Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Speech... and our prospects... from many angles

Well, all right. If it takes a political genius to defeat the politics of manipulation and cynicism in this country, isn’t it nice that America can still produce genius?

As an experienced public speaker, I watched Barack Obama’s acceptance address at many levels. Of course it was inspirational, well-targeted and powerful -- a masterful example of polemical strategy, tactics and manifest sincerity of purpose. I also watched a fellow who was able to both memorize and extemporaneously wing it, as he (to my trained eye) re-adjusted to a few stumbles and even shifted some phrases, in mid-stride. Obama’s speech was not rote-delivered, but steered by a man who was thinking the words while speaking them. That vastly increased the sense of conversation with us, a trait that FDR mastered, Bill Clinton studied, and JFK -- for all his brilliance -- never understood.

It truly was a pivotal moment in American politics. About half of my (minor) reservations about BHO were settled by this speech -- and by the way he handled the entire convention. For example, I counted six times that he referred to science and technology as pressing national needs. Once, my friends, is perfunctory. Twice is policy. Six times is a call to action. That wasn’t for political impact -- (what fraction of the TV audience cared?) -- but an expression of perceived importance.

My remaining quibbles are mere motes that I can wave aside for other times, after the republic is saved and conditions return for normal argument. What matters is that I know this fellow will do the basic things that I want and need, simply by ejecting knaves and traitors and thieves from their grip over our throats and wallets, and allowing civil servants and officers to do the jobs we hired them to do.

That, alone, would expose most of our wounds to cleansing air and light. Even just that would save us. (And why wouldn’t he unleash professionals from the oppression of political hacks? One aspect of Obama that no pundit has mentioned: he has probably the shortest list of political IOUs in the history of the nation. I mean, whom does he owe? However long a list you make, any other pol will have one many dozens of times as long.)

All the rest -- the policy corrections, the return to international sanity and resumed faith in negotiation (international and domestic), a soothing of division and a return to ambition for new endeavors -- all of that is just frosting to me.

Still, the prospect of a genius -- without JFK’s or Clinton’s flaws -- might be an alluring one. If I let myself believe...

By the way, if you missed Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic Convention, here it is. Brilliant, of course. He did at least mention the Republican war against science, something rare for politicians to note or notice. I wish he - or someone - would mention the devastation wrought upon the US Army and military readiness, in general. But it is clear that this fellow knows us, probably better than anybody.


SECRETWARGet your hands on AMERICA'S SECRET WAR, by my friend, international security expert George Friedman. I found much of his book fascinating, cogent and smart. Well, the first half or so. All the way from pre 9/11 to the defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan. You’ll learn a lot!

Unfortunately, George from that point forward weaves some astonishing just-so stories. First, continuing the party line that we are in a life-or-death “war” against Jihadist forces. (In fact, I was the first to predict such a “war” back in 1987 -- though I meant it in subtler ways, dealing with a clash of cultures, and not some 90% mythological Al Qaeda bogeyman)...

...only then George goes on to create a wholly original theory that I had not seen before -- that the Iraq War’s secret rationale -- excusing the deliberate lies about WMDs and such -- was to intimidate the Saudi government, cornering and forcing it to cooperate and provide intelligence to help corner Al Qaeda.

I’ll leave that remarkable theory for folks to pursue in “discussion” below. Just let me say that the book is very worthwhile on two levels. The first half is filled with fascinating facts, woven together well. And... well... the second half merits a Hugo Award.

As for my own explanation of this “war”... that it was perpetrated in order to achieve exactly what HAS been achieved -- the demolition of our alliances, our reputation, our status in the world, our finances, our military readiness and so on... exactly as Vietnam did to us... well...

------ Are we being commanded, from above, to lose this war? -----

The bounty offered by the U.S. government for the capture of Al Qaeda leader Abu Ayyub al Masri:

2006 - $5 million
2007 - $1 million
2008 - $100,000

Add to this the disbanding of entire intelligence units that had been assigned to trace the money flow to terror-related organizations and a seemingly endless list of other odoriferous (smelly) circumstances.

--- Meanwhile, as we sleep.... ---

Scary stuff from the Lifeboat Foundation site. See the 2008 report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States From Electromagnetic Pulese (EMP) Attack (April 2008.) The House Armed Services Committee held hearings July 10th, 2008.

Nice buzzword/terminology : Graceful degradation

Facts and "realistic" assessments mixed in, shared:
1. Estimation of approximately 90% death toll is possible "within parameters"
2. Estimation of a year and a half to order replacement equipment to key systems, from abroad
3. Tested, estimation of 10% of cars to stop working, most (not all) to restart regularly
4. Launch over Caspian sea and tests of Shahab 3 to detonate in orbit show EMP intentions, no others come to mind
5. Explicit Iranian doctrine including EMP
6. It doesn't take advanced or large-yield nuclear weapons
7. China and Russia have been developing such EMP devices, as opposed to their Cold War strategies
8. With a Scud B you could cover one of the coasts
9. Estimated we'd have three days supply of food

"The impact of EMP is asymmetric in relation to potential adversaries who are not as dependent on modern electronics as we are." -- Dr. William R. Graham,

---- And finally ---

An interesting essay on the Chinese rationalization for having the rule of law without democracy.

Oh, the next president will have his hands full, all right. And that is just the beginning.

You heard it here first. Prepare for the rise of ten thousand Timothy McVeighs. Demographically, that’s not very many, actually. We are getting better. But those few... they’ve been dormant... but they will make Al Qaeda look like pissant amateurs....


Anonymous said...

Regarding EMP attacks:

Simply set a simple, ugly policy: if the US suffers a major WMD attack of any kind, we will assume that a short list of nations are involved, and utterly destroy them with our nuclear weapons.

Tell no-one but those nations of the policy, and point out that they can reveal it if they wish - but they'll be telling their enemies how to get the US to do their dirty work for them.

Blindly Applied Retaliatory Strike (BARS) will encourage them to help put the brakes on potential nuclear terrorism. Ideally, like MAD, we'll never have to exercise it.

Travc said...

The EMP thing is quite disturbing, mostly because it is somewhat 'justifiable' (in that it can be sold as justified, not that it would really be moral). An aggressor can argue to its own people and the world at large that an EMP attack is actually more restrained than even 'pinpoint' bombing... (that isn't true of course, but most people don't think too deeply... people not killed by a blast or bullet seem to slip from the mind easily.)

BARS is not easily morally defensible. It probably isn't all that effective either since there would be well founded doubt that a non-totalitarian state would actually follow through with it. The game theory doesn't work nearly as well as with MAD.

Haven't watched BO's speech yet... just some excerpts and reactions. Kerry's speech kick some ass IMO, and most of the others have been pretty good. Now I'm all excited to watch BO mentioning the importance of science!

I've had a modicum of ostrich success with a version of the 'professionals' issue. Basically, it boils down to briefly pointing out how the GOP has screwed up professionals who actually do the jobs of governing... not too hard a sell to make since FEMA provides an glaring example everyone knows about. Then instead of saying anything particularly bad about McCain the person, just point out that he is very unlikely to fire the hacks and party-loyalists and put in competent and honest people. After all, his actual campaign is run by the GOP usual suspects... and these are the people who run the 'transition team' and wind up with a lot of the political appointee jobs.

This argument has the side effect of providing an argument for Obama even if someone has an irrational fear of 'Democrat libruls'. Obama's campaign is incredibly well run and broad based. Bodes very well for a competent government that will actually be responsive to the will of the people. Better to have a government that makes a coherent practical argument even if you disagree with their conclusions... especially since the alternative is increasingly self-contradictory blind ideology mixed with blatant pandering.

Not that this a new or particularly clever argument... just one that (for me at least) a few conservatives actually listened to.

B. Dewhirst said...

One place we'll get 10,000 Tim McVeighs from is the US Military.

They've lowered their screening and retention standards to allow more neonazis into the military, and once in the service it has been shown at least -some- of these guys are actively seeking bomb training. IED service manuals are making their way into the hands of white supremacist groups.

link to the Southern Poverty Law center on this.

They're starting to muster out now, and they're telling their friends what they've learned.

Thus, the war on terror begets domestic terror-- and the FBI is busy staking out vegan potlucks.

In England, I would submit that one consequence of Bill Clinton's triangulation strategy was the (ongoing) fall of the Labor party and the movement of some (explicit) fascists into elected office. It remains to be seen what the long term consequences will be domestically.

B. Dewhirst said...

twinbeam, that would incentivize them to both pre-emptively retaliate if they detect an EMP attack against the US and they consider our threat credible...

sociotard said...

Dr. Brin, with regard to BHO's comments on science and technology, you do recall that part of his plan to fund his 0-5 education proposal was to cut NASA to almost nothing?

Anonymous said...

tracv - Was MAD a moral concept? "If you destroy half of humanity, we'll destroy the other half!"

Much like MAD, BARS just makes explicit what would likely happen in any case, should the US come under terrorist WMD attack. Such an attack isn't going to kill us all - but it will create a near universal killing rage among Americans, leading us to lash out very disproportionately at those we feel are likely behind the attack.

Fear of potential retaliation would not forestall the US response, post-WMD-attack. If you are right about pre-emptive retaliation, at most that might keep BARS from being made explicit - not keep it from being carried out.

Frankly, the target nations have a lot more to gain (avoid losing) than the US, from us making BARS explicit. It gives them the opportunity to behave rationally.

Under an explicitly stated BARS policy, the target nations' most rational counter-policy is to (a) keep WMDs out of terrorist hands; and (b) warn the US of any terrorist WMD plans they learn of, in hopes that the WMD attack will be prevented, or that BARS might be rescinded at the last moment in gratitude for the warning.

If the target nations aren't rational enough to do that, then policy or no, the US is probably doomed to a WMD attack, and they are doomed to destruction. BARS at least gives us both a chance.

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

Quick reaction to the Palin choice.

- the "experience" argument is now null and void.

- hints of a vengeful personality appear very preliminary, so put them on the shelf. But, in her favor, she has exposed some corruption in high GOP places, burnishing the image of reform.

- hence, unless someone has blackmail on her, she would not be ideal to the Criminal Gang that has operated the GOP and the federal government for so many years. This might make them nervous and unpredictable -- but it is also very smart of McCain. For reasons that go far beyond mere ethics, he did not want a VP who was in the gang's pocket.

My estimation of his intelligence just went up a notch.

- Of course, she is also a gesture to the fundies. They will get quite fired up over her.

- It is also a minefield for Biden. When they have the VP debate, he must be courtly and not rude or patronizing.
She will at some point try to claim more of the Catholic vote because he favors abortion rights.

- the female candidacy aspect means one thing -- that Hillary will get a jet. BHO will ask her to stay busy throughout the campaign.

- Palin gave birth last April, to a child with Down Syndrome. Dang, this story has some interesting depth and pathos.

- Husband is a part-Inuit musher. Yipes!
I think the dems can now write off Alaska's three electoral votes... but still hope to get rid of Stevens.

I have never seen a more interesting election.


BARS is crazy and won't happen. By nature, the effects of EMP are short term and a galvanized America could find dozens of better ways to retaliate. But we HAVE been betrayed by leaders who have paid this (and countless other) failure mode no attention.

BTW, why did we encourage Georgia to attack South Ossetia. Can NOBODY put it together?

Anonymous said...

Prepare for the rise of ten thousand Timothy McVeighs?

Anonymous said...

DB: Sure - BARS is nearly as crazy as MAD. We can certainly hope that the policy would never have to be put into effect.

But if you think the US would take a nuclear attack of any kind, and not launch at least 10 nukes for every one that hit us, you are wrong, regardless of how effective or ineffective it might be.

Failure to respond in that fashion would not only go against American character, it'd send the message that our nuclear arsenal is effectively a paper tiger.

An explicit BARS policy is the equivalent of posting a "Treaspassers will be shot" sign - if it's true (and it is, for BARS), you're doing potential trespassers a big favor.

JuhnDonn said...

David Brin said:BTW, why did we encourage Georgia to attack South Ossetia. Can NOBODY put it together?

Um... can someone paint me a picture? I was chalking it up to normal BushCo Foreign Policy Incompetency (BcFPI) but maybe there's some other interpretation?

sociotard said...

I take it the 10,000 McVeighs comment was based on the recent BHO assasination attempt?

Personally, I'm not convinced it was legitimate. They were meth heads, which made them crazy and brag a lot. They were drug dealers, which explains why they had guns. 750 yards (the distance I'm told they were planning to shoot from) is a very long distance.

Even if they hadn't been pulled over, I'm not sure they would have gone through with it, or that they would have succeeded if they'd had gone through with it. It does remind us all that this nasty demographic is still with us, which is scary I'll admit.

As for the U.S. Military breeding the new 10,000 . . . McVeigh enlisted in 1988. Were our standards lax then?

Anonymous said...

Georgia could be a pawn sacrifice in Cheney's chess game with Russia - Europe getting too dependent on Russian oil, so heighten tensions between them.

Or, Russia and South Ossetia may have been planning this - wasn't it lucky for Russia that they had so many troops massed right on the border, ready to counter-invade?

The US may have (accurately) told Georgia that the Russians were planning to create a pretext to invade one way or the other, so Georgia might as well try to cut the tunnel before Russia could use it. But of course, Russia and S.O. were expecting that, and blocked it long enough to get Russia in.

But if the US had really been serious about helping Georgia, we'd have provided some smart bombs or a cruise missile to close the tunnel.

So I'm back to my first theory - pawn sacrifice, dressed up to look as if we were trying to help Georgia.

Of course, I'm sure Dr Brin is going to tell us that the Cheney administration was ordered to trigger a crisis, or the donkey pictures get leaked...

Anonymous said...


Palin wants creationism taught in schools.

She thinks global warming is real and notes that Alaska will be most effected by it. But doesn't think humanity is responsible. (Clearing the way for AK to get massive aid as the permafrost melts, but giving them a free pass to do nothing about CO2.)

Uh . . . no thank you.

Matt DeBlass said...

I mentioned Palin to my vegetarian, Master Gardener co-worker and her first reaction was "the lady who wants to kill off the wolves? She can't be in the White House!"

The consensus in our newsroom is that McCain just put the gun to his head and gave the barrel a spin with that one.

As for Obama's speech, I was at the largest speech-watching party in NJ (the governor called us from Denver to check in, it was a lot of fun) and I have to say, I was really, really impressed.

He isn't perfect, but he seems to be on the right track and, if nothing else, he's raising the competence bar for our leadership.

Travc said...

Twinbeam said:
Was MAD a moral concept? "If you destroy half of humanity, we'll destroy the other half!"

You missed my point. MAD was a game theoretic stability point. There were a number of assumptions/requirements underlying it actually being stable. One is that the retaliatory strike must be assured... which in a republic state means that the public must declare it is morally justified.

You are taking BARS out of the political context. Yeah, if the is an all powerful shadow government that can make it the incontrovertible standing orders, it could make some sense. The Russian doomsday bomb in Dr Strangelove almost made perfect sense too ("damn, we forgot to tell them about it!")

BTW: I actually think von Neumann was much less a warmonger than some of his more bellicose statements imply. After all, part of MAD is convincing the other side you really do *want* to obliterate them.

Anonymous said...


I am with you. I have never seen an election like this. If you had projected these four names as "finalists" a year ago you would have been accused of substance enjoyment.

Palin will come in for some intense grilling in the next week or two.
As is only appropriate.

The times they are indeed a changin'


Anonymous said...

The wolf shooting stuff could make for an interesting attack ad . . . in non-rural states. Show some footage of adult wolves doting on their pups, then the noise of a helicopter and quick shots of bloody corpses on the snow.

Tony Fisk said...

Those waiting for the perfect presidential candidate will be waiting for the last trump as well. Still, Obama appears to be as close as any of late. (Hmmm, not sure about the way I put that!)

Palin is an attempt to woo Hillary's disaffected backers (I don't think they were all closet Republicans trying to get the losing horse nominated.). Interesting choice, however. What will his acceptance speech cover?

Courtly debate involves rapiers.

The US involvement in Georgia's bit of silliness was an exercise in well poisoning. What is interesting is that Putin appears to be doing the same sums as David. He put the US involvement down to a pre-election stunt the other day. He pointedly did *not* name a particular candidate, but the scoffing from the Whitehouse was very swift indeed. Hmmm!
(If that is the case, then 'monster' is too mild a term for the perpetrators, and will backfire spectacularly)

Tell no-one but those nations of the policy
How long do you think that would last?
Would China or Russia be on such a list?

10,000 TVs on the loose, intent on acts of spite should the wrong candidate win. (Actually, I think we heard it first in 'The Postman': Holn & co.) I'd like to think there would be 1,000,000 Alfie Dennens keeping an eye on them, but haven't really thought it through.

David Brin said...

Any of you read SKY HORIZON?

It just won the Hal Clement Award for best SF book for Young Adults, despite appearing only in a special edition of 1000 copies.

Alas, a couple of rough customers expressed downer opinions at:

Any of you care to weigh in?


Travc said...

Re the non-Michael Palin...
I don't think the 'woo Hillary supporters' aspect is too serious. The 'keep the media talking about and too supposed Hillary supporters trashing Obama' aspect is probably more important.

Of course, the choice was based on a constellation of reasons and rationals. One big one IMO is reinforcing (reviving) McCain's "maverick" image. Palin first came to media attention for challenging some of bigwigs of the insanely corrupt Alaska GOP. It isn't too hard to look like a paragon of virtue in comparison with the AK GOP regulars though. And remember anti-corruption is a major Taliban virtue.

She is very much a religious right loony though (of the natalist sub-type). She gives off distinct Monica Goodling vibes IMO... maybe mixed with an ever so slight whiff of Kathrine Harris.

Palin is about as 'pro-life' as one can get without going on murder sprees. She denies that humans are responsible for global climate change. Wants creationism taught in schools. The 'home school' movement loves her (aka, she favors government money for people who want to religiously indoctrinate their kids instead of sending them to school.) She is an 'energy expert' in so much as she has extensive ties to the oil industry. And the list goes on...

She is a bit like a mix of Ted Stevens with Rick Santorum with respect to policy issues.

Interesting choice in so much as it clearly signals McCain is trying to energize the religious base. It really is shaping up to be the faith-based community vs the reality-based community... and weirdly the side using "hope" and "believe" are on the reality side.

PS: On her recently born baby with Downs Syndrome... I suspect you can guess my opinion, but I'll say it anyway. Deciding to have a child later in life is quite risky, mostly to the child. It isn't brave, it is borderline irresponsible. Downs is relatively mild compared with other all to likely outcomes.

It is not a PC position to hold, but I think she is morally detestable for choosing to carry the child to term. That's right, she apparently knew the fetus was trisomy-21 early in the pregnancy. Hopefully the form of Downs Syndrome is relatively mild and there are not other effects or undetected chromosomal mutations.

Unknown said...

Wha--? Whuzzat? Wubba-wubba-wubba?

(shakes head, Barney-Rubble-eyed in disbelief)

Brin's latest post sails right along urbanely until the last paragraph, where all of a sudden we get PREPARE FOR 10,000 TIMOTHY McVEIGHS!


Where'd that come from?

It's like reading a science article in a physics journal and all of a sudden stumbling across the final paragraph, "Prepare for an invasion of demons in UFOS." Whaaaaa...?

Dewhirst nails it. To be sure, this won't be McVeigh levels of urban violence, or anything close. But we are going to see a lot of ex-gang members who got scarfed up by the U.S. military in desperation to fill the Pentagon's recruitment quotas, got a whopping education in IEDs and urban combat in Iraq, and then get mustered out. Said ex-gangbangers will surely put all that practical hands-on knowledge to use when they come back home and go back to dealing dope and find themselves faced with SWAT teams. I've been predicting this for years. Prepare for a whole new level of urban violence targetd against both police/DEA and other drug gangs.

LEOs at all levels seem blithely obvlivious to what's barreling toward them on the highway to hell, as those eminent philosophers AC/DC put it. It's going to be hi-tech IED home-made drone Iraq-style urban violence by the drug gangs in the inner city, no more Saturday Night Special shootings or crappy Mac 10 crossfires. No more "sniper alleys" in urban centers. Instead, we'll now have "IED alleys" where cops are afraid to go. Which of course will lead to calls for the U.S. military to get involved in anti-drug enforcement, and that's the very worst possible domestic policy brainstorm you can imagine.

MAD was just nuts. Plain and simple.

Instead of BARS (Blindly Applied Retaliatory Strikes), we need to up the ante militarily and use Blindly Unleashed Long-range Lateral Strategic High Impact Targeting. Or the acronym, whichever you prefer.

Latest post-BHO speech Gallup poll puts him up 8 points nationally. This probably won't last, but then again, McCain's campaign remains so grossly incompetent, and the Repub convention so sorely beset by a major hurricane (shades of Katrina) that they're thinking of postponing it. Personally, I'd advise 'em to get Brownie to do a "beckuva job" preparing that Repub convention center for the onslaught. Hey, it was a thought...

You can just see it now: McCain on the roof of the convention center waving Palin's bra to circling choppers in fractic hope of rescue... Big-bucks donors paddling away in giant punchbowls while hysterically throwing their suitcases full of bribe cash overboard to avoid sinking... Oh, it's just too perfect. Monty Python couldn't write a skit this good. And now a rumor's surfaced that beauty-contest-winner Palin did some nudes back in the 80s. (Personally, I'm waiting for the VP sex tape.)

Gotta love it. At this rate, someone will rip off Palin's latex face mask during her acceptance speech and she'll be revealed as a reptilian alien.

Or some Ron Paul supporters will sabotage the hypnotic image generators and McCain's true appearance will be revealed. Boy, I could just go on and on like this. For hours. All night, really...

Meanwhile, 8 U.S. citizens were murdered and 5 wounded in drug cartel terror attacks in the border city of Ciudad Juarez this month. We don't need to invade another middle eastern country, the war's coming home, folks, courtesy of the failed state of Mexico.

Brin's comment about BHO's speech assuring him of anything seems bizarre. Pragmatism suggests we should examine the preponderance of available evidence about BHO rather than making our minds up in a snap judgment based on some fluff speech. The available evidence suggests BHO is a data-driven pragmatist. That's all I ask for in a president, along with some common sense and a minimum level of basic competence and knowledge of the world. The drunk-driving C student who currently infests the Oval Office has none of the above. The last 7.5 years have represent Harken Energy writ large.

tacitus2, wish you'd comment more often. We hear plenty from left wing folks on this blog and also from centrists, but not much from sane conservatives. Yours is a perspective sorely needed here.

Travc said...

James Hrynyshyn over at SiceneBlogs has a good short post on Sarah Palin. The closing paragraph is just too excellent not to share.

It's far too soon to tell if Palin will turn out to be a stupid choice. The electoral preferences of the American people are too unpredictable to weigh in at this point. But for those that care about science and the planet's Class M status, she's possibly one of the worst vice-presidential candidates in history.

Travc said...

Zorg, I strongly disagree with you on MAD. It wasn't nice, but it was far from crazy. I think you may be conflating the rhetoric associated with perusing a MAD strategy with the strategy itself and the theory behind it.

It is really important to actually understand MAD theory even if you don't think we should be engaged in it. It defines the conditions necessary for stability (aka not killing everyone). Cold warriors (or neo-cold warriors and neo-cons) who don't actually understand MAD are very very dangerous, even now. If Reagan was prez a decade earlier we would probably all be dead (or never born).

MAD relates intimately with missile defense shit going on now. There was a very good reason (with math backing it up) that developing large scale missile defense systems was forbidden by arms control treaties (we have since dropped out of).

On the organized crime in Mexico thing... US gun runners (and lack of sane gun control laws enabling them) are a huge problem for Mexico. If the power dynamic were reversed, Mexico would have a decent justification to invade the US to stop us supplying the drug cartels and insurgent groups.

Anonymous said...

Simply set a simple, ugly policy: if the US suffers a major WMD attack of any kind, we will assume that a short list of nations are involved, and utterly destroy them with our nuclear weapons.

Given the American record for getting the sources of terrorism right, I guess simply assuming certain countries are involved is probably no more prone to error than relying on your intelligence services.

Unknown said...

It's really important to actually understand that the abysmally deluded fools like John Nash who designed the game theory which underlies MAD were kooks utterly lacking in any contact with the real world.

When the RAND scientists tested Nash's game theories with real people in the real world -- to wit, the secretaries in the building -- the secretaries systematically behaved exactly the opposite of the way Nash's crackpot game theory predicted. The RAND scientists did what theoreticians usually do in these cases, and ignored reality.

Game theory is bullshit designed by cranks. Implementing it with nuclear weapons represents an apex of cretinousness unexampled in the history of human stupidity.

"The experiment has been repeated many times over the years. They've discovered that there are only two groups of people who will consistently behave consistent with game theory and consistently screw the other guy; professional economists and psychopaths."

The entire field of "rational" expectation in psychology and economics has been systematically debunked. You need to get with the times and catch up with developments in economics since the 1950s. The Nobelists Kahneman and Tversky offer a good starting point with their work on human irrationality and the prevalence of cognitive illusions. A massive groundswell movement has turned into a tsunami in economics, overturning this kind of crackpot Nash equilibrium bullshit: non-autistic economics.

Incidentally, I've heretofore refrained from exposing the garbled reasoning and scrambled logic you exhibited in your discusison of intelligence. A word to the wise: my kindness is a non-linear dynamical system with boundary conditions.

Anonymous said...

Palin lost her run for Lt. Governor in 2002. No crusade against corruption in that campaign.

She got herself appointed to the states Energy commision, and spent three years gathering every scrap of dirt she could get on her fellow commision members.

Then she got them all busted, called herself a corruption fighter, and got elected Governor.

Anti-corruption? She re-directed the Bridge to Nowhere Federal dollars into the States general highway fund, and then gave everyone a gas-tax holiday.

Now she says she was "against the bridge to nowhere". Certainly not against taking the funds from the Feds, though.

Brand new four month old baby with Downs, and she bails to spend the next two months campaigning?

Anyone else doubt that kid will be getting breastfed?

Somehow, I contrast that with Biden having to have his arm twisted by Teddy to still take his Senate seat after the car accident...

McCain is the candidate most likely to die in office since 1944. Seventy-two years old, and has had two major battles with cancer.

Who the hell would risk a young-earth creationist a heart-beat from the Presidency with those kind of odds?

Ok. Done with partisan hackery. Carry on.

The US military is a perfect petri dish for McVeighs right now. I'm not making any wild predictions of ten thousand, but since African-American enlistment is in the crapper, standards are down, many guys are being traumatized by multiple life-altering violent experiences, and Storm Front has gone from telling guys not to support the "ZOG Government" to telling them to sign up so they can kill rag-heads...

Dr. Brins concerns on that front are not laughable, however overstated they may be.

Travc said...

Zorg, sorry, you are pretty off base (and apparently clueless) with respect to game theory. I'm not stuck with a '50 understanding of it, and certainly not the cartoonish version you seem to buy into.

I'm not an expert in game theory, but I apparently understand a shitload more than you do. Probably comes from taking classes from and working closely with people who are actual experts. It is also highly related to many aspects of my field of choice (complex adaptive systems).

Game theory (and some economics) moved beyond the 'rational participants' assumption several decades ago. No one with a clue ever though it was 'really' true, merely a very useful simplifying assumption that worked surprisingly often. It should surprise exactly no-one that it routinely failed for small sample sizes and small scales.

BTW: Dismissing the stability conditions from MAD theory out of hand is akin to jumping off a building because Newton wasn't quite right with his gravitation theory. That said, assuming they are sufficient for stability is not something I would advocate.

PS: This really is just a derail, perversely arising from my criticism of BARS (brought up by twinbeam) because it wouldn't work in the real world (at least coming from a non-totalitarian state). We should probably just let it drop.

David McCabe said...

You know, there are few really loud warning signs in this 2000 speech by Bush. It's not that he was saying bad things back then (mostly), but that he's done the opposite of what he said he would.

By the way, it's astonishingly hard to find recordings from the 2000 election; this has impeded my personal reconstructing of recent political history (having just arrived on the scene).

Travc said...

DM, we may well start dating things Pre-Youtube and Post-Youtube ;)

Matt DeBlass said...

I got a Chuckle out of Gail Collins's op-ed on today.
She seems to imply that Mrs. Palin may have been only picked because of
But as for wooing the allegedly vast numbers of disenfranchised Hillary-ites, the punch line is:

Joe Biden may already be practicing his drop-dead line for the vice-presidential debate: “I know Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is a friend of mine, and governor, you’re no Hillary Clinton.”

Rocky Persaud said...

I hear Sarah Palin just won another beauty pageant: she was crowned Miss Culture War.

Anonymous said...

OK, the leadership of our country is a very serious matter. No time for goofin' around. But I must admit, one of the most interesting and amusing things about the Palin thunderbolt is watching the profound cognitive dissonace among the progressive ranks and their media apologists.
"Experience is not paramount"...oh, oh, wait..
"We look more like America today"..processing, processing..
It reminds me of several Star Trek eps where Kirk feeds some logic twister to the Master Landru Computer and watches it seize up and start smoking.

But levity aside. The inital take seems to be that Palin is relativly inexperienced but level headed. If she can't be "Quayled" in the next week she is a serious electoral threat.

One of my major gripes with W is his political ineptitude. He seems clueless as to how one sells an idea to the public, from whom your authority ultimately arises.

McCain seems much smarter. Or his political handlers are if you prefer that.

I had rather resigned myself to a McCain-Mitt ticket going down to a deserved political crushing. My state would not be close, and I could cast my vote for McCain as a mark of respect, not having to worry that it might tip the electoral balance of the World's Superpower.

Guess I will have to think harder.

Maybe its the inherent optimism of conservatives (who after all want to conserve things because they think they are mostly good). But I am feeling better about America's prospects no matter which team prevails. We don't need to conserve the shabbier aspects of our political life. Looks like they are starting to fall away on their own.


Cliff said...

Zorgon said:
Incidentally, I've heretofore refrained from exposing the garbled reasoning and scrambled logic you exhibited in your discusison of intelligence.

I wonder if Zorgon would describe his propensity for turning every blog post into a penis size contest as "rational."

On the Sky Horizon reviews - I haven't read it. But one of the reviewers, Angela Boyter, mentions Heinlein's YA SF books, and I thought I'd second her opinion. That was good stuff. Made me want to hop on a torch-ship to the nearest alien planet.

Anonymous said...

That's brilliant "rocky."

I'll be spreading that around.

Unknown said...

Good news for the rest of the world:

The world isn't America: it's much bigger. And as the United States sinks into a totalitarian police state run by lunatics, the rest of the world is increasingly bypassing America and treating it like a leper. Bad news for America, but good news for the rest of the planet, since it prevents the totalitarian rot from spreading. America is clearly turning into a failed state, and thus needs to be isolated for the good of the rest of the world.

Internet industry executives and government officials have acknowledged that Internet traffic passing through the switching equipment of companies based in the United States has proved a distinct advantage for American intelligence agencies. In December 2005, The New York Times reported that the National Security Agency had established a program with the cooperation of American telecommunications firms that included the interception of foreign Internet communications.
Some Internet technologists and privacy advocates say those actions and other government policies may be hastening the shift in Canadian and European traffic away from the United States.
“Since passage of the Patriot Act, many companies based outside of the United States have been reluctant to store client information in the U.S.,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington. “There is an ongoing concern that U.S. intelligence agencies will gather this information without legal process. There is particular sensitivity about access to financial information as well as communications and Internet traffic that goes through U.S. switches.”


So Brin's vaunted "transparency" AKA turning America into a creepy police state is now hastening America's economic and technological decline. Sounds good. The world needs to make an example of sick degraded countries like ours that abandon a commitment to basic human rights like privacy and the right to walk around without being arrested and handcuffed and choked and beaten and pepper-sprayed for refusing to produce I.D.

With Lt. Watada's Case, GI Resistance Grows
A growing number of Iraq war combat vets are resisting orders, going to gail, or going AWOL -- and they want to talk about why.

Sounds good. The Pentagon money monster has developed such a huge constituency among military contractors and within the U.S. budgetary process that it's probably unstoppable short of outright revolt by the soldiers themselves. Glad to hear it. This insanity will stop will the grunts start refusing orders. Bring it on. We need to shut down the Pentagon pronto, and the more soliders who throw down their weapons and walk away from this madness, the better. Clearly the American people aren't going to stop the insanity, so it's up to the troops.

Military Imperialism As A Means To National Suicide

Since America has now become a far greater threat to the world than the "evildoers" it claims to oppose, America needs to collapse and go away. The American people elected the lunatics currently in power. The American people cheered them along with giant foam hands. The American people need to suffer the consequences of their folly. Obliteration seems just.

French surgeons destroy brain tumour on conscious patient in world first.

The rest of the world is abandoning America as we fall farther and farther behind in every area. Now America has fallen even farther behind in medical technology, and this is wonderful news since it will accelerate the rate at which the rest of the world shuns us.

Massive police raids on suspected protestors in Minneapolis
Protesters here in Minneapolis have been targeted by a series of highly intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets. Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and the Ramsey County sheriff's department handcuffed, photographed and detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a demonstration, charging them with no crime other than "fire code violations," and early this morning, the Sheriff's department sent teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where suspected protesters were staying.

Excellent! America has descended into complete Soviet-style repression. This will greatly accelerate the rate at whic the rest of the world shuns us, and, at the same time, should help wake up the somnabulistic American population about the need to overthrow the lunatics who've turned our country into an Orwellian police state.

People in America are now being arrested and handcuffed for "suspicion of planning to exercise their first amendment rights to peaceably assemble." Marvellous! The last vestiges of legitimacy of American government are slipping away. Soon, one SWAT-geared cop will go too far and shoot some 9-year-old girl holding a U.S. OUT OF IRAQ NOW placard, and it'll be like the final 20 minutes of V FOR VENDETTA. Bring it on!

What A Police State Looks Like
In Denver, we're so afraid of unarmed civilians, we send 2 cops for each protestor.

This is undoubtedly what St Paul will look like next week also. Just imagine the Ron Paul supporters in that little group in the middle:


And the piece de resistance -- this is America today:

PANAMA CITY BEACH - John Paul Kimbro was falsely arrested, then headlocked, slammed into a wall and punched by a Panama City Beach sergeant when he refused to cooperate with officers, Beach police officials said Friday.
An investigation by Beach police, initiated after Kimbro filed a complaint, resulted in the sergeant's resignation, another officer's reprimand and a suspension for the supervising sergeant, according to Beach police officials.
A video of the Aug. 3 incident in the booking room at the Panama City Beach Police Department shows Sgt. Jimmy Warr slamming Kimbro into a wall, putting him in a headlock on the ground and striking him twice. Although he appears not to move, cooperate or fight Warr on the tape, Warr told officers that Kimbro struck him in the groin.
"The tape is certainly disturbing," said Maj. David Humphreys, calling the officers' behavior "unacceptable."
Kimbro, 37, was arrested after failing to produce identification or tell Officer Kenneth Stanley his name, Stanley wrote in an incident report. Stanley found no illegal substances or weapons on Kimbro and did not have legal justification to arrest him, Humphreys said.


Oh, and by the way... What happens if you lose your drivers license and your social security card and your birth certificate?

You become an unperson!

Yes, you are now a stateless person within the U.S. Welcome to the gulag! You can never get a job! You will constantly be arrested for refusal to provide I.D. (because you don't have any can never get any)! You can never enter a government building or get any government service! You no longer exist! And there is no way for you to get an official identity document!


With insanity like this as official policy, America needs to go away. As Mr. Book shouted at the end of Dark City: "Shut it down. Shut it ALL DOWN!"

David McCabe said...

Obama Answers the Science Debate Questions.

Travc said...

I have to vent for a moment.

Oil industry expert != Energy expert

The next time I hear Palin describe as an 'energy expert' I may actually scream in disgust. She served on an oil and gas commission, and her husband works for BP on the North Slope operations. AK has a lot of coal, so she may have a clue there (no evidence of it, but plausible)... but isn't the point just now that "energy" needs to mean more than fossil fuels!

BTW: She doesn't think that humans contribute to global climate change... or at least claims to think that way. Apparently she can lie quite well when oil is involved.

PS: My oldest brother is a evangelical christian (of the natalist sub-type) who works for BP and used to work up on the North Slope. Very weird coincidence. I wonder if he knows Mr Palin. I also wonder if he had an orgasm when he heard the Sarah Palin was McCain's VP pick.

Doug S. said...

About the reducing of resources devoted to tracking terrorism funds:

They've stopped because it doesn't accomplish much. Terrorism of the "car bomb" variety is cheap. Very cheap. Extremely cheap. You can't stop the next Timothy McVeigh by going after terrorist financing. Individual cells can easily finance themselves with their own personal savings. You can probably blow up a building for less than it costs to buy a new car. As a result, people were searching everywhere for terrorist finance networks and coming up with... nothing. You can't fight terrorism by following the money, because there is no money!

On a side note: I'll bet you any amount of money that drug gangs in the U.S. are not going to use Columbia-level violence against law enforcement. Drug smuggling is a business; when the DEA starts putting million-dollar bounties on the heads of the people making the IEDs, their relatives and associates will start turning them in. You can't fight 4GW without a population that will support you, and drug gangs do not have this kind of support in the United States. It's essentially impossible to make a neighborhood in the U.S. scary enough to keep the FBI out. (If you did have open riots, they would send in the National Guard to restore order.) The FBI can bring to bear so much more resources and manpower than any individual drug gang in the US that any gang that tried open urban warfare against police would quickly find itself rendered unprofitable. Remember, you've been predicting this for years now, and it still hasn't happened yet!

sociotard said...

Zorgon, do you have pills you take some days, and other days you forget? Because today sounded like a 'forgot' day.

Anonymous said...

travc - You seem to have missed the part of BARS that says "tell no-one but those nations of the policy" - which necessarily means that only their leadership gets told - NOT the public.

And you also seem to be thinking of this as a policy that would take a political effort to implement, post WMD attack on the US.

Again - BARS just makes explicit (to the targeted leaders) what I believe would actually happen. It's not so much a threat, as a warning - though I have no doubt the leaders of those nations would interpret it as a threat.

3000 deaths on 9/11 and we invaded two nations and re-elected the President who did it. Multiply the deaths 100x to 1000x for a WMD attack, and ask yourself how fair-minded the American public will be. Visualize Nagasaki and Hiroshima and Japanese internment camps as you do that.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to jump into the middle of this, but Brin's final link- about China- grabbed my interest.

Pan Wei pretty much nailed where China is going- Singapore writ large. I'm with Fareed Zakaria on the issue of what's important for a liberal society- strong rule of law and liberal civil society are much, much, much more important than the mass plebiscite. Unfortunately, you can't get that without having leaders who are willing to build it.

Are China's leaders building- and willing to build- those institutions? Are they willing to fight the massive corruption in their system? The answer to the first question seems to be yes; the answer to the second question seems to be no. While they're building a judiciary, and have seriously lightened up on NGOs and the press since the Deng Xiaoping era, they're still no where near where they should be. Another Pan- Phillip Pan- recently released a great book on this subject, titled "Out of Mao's Shadow", which does a good job of presenting this through profiles of different Chinese citizens who are contributing to this process of change- journalists, filmmakers, labor leaders, lawyers, doctors, politicians, and common workers.

I like to cautiously view China as a fat man on a treadmill; a fat man who has lost a fair amount of weight already, but still has a ways to go. He needs pressure to keep going, but too much will drive him off the treadmill and into the nearest Dunkin' Donuts. The last thing China needs is another cultural revolution or autarkic "inward turn".

Nicholas MacDonald (coming soon!)

Anonymous said...

Obama answers the Scientists and Engineers for America questionnaire...

Some very interesting responses in there. Very pro-science.

McCain has not answered yet.

Travc said...

twinbeam, I understand you, I just disagree. I don't think there is sufficient credibility so such a threat/warning given the rather diffuse nature of governmental power in a Republic.

Zorg was correct in a very limited sense... this sort of stuff is far from an exact science. I don't require you to agree with my conclusions. Just providing my best assessment opinion and the rational for it. ;)

Travc said...

Nicholas, China is very interesting. Somewhat oddly (at least from a typical western POV), the actual communists are the strongest force fighting against rampant corruption. Rapid economic liberalization is a heyday for corruption and in the minds of all too many justifies it ('greed is good' and all that BS.) Communism on the other hand is pretty explicit about corruption being morally unacceptable.

Maybe we need to invent a new term. Something like 'cultural communists' for people who don't oppose the free market per-se, but are still very focused on the public good and public ethics.

PS: I know many communist party leaders are very far from being 'cultural communists'. However, I've gotten to know a lot of Chinese nationals well (mostly scientists) who do very much have some of those good (IMO) communist ethics rooted very deeply.

Anonymous said...


Very good point. The "right/left" spectrum doesn't map onto contemporary China at all. The party elders, commonly referred to as "conservatives", are mostly Dengists of one form or another; "liberals" are mostly outsiders and dissenters. The most "liberal" branch of the party is the Guangdong party, which, while being in control of the richest province in China, is also something of a pariah- Mao always disdained the Cantonese, and Chinese from other parts of the country often look at Shenzhen and Guangzhou as crime-ridden hellholes unworthy of emulation (which they're probably at least half-right about). Hardliners tend to be drawn to Beijing and Shanghai; the latter ends up used as a massive Potemkin village "showcase" for the world- consequently, it's a very safe, secure, and enjoyable place to live, if you don't mind having five security guards on every corner.

"Cultural Communists"; interesting idea, but probably a dead letter for a few reasons. Communism is too much of a dead letter here for it to catch on; I have a feeling that social justice movements are much more likely to arise from followers of the wisdom traditions; Buddhism, Taoism, and even Confucianism all have elements in them that can contribute to such an upwelling. I expect a Chinese equivalent of "Liberation Theology" to arise in coming years, stemming from the burgeoning Buddhist and Confucian seminaries that are forming across the country.

Interesting times we live in, no doubt? And I love having a front row seat... ;)

Nicholas MacDonald

Anonymous said...

Somewhat oddly (at least from a typical western POV), the actual communists are the strongest force fighting against rampant corruption.

That may be odd from a typical American view, but it's not that odd to someone from Europe, or even from Canada.

One thing this laowai finds odd about many (most?) Americans is that they take it for granted that a free market and democracy go together, when historically that hasn't been the case.

David Brin said...

Not true at all.

These things reduce to fundamentals. Adam Smith and Locke and etc could see the basic fact of human nature, that humans make alliances and pacts and deals in order to combine influence in order to cheat.

Markets do not do well under conditions of secret cheating. Period.

Now, it turns out that a genius (Lee Quan Yew of Singapore) did show that there is an alternative to open transparency and democracy, as a cheating -reducer. Confucian meritocratic supervision -- by an almost priestlike upper caste -- can do the job too. But it has none of the synergistic feedback loops of an open society, in which light can catch the priests when they go astray.

Well, well. Western open society hasn't done so well, lately. And China seems ascendant. But China is actually astoundlingly inefficient. Lifted by the US consumer, they could afford to simply throw money at projects. We'll see if the Confucian ... I mean Communist ... Party will adapt when they start relying on internal demand, and corruption REALLY starts to hurt.

Travc said...

Re: China, points all well taken and I don't disagree. Our lack of appropriate vocabulary actually shows through pretty strongly... which is illustrative.

I don't think it is quite fair to dismiss communism (and credit Confucianism or other older structures too much) with respect to social justice. There was a very strong social justice ethic attached to the Cultural Revolution. Yeah, I know about the horrors of the Cultural Revolution, but the Terrors (French Revolution) don't mean there was nothing good about classical liberalism.

Several friends of mine who grew up attending Young Pioneers really did get a strong sense of civics and public ethics out of it. Actually, talking with Chinese friends got me really thinking hard about the benefits of bringing back civics and ethics to public education in the US... which I may rant about here someday ;)

Over at Kos there is an interesting point about Palin's church and it's ties to Dominionists. Be afraid, be very afraid...

Anonymous said...

i do not agree .. hehe

Anonymous said...

Just a drive by posting that Obama's staff have answered the Science Debate 2008 questionaire.

-- TWZ

Brian Claymore said...

On Palin, I too am deeply disturbed by her stance on Creationism in public schools as well as her beliefs on climate change. If this indicates her grasp on science, then in the event she would have to serve as president, I fear she will be a major setback for the US and science.

With regards to experience, I feel the conservative commentators are over-hyping her "executive experience". While Obama has a thin resume, he has been proven on the campaign trail and received 18 million votes nationally. Add to this Obama's reception oversees and clear statements on foreign policy versus Palin who hadn't even given the Iraq war serious consideration.

At any rate, I am very encouraged by Obama's response to the Science Debate 2008 questions. He (and his staffers) have shown a great understanding the area and this grasp gives me comfort in the kind of administration Obama would run.

Tony Fisk said...

Yes, the more I read about Palin, the more I see that Huckabee was a moderate. (given his predilection for gender-bending, I can hear some very dark chuckles coming from the direction of Bob Heinlein's grave: 'barascudder' indeed!)

Still, I have yet to hear from the good lady herself, so I will reserve final judgment. In particular, that Kos article linking her to dominionist fruitloops has echoes in Obama's links to a certain preacher prone to black supremacist rants. He handled that little issue with great tact, I think. Let's see how Palin handles the shadows in her past.

Speaking of final judgments, let us also see what transpires from the handling of the Gustav situation.

Anonymous said...

Regards Palin and "creationism" the only actual quote I have seen so far is from 2006, and it was pretty tame stuff. Believe it or not (likely not,I'm ready to take some lumps) there is a thin ledge of safe ground for folks who believe that evolution is real, but does not exclude a creative Deity.
And if Obama's campaign prowess counts as experience what does it say that McCain, who should not have a snowball's chance in hell, has seized the initiative?
I'm trimming my odds to 55:45, still in favor of Obama, but the margain is slim.
Dude catches a cold the night before the debate and he's gone.

Travc said...

The GOP is doing a great job of owning the media just now. The Palin move (which I believe was primarily a media play) was very clever I'll admit.

Though, polls are not going to be reliable predictors... it is still too early, and pollsters don't do a good job gauging the effectiveness (or not) of the 'ground game' strategy Obama is playing very heavily. Still, I'm thinking it is going to be tight, which isn't good.

BTW: Palin's relidiocy is pretty apparent. There may be few damning direct quotes, but there is a mountain of circumstantial evidence and people have just started digging. Palin wasn't a complete surprise unknown to me, since I've heard a bit about her from excited fundies during her run for AK governor (I did mention my brother already)... I'm not one for guilt by association, but there is a reason evangelicals really really like her.

Fundie communication channels are dominated by mailing lists and other 'alternative' sources that typically go under the MSM radar. I'm positive there is a lot more information to be dug up.

PPS: I'm very curious what McCain has agreed to regarding her role as VP. The "what exactly does the VP do" thing is way out of context. She explicity said she wants to make sure the VP is a "fruitful type of position".
If you haven't watched the clip, do so here

Matt DeBlass said...

Right now, it seems, Gustav is the biggest threat/opportunity for the GOP as far as the election goes.

If the Bushies handle it badly (very likely), it could leave a fresh stain on the party that, with the convention this week and the election only a few months off, could prove pretty damning.

On the other hand, even if the administration handles it well, it could be spun with the question of why they didn't care the first time around, and only seem to care about NoLa with the election on the line.

McCain does has a chance to shine here, if he can find a way to be genuinely helpful. Obama has also stepped up, though, first by very pointedly staying out of the way right now, when he would do more harm than good by coming to the area, and then by offering to use his fund-raising network to help out.

McCain and the GOP could possibly reach out the same way, using convention resources (the image of Senior Republicans giving up convention hotel rooms to shelter displaced families, for example, would be great media-fodder).

Of course, the upshot is, even if the politicos end up working so hard for Gustav's inevitable victims just to further their own agenda, it still means that said victims will benefit.

It'll be interesting to see how this turns out (interesting in the "may you live in interesting times" way, most likely).

Tony Fisk said...

It is an interesting opportunity, for... almost anything! Hopefully, a bit of old fashioned administrative competence will get a look in.

Gustav is just making landfall now.

The eye is some way to the west, but NO looks like its copping the brunt of storm and sea as the spiral arm of the storm front comes in from the east. Can't tell what the wind speeds are likely to be.

Cliff said...

travc: I read one blogger who claims that the media's immediate switch to the Palin appointment is actually a victory for Obama.

I know that sounds crazy, but this guy's reasoning is that the media, in abandoning Obama's speech, aren't getting their grubby hands all over it and twisting it to suit their narrative. So the speech remains intact in the minds of the 38 million Americans who saw it.
At the least, I take it as a hopeful sign:

Anonymous said...

"Maybe we need to invent a new term. Something like 'cultural communists' for people who don't oppose the free market per-se, but are still very focused on the public good and public ethics."

We already have a name for that. It's "Canadians". :P

Tony Fisk said...

Sounds like Michael's plea was heeded!

Brian Claymore said...

"And if Obama's campaign prowess counts as experience what does it say that McCain, who should not have a snowball's chance in hell, has seized the initiative?"

I apologize for not making my point more clear. When evaluating the strength of a candidate, we have to make the basis on results.

While Obama's resume is thin, he has demonstrated his abilities during the campaign. Based on these real world results, I would say that he has shown himself to have the judgment and qualifications despite the lack of a resume that matches McCain's; real world results can take the place of a resume in the "is he experienced enough?" argument.

As for McCain, he has a very thick resume evidenced by more than two decades of service as a US Senator. No one doubts his raw qualifications and experience. He has a long record with results that shows the requisite experience.

My main point was the comparison of the political resume experience of Obama versus Palin. Some claim she is just as qualified. Looking at resumes, there are definite similarities. What she has not done is run a national primary campaign against a very tough opponent and shown her mettle. In other words, the resumes are similar, but she lacks the results Obama has.

Travc said...

The assertion that Palin's resume/experience rivals Obama's is a joke. For one (of many) non-equivalencies, Obama taught at the University of Chicago Law School while Palin was going to PTA (and Alaska Independence Party) meetings.

The legislative vs executive distinction has a least a bit of merit, but flipped around IMO. After BushCo, I think an executive with some understanding of and respect for the role of the legislature is a good thing.

Sadly, all this crap about her baby and her daughter being pregnant, while illustrative of the insanity of abstinence-only ignorance, is doing a good job of distracting the media from any actually issues. Maybe that was part of the calculations, but probably just luck.

It is pretty obvious that McCain's campaign didn't vet her in any meaningful sense. The "soulmate" stuff and comparisons to Bush and Putin seem all to appropriate.

Anonymous said...

Stefan, she now has a theme song:

There she is, Miss Culture War
There she is, with partisan zeal
The dreams of a million evangelists
but a puppet for ten thousand thieves
with their hands in the treasury
Oh what she may turn out to be
The queen of secrecy
and no accountability
There she is, Miss Culture War
There she is, Rove's ideal
Serving so many lobbyists
She'll take your city by storm
With her we'll all conform
And there she is
Walking on oil she is
A heartbeat away she is
Miss Culture War

Tony Fisk said...

Off topic, but I lost the link to this fascinating site, and the folk at Worldchanging have just re-posted it.

Gapminder allows you to plot a number of statistics for a country against each other, then see how things vary over time.

(Hmm! Check the trends of life expectancy at birth vs % contraception use.... maybe not so off-topic after all)

Tony Fisk said...

...And, back on topic:

Are shotgun weddings becoming a bit of a theme in redland? Was Palin a last minute choice forced on McCain?

Anonymous said...

Palin's nomination has spawned a slow motion train wreck.

The whole "daughter of a champion of family values & abstinence-only education advocate is pregnant" aspect was just a tasteless appetizer.

Palin supported the Bridge to Nowhere before she opposed it? Palin is associated with a secessionist party? Palin claimed she visited Ireland when in fact her plane landed there to refuel? Mayor Palin asked the town librarian how to go about banning books, and brought in millions in "earmarks" which McCain has sworn to eliminate?

Anonymous said...

To be fair.....

About a week back I speculated that in an actuarial sense Obama and McCain might not be so far apart regards probability of dying in office.

Somebody has actually run the numbers, and it looks like they did a fair job of considering all the factors.

Odds of McCain not completing one term were about 14%. Odds for Obama somewhere around 2%. There were of course many qualifiers, but heck, its all educated guesswork.

So, from time to time I do not mind admitting I was wrong.

Although I suppose 86% odds of living out a term are not bad (I do not think he would seek a second).


David Brin said...

This person is starting to look a lot like Nahemiah Scudder.

Getting a lucrative appointment to the Alaska Oil & Gass Commission makes her an "energy expert"?

My wife answered - "I guess that means that shooting reindeer makes her a biologist."

Opposed to sex education and information about contraceptives for teens... uh...

Somebody tell Michael Moore that his next film has got to be about sex education! Seriously, it is time for the blatant statistical failure of the Red Agenda to be hammered home -- that girls in Blue America have sex later, more carefully, less STDs fewer unwanted pregs and more successful marriages, with less domestic violence or divorce.

It's the film Moore was born to make. But we need it now.

Dang, if this had been a Tuesday morning soap opera episode:

"Sarah, I think your son is actually your grandson!"

"No, he's my son and I can prove it... because my teenage daughter is pregnant and the child is...HIS!"

Dang. But as a writer, I can't help feeling the switcheroos aren't finished yet.

Final thought. Clarence Thomas. Think about it.

David Brin said...

The issue is not "how well did you vett her?" That's a subjective judgement.

The issue is "how should ANYBODY vett for such an important position?"

You cannot simply investigate and ask questions. The only sure approach is to get the person's name out into the open in a big way and draw fire from your opponents.

She should have been on a short-list more than a month ago. Even as a fallback option, in case his favorites flunked out. This week of exposure she's experienced could have happened before his announcement, instead of after. It's Basic Pragmatic Wisdom 101.

This is a case where a penchant for secrecy and mercurial "surprise" shows very bad judgement on the part of John McCain."

Indeed, it is a bad habit we've seen all too often, in the 21st Century.

Anonymous said...

She ran a 527 for Senator Ted Stevens from 2003 to 2005.

Ted Stevens is under investigation for massive corruption, including investigation into his fundraising practices.

Judging from Rasmussen and Gallup daily tracking polls, the gap has widened some five points in Obamas favor since she got the nod...despite the fact that is the Republican Convention week!

I think the combination of the Clintons great speeches last week and McCains nomination of a paint-plastered book banning wolf-slaughtering global-warming denying Dominionist Redneck drill-happy Creationist changed the minds of a bunch of disgruntled Clinton backers who were in the "undecided" or "Voting McCain catagories.

Thank you, Sarah Palin. Thank you for being YOU.

What kind of sick joke is it to name a kid with downs "Trig" anyway?

Anonymous said...

"Odds of McCain not completing one term were about 14%. Odds for Obama somewhere around 2%. There were of course many qualifiers, but heck, its all educated guesswork."

Though, in Obama's case, these leaves out the chance of assassination- which is very, very high. There are tons of angry, well-armed rednecks who aren't going to exactly be thrilled about having a "negro" president, and will make attempts on his life.

It wasn't *that* long ago that the Kennedys were killed, after all- and Reagan only narrowly avoided the same fate. The only reason that Bush hasn't been killed is that the main groups that hate him are civilized, sophisticated, and not very heavily armed- and nobody, even completely out of their right mind, wanted to see the man's VP succeed to the presidency. Obama won't have that luxury. I'd put the odds of him not making it through his first term at far higher than 2%.

Keep in mind that this is the same reason that Colin Powell- a lifetime military man, and not exactly the sort to be put off by such risks- did not run for President in 1996. He was on to something...

Anonymous said...

A few thoughts on Ms Palin.

If you pay attention to such things she is not such an unknown figure. She has been mentioned as a VP candidate for at least six months in several venues I visit.

I have to say, the degree of venom directed at this woman is astounding. Even here, where folks tend to be rational, judgement has been passed on the basis of very little information.

Me, I think I will watch her speak tonight. She may soar or flop. I think the stakes are high and well known to her.

Ask yourselves please, have you prejudged her? I really expect better from most of you.


David Brin said...

Jester, please explain that last one?

I'd remove "drill-happy"... that matter can be argued fairly, as a matter of policy disagreement.

Likewise, shooting wolves, the part that's cowardly & just plain moronic is doing it at zero-risk or discomfort from the air. Even telescopic sights should be banned. It's only a "sport" if there's a slim chance the pack could turn on you.

It's like an abortion foe who's actually adopted a child. That makes em sincere enough to at least look in the eye and give them a few minutes of time.

Tony Fisk said...

t2: I am trying not to prejudge Palin. After all, most of what I have heard to date is hearsay and concerns her relatives, not herself. And, of course, she has yet to speak on her own behalf.

(Nevertheless, I have biases, as we all do, ... and what has oozed up from the Alaskan permafrost so far has done so with little effort)

Anders Brink said...

I am afraid you gentlemen are all terribly mistaken about Sarah Palin.

You may think she's a bad candidate. And I can agree with you. Drilling in the ANWR, relations to the oil industry, pro-life, banning books, creationist. She's bad news.

But all that is beside the point. The point is if the spin machines can make her look good, by making sure none of these things get an airing. After all, the American public can be fooled. If Dubya can be voted into office for two terms, Sarah Palin may be acceptable as VP. It is not impossible. One shouldn't use one's own preferences as a barometer for public sentiment.

But this is a moot discussion anyway. The McCain-Palin ticket is riding on "let keep things as it was". And it does look like the American public wants change. For that, I have hope.

Tony Fisk said...

I am trying not to pre-judge (well, not much), but based on this preview:

"Here's how I look at the choice Americans face in this election.

"In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers. And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change."

First: the phrasing sounds clumsily lifted from Gore's passage: 'strength of our example not example of our strength'

Second: ..some candidates who use change to promote their careers.
Um, Ma'am?

(Who said Obama's inexperience had become a dead issue?)

Brian Claymore said...


I agree that my judgment is based on partial information. However, I feel it fair to point out that with the information I am given, that I am disappointed in her policies regarding science, energy, environment, etc. In addition to, as far as I know, she has not formed a coherent plan with regards to national security and foreign relations. Perhaps this will change with her speech. I will catch it online once it is posted.

With regards to experience, my main disgust comes from the doublethinking apologists like Sean Hannity who one moment complain about Obama's inexperience and in the next breath hail Palin's "eight years of executive experience". The spin machines can craft whatever they want.

However, we will find out soon.

Not that this is too meaningful, but here is a "caught on audio" of two conservative commentators on the Palin pick. Their earlier defense of her compared with these comments add to my disgust of the political commentators -- say what is expedient whether you believe it or not. This is less about Palin and more about those on the political "news" shows.

The clip.

Tony Fisk said...

Romney urges vote for McCain:

"We have a prescription for every American who wants change in Washington - throw out the big government liberals and elect John McCain,"

Ummm, well. It might just be the thrill of the moment, but big government liberals are not currently *in*, Mitt!

As for McCain, after the past week, I am imagining him going around softly humming eerily appropriate words from Pink Floyd's 'Brain Damage':

The lunatic is on the grass
The lunatic is on the grass
Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs
Got to keep the loonies on the path

The lunatic is in the hall
The lunatics are in my hall
The paper holds their folded faces to the floor
And every day the paper boy brings more

And if the dam breaks open many years too soon
And if there is no room upon the hill
And if your head explodes with dark forbodings too
Ill see you on the dark side of the moon

The lunatic is in my head
The lunatic is in my head
You raise the blade, you make the change
You re-arrange me till Im sane
You lock the door
And throw away the key
Theres someone in my head but its not me.

And if the cloud bursts, thunder in your ear
You shout and no one seems to hear
And if the band youre in starts playing different tunes
Ill see you on the dark side of the moon

Anonymous said...

Palin put on quite a show. Not perfect, but very poised, seemed like she was enjoying herself immensely.

I can see why McCain picked her, and it clearly was not a last minute choice. She has been practicing.

I really like Dark Side of the Moon, but a different quote seems appropriate.

There was a minor Steve Martin flic a few years back called Leap of Faith. He played a con man running a tent show revival scam. When a kid came onto the scene who actually appeared able to work miracles the con man confides to a crony (paraphrasing here, its been a while)

"You know what we fear the most? Not the police, they can always be bought off. No, a con man's greatest fear is the Genuine Article'.

By all means lets put both sides to some serious grilling on real issues. You will not find me advocating voting on abiltiy to make a speech alone. But perhaps we can set aside Palin's suitability as a VP candidate. Nobody else in the GOP could have pulled this off.


Travc said...

A reality check, especially for Tacitus and others who want to give Palin a chance to 'speak for herself' and make a judgement off of that...

She is a politician giving a political speech. Even worse, she apparently has no compunction with just lying (like saying she opposed the 'bridge to nowhere'.)

Palin does have a record. She is a 'fiscal conservative' in much the same way Tom Delay is. Probably even worse. Cut taxes (and just give everyone some cash in her case), borrow, and spend. Her 'reformer' cred is also very very thin... to me it looks more like a political opportunist than a concerned whistle-blower.

She did go against the 'old-boys' club, but more because she could install her own club of loyalists in their place. She also has a penchant for removing professionals and replacing them with political friends (sound familiar) which is pretty well documented for her time as Mayor.

As Mayor, she fired several long time city employees who were not "supportive enough" of her. This caused a bit of understandable outrage, and sparked talk of a recall vote. The recall was defused when she agreed to hand over day-to-day business to a new city administrator position (shades of Reagan's second term.) Yeah, this in a city of ~5000 people! That is some inspiring executive experience there.

I've already posted some links, and the primary sources are the papers in AK at this point. I'm sure Zorg and others will provide a link-fest at some point.

Anyway, don't decide if Palin is a good VP choice based on what Palin says about herself (or what McCain or GOP shills say). You shouldn't blindly believe the Dem spin either of course.

David Brin said...

I agree that the biggest issue - and I was waiting for it - was what she would actually say, for herself, in her speech.

Alas, it was absolutely rife with outright lies or deliberately misleadings.

The "good old boys" she fought and ousted were absolutely 100% Republicans (never mentioned) and the reforms replaced their people with hers.

A balanced budget, in Alaska, is simply a matter of fine tuning how much money you send to the citizens in a reverse tax, from oil revenues. It is the easiest governorship in the US.

"The moral swamp of Washington"? She dares to blame the town, and not the party that made it a cesspool?

Opposed the Bridge to Nowhere? Oh... one could go on.

In fact, there are some areas where you wish they'd make americans watch a tutorial show before voting. Obama claims he'll cut taxes, the Republicans say he'd raise them. They are both right, depending on how you look at it and I can explain if you like.

But here's what I find amazing. This is the first political convention I've seen in which nobody has mentioned a single statistic (among the speeches I've seen.)! The closest was Laua Bush (rightfully) bragging that the (bipartisan) African Aids Initiative has helped 50million people over there. Otherwise, no stats at all.

Really? They could find NOTHING to brag about? Not one thing? Nothing at all that's better now than it was 8 years ago?

It was the ghost at the banquet. The dog that didn't bark in the night. Not one pundit will mention it, but it is staggering to me. I thought things were bad, but I always assumed that part of it was my own blinders. I always assume that there must be lots I don't see.

OMG. If we put these people back in charge, we really are over.

Anonymous said...

We are dealing with a charismatic nutjob:

Palin's church talk

"I think God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that," she said.

Oh, and:

"Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God," she exhorted the congregants. "That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan."

Which reminds me of:

"You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the pastor -- and also you in your hearts -- fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. the *whole* of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory--*must* follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.
-- Mark Twain, "The War Prayer"

Tony Fisk said...

Agreed: so far the repubs have been very light on substance, other than how good they are. Well, that is the main point of the event, I suppose. Still, I can't believe they are still dissing Obama's inexperience. (Cluetrain to Huckabee: number of votes doesn't equal experience)

Charismatic nut job? But Stefan, Palin doesn't look a bit like number 6...

Hmm, don't know about that Wasilia pastor of hers, though. (questioning Bush is like questioning your pastor: it doesn't get you anywhere. Except, maybe, hell!)

(O, dem pastors are a worry!)

I have a thought that applies to this guy and the folk who follow. It is prompted by David's angle about counting beasties, and boils down to original sin being, not a failure to obey your Father, but a willingness to cheat and get your knowledge uncritically provided by strange fruit (and pastors) rather than your own efforts ('*How* dost thou know that thou art naked?, I ate summat. Wrong answer, lad!')

That, *and* dobbing in the dau... er, missus!

Anonymous said...

Um, let's get a clue?

How many here really expected Palin - or ANY Republican VP choice - to appeal to them, or even be un-objectionable?

Palin wasn't chosen to appeal to you. She was chosen purely to re-vitalize McCain's chances by getting his base excited. Without doing that, McCain was doomed - frankly because he wasn't hard-line right-wing *enough*.

And so far it looks like it's working pretty well for him.

That said, it's a major HOOT listening to the Republicans accuse Dems of "sexism" - what a wonderful reversal, ironic in so many ways, both that the Republicans are saying it, and that the Democrats deserve the accusation.

And both sides going on about how the other side's candidates lack executive experience - when they're all so inexperienced that Palin actually has the MOST!

Anonymous said...

Before deciding what does or doesn't work, check the tracking polls.

For those who can't recognize a cheek with a tongue in it, I was giving an exaggerated paraphrase of exactly what several disgruntled Hillary voters in my own family have said, an opinion that thousands of similar people have expressed on on-line.

Obama just scooped about half the remaining undecided likely voters. McCain didn't lose much, if anything, but other than the dozen "activists" in PUMA this pick decided the issue for a lot of them.

If you cruise the net, you'll find a heck of a lot of such people with many a blog entry talking about "sexist Obama" going back months...and now talking about what an idiot McCain is for thinking a Right-Wing nut would secure their vote just because she's a woman.

Many of the women who voted for Hillary are not enthused about someone whose main qualification seems to them to be her appearance, and whose positions on the issues scare them.

Pander backlash can be fierce, and the Obama team keeps proving wiser than I thought. Biden didn't hurt him at all, which is the best one can really ask from a VP pick.

Does anyone remember our many conversations on this very board about how "VPs don't win elections, but they sure can lose them"?

Oddly, the same people pinning their hopes on Palin agreed back then, but I won't be so crass as to name names or copy-paste.

The judgement on Palin has already been made by most of those who were considering protest votes for McCain, and it would take a miracle at this point to change their minds.

Many on the far-left who were talking about voting Green or Nader out of anger over Obamas telecomm vote and general perceived move to the Right are now terrified that McCain will croak and they will wind up with a President who makes Bush look like a moderate.

Me, I'm just laughing my ass off at how detached the people who live in a media bubble are from the reality expressed by the polls.

C'mon, does the news ever stress that one team is favored to win by a 33 point spread in the SuperBowl, or do they do everything in their power to try to make it look like a real competition so they can attract viewers?

They're already popping corks over at the Obama campaign....the win can only get more certain if McCain compares him unfavorably to Jesse Jackson.

Dr. Brin, "trig" is generally short for.....

Acacia H. said...

There is an excellent solution to claims that Obama doesn't have executive experience. The current President Bush had six years of executive experience, and look at where this has left the country. What this country needs is not executive experience (of which Senator McCain has none, outside of being a Commanding Officer of a training squadron in the Air Force), but the will and drive to change Washington and reform the government.

Senator Obama can feel free to use that without documentation, if anyone mentions the phrase to him. ^^

Rob H., Tangents Reviews

Anonymous said...


I certainly do not object to a reality check. Look, it was a partisan speech before a partisan crowd. And there were several points in it that I thought were dubious at best.

I can make a convincing case for why Obama would be better for the country at this moment in time. The GOP has run very short on new ideas since St. Ronny's day, and has endured 8 years of incompetent things done in their name. The couuntry could say, probably will say, the other team deserves a shot.

The treatment of Palin by the "progressive" blogosphere and the MSM has been more or less character assasination. In the last few days we have had allegations of fake pregnancy, an affair with one of her husband's friends, intimidation of librarians and, gasp, fishing without a licence. Oh, and leaking amniotic fluid.

In the same time interval the Democratic VP pick, chap named Biden wasn't it?, has had his voluminous public record gone over with not a fine toothed comb, maybe more like a chamois cloth to polish a few spots.

This is not democracy at its finest.

It looks very much as if the Obama/media collective is trying to force Palin out because she could be an effective force. Cheap. And it shows less faith in their strong candidate and stronger ideas than is warranted.

I am ranting a bit here, but I think this is a serious flaw in the political culture at that end of the spectrum.

Remember the days when there was a "vast right wing attack machine"? Is our body politic improved by having a left wing version?

Respectful of you and your opinions,


Boot said...

Hi tacitus2,

I would answer Yes. There are voters who make decisions based on logic and those that make them off of emotion. I think it is more democratic to have competing forces for the emotional vote. I'd personally prefer that we simply evolved and voted for better reasons. I'm not going to hold my breath for that one.

Anonymous said...

Has the "secret muslim" "not really a citizen" "Gay sex for drugs" "Voted for infantacide" "not really black" "not black enough" "Hussien Osama" "Pretty words don't matter" "Charisma = Anti-Christ" "Racist Preacher" "Communist Mother" "His wife hates America" crowd discovered that it's a good idea to throw ones own petards after lighting them, in order to avoid being hoist?


Then let the games continue.

Anonymous said...

Actually, some right of center blogs spend time/space debunking the goofier Obama smears, figuring correctly imho, that they reflect poorly on the conservative worldview and make it all too easy to dismiss it. Instapundit is a good example, although I seem to recall Zorgon having conniptions at the mention of that word.
They also link to left of center folks who debunk McCain/Palin smears, and to be fair there are a few out there.
For a real dose of straight up sludge I wander over to Kos on occasion. Ick. Makes me want to shower.

Acacia H. said...

It is human nature to hate and to divide the world into categories of "Us" and "Them" and in doing so to dehumanize those you are against. The ironic thing is, this is not racism. If you take a racially diverse group and dress half in red shirts and half in blue shirts, people will divide them via shirt color into "us" and "them" even if there are minorities on both sides.

I suspect that Biden has had less "vetting" going on for being Vice President because he was already vetted in his Presidential run. It's old news and thus uninteresting, especially compared to the nice and shiny stories such as Edwards' extramarital affair and the shiny unknown Republican VP candidate.

I also suspect that the Republicans are going to use Palin for all that she's worth. She is going to attack left and right and going to make all sorts of brazen attacks on Obama and Biden, knowing full well that if the Democrats try to attack back, the cry of "sexism" will rear its ugly head and damage the Democrats, while if the Democrats try to be on the defensive, it will ultimate damage them (as it has done so many times in the past).

The truly tragic thing is, Palin has some truly legitimate negatives that could be used to politically destroy her. However, use of these negatives will be considered sexism once again. Thus Palin will be treated in all likelihood in an unfair manner just because of her gender.

Of course, considering the canniness of the Obama campaign, they are likely prepared for this (especially as Palin already gave a taste of what she's going to do during her speech last night) and will just focus all of their attacks on McCain. After all, it doesn't matter what Palin says, if McCain ends up so damaged that he can't win.

Rob H.

Unknown said...

Single biggest story of the week.

Largely unreported, of course.

Travc said...

After watching (as much as I could stand) of the RNC speeches... well, if a political party has to spout such a stream of vitriol, lies, and batshit insane policy positions to get support of their 'base'... Well, that party should not be anywhere close to power.

A question to conservatives who are not actually insane fundies, authoritarians, or kleptocrats. Do you really want to be aligned with these demagogues and loonies?

Doug S. said...

Zorgon: If the only information about this comes from an "anonymous source" then it might very well have been made up by said source.

When there's confirmation, I'll take it more seriously...

Anonymous said...

I found Palin's speech very inspiring.

I was moved to action.

To the tune of $500 for Obama.

Don't screw it up, Barack!

Anonymous said...

Ah, John Stewart!

Daily Show Clip.

That clip should be played, in full, in the green room of every Sunday morning chat show from now until the election, to let the pundits know that they can't get away with any bullshit.

David Brin said...

I have to say that, although I deeply oppose McCain and consider him to be half crazy -- and I think his appointment of Sarah Palin ( a person who thinks half of her fellow citizens are by nature and rightfully damned to hell and who prays daily for the end of the world) was - as decisions go - er, somewhat flawed...

...nevertheless, I liked much of his speech. I say that in full awareness that the faction he espouses is loony, that many in the hall were awful hatemongers, and that his whole "I'm an outsider/rebel" is utter horseshit.

Despite all that, I view him much the way I did Bob Dole -- a moderately (and no more than that) heroic warrior who certainly faced more peril than I ever have or ever will, and who (like Dole) lost partial use of an arm in service to his country, and who (despite many whiffs of cronyism and corruption) also has stood up for some of our better drives and impulses, from time to time.

Had this been a normal election, with America not gasping after 14 years of GOP-led vampirism and 8 years of a rapacious -- well -- rape of the country I love...

Had McCain not saddled his ticket with a person who would welcome the Battle of Armageddon and the extinction into eternal torment of most of the human race and the end of the country she is sworn to protect...

Had McCain not ALSO shown us that he has a Mr. Hyde part of his personality that regularly betrays the principles he (in Dr. Jekyl mode) evoked so well tonight...

...then I might have viewed this as one of those rare elections, like 1996, when I could vote for the one I prefer, without agonizing about the frightful damage done by those on the other side.

Tony Fisk said...

From the summaries I've seen, McCain sounds like he made a decent crack at his speech. (and, yes, I guess Palin made a pretty fair overall impression too, if it weren't for the few unanswered questions about her past... and the somewhat weak and hypocritical snipes at Obama. But hey, this is the introductory bit for the faithful!)

Take home message, whoever gets elected, change is coming to Washington.

Bipartisan politics will be a refreshing change as well (if...)

However, I can't help but point out a small niggle.

Prior to McCain, Pawlenty stressed that "We need a president who has the integrity and courage to make the tough choices so America will be stronger and safer."

And then McCain: he pledged to create new jobs, improve education and to reduce a "dangerous dependence on foreign oil" by producing more energy at home, including by drilling new offshore oil wells.

The really tough decision that needs to be taken is the removal of the word 'foreign'.

Oh yes, and whether or not to answer the science debate questions (I believe McCain has said he would... there's a thought, though, ask the VPs for their views as well! In fact, it will be interesting to see how much these VPs do on the campaign trail)

Actually, at this point I am still willing to see whether Palin can separate herself from the... erm 'interesting' viewpoints of her pastor (Let us be fair. After all, Obama managed it)

Tony Fisk said...

Following on from my comments on McCain ending US dependence on (foreign) oil, I find this an inspirational little tale for a friday afternoon:

Elephant cured of drug addiction

Unknown said...

Frankly, I have to say I'm speechless with astonishment at both David Brin and tacitus2.

Instead of regaling you with what center or left folks thought of Palin's speech (we're all familiar with those reactions by now), here's the reaction from a guy who voted for the current president twice. I wonder if you'd care to comment on this reaction from a fairly hard rightwing pundit:

I had a chance to read Palin’s speech this morning, and I have to say that I found it surprising for even me. As someone who used to travel in Republican circles and gleefully spread the bullshit (you can check the damning archives for your own self) when I thought I was on the “right” side of issues, and who has now come to loathe everything about the modern Republican party, even I was taken aback by the cynicism of the speech. It was cynical on so many levels, and when the cynicism took momentary pauses, bitterness, sarcasm, and condescension took over.

Whether it was the flat out lies about the bridge to nowhere (such contempt for the audience, to brazenly repeat this after days of her actual position on the bridge out there for all to see), or the distortion of Obama’s record (the no major legislation nonsense), or just the nasty lines dismissing community organizers (and yes, they are trying to Ghettoize the term), I can’t help but wonder if this is really the face of the future for the GOP. This is what they want to portray? How could they be so foolish as to confuse contempt for toughness? How could they be so tone deaf as to load up an unknown’s introductory speech with lines that appear to have been stolen from Ann Coulter? This was really the best way to introduce Sarah Palin to the country? Through this churlish stemwinder? Do they really think that what middle America really wants is a schoolyard bully in a skirt? And why did they downplay her ultra-right Christian conservative “values?” Why was that not in the speech more prominently?

I suppose it will thrill the dead-enders in the blogosphere and shore up the base, but I simply can not see how it is going to play well to the independents and undecideds. America learned not one thing about Sarah Palin last night other than that she is a willing foot soldier for more of the same. There was no way forward. There was no sense of understanding of the challenges. There were no solutions. There was only divisiveness, nastiness, and sneering, which somehow is acceptable because it was delivered by someone in a dress (“See how tough she is!” they will all exclaim). Thank goodness the McCain campaign chose this path, because Palin could have been an effective weapon with the right message. Now, with their own words that they wrote for her, they have turned her into more of the same. While I am disgusted with them, I am also relieved that this is the path they have chosen. This will be rejected by the American public.

Again, I ask, this is the face of the GOP future? Thank goodness I got out when I did. The only thing missing from last night was a mention of the nattering nabobs of negativism. We have been down this road before as a country. It is a dead end.


Also -- what do you think of these two analyses of the Republican convention?
Link 1
Link 2

Dr. Brin's reaction to McCain proves even more startling. He avows: I view [John McCain] much the way I did Bob Dole -- a moderately (and no more than that) heroic warrior who certainly faced more peril than I ever have or ever will, and who (like Dole) lost partial use of an arm in service to his country, and who (despite many whiffs of cronyism and corruption) also has stood up for some of our better drives and impulses, from time to time.

A survey of recent history shows that we recently found ourselves faced with another Repub who presented himself as a moderate. The former governor of Texas presented himself in the 2000 campaign as "a uniter, not a divider" who claimed "I believe in compassionate conservatism" and urged voters "Don't be afraid to talk to those open-minded Democrats about a better day tomorrow. They don't want a huge federal government in their lives. They understand freedom. Don't be afraid to take our message to independents. There's unfinished business in our nation's capital. (..) One of the reasons I've come is to ask you to tell your independents and Democrats to be open-minded." During his inaugural address he called for "unity and civility". We have seen the open-mindedness and unity and civility put into practice over the last 8 years by the inhabitants of the current White House and we have had a chance to study in detail the amazing contrast between what the current denizen of the White House purported to believe in the 2000 presidential campaign and what he actually did.

Therefore, common sense suggests that we should pay less attention to how the presidential candidates speak and more attention to how they act. When we discount what McCain says and instead observe what McCain does, what do we discern?

[1] John McCain has surrounded himself with the exact same political advisors, including Karl Rove, who brought us the political strategies and national policies of the last 8 years;

[2] John McCain has hired the GOP operative responsible for smearing him during the 2000 campaign;

[3] McCain's economic policy boils down to massive tax cuts for the wealthy and increased spending on the Pentagon, a policy which may sound vaguely familiar;

[4] McCain advocates bombing Iran and says that keeping American troops in Iraq for a 100 years "would be fine with me", a claim he has consistently defended and repeatedly supported.

Good gawd almighty, what sense does this guy's actions (as opposed to his empty rhetoric) show him to "[stand] up for our better impulses"?

Here's one last question for tacitus2, and I'm genuinely interested in the answer. This is not an effort to put you on the spot, or push some politcal agenda. McCain's economic and foreign policies sound like continuations of the same policies we've had over the last 8 years. As for McCain's domestic policies, it sounds from his speeches as though he's more moderate than the current inhabitants of the White House...but of course the people currently in the White House sounded even more moderate than McCain does now when they were running for the presidency in 2000. What we do know about the current denizens of the White House is that they are writing the speeches that are being given by Palin et al. at the RNC and we also know that the main political advisor of the current White House, Karl Rove, is now working for McCain as a political advisor.

So here's my question: you said, tacitus2, that "whichever one becomes president will most likely do a good job," or words to that effect. I'm genuinely curious -- do you think the last 8 years have been good for America? Do you like the current state of culture war in American society, our current standing the world among other nations, the military situation in Iraq, and America's current economic situation?

Since McCain appears to essentially plan a continuation of the economic and foreign policies of the last 8 years, and will probably continue the domestic policies of the last 8 years if elected, I'm honestly curious how you think McCain will "do a good job" as president? Is it because you love the current U.S. military situation in Iraq and you think the American economy is wonderful right now and you like the culture wars that are going on? Or is there some other reason you judge McCain favorably as a potential president?

Travc said...

Paraphrasing an insightful comment on McCain's speech I ran across (on TPM IIRC):
The biography was moving, but left out the part where he died 6 years ago.

McCain becomes more of a puppet with every passing day. Once again, it is impossible to look at the composition of his campaign and not conclude that the GOP usual suspects are calling the shots.

Many times watching bits of the GOP convention speeches I kept thinking of the line "insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."

NYT has an insightful article on the GOP convention delegates demographics and political positions here.
This figure really tells the story better than the text.

Anonymous said...

To leave you speechless is no small feat. Let me bask in the moment....

I was actually pondering a post that covers much of this territory. If I leave out a point or two it is not being evasive, just following the stream of thought I had before you tossed the gantlet (and I take the challenge happily).

The election is over. I think so and hope so.

Obama by a comfortable margain.

The basic reason I have mentioned before. The GOP is pretty much out of steam after 8 years of inept stewardship by GWB. Much of the mid level talent has been burned up in jobs that end any chance for higher office. Don't start a linkathon on their quals, but Ridge, Rice, Tommy Thompson, and to some extent McCain have had to hold their noses and make the best of it while doing the job needed. I have some thoughts on the next generation of GOP, but that is another post.

Look at the Repub primary field. Mitt? A former actor who looked like a basset hound? A preacher? McCain is the best of the bunch, and a fellow who left to his own devices would try his best to govern with honor.

But his best would not be good enough for 2008. (maybe 2000, get me that tricked out Delorean, please!).

If he staggers to a razor thin victory based on some moronic Obama gaffe he would be pres in name only. The cancerous (for lack of a better word) media attack on Palin would be a round the clock carnival, and the howls of Diebold/Chad/black helicopters would be deafening.

I watched a bit of his speech, and it was not a powerful one. He is capable of better, but I think he regards the GOP base with a degree of contempt. And they him.

He would sincerely attack the waste and corruption that we all see. And Congress would yawn.

Palin btw is just fulfilling the traditonal role of a VP, to attack. Whether she is a rising star or a shooting star, doomed to flame out remains to be seen.

I respect McCain. I have actually gotten to know quite a number of exPOWs and they are a special breed. I would not wish on him the inglorious fate of being a reviled caretaker president. He will/should go down to honorable defeat and will/should become a revered senior figure. And likely Obama's best pal in the Senate.

Iraq is an improving mess. Thanks to McCain's ridiculous surge President Obama will pull the troops out (mostly) and it might not implode.

Obama is to some extent a pretty, empty shell, one in which the burning hopes of many and the lust for power of their leaders have been projected.

But these hopes, which represent somewhat over 270 electoral votes, are not to be denied.

As to what else we find inside the great vacuous Dyson sphere that is Barack, well, we will see. Probably a dense neutron star of ambition. Maybe some decency and common sense. Maybe even the courage to stand up to his friends when doing the right thing requires it.

Hope this covers most of your points, but lacking my own blog I am loathe to hog the bandwidth of David's


Anonymous said...

The story is being floated that Palin told McCain in person about Bristols pregnancy, with all of his advisors in the room, and that the brave and bold and noble Senator McCain over-rode all of their objections and insisted that it should not disqualify her.

Heart-warming tale, isn't it?

The only problem with it is that the two met twice - once in February, and once at 11 am the Thurdsay before the announcement...the Thursday before the Convention.

If the "positive spin" tale is true, it means she put him on the spot, in a time crunch, with a hall already booked for the announcement, rather than revealing the situation when Vetting began.


Anonymous said...

BTW: The above is snarkier than I meant it to be.

Senator McCain, for all that he is comming across like a whipped dog in public these days, does have a very old fashioned sense of what it is to be a Gentleman that I do respect.

There was absolutely no way that he was going to make a sweet little girl feel like a dirty whore who cost her mommy a chance at being the first female VP. I don't think even torture could have caused him to send that family packing pack to the great white north with their heads down in shame.

If what is supposed to be a warm and fuzzy tale is true, he was played in a pretty disgusting way, but what I intended to mock was not the better part of his nature, but the way the story portrayed the situation.

Tony Fisk said...

A Dyson sphere !!? I'm reminded of who it was that built the Ringworld. Not that I think that a Pak Protector would make a good president (it would certainly act for the good of the people, but who could care to criticise it!).

Obama is untried, yes, but he doesn't ring hollow to me. He reminds me of Kevin Rudd in this way (who is still being attacked as being insubstantial and lacking in leadership by those who think that a leader leads rather than delegates.)

(BTW, I liked the 'Leap of Faith' quote: it can cut either way in the current situation!)

Unknown said...

Thanks for the response. I tend to agree with you on a lot of points. It's a very strange situation. McCain clearly seems not to like the GOP's current Limbaugh-Coulter-Malkin base, yet he recognizes (I guess) that he has to throw 'em red meat in order to get their support. McCain's basic problem seems to be that the Repubs have drifted so far to the right that McCain's efforts to shore up his base wind up losing him moderates and undecided voters.

The big question involves the degree to which McCain will be "left to his own devices." It seems disquetingly as though the same group of neocons and theocons who surrounded the guy currently in the White House and used him to push their extreme agenda have now surrounded McCain and are trying to use him to push that same roll-back-Roe-v-Wade and invade-Iran-and-Syria and repeal-the-New-Deal agenda. From McCain's stated policy positions, such as repealing Roe v Wade and invading Iran, it sure looks like he's folded in favor of the Limbaugh wing of the Repub party. But it's hard to tell. McCain's speech sent out entirely different signals than his actions. Hiring the same GOP smear specialist who created commercials in the 2000 primary slamming McCain as mentally unbalanced because of his POW experience sounds ominous, though.

Also, the presidency has become so imperial now that it's hard to believe McCain would be "president in name only." All he has to do is issue some executive orders declaring congressmen and senators who oppose him "enemy combatants," and his opposition in congress disappears.

I'd say you're right about the weakness of the Repub primary field. But is that exhaustion, or is it because the extremists have pushed all the moderate Repubs out of the party and consequently there's no one left but hacks to pass the ideological litmus tests required to run in a Repub primary? It's a huge tragedy that Colin Powell destroyed his rep with that infamous Iraqi WMD speech. Powell would be the natural GOP candidate at this point, but he can never run for anything in a national election again because that speech would be thrown back at him in countless attack ads. But Colin Powell probably wouldn't pass the GOP base's litmus tests today -- for that matter, Ronald Reagan wouldn't either. That seems to me the main reason for the weakness of the Repub primary field rather than lack of new ideas. The GOP has plenty of new ideas, like the Rapture and Christian dominionism and removing all regulation from the financial markets, they're just crazy ideas.

It's also an open question to me whether the GOP suffers from simple exhaustion, or toxic shock syndrome. The injection of so many extremist elements into the GOP's base seems to have forced the moderates out of the party, and they're now either actively rooting for the Demos to win, or they're simply standing on the sidelines and refusing to vote for either party. Most of what the GOP's base wants as policy planks right now seems unattainable without a civil war: repeal of Roe v. Wade, erasure of the distiction twixt church and state, shutdown of medicare and social security, continual foreign wars fueled by a national draft, repeal of habeas corpus and abolition of jury trials, detention and torture on suspicion without having to file charges, and so on. I just don't see that agenda getting put into practice without an armed uprising in the streets.

I'm also puzzled as to what brought the extremist elements in the GOP to the surface so suddenly and so forcefully. Because I grew up in Southern Califronia, I'm quite familiar with these radical far-right people in the GOP -- in 1973, the John Birch Society zealots headed to the hills in El Cajon and started stocking up food and ammunition because they were convinced that Viet Cong and Chinese troops would begin pouring across the border from Tijuana to invade the U.S. as soon as we pulled out of Viet Nam. However, back in '73 the John Birch Society represented a fringe element in the GOP. The papers and TV news reported on their antics, but never took them seriously -- that part of the GOP got treated the same way Kucinich has been treated during this election cycle. "Oh, look at this new crazy thing this guy said! Isn't it hilarious!" Somehow the crazy stuff Coulter and company are saying has been taken seriously by the media and become part of the national discourse. How'd that happen? Why did the beliefs of people like Joe McCarthy and Joseph Welch, who were completely marginalized prior to the 80s, wind up becoming the official policy positions of the Repubs in the 90s and 2000s? I don't get that. What happened? And I especially don't understand why the GOP hasn't changed direction. Surely they must recognize that "more of the same" isn't a winning game plan in the long term even if they win another election by 50.1%. Haven't they figured out that you can't govern with 50.1%? Haven't the last 8 years shown that?

As for travc's assertion that doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the defiition of insanity... I don't know about that in this case. The GOP should logically be down by 20 or 30 points nationally. We would expect under normal circumstances that a ruling party with the record the Repubs have racked up would face an historic defeat this November. Instead, looks from the nationwide Gallup polls that Obama and McCain are running neck and neck. Sounds like whatever the Repubs are doing, it's working great. If I were a neocon Repub strategist, I'd keep doing more of it too.

Anonymous said...

Gallup has actually had Obama up by 6-7 for several days, Rassmussen (which drastically underestimates younger voters with no land-line, and screwed up repeatedly in the Primaries because of it) by 2-3.

Not a dead heat. Your point stands that it's hard to explain how close it is.

Acacia H. said...

Do not underestimate the power of the Republican Smear Campaign. While Senator McCain is going to try and remain above it all and deride attacks from both sides, the attacks will commence and they will do their absolute best to smear Obama with so much muck that even if none of it sticks, it'll surround and drown him.

The Republicans don't intend on gaining a majority of voters. They intend on driving off so many of Obama's supporters that they win by default. This can still happen. If the Republicans find a way to disenfranchise the very youth that put Obama on the ticket by basically painting him as a flimflam artist that conned them all and another traditional corrupt politician (even if they have to lie to paint that picture), then they have won.

No. Do not underestimate the Republicans. The thing about the Campaign of Fear is that it works. The Culture War has just gained more oxygen for its fires... and is going to be ripping across this country for the next two months. About the only thing that will keep the Republicans from prevailing in this is if a large natural disaster strikes and the Republican response is lackluster (say if Ike ends up slamming into Miami and turning it into the next New Orleans).

Rob H., professional cynic

Anonymous said...

OK, buster, let's just see your professional cynic's license...
If you were other than an inspired tyro you would not out of hand dismiss the possibility that Obama might actually BE a flim flam artist!
But if so, he would not be the first to win office, and some of them have turned out OK.
You guys are just so apocalyptic around here. Personally I think a fair amount of the Obama smears are still toxic residue from the Dem primary season. Some of those isotopes have a pretty long half

Obama by 15 electoral votes, a sincere concession by McCain. Then things get interesting.


David Brin said...

I’m preparing a long posting. But these need saying:

Tacitus2, please always feel welcome here. I would hate it if you left and we need more guys like you, even if we sometimes call you an ostrich! (A noble bird, by the way, who would not have been caught dead in St Paul, last week! ;-)

Are there reservoirs of “good republicans” waiting to resurrect the party? Our Guvernator, Ja. I can think of others, though they’ll have a helluva time with the Culture Warriors and a schism really is possible. But please, do not include Condi Rice on your list until you can name one thing she has ever done that actually advanced - instead of undermining - the interests of the USA. No single person has worked more persistently or tirelessly to destroy Pax Americana.

Obama, an empty shell? Yeesh! Please listen to eyewitnesses. Even O’Reilly, just yesterday said that he looked in Obama’s eye and saw an impressive and solid man “without an ounce of wimpiness.” And that was O’Reilly! He got those 60 generals and admirals by talking to them, one by one.

Why do you think he is where he is? Every single person who sits down with him walks away convinced that they have met, at-minimum, a genius. THAT is why he is where he is, four to eight years ahead of schedule, with such a short resume, because he’s been promoted by those who meet him. And yes, there may be some hypnotism at play - and I got all sorts of questions, still. But seriously, I wouldn’t mind a genius. Especially one able to show so many types that he actually listened to them.

Acacia H. said...

Small note: Obama's Bounce may be lessening. However, the article admits that the 2% dip for Obama and 2% increase in McCain could just be the margin of error... and also mentions that it's interesting to see that the number of undecideds remains the same.

As for my cynic credentials, it's obvious that my showing them means nothing. They could easily be faked. As for not stating that maybe Obama is a flimflam artist... aren't all politicians? It's just the really good ones disguise that fact from their constituents. ^^

Rob H.

Cliff said...

McCain has yet to answer the 14 science questions:

Somehow I'm not surprised.

Acacia H. said...

And here's some food for thought, and something that perhaps Dr. Brin might want to consider in depth at a later time. Given the current resurgence of Culture War and the far-right elements of the Republican Party, will the Republican Party fracture should they lose this Presidential election? Especially if they lose several Senate and House seats?

Currently, it seems like there are three Republican parties. There is the Far Right, who are anti-gay, anti-abortion, Rovean Republicans who rule through strong-arm tactics and fear... and the Moderate Republicans who are willing to bend, reach out to Democrats for bipartisan efforts, and generally look at their far-right brethren with more than a little discomfort, and then there's the neocon movement. For the last eight years, the Far Right has been ascendant even though the Shrub and his fellow neocons are in control.

The neocons are on their way out. I doubt they were more than a minority that got lucky and allied themselves with the Far Right. So now we have a battle for the heart of the Republican Party, even as the Democrats had one with Obama and the Clintons. The Far Right, by virtue of having a sizable voting block and by threatening to sit this election out, have gained control of the Republicans. But what will happen if they lose?

No doubt the Far Right will blame their more moderate brethren and the Democrats and outside interference and everyone but themselves. But will it break the party apart? Or will the moderates take the initiative and retake their party, perhaps returning to more traditional conservative roots (less spending, smaller government)?

Or is it already too late for the moderates? Is the Republican Party so diseased and blighted that with this hopeful final loss, it will collapse under its own weight, resulting in the formation of a new party to oppose the Democrats.

Rob H.

Cliff said...

Shorter tacitus2: Why so serious?

In other news: 6.1% unemployment!

It will be interesting to see if and how this factors into the elections. Will people make the obvious connection, and vote against the party that's been in power while they've suffered? Or will they drink the GOP hogwash and go for lower corporate taxes?
(My bias is showing blatantly here, if someone can point to why Republicans are actually good for the economy please feel free.)

If it's the latter, then the question is, what amount of pain is required to correct our course?

David Brin said...

Into the imponderable muddle:

* how successful has been the massive voter registration drive? It's not been much in the news, but I hear it's been huge, all through the south & midwest. Of course we've hear this promise since 1972 and the dems always failed to benefit much. Obama is the crucial factor.

* Are the polls, which weight likely voters, reflecting this drive?

If the election is a blowout, then there'll be many outcomes. The far right will once again go sullen and talk about a "corrupt nation" and the McVeighs will resume their simmer... augmented by Blackwater.

The Ron Paul movement may try to veer (1) toward grabbing the GOP or (2) toward the Libertarians, or (3) negotiating a moderate-libertarian consensus and revising the Libertarian Party as a more reasonable and attractive and practical force that could attract millions of moderate Republicans and some democrats, (4) or toward a 4th party.

Of all of these, only #3 is sane and it is by far the least likely. Though something like #3 might separately be brought about if half a dozen GOP billionaires formed a coalition and really pushed it.

Actually, it'd be smart even for some dem billionaires to join that group.

Boot said...

The Republican part is NOT the party of smaller government. Please do not buy into this lie.

Let me direct you to the BEA Table 3.9.2 Percent Change in Real Government Consumption (Looking at Federal Only)

Bush Jr. 9.53
Clinton -4.48
Bush 0.77
Reagan 15.52
Carter 4.96
Nixon/Ford -12.63
Kennedy/Johnson 18.08

(I summed the years they held office.)

You have to go back to the 60s and 70s for the statement to ring true. It pisses me off when people say things like "Big Government Liberals" when it should be "Big Government Republicans" or "Tax Our Children Republicans".

Acacia H. said...

Boot, I never said it currently was the party of smaller government. I said that maybe a reformed Republican party might work toward the two memes of old: smaller government and reduced spending.

Rob H.

Boot said...

True. Sorry if I offended. I note that by recent history it would make more sense to push that agenda with the Ds.

Anonymous said...

Anne Kilkenny's letter about Sarah Palin.

Sounds like another arrogant movement conservative who lectures about principles and reform while totally mucking things up.

* * *

Remember: The "Culture War" is 90% contrived controversy. It's like the "War on Christmas" that no one but a few soreheads gave a damn about until Limbaugh and O'Reilley saw it as fruitful delivery vehicle for their audiences grudge fixes.

Anonymous said...

So... Now that the two conventions are over, and I've read all the commentary here about the various bits of news from them, I have to add my two cents.

Two weeks ago, I would have said my odds of voting McCain in November were about 80% over Obama's 20%. (Yes, I know, an unpopular position on this blog -- but I've explained my views in the past... ;-) Those odds have changed to about 60% - 40% (still favoring McCain), but not due to any change in opinion over those two - it's all about the VP choices.

Obama picking Joe Biden - not a great choice, but honestly I think Biden would make a *much* better president than Obama, so it's an overall significant improvement to the ticket. Should they win, I can only hope Biden's experience would perhaps temper Obama's "change without regard for the unintended consequences" blind idealism. (Because there's no way I can hope either branch of Congress will do it -- they're just going to rubber stamp everything Obama wants...)

McCain picking Sarah Palin - on the surface, at first, it seemed like a reasonable choice, and I have little doubt the choice increases the chance he'll be elected, but the more I look at her, the less I want to see her in the White House, even as VP. I'm particularly worried by this even if McCain because it gives Palin a strong opportunity to run in 2012 or 2016. Should they win, I can only hope McCain remains healthy and strong, and some better alternative in the GOP makes themselves known before he retires from office.

It's really quite frustrating -- I had hoped I might finally be able to vote for a president without serious reservations about my choice for once. Frankly, IMHO, neither Obama or Palin is qualified to be anywhere near these tickets, but we're stuck with them.

So... Who do we want to elect in 2012 to fix all the disasters that electing either team is going to generate? I'm open to ideas.

Cliff said...

Steve B, here's a question I have regarding McCain:

Does he feel that things are broken and need to be fixed? I mean, does he feel so honestly, beyond what he says to garner votes?
The reason I ask is because he'll claim to be a reformer, and then go on to say we need to stay the course in Iraq, we need to keep picking fights, we need more free markets in health care and education, we need more tax cuts, we need more drilling. Which is close to what we've been doing anyway.

So - does McCain see a need for a massive alteration in the way the government functions, or is he more interested in tweaking details (such as earmarks) but keeping things largely on the same track?

Travc said...

Zorg said:
"they're now either actively rooting for the Demos to win"

Heh. You do realize demos is Greek for 'the people'. Just rings more true than you probably meant ;)

Personally, I think Obama should stop saying "change" and replace it with "clean up the mess cause by Republican (mis)rule."

Travc said...

It think you left out a sizable and powerful republican faction. The "tax cut and free-market-uberalis" ideologues. You know, Grover Norquist and his ilk.

These people are just as much ideologues as the culture warriors, but have a loner history and even more success co-opting the GOP.

I have nothing against the idea of lower taxes and using free-market forces... but significant portions of the GOP hold that these are always the right thing to do, which is just insane.

BTW: McCain didn't sign Norquist's no-tax pledge thing this cycle (as far as I can tell), but did as a senator and in 2000. McCain also said (in March '07): "My record is very clear. I have never voted for a tax increase in 24 years. That should be sufficient time to convince average Americans of my commitment not to raise taxes."

As I see it, the GOP has pretty much lost any sense of pragmatism. The dems, and especially Obama, make pragmatism almost a fetish... as exemplified by Obama's 'nuanced' (just sane IMO) positions on offshore drilling and a hard withdrawal date from Iraq. That is a very important difference.

Anonymous said...

I occasionally toy with the idea of running for office, but actually I think I would make a better speechwriter. Here's my offering for future Republican use (works for democrats too).

"Our prosperity, indeed our very freedom relies upon sacrifice. Can we ask the best of our young men and women to put their lives on the line for us and yet refuse to make bearable sacrifices ourselves? If the needs of our nation require that our economic might to be mobilized in good cause then I will do my duty and raise taxes. And those who put true love of country first will answer the call. You may of course complain, it is your right as citizens. And if you find me wasting a single penny of it you may rise up and vote me out of office. Thank you."

(future one term dogcatcher of Tick Junction flyoverland)

Anonymous said...

I know the part of Dr Brin's comment about George Friedman has been completely ignored (big news week) but given Zorgon's post about a possible coup attempt in Saudi Arabia I will try to give you an idea about what George was thinking when David decided he had started sniffing glue.

I have been getting George Freidman's Stratfor briefings for many years now and one thing he has been saying about Al Qaeda in the Middle East is that Bin Laden political goals have never been to overthrow the US, but the Saudi regime.

The argument was that the attacks on the US and elsewhere were supposed to encourage support within his own faction back home. This may be a clue as to why after the the 9-11 attacks Saudi royal family members were allowed to fly home when everyone else was grounded(including the Australian PM). They were needed home to put a lid on any unrest that may arise.

Bin Laden believed that if the US didn't invade Afghanistan, this would be a clear message of weakness. If they did invade that it would be a great rallying cry for other Arab nations/groups and that they would get bogged down as the Russians had and wouldn't be in a position to help the Saudis when the uprising began.

Now the US did invade and didn't get bogged down (at least initially) in Afghanistan, but they didn't capture Bin Laden. Also there was sizable unrest neighboring Arab countries which, and this is the important bit, the countries rulers either did nothing about or actually pandered to to keep the peace. Friedman argues that without Arabian leadership being willing to step up to quell dissent voluntarily, the US believed that it would be necessary to force their hand, and their method of doing this was to invade Iraq.

It was believed that as a pariah state, nobody would be willing to come to Iraq's defense or much care Sadam was ousted. The US would have a solid foothold in the middle of the Middle East(99 year leases on their military bases), and with any luck a compliant govt in Iraq. Most importantly, it would show other States that the US was serious about perceived threats and was willing to act against anyone, even without international approval.

The other Middle Eastern countries did get that message and started getting serious about tackling the local insurgents and choking off the money supply to international terrorist groups s the US requested. All in all a happy ending, no?

DISCLAIMER: The views stated here are no my own just my idea of what GF thinking has been.

David Brin said...

I like GF and respect him. But the notion that we would torch a trillion dollars, disrupt oil flows so another trillion would pour into S wallets, toss our alliances, wreck our world popularity, savage the US army & reserves, and devastate our internal social cohesion, just to rattle a saber and intimidate some sheiks, is utterly mind boggling...

...especially since not one actual interest of the roil house has ever been touched by Bush and generally those interests come first.

My theory is diametrically opposite. THEY ordered us to go in, like the Athenians to Sycily.

Travc said...

Tacitus2, I'd probably vote for you.
Someone who bases their positions on reasonable arguments, even if you end up disagreeing with their conclusions, is much much better than an ideologue or panderer.

C. Keith Ray said...

an interesting bit turned on youtube:

MSNBC Open Mic Republican on Palin

"I think this was insulting to Kay Bailey Hutchinson..."

I wonder if Texas GOP will not fully support McCain/Palin because of KBH not being picked as VP.

Fake_William_Shatner said...

@WS, on the 'secret weapon'...
Your #1, micro scale networked acoustic sensors are not possible, yet. I've been working on a highly related project for about 2 years now, and in fairly close contact with a couple of groups working on related DARPA grants.

The data rates for audio are just too high for a highly miniaturized system.

>> Not radio transmission -- optical transmission. And passive at that. The crystal doesn't need to process anything, merely re-transmit sound on an optical frequency. Something Piezoelectric that uses the compression energy and moves a mirror. I tried to patent something along the lines of a ferro-fluid lens to divert lasers and that is used as an amplifier -- but as a kid, I didn't know all these Invention companies were scams.

Anyway, no processing - merely conversion. Sent to some collector nearby, or to a drone/satellite. This wouldn't work on the russians for more than a week -- but in a low-tech country, it would work for a good while. You can also use solar energy, and burst mode, for when there is actual sound. Not every grain needs to transmit all the time. You are going for detection first, then resolving the sound. The old trick of bouncing a laser off a hard object (like the crystals), would allow you to zoom in and have really, really high bandwidth. Anyway, the spooks were using the laser listening device at least as far back as the 80's.

They used tiny vibration sensors in Vietnam I heard, but they weren't very useful -- but as an early warning tripwire that someone was sneaking up in the bushes.

#2. They have done tests with insects, where they manipulate their visual systems to guide them places. A dragonfly has better battery-life.

But I was thinking of a transparent drone, that uses solar and can glide. You can also rest for a while, because after you've spotted a target, you just want to hang out. No reason the power can't be supplied from a high-flying drone and bounced from somewhere else. Is someone going to use heat detection in the day? This was an idea floated around NASA at one time. You can use microwaves or infrared to guide and power the mini-drone from a large, transparent gliding drone (reflector). The battery is around to keep juice when there isn't a direct beam available.

#3 and #4 -- were ideas I had a long time ago, I wouldn't want to pass on any good "lethal" ideas anyway. I wouldn't want to make assassinations easy for an administration like we have now. Chavez needs to live and run his course.

>> Anyway, I used to dream up this stuff all the time as a kid. But then I realized I didn't really want to make weapons.

Fake_William_Shatner said...

@ tintinaus
I know the part of Dr Brin's comment about George Friedman has been completely ignored (big news week) but given Zorgon's post about a possible coup attempt in Saudi Arabia I will try to give you an idea about what George was thinking when David decided he had started sniffing glue.

I have been getting George Freidman's Stratfor briefings for many years now and one thing he has been saying about Al Qaeda in the Middle East is that Bin Laden political goals have never been to overthrow the US, but the Saudi regime.

Do you remember the book 1984? What is the best way to stay in power? Be your opposition. Al Qaeda funneled a lot of the rage at the sheiks, into an almost holy war against toppling Saddam in Iraq.

If Bin Laden is the enemy of the Sheiks, I'd love to have some enemies like that. Same goes for how helpful the Bush regime has been to the Al Qaeda. Notice that we are supporting a Taliban group inside Iran -- after they helped us go after al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Some reward.

There is so much fueled by the drug trade, and it seems our covert groups are involved in some of the worst things you can imagine -- for the almighty buck, of course.

The provocations against Russia make no sense -- I understand the desire to sell weapons to the satellite states. But we have Chinese and French companies, buying up companies that create our power infrastructure, and bleeding them of technology know-how. What is the point if we have 700 military bases around the world, but we don't OWN ANYTHING in this country?

There is no security risk, just multinational billionaires who need to stir the pot and use one group against another. Right now, the largess is going to Dubai. In another ten or twenty years, the UAE and China will fall, and the money will go somewhere else.

The jingoism and flag waving is for the peons and it always has been. Kinds of Europe used to attack each other to make sure the peasants felt the need to upkeep the castle.