congress.

About the best you might hope for is that true conservatives might internally rebel against the NeoCons - nominate candidates who are strongly pro-Republican, but at the same time critical of and un-cooperative with the Administration. Maybe at best they might consider an occasional "protest vote" for a moderate-conservative Libertarian candidate.

Anonymous said...

On the whole cost of living thing, Kevin Drum blogged about it a while back, and brought up Cost of Living Increases as a potential place for some blame. Because people get their cost of living increase, and are happy because they're getting "more money" but the whole point of the COLA is they're getting the same amount of money thanks to inflation. But it looks like a raise, even if it's effectively not.

It's possible, but the overall decline of labor unions and the stacking of the deck by the Republicans (and increasingly, sadly the Democrats) towart the ultra-rich and not the rest of us.

The US GNP has gone up tremendously in the past thirty years, but adjusted for inflation, most workers wages haven't. So where has all the money gone? To the super-incredibly-rich. And while US households may be better off, it's because more and more families have both people working, which has a whole host of costs that capitalism is crap at evaluating.

Tom Craver said...

"The US GNP has gone up tremendously in the past thirty years, but adjusted for inflation, most workers wages haven't"

That's just flat out wrong. The poorest 5th, from the same source quoted above, have seen their inflation adjusted income increase by about one third. It's just that higher income groups have seen their incomes increase even more. That shouldn't really surprise anyone, I don't think.

Don Quijote said...


And this week, the government made it official: For the first time since the Labor Department began measuring how the American pie is sliced, those in the top fifth of the wealth scale are now gobbling up over half (50.4%) of our nation’s annual income.

Looks like a beautiful Diamond!

That's just flat out wrong. The poorest 5th, from the same source quoted above, have seen their inflation adjusted income increase by about one third. It's just that higher income groups have seen their incomes increase even more. That shouldn't really surprise anyone, I don't think.

Want to link to those stats?

Big C said...

@Don Quijote
"Want to link to those stats?"

As Tom said, it's from the same source monkyboy linked to above from the US Census Bureau, but on a different page. Here's a direct link:

US Census Family Income Data

The second table on that page shows mean income for each fifth of total US families adjusted for inflation in 2001 dollars. From 1966 to 2001, the bottom fifth's income went from $10,854 to $14,021 which is about a 29% increase, or a bit less than a third, as Tom said. As Tom also noted, the other four fifths have had their incomes rise in significantly greater proportion:

Second-poorest fifth: 37% increase
Middle fifth: 49% increase
Second-richest fifth: 66% increase
Top fifth: 103% increase
Top 5%: 132% increase

So, yes the wealth disparity is getting much bigger, and that is a problem. But, all income groups do continue to rise.

Anonymous said...

Two big things that need some deep thinking w.r.t. the income disparity:

1) A serious rework on the ideas of "free trade." It is impossible to compete with slave or near-slave labor. Okay, yes, the cost of living is lower abroad (due to less developed capital), but the workers of the world are also increasing held hostage by global capital. An interesting experiment on the benefits on "free trade" is the NAFTA agreement. Deletrious effects resulted on both the Mexican and American sides (Mexican farmers driven over the border to become migrants and US factories closed).

2) A revamp of the union system. I'm not sure what the best solution there is - liberal or libertarian. In light of the fact that the legal apparatus supporting unions (as in the National Labor Relations Board) has been completely captured by the feudalists, I'm wondering if there is a good extra-legal mechanism for preventing companies from taking illegal actions against those that attempt to organize (other than leaving horseheads in owner's beds).

Don Quijote said...

The US GNP has gone up tremendously in the past thirty years, but adjusted for inflation, most workers wages haven't"

That's just flat out wrong. The poorest 5th, from the same source quoted above, have seen their inflation adjusted income increase by about one third.

inflation adjusted income does not equal wages.

If I work at minimum wage 40 hours a week and I icrease my working hours to 60, my inflation adjusted income will have increased 30 % by my wages will not have changed!

Washington Monthly
take a good look at the Data Underlying the Graph.

Anonymous said...

The biggest problem with comparing the data is they're measuring different things. The numbers I was referring to are per WORKER. The census data is per FAMILY. It's possible for per family totals to go up while per worker income goes down. Simply have more people in the family work. Which is what we have now. A lot of families have both parents working. Even if both parents are working and making less than their same jobs would have in 1970, the two of them combined can be making more.

Which is often the case. Both parents are working because neither can make enough to support their family on their own. Which means more expenses such as childcare and transportation, and less time with families, and less vacation time, and all sorts of other things. So saying "Median family income" has gone up doesn't address median worker income at all.

Big C said...

Nate and DQ:

Sorry, you guys were right. I mistakenly conflated wages with income. Checking the US Buereau of Labor Statistics shows that average hourly wages (adjusted for inflation) peaked around 1973 at $9.00, fell to a low of $7.50 until the mid 90's, then started rising again to level off around $8.25 and apparently start dipping back down in the present. This is disturbing indeed.

I can't seem to get a direct link to the data table. Here is a link to the statistics start page for average houly wages. Click the second check box marked: "Constant (1982) dollars" and then click the "Retrieve Data" button at the bottom.