Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Farewell Admiral Fallon: Now it's time to worry.

Many of you will remember that I once called Admiral William Fallon the "canary in our coal mine."

I spoke of how Fallon’s appointment to head our military’s Central Command (containing all forces now stationed in the Middle East) was a sure sign -- along with the rise of Adm. Mike Mullen to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- that the U.S. Officer Corps had had enough. That they had -- quietly and sub-rosa -- made things clear to the Bush Administration. The wanton and reckless destruction of the American military would no longer be tolerated. Nor would the abuse of our service men and women -- treating them as toys -- be allowed to continue.

Why a “canary”? Because, as long as Fallon remained in place as Cent Com Commander, we could rest assured that a large stumbling block stood between Bush and some trumped-up Middle East distraction/calamity, like a precipitate attack upon Iran. (Fallon is said to have told colleagues - off the record - that "an attack on Iran will not happen on my watch.")

Now Fallon is gone. The man who (in addition to Mullen) helped me to sleep at night, knowing that some adults still endured, somewhere high in the chain of command, who would keep doing the job we hired and trained and pay them for -- to look out for us. I said that this canary would have to fall, giving us some warning, before the brats could make another reckless, ruinous move. And like coal miners, seeing their watch-bird fall, we have reason to grow worried.

Of course, it is possible that this step may not be a prelude to a new war. The Bush Administration may just be taking an opportunity to eliminate a thorn in its shoe. A thorn that was forced upon it, last year, by a simmering and angry US Officer Corps. It may be that recent, lower casualty rates in Iraq have emboldened Bush. There may be less fear of mass resignations, with everybody distracted by the political season

Still, is the fall of our "canary" truly a sign? Are there other signs to watch for?

First: we need to learn more about Lieutenant General Martin Dempsey, who becomes CENTCOM Commander as of March 31st. One might guess that he was Bush’s man, when the Mullen/Fallon deal was struck, last year, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt... and start asking around.

If, as traditional, a more permanent replacement is appointed soon, then watch for portents. If it is another admiral, then perhaps we'll be okay. For it can only mean that Secretary of Defense Gates is still potent and still listening to the informal network of flag officers who began the quiet, discreet "work action" by our adult protector caste, back in 2007.

In fact, given the blatant symbolism of appointing two Navy guys in a row, this would be a very powerful signal. So clear that even our dullard punditocracy might notice. And, for that reason, I don’t give it much chance.

If (as seems almost certain) Fallon’s full-term replacement is an Army general -- or if they stick with Dempsey -- then we need to listen, ask our military contacts (off the record) and try to read the tea leaves. We are in for nervous times. If it is a notorious Bushite loyalist, watch out.

And if the new Cent Com leader comes from the Air Force, then Hannah, get the cows! Sell your portfolio, stock up on canned goods and get out of the cities. Mind you, I don't expect this to happen... and there could still be an Iranattack with an army man in charge. Especially if some kind of “terror” pretext just happens to occur on US soil, offering a conveniently-timed. Pearl Harbor casus belli.

Nevertheless, I'm putting this dire possibility on the record, here. The most blatant sign to watch for. There would be only one reason to appoint a general from the USAF - the most pliant and suborned of our services - to that crucial role. It would only happen if the National Command Authority (Bush & Cheney) want to order bombers into action with a minimum of interference and a maximum of heel-clicking gusto.

In which case, if you have a son or daughter on a carrier battle group in the Persian Gulf, tell them (in family code) to shoot themselves in the foot. Because those poor Navy guys will be sitting ducks, amid the hell that will ensue. (Of course, in the extreme “thriller plot,” that could be part of what this is all aimed to achieve.)

But hold it. Pause. Let’s back off from all the paranoid, thriller scenarios. It is possible that the firing of Admiral Fallon is simply a case of a failing administration, swatting aside one of the adults it despises. Just another part of the ongoing War Against Professionalism, which has been the single central and core theme of the Bush Era. The Officer Corps has borne the brunt of this hidden war - more consistent than any other endeavor, even Iraq - the real war debilitating America. A campaign whose victims also include the intelligence services, the FBI, the civil service, the scientific community, anywhere that skill matters. Though the military has suffered most of all.

Let me tell you what depresses me most... the fact that this... ALL of this... seems to be completely below the radar of the Democratic candidates or political caste. Or what little news media isn’t controlled. Or even the blogosphere. Nobody seems capable of stepping back and reading Big Picture patterns...

...or seeing the opportunity hidden in the mayhem. For if anyone vigorously and decisively stood up for the Admiral Fallons out there, the men and women of the professional service caste, upon whom civilization utterly depends, then they would feel more free to speak out! And the decent “ostrich conservatives” whose heads still wallow in holes would then have to wake up. They would stand up, and join the coalition to save our country. ..

... leaving the fanatics and kleptos out on a limb they have been very busy sawing off.


Reminder: Only Democrats can vote in the Democratic primary; the state's 984,000 independents - and GOP converts - have only until March 24 to sign up so they can vote in the interesting part of the election. Tell any indies you know in PA!

The Onion is a hoot. “Live free or die-bold.”

Ask me if I ever tire of saying I told you so? SAUDI Arabia's rulers threatened to make it easier for terrorists to attack London unless corruption investigations into their arms deals were halted. Previously secret files, just revealed, describe how investigators were told they faced "another 7/7" and the loss of "British lives on British streets" if they pressed on with their inquiries. Prince Bandar, the head of the Saudi national security council, and son of the crown prince, was alleged in court on Thursday to be the man behind the threats to hold back information about suicide bombers and terrorists. Um... and yet I am “paranoid” for contemplating all of this just one step further? Hrm.

On the other hand, shortly after I returned from Liechtenstein, that tiny nation is suddenly in the news, with German and US tax authorities applying pressure on the little country to offer more transparency in their banking records. Coincidental timing? No doubt. I’m just not that influential.

Alas, though. We have other problems. Mmm, let's see...surely the U.S. ranks SOMEWHERE on this list. A list that ought to give conservatives conniptions. That is, if they were conservative, any longer.

As if they ever were. Whereupon we mark the passing of William F. Buckley... a fellow who joins Colin Powell and so many other “adult conservatives” who could have - should have - stepped forward during the Neocon Madness. Who could and should have shown the guts and patriotism that liberals did, way back in 1947, when democrats admitted “our side of the spectrum can go mad and it is our job to do something, when that happens”...

...and then they actively did something about it.

THIS is the essential difference between liberalism and conservatism. It has nothing to do with “left or right” or state vs market. The chief difference is that liberals passed their fundamental test, fifty years ago, choosing patriotism, reason, and civilization over spirals of self justifying dogma. And conservatives have utterly failed their own test, during this crucial decade, when similar levels of adult fortitude were called for. When it was their historical and patriotic duty to stand up to their own side’s wave of rapacious barbarians and monsters. Alas, they did not. So long, Bill.

You folks have got to see this - “Video: Interviewer Picks The Wrong Obama Supporter to Try To Railroad.” Talk about making a gotcha-geek eat crow over his first impressions! This kid will probably be offered a job, next January.


Matt DeBlass said...

The CIA has a Kids' Page? Wow.

David Brin said...

Sorry, but I must do this. I am going to post here (under comments) verbatim the latest missive from Russ Daggatt... because he doesn't post these to linkable sites, only sending them as emails.

It's long.

It follows....

David Brin said...

Passed Through from RUSS DAGGATT:

"Anything that can't go on forever ... won't."
Herbert Stein (1916 - 1999)

Regular victims of these periodic missives are now familiar with Stein's Law. A doctor of my acquaintance has his own variation on Stein's Law that may actually be more apropos of our current economic predicament: "All bleeding eventually stops."

In recent years, we have been running current account deficits (the sum of trade and capital transfers with the rest of the world) of around $800 billion a year. [Invoke Stein's Law here.] The question preoccupying inquiring minds aware of this unsustainable situation during this time was whether there was some way to engineer a "soft landing." Could we tweak our national spending, consumption, savings and trade policies in some manner so as to prevent a cataclysmic jolt to the global financial system? Because the bleeding would eventually stop. It was only a question of how. The default was a precipitous re-pricing of the dollar in order to balance global capital flows.

Alas, I think we are now getting our answer.

The value of the dollar is in something close to free fall.

Last Friday the dollar traded at an all-time low against the Euro of 1.54 dollars to the Euro. Today the dollar matched an eight-year low against the Yen. And those currencies have their own problems that to some extent mask the problems of the dollar.

Look at commodities.

Oil close at an all-time record of $108 (!) a barrel today. The price of gold is approaching $1000 an ounce (topping $991 an ounce last week), up over $300 over the past year.

(Real economic junkies might want to read this article from Bloomberg today: The yield on the five-year Treasury Inflation-Protected Security (TIPS) has been negative since the beginning of this month, indicating that the Fed has lost control of inflation.)

Might we have engineered a "soft landing"? We'll never know. But one thing is for sure: Cutting taxes multiple times at the same time we were waging a multi-trillion dollar war and occupation of Iraq wasn't the way to do it.

[For the record, the Republican presidential nominee, John McCain, supports a continuation of both the war-without-end in Iraq and all those tax cuts. Don't expect any change on that front. But don't worry: Hillary Clinton assures us that McCain meets the "Commander-in-Chief threshold" -- whatever that means. More on that...]

Expect the federal budget deficit to set a new record this year (beating out the old record of $413 billion in 2004). For 2009 and beyond, with current policies, it will exceed $500 billion/year -- another trillion dollars added to our national debt every two years. [Invoke Stein's Law here.]

Meanwhile, the earnings of the average American family (or "real median household income" in economic parlance) peaked in 1999 at $49,222 and had fallen to $48,201 by 2006. This is the first sustained economic expansion in this country's history when household income failed to set a new record. It will certainly decline further this year.

Not that investors have done all that well. The Dow Jones Industrial average is up a cumulative (not annual average) 9% since Bush took office. But the Dow is misleading. The broader (and more representative) S&P 500 is actually DOWN more than 5% during the seven years of the Bush presidency. (And don't even ask about the NASDAQ: Down over 20% since January 21, 2001.)

All of this is an introduction to what I believe should be the issue of the 2008 campaign: The financial consequences of the Iraq war. The conventional wisdom is that the war has been overshadowed as an electoral issue by the economy. But even a lesser intellect than that of Barack Obama is capable of drawing the connection between a $3 trillion dollar war and our national credit crisis.

Polls show something like 2/3rds of the American people opposed to the Iraq war. But I think that probably overstates the true anti-war sentiment. To grossly over-generalize, something like 1/3 of the American people are insane warmongers ready to march on to Tehran (and nothing is going to move them out of the Republican column). Another 1/3 are truly anti-war in the sense that they were oppose to this disastrous war from the start for all the right reasons (solid Dems, of course). Another 1/3 would be fully on-board with the war if things were going well; they are not so much "anti-war" as "anti-losing". McCain has a shot at that middle group. But with the economy front and center, the can be kept solidly in the anti-war (and Dem) camp by repeating (in response to pretty much any economic issue) ...

... $200 billion a year on a war without end in Iraq.

The Iraq war is now an economic issue.

Anyone who continues to support this disastrous war without end has to answer the question: How are you going to pay for it?


Brin here. Want to hear something funny? I don't even count this as the top harm inflicted by these guys. The demolition of our readiness and the driving away of our allies... these frighten me even more.

Dave Rickey said...

We've had incompetent presidents before. We've even had incompetent presidents with corrupt and evil advisors. But never before has an incompetent president with corrupt and evil advisors had a such a blank check for so long.

Not that the Dem's are innocent in this just by virtue of their party. The economic troubles have many of their roots in the de-regulation (official and otherwise) of the (Bill) Clinton administration, and that administration's perversion of the economic metrics that made it look like everything has been going swimmingly when we've actually been in technical recession much of the last 7 years, as measured by the pre-Clinton formula. And many of the worst excesses were voted for or passively accepted by Democrats in congress.

But the combination of theocon, neocon, and corporatist evil embodied by this administration goes beyond that of any historical precedent. We've had equivalents, but not all working in concert at the same time.

Tony Fisk said...

The Onion hints at an assassination after the swearing in ceremony.... I note the Obama camp was not interviewed.

(And check McCain's overall vote that is briefly displayed! It all *ought* to be funny!)

Oh, America certainly does rate on that list. Just scroll wa-a-y down!
And compare the figure with the next country up!!

...but since when did *Russia* get to have one of the top five account balances?


Not to distract from a serious issue, but check out Ethan Zuckerman's Cute Cat Theory of Digital Activism. It is funny, insightful, and contains more than a few grains of wisdom on the topic. It may be more relevant than I'd like it to be.

Dave Rickey said...

@tony fisk

...but since when did *Russia* get to have one of the top five account balances?

Siberian oil and natural gas.


Anonymous said...

You're not alone on this DB! David Kurtz's commentary on Daily Kos has Brinnish tropes: Fallon on His Sword

"Like other professional classes -- lawyers and scientists come immediately to mind -- the military officer corps is seen by the White House as a threat to its own Executive Branch hegemony.

That's the key to understanding today's resignation by Adm. William Fallon, the commander in chief of Central Command.

The resignation of a CINC is a big deal, under almost any circumstance. But considering the Bush Administration's seven-year effort to put the Pentagon under its thumb, the resignation of a commander like Fallon, who by most accounts was willing to exercise his independent military judgment, is another setback for the professional officer corps as an institution.

Make no mistake. None of the Bush Administration's efforts in this regard has been about re-asserting civilian control over the military in some constitutional sense. The effort has been focused on degrading the autonomy, independence, and institutional authority of the Pentagon in order to further the narrow ideological and partisan aims of this particular White House. "

Tracy Coyle said...

Admiral Fallon, if he made the comment that no attack on Iran would happen on his watch, should have been retired immediately. The military does not make foreign policy, the President does. And the military goes where it is pointed. Admiral Fallon would certainly be in his right to resign to protest an order from the President - and accept the consequences - but to suggest he would disobey such an order is cause enough to warrant dismissal.

I get you don't like Bush, I get you disagree with, most everything, but given your ability to research and understand, I certainly don't get your thinking that an Admiral - or any senior military officer - is being anything but disloyal - YES DISLOYAL - to his oath by making such a statement.

David Brin said...

I don't totally disagree with tracy... and Fallon has denied ever saying that. It came from leaks of a private conversation where a friend betrayed a confidence.

BTW, the "not on my watch" statement is perfectly consisten with "I'll resign if ordered to attack."

It is ALSO consistent with what actually happened. The Bushites promised the Officer Corps to back off, and to appoint Mullen/Fallon as guarantors of that pledge.

Tracy, you are right on the letter... and seem oblivious to the overall picture. These people have effectively destroyed the greatest army the world ever saw.

Its readiness.
Its reputation for invincibility.
Its reputation for honor.
Its ability to wage war.
Its access to ready allies.
Its access to a nation with deep reserves of money and volunteers.
Its National Guard reserves...

Shall I go on?

Yes, the military budget has skyrocketed, bankrupting America... but almost none of that money has gone to the military! Or even the traditional "military industrial complex"... both of which would love to go back to peacetime days under Clinton.

The arterial bleeding has all gone to "service contractors" such as Halliburton, awarded no-bid crony deals under "emergency clauses" that let the Bushes violate every contracting rule.


Democrats have got to get over their fixation on that bright idiot, Michael Moore, and realize that they have the right enemy, but completely misunderstand the why and how.

Dig this, Tracy... the Officer Corps is struggling heroically, to resist punks and madmen, WHILE maintaining the tradition of total subservience to civilian authority. It is a herculean job that keeps me in awe.

And I am deeply ashamed that no democrats or pundits seem remotely capable of appreciating all this.

Stefan, David Kurtz does seem to have cribbed me. I am 5% miffed to get no credit, for having talked of this for FOUR YEARS before anybody else.

And I am 95% glad that somebody has joined me beating this drum, at last.

Tony Fisk said...

Judging from the comments accompanying the BBC account of Fallon's resignation, I would say that most people hear the drumbeat loud and clear.

reason said...

I wouldn't be so sure you had nothing to do with Leichtenstein. Somebody leaked. Maybe you gave a talk (or just mentioned) the transparent society and somebody was impressed.

Anonymous said...

Washington Post - Top U.S. Officer in Mideast Resigns

First, let me apologize to the giants of the MSM. They are putting Fallon's resignation on A1. Good job.

The WaPo states that two main candidates have emerged for the position of CENTCOM Commander. One is the now-famous General Petraeus. I am of two minds about him. On the one hand, he is a notorious Administration syncophant... but on the other, he also has a reputation for practicality and effectiveness.

The other is LTG Stanley A. McCrystal, currently head of Joint Special Operations Command. He has been very hard at work in Iraq, gathering the military intelligence that has in large part made the surge a success. By all accounts, he has done a very good job at this. However, being in JSOC means his profile has been... limited. Very little is known about his positions on operations outside Iraq.


One *very* large additional datum from the WaPo: one of the major conflicts between Petraeus and Fallon that reportedly irked the administration was paying attention to affairs outside Iraq. Fallon thought it important to keep touch of the various other brushfires in the region, including the Palestinians, Turks, Caucasus states, and Pakistan. Petraeus -- and apparently NCA -- was more in favor of a laser-like focus on Iraq. That could be reason enough for the firing; the Administration is CYA'ing itself by ensuring maximum resources go to shoring up the near-bursting dam.


Now, this from the NYT

"Across the officer corps, a large number of senior military leaders share Admiral Fallon’s broad assessment that a war with Iran would bring unexpected and, perhaps, unmanageable, risks elsewhere in the Muslim world and around the globe.

But many said they agreed that once it became clear he had lost the confidence of his civilian bosses, it was the responsibility of the four-star admiral to retire. That was especially so, they said, as it became obvious that no great effort was being made by civilian leaders to persuade him to remain in command.

At the same time, some younger officers who have been critical of senior commanders for not speaking up about the risks of invading Iraq now see a senior officer who did speak his mind publicly being prompted to choose early retirement."

They're not yelling it yet... but they are saying it out loud now. Military yes-men are no use at all to the United States, yet in the current environment, they are the only ones with job security.

Clinton and Obama should both start talking about this... it's the perfect opportunity to do so. Bonus prize goes to the one who does it first!

dmon said...

Re Adm. Fallon's departure, there is a silver lining: another VP option just opened up for Obama.

10 months left of Iran-attack uncertainty. I have a feeling akin to driving a small rear-wheel-drive vehicle on an icy road: in sight of the clear, we know how to drive in weather, but there's a way to go and the slightest glitch is enough to send us into the ditch.

10 months. My fingers are going to lose circulation from hanging on so tight.

Anonymous said...

Well, on the minor good news front, Blackwater has admitted defeat in their bid to build a facility in Potrero, Ca.

Acacia H. said...

On an "it's about time" note, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to create an independent ethics office to oversee the House. The committee only polices the House, not the Senate.

Meanwhile, on the election front Geraldine Ferraro refuses to back down from her statements. I'm of two minds of this. First, I do agree that there is at times a sense of reversed discrimination that happens... that if someone speaks out against a minority they are harassed and attacked. It is sometimes called the "Culture of Nice" and other less pleasant things. It is the ultimate evolution of political correctness, something which I truly despise.

However, I find it remarkably two-faced that Ferraro is attacking Senator Obama and his campaign for their successes, claiming that if he were white or a woman he'd not be where he is... and then turns around and out the other side of her mouth claims the media is unfair and sexist and treating Senator Clinton poorly because she is a woman.

Ferraro, you can't have your cake and eat it too. You are correct that the media and a number of people turn on you at the slightest hint of "discriminatory" talk (aka, honest opinion). But this holds true in reverse. Clinton (and you) should not receive a pass because of your gender.

It's ironic that Powers had to resign after calling Clinton a monster, but Ferraro hasn't been forced out. This shows the difference between the Obama and Clinton camps. Obama wants to change how things are run and holds himself and his people to a higher standard. Clinton is more of the same old same old... and that in and of itself will damn her chances to win the Presidency.

I just hope this wakes up Americans as to what they are getting with Clinton... and encourages more of them to jump ship and vote for Obama. I also hope that more of Clinton's Superdelegates disassociate themselves with Clinton and endorse Obama... and bring this primary to an end.

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

Anonymous said...

I read your post and I read Russ Daggett's and ten years ago I read Strauss & Howe's description of what I call Last Act Frenzy. (Did they call it that? I forget.) It goes like this. A leader thinks, or feels "I have a great & glorious mission to perform in this world and I'm running out of time. Eek! Bombs Away!" And Bush is a prime candidate for that.

But Daggett is pinpointing not only our current economic free fall but the cyclical nature of economic meltdowns. The best nechanisim I ever heard for the timing of them goes like this: those who lived through the last one take measures to ensure that it never happens again. They grow old and retire or die or are discredited by the impatient young, who say to themselves "Those old regulations are standing in the way of progress and prosperity and us making lots of money. Away with them! They're no longer needed because it Can't Happen Again!" And, with disgusting regularity, it does.

Ten years ago it took a prophet or an historian with an eye for patterns to say we were headed for a major crisis. Today the average Joe and Jane is saying so over the water cooler or in the unemployment line. Pretty soon the talking heads will come to that realization and admit it, by which time we'll be knee deep in it.

So - my threat index: economic meltdown - a certainty because it's happening. Bush succumbing to Last Act Fever - fairly high. Clinton or McCain falling into that trap? Low. Obama? Negligible. The next 313 days are the most frightening. But yes, stock up on canned goods and cultivate your victory garden if you have one.

Anonymous said...

First, let me offer another canary, one I think reads the augeries a bit better. When Exiles start showing up in the news cycle, being received at the White House, etc, peril is imminent. They are slippery characters, and their involvement in our foreign policy always leads to trouble. I am pretty sure the Shah's son is still around and making noise. I so don't want to see him.

Regards Fallon, who knows. My read is that the conversation was along the lines of:
"Admiral, you have to stop making statements regarding American policy."
"Sir, my concience demands that I speak".
"You realize the consequences?"
"Yes, Sir, I do."

A principled resignation.

David, I must take you to task a bit. Encouraging service people to shoot themselves in the foot rather than risk combat?

This is the traditional mark of the coward, and that, along with a lifetime of orthopedic problems, is a heavy burden to place on a young person. These are all volunteers who knew the risks (which outside of tinfoil land are not likely to be imminent).

We all enjoy a bit of hyperbole, but that was over the line in my opinion.


Acacia H. said...

Obama has increased his popular vote lead by another 100,000.

"The popular vote: By winning by almost 100,000 votes in Mississippi yesterday, Obama increased his popular vote lead over Clinton to approximately 700,000. It’s Obama 13,402,903, Clinton 12,705,360. And now even if you include Florida and Michigan, Obama leads the popular vote. That total is Obama 13,979,117, Clinton 13,904,497. This is fitting a pattern for Obama: When he wins a state, he wins it by a large margin and pads his lead in delegates and votes; hen Clinton wins, she usually does so narrowly."

It seems quite likely that Senator Obama will end the campaign with a decent lead in popular vote and pledged delegates, unless Senator Clinton finds something that can knock him out of the ring. Unfortunately, the longer she goes, the more she risks alienating Obama's supporters, alienating her own supporters, and handing the White House over to Senator McCain.

If I can see this and if I can do the math... you can be sure that the Democratic Party leadership can do the same. So... shall we start a betting pool on how long before the Democratic leadership takes Clinton aside and tells her to step down? I truly hope it's sooner rather than later so the damage Clinton is doing to her party is stopped before she bleeds her party's chances to death.

Small note: it's interesting how many news organizations continue to state Texas was a victory for Clinton when in fact Obama ended up prevailing in delegate count. At best I'd consider Texas to be a tie, with Obama prevailing in the caucuses and delegate count, and Clinton prevailing in popular vote.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

Well, if we're back on the Primary...

Spitzer was one of Clintons major fundraisers, and he appears to have laundered money to pay for his, erm, habit.

Worst case, some of Clintons money game from gentlemans clubs. Much more likely best case, She loses a SuperDelegate, and her number 6 fundrasier.

Acacia H. said...

I found an interesting commentary about Florida and Michigan's little brouhaha and an interesting solution: no revote, no redo, but seat the delegates... splitting the delegates 50/50 right down the line with half going to Senator Clinton and half going to Senator Obama. The end result would be that these two states would be represented but that it would not shift the balance of power at all.

If I were Obama, I'd jump at this chance and endorse it. The voters would not be punished as their delegates are being included in the process, but the results are negated seeing that neither side gains an advantage out of the deal.

Naturally enough, Clinton will likely reject this deal because she gets nothing out of it. Of course, considering she is currently admitting she will poach Obama's delegates, she might accept it and then work to change those delegates minds because "your people voted for me" but that would just show her to be the weasel I suspect her to be. (Apologies to all members of the Mustelidae family for any perceived slight.)

I also suspect the governors of both states would reject it as well as they want their states to have a meaningful say in the primaries.


On a more uplifting (literally!) note, the Cassini space probe is passing by Saturn's moon Enceladus, investigating a huge ice geyser at the moon's southern pole. I rather look forward to the results of this particular mission. While we won't be getting photographs of the geyser as other sensors are being used to examine the geyser, it should give us an excellent glimpse at what drives these ice moons of the outer planets.

I just wish we had more space exploration missions such as this one. We don't hear nearly enough about our solar system, as more and more of our resources gets dragged into pointless conflict rather than scientific endeavors.

Rob H.

Unknown said...

An alternative explanation for Admiral Fallon's "resignation":

The sociopaths in the White House operate like the Corleone crime family, so anyone who crosses them gets slated for liquidation. Richard Nixon (no small hater, he) remarked that of all the people he'd ever met, Barbara Bush "really knew how to hate." So Fallon is just getting the knife-through-the-hand-into-the-countertop
and the slow garotte from behind...as we would expect for anyone who crosses the Bush crime family. Now Fallon sleeps with the fishes.

More to the point, these sociopaths know human weakness well. It's the one thing they're actually competent at. I'm guessing an equally likely explanation for this move at this time is to keep all the vast mass of Americans who're starting to mobilize against them in an hysterical panic while the criminal gangs in the White House continue their kleptocratic thieving while wiping their asses on the constitution. Anyone notice that the House just offered up a new bill that strips telco immunity entirely away? That's trillions the telcos stand to lose in potential lawsuits. I betcha a buncha panicked CEOs made midnight phone calls and screamed, "Do it, do anything, anything to save it -- save the plan." [to quote Richard Nixon from the Watergate tapes]

Now, like obedient little lemmings, everyone's running around worried about Iran while the telco immunity and anti-torture bills have conveniently dropped from everyone's radar scope.

Incidentally, the navy is at the forefront in resisting an Iran attack because our carriers will be the first to be sunk by Soviet-made supersonic cruise missiles if we start bombing Iran. The air force doesn't give a damn, nothing can touch them. It's our carriers that'll wind up at the bottom of the Persian Gulf, not our B-2s or F-18s.

I agree that if an Air Force general gets put in charge of the Middle East, we got problems. Given how thoroughly the air force has been infiltrated by fundamentalist Christian fanatics, the air force now has a lot of general officers in it who think a global thermonuclear war would be a good thing inasmuch as it'd fulfill the Biblical prophecy of End Times and bring about the Second Coming in the middle east.

As for that slimeball Buckley, he was just the smoothly urbane cultured face of the Ku Klux Klan. If you look at the neocons, they came directly out of Buckley's writings and political philosophy. What is creationism but "standing in the path of history and shouting `Stop!'" (the deluded motto of Buckley's crackpot magazine)? What is the Ku Klux Klan but a more blunt rephrasing of William Buckley's claim that "blacks are not ready to govern themselves"? (Does that include Obama, I wonder?) Buckley adored the Vietnam war and only started to dislike it when it went bad. He wasn't any different from Frum or Ledeen or Perle or the arabian horse show judge Brown who got put in charge of FEMA. Like "heckofa job Brownie," Buckley's main problem during these critical times has involved finding a good restaurant to eat at, preferably one where he can't see the poor people dying.

Buckley was scum. He created the neocon monsters, fed 'em, nurtured 'em, raised 'em on raw meat, and then, when they turned out to be monsters rowdy enough to sh*t on his doorstep, he disowned 'em. But not because they were monsters...only because they were soiling his doorstep.

Buckley, like Reagan, deserves to have his corpse defiled and his gravestone turned into a urinal. Like Reagan, he was a piece of human garbage, all the worse because he managed to convince gullible dupes that he was actually a nice guy with substantive ideas, instead of just another no-neck thug who cared for nothing but cash, power, and his own ass, and nothing else.

Want evidence? Take a look at this.

Unknown said...

With the most minor substitutions of a word here and there, it all fits:

"There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, [AT&T and the NSA] plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized." - George Orwell, 1984

"The [Republican] Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a [unitary executive] in order to safeguard a [Reagan] revolution; one makes the [Reagan] revolution in order to establish the [unitary executive]. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power." - George Orwell, 1984

"We [Republicans] are not content with negative obedience, nor even with the most abject submission. When finally you surrender to us, it must be of your own free will. We do not destroy the heretic because he resists us; so long as he resists us we never destroy him. We convert him, we capture his inner mind, we reshape him. We burn all evil and all illusion out of him; we bring him over to our side, not in appearance, but genuinely, heart and soul. We make him one of ourselves before we kill him. It is intolerable to us that a [liberal] thought should exist anywhere in the world, however secret and powerless it may be. Even in the instance of death we cannot permit any deviation [from conservatism]... we make the brain perfect before we blow it out." - George Orwell, 1984

"A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of [right wing talk radio personalities] like an electric current, turning one even against one's will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp." - George Orwell, 1984

""The ideal set up by the [Republican] Party was something huge, terrible, and glittering—a world of steel and concrete, of monstrous machines and terrifying weapons—a nation of warriors and fanatics, marching forward in perfect unity, all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting, triumphing, persecuting—three hundred million people all with the same face." - George Orwell, 1984

Acacia H. said...

Here's an interesting article about Fallon's resignation and what other signs point to a pre-eminent attack on Iran. It's rather disturbing, especially the further into the article you get.

Rob H.

Acacia H. said...

Spitzer has resigned. What will be particularly telling is the actions of acting Governor David A. Paterson. If, once he's sworn into office, he offers Spitzer clemency or a pardon for his crimes, it will undoubtedly turn a number of people against him in the short term. However, by doing so he may lessen the political damage this will cause to Senator Clinton through association. It would also result in the media storm following this turn of events to subside and fade within a week.

If Spitzer is not forgiven of his crimes, then we'll see this flaring up periodically. It could cause long-term damage to the Clinton campaign through the donations Spitzer has given to her as well as the political support.


I am curious if Senators Clinton and Obama will take time out to vote on the earmark moratorium as Senator McCain is. While it is time out from the campaign trail, considering the Pennsylvania primary isn't for over a month it may be vital for Obama at least to do this. I'm not as such about Clinton, who utilizes earmarks to a large extent if I'm remembering correctly.

Rob H.

Acacia H. said...

And on a slightly more humorous note (but one that seems quite fitting considering Dr. Brin's Manchurian suspicions) Senator Clinton is not a Republican... so far as we know. It's mostly tongue-in-cheek, but there are a few little bits here and there that makes you wonder just how liberal this potential world leader truly is... and if she may not be more comfortable being John McCain's running mate.

McCain/Clinton. Now that's a ticket to make one nauseous. ;)

Rob H.

Xactiphyn said...

Steve Clemons, a moderate I tend to trust, claims the fall of Fallon isn't as bad as it looks:

Stop Hyperventilating: Fallon Fired but Iran War Not Back On

Admiral William "Fox" Fallon -- CentCom Commander -- has been fired for insubordination, for not stewarding his own views about war and peace privately and in a way that did not embarrass his commander in chief.

By numerous accounts, President Bush was absolutely enraged by an Esquire article -- since amended noting Fallon's demise -- that posited that Admiral Fallon was not on the same page as President Bush and that he was the single military man standing between war and peace.


My sources in the intelligence arena, in various command staff operations, near Defense Secretary Gates, and even in the White House tell me that nothing structural has changed in America's stance towards Iran. The US is still engaged in an effort to get Iran to the negotiating table if it stops its nuclear enrichment activities. It is continuing to apply UN sanctions pressure via unanimous consent of the UN Security Council to bring Iran into compliance with international obligations. And as Bush, Gates and others have said -- other options can be on the table.


As one source told me shortly ago, "if there was a real chance we were flipping into war mode, there would be six Fallons commenting -- and six fired... His views are not atypical -- no matter what the Esquire article asserts -- but he made the mistake of being publicly vain and indulgent about his own take on this."


I was worried before I read this, and still have concerns, but this certainly seems likely.

David Brin said...

re reverse discrimination, there is no doubt that BHO has benefited from having exactly the right traits, at exactly the right time. I hope this fosters a sense of humility, not entitlement. Still, he is no Clarence Thomas.

Many people are commenting on the obvious insipidness of Ferraro. Out of all this, the most important thing is the least-commented on! (Ain’t it often?) The remarkable calm and discipline showed by Obama, in hewing to the high road. It’s logical, of course. A good call. But also a good harbinger (one prays) for his character.

idiotgirl, hi! Alas, there were plenty of people warning that the mortgage bubble was bigger and worse than the Tech Bubble or the S&L scam. One problem is our universities are pouring out Business Majors like the kinds who took over all the banks. Not a single leader of Citibank was a banker, anymore! So they commodetized baskets of mortgages, instead of assigning local bankers to actually treat each loan like something precious in its own right. So much for “conservatism.”

Tacitus, great point about exiles! But then, we’ve spent 7 years driving most of the Iranian dissidents back into the mullahs’ arms.

HRC won’t “step down” for love or money. She wants the nomination vote to happen, with adrenaline.

But the party elders may tell her this:

“You’ve lost. We’ll make damn sure you’ve lost. But you have a choice.
1) Keep slinging hard and we’ll take away your post election patronage slots. You’ll never work in this town again.

2) Keep on campaigning, for the sake of pride, down to the wire, but use it to organize ground forces, pull in donors and spend all your ire on McCain. Start getting the women and unionists and old farts tuned up for solidarity. Have your cheers at the podium, and get 1,000 job slots for you and Bill to fill. You’ll remain power brokers and how would you like your choice of ambassadorships for Bill? (Ottowa if you still like him, Zimbabwe if you don’t!)

Re Spitzer, dang. I’m glad we found out now, before he became a totally blackmailed Atty Gen of the US!

Zorgon, while much you say is often right, I ask that you show more restraint in tone. Bile is the ingredient we want to wean ourselves of.
Also, just give us the quotations. You needn’t insert the (Republican) winks. We get it.

Anyway, Orwell was deliberately offering a much wider allegory. 60% of his ire and warning was aimed to the monsters of the left. All right, they are mostly dead now. Moderate American liberals helped kill the far-leftist madness... while the American conservatives wallow in delusion about their own side’s monsters. THAT is the most despicable fault. That his been their historical cowardice and treason.

DrGaellon said...

Someone else is paying attention... TrueMajority is soliciting donations to support an "IranMobile," which depicts John McCain astride an Iran-bound missile. They're circulating the van to everywhere McCain makes an appearance, trying to raise public awareness.

Anonymous said...

Fred Kaplan argues that Fallon torpedoed himself by being too vocal.

Dave Rickey said...

Perhaps Admiral Fallon did precisely what he intended to do? He did give that interview, and he was presumably already on notice from last September about appearing to be at odds with the administration.

Certainly at this point, the alarms his resignation set off have made it hugely more difficult to carry through on any hypothetical attack against Iran, and that appears to have been his intention.

David Brin said...



Weigh in if you guys like!

Gavin said...

Thanks for the very insightful analysis. I only recently found your blog so I am excited to read the thoughtful opinion with a basis in facts and logic.

I am very nervous about this president. He has violated his oath of office and apparently thinks nothing of ignoring the laws of the nation when he wants to do something different. It will be interesting to see if - when there is a new administration, criminal investigations will be started against those members of this administration that willfully violated the laws. We seem to hear about new examples very week.

This administration needs to stop the war talk and stop any planning. As it is, it will take decades to restore this country to its former elevated status.

David Brin said...

Rats! I may have to break up the URL.


divided is:

Dave Rickey said...

Tags work better. ;-)

David Brin said...

The correct URL for Lungfish is:

Fake_William_Shatner said...

To Brin's comment;
"All bleeding eventually stops..."
That is probably the best response the the "THEORY" that a government can maintain deficit spending and that "Its a Good Thing™". I think on its face such a notion is a farce. Deficit spending means a loan -- this makes sense if you need to kick-start an economy out of a recession. But if you cannot afford to pay for something now -- how is a permanent deficit any different from continual blood loss?

20/20 Hind Sight, after whatever nonsense will be used to cover up this economic train wreck we are about to hit, will of course see that America was hollowed out. Part of the bleeding is things like selling the ports to Dubai, and public roads to China. If you sold them at a loss, and another country is getting the revenue stream from your infrastructure -- how can you ever get out of debt? You are getting paid less than the interest on the loan.

>> I'd like to refine this notion;
But hold it. Pause. Let’s back off from all the paranoid, thriller scenarios. It is possible that the firing of Admiral Fallon is simply a case of a failing administration, swatting aside one of the adults it despises. Just another part of the ongoing War Against Professionalism, which has been the single central and core theme of the Bush Era. The Officer Corps has borne the brunt of this hidden war - more consistent than any other endeavor, even Iraq - the real war debilitating America. A campaign whose victims also include the intelligence services, the FBI, the civil service, the scientific community, anywhere that skill matters. Though the military has suffered most of all.

I think now, this can be better summed up on the "War on Integrity." This is a follow-up to Gore's book of the "Assault on Reason." Which I think is deliberate. To create the anti-intellectual culture, where you can get a show like Cross-Fire where two well dressed adults can push the notion that debate is fighting like children, and nobody ever resolves anything. Plus, all issues have two really stupid points of view -- and that's it. So you can coral the bleating sheeple into just giving up altogether on the topics beyond Brittany Spears.

The "War on Professionalism" is merely collateral damage on the War on Integrity. If you are hiring private mercenaries, getting rid of FISA and Habeus Corpus. And you really, really want to stay out of jail and run things like a Mob family -- you don't want any stool pigeons or ethical people getting in your way. When the Capo gives an order, he wants his Lieutenants to carry it out, and no weak-kneed wise guy screwin' with the 'thing.' Capiché?

Cheney in the Middle East. Fallon gone -- it's just a continuation of the "fall back" plan for this Mob. Another war with Iran or -- whoever. Just so long as there is war. I think, their goal is #1, stay out of prison. #2, add a few more mega-billion $ to line their own pockets. That in a nutshell, will help us understand 90% of what is going on.

As I predicted 3 years ago. The Right Wing Pundits like Hannity and Limbaugh and Anne Coulter would endorse Hillary. This also makes sense, if #1, you want to stay out of prison. Hillary's meeting with the owner of Fox News, Rupert Murdoch, was probably something like this; "We can work together." If you cannot get a compromised Republican like McCain in office. Then you put a Democrat who has learned how to deal.

I think an "incident" or roughly translated; "It would be a shame if something awful were to happen to this nice country" will happen IF, the BushCo Election Fraud, Inc. is not able to steer the vote towards Hillary or McCain. The next fallback position is martial law -- because if everyone is a suspect, then REAL suspects can take it easy. The best way to get Martial Law is either a horse head on the pillow, or a war with a big scary bogey man. These guys are just doing contingency planning.

Nothing will resuscitate the flat lined morals of BushCo supporters in the Evangelical and "I need someone to hate" camps better than a failed economy. Since the media has about worn out its use as an instrument of propaganda, and Wolf Blitzer has as much credibility as Baghdad Bob,... well, if the MEDIA is now admitting we have a recession, than we have a Depression, because, they only report what everyone already knows and they might as well put a suite out there in front of common knowledge. Watching folks on CNN Investment shows bandy about incredulity at the "Economy is Sound" Statements by Bush, is like watching a Public Service commercial from a Rock Star in rehab. Yeah, this will make the Judge think you are honest.

I just want to put back on my tin-foil-hat, however. The BushCo presidency should be impeached based upon "what they could do" rather than what can be proven. It's the same argument that underlies why we should cut greenhouse gas emissions; if we are wrong, we help the economy and get energy independent, if we are right about Global Warming, we save the earth. In the "what is BushCo capable of" category, I'd like to point to this (though unproven, it is more food for thought of another trifecta happy accident for the Bush Crime Family);

http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2005/09/324172.sh ...
George H. W. Bush, $240 billion in Brady Bonds, 9-11, and Cantor Fitzgerald's destruction: COUNTERFEIT debt instruments INVOLVING FRAUD IN THE U.S. BANKING SYSTEM were due the day after the 9.11 attacks. The $240 billion in stolen currency--which may lead to trillions of U.S. banking fraud--was obtained resulting from George H. W. Bush's presidential abuse of power in cahoots with other federal unpunished criminals like Bush Sr's ex-Treasury Sec. Nicholas Brady and Bush Sr's ex-Sec. of State James Baker III. The George H. W. Bush $240 billion fraud of 1991 was never repaid since the ten-year Brady bonds involved in the fraud transaction--purchased before September 13, 1991 using fraudulent collateral, faked signatures, and gold bullion as security--came due on September 12, 2001, the day after the 9.11 attacks. Allegedly, they were underwritten and held by the trustee, Cantor-Fitzgerald bond brokerage firm, whose offices on floors 101-105 in the North Tower of the World Trade Center (WTC) were destroyed on 9.11 along with the Brady bond evidence. No requirements to pay them back, and it covers up another Bush family financial crime and sizable legal debt and a global terrorism network.

Fake_William_Shatner said...

I get you don't like Bush, I get you disagree with, most everything, but given your ability to research and understand, I certainly don't get your thinking that an Admiral - or any senior military officer - is being anything but disloyal - YES DISLOYAL - to his oath by making such a statement.

No -- as far as this non-military blog junky knows, an officer makes an oath the uphold the Constitution and the Military Code of conduct - not to OBEY anyone. Saying that attacking Iran is not helping America's security, and you see it as a breach of ethics, and not supported by Congress -- which is Constitutional (again, President's cannot declare war - only respond to attacks and urge the congress to declare war).

Fallon is perhaps, going against code by expressing a political opinion. But under the circumstances of military code and an unconstitutional and unprovoked war in two different countries (yes, no Afghanis attacked us on 9/11 either) -- he is doing his job by letting the President know that, as far as he sees it, he would be breaking his oath to the Constitution and the Military Code of Conduct if he attacked Iran.

Fallon, is 99% in the right, as far as his duties are concerned. Seems like we lost a great man.

Fake_William_Shatner said...


Democrats have got to get over their fixation on that bright idiot, Michael Moore, and realize that they have the right enemy, but completely misunderstand the why and how.

>> Hey Michael Moore served a very important social service with his "emotional" documentaries. Where would we be without him? Let's not form a circular firing squad. ;-)

I'd also have to be a "bright idiot" because, until you spelled it out on your blog, I thought the destruction of America's military was a byproduct of the oil grab. But no, BushCo made no mistake -- oil would have been "gravy" but was not the goal. We cannot possibly really know the motives of this group -- therein lies madness and a tin-foil-hat. We can't have credibility trying to connect dots and figure out WHY IT STINKS. We should force them to explain the results with something beyond; "Hey, a Democrat would have screwed this up worse."

You could even "speculate" that BushCo is trying to put America into Germany's position after WW I. But you could plausibly speculate that they wanted to end the world, or just steal some money, the only way their family knows how. Amongst people of like minds -- such speculation is interesting. But, as you've pointed out -- to maintain that credibility of someone "on the fence," it serves no purpose.

We are ALL stupid here when it comes to figuring out WHY we have a war in Iraq. You idea that it was about destroying our military, makes more sense now that they failed to make money off of oil. However, if you look at they way companies are reposition themselves and buying up water supplies -- and even Exxon doesn't seem to be exploring so much anymore. Well, what is STILL in the ground might have more value as an asset. The new economy is going to move from "growth" to value "what do you have left of the pie, since we can't grow the pie higher anymore."

And I'm sure, that the alliance of Banking, Oil, Pharma, and Fascists that is BushCo, probably has as many internal "REASONS" for what it is doing as it does factions. The Theocrats might think they will get a religious war. The NeoCons might think America will rule the world (but not anymore, so they could be a future thorn in BushCo's side), the Crooks are pleased, the Oil Barons may want to just raise oil prices and forestall alternative energy (mission accomplished). Perhaps there are Moonies and Fascists who want to destroy America. Maybe there are groups that want to combine Mexico, the US, and Canada -- which would need to bankrupt us first to make it palatable.

David, there are some of the sharpest minds I've seen on this blog -- but I'm not sure we are up to the task of reading the minds of the largest collection of Sociopaths, and duplicitous scoundrels that America has ever seen. But I'm not really upset that you try -- I'm just playing devil's advocate here so that we don't fall into the role of having to "prove Bush guilty" in order to change his policies. That's a tall order when you look at all the documents they shred.

Fake_William_Shatner said...

Oh, and, by the way, now that I've become "official" I'm listed as William Shatner -- which is a byproduct of me having a lot of fun commenting as the Fake William Shatner on the Fake Steve Jobs website--who I think is forshadowing the roleplaying that will redefine culture, as our on-line personas and interactions supercede our "physical ones."

Shatner, is one of my favorite comedians, and I recognized his talent while everyone was dumping on him for Star Trek. Anyway -- I used to be "Marc" -- but really my first name is "Mark" of course, that was already taken.

So you folks would know me as the guy who used to post as "Marc."

Hey, I can't have intelligent conversations with real people during the day -- or even on popular blog sites. So, sorry if I'm having too much internal dialog. I just hope it is entertaining to you.

Fake_William_Shatner said...

Catfish N. Cod said...

Fred Kaplan argues that Fallon torpedoed himself by being too vocal.

1:07 PM

Yeah, well - that seems to be a very common critique. Many would prefer that our Patriotism be defined as; "Sit Down and Shut Up." I'm sure General Washington was the first to urge that stance.

Anonymous said...

On a completely unrelated note Arthur C. Clarke died!

Anonymous said...

Pardon my ignorance, but what 1947 event is David referring to as the great test of liberalism in America?