Tuesday, September 05, 2006

No help from Newt...

I just received a message from Newt Gingrich's organization asking me to link to their site. Always accommodating, I'll offer the link here.

Alas, upon visiting the site, I was deeply disappointed. All critiques of the loony monsters have been muted, sweetened, tidied into a neat "contract" of modest suggestions... a sort of wish list of what Newt thinks a really, really nice version of conservatism OUGHT to stand for. Along with plenty of Nancy Pelosi bashing, but no mention of the greatest kleptocratic raid in American... make that human... history.

Ah, well. Newt is probably positioning himself for a run at the GOP nomination in 08. And things are so dire that we must all wish him well. Anything! A cryptobiotic tardigrade, a slime mold, lime gelatin, anything. As long as it is honest!

Still, I had to respond. Here's what I wrote back. And yes, it is some of the same stuff you've heard before. (sigh.)

But these are thoughts that I guarantee Newt and his staff have not pondered, till now.

Dear Joe DeSantis (newt.org),

As a fellow science fiction author, I do not start out
without some goodwill toward a colleague and fellow believer
in bold tomorrows. Still, I must respond to the material at
newt.org on another level.

I realize that Newt must position himself as a
reformer from within... trying so "save the GOP"
rather than opposing the monstrous factions that have
taken control over it. (The spinning in Goldwater's
grave is supplying half of Arizona's energy needs!)

Still, you and I both know the sad truth. Things have
gone too far. The situation is EXACTLY the same as it
was in 1947, when liberals had to choose between their
old, somewhat pinkish sympathies and a factual
evaluation of the real threat posed by Joseph
Stalin. That year, they stood
up. Like men. They not only declared non-communism.

They declared ANTI-communism.

While the GOP of Taft and Vandenberg pushed for
isolation, the entire grand strategy of containment,
completed by Ronald Reagan, was initiated by the
AFL-CIO. That is no exaggeration. If you know a
whit of history, then you know this is true. And you know
how difficult that "Miracle of 47" was to pull off.

I bring up this obscure bit of history because these
times are fantastically similar. Just as true
liberals needed guts to admit and avow and declare
that the far-left can go dangeously mad...

...so it is time for true conservatives now -- NOW!
-- to admit the same thing about the far right. To save
conservatism from genuine monsters.

To save their country.

I know you will dismiss this as lefty cant, even
though it is the diametric opposite. For I believe it
is still possible to save conservatism.

But increasingly, Americans will see it as a choice
BETWEEN conservatism and their country.

Because, when the Enemy was not AT the gates, but deep inside, having seized every pinnacle of power, conservatives were far more concerned about labels and identity than with standing up for their country, for their civilization, for their species and planet.

Sadly, unable to recognize the monsters on your own
side, you are proving yourselves to be lesser men than
the miracle workers of 1947.

With cordial regards,

David Brin


Rob Perkins said...

Plenty of Pelosi bashing?

David, he swiped once.

Xactiphyn said...

Well, yea. But Rob, that "once" was the subtitle of 75% of the article, 11 Ways to Say: "We're Not Nancy Pelosi".

Anonymous said...

Ah, well. Newt is probably positioning himself for a run at the GOP nomination in 08. And things are so dire that we must all wish him well. Anything! A cryptobiotic tardigrade, a slime mold, lime gelatin, anything. As long as it is honest!

Anonymous said...

New words I learned today, thanks to the internets:

cryptobiotic tardigrade
wellie wanging

Not a bad day...

Anonymous said...

Ah, well. Newt is probably positioning himself for a run at the GOP nomination in 08. And things are so dire that we must all wish him well. Anything! A cryptobiotic tardigrade, a slime mold, lime gelatin, anything. As long as it is honest!

Although I often find myself nodding along when you stick to generalities, I've found it difficult to take your opinions seriously ever since the post in which you put forth Newt Gingrich as an exemplar of the "honest, decent conservative" with whom I should make common cause. Of course I know that such rare and fabulous creatures do exist -- Kevin Phillips, who was mentioned in the same former posting, seems to be one of that breed (note that he has also been a prominent critic of the Republicans at least since Reagan took office, if not before). But Newt? Come on, he doesn't belong in the same Dictionary with "honest"! Gingrich has been a rampantly dishonest, unethical pustule on the body politic during his entire career and furthermore, he was one of the major architects of our current sorry situation.

As for your 1947 "miracle"... it's beyond me how anyone not blinkered by ideology could think it so wonderful that Labor and Democratic politics were infected with the anti-pinko memes of the angry, frightened Right. Result? Free-Market Fundamentalism Triumphant and unions (built by loony socialists) which are practically a spent force in American society. And of course, that perennial favourite, No National Health Care.

Don Quijote said...

Sadly, unable to recognize the monsters on your own side, you are proving yourselves to be lesser men than the miracle workers of 1947.

What in heavens leads you to believe that the Repugs (Cheap Labor Conservatives, Flat Earthers & Imperialists) will be as stupid as the Dems were in selling out their base?

After all we can see how well it's worked out for the Dems.

Rob Perkins said...

Well, yea. But Rob, that "once" was the subtitle of 75% of the article, 11 Ways to Say: "We're Not Nancy Pelosi".

Well, take a look at the content of the actual 11 points. They're positively wonky, reminding us of things like an obscure constitutional power afforded to the House to reverse a Supreme Court decision.

All 11 points are policy-wonky. If Nancy Pelosi wouldn't propose them for policy reasons, then it's a fair and attention-getting thing to say. My point is that he fired the shot across our bow and then got to brass tacks. And that's not "plenty of bashing"

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


There's some evidence that Rove is losing his influence.

I think if a house of Congress changes hands, he'll probably be on the outside, at least with Congressional Republicans.

Anonymous said...

Bush Declares Eco-Whistleblower Law Void for EPA Employees

Anonymous said...

One of those 11 points is repealing the "death" tax, which I know David Brin is strongly opposed to, because inherited wealth is bad for society for a number of reasons.

David, why exactly do you call the current group in power "kleptocrats"? I assume that it is because they've been cutting taxes (especially on the rich) as much as they can get away with, because they've been giving out no-bid contracts to corporations like Halliburton, and because they've been laxly enforcing antitrust and environmental regulations. Are there any other specific actions I'm missing?

Don Quijote said...

There's some evidence that Rove is losing his influence.

Does the name Lee Atwater ring a bell?

When Rove goes some Rove Clone will take his place.

David Brin said...

Rob, while several of Newt’s proposals OBLIQUELY criticize the kleps -- e.g. suggesting a boost in energy research -- please look at how nearly all of them are couched as better ways to combat liberalism.

Now I agree with the commenter who says we should put up with some of this. It is the only way Newt COULD couch his criticism and still have a chance for the GOP nomination. Still, I do not respect it, at all. We are amid a civilization emergency, a genuine crisis. Newt could do more good, right now, denouncing the monsters, even if it means the end of his political career, than he is ever likely to do in a tepid and unlikely run for the ring in 08.

Fact, his laundry list is disingenuous in the extreme. The GOP has had TOTAL political power for many, many years now. DUring that time, the Congressional leadership has held fewer hearings and days in session and PROPOSED fewer bills than any other Congress in a century. Thus, how are we to take pronouncements that neoconservatism has an agenda to make things better?

Put aside, for now, the parts of Newt’s agenda that I despise, like repeal of the Inheritance Tax. (Thank God a couple of decent GOP senators had the guts to help stop that stab at the heart of the American Enlightenment.) There are, indeed, a few planks that I would be willing to discuss with Newt. As about half of his original Contract With America concerned things worth talking about. See http://www.davidbrin.com/contract.html
(That’s where I also explain why I see Newt as more a tragic figure than a bona fide enemy or a member of the klepto cabal.)

(I am trying to include active links at the top posting level. My system makes it just too onerous at the comment level, sorry.)

But all of that is pretty much moot. The fanatics and klepto-raiders who followed Newt’s wedge into power (then dumped him) totally eviscerated every respectable part of his “Contract” - keeping all the despicable parts... and extending them beyond all plausible imagining, into a pork-debt-secrecy festival of unprecedented proportions. It is staggeringly hypocritical, under such circumstances, to point a finger at the moderate liberals who balanced budgets, promoted science, won wars, preserved national readiness and oversaw unprecedented (and widely shared) prosperity.

Yesterday, the president spoke of “progress” in the war on terror.

4 and 1/2 years after Pearl Harbor, America bestrode the world as a titan, feet planted in the ruins of all of our enemies sick hopes and dreams. Today, five years after the 9/11 attacks, our military readiness has plummeted to levels BELOW Pearl Harbor, we are despised and spurned as world leaders, and absolutely none of the stated goals of the “war on terror” have been accomplished. Not one.

Hammer this. Hammer it.

Doug, the pork-fest is a klepto raid. Secrecy shrouds an extravaganza of no-bid contracts to buddies. The great aspect is that when whistleblowers emerge, a whole lot of these guys will go to jail.


...their ace in the hole is presidential pardons. PLEASE SEE MY CONTRACT ARTICLE FOR THE MOST IMPORTANT PLANK ( http://www.davidbrin.com/contract.html
) That plank is for a prominent dem to dare president Bush to promise in advance not to pardon more men than his father AND Bill Clinton, combined.

Xactiphyn said...

Speaking of "progress" on the war on terror, did you see the recent assessment from The Third Way on the president's progress, full of wonderful facts and figures?

The Neo Con: The Bush Defense Record by the Numbers
An Analysis of the Data Behind the Bush Approach to National Security

Anonymous said...

From the article that Frank linked to:

Citing an "unpublished opinion of the [Attorney General's] Office of Legal Counsel," the Secretary of Labor's Administrative Review Board has ruled federal employees may no longer pursue whistleblower claims under the Clean Water Act. The opinion invoked the ancient doctrine of sovereign immunity which is based on the old English legal maxim that "The King Can Do No Wrong." It is an absolute defense to any legal action unless the "sovereign" consents to be sued.


This won't stop with environmental issues.

Vote out the Republicans this fall or you can kiss American democracy goodbye. It will not survive Bush's remaining term in office; in its place will be meaningless feel-good elections and a rubber-stamp ceremonial body akin to the Congress of People's Soviets.

Rob Perkins said...

'Course they're couched as better ways to combat liberalism. David, half the country thinks liberalism has lost its way, in dimensions which you largely don't choose to explore. Newt is in that faction, and you're not.

It should not be terribly surprising that someone eminent can articulate what they want.

IN ANY CASE, my CITOKATE today was only that there was not any "Pelosi-bashing", in an essay where that could have been sooooooo easy; Newt focused on stuff the Congress ought to do. Whatever you think of those policies, at least he's the kind of guy who will actually debate them, rather than going from his gut...

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


Gotta ask, since you've called for it...

WHERE within 200 miles of Burnside and Broadway is there going to be a Republican to vote out?!?!?!

Shazam McShotgunstein said...

That is a powerful assessment. I was really excited for Newt and the revolution he led in '94, but I wouldn't vote for that cryptobiotic tardigrade over him at this point - he has cuddled up too intimately for way too long with the anti-American GOP monarchists.

I fall smack in the middle of how "increasingly, Americans will see it as a choice BETWEEN conservatism and their country." To quasi-crosspost from my blog: I voted almost straight-ticket Republican through the 2000 election, but I have since re-registered as an independent and committed to voting Democratic.

While I still value many of the stances Republicans traditionally espoused prior to 2000, the party under this administration has been hijacked into extremist policies bearing little resemblance to anything that attracted me to the GOP in the first place - like, say, a prudent fiscal policy, or wise and effective use of the military, or the overriding principle that government's primary job is to stay out of our business - all of which are now anathema to the Republicans in charge.

The way I see it, this is a single-issue campaign. The Republicans now in power have embraced, as their primary policy, an aggressive opposition to the Bill of Rights, to the separation of powers, to the rule of law - in short, to the Constitution that has been the foundation of America since its beginning. Their only political philosophy now is to fantasize that the Founding Fathers of America intended to create a presidency even more powerful than the office of king under George III - that they fought a war of revolution because they just couldn't bear being ruled by a chief executive who didn't hold enough arbitrary power over their lives.

While most Democrats have not had enough spine to take a stand on this, nevertheless the Democrats, simply by default, have become the party of *not* vigorously trying to tear down the American rule of law. That is the only issue for me. If that fails, we have nothing.

Even before learning a single thing about what the Democrats have to offer, I cannot imagine how any thinking person of whatever American political tradition could listen to a rhetoric that is founded on surrendering all competing interests to overriding fear, and equating the large majority of Americans who disagree with the administration's policies with Nazi appeasers, and boasting of secret CIA prisons as a campaign highlight to excite their base, and not feeling the overriding need to run them out of office.

And with a president who campaigns based on letting Osama bin Laden dictate our entire foreign policy, and who has been unable to do anything about this one lousy guy despite having a military that has gone through a cumulative budget of over two trillion dollars since 9/11 and that has the cooperation of the governments of both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and who let a great American city be largely destroyed even with all the advance warning of a disaster that one might hope for, assuring disaster managers from his vacation hideaway that everything would be just fine -- it seems impossible that any thinking person might still be suckered into the GOP sales pitch that they are somehow a better option for national security, rather than be aghast at the breathtaking military incompetence of this administration, and desperate to return to the kind of administration that understands and responds to the reality-based world rather than just grand theories, grand photo-ops, and grand soundbites.

David Brin said...

Dang, Bryan.
You get post-of-the-day.

No use this stuff. tell your old pals to hear Barry Goldwater spinning in his grave. Tell em to stand up and say it.

ANY "side" - including our side - can go mad.

It is our side's turn.

Let's stand up and do the right thing.

Don Quijote said...



What ever lead anyone to believe that a political party that disdains goverment as much as the repugs do would run an efficient & honest govermemt?

It's like going to a doctor who doesn't believe in any surgery or any modern drugs.

"Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem."
-- Ronald Reagan

Tony Fisk said...

DQ, it is a matter of perception. Bryan has changed his. Can you recognise that?

(Oh, David, I don't think your last comment reads quite as you intended!)

As a tangible result of ongoing mismanagement, I think Katrina will sink the GOP more surely than any catastrophic but abstract mishandling of the ...WOT?

NoOne said...

I've been lurking here for a while.

Bryan, that was a terrific post. Thanks a lot for a beautiful summary.

We had our staunch Republican neighbors over for lunch on Labor day. Now, we never ever ever discuss politics or religion in the US, right? (A tragic shame BTW especially compared to how the rest of the world lives.) However, and thanks to this site, I mentioned that Goldwater would have a fit with the current bunch of thugs running things. After first registering astonishment at my faux pas, my neighbor reluctantly agreed. We did not return to the topic though.

Anonymous said...

On the subject of Newt, I noticed a comment today on the CATO blog, http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2006/09/07/gingrichs-big-government-manifesto/

"Much of the proposal is simple pandering to various base groups. Confronted with the many serious problems facing this country, Newt proposes that Republicans base their campaign on such crucial issues as declaring English to be the national language, forbidding the courts from considering cases involving the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance, and creating a national voter ID card. Many other proposals would explicitly increase the size of government. For example, Gingrich would expand No Child Left Behind to create national teacher competency standards."

(Yes, I'm quite aware of the, I believe justified, criticism of some CATO positions that seem to effectively had the keys of the kingdom over to a bunch of corporate cronies as bad or worse then the theocratic regime currently in power all in the name of "free markets", BUT I still find the vast majority of thier opinions, particularly on the civil liberties side to be expeceptionally good. So I refuse throw that baby out with the bath water. ;))

Anonymous said...

I don't remember seeing any Democrats speaking out against the CIA's secret prisons after Bush revealed their existence.

Don't they have to earn our votes?

Just a little?

If the Democrats help pass the "Super Duper Patriot Bill That Only A Terrorist Would Vote Against" which is actually just a bill that absolves anyone who has been involved in torture and illegal detention these past 5 years...and lets Bush continue operating with the same methods...

I just may not vote at all this November...and I live in one of the "hotly contested" House districts.

David Brin said...

Again, this is a matter of personality. If a person is so inclined, he can establish a litmus test designed to reach a foregone conclusion. One could just as easily set THIS bar and ask if the Democrats would:

re-establish committee hearings that issue subpoenas concerning felonious malfeasance in office...

re-establish Congressional scientific advisory boards

block all further radical neocon nominations to federal courts

Restore lawful contract processes and end the flood of billions pouring from our fiscal veins into the gaping maws of parasites

reverse the shroud of secrecy, worse than we ever saw in the Cold war

bring home the Guard and Reserves and force the President to justify using up the regular army in a debatable war of "elective surgery"

and so on...

I could go on and on, But M does not pose any of those issues as his litmus test, because the PRE-determined conclusion that he has already set out to reach is "they're alll worthless; leave me to my indignant fury; I hate em all."

(My words, but did I paraphrase pretty well?)

Tell you what, Monkyboy. Let's swap votes. In this district, we have a dumb-ass Santa Monica liberal ranting all the stuff you like, incapable of saying just twenty words that might swing decent conservatives, in an overwhelmingly gerry'd conservative district, to vote against Duke's awful replacement.

Tell you what. Let's swap. I'll vote for her if you'll swear to back the Dem in that hot race (and stop bitching). Or else, I'll sit this race out FOR you while you spend MY vote in your district. Satisfying enough?

Anonymous said...

Monkeyboy, Democrats have been criticizing the various unconstitutional measures long before Bush publicly admitted to them. Admitting them is his attempt at damage control.

Don't forget that the Dems ould scream about it from the rooftops, but the newspapers and TV news aren't interested in those issues. They're not as sexy as Natalee Holloway.

As far as screaming to the party faithful about such matters, I get email from all the assorted Dem groups (DNC, DSCC, DCCC) about that stuff every couple days. They're using it to fire up the base, since it's not playing well on the news.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Brin,

I agree with everything you say about Bushie and his pals, but they will be out of our hair in a few years.

I see America's problems as systemic, not created by specific individuals, no matter how corrupt and evil they may be.

My biggest concern is your famous diamond-shaped society has be reverting back to a triangle-shaped society for the past 30 years under both Democratic and Republican contol of our government.

The Republicans aren't the only ones who have been hiding behind the issue of terrorism for the last 5 years...

David Brin said...

Again, personality.

Sorry. But the diamond was BUILT! Instead of calling the slump toward pyramid shape "systemic" you might ponder HOW it was built, and notice that millions of modernist/progressives want it rebuilt.

But alas, sorry. Marxism is utterly and overwhelmingly DISproved, along with all of its incantation cousins.

How hilariously ironic! The dyspeptic lefties ahrug at Bush, say he's just a symptom, out in a few years anyway. What's to get lathered about?

It is we moderate modernist reformers and pragmatic progressives who are furious, fired up, filled with fear and utter loathing, knowing that the very republic -- the whole experiment -- may be teetering in the balance!

There is an underlying reason for this, I think.

To the left, there is a silver lining to all that the neocons do. Radicalization and a return to genuine class warfare. Yummy!

They never did know what to do with a guy like Clinton. They hated (and betrayed) him almost as much as Limbaugh did.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Brin,

The short, happy life of your diamond-shaped society, roughly 1945-1970, had many unique ingedients, and I'm not sure we'll ever have that recipe again:

All of our major economic competitors bombed back to the stone age.

Worker friendly tech that helped workers, but didn't replace them.

Strong "lefty" labor unions.

China under the control of a crazy leader.

The G.I. bill, that gave many workers a shot at college that they wouldn't ordinarily have.

The fresh memory of the Great Depression spurring everybody to work hard and save, save, save! (Americans are actually spending more than they earn now...for the first time since 1933).

I'm not saying it's impossible to start America moving back towards a diamond-shaped economy...I just don't see the Republicans or the Democrats coming up with a way to do it.

Anonymous said...

Not to go off of a tangent, but I miss ol' Bill...

Now "They" are trying to smear his legacy and pin Osama on him in ABC/Disney's goofy "Path to 9/11".


Anonymous said...

"I'm not saying it's impossible to start America moving back towards a diamond-shaped economy...I just don't see the Republicans or the Democrats coming up with a way to do it."

Monkeboy, you almost have a point here but I think it requires clarification.

The GOP took power in most respects in '94. One could make a case for '80, but we'll stick with '94. The GOP still hasn't "purged" all the Chuck Hagels and Linc Chafees from the party yet. Give the Dems power *first* and then worry about getting rid of unsavory elements, if that's what floats your boat. Certainly, any modernist worth his/her salt is skeptical of ANYONE holding the reins in Washington (or Albany, Austin, Sacramento, etc) and if the Dems win I fully intend to keeep an eye and do what I can to see that they don't screw it up. They eventually will, that's reality.

The Greens aren't going to get elected. Frankly I don't think they want to based on my experience with them in 2001 - as Dr. Brin points out in numerous essays, they're too busy being "pure."

I guess what I'm wondering is, if both parties are so distasteful to you, what is your solution?

Anonymous said...


I don't find the Republicans and the Democrats distasteful, I see quite a few admirable people in both parties.

Life ain't bad in most of the former challengers for world domination like Germany, Japan, Britain, France, Italy and Spain.

I see America as an old man, struggling against the effort of rising powers like China and India to put us in that world domination retirement home.

I think that , rather than struggle against our inevitable fall from the top with impotent military gestures...we should survey our fellow former world powers and take from them what is working...

David Brin said...

Um, Monkyboy, again, you just don’t seem to have a clue.

Um... the same “lefty” labor unions that performed the Miracle of 1947, declaring war on Communism and propelling aggressive containment?

Um... you mean the same university?GIBill arrangement as we have today, only sending a QUARTER as many people to college as we do now?

In fact, the terrifying restoration of the class system is not happening as much at the bottom as at the top. Poverty is not rising, but the middle class is being spat on and their pensions robbed in order to finance a skyrocketing of privilege and unearned wealth on the part of a new (an unaccountable) oligarchy. THAT is where the wealth disparity is taking place.

It is even more true worldwide. Poverty per capita is plummetting worldwide as new middle classes form in many lands. The danger is from oligarchs grabbing power and becoming old fashioned feudal parasites.

Your model is just plain wrong.


Folks if you face anybody who believes the lying pack of drivel airing on ABC, remind them about the Balkans/Iraq comparison at: http://www.davidbrin.com/neocons.html

The list is staggering. Perfect. Un-debatable. Overwhelming.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Brin,

Despite robust economic growth last year, 1.1 million more Americans slipped into poverty in 2004, while household incomes stagnated and earnings fell, the Census Bureau reported yesterday. The number of Americans without health insurance rose by 800,000, to 45.8 million.


How will we ever get our model right when we can't even agree on the facts?

Tony Fisk said...

I'm keeping low in this post since local politics is not something I can add to.

Still, a bit of trivia I've just read seems relevant to the woes we face: this year marks the 300th anniversary of Ben Franklin's birth.

Comforting numerology it may be, but it should count for something.

Don Quijote said...

The GOP took power in most respects in '94. One could make a case for '80, but we'll stick with '94. The GOP still hasn't "purged" all the Chuck Hagels and Linc Chafees from the party yet.

Actually 1968!

Nixon R( crooked but Sane),
Ford R (Sane),
Carter D (Conservative),
Reagan R,
Bush Sr R,
Clinton D (Conservative),
Bush R (Insane)

Since 1968, you have 12 years of Conservative Democrats and 26 years of repugs in power.

All the sane republicans have long been purged out of the party, or rendered powerless.

Anonymous said...

Since 1968, you have 12 years of Conservative Democrats and 26 years of repugs in power.

I disagree, in that we still have a handful of Rockefeller Republicans; they're still purging. Nor was Nixon, whose proposed national healthcare plan made Clinton's look positively Libertarian by comparison, the same strain of conservative as the current crop of kleptocrats.

Hearkening to David's essay on memes, where he describes Oriental, Macho, Enlightenment, and one other worldview which escapes me, we tend to elect "macho" presidents (Carter being the sole exception since '68, but then he was up against Ford!).

I still say '94 because the GOP in '68 bears no resemblance to the GOP now.

On a side note, why the hell are they the GOP? The Dems are either 25 or 65 years older than the Republicans, depending on whether one considers the Dems founded by Jefferson in 1792, or Jackson in 1828. Grand Old Party. Bah.

And David (if I may call you David!), despite Gingrich having a few agreeable planks in his Contract with America, I disagree that he's ever really been an "honest" conservative. His tactics, like Rove's, destroyed any possibility of rational debate. No compromise was possible, until literally forced into government shutdown, a face-off that Clinton won, and the GOP lost by over-reach. Other than that, the Atwater/Rove tactic of demonization coupled with an echo chamber of complicit mass-media outlets has contributed, indeed I would say provided the foundation for the situation today, where 30% of Americans are apparently all too willing to let Bush play at being Caesar if he so chooses.

David Brin said...

I am willing to disagree about Newt in a cordial way. Certainly many people I respect feel as you do. I base my more forgiving attitude toward him upon:

1. the positive planks of the contract
2. his sci fi-ness
3. the fact that the real klepto-feudalists and fanatics ejected him, post haste
4. welfare reform showed the "Dr. Jekyll" side at work. If he had taken that attitude of working with Clinton, instead of biting the hand BC offered ("Mr. Hyde") Newt would have stayed in business and we wouldn't have got in this mess. So in a way it's all his schizoid fault.

As for calling Clinton and Carter "conservative"... well, it's all a matter of compared-to-what. When the NAACP and nearly every African American leader called Bill Clinton "the first Black President of the United States," it kind of makes the lefty whiners who bitched at him look REALLY effete and dogmatic.

Thing is, they were unable to get very specific. What the $%#*! did they want? He damn near ruined his presidency trying for a vastly too-ambitious health care bill, instead of incrementally starting with all children.

Some people are never satisfied, again, personality.

Anonymous said...

I think you're going too easy on Newt.

Did you see his latest in the Wally Street? Jame's Wolcott rightly calls it Newt Gingrich's expectorated gob of newsprint.


Has there been a bigger failure from Newt's playbook than the "privatization" of government services?

His latest vision is to let a thousand Halliburtons bloom so they can lead us, pants falling down to their ankles from all the loot stuffed in the pockets, into WWIII!

Wow...turns out he was the Sith Lord all along.

Don Quijote said...

As for calling Clinton and Carter "conservative"... well, it's all a matter of compared-to-what.

How about FDR, Truman, JFK or LBJ?

Are you telling me that NAFTA, WTO, Welfare Reform or the Telecommunications Act of 1996 were not conservative ideas, and that Clinton did not support them?

Don Quijote said...

Oh, and I forgot the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, another fine perl from the Clinton Administration.

Anonymous said...


Please do correct me, but Gingrich wasn't abandoned, he follwed American political precedent.

In an off-year election, the President's party always loses seats. If I remember correctly, there have been three exceptions - 1934 (or 1938, I'm not sure), 1998, and 2002. In 1998, Gingrich resigned as a result of that loss. Gephardt did the same in 2002. I can only assume for the moment that something similar happened in 1934.

If I'm missing something regarding GOP abandonment of Newt, let me know.

Anonymous said...


You forgot signing the Defense of Marriage Act, which is a piece of red meat for knuckle-dragging Culture Warriors.

Dr. Brin,

Clinton is also a charter member of the DLC, which was founded on corporate money with an interest in pulling Democrats away from populist roots. Without a real populism, Democrats really are Republicans Light with only their position in the Culture War to set them apart.

Now, the guy was a grown-up, and it's worth mentioning that he is better than any Republican that filled his job in the last thirty years. He also saw that to be free to do anything (whether "left" or "right"), he had to set the government's financial affairs in order to enable it to make strategic moves with its money. Of course, Dubya has gone and kneecapped this effort by giving all this money away to fellow kleptos.

But, on the spectrum of the party, Bill definitely hues toward the conservative. And his wife has definitely learned that you don't mess with Big Pharma (who have done their best to own her).

Anonymous said...


Current annual Congressional pay:

Senate Leadership

Majority Leader - $183,500
Minority Leader - $183,500

House Leadership

Speaker of the House - $212,100
Majority Leader - $183,500
Minority Leader - $183,500

Rank-and-File Members' Salary - $165,200

I remember Newt, while he was Speaker, had to turn down a $5 million book deal because it looked shady.

It must gnaw at these guys...they pass laws allocating hundreds of billions of dollars to their patrons...yet they earn about the same money as a dentist.

If you enter Congress fairly poor, the desire to "cash in" (become a lobbyist, etc.) while your party is still in power (and your connections have maximum value) must be tremendous...

Anonymous said...


I'm not sure what you're getting at. Congressional salaries apply to both parties, but it's the GOP that's up to their eyeballs in graft. Even in the 80s, one or two Dems got busted, but Washington has never seen anything compared to Abramoff/DeLay/Cunningham/et al.

Besides, they (Congressmen) get $$ in speaking fees, book deals, TV talking head stuff, and frequently end up spending their post-Congressional career on the board of some large company or group.

We have to look deeper than just salaries.

Anonymous said...


I'm saying Newt was damaged politically, but he could have easily stayed on as Speaker of the House (arguably the most powerful position in the world during peacetime) if he had wanted to.

But, it would have cost him millions of dollars a year in income to do so...this probably played an important part in his decision to leave Congress.