Thursday, March 20, 2008

Seizing the Symbolic High Ground - in a number of ways...

I want to offer some unusual thoughts on Barack Obama's speech about race in America.

But first a note about a jiu jitsu move to use against neocons and “red” hypocrites, who scream that “liberals will spend America into poverty.”

Yes, it's mind-boggling that they can still keep at this dead horse. Bill Clinton paid down debt and GW impoverished our grandchildren. Still, the art of polemic is often less about reason and more about symbolic surprises that let you trip or stun your opponent. Too bad. Still, I’ve collected quite a number of political judo throws, and this one is a favorite.

Every tax year, after filling out my IRS forms - with professional help - (ask, some time, about “Brin’s surefire way to get tax-simplification without kooky gimmicks or Congressional stalemates!) -- I always seal the envelope... and then prepare another, addressed to a tiny bureau in West Virginia.

Then I slip in a check for $100 as an extra contribution to my country, to be applied against the National Debt.

(Actually, I’ve increased it a bit, in time of war. Like it or not, we all should.)

No, it’s not much. But it is in addition to my normal tax obligation as a citizen, so it goes directly to buying down the red ink just a bit, taking one small feather weight off the back of the camel... or our kids. Moreover, I have been doing it since 1979. Indeed, I have more than got my money’s worth! Not only in a dollop of patriotic feelings, but also in looks on the faces of holier-than-thou flag-wearers, who rant and preen, but would never think of actually “supporting the troops” in such a way.

(I do in other ways, too. Last year I donated more than a thousand dollars in books to service unit libraries, for men and women in the field.)

Here, the amount you send in to the Bureau of Public Dept is less important than consistency. Doing it every year, as a matter of principle. As a gesture of solidarity with our nation and between generations. And it sure puts the kibosh on a whole lot of neocon slander, when you can ask: “Have YOU ever done that?”

Here’s the address:
Bureau of Public Debt
Department of the Treasury
Box 2188
Parkersburg, WV 26106-2188

You’ll get a nice (form) thank you note. File it. Let the file grow. If you are entirely noble of spirit, feel quietly proud and tell nobody. Or, if you need to, use the file as ammo.


Sure, it was brilliant and insightful, calling upon the best of our natures and upon each individual to apply intelligence - actual thought - to a complex and vexing issue. Here's a transcript of Obama's speech. Did any of the 24-hour “news” analysts actually discuss that content, as if they had the intelligence Obama was speaking-to? I did not see one, even one, turn attention to the content, only the melodrama, whether it would “play well.” Whence the insipid media? Our national energy problems would be solved by putting generator coils around the spinning in Edward Murrow’s grave.

Fortunately, my impression is that millions of people, especially the young, did listen for content. And did engage their minds. And, if Barack Obama ever built some momentum, actual thinkin - about complex issues - might become a national habit.

And yet, though I was largely inspired and re-assured, I did feel a bit let down by BHO. Yes, he spoke of Reverend Wright like that beloved Uncle Bob who is 90% goodness itself, always helping neighbors, volunteering as a crossing guard, mentoring youths... but who then rants about how the Apollo landings were faked and it’s all the fault of those #$#$! Albanians. It resonated. We all have uncles or aunts or cousins or neighbors like that. And Obama’s effort to depict Wright that way had some real plausibility.

But still, he evaded a crucial issue. Why, if he had heard such things (less awful, perhaps, but still cringeworthy) from his minister in the past... why did he not minister to the minister?

(Alert... actually, it was Cheryl who pointed all of this out to me. I may be the louder half, but she's the wiser.)

I feel this strongly, since it is what I’ve been urging, for years. That the way to undermine Rush Limbaugh and the horrible hate fest that’s drenched America, is to confront the nation’s self-righteousness plague, head-on, one “uncle Bob” at a time! (See my “Ostrich Manifesto” where I talk about weaning just one “decent conservative” out of Karl Rove’s big tent coalition is the greatest and most important task of any moderate/liberal/progressive person, at this point in our history. Or learn more about the self-righteousness or Indignation Epidemic.)

Look, I am backing Barack Obama. He is our hope, despite my deep wish that we had more years to get to know this promising fellow, before hurtling him into the Oval Office. Nobody else other than BHO seems to have a clue, and he can motivate, big time! A whole new generation. Moreover, the second after he swears in, we’ll have allies again! A fact that will increase our safety and national security by leaps and bounds.

Indeed, this racism speech satisfied a few of my small doubts... and yet...

...and yet I’d be no good friend if I did not offer a small poke of CITOKATE. (Criticism Is The Only Known Antidote To Error), along with the praise. Barack, you should have spoken up, reached out, during (or shortly after) Reverend Wright’s rants. You owed it to all of us to use your eloquence on a small scale, as well as the large. To minister to your minister.

And if you feel regret that you hadn’t? Fine! Then share that with us! Let it be a lesson to all of us! That we should dig in our heels whenever we hear rants and apoplexy. Whenever we witness some neighbor or beloved fool indulging in America’s worst drug high -- self doped indignation -- which has poisoned every interest group and turned-rancid the American genius at negotiating with each other in goodwill.

Please accept this in good spirit. I agree with you that we need to end Culture War, and not stay mired in this artificial spat that’s ruining our country, red vs blue, city vs country... a war that (alas) Hillary Clinton may be able to fight well... but that she can never, ever win. I am backing you because I think and hope you can end culture war!

And yet, ironically, that’s going to take some militancy. For the enemy, the real foe, is not our misguided neighbors as much as it’s the self righteous high, itself! This dreadful form of addiction has become a fever of of outright lunacy on the far-right... but Revered Wright inllustrates that it can strike the left, as well, and occasionally transform decent, even pastoral human beings into Jeckyl/Hyde caricatures, screeching not reason or hope, but the spittle of hate.

We can only ease this madness among our “red” fellow citizens if we are first willing to recognize... and heal... the same disease when it strikes friends.


B. Dewhirst said...

He's conspicuously not a 24-hour newsman, but Jon Stewart put it well when he said in closing "At 11 am on (date), a politician spoke to America about race like we were adults."

Rob Perkins said...

I refuse to fault Wright for a single word.

That stuff had a context from which it was ripped, and I have to ask:

Is it *false* to say that America's largest corporations and institutions are owned and run by rich white people? Has it ever been anything but true, in the main?

Is it any surprise, then, really, that an elderly Black man, having lived through decades of the American racial divide, should come to believe what he does about the state of the American Union with respect to its minorities?

Is it false to claim that only in the current rising generation does the idea of judging someone by his race seem insensible?

For good or ill (and I think it's mostly good), Reverend Wright is an audacious, flawed American. Like me. His rhetoric is something I'd desperately love to transcend. I think our young people are already there, for the most part. I certainly know that as a seven year old, I never gave a second thought to the color of my school-age friends. I only know the difference in hindsight since that time.

Anonymous said...

Was the Wright stuff really hate speech, though? I really don't know--I avoided listening to those reports. I figured they would be distorted, out of context. I wondered if what Wright was expressing was more anger than hate. You see, I think Barack Obama is saying anger is true, and there are reasons for it. The reason he didn't 'minister to the minister' or tell him the error of his ways, is because you can't tell someone to stop expressing anger they truly feel. That's why there's such a sigh of relief among people who listened to the speech--he accepts and understands black anger, he accepts and understands white resentment. It's okay, you're not bad people, you're coming from where you're coming from, but we can move beyond that now.

I grew up in the 60's attending a mainstream Protestant church (white) that was fairly liberal, religiously speaking. It was very common for sermons to contain something challenging, something shocking, something to startle you and make you think. I can specifically remember a sermon when I was in high school about poverty that said something like we are all guilty if one child goes hungry, etc. It was powerful and dramatic and (as an impressionable young person) tore me apart. I'm sure this included specific criticism of US government policies. I'll bet if you had video of that it would look like it was crossing some line.

Well, from the minister's Christian point of view, this is what Jesus wants--he wants us to take responsibility for each other, and he wants anger expressed when it's called for--throwing the money changers out of the temple, etc. He doesn't want the rich comforted.

Personally, I'm not religious. But I still agree with this viewpoint, and I understand the "teaching" process that a minister or rabbi uses in raising questions that make their audience uncomfortable.

Anonymous said...

link to transcript of the speech

Reading over the speech I found a few points of what seems to be what you call "political Ju-Jitsu", and thought them rather clever.

The first was taking one of President Clinton's best quotes ("There is nothing wrong with America which can't be fixed by what is right with America") , and pointing out that the converse of it was wrong.

"Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country - a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America"

Second, he turned Ferraro's comments back around, asking people not to oversimplify her on one (or a few) statements any more than reverend Wright.

"I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias."

And finally, pointing out that much of his pastor's focus was on a value which is generally associated with conservatism - and one that often makes a fair amount of sense - that of self-reliance.

"Ironically, this quintessentially American - and yes, conservative - notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright's sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change."

Anyway, I very much agree with the 'adults' comment by Stewart (and relayed by dewhirst). The polarized name calling which has become all too common in politics has too much in common with pro wrestling for my liking. Obama's willingness to engage in introspection and consider the subtleties of human behavior have generally impressed me.

Matt DeBlass said...

Several of the New York Times columnists and analysts have been drooling over the speech too...although they're not 24-hour newsmen either, really.

It seems that the professional commentators have really been enjoying a speech with content for a change.

By the way, isn't part of what initially made Obama so likeable the fact that he isn't perfect? The childhood, flirtations with drug use, the quest to find himself...he's flawed and human, and comes from a melting-pot ethnic background. In short, he's a real example of an American

sociotard said...

I did enjoy that speech.

Oh, did the video of the "Big Dog" robot get posted here?
It is awesome. It's a quadraped that walks over assorted terrain. What really impressed me was when the guy kicked it to show how quickly and well it righted itself.

Anonymous said...

I think you are wrong on this one; you may be a bit blinded a bit by your bent towards technocracy. The kind of flaming incendiary passion that Wright expressed is an integral part of the human experience, and has to be accepted much more than ministered to. Besides which, the problem seems to be not that Wright was saying anything wrong* per se, but rather in how he said it.

My only disappointment with the speech (and a wonderful thing it was, perhaps not so much in being great, as in glaringly showed how let down we have been for so long by our politicians) was that Obama did not stand up more strongly for the content of Wright's thinking and character, as opposed to the colour of his rhetoric.

*Except for the loony HIV conspiracy theory thing, but then it has a good basis in the African American experience, and Dr. Brin should be the last one to criticize anyone for slightly loony slightly conspiracy based thinking....)


Acacia H. said...

I found a couple interesting news articles about Wright.

One comments about similar sentiments stated among religious leaders on the Right.

Another, which I can't find now (unfortunately) stated that Wright's statements were being taken out of context and that there is a cultural aspect as to how this type of church will ofte use this type of passion in its speeches.

Last, and this one is rather interesting, Huckabee came to the defense of Obama and Wright, stating that "Sermons, after all, are rarely written word-for-word by pastors like Rev. Wright, who are delivering them extemporaneously, and caught up in the emotion of the moment. There are things that sometimes get said, that if you put them on paper and looked at them in print, you'd say, 'Well, I didn't mean to say it quite like that.'"

I suspect part of the reason for Huckabee's defense (and why McCain and other Republicans haven't jumped all over this) is because they want it to die down and fade from people's consciousness because the Religious Right talks like this from time to time as well. Why drag this out and risk damaging their own base?

I am willing to suspect that in two weeks, this will have blown over and the voters will have mostly forgotten it.

Though I must admit considerable surprise that Clinton not only did not listen to the speech, but she didn't even read the transcript. Isn't this a bit of a slap in the face? And does this bode well that she ignores something so vital for her primary Democratic Presidential opponent? Maybe I'm overreacting. I found it a bit insulting though.

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

Travc said...

Said already and seconded, but I'll chime in with my voice as well.

The 'outrage' over Rev Wright's sermons/rants is really inane. More than half of the negative effect Obama has to contend with is that Wright is so 'black' in his fiery oratory style. This travesty of our culture is somewhat fitting since these 'damning' segments are condemned for style not substance.

Yeah, that oratory style with its copious use of hyperbole and shock-phrases is repulsive to me... but then again churches are generally repulsive to me.

For some of us, it may be time to learn a bit about the context of a 'social black church' (social/community institution as much as religious) and fire up your mirror neurons. Nothing I've seen necessitates repudiation. Hell, most of it is actually quite valid points to be making.

It is also notable that Wright's sermons were of and mostly to a generation preceding Obama's. Again, context isn't just the surrounding words.

Anonymous said...

As the lone white kid in a black church in 1989, attending after spending the night at a friends, I listened to two hours about how white bankers don't care about black folks (local scandal with a bank getting busted that week for discrimination in lending), or their concerns, and how the only way to change things was for some of the black kids in the audience to grow up to be bankers.

Well, ok, most of the sermon was about how important it was to go to college to be in a position to fight this sort of thing for ones own people.

After the sermon, the pastor came over, shook my hand (and threw an arm around my shoulder), asked if I went to school with my friend, where I lived...and then got a big smirk and said "Well, you know I wasn't saying NO white kids should grow up to be bankers, right?"

That's the life experience I see Wright through.

The comments on AIDS seem like a horrific thing to say...if you don't understand them in the light of Tuskegee. 400 black men, for nearly 40 years, were not told they had syphillis, or treated, as they infected their spouses and fathered children with congenital syphillis.

Nearly 30 years of this "experiment" occured AFTER pennicilin became cheaply and widely available.

Plenty of First Nations people believe that the handing out of smallpox infested blankets was official and widespread US policy for a hundred years.

Plenty of Dine still believe that the reason they weren't told the dangers of Uranium Mining was not mere greed, but an attempt to erradicate them.

That doesn't scare most white folks, though. The fear of the Angry Indian Male died out in popular culture a long time ago, and most Americans have accepted the reality of what this Country did to the First Nations. Most accept and understand why someone comming from that experience and that culture would believe these things.

Nearly a million died in Rwanda, and the US did literally nothing. By the time 3,500 were dead in the Balkans, we were bombing without UN approval.

We conquor Germany, we rebuild their country, and let them elect whoever they want. We repeatedly invade Haiti, we install and support dictators, and throw out anyone we don't like if they make the wrong choice in an election.

American foreign policy is overtly racist. Large elements of American domestic policy are racist.

In all of Wrights "hate speech", the only racial epithet he used was "nigger". He attacked the White Power Structure, not white people.

He presented far too many uncomfortable truths, such as the fact that the bible he was pounding does say that a nation that ignores the poor will be damned.


The truth that racism, and institutional racism, still exist in this country. Only recently, major financial institutions were cited for specifically targeting african-americans for extremely risky sub-prime loans, and found to charge African-Americans higher rates based on the same credit scores.

Anyone who spent the years of the crack wars in any of Americas inner cities, and is aware of the role the CIA played in facilitaiting cocaine running, does not find the idea of the US government devising a biological weapon to wipe out people of African descent to be "outlandish" or beyond consideration.

Like smallpox blankets, it happens not to be true, but like First Nations People, African-Americans are not insane, racist, or unstable for believing it to be.

The reaction to Wrights comments, far more than the comments themselves, illustrate why a frank, open, and fearless conversation about race is something this country desperately needs.

I'd like to point out, as well, that these comments were put together from nearly 200 hours of Wrights recorded sermons. Senator Obama likely didn't hear many of them.

"Almost half of all African-Americans believe that HIV, the virus that causes Aids, is man-made, more than a quarter believe it was produced in a government laboratory and one in eight think it was created and spread by the CIA, according to a study released by Rand Corporation and the University of Oregon."


"The study, which was supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, also revealed a slight majority believe a cure for Aids is being withheld from the poor; 44% think the people who take the new medicines for HIV are being used as government guinea pigs, and 15% believe Aids is a form of genocide against black people. The responses barely fluctuated according to age, income, gender or education level."

I'm willing to bet that at least 80% of American Jews believe that the Nazis made soap from Jewish corpses, despite the fact that it never happened.

I don't think they're racists for believing that, in the light of what really did happen.

dmon said...

What really bugs me about the increasingly mainstream Wright/Obama narrative is this notion that Obama "sat through 20 years of hate-filled sermons". I've seen (repeatedly) a grand total of one clip of Wright saying, in more incendiary terms, that America has to get back to a bless-worthy track. Sure there may be more, but from a couple minutes you can't extrapolate 20 years, 52 sermons/year, 2 hours/sermon... 2080 hours of hate speech.

It's as silly as Doug Adams' simulated universe from a piece of sponge cake.

Unrelated to this "scandal", I have two Jiu-Jitsu-ish moves that Obama can make:

1) On the breach of his passport files - "I'm not worried, since I have nothing to hide. But this is an example of the unacceptable degradation of professionalism in the civil service under the Bush Administration, professionalism which I will restore."

2) How does picking Chuck Hagel as VP sound?

Anonymous said...

Most of what I intended to say has already been said, particularly regarding the context of what Wright said. It is also interesting to see that just about everyone in the chattering classes (apart from talk radio) were impressed by the speech. Even the National Review Online said it was the best speech on race in a generation.

I'm only seeing 2 criticisms gaining any traction: 1) the loony lefty elitists are saying that it was a wonderful speech but that the average American is too stupid to understand it (a sadly typical reaction). More telling is that the only criticism that Republican and right-wing radio commentators have been able to come up with is claiming that he "threw his grandmother under the bus." Seriously, "He was mean to his grandma." If that's the worst criticism they can find after a 40 minute speech on one of the most controversial topics in the country, then I think there is still reason to hope. He appears to be taking a hit in the polls at the moment, but the polling cycle hasn't caught up to the speech yet. He should start climbing again in the next couple of weeks.

NoOne said...

Since I grew up in India (but have lived in the US for twenty plus years), I still don't think I get the race concept at all. When a colleague was talking about race (a while ago), I asked him what race I was and he seemed nonplussed by the question.

Because of this, I feel that it makes much more sense to transpose these terms; white -> mainstream, black, female, gay, Hispanic, etc. -> parochial and part of the multicultural stew. So, I think this is where black anger comes from. If you come across as excessively "black" or any other sub-culture for that matter including "female", then you face a glass ceiling.

This is a horrendous problem. To the extent that the dominant culture represses anything that it sees as alien and this could be "black" or any other sub-culture, this is going to generate tremendous anger and hostility. To the extent that the subculture actively holds back its members from becoming "mainstream", this blocks the more universal participation of subculture members in society. And on it goes...

Anonymous said...

Barack's recent speech did do one thing for me.

Up to this point, I had been viewing Barack Obama as the * candidate: he's everything you want him to be, because he doesn't have a solid position on anything. He very much struck me as the sort of politician that, whenever a crisis came along, would wet his finger and stick it into the air to see which way the political winds were blowing before he did anything.

This speech reveals a little more depth of character. A man who's loyal to his friends while not ignorant of their faults. A man who, perhaps, has principles rather than positions.

I am intrigued. Between Hillary, John, and Barack, he would now be my first choice.

Anonymous said...

To change the subject, you said you send your books to the troops. Please let me have an address and I will do the same when I have them.


Anonymous said...

Does it ever bore you to death that so many people write essays in your comments? Admittedly you're asking for it, but sometimes I gotta think you login and are just like... /sigh

Anyway, I just wanted to know why you didn't like Hillary Clinton - and to also let you know that Obama's spell doesn't necessarily affect everyone. He doesn't inspire me. None of the candidates do. Mine was Edwards ;)

Anonymous said...

Lizzie, I liked Edwards too. I believe Obama will be able to do more than Hillary, both in terms of public support and in terms of Congressional approval.

Rev. Wright's church sounds like one to visit, if you're ever in Chicago. Pro-women in the clergy, anti-homophobia, an evangelical megachurch in a predominantly mainline white denomination.

So he used a bit of hyperbole?

One of the talking heads in Pittsburgh local TV was saying that all pastors do things like that, just to keep people awake in the pews.

Rob Perkins said...

@NoOne -- When I hear about the historical treatment of the Dalit, and see the gloss that the movie "Lagaan" gave to the way people behaved at having one of them on a cricket team...

I think that approaches, very roughly, what the race issue has been for Americans in the last 50 years.

As an American, I can barely understand the gross features of the Indian caste system, let alone the nuances. I can barely discern between Dravidian and Aryan, fora that matter. Perhaps my experience vis a vis the distant Indian culture is analagous?

Rob Perkins said...

Hey, it occurs to me that in the spirit of proxy activism, perhaps a donation to the TUCC is not out of order...

...along with a donation to the Obama campaign?

Anonymous said...

I did not have a chance to hear the Obama speech. I was working a shift at one of those ERs with the long lines that he mentioned!

So far if anyone gets blame for digging this up it is the Clinton camp (Wrightly or Wrongly).

But if anyone bothers to ask McCain his opinion, here's what he should say:

"If Rev. Wright is being quoted correctly, and I have heard no denials from him, then he is expressing opinions at variance with most Americans, and opinions that I find in some instances both foolish and abhorrent."

"This is his right under the Constitution, and I strongly support that right for this and for all other individuals who hold unpopular opinions"

"If you feel Senator Obama should explain further which of Reverand Wright's opinions he endorses, and which he rejects, go ask him. It is his Constitutional right to answer or to decline to do so."

"There is really nothing more I can say on the matter, but I would ask that if you find instances where my friends and supporters are saying damn fool things, please bring them directly to my attention, and I will have much more to say at that time."


NoOne said...

To Rob: Yes, the moment we bring in caste and religion as categories, you get similar ugliness in the Indian scene. Race as a category is not that meaningful. Also, Indians are not that hung up about Aryan/Dravidian since that's primarily a language divide and not a race divide.

David Brin said...

Naturally, Orv, I tend to feel that my “paranoid conspiracy theory” which happens to be consistent with every fact... though not PROVED by any facts... slightly different than the Reverend Wright’s HIV conspiracy theory, which is consistent with almost no facts and is DISPROVED by a vast and myriad array of facts. Thus, it is not a matter of “my wingnut. crackpot notion against yours.” Indeed, find me one... one... widely-acknowledged fact that acts to disprove even the extreme version of the Manchurian scenario.

And, note, I don’t rant that it IS true. I merely rant that something so consistent ought to be less blithely dismissed.

As for Wright’s incendiary speech, it is simply and stark jibbering insane. At too many levels to even address.

First, he buys into the crappy and slanderous notion that a just God would actually punish an entire nation for a military/strategic decision that MAY have been excessive or criminal or immoral at the time (Hiroshima), but would then delay that punishment for decades and then deliver it in a totally ambiguous manner, two generations later, in such a way that only the prophet (Wright) is able to perceive cause and effect. Oh, and 9/11 was a slap on the wrist, compared to the atom bomb. But never mind.

This is exactly the BS we get from those right wing nutters who scream at military funerals that our soldiers’ deaths are punishment for tolerating gays. It’s like holding a grudge for an episode of bullying, when you were a kid, and hunting down and beating the former bully’s grandchildren, 50 years later. If A deity operated that way, he’d not deserve our respect.

Sure, I accept that the heat and momentum of sermonizing is heady and you can get carried away, especially in those frenetic and adrenalinic camp meeting style services. I know the feeling! But a drug high is a drug high, sanctioned or not, and you are responsible for what you say. And this “pastoral” fellow is clearly an out-of-control indignation junkie... like so many on the right... and like the imams of the mosques supported by the Wahhhabbi princes. We need and deserve better.

So does God.

Robert is correct. McCain has got problems of his own, having gladly accepted support from a thumper preacher who rails at catholics. Indeed, they are probably relieved.

Jester, you raise important points. Indeed, why do you think a majority of white Americans have gone along with the plague of gambling that now infests our states and communities? A genuine vice, especially when it is allowed to prey on addicts... but it lets America finally channel a type of reparations, in large enough amounts, toward (some!) of the First Nations, in a way that doesn’t cost most taxpayers much... because addictive gamblers and the numerically challenged either don’t vote or actually like their vices. So now the roads and schools and Jr Colleges and clinics are going into the reservations, at long last...

...and nobody seems willing or able to ask the obvious next question, for fear of seeming intolerant. But it is actually logical and neutral, simply obvious. What about the future? After the clinics are built and the college funds filled? Are we laying seeds for the next generation of a vice pandering ethnic mob? Shouldn’t there be, well, some kind of time limit?

For the record, I went to a 90% black high school, in the middle of the era of the Black Panthers and the Watts Riots. So I do not come to this with complete ignorance of a messy situation, nor do I lack experience with the wide varieties of racism and rationalization of hate.

In fact, I have to tell you what I feel may be the worst aspect of the whole discrimination problem, from the perspective of many African Americans. Now that immense progress has been made in most of the overt areas(though the rates of imprisonment make up a terrible scandal) , at least for the growing black middle class, it isn’t as much the overt stuff as the residual racism that simmers and just won’t go away. Take - for example - “wince” and “evaluation.”

Say you do your part, get educated, speak well, make something of yourself, even become a doctor. A real Sidney Poitier type. Lots of doors are open. Some of the big ones. Marry a blonde? No problemo.

And yet... there is still this moment, many times a day, when some white sees you approach and blinks, or winces, then tries to hide it. Pupils dilate and you can see them DECIDE whether to be worried. And even if they clearly decide not to be, even if they do seem to be trying to overcome the wince and even (guiltily) hurry to be friendly, even if they evaluate and quickly reclassify you as a guy whose other traits are much more interesting and important than being black (and many whites do this, especially with well-spoken people like Obama), that moment of surprise, transition, guilt, and hurried re-evaluation is something that a lot of African Americans have to see happen again and again, day after day, year after year. Minute after minute.

No wonder, even if we elect a half African president, they will continue to assert, with some truth, that racism is still alive and kicking.

Hey, I am an empathic guy who lived in a stewpot neighborhood and talked endlessly with pals of all backgrounds. And I have suffered some samples of bigotry. And nearly all of my third and fourth cousins died of it.

But still, I gotta tell you, I cannot fully grasp what it would do to my soul to have such a relentless series of micro bigotries grind away at you, hour after hour... without even the solace of righteous resentment, since, indeed, most of the whites doing it genuinely are trying! You can see it in their eyes, as they fumble about and try to overcompensate or act too-friiendly, just making things worse, of course. When all you really want is to get your cup of coffee or the directions to the concert or talk about the game.

I imagine it’s like have a piece of grit in your eye, all the time. No wonder people self-segregate so much. No wonder black culture is often self referential, self-reinforcing, even at a time when more Americans are willing to see polychrome and put all of this behind us. No wonder some tumble into the sick-sweet allure of indignant martyrdom... just like you hear from the worst of the white pulpits. Leaving the moderates, yet again, standing in the middle saying “what did I do?”

Pat, it turns out that getting books to the troops is harder than pulling your own teeth. The donation web sites that work one year don’t work the next. Few units maintain decent libraries. I thought Navy ships would. But my local naval base LOST several hundre books I gave them! It is a struggle every year.

Lizzie! A Hillary supporter! Please stay and enlighten us!

For the record, I will support her if she is the nominee. And I have made clear my objection to her. If she wins in November, she will just BARELY win. That is not what we need. We need a blowout. Obama can deliver that, as he is delivering several million fresh young voters who will be permanently active, that’s a gift.

David Brin said...

Flash request! Anybody know a rich dude or foundation who might offer a travel grant for a good cause? We need funds to send former senior US diplomat Michael Michaud to Paris to attend the Seti Institute's conference, where they plan to - yet again - whitewash the METI issue and provide cover for those very few arrogant types who want to shout (on our behalf) into the cosmos.


Seems worth asking.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as a former sailor at the other end of the get the books, I can honestly say that I don't know where they come from... once a month, we recieved a box of books, and I was required to put it on the shelves, making space as needed. Occassionally, there was a letter in the box, saying who donated. If it had a return address, I would send them a letter to say thank you.

Anonymous said...


It appears Reverend Wright was quoting the Ambassador to Iraq, Edward Peck.

I'm glad someone's reporting on the real story.

And yes, the AIDS comment has been disproven -- but when was it said? I haven't seen anything about that... Less than twenty years after Tuskegee was exposed (forty years of institutionalized suffering), can they be blamed for thinking something like that got loose?

I hate that they're even saying some of the stuff about aids, because some proportion of the black community still believes that, and I think they need some more education (and maybe some hope in their fellow man).

Acacia H. said...

I remember Dr. Brin commenting on the need for a more contemporary song rewrite for Senator Obama. Well, a Twisted Sister song has been redone for Obama, though the band is officially split on who they support. I've not heard the song yet, mind you, so I don't know how good or contemporary it is. For that matter, I'm not exactly the best judge of character on what is "contemporary." Still, it should be amusing to hear the rewrite.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

err... this was the link.

Unknown said...

More reasons for optimism:

Faux News continues to come unglued, with their own anchors walking off the set and railing against the network for its "anti-Oabama bias."

Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh now the focus of voter fraud investigations.

He won't get indicted, but it destroys his credibilty -- after all, if his beliefs are so obviously correct, why does he need to stoop to fraud to help his side win?

And Warren Buffett buys up railroads because new technology has made them extremely energy-efficient.

Once upon a time, most transcontinental most American goods got shipped by railroad. Then we switched to trucks after WW II. Now we'll switch back to trains. Nobody suffered hardships because they had to wait a little longer in the early 1900s to get manufactured goods shipped by freight train, and people won't suffer when we move back to shipping by train today. We'll just have to wait a litle longer to get what we order on the internet. No more of this wasteful "get it 4 days after you order it" nonsense.

And for transoceanic shipping, there's this kite-assisted cargo freighter that just made its first successful test voyage.

B. Dewhirst said...

Actually, I'm not convinced rail shipping will result in (much) longer wait times for goods.

Various European nations are experimenting with underground electric monorail freight delivery, automated conveyorbelt systems, etc... they'll reduce road congestion, be more energy efficient, and maintain/reduce delivery times... because while the conveyors/monorails may move more slowly, they'll do so at a constant speed without getting caught up in traffic jams.

Anonymous said...

Zorgon, "Rush Limbaugh" and "Credibility" don't go in the same sentence. He hasn't had credibility since February of 1992, when he sold out conservatives to support Bush Sr. His lack of credibility hasn't hurt his ratings any, and until it does...

David Brin said...

Rush had credibility hw could lose?

The article about Buffett buying railroads. Cool. The artiucle mentioned that the turnaround bgan in 1980 with deregulation of the industry. What they don’t mention is that it was done by... Jimmy Carter and the democrats. Look across the last 40 years. The dems have done vastly more industry degregulation and red tape cutting! Especially if you exclude “deregulations” that were setups for grand larceny, like the savings and loan and energy industries. And um, which party handled THOSE deregs?

Why does our political dialogue never look at any of this? Or the fact that dems protect the borders bettwer while goppers cripple the Border Patrol? Or that the Stock Market and economy do better, always? Or the whol;e budget deficit thing? It seems that cognitive dissonance prevents people from even noticing when the polemic is diametrically opposite to truth.

Travc said...

On the Wright topic... I must concede that the HIV conspiracy thing is stupid, dangerous, and wrong. That is a good example of when the 'nephew' needs to step up and correct the 'uncle'. Many (probably in the 10's to 100's of thousands if not millions) have died due to this and closely related 'theories'.

On trains... cool news, thanks.

I've been having various ideas regarding innovations in rail systems rattling around in my head for a good long time now. Stuff like how we might just use elevated track (minimizing footprint and allowing more control over grade and curvature)... Of course, there are maglev, wide gauge, electrified track, and all sorts of other options out there.

Driving along I5 in CA it is hard not to wonder why the hell there isn't a lot more shipping by rail. But maybe the most interesting part is that rail has a lot of capacity for further technological and systems engineering improvements.

PS: I wonder what sort of rail system we could build and maintain if it had the same levels of funding as the Interstate Highways?

Anonymous said...

I bought railroad stocks a few years back, and they've done quite well, earning me dividends and going up in price.

If stocks dip precipitously I'll buy more.

Cliff said...

Here's the way I look at it:
Obama's not perfect. Maybe he should have talked to Wright about statements like this, but I feel that it's understandable that he didn't.
If people weren't hammering him about this, they'd be hammering him about something else. At least this way, he got a chance to speak candidly about race in America, and acknowledge that there are still a lot of negative feelings on everybody's part. Acknowledging the elephant in the room, as it were.

Also, thanks for the Bureau of Public Debt address. I'll have to see if I can scrounge something up for them.

Mitch said...

As a "typical white person" who sees Obama's supporters channeling Bennett Marko ("Barack Obama is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life"), I refer you to The Bard with regard to "The Speech":

Out, out, brief candle!
[The campaign's] but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by [a Chicago pol], full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

David Brin said...

Heh! I love the riff from "The Manchurian Candidate." I thought I was the only guy who remembered Sinatra's best moment.

Still, sir, methinks you doth pro-teth't too muth."

I got me a corner that's wary of BHO and will keep an eye on him.

But EVERY topic he deliberately raises is one that I - and we modernists - desperately want to see raised.

Sure, the best and the brightest let us down before - e.g. JFK, who did more good as a martyr than as a leader. Still...

I think it's time to try bright guys again. They can't do worse than the morons have.

Mitch said...

"I think it's time to try bright guys again. They can't do worse than the morons have."

Sure they can, because they are of the opinion that they are so much brighter than the unwashed masses who need to be guided by elected and appointed philosopher-kings.

However, the "best and brightest" tend to forget fundamental realities such as "TANSTAAFL", the "Law of Unintended Consequences", and the notion of "Primum non nocere" (First do no harm).

They are the people Thomas Sowell referred to in “The Vision of the Anointed”.

B. Dewhirst said...

Mitch, I hope you appreciate how telling it is that I have no idea whether you are talking about the Republicans or Democrats when you say that.

Mitch said...

"Mitch, I hope you appreciate how telling it is that I have no idea whether you are talking about the Republicans or Democrats when you say that."

Generally, Democrats, although while Republicans tend to favor markets, as well as individual liberty and responsibility, politicians generally advocate that which will get them reelected. If that means raiding the Treasury, or promoting laws that violate the "laws" previously noted, well, a pox on both their houses.

I just don’t buy into the Obama hype. He is, first and foremost, a politician who effectively uses language to obfuscate and lull listeners into buying into his “vision”. He is the consumate salesman - a better "Bill Clinton" than Bill Clinton.

To borrow another quote - "God darnit, Sen. Obama, you use your tongue prettier than a twenty dollar whore.” (Apologies to Mel Brooks and Slim Pickens)

David Brin said...

Mitch, you cite THE main rationalization for the plague of know-nothing egghead hating in this country. Whenever you point out that everybody in this country with 5 years or more of college hates the kakistocracy that's ruled us since 1994...

...the answer is that "book-smarts don't always accompany common sense."

Yes, true enough. And though JFK et al did or pushed for many good things, they also illustrated the perils of arrogance.

Alas, the whole argument falls apart because:

1) Red america considers wisdom to be INVERSELY correlated with brans and knowledge. Now that is just plain stupid.

2) You say that smart guys may assume they are smart? Hm. By all means let's keep things open, with lots of reciprocal criticism. We know (in theory) the solution. It is to sic MORE smart guys on the smart guys! (See The Transparent Society.)

3) But how is today's situation better? Today we have horrendously stupid guys who arrogantly assume they are super smart!

4) Worse, today's super dumb guys have filled society with secrecy so that we CAN'T sic smart guys on them.

No, that won't fly here. If we're to have any hope, we need to find out WHICH brains correlate with wisdom... and keep those smart guys humble and always under scrutiny and accountable.

But I proudly prefer to have smart people at the top. Smart, curious, undogmatic, open, tolerant, fascinated, optimistic... rather than being ruled by the opposite in every single way.

Mitch said...

> 1) Red america considers wisdom to be INVERSELY
> correlated with brans and knowledge. Now that is just
> plain stupid.

Oh, you mean “typical whte people”? What an arrogant statement. I live in a Red State, tend to vote libertarian or Republican, have a graduate degree and value education. I do know I’m not smart enough to run the lives of others, and wouldn’t presume to do so.

> 2) You say that smart guys may assume they are smart?
> Hm. By all means let's keep things open, with lots of
> reciprocal criticism. We know (in theory) the solution.
> It is to sic MORE smart guys on the smart guys! (See The
> Transparent Society.)

Good book - enjoyed it along with your SciFi.

> 3) But how is today's situation better? Today we have
> horrendously stupid guys who arrogantly assume they are
> super smart!

For purposes of clarity, please define “Stupid”

> 4) Worse, today's super dumb guys have filled society
> with secrecy so that we CAN'T sic smart guys on them.
And you think that newly elected Smart Blue Guys will change that. Give me a break. You are much too intelligent to believe that.
> No, that won't fly here. If we're to have any hope, we
> need to find out WHICH brains correlate with wisdom...
> and keep those smart guys humble and always under
> scrutiny and accountable.
> But I proudly prefer to have smart people at the top.
> Smart, curious, undogmatic, open, tolerant, fascinated,
> optimistic... rather than being ruled by the opposite in
> every single way.

That’s the difference -you want to be “ruled”. I want to be left alone

Rob Perkins said...

@David, yes, Limbaugh has credibility to lose. In his most lucid moments you might even catch him naming is premises and reasoning from them.

He's not an idiot, and underestimating him is not to the good.

David Brin said...


"Republicans tend to favor markets, as well as individual liberty and responsibility"

Where on God's green Earth do you get THIS?

Do we live in Bizarro land, now?

Oh, I can see the party line. Nearly all of the GOP politicians prove to be corrupt, pork-swilling, secrecy-spreading, accountability avoiding, freedom-suppressing, market-ruining, cheaters...

...but that has nothing to do with their being republicans! It's "politicians." I get it.

...but the line is that it is "because they are politicians" not because they are republicans.

Oh, as for Obama being another politician. Well, could be. But he'll enter office with the fewest IOUs of any in our memory. Since you like movie quotes, here's one by Sean Connery in THE UNTOUCHABLES.

"If you want an apple that's not rotten, pluck it off the tree, before it spends too much time in the barrel"

That... like brains... seems worth trying for a change.

David Brin said...

Mitch, go back over your response to my "smart vs stupid" riff.

Notice that not a single one of your responses was actually about the actual matter at question.

(Though a couple of your asides were flattering, thanks! ;-)

Hey man, I gave a keynote at a Libertarian National Convention. I've written extensively about libertarianism, and I can tell which side is presently, right now, most threatening our freedom.

And while I remain wary of nutso-statist lefty twerps, they are presently utterly pathetic... there is no question that the attempted coup taking place right now isn't their doing.

Go back and read Adam Smith. Read him carefully. If he were walking around today, he would be seething and a Democrat.

David Brin said...

REMINDER! Anyone with Independent or DECENT Republican friends in Pennsylvania... (not Limbaughites) ... remind em they have till the 24th to re-register to vote in the primary.

Anonymous said...

"Go back and read Adam Smith. Read him carefully. If he were walking around today, he would be seething and a Democrat."

No, Smith would be an Objectivist. The Dems and Reps are as corrupt as they come, and have rigged the game at the state level vis-a-vis ballot access for third parties. Just ask Ralph Nader.

Your wish that once gaining all three branches of government that the Democrats would do anything different than Republicans strikes me as odd, coming from one trained as a scientist and used to dealing with empirical evidence. Tax, spend, regulate, and control. Oh, and let's not forget speech codes, sensitivity training, and affirmative action based upon race and gender. That is the modus operandi of today's Democrat, and with no restraint on them, the Dems would go to town. If anything, I would think you'd be working towards divided government and gridlock to stop the bastards cold.


"No man's life, liberty, or property is safe," warned Mark Twain, "while Congress is in session."

"Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys." --PJ O'Rourke

"When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion - when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing - when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors - when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you - when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice - you may know that your society is doomed.." -- Ayn Rand


Obama has demonstrated his judgement through his alignment with Jeremiah Wright and Tony Rezko. If anything, his denial of Wright's positions on issues after a 20 year relationship shows an appalling lack of judgement. Hell, even Oprah left that church. If Obama is that naive, and accepting of Black Liberation Theology, then who will he select as advisors as president?

When asked in an interview with Glenn Beck about the difference between the teachings/philosophy of Trinity United Church and the New Black Panthers, Malik Zulu Shabazz, it's current leader, indicated that there was no difference. That philosophy is decidedly anti-American.

I want a President that self-identifies as an American -not a Hyphenated-American. Obama is the latter.

Rob Perkins said...

I don't think Adam Smith would be an Objectivist. I think he would actually be more than capable of eviscerating Rand's philosophies and confounding her.

Besides, the statement conflates philosophical position with political position. This year I'm a Democrat (I've never been a Republican), but I don't simultaneously ascribe to every philosophy every Democrat espouses.

matthew said...

Check this out - from Slate's "Why did we get it wrong" series of articles on Liberal Hawks and the Iraq war.

From Andrew Sullivan - "But my biggest misreading was not about competence. Wars are often marked by incompetence. It was a fatal misjudgment of Bush's sense of morality. I had no idea he was so complacent—even glib—about the evil that good intentions can enable. I truly did not believe that Bush would use 9/11 to tear up the Geneva Conventions. When I first heard of abuses at Gitmo, I dismissed them as enemy propaganda. I certainly never believed that a conservative would embrace torture as the central thrust of an anti-terror strategy and lie about it, and scapegoat underlings for it, and give us the indelible stain of Bagram and Camp Cropper and Abu Ghraib and all the other secret torture and interrogation sites that Bush and Cheney created and oversaw. I certainly never believed that a war I supported for the sake of freedom would actually use as its central weapon the deepest antithesis of freedom—the destruction of human autonomy and dignity and will that is torture. To distort this by shredding the English language, by engaging in newspeak that I had long associated with totalitarian regimes, was a further insult. And for me, it was yet another epiphany about what American conservatism had come to mean."

Tony Fisk said...

Mitch, if 'stupid' is the low end of 'smart', then Ricardo Semler has a nice definition:

smartness = IQ + (any other Qs you care to define) - EGO

Does that make sense in the context of 'stupid guys who assume they are super smart'?

One of the functions of CITOKATE is to keep ego to a minimum. denial of Wright's positions. Alignment with him? Were we reading the same speech?

Obama stated quite clearly that he did *not* align with the opinions that Wright spouted recently. He also stated quite clearly why he did not reject the man: because he knows him well, and because the *issues* that led to Wright's expression of his *opinion* are real issues to some people; and ones that it's high time America faced.

And one thing the speech demonstrated was a willingness to go beyond the 'he is not for me is against me' level of analysis (which is, quite literally, the assessment of a child)

Look, I'm seeing this little drama from half a world away. I'm no doubt missing a lot of subtle undercurrents and sub-texts in everyone's campaigning. However, Obama strikes me as very similar in outlook to Kevin Rudd. Fresh, intelligent, possessed of rational ideas, but untried, green. He will no doubt make mistakes. So? This is part of learning.

It's also fascinating how the option of not voting is used in tactics over there. (Australia has compulsory voting, so you may as well vote for someone)

'They're all corrupt' is an attitude of the cynic who has given up on the political process entirely. You want an American president? You have a choice of three at this point. Don't expect perfection. Do demand maturity (for *all* our sakes!).

Like it or lump it, rulers are what you are going to get. So can you expand on how you want to be 'left alone'?

David Brin said...

Mitch, you should talk about objectivism? Good lord, are you really a follower of Rand?

I do not expect to sway you, then. Except to offer you my "introductory" libertarian article:

And to say that she was just about the least objective person imaginable.

Please, you are committed to see what you are subjectively predisposed to see. And, since the GOP has betrayed every possible principle of reason or liberty, you must say "they're all the same." Except it is totally and demonstrably untrue.

The stock market, the economy, small business startups and entrepeneurship always do better under dems. And that's ALWAYS.

You want deregulation? Make a chart! Since WWII, a number of major industries were "deregulated," trucking, banking, telecommunications, airlines, toll roads, railroads, public utilities, savings and loans, energy and investment services. Can you tell me which of these deregulations happened under democrats and which under republicans?

You OUGHT TO KNOW, because this is supposedly what you want to see happen!

I'll give you a hint. Seven were done by one party and three by the other. Now divvy them up. And tell me which three were directly "deregulated" in ways that led to massive fraud, and the loss of hundreds of billions, stolen either directly from the taxpayer or from stockholders.

Go on. I'll wait right here.

Oh, but you'll answer with some quotations or some anecdote, comparing the guilt-by-association Wright and Rezko "scandals" to the massive ruination of our great nation and the demolition of THREE TRILLION DOLLARS of American value by a monstrous criminal gang.

"Their all the same" is a total cop out, friend. Our civilization is under assault. From 193e to 1945 it was fascism. From 1945 to 1991 it was communism (though lordy we had to fix our own souls.)

And from 1994 to now it was a frontal assault by proto-feudalists, who Adam Smith would INSTANTLY RECOGNIZe as the same "cronies" who destroyed free markets across history.

Anonymous said...

smartness = IQ + (any other Qs you care to define) - EGO

You could kill this whole blog with talk like that.

David Brin said...

Anomalous said:
smartness = IQ + (any other Qs you care to define) - EGO

You could kill this whole blog with talk like that.

Aw now that hurts!
But let me offer an adjustment:

smartness = IQ - EGO + SEHQ*

*SEHQ = self-effacing humor quotient. I mean c'mon. Doesn't that help ease the sin of massive egotism? Please? If not, I have no hope of heav'n!

Tony Fisk said...


(I did say 'plus any other Q you care to define'. It was a nice snark, too!)

On a different topic, this piece: Giving=Happiness has some interesting points.

"the pain of having less is stronger than the joy of having more."

The notion that it's nice to have someone to give to puts an interesting twist on regal largesse, too.

Big C said...

Hey Dr. Brin,

I just have to address this comment of yours:

"But still, I gotta tell you, I cannot fully grasp what it would do to my soul to have such a relentless series of micro bigotries grind away at you, hour after hour... without even the solace of righteous resentment, since, indeed, most of the whites doing it genuinely are trying! You can see it in their eyes, as they fumble about and try to overcompensate or act too-friendly, just making things worse, of course. When all you really want is to get your cup of coffee or the directions to the concert or talk about the game.

I imagine it’s like have a piece of grit in your eye, all the time. No wonder people self-segregate so much. No wonder black culture is often self referential, self-reinforcing, even at a time when more Americans are willing to see polychrome and put all of this behind us. No wonder some tumble into the sick-sweet allure of indignant martyrdom... just like you hear from the worst of the white pulpits. Leaving the moderates, yet again, standing in the middle saying 'what did I do?'"

It struck me, because you articulated very well something that has been bubbling in my subconscious but I could never express. To provide a bit of context, I am a 32 year-old black man, and I've encountered those "micro bigotries" many times from friends and strangers alike, and was always left feeling vaguely uncomfortable, but at the same time unsure how I should react.

If I spoke about these events to the mentors from the previous generation among my family and friends, many were quick to declare these incidents the unequivocal expression of overt racism from people who had hard biases against black people. But I couldn't reconcile that with the fact that these people, even the strangers, never really demonstrated overt, conscious bias, but rather succumbed to an unconscious initial reaction. How could I fault anyone for that? Like Obama said about his pastor, some of my mentors didn't realize that the world has changed for the better, even though their generation had a direct hand in effecting that change!

So hey, for what it's worth, you get a certified stamp of approval from a black guy that you "get it."

I do, however, have to give a little CITOKATE back to you in your criticism of Rev. Wright's comments. I've heard it reported from many different corners from the media and our beloved "punditocracy" that Wright was preaching and inciting hatred. You yourself said his speech was on par with that execrable Rev. Phelps and his clan who picket funerals. I completely agree that his conspiracy theories were wrong, loony, and offensive. But check the context of the 9/11 speech as linked by Anonymous. You cherry-picked his mention of the dropping the atomic bombs on Japan in his list of atrocities America has committed, when this was 7th down the list. And the full list seems to be more an indictment against all violence committed by the United States, regardless of their individual context or circumstances. He was wrong to lump WWII in with America's treatment of Native Americans and African Americans, but he seems to be railing against violence in general.

Furthermore, as others have said, all I've seen is these particular clips of 2-3 sermons played endlessly and then projected to claim that Wright has been preaching 20-30 years of hate. Doesn't this seem premature without any other sermons to go by? For example read Wright's sermon, "Audacity to Hope," from which Obama took the title of his most recent book. Does that sermon sound hateful? And what about all the positive community action the church has done over the years? Particularly Wright's support for the poor, HIV positive, and openly gay members of his church. Isn't it reasonable to assume that the messages of the majority of Wright's sermons will correlate with the church's very positive actions in the community and interaction with other churches? This doesn't excuse the bad sermons, but do those sermons invalidate everything else as 20 years of hate?

And finally, read this column by E.J. Dionne about another controversial black preacher whom you might have heard of.

Also, to lighten the mood, here's a breaking news story from The Onion: Black Guys Asks Nation for Change.

Tony Fisk said...

As someone who is probably guilty of expressing some of those micro-bigotries, I wonder if they are all, in fact, bigotries or whether they come down to the double-take arising from cognitive dissonance. The thought might not be 'what are you doing here?' as opposed to 'I didn't expect to see you here!'

Consider, if a group tends to clump together as a community for mutual self-support (understandaable if they are newcomers), then they won't be as likely to be seen in the general community. The occasions they are seen, they will be viewed as something unusual and will be given more than the usual passing glance.

Which suggests that clumped ethnic communities do not help this.

Of course, the issue is in the interpretation of those surreptitious glances as much as their intent.

Then again, cognitive dissonance might be another form of micro-bigotry, and the reason this blog doesn't implode is we're all too dumb to stop talking!

On that note, end of waffle.

Kiel Bryant said...

Further mood-lightening: Novelists Strike Fails to Affect

CJ-in-Weld said...

Mitch says: "The Dems and Reps are as corrupt as they come, and have rigged the game at the state level vis-a-vis ballot access for third parties. Just ask Ralph Nader."

No doubt the parties have colluded some – there's been plenty of discussion here about jerrymandering for instance.

But really, the idea that third parties don't gain traction because of the two big parties is just a soothing conceit. The reality is that eighty percent of Americans fall somewhere in the spectrum covered by the two major parties, one soft left, the other (when it's not broken) soft right.

There just aren't enough Libertarians, Communists, and Greens to make these third parties work.

I mean really, Ralph Nader? You really think that but for major party obstructionism he actually had a chance?

Will said...

In the main article Mr Brin states that minutes after Mr Obama is sworn in the USA will have allies again.

I'm in Slovakia (central Europe) and have friends from numerous backgrounds. Everyone has an opinion on the US elections. I know only one person who supports ANYONE other than Obama - and she's from Bible-Belt USA.

I know and work with people from all around the EU and "George Bush" jokes are the jokes of choice. That aside though there is serious anger at the current administration in the USA. European nations have a LOT to answer for as well - but let me talk about perceptions.

Among the more informed this is a well directed sense of betrayal. The US, despite its sometimes serious faults has stood as a bastion of freedom and democracy with a constitution that famously upholds the rights of the individual. After 911 the Stars and Stripes flew at half-mast across Europe. Beleive me - that day and in the weeks afterwards we were all brothers and sisters. Bush essentially raised a finger to international sympathy and proceeded to invade nations without international support, kidnap non-US citizens for torture, re-write the Geneva Convention while removing personal freedoms in the US to a scary degree. On top of that the Administration tried its utmost to block any attempt to unite the world to combat climate change. The US administration is now percieved by many to be the enemy of freedom, unity and democracy. Considering the almost unimaginable level of world sympathy Mr Bush started out with this is quite an achievement. As a non-US citizen I see this situation as BAD.

To the less well informed person they can't differentiate between the US administration and Americans as a people. Hatred of Americans is becoming a serious issue. I see Anti-American graffiti, I hear jokes about Americans and I hear children (obviously picking things up from parents) talking about how stupid/violent Americans are (American=stupid/blows things up). As a non-US citizen I see this situation as BAD BAD BAD.

The new President needs to correct this. S/he needs to put the USA back in it's rightful place as a leader, showing the way forward towards a bright future for all humanity.

A leader must be respected and one does not respect a leader who betrays his own values when threatened.

Unknown said...

Mitch's wings just came off and his fuel tank exploded and now he's auguring in without a parachute. From here it looks like Brin 1, Knee-Jerk Far-Right Wingnut 0.

More reasons for optimism:

Republicans are abandoning their own party. In (d)Roves.

Unlike our friend Mitch, most Repubs realize they've been attacked by what Victor Gold calls "The Invasion of the Party Snatchers." And they're running from the flesh-eating Rove/Cheney/Grover Norquist zombies as fast and as far as they can.

With Obama as the nominee and a historic shift in voting patterns, this November will be a colossal landslide for the Demos.

I'm telling you guys -- now's the time to think about making reservations in a Washington D.C. hotel for the inaugual. This promises to be one of the best inaugural speeches ever given.

Oh, one minor point of disagreement with Dr. Brin -- he calls these kleptocrats "proto-feudalists." That's just not accurate. True feudal aristocrats recognized deep bonds of recipcrocal loyalty to their vassals. But the peculiar thing about the drunk-driving C student in the White House is his total lack of loyalty -- to anyone! His vassals are expected to have total loyalty to him, but the instant they become inconvenient, he throws them under the bus. That's not a feudal mindset, it's more like the modus operandi of a drug lord who doesn't hesitate to kill off his own henchmen the instant he suspects they might become a liability.

But even drawing the analogy with career criminals fails here, because drug lords try to make a profit. In however twisted a way, career criminals try to create a going concern, a business that generates income. The kakistocrats now running our government don't even seem to care about that! As far as I can tell, it's just fine with Cheney/Rove/Norquest et al. if the United States goes broke, if all the GIs in Iraq get electrocuted by faulty wiring installed by KBR, if all our soldiers die from cholera due to contaminated sh*t water supplied by Halliburton, if Wall Street collapses completely due to the rampant corruption and lack of regulation, if all our giant fabulously expensive superweapons built by trough-slurping pork barrel defense contractors break down and don't work in the field.

That's even worse than being a drug lord. I don't know what that is. It's as though a drug lord were to shoot all his cronies and underlings because they might betray him, then pile the drug stash into a boat built by a no-bid contractor that promptly sinks.

I don't know what that is, but it ain't feudalism. It's not even sane.

Naum said...

Larry Lessig launches "Change Congress" with an incredible speech/presentation…

I hope + pray this is what 21st century is about…

David Brin said...

big c, you just about made my day. That attaboy from someone who has actually experienced what I described really, really feels good. Because, in fact, I was only able to describe what I IMAGINED that it felt like from your end. Even with my upbringing and background - and author-trained to empathize - I cannot really know for sure.

Yes, I know the contextual excuses for Rev Wright’s polemic, and these mitigate. But he’s still a silly-ass “uncle Bob.” Because (1) he knew cameras were rolling, and (2) he allowed the drug high of indignation to control him, like a monkey on his back.

And (3) the logical problems are still horrific. To claim cause and effect... when America has been blessed with overwhelming amounts of luck, after committing crimes against the First Nations, for example... is to essentially claim that you are THE prophet-interpretor of the Lord’s will. It either makes no sense... or it is supremely arrogant.

(4) I hate it when indignant people forget to notice that their own position to BE indignant is as a result of a privileged place and time, when human life has relaxed enough -- and our standards have risen enough -- for the stated crimes TO BE SEEN AS CRIMES.

Seriously, General Sherman lived in a time when the Cavalry was NOT seen as bad guys. We can lament their actions today because we have risen higher. THAT RISE ITSELF IS WORTH NOTING.

And America has been responsible for MOST of that moral rise, in the last 100 years! (Ask the Germans who treated them better, the French after WWI or the US after WWII.)

Tony, I call them “micro-bigotries” but, in fact, your description is more accurate: “the double-take arising from cognitive dissonance.”

What’s actually happening, in 90% of cases, is simple. people want a quick and easy context to put other people in. It is instinctive. “This humanoid shape is approaching me. What/who is it? Friend? Foe?”

Talk to a fellow a while, find out he went to the same school, or has a kid in your kid’s school, and the re classification can be very quick! And from then on, the viewer is about as un-racist as you could reasonably hope. Heck, a uniform does it almost instantly. I’ve seen some redneck types actually not remember that the cop was black or hispanic. Certainly we have come a long way, when most white folks can pretty quick reclassify “oh, he’s that nice guy who runs the AT&T store and likes espresso... oh, and he happens to be black.”

Still, it is in that moment, that flurry of uncertainty while reclassification happens, that you can see (and I’ve watched) an evaluation take place... and I can imagine that some folks of color simply grow tired of being evaluated, judged as to whether they deserve to be “also black” instead of “black-black” in a stranger’s eyes.

BTW, it has very, very little to do with actual degree of color.

Novelists Strike Fails To Affect Nation Whatsoever
... Ouch!

Will, the loss of our alliances and popularity overseas is a huge achilles heel for the GOP. Their instinct will be to say “So? Who needs them furriners.” And if a major Republican can be tricked into saying that.... But they’ll be well-rehearsed.

Zorgon, please, we need to make Mitch feel welcome here (if he’s still around). Frankly, we need input from guys like that. And, mind you, I consider him more an ostrich than a wing-nut.

Anonymous said...

"No, Smith would be an Objectivist."

Even when he feels qualified to comment on Smith while proving in the same sentence that he never read him?


Matt DeBlass said...

Zorgon: "abandoning their party in (d)Roves" almost made me spray crackers on my keyboard. That was beautiful.
I'm also inclined to agree with the lack of even a feudal lord's concern for the vassals.
It's an insane case of cranio-rectal inversion if I ever saw one.

Big C said...

Hey Tony,

"As someone who is probably guilty of expressing some of those micro-bigotries, I wonder if they are all, in fact, bigotries or whether they come down to the double-take arising from cognitive dissonance. The thought might not be 'what are you doing here?' as opposed to 'I didn't expect to see you here!'"

Dr. Brin's already responded, but I'll just echo his comments. "Micro-bigotries" is a bit of a misnomer, hence the scare quotes. I think your interpretation is on the money.

BTW, I'm a PA resident (Pittsburgh area), and I just saw the first Obama commercial run on TV last night. It's exciting stuff in our state since our primary actually matters for the first time in a while. Obama's not likely to carry the state unfortunately, with the governor and the mayor of Philadelphia actively supporting Clinton, but I'm hoping he'll make it a close race given the 6 weeks he's got to make an impression. I'm trying to get friends and family out to vote for Obama. My brother just turned 18 in January, and is proud to be voting in his first election.

David Brin said...

Just make sure everyone is registered.... by tomorrow!

It's the last day to drag LEGITIMATE independent and Republican converts over to become democrats... as opposed to those re-registering with bad intent.

The correlation, alas, is that the latter - obeying Limbaugh - will vote for Hillary, while the former will vote for Obama, BOTH in April and in November.

Contact your Pennsylvania ostriches!!!

David Brin said...

Gotta share this excerpt from the speech that Obama gave in October, 2002, presciently opposing the Iraq Invasion.'s_Iraq_Speech

Alas, he left out the most important point of all... that the Bushites lacked any credibility re Saddam Hussein, having kissed and supported him for decades, then having left him in place to oppress Iraqis for TWELVE MORE YEARS, when we had him in the palm of our hand.

But let me hand you over to the guy Shawn Hannity is trying to portray as an antisemitic, flowerchild peacenik fool.

I don’t oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other arm-chair, weekend warriors in this Administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne. ...

That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.

Now let me be clear – I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. ... He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.

But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East , and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.

I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.

So for those of us who seek a more just and secure world for our children, let us send a clear message to the president today. You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s finish the fight with Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, through effective, coordinated intelligence, and a shutting down of the financial networks that support terrorism, and a homeland security program that involves more than color-coded warnings.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to make sure that the UN inspectors can do their work, and that we vigorously enforce a non-proliferation treaty, and that former enemies and current allies like Russia safeguard and ultimately eliminate their stores of nuclear material, and that nations like Pakistan and India never use the terrible weapons already in their possession, and that the arms merchants in our own country stop feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil, through an energy policy that doesn’t simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil. ...

The consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable. We may have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our freedom, and pay the wages of war. But we ought not – we will not – travel down that hellish path blindly. Nor should we allow those who would march off and pay the ultimate sacrifice, who would prove the full measure of devotion with their blood, to make such an awful sacrifice in vain."

Hillary later said: "If I had known then what I know now. I never would have given President Bush the authority. It was a sincere vote based on my assessment at the time and what I believed he would do with the authority he was given." She didn't know Bush was arrogant, incurious, ideologically rigid and incompetent? The vote to authorize an Iraq war was not a vote for war in the abstract. It was a vote to allow George W. Bush to take us to war.

Anonymous said...

Holy flipping hell, that speech is perfect.

Senator Obama needs to start the speech he'll use to smack around McCain. Something about the cost of the war.

Unknown said...

More reasons for optimism:

Various doomsters have predicted global financial meltdown, but in reality the Fed's intervention appears to have averted a major derivatives collapse.

That was the threat Warren Buffett and other thoughtful folks worried about. This is why I'm not afraid of another Great Depression. The original Depression was primarily the result of financial mismanagement from Treasury officials who still didn't understand the full complexity of a modern central-banking economy.

Remember that in 1929, the Federal Reserve was only 16 years old -- also, there was at that time no FDIC. President Hoover along with the Federal Reserve board governors mistakenly worried about reducing the federal deficit in 1929, which was exactly the wrong thing to do. We know that now.

The analogy Jerry Pournelle is making on his blog to Weimer Germany inthe 1920s is also not accurate. Temporary deficits don't cause hyperinflation: you need deep structural deficits and structural problems with the economy to do that. Weimar Germany had just lost the biggest war in history, it lay in ruins, it was still under British naval blockade for 6 months after the war ended to force Germany to pay usurious reparations...and citizens from Britain and France could cross the border and buy artificially cheap goods, effectively pillaging the German economy, while German children starved.

If America loses a major land war to Mexico and Canada and if our cities lie in ruins and if Mexico and Canada force us to pay, say 25 trillion dollars in reparations by conducting a major blockade of our food sources, and if Canadians and Mexicans can freely cross our borders to buy artificially cheap American goods and take 'em home... Then I'll be worried about hyperinflation in America. Until then, Pournelle's (and other doomsters') mutterings about million-reichsmark currency notes seem misplaced.

Also: French car gets 7150 miles per gallon.

Someone was telling us that we couldn't improve the fuel efficiency of current vehicles by anywhere near that amount. Would you care to amend or amplify your statement, sir?

I don't see why we can't get rid of trucks, ship goods on nuclear-powered trains or light electric rail (for shorter distances), fill our highways with these things, and supplement 'em with special moped lanes for electric modeps charged with electricity from nuclear plants. Get rid of coal-fired and natural-gas-fueled power plants, use all nuclear electricity. (There are some production bottlenecks, but that's an instance where government intervention is needed to add industrial capacity, not unlike lavish government contracts to kick-start war industries at the beginning of WW II.)

This is not Buck Rogers rocket science. The technology to build all this stuff, from super-efficient freight trains to nuclear power plants to super-efficient cars, is right here, right now. All we have to do is use it.

Anonymous said...

Two topics:

On railroads, the Albuquerque Journal actually had a letter to the editor complaining about the State taking away highway funds to fund the "socialist' Rail Runner up I-25 to Santa Fe. And highways AREN'T 'socialist'?

Re microbigotries: experiments have been done in which people classified pictures of young men into groups. If they were dressed in standard casual wear, people classified them by race. If some wore one color T-shirt and some another, people grouped them into 'teams' totally regardless of race.

P.S. my fears of anyone met on a dark street are far more sexist and probably classist and ageist than racist. Be afraid of a guy in a business suit with a briefcase? Hah! That sort of person, regardless of race, if he ever robs you it will be with a fountain pen and a lawbook.

Anonymous said...

Democrats once more snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Since Reconstruction there have only been two African-American Governors (Wilder & Patrick), three African-American Senators ( Brooke, Mosley-Brown & Obama ) and only 35 of 6667 elections in white majority US House districts have provided black winners since l966, and most of those were in unusually liberal districts, what leads you to believe that this country will elect an African-American President?

Looking forward to the McCain Presidency...

David Brin said...

Zorgon, while I agree that all would have been vastly better if France & Germany had listened to Woodrow Wilson, Weimar Germany also committed the sin of printing money to pay bills. Making much of the blame their own.

You are at times too credulous. The French super mileage car had an ultralight carbon body and tires tuned precisely to the test track and did not have to stop and go...

...unlike the classic of all eco-races, the Clean Air Car Race of 1970, from MIT to Caltech, in which your own humble (not) blogger particpated! The very first time the world saw a hybrin gas/electric car! A steam car, electrics, natural gas, and one using a lear jet engine! (All right, it’s never clear in advance what’ll be a good idea. As I’ve told you guys before, it was the one, single event that killed the Ethyl Corporation, by proving that unleaded gas cars operate perfectly well.

We got the lead out! Show me one eco-challenge event that could ever beat that one accomplishment!

Zorg, notice that you posit the big change that Stewart Brand & I have been urging, that modernists and liberals (and any leftists who have flexibility of mind) should turn around and - with proper wariness - embrace nuclear power. This could be done in a win-win of powerful potential! By expressing it as a “big concession” - offering more reactors as a bargaining chip - the eco movement might exact some other measures as compensation, in return. Moreover, the best way to fight Chevron is to enlist GE as an ally.

(non) idiotgirl, good point. I often find myself amazed that female humans are able to even function, knowing that a third of males are at least somewhat untrustworthy and that a tenth of us are downright dangerous. Amid all the hoorow over male homosexuality - both sides polemically oversimplifying with staggering dishonestly - you can see why nobody wants to talk much about the provenance of lesbianism... because clearly a substantial fraction of homosexual women chose the lifestyle either logically or as a perfectly understandable response to male inflicted life traumas.

Folks have a look at this: army23mar23,0,1586977.story


followed by:
/la-ed army23mar23,0,1586977.story

As for the electoral map guessing, my response is simple. Even if Obama were a bit behind Clinton in the guesswork score right now (and I find the figures absurd), he blatantly puts more states “into play” than Hillary does. Not only does this open up the possibility of a blow-out, ending culture war, but it could knock holes in the whole “red-vs-blue” appearance of the map, on election day, ending the regionalist redolance of recent years.

ABove all, what we need is to be aggressive at the level of statehouses and legislatures. If even just four or five were to change hands decisively, it would profoundly alter the political landscape.

Anonymous said...

My father is very concerned that, because Obama is willing to associate with people who actually believe that the U.S. government would engineer a virus to commit genocide (although such would be impossible given the technology of the 1980s), he might appoint some crazy to an important position who will then run his mouth off and REALLY set off Culture War.

Acacia H. said...

And yet... how can anyone then be trusted? Does not Senator McCain associate with those who say equally outrageous things? Does not Senator Clinton as well? Has not her husband badly burned a bridge in South Carolina and in doing so given Senator Obama's campaign the chance it needed to prevail in state after state and build up the lead it has?

We must forgive our brethren for their gaffes, even as they forgive us for our own. This is the core of what representational government is about - people working together and augmenting one another's strengths and compensating for one another's weaknesses. It doesn't matter who gets in. There will always be someone who opens their mouth and inserts their foot. It's how that gaffe is dealt with that matters.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

Even if Obama were a bit behind Clinton in the guesswork score right now (and I find the figures absurd), he blatantly puts more states “into play” than Hillary does. Not only does this open up the possibility of a blow-out, ending culture war, but it could knock holes in the whole “red-vs-blue” appearance of the map, on election day, ending the regionalist redolance of recent years.

It could make quite a few currently Blue States Red, but I seriously doubt that it will do the reverse.

Short of an economic disaster between now and November, (I think Helicopter Ben will do what is needed to prevent that) I expect a McCain blowout. But I have to admit that I am also looking forward to seeing the shock on the face of all the good thinking liberals when they realize that they have had their asses handed to them one more time.

David Brin said...

Such delight in you (safely anonymous) voice!

Such relish.

Only, neither you nor we have a crystal ball. Our hopes/fears and probabilities are moot.

What does matter is that your heroes have proved to be at best morons who have destroyed the US Army, our readiness, our budget, our finances, our economy, our alliances, our friendships, our reputation, our science....

If these monsters lose, then you conservatives will re-evaluate, and possibly ask grownups to take charge of your movement. Which I wouldn't mind, since we need competitive ideas.

But you don't perceive that. You actually rationalize that monsters should stay in charge.

Acacia H. said...

The sad fact, Dr. Brin, is that so many of the Republicans do not see the monsters in their midst. They see the Democrats as the Greater of two evils, no matter what harm is done by their fellow Republicans. They are blinded by fear and a perception it is Us vs. Them... and that Them (Democrats) are inhuman monsters who will do everything in their power to destroy this country.

I have seen this with Republican friends and family. I had a father who voted for Obama because he felt Obama was the better choice among the Democrats... but who will vote for McCain no matter what threat that man offers (though as he is in Massachusetts, it honestly doesn't matter if he votes for Nader, his vote isn't going to adversely affect the election) (for that matter, my Republican friend is in MA as well, so...).

Indeed, when I lived in Massachusetts I also often voted either for Republicans or wrote in my dead brother's name, because I was reacting to the rampant and unreasoning loyalty most of Mass. voters have to the Democratic party. I've told my Republican friends that outside of MA, they'd probably be liberal democrats because of their beliefs... it is just in Massachusetts that they find themselves moving to the Right as almost a defensive measure, or even an act of rebellion against mob mentality.

For that matter, my voting for Senator Obama is not because I feel he is necessarily the most experienced candidate or the most qualified candidate, but because I believe he will bring about some much needed change in politics... and enhearten a new generation of politicians who can move beyond party politics and lobbyists and special interests and actually represent the will of the People. I see him as a catalyst for change.

Perhaps we are all blinded by our ideologies and desires, be us Democrat, Republican, Independent, or even Anarchist.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

I am not nor have I ever been a conservative.
They are not my heroes, and they are performing slightly below my expectations, I did not expect them to be quite as incompetent as they have been, but they are what the American people voted for & deserve.

Rob Perkins said...

It's possible that McCain might win, but I'm reminded of most or all of the elections since 1980 in which a national head-to-head poll this far from election day was never a measure of who would actually win.

David Brin said...

Agh, anonymous. "Slightly below"?

I am used to cynics. But you have record-low expectations. Here's the irony. You gotta pray that we optimists are right.

Travc said...

A bit OT.

I used to think the US electoral process was a bit like the hovse picking system at CIT... messy and far from perfect, but no-one could think of a better way. Clearly no longer, though honestly I came to this conclusion a good while back.

The Dems should use this primary's messiness to revamp the process, also providing a model for general election reform. I could write a big essay, but will refrain (maybe our gracious host will take up the cause instead.) The very short version for a new primary system:

A few (4 or 5) states have primaries 'up front' separated by say 2 weeks. Choose these by demographics and region (a small state or two first makes a lot of sense). Rotate or randomize the selections election to election.

All remaining states vote on the same day a month or so after the final 'up front' primary.

Everyone uses a ranking voting system (IRV or variant) primary.

The nominee is decided by total popular vote (in the ranking voting sense).

Every state still needs to elect delegates for the convention (deciding party officials, platform, ect). This is a great place for caucuses, but I suppose states could be left to choose whatever method they want.

Anyway, a bit OT, but could be more consequential than who the next president ends up being. Ranking voting systems allow for viable third parties (making rational actually voting for who you like best, not just lesser of two evils.) Thought it may be one of those biggish ideas which seem appreciated here.

Travc said...

Can I chime in on the 'micro-bigotries'...

Everyone is prejudiced. We all prejudge people (and situations). After all, we have to make decisions based on incomplete, quite often very very incomplete, information. The 'you are walking down the street, a group of blacks on one side, whites on the other...' question is an example of this.

The two key aspects which distinguish prejudice from bigotry IMO are this:

Foremost, how open is one to additional information. A group of mixed gender black adults should be a lot less scary than a group of white male teenagers. (That is just statistics.) Prejudiced positions should always be subject to revision upon additional information (recognizing and attempting to compensate for confirmation bias filter).

Secondly, though related to the first, is how based in reality are one's prejudiced positions.

Unfortunately blacks need to be forgiving of not a small amount of prejudice. The legacies of the past lead to correlations that make prejudice against blacks simply rational. That said, no one should not abide by bigotry, where a prejudiced position is held in the face of more information.

In time, hopefully not an exceedingly long time, racial based prejudice will be overcome by more informative measures. A big part of that is destroying the correlations between race and things like poverty and crime, and a second part is more exposure so that people get a better sense of the variance within a racial defined group. (Maybe a third part is people understanding what prejudice is, and for that matter what variance is.)

PS: Biologists (at least evolutionary or population biologists) know that perceived race is an unreliable predictor of pretty much everything except the traits the assessment is made from (skin pigment for example). Assortative mating explains most of it (nothing like those self-sustaining system that exist because they exist.)

Anonymous said...

Another OT post.

Apparently Dr Brin and his mates have been offering Homeland Security their er... advice

God to see David's SEHQ in action.

Anonymous said...

I am 100% sure I'm more classist than racist. That doesn't mean that I don't discriminate -- it's just the people I look at like they have two heads are lowerclass. Not that I mean to. And I do understand that it is harder to tell class in white society than black.

And maybe, once, I had the 'microbigotries' that Dr. Brin talks about... But, you know what? That desire to talk to the person you're sitting next to on the bus seems to have helped. I learned that different perspectives are fun -- and to seek out people more likely to talk to me (generally African American).

And the internet helps -- you don't know how many times I have mistaken someone's gender or race.

Acacia H. said...

I'm not sure if I'm just perceiving this differently or not, but I seem to notice a pattern that has developed over the past half year with the Clinton Campaign. The Clinton Campaign will attack Senator Obama on various semi-personal aspects (such as the latest brouhaha over Obama's patriotism) and once the Obama Campaign retaliates, the Clintons claim Obama is being negative and demand retractions.

I mean, we're seeing attack after attack after attack, and Obama is left unable to effectively defend against these allegations without assertions by the Clinton Campaign that Obama has taken it "negative" (despite the fact they launch the initial volley).

Is it just me? I mean, am I imagining this? Because it just feels so much like my earlier assertions of the "Clinton Attack Machine" are being proven as fact, and I was hoping that Dr. Brin was correct and that I was incorrect about this assessment. Hell, the Clinton camp recently compared Gov. Bill Richardson with Judas for declaring his support for Obama with no damage... and yet when retired General Merrill "Tony" McPeak compared the Clinton attacks against Obama to McCarthyism, there are cries of outrage.

My goddess, you're talking about comparing a decent caring man with the person who sold out Jesus Christ to the Romans (though some mythological aspects to the JC story suggest that it was required of Judas to "betray" JC to make him a martyr, and that he couldn't live with himself afterward despite having achieved what they wanted) as being less offensive than comparing a smear campaign with an out-of-control political witch hunt.

(And yes, I see the irony in a non-Christian finding offense at people taking the Christ mythology in vain. Perhaps it is because this weakens all religious myths as a result.)

Time and time again, Obama and Clinton claim they need to step beyond smear campaigns and negative advertising. Time and time again we see Obama raise valid points and the Clinton camp crying foul and accusing Obama of negative campaigning... and yet they see no problem in attacking Obama and those around him.

What is wrong with this picture? My goddess... is this what it means to be a Democrat? To attack your fellow man and smear his name in the dirt? To denigrate people merely because they oppose you? Why can't Clinton and her crew move beyond this? Hell, has Senator Clinton even once spoken at length about Senator Obama's speech? Has she admitted to listening to it?

When will this insanity end?

Robert A. Howard

Anonymous said...

your frustration with "annonymous" is understandable, but to one extent or another we are all annonymous in this format. Maybe he/she should pick a nom de cursor and take lumps specifically.

But what is being said bears elaboration.

If McCain loses the GOP will get on with the business of cleaning house, a business that has probably been quietly underway since the 06 election. And I will be the first to admit that the house is pretty messy. This would be a reasonably good thing, so long as the Democratic president does not do anything too stupid. And as a conservative I would like to think that the much maligned checks and balances will mitigate some degree of folly.

But. BUT, if the Dems manage to lose this one, I beg of you...on bended knee....ask yourselves why. Just as I have given thought to some ideas posited here, even as I decline to sign on with many, give a moment to ponder the dysfunction of the DFL. I regard it as something other than the Saviors of the West. They are a messy conglomeration of disparate, grasping interest groups with a veneer of idealism that runs, perhaps, a few millimeters deeper than that of the GOP.

If McCain pulls off a win, please look to some DFL housecleaning, rather than rolling out more Diebold-Black Helicopters stuff.


Acacia H. said...

And on a more upbeat, humorous note, Ron Paul supporters seize control of caucuses in Missouri. They seek not to necessarily get Ron Paul elected, but to create a dialogue about his policies and beliefs. You know... I am growing to regret that Ron Paul was ignored for so long... and that his campaign didn't prevail over McCain. A Ron Paul/Barack Obama presidential campaign would have been perhaps the most invigorating and delightful of campaigns we'd ever have seen. Oh well, maybe Ron Paul will get the nomination (somehow) in 2012, and we can see a hopeful Obama/Paul presidential campaign.

Rob H.

Acacia H. said...

And on another note, Professor Douglas W. Kmiec of Pepperdine University endorsed Obama with a rather uplifting commentary as to why he is supporting this Democrat. Kmiec is what Dr. Brin would likely call a "woken ostrich" or however he put it, and served as head of the Office of Legal Counsel (U.S. Assistant Attorney General) for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.

And another nail slams into the coffin....

Rob H.

Acacia H. said...

Here's an interesting little tidbit, and one ignored by the news media for some strange reason: it seems Senator Clinton exaggerated on the story of her trip to Bosnia by claiming she landed there under sniper fire. Fortunately for Senator Clinton, it seems that a combination of Good Friday and distracted voters has kept this from taking center stage, seeing that there are several inaccuracies evident in the situation.

Ironically enough, when comedian Sinbad (who apparently was on the same flight as Senator Clinton and her teenage daughter) spoke out against it, he was dismissed as "just a comedian."

Let's see... when job applicants pad their resumes, it can cost them a job they've secured, and will definitely keep them from gaining jobs they're trying for. Just food for thought here....

Rob H.

David Brin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"Diebold-Black Helicopters stuff."

Note a recent blog entry in Ed Felten's "Freedom to Tinker":

The money quote:

"The machine says the Republican ballot was activated 60 times; but it shows a total of 61 votes cast for Republican candidates. It says the Democratic ballot was activated 362 times; but it shows a total of 361 votes for Democratic candidates. (New Jersey has a closed primary, so voters can cast ballots only in their own registered party.)"

"What’s alarming here is not the size of the discrepancy but its nature. This is a single voting machine, disagreeing with itself about how many Republicans voted on it. Imagine your pocket calculator couldn’t make up its mind whether 1+13+40+3+4 was 60 or 61. You’d be pretty alarmed, and you wouldn’t trust your calculator until you were very sure it was fixed. Or you’d get a new calculator."

And yes, I know that blog entry was written about a Sequoia voting machine, not a Diebold. The point is not the manufacturer, for starters it's whether or not a voting machine correctly records and reports votes. When a voting machine demonstrably incorrectly reports votes it is not something to be dismissed with a "black helicopter" epithet.

Anonymous said...

Where can I find information on serious ideas to stop voter fraud but increase involvement?

I'd like to see the following...
Voting on the Internet*.
*Everyone can use Library Computers if they don't have.

Everyone is issued a Voter ID number. (Similar to the SSN but not the same one.)

All votes are available for everyone to see online but listed with their VoterID.

A mix of Transparency and Privacy.

The best part is you can open voting months before the actual election. Just vote whenever and it will simply count on the day it turns due.

I'd like to hear reason why this wouldn't work well or improvements to it.

Acacia H. said...

As a small aside, I've been watching the television series Babylon 5 lately and have been getting this odd sense of deja vu when thinking of the series when compared to current political events in the U.S.

In some ways it feels like the Obama Democrats are akin to the crew of B5, and that the Clark Presidency embodies the Republicans and some elements of the Clinton Campaign as well.

No doubt this is just a complete geek moment for me. Still, one of the important aspects of science fiction is to take elements of society and showcase them in a different setting so to help get a message across. It's just strange that in many ways, history is either repeating itself or perhaps is echoing a decade-old television series.

Rob H.

Cliff said...

Tacitus2 said:
"But. BUT, if the Dems manage to lose this one, I beg of you...on bended knee....ask yourselves why. Just as I have given thought to some ideas posited here, even as I decline to sign on with many, give a moment to ponder the dysfunction of the DFL. I regard it as something other than the Saviors of the West. They are a messy conglomeration of disparate, grasping interest groups with a veneer of idealism that runs, perhaps, a few millimeters deeper than that of the GOP.

If McCain pulls off a win, please look to some DFL housecleaning, rather than rolling out more Diebold-Black Helicopters stuff."

Why might this happen? I would guess because at least 51% of the voting population doesn't pay enough attention to realize that they're getting screwed and who is doing the screwing (sorry for the rhyme).

And about the grasping interest groups of the Democrats? That's interesting, because I know it's there (the unions! trade protectionists!) but consider how many ties the Bush family has to Saudi Arabia. It's all about oil. Oiloiloiloiloiloil.
Perhaps the largest special interest in America, if not the world.

sociotard said...

anybody want to see some mildly amusing "prediction registry" material?

this is a newsweek article from 1995 saying why the internet will never be all it was hyped up to be. Some stuff is right, others wrong.

Did the LA conference get filmed? it sounded . . . amusing. I'd love to watch it if anybody has a link.

Tony Fisk said...


I had a few musings about on-line voting which I put down in a side blog here

It's languished for a while, but I think you should find some links to like-minded sites there, as well.

Despite the rightly perceived f(l)akiness of Diebold and co., I think on line voting that's as easy to do as writing a blog comment has got a lot of potential to increase participation of a citizenry in the running of their own affairs.

Personally, I would be interested in floating the idea of abolishing election day in favour of an by-election a month or so. (ie one lower house seat is decided every month or so, or at a rate that means that a seat is elected at about the same rate as now) I think it would have it would have some interesting repurcussions.

Anonymous said...

When will this insanity end?

When the political choices stop being Pepsi vs Coke.

The dems are absolute centrists, right now. Europeans say we have “two parties of the right, different only in levels of corruption.”

And there is why Johnny McSame will end up in the White House.

David Brin said...

Urgh... is the rationalizer back?

Dig it, I said "The Europeans think..." That doesn't mean it's true.

But the fact is that it ain't coke vs pepsi. Only dingbat cynics think that. Name for me a way that's true!

Well, I can name plenty - like gerrymandering. And if you are a leftist, then pro-market democrats might look similar to market-raping plutocrat-thief republicans.

But since the dems are anti-secrecy vs gopper secrecy. And pro-science vs gopper hatred of knowledge. And have balanced budgets and presided over prosperity and o and on... the coke/pepsi thing is simply a sign of a mind so wedded to comfy cynicism that it cannot even look at facts.

But the fundamental is this. Whichever side loses the next election will undergo a major re-evaluation and internal upheaval. If it is the GOP, I expect most neocons will be kicked out and the adults will make a stab at reagaining some honor and consistency for conservatism. They may fail, but the attempt will be to MODERATE.

If the dems lose, their America will RADICALIZE. Its patience will be at an end. Culture War, which was one-directional (mostly) for 20 years, will now go both ways. With most of the nation's well-educated and creative and dynamic people standing up and putting on blue.

That's not coke vs pepsi. But that silly crutch metaphor does attest your blindness to the storm that's coming.

Not coke vs pepsi. It was white wine vs moonshine. Now, the juice on both sides is getting a lot harder.

It's Brandy vs meth.

Anonymous said...

Geeze, Uncle Dave, I seem to have caught you in a testy mood.

There's no reason I can see why conservatives/redsters/goppers can't come in various subspecies. Equally so for their counterparts. But here in the sane midwest I do not find republicans to be hateful, nor do I find them to be dumb as Larry the C.G. (note, I have been around here long enough not to take that as personal).

Truth be told, I find that at least in the internet world, where few are at their best, the level of hostile invective is harsher from the progressive/blueman/dem side. Kos?

As is so often the case, we are talking past each other, but it almost seems like you are making my point for me. A GOP loss leads to reform and betterment. A DFL loss leads to....yikes!

And at risk of repeating myself, the educational level of independents probably exceeds the levels of party stalwarts on both sides. So be careful with your implication, heck, assertion, that Dems are just plain smarter than anybody. The current snafu with their nomination process would suggest possible evidence to the contrary.

Respectfully yours.


Anonymous said...

Coke vs Pepsi would be Obama vs Clinton, now McSane would either be Jolt or Red Bull with a dash of vodka for kicks.

But that silly crutch metaphor does attest your blindness to the storm that's coming.

I'll believe in that storm when I see it, people don't go rushing the barricades in the name of centrism.

Tony Fisk said...

Red bull keeps you awake at night, and I thought the process the democrats are currently partaking in is choosing which ass to be handed come the election. (and it's a proportional voting system so, of course, it's closer!)

Now, counter-snarks aside, think Australia: November, 2007. Maybe comparing the US and Australian scene isn't like comparing coke and pepsi, but I think there are some interesting parallels.

1. In 2001, Howard was on the ropes. Beazley was poised to romp it in. Instead two things happened: the Tampa crisis allowed Howard to whip up a frenzy of xenophobia, and the other thing on 9/11. Beazley became a leaden echoer of sentiments of solidarity against the common foe: in effect, Coke vs Pepsi. The incumbent Coke won (as anonymous suggests).

2. Times change. Several years later, after flailing about with disastrous experiment and more of the same, a newcomer takes the Labor helm. Rudd is new, young, fresh, articulate, intelligent (sound familiar?). The opinion polls suddenly veer solidly and unwaveringly towards Labor. Despite the rhetoric, spin, pork barrelling, and any trick you care to mention, the polls barely move in twelve months.

People finally have an alternative to 'the machine' and they're taking it! True, Rudd was and is unknown, and untried. Nevertheless, when the choice is between the old devil we know and the deep blue sea, we jump.

So far, the water seems fine.

David Brin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Brin said...

Frontline is airing Bush's War tonight and tomorrow night, on PBS, 4.5 hours. Looks like it may be worth seeing.

The only real coverage of the war? No thanks to CNN.

Travc said...

If McCain wins, there will be a myriad of proximate causes... The most salient will be that a large number of people will vote for McCain out of ignorance or misinformation.
Read the full report (linked at top of page) and feel even more depressed... the cross-tab correlating 'primary news source' is particularly telling.

Closer to an ultimate cause is this... the GOP is largely an authoritarian party. I humbly suggest a very important online book by Prof Bob Altemeyer summarizing his extensive research on the subject. Really, this is pretty damn important IMO.

Apologies if this info (which is several years old, but no less relevant) has been posted before. It seems to me something Brin would have brought up at the time. Nevertheless, it bears repeating I think.

PS: About online voting... we don't have an online cryptographic system (at least that I know of) which can do the job. Secure, authenticated, auditable, anonymous, and single use (one vote per person) is a hard set to satisfy at once. Physical token based systems are much more straight-forward.

There are many ways of improving participation... a good start would for every citizen in the US be registered to vote at birth/citizenship.

Travc said...

Fixing those two links... IMO, very much well worth the read if they are new to you.

The Separate Realities of Bush and Kerry Supporters

The Authoritarians

Anonymous said...

I would support online voting. All hail President CowboyNeal!

Anonymous said...

The main reason that Europeans think we have two parties of the right with little difference between them (something of a broad generalization) is that most of American politics falls into one of Europe's blind spots. In Germany at least, the mainstream conservative party falls somewhere in the conservative Democrat/liberal Republican matrix, with the next step to the "right" (quotes to acknowledge the faultiness of the concept) being somewhere in total wingnut territory, out beyond Pat Buchanan even. They literally cannot understand the differences, because for them what comes after the mainstream right is whack jobs.

One thing does concern me about how the shake-up in the Republican party could fall out after a McCain loss (as desirable as that is): since he is positioned as not one of the kleptocons, might they not attempt to say, "Look, we won our elections, but this guy failed. We were right and this is why we should lead the party." I'm worried that if McCain gets hammered, they will use that as a means of further entrenching themselves.

Anonymous said...

Give me Centrism or give me death!!!

I regret that I have but one life to give to Centrism.

They literally cannot understand the differences, because for them what comes after the mainstream right is whack jobs.

And what do you think the Republican Party is other than a bunch of whack jobs created, subsidized & manipulated by the oligarchy?

Dr Brin,
I must say that I look forward to that great storm that will tear this country asunder and give Birth to five new nations, the Democratic Republic of Cascadia (Oregon, Wasshington & Possibly B.C.), the Republic of California (with possibly Nevada & Parts of Arizona), The Great Lakes Federation ( Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, the northern half of Illinois, Ohio & Indiana, & the Western parts of Pennsylvania & New York ), and the North Atlantic Federated States (New York, New England, New Jersey, Eastern PA & Delaware), and last but not least the greatest state of them all, the one the only JESUSLAND AKA the United States of America.

So I say bring on that storm, cause I want to see the creation of a new Christian American Theocracy.

Anonymous said...

As a purely intellectual exercise, I also look forward to the creation of a country based on the principles expounded by the Confederate Branch of the Republican Party. If they run thier country the way they run thier states, they'd starve. They need the "Blue States" to subsidize them, and without that subsidy...

Acacia H. said...

Except they'd go to war with their "brethren" to "bring them into the light."

There's actually a scifi webcomic that is telling a story like that, SSDD (though for some unknown reason the artist draws people as anthropomorphic animals). In it, an anarchist nation has sprung up (supported by a rogue AI) and consists of parts of Europe, Great Britain, and the northern part of North America... and Texas went and started taking by force the southern states. Needless to say, the cartoonist (who's British) has a poor opinion of the U.S. government under the Shrub. ;)

Back on the political trail, Clinton Campaign Adviser James Carville is refusing to apologize for comparing New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to Judas. This isn't causing as big an uproar as Obama supporter Gordon Fisher who said Clinton's remarks were "a stain on his legacy much worse, much deeper, than the one on Monica 's blue dress" and Retired General Merrill "Tony" McPeak who said President Clinton's attacks on Senator Obama's patriotism was akin to McCarthyism.

A possible nasty stumble for Senator Clinton is her backpeddling from her claims she landed in Bosnia under sniper fire when video footage shows no such incident. She claims she "misspoke" and is trying to dismiss the whole affair.

Finally, it appears the Obama Campaign is predicting a hard fight for the remaining states. The brouhaha with Reverend Wright has damaged his standing (for now) with Democrats in a number of states, including North Carolina, and Clinton is leaping at the chance to prove Obama is unelectable by winning as many states as possible.

I very much hope the Democratic Party Leaders get together and stop this nonsense now. It's a waste of money and risks damaging Obama and ruining Clinton's goodwill with the voting public as a result.

Robert A. Howard

Acacia H. said...

Two disturbing notes. First, the number of U.S. Air Marshalls has declined significantly, so that only a tiny fraction of flights are in fact protected. Second, though I cannot find the article in question, there was a mayor who was parroting Bill Clinton about how only Senator Clinton had the national security experience... hinting at a possible terrorist action in the future according to intelligence reports.

It seems that Clinton has read your blog, Dr. Brin. Either that... or the Shrub is planning something, and the Clintons have gotten wind of it. The combination of a lack of security on airliners and the Clintons going to ground... strongly suggests we'll have another hijacking in the next couple of months. We can only hope that the people on that flight stand up against the terrorists and drive them off.

Rob H.

sociotard said...

I saw an article in the Washington Post that linked to a Harvard study that showed that there is in fact an increase in insurgent activity following increases in statements critical of the war.

Note that this was never intended to say that we should stifle such statements. Free Speech is just too valuable. Besides, correlation is not equal to causation and so on.

Even so, I thought it was interesting.

Is There an "Emboldenment" Effect? Evidence from the Insurgency in Iraq

by Radha Iyengar and Jonathan Monten, National Bureau of Economic Research

Are insurgents affected by information on US casualty sensitivity? Using data on attacks and variation in access to international news across Iraqi provinces, we identify an "emboldenment" effect by comparing the rate of insurgent attacks in areas with higher and lower access to information about U.S news after public statements critical of the war. We find in periods after a spike in war-critical statements, insurgent
attacks increases by 5-10 percent. The results suggest that insurgent groups respond rationally to expected probability of US withdrawal. As such counterinsurgency should consider deterrence and incapacitation
rather than simply search and destroy missions.

David Brin said...

Hawker, thanks for bringing up Canada. Canda managed to end its own Culture War, in which the Francophones of Quebec kept threatening to seek independence, by the simple measure of cheerfully calling their bluff. An independent Quebec would be economically worse off, isolated... but even more important, it would suddenly face its own secession movement, on the part of the vast Indian reservations to the north. Things calmed down pretty darn quick as more levelheaded Quebequois intervened.

Perhaps the same thing would happen in the US south. If our culture war continues, you can be sure Blue America will start looking to its own self interest, finding ways to demand equal economic benefits and exercising regionalism in purchasing.

Anonymous has prove to be a sillyperson. I’ll not reply any further to a fellow who seems to think that major ructions and civil wars are fun. Go live inside sci fi novels and movies, pampered, spoiled brat.

Acacia H. said...

It is fascinating at times to examine the possibilities of this type of conflict. However, the problem with that type of cerebral exercise is that it fails to consider two things. First, it fails to consider the pure chaos that such a situation would cause... which would result in situations that cannot be thought of ahead of time and thus make the mental exercise one of futility. Second, it ignores the very real loss of life, personal anguish, fear, horror, and so forth.

The South seceding from the Union sounded grand and glorious. The South would live as it should live. But they had to strike at the North to ensure their freedom, which ensured the North would invade, which resulted in massive casualties and a death count that has not been matched by every single conflict the U.S. has been in, combined. And that counts the Revolutionary War.


Back on the political front again, Obama is trying to force the Transparency issue on Clinton by releasing all of his tax information online and urging Clinton to do the same. You have to wonder what the Clintons want to hide that they are refusing to release that information... and why the media is not making a bigger deal of this.

Clinton continues to try and make Reverend Wright an issue by claiming she'd not have had him as her pastor. She also went on to hint at Governor Ed Rendell as a running mate, apparently dropping the idea of a Clinton/Obama ticket. And she also claims she was sleep-deprived and that was why she "misspoke" about being threatened by snipers in Bosnia when in fact she was not.

So, Dr. Brin. Given that some political analysts give Clinton a 5% shot of gaining the Democratic nomination and that to maintain that 5% she has to slash-and-burn her way to the top... do you see the Democratic Leadership stepping in anytime soon and telling Clinton "it's over, we're backing Obama. You can bow out gracefully, or we'll go public and disown you" or something to that effect?

Rob H.

Acacia H. said...

And here's a rather disquieting little commentary suggesting the real reason for Clinton's continued run for the Presidency is to keep control of the Democratic Party. I'm not sure how the heck they get Pat Buchanan in there, but hey, every good conspiracy rant needs to have something off-key, true?

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as a scientist whose colleagues have noted much individual variation in effects caused by sleep deprivation, I am quite interested in what effects sleep deprivation might have on our next president.

This is one of those fitness for command issues. There will come a time when a president is not at his/her best.

Incidentally, there's not much correlation between perceived and measured effects of sleep deprivation.

Acacia H. said...

Should we not, then, elect younger Presidents then? I know when I was younger I could withstand the effects of sleep deprivation far better than I can now... and I'm not even pushing 40 yet. Approaching it carefully with a stick in hand, but not pushing it. ^^;;

"Elect me as President! I work well without sleep! Just look at my grades in grad school..."

David Brin said...

I honestly can't see how top dems can put pressure Hillary very soon. Oh, some like Richardson will try to build momentum in BHO's favor. But remember, HRC is also a member of aprivkly and sensitive caste, whose members will get pissed if they see a buncha males ganging up on her.

Also, doing this pre Pennsylvania will sound like trying to muffle the people.

They'll act in concert if Obama does better than expected in PA.

Xactiphyn said...

I'm a bit late to this conversations but "someone on the internet is wrong" so I need to correct. First, though, I agree Wright is bonkers of for the HIV/AIDs conspiracy stuff. But then David says this:

As for Wright’s incendiary speech, it is simply and stark jibbering insane. At too many levels to even address.

First, he buys into the crappy and slanderous notion that a just God would actually punish an entire nation for a military/strategic decision that MAY have been excessive or criminal or immoral at the time (Hiroshima), but would then delay that punishment for decades and then deliver it in a totally ambiguous manner, two generations later, in such a way that only the prophet (Wright) is able to perceive cause and effect. Oh, and 9/11 was a slap on the wrist, compared to the atom bomb. But never mind.

This is completely false; Wright never made any such claim. If you watch the whole sermon you'll see that "the rosters coming home to roost" had nothing to do with God. Wright was talking about the difference between military targets and civilian targets and how targeting civilians promotes the circle of violence.

The whole point of the sermon, really, was to say we should not attack civilians in response. Quite sane.

Acacia H. said...

Okay. Now this is worrisome. A significant number of Clinton and Obama supporters claim they will vote for McCain over the candidate not of their choice. The larger percentage of this (though how much this is in terms of pure numbers is not mentioned) are Clinton supporters.

This has gone on long enough. My gods... you're talking about a group of people who are willing to stab their own party in the back (in the case of Clinton supporters, long-term supporters at that) out of pettiness and spite.

If Clinton refuses to fully endorse Obama when he wins... then I suspect we'll see two things happen. First, the Democrats will push to get her out of office. Second, she will shift party allegiance to the Republicans.

You have to wonder if McCain might be thinking of a deal with the Devil right now. If Clinton loses the primary, offer her the VP slot. A McCain/Clinton ticket would ensure that no one on the Neocon side tries to kill him, while it would rip apart the Democratic party. Clinton could bide her time waiting for McCain to either die of old age/complications or in eight years run as the Presidential candidate for the Republicans, having bought her position by ripping the heart out of the Democratic party.

Worse case scenario, you know.

I don't think we have the time anymore to wait for Pennsylvania. I think things need to end now. If Pelusi and other female Superdelegates take the lead and start a mass exodus to Obama... and then the male Superdelegates follow... then there wouldn't be cries of sexism involved, except by the most die-hard. And if it is done now, then we'll have months for frayed nerves and feelings of betrayal to mend. If this goes to the very end, then the Democratic party will be fractured, divisive, and unable to join behind the winning candidate... and McCain will win by default.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

David, I don't remember mentioning Canada... it's an interesting point, but not mine.

I spent the ages of 21 to 41 in the U.S. military. I can tell you from experience that 'coming out of a dead sleep and thinking clearly' was easiest around 30: I had learned how to do it, and age had not yet diminished my capabilities. Staying awake and operating under low sleep was easist in the mid 20's.

IRT Senator Clinton and some of her supporters, there is a definite air of "It's her turn, she *deserves* the Presidency" about her. This is the same air I noted in 1993, when certain Republicans I was serving with seemed to believe that Bush (sr) deserved the Presidency in spite of losing the election. This was when I first noticed 'the culture war'. Our esteemed host is correct in this: Senator Clinton can will battles of the Culture War, but Senator Obama can end it.

Acacia H. said...

Race is a factor in Clinton voters primarily among the uneducated. It seems that a number of less-educated white supporters of Clinton are influenced in voting for her because she is white and Obama isn't, according to surveys. I have to wonder at the percentage of Clinton supporters who have stated outright they will not vote for Obama... and wonder how many of those are that ardent about Clinton... and how many are just that ardent because Obama isn't wholly white.

Clinton seems to be building a lot of rural support, while Obama has a lot of support in the cities. I think Obama has to shift his view a little and start hitting those smaller regions as well... to undercut Clinton's support and to help keep this rural group from undercutting him as seems to have happened in Texas and in Ohio.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

Obama's rural support won him Nevada. And Iowa. Hillary's mistake was to only campaign in the cities.

Wherever Obama goes, he is always committed to talking to everyone.

Some people will vote for whomever shows up to listen to 'em. (Appalachia for Jesse Jackson?).

Acacia H. said...

And on another disturbing note, Senator Clinton's recent campaign has been summed up as the Tonya Harding option of breaking Obama, making him unelectable, and thus getting the nomination by default. If this is indeed the case (and I'm not sure if I trust anonymous sources), then we have to ask ourselves: how do we protect Obama from the slings and arrows of a foe determined to remove him at any cost politically?

If this is indeed Clinton's goal, and if this isn't just much ado about nothing by someone in the media... then my suspicion that the Democratic leadership is going to step to the forefront and insist Clinton step down may in fact become reality.


On a side note, the Tuzla, Bosnia story is coming home to roost with sleep-deprived Clinton having said on multiple occasions she was under sniper fire... only for evidence to prove otherwise.

You have to wonder if this is going to hurt her politically, or if she'll manage to brush it under the rug with all her other gaffes. And that is something you have to admire about the Clintons. The only time anything stuck was... well, rather than put it crassly, I'll just say "Monica-Gate" and even that was just pettiness.

Though I think this serial lying about her experience in Bosnia may be a bit harder to get around than a wee bit of adultery in the White House.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Is it time to come up with a backup plan?

Al Gore, anybody?

Tony Fisk said...

William Fallon?

As for notions of Clinton deciding to go Republican rather than endorse Obama, based on local history (check out Cheryl Kernot), I think it would be political suicide.

Travc said...

Gore / HypnoToad ticket for '08!

More seriously, I think a lot of Obama supporters and a few in the media have realized that Clinton is either hoping for a very very low probability outcome, or playing an entirely different (and somewhat scary) game.

I've been trying to figure out what her more plugged in followers are thinking by reading too many blogs (and avoiding work), but the vast majority makes very little sense to me. The troops have apparently drunk deeply of the koolaid, and don't seem capable of asking 'what is the end game' at this point.

That really is the burning question for this primary IMO. What exactly is the Clinton campaign 'theory of victory'?

Anonymous said...

If our culture war continues, you can be sure Blue America will start looking to its own self interest, finding ways to demand equal economic benefits and exercising regionalism in purchasing.

And there begins the route that leads to secession...

Ten years ago, if a secession proposision had been put on the ballot, I would have voted against it, today I would vote for it.

I’ll not reply any further to a fellow who seems to think that major ructions and civil wars are fun.
Not fun, just inevitable... In the last twenty years we have the creation of at least ten new countries, some peacefully, some not. Quebec is still likely to split from Canada despite what you think (CBC- Harper defends Kosovo recognition as unique case, Belgium is in the process of breaking up, and this is not to mention the two new countries that we are in the process of creating in the ME.

Not having any lefty ideology to fall back on people seem to be falling back on ethnicity (Hezbollah is the model, the organization that replaces the failing state), welcome to Jihad vs McWorld.

We seem to be in a period of state disintegration.

Go live inside sci fi novels and movies, pampered, spoiled brat.
As long as they are not wishful fantasy written by hopeless optimists who don't understand why their vision of the world is falling apart around them.


That really is the burning question for this primary IMO. What exactly is the Clinton campaign 'theory of victory'?

That white working class voters will NOT VOTE FOR AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN, therefor the only way for the democrats to win is to nominate her.

Kelsey Gower said...

"Is it time to come up with a backup plan?

Al Gore, anybody?"

As far as I'm concerned, the only backup plan we have is whoever the Democratic candidate picks for Vice President. And barring some unforeseen career-killing revelation, that candidate is going to be Obama.

Wake up for a minute and consider what you just said. Are you seriously suggesting that after an historic primary where record numbers of democrats and independents voted, that we throw all those votes away and nominate someone who didn't even campaign (and happens to be white and male)?

Where's the democracy in that?

Look, I know 2000 stung, but you don't make up for a stolen election by overturning all those primary votes and making Obama and Clinton supporters angry.

Besides, being president would really cut into the time Gore has for saving the world. :)

Tony Fisk said...

Oh, I think we hopeless optimists do understand.

Indeed, if it doesn't strike a little too close to home, a silly person might ponder the Politics of Optimism.

Anonymous said...

Considering that a Democratic Congress was elected in 2006 to stop a war 70% of the American Public doesn't want, and that all that was standing between them and the end of the war was a President who should have been impeached for braking the law, lying the Country into a war we cannot win and using the Constitution to wipe his ass and who has at best a 30% approval rating, there really isn't much room for optimism.

Travc said...

I share some of Sillyperson's outrage/depression over the fact that BushCo has managed to remain in power despite clear grounds (and I think public support given a bit of leadership/prodding) for impeachment.
It is clear that the majority has been cowed by an Authoritarian minority and the people who have exploited it well.

However, I don't see all doom and gloom. Enough people see what is going on that there is still non-radical room for correction. Revolution and/or succession are not in the immediate cards, though they are distant possibilities given the current direction. This is good reason to change direction I would think.

I really don't get the 'working class white voters will not vote for an African-American' thing. Some won't, but many will, as demonstrated by not only this primary but the election of other African-Americans to political office over recent (and in a few cases even not so recent) history. This is pessimism taken to an extreme illogical conclusion. There is a lot of variance amoung 'white working class voters'.

Your statement is both blatantly racist and classist, just in case you didn't notice.

Anonymous said...

If it is possible to "break" Obama, then if Clinton supporters won't, McCain supporters will once he does win the nomination. Obama hasn't faced the Republican hate machine yet; if they could get people to believe that a war hero was a dirty coward, who knows what they could do to Obama?