Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Ostrich Papers: "What if Clinton had..." (Part II)

We're discussing how not only to eke victory over the Bushites, in 08, but to decisively repudiate the neocons' treasonous “culture war.” To do this, we must not over-rely upon plummeting GOP popularity. After all:

1) Something may happen to firm the GOP base. Another (convenient) terror attack. War with Iran. The nomination of Hillary Clinton. (Look, I like her. I'll campaign hard if she’s the nominee. But can you imagine anything more sure to bring out ten million extra Republican voters, through sleet or hail?)

2) The GOP is already re-positioning, preparing to blame everything on Bush and “Beltway Washington insiders...” giving GOP voters a way to vote for more neocon thieves, backed by the same interests, while telling themselves they're throwing bums out!

3) Democrats may let Karl Rove frame the debate, yet again, as a matter of “left versus right”... leaving moderate and “decent” conservatives no option but to hold their noses and “vote right” -- as a matter of simple self- identity.

We must prepare against these failure modes.

But how?

The best way to do it is by going for the throat. Go AFTER the Dole Goldwater Republicans, hammer and tongs! That beloved, sweet but troglodytic uncle of yours, for example, who gets his memes reinforced on Fox. Make him choose between the GOP and America!

Because that’s what it comes down to.

And now, back to providing ammo for that effort... more ostrich hypocrisy skewers.


...sent our National Guard units into endless deployments, wrecking families, demolishing our reserves, and leaving our states and cities defenseless, in case of natural disaster. Or in case of a future terror attack?

...allowed a great American city to be destroyed through staggering bureaucratic negligence, despite plenty of warnings about hurricane danger? Then allowed graft and corruption to siphon off billions, in the aftermath?

...allowed U.S. air travel to decline into a morass of filthy, overcrowded airports, overbearing security and deteriorating service, while the rich escape to charters and corporate jets?

...allowed our nation’s infrastructure, bridges, highways etc to deteriorate at the fastest rate in history?

...oversaw the worst spiral into national debt the world has ever seen, reversing 1990s surpluses into record-breaking deficits?

(Self-check: When did you switch priorities? Loading your grandchildren with debt, while protecting Rupert Murdoch from taxes? Even when our nation is at war, in a “fight for survival”?

(Is it possible you were TAUGHT to make this weird reversal of conservative values? By the same aristocrats who control your radio and TV? By the very same men who directly benefit?)


...supervised and directly oversaw the steepest decline in U.S. military readiness since the War of 1812? With the Army and Marines running out of troops and equipment, unable to meet quotas, despite steeply lowering standards and offering signup bonuses in excess of $20,000 all the way up to $150,000?

...brought us to the point where only two Army brigades are currently trained, equipped and prepared to fight off a national land force? And those two are in Korea? (Hint: that’s fewer ready brigades than Belgium or Mexico have.)

...fired, transferred, punished, or forced into retirement hundreds of US military officers, for refusing to parrot a party line or for not helping twist our armed forces into a political tool?

...appointed to top positions at the FBI, Justice Department, CIA, Defense and Homeland Security men and women without experience in those fields, whose sole attribute was partisan loyalty and a willingness to bully civil servants, harassing professionals into toeing the line?

(Self-check: If a Democrat did a smidgen of this, would you have looked the other way?

(Or would you have made a fuss if Clinton harassed even one US officer? So, what do you say to that face in the mirror? That fellow who let a Republican administration do all this, and much more, without uttering a word of protest?)


...declared that he was the one and only “decider,” in what had previously been a vast and sophisticated democracy?

...declared repeatedly that a president can refuse to answer to any kind of accountability or oversight by Congress?

...promised (as a candidate) never to commit troops without a timetable, an exit strategy, adequate financing, or clear goals? Achievable war aims that directly help our nation, enough to outweigh our soldiers’ sacrifice? What if Clinton had promised all that... then did the opposite?

...declared “Mission Accomplished” when an endless, Vietnam-style quagmire had only just begun?

... initiated intimate and unwanted body contact with a female foreign leader? On camera?

...drove away all of our allies and made the United States more unpopular around the world than at any time in our history?

(Yes, the neocon attitude is “#*@! what the world thinks!” But, in that case, wouldn’t traditional conservative isolationism make more sense than trying to “lead” a world that hates us?)

(In fact, Clinton’s Balkans War was brief, fierce, effective and perfect, quickly achieving all major goals at low expense, while preserving readiness and costing zero -- exactly zero -- American lives. While US popularity soared, even among Muslims and troop moral hit new records. Beat that.)

Next time... even more (what-if) crimes of “Bill Clinton!”


David Brin said...

Please all go to

and give a recommend click in the 1st comment (mine). That's called a "tip jar."

Anonymous said...

Nominating a black man for president would also "unify" the repugs. Racism has been the winning strategy for the repugs sense the dems finnally rejected racism in the late 60's.

Anonymous said...

General Sanchez (ret.) Speaks Out:

"While the politicians espouse a rhetoric designed to preserve their reputations and their political power, our soldiers die," he said.

The administration, he said, has ignored messages from field commanders that warned repeatedly that "our military alone could not achieve victory" without corresponding help from the State Department.

"Our National leadership ignored the lessons of World War Two as we entered into this war and to this day continue to believe that victory can be achieved through the application of military power alone," he said.

"From a catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan, to the administration's latest surge strategy, this administration has failed to employ and synchronize its political, economical and military power," he said.

Sanchez said the current strategy, which included a "surge" of troops into Iraq, was "a desperate attempt by the administration that has not accepted the political and economic realities of this war and they have definitely not been able to communicate effectively that reality to the American people."

"Too often, our politicians have been distracted and they have chosen loyalty to their political parties above loyalty to the Constitution because of their lust for power," he said.

* * *

Gee, I wish this guy had spoken a little more bluntly and plainly . . . do you think he's upset about something?

TheRadicalModerate said...

David, this screed has become infinitely tiresome. It's really sad to see your blog, which used to contain a whole bunch of provocative ideas, devolve into shrieking about the same things over and over and over.

You're not worth reading any more. Bye.

Joel said...

Bill Maher has stolen this idea. Look at the last 40 seconds or so of the video here:

On second thought, watch the whole thing. It's pretty funny.

Excerpt follows:
George Bush...has gotten more troops uncecessarily killed and maimed, by failing to plan for their mission, by pushing their units to the breaking point, by letting his corporate enablers like Haliburton and Bechtel and Blackwater rape and pillage, not only the Iraqis, but our own army. Could you imagine how apoplectic the flag pin people would be if these same transgressions against the military were being made by Bill Clinton?

Anonymous said...

What if Bill Clinton were President right now, and ...

"In Boulder, two days ago, a rosy-cheeked thirtysomething mother of two small children, in soft yoga velours, started to tear up when she said to me: "I want to take action but I am so scared. I look at my kids and I am scared. How do you deal with fear? Is it safer for them if I act or stay quiet? I don't want to get on a list." In D.C., before that, a beefy, handsome civil servant, a government department head -- probably a Republican -- confides in a lowered voice that he is scared to sign the new ID requirement for all government employees, that exposes all his most personal information to the State -- but he is scared not to sign it: "If I don't, I lose my job, my house. It's like the German National ID card," he said quietly. This morning in Denver I talked for almost an hour to a brave, much-decorated high-level military man who is not only on the watch list for his criticism of the administration -- his family is now on the list. His elderly mother is on the list. His teenage son is on the list. He has flown many dangerous combat missions over the course of his military career, but his voice cracks when he talks about the possibility that he is exposing his children to harassment."

See Naomi Wolf's "American Tears" at

sociotard said...

Have you seen the new windbelt generators featured in popular mechanics? they don't generate much power, but they are only prototypes.

David Brin said...

Great link re wind powerZechariah.

As for RM's departures, wll, I expect that's the tip of the iceberg and I've lost more than just one far-lefty and one "radical moderate." In fact, this whole blog has probably done me no good at all. By (1) distracting from income-writing, (2) offending Republican fans (3) driving off those who want a higher ratio of modernist/cool trchno stuff over tendentious and tedious political rants.

See? A sense of self-perspective and citokate. Any points at all?

The problem is that I see our civilization at a crux. Certain very powerful groups have only another nine months or so to arrange matters for their continued rapacious benefit, possibly even their own survival. This is the most terrifying moment of my life as a citizen, and I lived through 1968. All of it!

I genuinely feel that I have had unusual takes on these matters. Find an earlier reference to the Bush war against the professionals, or against the US officer corps. Find one, please. Or anyone else other than Elaine Scarry who saw 9/11 as a metaphor for a rising Age of Amateurs.

Given that, what can I do, except try my best to offer creative and off-angle metaphors that heroes might use in our civilization's defense? Look IT'S MY JOB.

Above all, if my effort to rouse ostriches helps to awaken just the right ones -- say in the CIA and FBI -- then the professionals may stand up at last, and defend us. And get this. If they do that -- IT WON'T MATTER IF I AM WRONG ABOUT THE SPECIFICS!

All I am asking is that they do their jobs and nail crooks. Just tell us what's going on and make us confident that's all there is.

Hence, sorry that I keep trying to refine the message. To tell things you have all heard before in slightly better ways. I use you guys as feedback to hone this stuff, so it can be presented in a package that's useful. Sorry that means I can be boring.

Sorry, too, that RM has gone. His citokate was good, on occasion. Let's hope that civilization proves robust, its immune system shakes all this off, and I can go back (along with millions of others) to concentrating on creativity and art, instead of fighting for my children.

Alex Tolley said...

David - perhaps you should do what you do best and write a novel that threads some of these issues into the plot? Many, many years ago I read "A State of Denmark" by Robin Cook. The target in this case was England, and I found it very chilling. That was an overtly political novel, but you could make yours more SF based. Just saying...

David Brin said...

That is what I am (supposedly) doing.

But dig it. I got more leverage from The Transparent Society than I did with the same ideas in EARTH.

Alex Tolley said...

David: "Transparent Society" (a book I bought and read when it came out in the midst of the privacy debate) is not a blog. It was a well crafted discussion, almost in the SF mode of "what if...we turn the privacy issue on its head and...". For that reason it has lasted so well, and is still quotable. Blogging however, is another matter. I doubt you are reaching that many people in this blog, or its mirror on DailyKos to make much of a difference. In that sense, you are just part of the noise machine, however passionate and immediate it may feel to you. Your novels however, have won awards and will be read by a larger audience (I assume they are anyway). Jonathan Swift and others of his ilk in their time made perfectly good punches at "the system" of the time without being shrill, using the power of ridicule and metaphor. I still think that art form plays into your strengths - and into you bank account too.

Anonymous said...

George Orwell is another example; a writer of incredibly lucid and well reasoned essays whose greatest effect on the world came from one or two novels.

The truth-twisting of Oceania's Part had its real-world origins in the rhetoric and methods of the Soviets and of the quarrelsome leftist factions of the Spanish Civil War.

Naum said...

For every departed, I'm sure you've gained dozens of readers… …I know I've clipped and cited from your missives, and mostly I only chime in occasionally on the rare instance where I disagree with the post theme…

I wouldn't read too much into inactivity at dailyKos, in a giant pool it's easy to get lost, especially amongst parties that really strive first and foremost to carry water for "D"s, and they are blind to the message you are trying to get sinked in…

But thought I'd share that I've enjoyed reading your posts and find that you're on the mark and only nitpicking would be that you continue to rewrite and edit and polish, as you have done… …as when I bring your perspective to my own blog and other forums, I often get replies that say the ideas are, well, I'll just post one sample here:

I still don't know what that David Brin is saying. I am too lazy to find out too. I read enough complex stuff in school, I don't want to read stuff like this in my leisure.

Just an observation, and a compliment.

I have seen a general rise is sophistication and specialization in your arguments, at the same time, the number of people who post on your site has dropped. There may be no correlation, but I think there is.

Perhaps this is the trouble with logical written arguments in a culture that's increasingly transforming into one of an oral nature, where everything is reduced to simple catch phrases and jingoistic slogans… …I don't know…


DB: As for RM's departures, wll, I expect that's the tip of the iceberg and I've lost more than just one far-lefty and one "radical moderate." In fact, this whole blog has probably done me no good at all. By (1) distracting from income-writing, (2) offending Republican fans (3) driving off those who want a higher ratio of modernist/cool trchno stuff over tendentious and tedious political rants.

Tony Fisk said...

I understand that the essays you repeat to distraction are intended for review and refinement, not as fresh material.

However, it can be hard to remember this in a blog style media, which is tailored more to the here and now.

What might be better is a wiki format sitting off the side. You can use the blog to refer to updates you've made to essays, the 'discussion' wiki tab can be used for the blue pencil stuff.

It would reduce the lengthy and repetitive comments, too!

Still, we've had this conversation before, and you have your preferred style...

(What I'd like to try and develop... one day... is a means of scrawling markup comments to a web page.)

Naum said...

One more note… …think instead of being in the large pool of 1000s of Kos diaries (incidentally a site I rarely frequent anymore, since it resembles too much a party organ…), it would be a lot more lucrative for you if you catch on as a regular featured blogger at Salon (like Glenn Greenwald).

When Greenwald made move from his own personal blog (hosted on same platform you are using now) I thought it was not going to grant many more eyeballs but I was totally wrong and his readership has grown immensely…

Anonymous said...

The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy's sliming of Hillary has had one hell of an effect. My girlfriend calls her "that Clinton bitch" and claims she'd try to become "President for Life" or something. She doesn't argue with me very hard when I point out all of the Republican candidates are completely mad, though. So maybe I'm getting somewhere.

And then I just have to convincer her how national health care would be a good thing, like the rest of the developed world has. :)

And I wouldn't say Earth had no effect, it was one of the things that helped inspire me to get into civil and environmental engineering, and actually work on the things I bitch about, instead of just bitching about them.

David Brin said...

Point out that all Americans are raised to feel they are the knowing-underdogs facing some vast and nefarious, power-grabbing conspiracy.

And, yes, there have been some nasty, lefty, commie, socialist conspiracies to install lefty big brothers...


On the other hand, just how illogical is it not to let yourself notice power being grabbed... by the rich and powerful? It takes a real toolnot to get a little paranoid, being spoon-fed exactly the beliefs that Rupert Murdoch WANTS you to believe.

Ask her to name one time in human history when bureaucrats were more freedom-wrecking than "cronies of the king."

Jumper said...

Keep on thinking, David Brin. Your voice is valuable. The scientifically challenged have controlled political discourse far too long.

Nausicaa said...

I share the same apprehension as David does about Hillary.

Interesting article by Tom, here (very relevant, I think, to the results in Iowa):

H.J.Res 114 - Why did they do it?

Very relevant comment by Maggie Bremmer on that post, too, who says: "....What the Democratic party needs right now is not another Dukakis but another Kennedy! My eyes are on Barack Obama."

So are mines!