Saturday, April 26, 2008

The GOP version of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell..." (the truth)

Re-lighting the political lamp...

I plan to cover a lot of bases here, from the state of the military (and why democrats refuse to talk about it) to America's remaining claim to the moral high ground... all the way to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell..."

But first -- I used to be skeptical of those who claimed that Hillary Clinton is deliberately inducing fratricide -- a civil war within the Democratic Party. But one of you wrote in with a theory that seems increasingly plausible. “She knows she can't win the nomination this year, so she intends to make sure no Democrat does, leaving herself one more shot in 2012.”

No, it makes no logical sense. But can anyone now picture her actually kissing and making up, now? Or spending 16 hour days rallying her followers back into the fold for November? Like Achilles, she will sulk in her tent... hoping that, like Achilles, she will be begged to come back and lead the dems to victory.

Oh, but then there is the heel. That famous heel.

No, I prefer hope. So I’ll see the bright side. She really is testing BHO... hard. Maybe the GOP attack machine will look tired and lame. And he’ll look seasoned.

Americans are more dissatisfied with the country’s direction than at any time since the New York Times/CBS News poll began asking about the subject in the early 1990s, according to the latest poll. In the poll, 81 percent of respondents said they believed that “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track,” up from 69 percent a year ago and 35 percent in early 2003.

Hat you have yet to hear is a new refrain... from decent conservatives CALLING for a span of time in the wilderness, to re-evaluate and re invent conservatism. Ideally, a version that does not reject science, professionalism, accountability, reasoned argument, fiscal responsibility and the telling of truths.

Sometimes Honor Is Wrong -- The Problem With John McCain, by Frank Schaeffer (Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of "Crazy for God: How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back" )

Says Schaeffer: The question is this: will America sacrifice herself to vindicate the personal sense of honor of one man? If there were no war, Senator McCain might be a good president. With the Iraq war going on, however, there is an overriding reason to vote against McCain in 2008. I say this as a former McCain supporter. The reason to vote against McCain, paradoxically, is McCain's military experience. I'm not referring to his experience with military affairs, but the personal military experiences that shaped him. (Disclosure: In the 2000 Republican primary season I went on numerous conservative and religious radio talk shows to argue for McCain against the Bush crowd and against the Republican right. McCain returned the favor by writing a great endorsement of my book AWOL-The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes From Military Service, And How It Hurts Our Country. It makes me sad I can't support McCain now.)

The problem is that McCain doesn't see himself as a civilian. He was, is and will always be defined in his own mind by the code of military service. This would be a great quality in a general or perhaps in a peacetime president, but will be disastrous in wartime. There is a reason our founders wanted America's military to have dispassionate civilian leadership. ... Simply put, McCain does not want to be the president that presides over today's Iraqi equivalent of the mass exit from the rooftop of Saigon's American embassy.

Check out this study of attitudes towards cultural and religious homogeneity in various countries:
This quote is particularly interesting: By contrast, the United States appears distinct in its greater tolerance of cultural and religious diversity.With regard to religious homogeneity, the United States and France are more opposed to this ideal than nearly every other country in the sample. With regard to cultural homogeneity, the United States is less supportive than every European country in the sample. It appears that the long history of ethnic and religious diversity in the United States has produced a distinctive, and more favorable, orientation toward cultural heterogeneity. Note, also, that the US absorbs over half of the legal immigrants in the world... and over half of the illegal immigrants. And yet, our anti immigrant movements are relatively mild compare to those in most countries. And, along with Canada, the US remains among the few nations where legal immigrants have a near automatic or easy route to full citizenship in the first generation.

This is a fundamental position from which the US could reclaim the moral high ground, very swiftly, almost the moment our present leadership caste of monstrous (fill in either unfathomable morons or outright traitors) were replaced by intelligent and principled men and women, seriously interested in earning back America’s position of consensual leadership in the world.

More crimes against the military. The Department of Defense reports that sailors and Air Force members are carrying out many different missions in Iraq, from traditional duties in the air and sea to construction jobs, medical operations, civil affairs, custom inspection, security and detention operations. Most are promised non-combative roles in Iraq, but many have found themselves to be in harms way once they arrive. In 2007 the Navy sent roughly 2,200 “individual augmentees”, as the service calls them, to handle combat-related duties with Marine and Army units stationed in Iraq. As of early April, 2008, 92 Navy and 46 Air Force personnel had been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, with those numbers sure to rise as the U.S. troop surge continues into its second year.

And the number of felons they are letting into the army is approaching Blackwater levels. But there’s nooooo problem. Why are the dems complicit, by not making the state of the Army (and reserves) an issue? Clinton left every US Army brigade in a state of combat readiness. Bush is leaving us none. Zero. Use that!

All right... you’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating. Start buying canned goods.Gen. David Petraeus, who has commanded United States troops in Iraq for the past year, will be nominated to head the United States Central Command, which oversees military operations across a wide swath of the Middle East, Africa and Asia, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced on Wednesday. I predicted a year ago... whenever you see the Navy ascendant, have hope. When Administration yes men start filling all the top slots... watch out.

And is it true that the Sierra Club has bitten the bullet and come out in favor of negotiations to carefully allow new fission power plants in the US? Somebody report on this rumor? Stewart Brand is amazing.



Here’s a little puzzler: Guess Who Now Loves “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

If you guessed Conservatives, you’d be right. Yes, the very same policy that was decried as “destructive of armed forces morale and discipline” and a surefire road to ruin... is now the utter-darling of the right, while the left, which once championed the policy, now views it as outdated and ripe for replacement by a ratcheted next-step in tolerance.

Of course, this is not the first time that conservatism has done this, showing a kind of mental agility that is seldom properly credited or (to be frank) emulated on the left. (See above, re the much belated and obstinately too-slow shift of environmentalism toward nuclear power.) Indeed, conservatives often show an agility (plus convenient amnesia) that sometimes seems borderline delusional. Just count the number of GOP politicians over age fifty who have pictures of Martin Luther King on their walls and swear they never opposed him! Or those under fifty who imply that MLK was a closet Republican, all along.

The same legerdemain is being shown now, over the vital issue of global warming, with the same individuals sometimes shifting and dodging several times in one day. First claiming that climate change isn’t happening at all, then (at another venue) avowing that it isn’t caused by humans, then (across town) admitting human causation but (vaguely) calling the economic costs of remediation too high, and finally (when cornered) admitting it’s a crisis, but naming the oil companies as the ones who are truly wise enough to solve it. Or else contending “it’s already too late.” (Doubt this? The administration (and friends) posed ALL of these positions, at various times and places, within the last year alone. And with a straight face, yet.

Did I say conservatives display mental agility? Are they alone in the dance of polemical distraction and rationalization? Certainly the left has its crazies and troglodytes and rationalizers. Only, most of the time their theme is utter and relentless stubbornness, clinging to standard dogmas (like opposing nuclear power) long past their relevance or usefulness. In this respect, they are certainly much less interesting or entertaining!

But back to conservatives, what I find most impressive -- even a little charming -- is their blithe unwillingness to accept that being wrong in the past has any relevance to today. Wrong about civil rights, womens’ rights and preserving the environment. Wrong about isolationism (remember Lindbergh... and then Vandenberg and Taft?) Wrong about de-funding science and wrong to have supported Saddam Hussein for decades. Wrong to have left him in power in 1991. Wrong (if not damned liars) about “weapons of mass destruction” and Iraqi terror links. Wrong about wild CEO bonuses and fantasy financial “instruments” that severed banking from any of its roots in sound lending practices.

And yet, what’s the response? - “All of that is dwelling on the past.”

But oh, shouldn’t it affect your credibility? Even if America does find it necessary to stay in Iraq a while, in order to clean up the mess you neocons made, that doesn’t mean you were right. Ever. What it means is that we need other people, grownups, to take over our tiller of state.

As for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” clearly that policy was an intermediate step in the direction of trust-building. (The sort of intermediate step that Hillary could have tried re health care, back in 1993, simply by insuring all kids first - if she had any sense. Talk about a credibility-demolishing episode!) Many in the military thought that allowing gays to serve quietly would devastate morale, but that precious intangible actually increased, and most servicemen and women learned to accept “discreetly gay” service colleagues with growing enthusiasm. Now, with many of them serving as reliable - even irreplaceable - comrades, the borderline of conservative ideology has shifted from tolerating ANY gays in the military to desperately preserving the present status quo -- seeking to preserve that “discreet” word. While liberals - always pushing the tolerance horizons a bit - consider DADT old-fashioned and inherently bigoted.

To be fair, the DADT debate is not a perfect analog to civilian processes. The military inherently needs top-down control, with very limited look back sousveillance. Their kind of conservatism -- very different than the insane neocons and loony dogmatists -- is the kind we should all respect and listen to, with some humility!

Still, the fact that people relaxed their fears and allowed a steady expansion of tolerance, even in this conservative setting, illustrates some validity to what I have been saying all along, that horizon expansion is a natural process, if it is promoted steadily, naturally, insistently but organically, at a pace that doesn’t freak people out. Moreover, take note. While DADT ostensibly reduced the military’s ability to spy and coerce and peer into service members’ lives... in fact, the effect of DADT was not an overall reduction in transparency! Indeed, it helped to end a potential security-breach methodology and ensure thousands of serving Americans are safe from blackmail.


Anonymous said...

House Majority Whip Clyburn is now doing the "I'm not saying it, but People are saying it on the House Floor" bit in regard to Clinton trying to burn Obama down to give herself a 2012 run.

I've been told by a congressional staffer I trust that Clyburn had a four hour closed-door meeting with Speaker Pelosi and Congresswoman Tubbs-Jones on Wednesday.

Clyburn has repeated this, and done a bit of a media blitz over the last several days.

Tony Fisk said...

What's this? Halving the posts and doubling the blogs? (Mind you, the theme of the second one makes sense)

The RSS feeds are
(as in

Woozle said...

In my paranoid moments (of which there are more and more, lately), I wonder if the reason for Senator Clinton's intransigence with respect to Senator Obama is that she Knows Something, as in something she doesn't feel free to divulge but which would somehow result in great harm if the next president is not aware of it.

The main obstacle I come up against is that I can't picture any scenario in which she wouldn't have felt obligated to confide in Obama... but perhaps he didn't believe her? Perhaps she was afraid to confide in him because he might use it against her? It gets a bit far-fetched... but still, this is where my "agency detector" points when I think of the stark contrast between (a) her current sucking-up to corporations and right-wing ideas, and (b) her husband's very humane and earnest (though flawed) time in office.

I'm still voting for Obama. My paranoid side says that if the election isn't rigged, he will win but somehow be otherwise rendered ineffective. (Have you read about the size of those US bases in Iraq?) And then it will be (past?) time to do something.

(Hey, where did this tin hat come from??)

Contrary Brin RSS feed (at least, that's the one I use). Tony Fisk's URL may work too. (Annoyingly, the feed doesn't show when comments are posted.)

Acacia H. said...

One of the interesting things to examine during this political season is how the various political teams for the candidates perform and react to stress and the like. Team Obama, for example, is remarkably tight-knit and has had no major blowups after any of Obama's defeats, compared to Clinton (and I think McCain) teams who have been shaken, stirred, and pureed to create "just the right fit."

Looking deeper into this, I think there's an amazing quality of the Obama team that has its roots not in politics... but business. This is a corporate team working hard to gain the result needed, rather than a group of political goats that refuse to be herded for long.

Considering that there is minimal chance of Clinton winning the nomination (barring assassination or possible terrorist action), this approach obviously seems to have worked. And it's likely these are the men and women who will gain positions in the Cabinet and the like... so Obama will still have a close-knit team of support to help his presidency stay on track.


Remarkably little has been said about Clinton's ties to the Tan family and Jack Abramoff, who have sought to gain increased power in Guam in the trafficking of people, the use of sweatshops, and more. While the majority of Tan money seems sent to the Republicans, Senator Clinton has received donations from this source as well... and yet no one has called her on it. Or rather, attempts to talk about it have been shut down.

Naturally I'll have to link a webcomic that pokes fun at Clinton's avoiding of anything controversial. Must keep up with tradition, you know.


Elizabeth Edwards spoke some rather harsh words to the Press about their coverage of the Presidential campaigns, commenting on how the Press failed to rise to the challenge and instead has wallowed in trivial idiocy such as bowling scores and gaffes rather than such issues as Joseph Biden's health care plan.

Nor is she alone, to be honest. A lot of people have commented on the failure of the Press... including the Clinton Campaign (until the Press turned on Obama). Of course, the gripe the Clintons had wasn't that the press was focusing on the trivial... but that it wasn't as harsh on Obama as it was on them.


Karl Rove has some decent advice for Obama. One of these is to avoid the negative campaigning, as this is Clinton's specialty. I admit to being bemused by this advice and wonder if it's reverse psychology... or if Rove's hatred of the other side is limited to Clinton and her crew, and thus he sees Obama as the best way to knock Clinton down once and for all.

Rove also stated that Obama was sounding stale and needed to refresh his message, that he should focus on three big issues that he feels strongly for, and that he needs to show passion (which, when you think of it, is part of what sunk Al Gore - many people considered Gore "robotic" when he was running for the Presidency and he only really shed that belief upon losing to the Shrub).


Politico has reported on how it's unlikely we'll ever learn how legitimate Clinton's claims of raising $10 million in 24 hours is. Seeing that donations under $200 are lumped together as "unitemized contributions," we won't learn who donated what and to the general or primary campaigns. Remember, much of Clinton's donations are for the General Election and cannot be used against Obama. Her being "flush with cash" may be a lie meant to force Obama to squander his own finances in a big spending spree now rather than later.


And here's an interested statistic: Clinton is only winning 4% more of the white vote than Obama, when considering how Obama and Clinton do against McCain. So basically, Clinton's claims that Obama is unelectable are distortions and lies to get her in office instead. Though we already knew that. ;)


Two more quick bits. First, there is some interesting politics involved in the caucuses, with Obama supporters deliberately joining the Edwards gang to keep Edwards viable and thus deny Clinton any of his delegates. This is most definitely a chess game... and Obama and his crew are playing the match masterfully.

Second, Predictions of add-on delegates suggest that Obama will gain 15 to Clinton's 9 delegates... and 4 will remain undeclared. Though some of the early predictions were already proven incorrect when the NH delegate went to Clinton (rather than eventually Obama) and the Arizona delegate immediately went for Obama.

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Abramoff - the most astounding thing to me was when he said he was a religious man. Or words to that effect. Oh, I could easily foresee the things his rabbi would have had to say to him! Probably scorched his ears clean off, if he'd been there to listen.

Unknown said...

Obama has the money to spend Hillary into the ground, and then march into the general and do the same thing to McCain.

If Hillary is trying to get him to spend money, then all she's doing is holding her chin out asking him to land a solid blow.

Obama can afford to advertise in nothern IN - Hillary can't. (Chicago media market and all).

Obama's donations are liable to just keep going through to the general, while McCain has tepid support at best, as he doesn't really excite anyone.

Hillary can't possibly spend the kind of money in NC and IN that she did in PA, even with her "ten million" (and how much of that is primary money and not GE money...?), but she has to. If she doesn't, then Obama is going to beat her in a state she CAN win (IN), and completely DESTROY her in a state she can't (NC).

And he has no reason not to spend the money he's getting. It's helping him build an organization for the general, it's getting his name out there (his biggest weakness vs McCain), and if he saved it till the general he'd be UNABLE to spend it all, since the vast majority of his doners haven't given him ANY GE money yet, and are very likely to be able to give similar amounts to what they've given for the primaries when the general does roll around.

In short: Obama is spending Clinton into the ground and should continue to do so. This is a version of the Reaganite strategy vs the USSR, but without the chance of provoking a nuclear missile launch.

David Brin said...

Does anyone here understand Amazon Connect?

I am not a stupid person. I have a degree in engineering and PhD in science. But I have wasted a dozen hours of precious lifespan trying to figure it out. The net result is that I have TWO Amazon connect blogs at
and neither of them is functional.

I cannot even figure out how to log in as the owner and add new entries.

(And yes, I am logged in under my Amazon user ID)

I spent hours registering 226 DUPLICATES of my titles, that Amazon could just as easily have combined, forced my agent to do the same thing "verifying"... and now I cannot even find out WHICH of my two accounts I did that for.

I am used to Microsoft products, buyt this thing makes MS Word look like a sensible piece of software, designed by sane human beings!

What IS it about software designed near Puget Sound?

Anonymous said...

Liberal immigration policies, in both the US and Canada, aren't mere chance. The've been the unspoken secret to our success for almost 500 years. We take the most ambitious - not necessarily the best or the brightest - people from everywhere. Then we demand they suceed or die, with almost no formal assistance from our government in the past, beyond some land grants; we do provide a bit more of a safety net these days. It's akin to natural selection for self-reliant, driven-to-suceed citizens. It's made us so sucessful most of us can't even imagine it should work another way, let alone be resentful of immigrants.

Rob Perkins said...

What IS it about software designed near Puget Sound?

Dunno. You've also complained about iDVD in the past, which is software designed near SanFran Bay. Ever tried to break your soul against the firewall that is Apple Customer Support, for example?

Anonymous said...

About "More Crimes Against the Military," congratulations David on being the first one I've seen bring this up anywhere. As a Naval officer and pilot, I've seen this first hand for about 3 years now. I've had close friends sent to Iraq and embedded in Army units. Some of them are there still. I very narrowly avoided a 15-month tour over there myself. I was not, nor were any of my friends, volunteers. We are all Navy PILOTS, individually being taken out of our OPERATIONAL squadrons and sent to fill Army ground jobs. Can you imagine the inefficiency of that? The government spent millions of dollars and several years training us to fly airplanes, and now they're sending us to do jobs that apparently we can be trained for in 2 weeks (that's how long the training program is, and it's the same one regardless of the specific job assigned). But wait, there's a long-term effect too. Pilots are leaving the military in droves specifically to avoid these tours, forcing the government to train even MORE people to take our places.
Meanwhile, I have to laugh when I read that the Army will expand by 70,000 soldiers. Where do they expect to get these people? They're obviously undermanned if they're taking pilots to serve as ground officers. The military has already relaxed age requirements, requirements for recruits to have high school diplomas, not to have a criminal record, not to have used certain drugs, not to have tatoos above the neck, and more. And they're still not meeting their self-imposed recruiting goals. Believe me, I've seen the result in the Navy and it isn't pretty. We've had more legal and disciplinary problems in the last two years than I saw in the previous ten.
Okay rant's over. Thanks for highlighting this problem David!

Anonymous said...

I believe Hillary isn't out to ruin Obama, but rather simply to win. 2008 ought to be the property of the Democratic Party thanks to eight years of incompetence and arrogant failures. She figures this is the year to win, so whatever it takes.

Anonymous said...

First time poster, longtime reader.

There was talk in this last post about how Clinton is dragging the Democratic party down.

I do not believe this, and I am frankly tired of Sir Changey Hope-A-Lot's and his supporters holier than thou attitudes.

I wish to point out that Obama and his campaign have been ever quick as quicksilver to throw the accomplishments of the Democratic party under the bus for short term political gain.

Paul Krugman recently offered some thoughts on just this topic:

"There are, indeed, towns where the mill closed during the 1980s and nothing has replaced it. But the suggestion that the American heartland suffered equally during the Clinton and Bush years is deeply misleading.

In fact, the Clinton years were very good for working Americans in the Midwest, where real median household income soared before crashing after 2000. (You can see the numbers at my blog,

We can argue about how much credit Bill Clinton deserves for that boom. But if I were a Democratic Party elder, I’d urge Mr. Obama to stop blurring the distinction between Clinton-era prosperity and Bush-era economic distress."

Obama's kamikaze rhetoric is especially harmful because for the people he has yet to win over (white, working class families and women) the Clinton years and the prosperity that went with them are the most recent and greatest accomplishments of the Democratic Party. These are the things they will remember when they go to the polls in November, not LBJ's Great Society, not FDR's New Deal, and not any of the other stuff that the Democratic Party did nearly half a century ago.

Again, Krugman offered a lot of points that I agree with:

"Well, now [Obama] has an overwhelming money advantage and the support of much of the Democratic establishment — yet he still can’t seem to win over large blocs of Democratic voters, especially among the white working class.

As a result, he keeps losing big states. And general election polls suggest that he might well lose to John McCain.

What’s gone wrong?

According to many Obama supporters, it’s all Hillary’s fault. If she hadn’t launched all those vile, negative attacks on their hero — if she had just gone away — his aura would be intact, and his mission of unifying America still on track.

But how negative has the Clinton campaign been, really? Yes, it ran an ad that included Osama bin Laden in a montage of crisis images that also included the Great Depression and Hurricane Katrina. To listen to some pundits, you’d think that ad was practically the same as the famous G.O.P. ad accusing Max Cleland of being weak on national security.

It wasn’t. The attacks from the Clinton campaign have been badminton compared with the hardball Republicans will play this fall. If the relatively mild rough and tumble of the Democratic fight has been enough to knock Mr. Obama off his pedestal, what hope did he ever have of staying on it through the general election?

Let me offer an alternative suggestion: maybe his transformational campaign isn’t winning over working-class voters because transformation isn’t what they’re looking for."

I've been to a couple of Obama support sites on the internet, and his supporters always seem to be subtly (and often not so subtly) implying that white working class voters are not voting for Obama because they are either stupid or racist. Lets just see how many extra votes this approach garners during the genera election.

Obama and his supporters frankly remind me of those liberals in the movie "The Last Supper," who invited people over to dinner and asked them to express their opinions on politics and society and when the guest said something the liberals disagreed with, they slipped poison into their guest's drink.

White working class families are not voting AGAINST Obama because they are stupid and racist. They are voting FOR Hillary because they are rational people who are looking out for their own best interests. They want a return to the prosperity of the 90s. Obama is promising some vague societal transformation. In addition, Obama is pretty much telling them they are crazy or delusional because don't ya' know? There WASN'T widespread peace and prosperity during the 90s! We were living in some sort of giant Mad Max movie during the 90s!

Anonymous said...

You're being terse again.
NYT ("canned food") link isn't; and no link for the fission/Sierra Club/Stewart Brand line?

Google is as always optimistic:
There were no results ... for "sierra club" "fission plant" "Stewart Brand".

Did you mean: "sierra club" "fusion plant" "Stewart Brand"

Sure, I'll take that!

David Brin said...

iDVD is different. Apple realized it didn't work and I hear iLife 08 has fixed all that. Apple products don't follow a GENERAL rule of seeking every possible way to be counter-intuitive and hard to use.

Rob Perkins said...

David, I think it's just an instance of the "good/fast/cheap, pick two" maxim in engineering.

Amazon's developers are certain to be considering so many variables in their human factors design that Kurt Goedel would rise from his grave and lecture about incompleteness.

Apple, on the other hand (and I'm pleased to hear that iDVD is fixed) picks four features and makes a good program. And they're usually badly underdocumented.

But, you did complain about iDVD. It was not designed in the PS area. And I could go on and on about the features in Leopard which are not on the iPhone, such as notes integration...

The basic point is that software is hard! Otherwise, MS and all the other software houses would long ago have shipped its development entirely to China and India, instead of just half of it.

Tony Fisk said...


My wife often moans about online systems that have been designed for eejots to the exclusion of all others!

I can't offer any specific help without knowing where you hit the wall but, after a quick look at Amazon blog, I found the cleanest place to start appeared to be at

Since I had my *customer account* activated, it assumed I wanted to view my (non-existent) blog, and invited me to add a new post.

On attempting to do so, I got sent here:,

where I was invited to sign up to AmazonConnect (it appears you need a blog account in addition to your customer account, *and* you may need to be logged into your customer account to get the blog account)

Not really wanting an additional blog, that's as far as I went

No, it is not intuitive. It is indicative of two separate systems that have been spliced together and are still merging. (I'm currently trying to do this with a few in-house systems at work, as it happens)

@anonymous, is any reason given for this inappropriate embedding of army personnel?

On your dem primaries. It appears that the partisan cries are coming from the supporters more than the candidates. I note Obama, at least, doesn't seem too concerned by the fallout, thinking it will all blow over, regardless of who wins. Naive? Or is it that he does know the difference between badminton and hardball?

I don't get all the subtleties but my feeling is that Clinton is coming out more and more as part of the establishment. The past decade has demonstrated that there needs to be a seachange in how US politics operates. To draw one of those tiresomely cliched analogies with old Rome: Claudius may have been a good administrator compared to his predecessor, but look at what came after him!

Acacia H. said...

What with the out-of-control inflation boom in China, there is one surefire method of "fixing" the economy, stopping the possible recession, and putting a rein on the out-of-control inflation: war. However, war is a very iffy endeavor. The U.S. is the major importer of Chinese goods, so it's pointless to attack the golden goose. Not to mention all those U.S. nukes that the Shrub would use in a second (and no doubt Billary as well).

Russia and India are also out, for different reasons. Russia also has a lot of nukes, and a huge expanse of territory that would be most difficult to hold. India has a population even larger than China, and nukes as well. This limits the potential targets for Chinese aggression.

However, there is one nation which China could easily invade and even claim the moral high ground in doing so: Iran.

Think of it. Iran has a vast amount of oil that China desperately needs and wants. If they seize the oil, then they don't need to buy it and thus their economy is in much better shape. The Chinese can also claim they're attacking because they have learned that Iran is close to developing a nuclear bomb and plans on using it.

There would be an incredible insurgency against China by the Iranian people. Thus China would have to send a lot of troops. It would be a Perpetual War, much like the U.S. and Iraq. This would increase spending on the military, boost their economy, and allow them even to have the moral high ground. What's more, outside of some diplomatic complaints, the U.S. (under the Republicans or Clintons) wouldn't protest an invasion of Iran due to tremendous ill will toward the nation.

Indeed, China even could claim "we're just doing what the U.S. did to Iraq... and stabilizing the region."

We'll start seeing some words from China against Iran's nuclear program soon, but in general terms and not agreeing with the U.S. - and within ten years we'll see a military campaign unleashed against the Iranians.

Rob H.

sociotard said...

Did you see PETA's new prize for test tube meat? One Million to anybody who can make chicken tissue grow without inconveniencing a chicken. Although, the prize is small, the time limit is a paltry four years, and there are several restrictions, all of which tells me they don't plan on paying up. In other words, a publicity stunt.

Their Release:

Or See the NYT article:

Dave Rickey said...

DADT: I was in the USAF when DADT went into place. For the Air Force, it was really a step backwards, where there were quite a few people I served with for whom there was little doubt of their sexuality (they were, to put it in the terms of the time, "Swish"), and a gay bar somewhere nearby every base I was ever on, it opened up a witch hunt atmosphere, where suspected gays were much more agressively monitored.

DADT moved it from the anti-sodomy provisions of the UCMJ (which were pretty much a dead letter even then), into the realm of established policy, to pursue any rumors of homosexuality to find someone, anyone, who had been told, in order to get that person out of the service.

Nuclear Plants: At this point, I think Greenpeace is the only mainstream environmentalist organization that is still publicly against nuclear power. And they're reduced to stunts like demonizing the iPod to maintain any semblence of relevance.

Hillary: Stick a fork in her, she's done. Latest polls are showing a slight Obama lead in IN, NC isn't even close, and the only recent Oregon poll gives Obama a 10 point lead. SD and MT look pretty solid for Obama as well, which means she's down to WV, KY, and PR, none of which are good for her "electibility" narrative.

Fallon/Petreus: Catch 60 Minutes tonight? Besides getting to watch Scalia explain how a cop beating a confession out of someone wasn't unconstitutional because it wasn't punishment, it was interrogation, they had a piece on the Israeli Air Force, with heavy emphasis on their attacks against the Iraq and Syrian nuclear facilities. Falls neatly into my "agitprop" prediction and gives us a clue of how it will be executed; Israel will attack the Iranian facilities and we'll defend them from the counter-attacks. Iran can't hope to get air attacks through the IAF, never mind our air defenses, and for ground attacks they'll have to come through Iraq. This is going to get ugly.

Unknown said...

People talking about problems in Obama's polling vs McCain in the GE are being dishonest - unconciously at best, and willfully at worst.

Yes, Obama has problems in the GE polling vs McCain.
... he still outperforms Hillary, overall, having more safe EVs and FAR more potential pickups.

And McCain got a significant bounce when his party unified behind him, as had virtually every candidate from both parties for quite some time - the only reason to think Obama would NOT get such a bounce is if Clinton would be determined to drag him down and drag things on to the convention so that Obama wouldn't have TIME to run a GE campaign.

Citing GE polls as an advantage for Hillary vs Obama is simply absurd - the polls are better for Obama than for her.

Anonymous said...

I had heard that Navy people were being asked to volunteer to assist the Army. In appropriate specialties (like Gunner's Mates, Master-at-arms, Supply Clerks). But ordering pilots (excuse me, 'Naval Aviators') to act as infantry officers? If they need officers that badly, then take senior to mid-grade Sargents and send them to a 90 day OCS like they did in WW2 and Korea. Don't take aviators and drive them out of the service by making them infantry.

China invading Iran... how is China supposed to get thier army from China to Iran? They don't share a border, and traveling by sea opens them up to 'interference' from not only the U.S. but from India's very large navy. Actually, India would let the Chinese army go to Iran, then cut off thier seaborne supply. India would love to sea a big portion of the Chinese Army in Southwest Asia...

No, if China goes looking for a war, they'll pick one with someone they can reach on foot. North Korea. Vietnam. Mongolia.

Senator Clinton's supporters (I think) are just upset that the planned coronation has hit a snag: Before you can become President, you've got to win the party nomination.

Anonymous said...

Pointing to the Osama ad misses entirely Clintons statements about McCain being a better commander in chief.

Clinton has beaten Obama by 6% among white voters overall. Even in PA, she barely took white males by 10.

State after state, compare gender breakdowns from the 2004 primaries to the 2008 primaries, and you'll find that in the Democratic Primary gender disparity has gone from 6-7 points to 15-20 points. Women are turning out in huge numbers for Hillary, and that's great (seriously- no sarcasm), but there will not be a 60-40 gender split in the General.

The untold story is that white male Democrats are only turning out in twice the numbers they did in 2004, while white women and minorities of both genders are turning out in three times those numbers or more.

For millions of Americans, the Clinton Years didn't get them back to the place they were before Reagan-Bush. That's the simple truth. Millions did see their jobs shipped over seas, millions did make the glorious move from factory foreman to Wal-Mart stocker.

I am a blue-collar white male who has spent years post-clinton travelling the country and talking to other blue-collar white males. Few of them will vote for Clinton.

Obama will lose some of those voters to McCain - Clinton will lose more.

The Clinton argument is that the Primary should be run like their last administration - only large swing states matter. Obviously, Dean wasted a lot of money holding more than four primaries.

PR is going to be the shock of the entire process so far...well, after Wisconsin.

Anonymous said...

HH -

They have been sending a lot of NCO's to OCS...which has started to drain the pool of mid-level NCO's.

Acacia H. said...

Here's an interesting article concerning the Obama memo and how originally it was a leaked comment from the Canadian Embassy that Senator Clinton wasn't serious about nuking NAFTA but was rather just using it to get in good with Ohio and Texas. Canada seems to have gone into overdrive to ensure that Clinton wouldn't be blamed... assuming Clinton would win the Presidency and wanting not to be on her bad side.

It's a rather interesting article, and has some unpleasant implications. Literally, this election would have been over if Clinton had lost Texas and Ohio... and the Canadian government may have meddled in our politics to cover their own gaffe.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Mabuse,

Calling it the white working class is facetious at best. Obama has won most of the states where there is not a minority presence (including Maine, the whitest state in the union).

Obama fails to win Appalachia, and pretty much consistently. He wins the rest of the country, and outperforms Clinton in the Midwest and the Mountain States (making Iowa and Nebraska up for grabs, as well as Colorado).

I've lived all my life in Appalachia, and it's true, a lot of people really aren't interested in high-falutin' talk around here.

That doesn't mean they'll vote for McCain, understand.

But if you understand that farmers in general like Obama (look at his margins in Idaho), and that hardbitten Appalachian folks don't, you're a good deal better towards talking about the situation.

Appalachia sees politicians only when they're looking for votes. They haven't gotten much help since FDR. Distrustful of the government is just hardwon truth.

Anonymous said...

It's not "elitist" to point out that much of Appalachia isn't served by major newspapers, that they are far less "connected" to the internet than most of the rest of the Union - that they are, in fact, still living in the information era in which the Clintons excelled.

Sebelius is virtually a lead-pipe cinch for VP this year, and will deliver women big. That won't be a problem. This is going to be another "NASCAR dads" election in the general.

Travc said...

DADT... yeah, just a way to officially persecute homosexuals at this point. Though I have a potential solution. Put Eddie Izzard on a USO tour:

Seriously though, it was generally a good move IMO. Like most bigotry, the surest way to counter it is familiarity with real people. The 'surprise, I'm gay and have been all along... got a problem with that!' moment is past due.


Primary politics...

Wouldn't it kick ass if Obama took Krugman on as an adviser? Hell, at least the Obama campaign should directly address Krugman's critiques (it is in a news paper after all, just post some letters... maybe we could get a real old-fashioned debate going). Anyway, Krugman's complaints have been the most reality based ones I've seen... though recently he has been buying into the 'big state' BS line.

As for Clinton trying to sabotage the Dems... I don't think so. Though I will once again ask, What is her theory of victory at this point?


There is a reason for the Dem establishment to fear Obama. He is having great success constructing not only his own grassroots machine, but also in rewriting the map.

Over the last few days, Obama's campaign has announced even more in the form of a big 50-state grassroots building GOTV effort.

When Dean floated his ideas of a 50-state and 'western independent' strategies, there was significant pushback from the establishment. Of course, the public complaint was about 'better spending resources', but I think at least some of the resistance comes from simple self-interested power-base protection. Now Obama is essentially announcing the same strategy... At least one super-delegate (Dean) should be swayed.

On that note... the Clinton 'she wins big states' thing is such total BS. In some big states, Clinton does post marginally better numbers vs McCain. In other, Obama does. However, in numerous other states Obama is competitive vs McCain while Clinton is simple not (Obama being withing a few % or actually leading, while Clinton is 15-20% down vs McCain in some cases). Rewriting the political map in a very good way... good for downticket races, good for the future of the party, and really good for the nation as a whole by starting to build a coalition between the more libertarian leaning folks (concentrated in the Western states) and the Democratic party.


Clinton's attack ads... why they are really a problem.

The Clinton ad with Osama bin Laden really isn't bad on the surface. The central message is spot on reality... the next president has a lot of big problems to deal with.

However, this and the 3am ad (much worse IMO) also carry the implicit message that Obama is not up to the challenge. Again, seems fair-game enough (if not exactly nice)... but it most certainly is NOT OK for any Dem... and the reason why is simple.

Fear makes people more likely to vote for the GOP. Authoritarianism pure and simple, and for Clinton to help the GOP in priming the public to vote based on fear is simply unacceptable.

The Dems need to run a primary campaign very differently. I'm not talking all sweetness and kittens, but Dems need to be actually informing voters. Low / dis information voters making decisions based on fear is what got us where we are today.


One last political thing.

The main opponent for the Dems this cycle isn't McCain, the vast right-wing conspiracy, or the GOP... It is the media.

Saint McCain the Maverick narrative is obvious. But there is a more subtle race/gender narrative happening too. Now that Obama has all but won the nomination, there will be much unhelpful 'discussion' of race. CNN has started the rollout blitz for 'Black in America' (featuring lots of Rev Wright and others talking about angry black men)... expect to see much more of this.

Now, talking about race relations isn't bad in and of itself. However, what it is going to end up doing is misinforming those low information voters. Every angry-black man speaking on the news will be putting words into Obama's mouth in the minds of too many people. Unfortunately I have no good ideas what to do about it. Maybe the big grassroots efforts coming out of the Obama camp will help, but I don't see them reaching a sizable fraction of the electorate, while the media does.

Travc said...

Heh... Obama understanding farmers. Good point. I wonder how many farmers (and other rural folk) see all 'arugula' crap and think the reporter is a moron (and Obama is fairly cool).

In case you don't know what I'm talking about. Obama was speaking to arugula farmers and talked about arugula. The media picked up on it and made a big deal about how arugula is some sort of fancy elitist version of lettuce. Newsweek's cover is 'arugula vs beer'.

Travc said...

Quick question about McCain:

Does his military career involve anything other than being a Navy pilot?

No slander intended against military pilots in any service, but that is hardly a position which provides evidence of (or experience in) leadership, strategic thinking, or organizational management.

Cliff said...

"No, if China goes looking for a war, they'll pick one with someone they can reach on foot. North Korea. Vietnam. Mongolia."

Mongolia? What's in Mongolia? More specifically, what's in Mongolia that they can't buy?

My guess is that they would rather attack Khazakstan - a lot of natural resources, and a lot of troublesome Muslims (if I remember right, Muslims in China's far western provinces have caused disturbances. This may no longer be the case).

That is, of course, if they decide that they like the sound of a land war in Asia.

Acacia H. said...

Problem with attacking Khazakstan is the fact that nation has a boatload of nuclear weapons it can use. I suspect it's part of the reason Russia hasn't tried to force it back into the fold.

Again, for all the issues with supply lines and distance, Iran is one of the best places to attack and retain moral high ground while gaining needed resources. Assuming of course that they don't find a region of oil shale in their country and start turning it into oil (and with prices where they currently are, converting oil shale to oil is becoming more and more profitable).

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

Excellent map here, on rural votes (remember, any county/CD map significantly underrepresents urban districts).

(Michigan is screwball on that map -- colorcoded differently than the rest).

Hillary keeps on trying to say that all of her voters will vote McCain. That just isn't true. Cali will stay Democratic. Florida will probably go Republican. But, really, Hillary would have a hard time winning the Midwest (which Obama takes handily, including Michigan).

It's not about that, now. Superdelegates have a duty to their district -- and that means getting themselves reelected (if they believe that they're better for their districts, which isn't too much hubris). And it's easy to see that a lot of difficult races (read in 'red areas') are NOT helped by Clinton on top. Stuff the democratic turnout! It's about the Republican turnout, and nothing motivates Republicans like a Clinton.

Obama will win the general election through superior strategy. His are the tactics of guerilla warfare -- strike anywhere, anytime. (this is what won 2006 congressional). And he motivates the people likely to make a difference -- those 'redstate voters' looking for a reasonable Democrat.

Cliff said...

"Again, for all the issues with supply lines and distance, Iran is one of the best places to attack and retain moral high ground while gaining needed resources."

Well, I might as well continue to engage in baseless speculation.

China has a history of hostility to the US, which we ignore because we want their trade. Keeping that in mind, it would seem to be to their advantage to befriend Iran, to (A) gain access to their resources and (B) take advantage of America's diminished international standing.

I also don't think that the moral high ground is a consideration for China. Or rather, the moral high ground is whatever ground China is currently standing on.

Dave Rickey said...

One of the things that bothers me about this is that we very well may have compelling reasons for war with Iran, but thanks to the Bush administration we could find ourselves lacking either the means or the will to fight it.

This article, along with some speculation about an underground runway (that seems improbable), has a whole laundry list of examples of cooperation between Iran, North Korea, and Syria. Cooperation that has increased dramatically since the Iraq war began because Syria's status as a nominal ally of the US and our resulting military over-extension eliminating a lot of our capability for acting against North Korea.

We've maneuvered ourselves into a very precarious position. My biggest fear over Iraq was always that we were getting into a dangerous distraction that would hamper our ability to deal with real threats. Now even the real threats are only being half-assedly addressed, in ways that seem to have domestic political goals more than real national interest.


Acacia H. said...

Senator Obama has just denounced Reverend Wright. While no doubt Senator Clinton will cry foul because Obama hasn't forsaken his church as well, and the Republicans will continue to try and use Wright as a battering ram against Obama's popularity, I suspect the worse is over.

What more damage can Wright do? Anything he says overtly about Obama at this point becomes sour grapes and anger. No doubt some people will complain because he didn't state "I denounce and renounce him" but his words pretty much did this.

So... any thoughts on this latest bit of political drama?

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think Wright was supposed to go make nicey-nicey and be funny, reasonable, and palatable.

However, someone offered him a book deal.

So, plans adjust. Now, anything Wright says just creates more distance between him and Obama, which is great for Obama.

Anyone want to take my bet that when the details come out on the book deal, the publisher is owned either by NewsCorp or Disney?

Anonymous said...

Frank Schaeffer's comments were interesting, but disappointing, because they have forced him to dismiss what would otherwise be, in his own words, a pretty good president, based *solely* on a closed mind towards Iraq. He's convinced that staying would be catastrophic, and that McCain would stay no matter what, and unwilling to see that both conclusions are potentially wrong.

See, I've got an open mind regarding Iraq. I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that staying in Iraq would be a catastrophe. Neither do I think that withdrawing from Iraq would be a total disaster. Realistically, I think both courses of action would be very bad for us, because quite frankly, Bush stuck us between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

Nor do I think it a foregone conclusion that McCain would stay in Iraq if it became clear that doing so would indeed be catastrophic.

But because there is NO possible way, IMHO, to know which course of action is the more disastrous of the two, I'm inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to the one which gives us the chance to change our minds later, which is to stay. Withdrawing unconditionally, as both Hillary and BHO have repeatedly promised, is a one way street - once we've done it, there's no turning back. But I wouldn't vote against either of them solely due to that opinion.

(There are so many *other* reasons for me to vote against them, who needs Iraq? :P)

Anonymous said...

The rate of discharge for homosexuality increased under DADT and stayed higher than pre-DADT levels until the Iraq debacle began, at which time discharges were all but halted. If DADT is still in place when the troops finally leave Iraq, discharges will begin again, beginning with old cases that were put on hold during the occupation.