Friday, September 05, 2008

Some Things Palin Comparison

What to say about the Republican Convention? So many levels. So many narratives and messages.

-- There’s the Chutzpah Prize winning theme: “help us mavericks throw dem Washington bums out!”

-- Dizzying promises to balance budgets, help small businesses, listen to allies, push energy independence, engage diplomacy, bring transparency/accountability to government, and so on -- without any specifics -- leaving one boggled speechless by irony.

-- Several keen observers expected John McCain to “prove his maverick chops” by openly challenging the delegates to alter one or two basic GOP planks. Odds suggested a nod to climate change, or “stewardship” or a turn away from the culture of secrecy. It might have been impressive to the country (and he may yet do so, before a picked audience). But he clearly felt it unwise to try at the RNC. What if they booed? Ah, courage.

-- The “Dr. Jekyl” side of this man, still worthy of some respect, reminded me of Robert Dole, all the way to the stiff arm, injured in service to his country. And, though often calculated and self-serving, McC’s rhetoric also merited a nod, for moments of passion, pathos and apparent sincerity.

-- But alas, for the topics never mentioned. Such as science. The environment. Or the demolished Army and National Guard, leaving us more defenseless than before. What? Not even science? But some in that crowd would have booed.

Each topic merits lengthy analysis. But there are pundits-a-plenty, already covering the obvious stuff. So let me focus on more-quirky aspects. Stories less spoken. Or not at all.

The underlying meaning of the “Experience Gap”

Oh, it’s been awe-inspiring to watch the rovean spinners, still deft, argue that GOP VP nominee Sarah Palin has “more executive experience,” after 23 months running the 47th largest state, than any of the three male senators in our fall lineup -- including John McCain. And, well, it’s arguable... though with Alaska wallowing in gushers of free oil money, budget-balancing is kind-of a snap.

In fact, the Experience Gap only highlights how desperately McCain, Obama, Biden or Palin would need expertise from others -- from dozens, hundreds, thousands and whole-agencies of others. Instead of filling an imperial White House with nodding yes-men, any of this quartet should emulate a great president who surrounded himself with the ferment of smart people in dynamic disagreement, as historian Doris Kearns Goodwin describes in Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.

Indeed, all the present candidates claim to have this goal in mind. But there’s a surefire test of whether they mean it -- and two of them have already failed.

You see, we aren’t only choosing between Obama-Biden and McCain-Palin, nor between starkly polarized philosophies of right and left. Even if nothing happened re: health care and not a single new law passed, our national destiny would veer up or down, based on something far simpler. Whether public servants competently govern according to the law, as it already stands.

All four candidates speak of bipartisanship and honest competence overriding special interest. But, while he distances himself from Bush and the Republican brand, John McCain stays immersed in the same general swarm of ten thousand Republican appointees, lobbyists and political operatives, most of whom would simply slide from jobs in Bush’s administration to McCain’s. A whole political caste who - with some shifted chairs - would follow his old-boy top advisors into cabinet departments, agencies, and bureaus.

These aren’t the days of Eisenhower, or Clinton, or even Ronald Reagan, when political loyalty was only one of many criteria for these appointments. Today’s GOP operatives have been carefully vetted, culled, groomed and organized to turn all systems of government into Party tools. With a consistency and disciplined focus that resembles another party -- the Communist Party. In a latter-day version of the Spoils System, they have hewed closely to a core program -- to intimidate and repress the real public servants, the ones we depend upon. The fourth branch of government.

The men and women of the United States Civil Service.

There can be no greater polar contrast between two groups. Those with the expertise to administer our laws -- advancing through merit, hard work, training and performance -- versus a mob of venial hacks appointed by Bush-Cheney to quash the scientists and military officers, the accountants and FBI agents, the deputy U.S. Attorneys and deputy Marshals, the dam inspectors and CIA agents. The drug chemists and CDC disease monitors. The SEC examiners who might have protected us against fraudulent speculators and thieves. The researchers who might have settled the case on global warming, or found fresh energy solutions by now.

For better or worse, we citizens own and rely upon these agencies, to defend us, to maintain fair and open markets, to encourage startups and discourage monopoly, to catch criminality even in high places, to give truthful intelligence, to peer ahead for threats and opportunities in complex times. We pay their salaries and half a million or so civil servants used to work hard to give us value back. Most would do so, again, if they were allowed.

However one feels about whether government should perform this or that function - until the laws are changed, should it not perform those functions well? The answer, given by the Republican political operative caste, has been in no uncertain terms, “no.”

(Why have the professionals been deliberately stymied? That’s another question. Perhaps out of dogmatic belief that government should fail. Or because that failure made it easier to steal. There are even darker scenarios. Anyway, government has grown, vastly, under the GOP. And though they complain, Republicans have a lousy record at deregulation. Of ten major deregulations, they crafted just three, that later proved to be vehicles for graft.)

Sure, it sounds like a boring “process issue.” No advisor will let Obama speak of something so dry. Still, I have to say that the Bushite assault upon the Civil Service has to be its number one crime. Because, without that first, enabling crime, so many others would have been caught or prevented by skilled men and women at the FBI, Justice, SEC, and so many other agencies duty-bound top protect us, that is, except for interference from above.

This is my biggest reason to oppose John McCain, and notice that it ought to cross all lines of ideology or policy. Because, despite some good traits (among some bad) and and noble-sounding words, McCain remains surrounded by all the “usual suspects” ranging from lobbyists who wrote Bush energy policies to personnel experts borrowed directly from the White House. The same coterie of fatcats supplies "free labor" and advice. He even hired into his circle the expert political hatchetman responsible for smearing him during the 2000 primaries, South Carolina political consultant Tucker Eskew. He will be their cats paw and shows no sign of even knowing it.

So much for “shaking up Washington.”

Top priority must go to ending the reign ten thousand political thugs. All else, even your favorite policy initiative, comes second. If Barack Obama simply does as he has promised, and releases the good men and women of the civil service to do their jobs to go back to enforcing the duly-deliberated law as-is -- then at least the Republic can function on a basic level.

Only then will it make sense to argue how to make it better.


Which brings us to the ghost at the banquet.

The High Road: The Dog that Did Not Bark in The Night

All right, forget the Civil Service. Let’s drop the Experience Issue as a distraction. What could candidate Obama and the Democrats really zero in-on, from the GOP convention? Already, Obama has pointed out that the Republicans made no mention of the economy. That’s a good start.

Indeed, among the speeches that I listened to there was something startling in its absence. A near complete lack of statistics! Yes, stats are boring, still, candidates and parties do hurl them back and forth like shuttlecocks and I expected at least a few volleys from the Republicans. The closest came when Laura Bush pointed overseas, (rightfully) bragging that the (bipartisan) African Aids Initiative has helped 50 million people over there.

Otherwise - though I missed a lot of speeches - I heard no stats at all.

Really? They could find nothing to brag about? Not one metric that's better now than it was eight years ago? I felt stunned. 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.

Obama and Biden have to speak clearly. “Stop pretending that you haven’t been governing us! You cannot evade that central fact by nominating a couple of different faces from the same team picture. We have a right to ask if you have governed well. And there are no measures... none at all... by which you have.”

The Low Road - some basic Palin Points:

By “low road” I do not include the really nasty sewer-stuff. Rumors of extramarital affairs and spotlights on her family -- soap opera tales of baby switcheroos and paranoid whatifs of more switches in the works. These are grist for the National Enquirer, not adults. Oh, Fox & CNN “journalists” are hypocrites to decry the public’s understandable curiosity as “sexism.” But Obama is correct to quash any involvement by the Democratic Party or its friends. These are not matters for either politics or journalism.

No, by “low road” I mean stuff that’s well-above sewer level, but still dicey. Like zeroing-in on a candidate’s actual views on life, destiny and religion -- shining light on how they’d govern. Prickly topics, riddled with minefield potential for back splatter. But relevant.

Some of these will come out via normal media-frenzy, like Sarah Palin’s long-close association with the Alaska Independence Party, whose rhetoric can make Rev. Wright look like Teddy Roosevelt. Other contradictions will be avoided by the Obama camp. But can we trust anyone in the media to raise them?

* Sarah Palin rails against standard sex education and teens learning about contraception. Without alluding to her family situation, someone must hammer home the blatant statistical fact that Blue America - despite including the poorest and most disadvantaged - has lower rates of teen sex, teen or unwed pregnancy, STDs, divorce and domestic violence than Red America. Till now, such comparisons were avoided by liberals, as divisive and playing up to Culture War. But somebody with enough cash and anger could lay it out.

Oh, but hold onto your seats. Now we get into really dicey territory.

* Sarah Palin believes (or let’s demand that she disavow) that more than half of her fellow citizens are damned either by nature or because of their beliefs, if not to Hell then to eternal exclusion from God’s grace.

Sure, holding to that tenet is her Constitutionally protected privilege. But since she declared that her decisions will be guided by those beliefs, we have a perfect right to see them in bare light. And people who she considers damned may legitimately ponder that, when deciding whether to vote for her.

Moreover --

* Sarah Palin craves, yearns-for and actively prays-for (or let’s demand that she disavow) the coming of a day, quite soon, when most of the world’s people will suffer torment, death and damnation, amid flame and other agonies, amid tumult that will include the end of the United States of America.

(See Palin getting very intense about mixing church & state.)

Now, of course, she would attempt to moderate these beliefs and fervent wishes, by claiming that the death and agony and damnation parts aren’t what she yearns for, but rather, the subsequent arrival of a Sanctified Kingdom on Earth that will be paradisiacal - that is, for the remaining elect. All the other vengeful-torment stuff is regrettable, but Heaven’s unalterable will. Anyway, those people (well, some of them) may yet avoid that dark fate by abandoning all of their own beliefs and adopting hers.

No doubt she - and her supporters - would indignantly denounce anyone asking about these views, as they are a matter of private conscience. But are they?

Strip away unctuous reassurances and we have someone asking to be trusted as potential master of America’s nuclear arsenal and defender of its Constitution, who openly avows to wanting - eagerly - the quick arrival of a day when fire will scorch the sky and flame sear land. When a majority of her fellow citizens will perish and tumble into torment, and when a closing curtain will fall for the nation and democracy she claims to love.

Of course, I may have imputed and extrapolated far too much. My interpretation may be unfair. In a spirit of enlightenment curiosity, I stand ready to be corrected. Still, we have a right to be concerned. Let Sarah Palin publicly explain how this interpretation is mistaken, so we might breathe easier.

---And finally ...from the Road of Silly Walks... ---
Palin for President!


Matt DeBlass said...

I'd have to say we'd definitely be better off with THAT Palin.

It will be interesting to see how the state trooper thing plays out, low road stuff indeed. However, I'm inclined to think that once the novelty wears off she'll be less of a big deal.

The religious spin may be entirely appropos, though, since it looks like we're in for a biblical throwdown this November: it's McCain vs. Able.

sociotard said...

Dr. Brin, I wondered if you would elaborate on something you said in comments on the last thread.

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.

I'm not surpised the people she fought were Republicans. It is a red state, after all. A whole lot of the people in office are republicans. I guess it does point to more Republican corruption.

But wouldn't going after people in her own party be a good thing? Wouldn't that show that she put her state before her party? Are you implying that the whole thing was just to put cronies she did like into important positions, even if it meant replacing people from her party?

Travc said...

On transparency, McCain's quote was:
And my administration will set a new standard for transparency and accountability.

Bush brought a new standard for transparency to government too.

There was a similar sort of 'I think he really means exactly the opposite of what it sounds like he means' line with respect to unemployment insurance:
Government assistance for unemployed workers was designed for the economy of the 1950s. That's going to change on my watch.

Primed by all the lies and double-talk from proceeding days, maybe I'm being too cynical... But then again, this is the GOP.

Travc said...

I can't speak for Dr Brin, though with respect to
Are you implying that the whole thing was just to put cronies she did like into important positions, even if it meant replacing people from her party?
That is exactly my read of the situation.

It may be useful to remember that this sort of fratricide has been part of the 'conservative movement' from day 1. Maybe their emphasis on loyalty makes sense.

Unknown said...

The biggest disappointment in the RNC remains the path not taken.

McCain had an historic opportunity. After being nominated, he could've stridden to the podium, pulled a speech out of his pocket, and torn it up. Then he could've run as a true maverick and reformer against the last 8 years. McCain could've railed against the corruption and cronyism, the incompetence and the lies, the politicization and the totalitarian erosion of the Bill of Rights, the pre-emptive foreign wars powered by lies and the crazy divisiveness at home powered by Joe-McCarthy-style smears. Then he could've promised to fight the neocons and theocons tooth and nail, and he could have called on every American who cares about reform to join him.

That would split the Republican party, but it would have electrified the nation, and it might have given him a good chance to win in November.

Instead, McCain folded and turned into a pod person mouthing lines written by Rove and company. The same old "uniter not a divider" bullshit we heard 8 years ago, while all around McCain Rove-orcehstrated hatemongers sprayed venom and demonized half of America.

What a sad come-down. As comedy, the RNC played well, though -- I must admit I got a big kick out of Mitt Romney raging about how "growth of the government shows that the Democrats are the party of big government." Of course! After all, Repubs didn't control the government 20 out of the last 28 years, right? And then there's Giulinai screaming that the Democrats are the "party of Big Brother." Absolutely. Remember who started warrantless wiretapping nationwide after 2001 -- a Democratic president, right? I mean, you all remember Bush and Cheney chaining themselves to the White House fence and singing "We Shall Overcome" to prevent the Democrats from continuing warrantless wiretapping, don't you?

I'm just surprised they didn't wangle a temporary stay of Jack Abrmaoff's prison sentence so he could speak at the RNC on the importance of ethics in Republican governance.

Brin makes some excellent points, as usual.

DB asked: "How successful has the voter registration been [for the Demos]?" From the stats I've seen, extremely successful, doubling registration among young people and hitting record high registration across the age cohorts. Demos in 2008 are running ahead of the record registration stats they managed in 2006. Polls also show likely higher voter turnout, which is crucial -- it matters not just who you register, but whether they are actually likely to vote. Demos newly registered voters are much more likely to vote in November than newly registered Repubs, according to the stats I've seen. More details in Charlie Cook's Political Report. Cook is an expert in the nitty-gritty of the state and national races, and his site remains the primary source for this kind of info. His 2 September report describes this as "the most bizarre presidential election of the modern era," and his discussion of the four-way coalition Obama needs to win remains must-read analysis.
The reason Demo registration drives don't tend to do much to change the outcome of the general election is, alas, simple. Younger voters (under 35) tend to skew Democratic, while older voters (> 55) skew Republican. But voters in the 18-25 age cohort vote at a typical rate of only 19% in a normal election, while voters older than 60 vote at a rate of 61%. Demos in 2006 managed to crank up turnout among the 18-25 group all the way up to 39%, but that's still pathetic compared to the over-55 cohort. So Demos have to boost the registration of young people by 150% even with the current extreme turnout rate simply to counter the normal turnout of older voters, who skew Republican. This election could turn on the degree to which Obama manages to get whites > 50 to feel comfortable with him, according to Charlie Cook. In less vague language, if older white guys still hate niggers, it's McCain in November.

The polls I've seen reflect this increased registration for Demos. There are two breakdowns of interest in the current polls: first, the overall right track/wrong track numbers, which suggest an overwhelming blowout at the state and local level for Demos. Record numbers of congressional seats and governorships are likely to change to Democrats this election, even in states and counties which are normally safely safely Republican. This will have a big long-term effect on the composition of the House, as well as state houses and governorsihps. In the long run, it means that the House, which holds the power of the purse, should be able to push through its fiscal agenda after 2009 without getting filibuster threats from Repubs. It also means a greatly increased farm team of future liberal political stars, because the Demos will win a lot of governorships this year.
The second breakdown involves electoral college votes. From the numbers I've seen, it isn't even close. The Repubs would have to win essentially all the contested swing states in order to push back Obama's electoral college margin. So we're likely to have a presidential race this year in which the popular vote is close, but the electoral votetilts lopsidedly in Obama's favor. This is likely to create the same kind of resentment among the far right that the 2000 election created among liberals, which bodes ill for the future of the culture war.

So the answer to Dr. Brin's "blowout" question is complex. At the state and local level, this election looks like a massive blowout for the Demos. At the presidential level, a probably solid win for Obama but with a razor-thin popular vote margin. That's mixed news and suggests a new eruption of culture war due to the resentment of far-right movement conservatives who will cook up a myth about how they were "robbed of the 2009 election" in the same way that liberals created the story of how the Repubs "stole the election in 2000."

At this point, it's very hard to predict exactly what's going to happen to the Repub party. Clearly the 2006 shock did not inspire the GOP to change course. As we've seen, they merely fed more raw meat to their base in the form of Palin et al. The massive police repression at the GOP convention, which now includes charging protestors with terrorism under the U.S. Treason Act (misnamed the Patriot Act) shows just how savagely the GOP leadership is intent on clamping down on dissent. This suggests that the current GOP leaderships wants to ride the Titanic all the way down to the bottom of the ocean. They're not giving an inch. The Limbaugh-Coulter-Malkin AIPAC base of the GOP seems to have decided that they would rather go down to complete defeat than relent on their extremist agenda.

To some extent, this is probably because the AIPAC base of the GOP now has an independent life support system in the mass media. Limbaugh and Coulter and Malkin don't depend on the normal sources of think tank money and patronage jobs that typically support the political faithful in a political party. The AIPAC base of the GOP, like O'Reilly, get their support from organizations like Fox News which are completely outside the regular GOP. As long as Limbaugh's radio numbers stay high, he can continue to scream hate forever. That blocks one of the most important avenues for political reform in the GOP, because the party itself no longer has the power to discipline or banish its extremist elements like Malkin if they make their money and get their influence from radio networks entirely outside the GOP leadership's direct control.

This suggests that one of the Demos' first acts should be to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. That would shut down the money gusher for Limbaugh and Malking and O'Reilly and spur reform within the GOP.

However, a larger issue is the "evaporative cooling" effect I talked about several months ago. Often when a fanatical cult encounters problems (as in failed prophecies, etc.) the cult winds up getting more fanatical because the moderates leave. We appear to have seen this happening with the GOP. So after a significant defeat in 2009, the GOP could well simply get more extremist and more fanatical. Given the degree to which the current GOP hate-fest at the St. Paul RNC has alienated the moderates who make up the bulk of the American electorate, this suggests that instead of fracturing, the GOP will simply collapse like a black hole into an ever-smaller group of ever-more-fanatical true believers. In that case, the GOP would eventually dwindle away from national influence and become obsolete because its partisans continue to call for "solutions" (like bigger tax cuts for the rich, and more foreign wars) which have been tried and found unworkable. The model here is the fate of the Prohibition advocates during the 1920s. Their only "solution" involved more federal agents cracking down even harder on alcohol. The Prohibition coalition eventually lost power and faded away.

The question in that case becomes: What will replace the Republicans in American politics?

As Brin points out, since WW I the Repubs have played an important part in U.S. politics. Historically, Repubs have stood against big government, for fiscal prudence, against reckless foreign intervention, for individual rights and against intrusive statist bureacracy. Right now, we have no national political voices calling for:
[1] Smaller governemnt (let's start by abolishing the TSA and DHS, then move on to the DEA and seriously think about shutting down the ATF, eh?)
[2] A smaller federal budget. McCain has been outspoken about increasing military spending, he'd just dismantle social security and medicare to pay for it. Obama, as Daggett points out, would merely increase federal spending without any cuts. Neither position is acceptable.
[3] An end to foreign wars of choice. It's amazing that after the string of disasters from Korea to Viet Nam to Iraq, to the blowback caused by all our ill-advised meddling in places like Guatamala and Iran and Chile and Afghanistan (we created bin Laden!), that no national political figure is calling for a halt to this insanity. Not one national political figure has publicly spoken out for a return to the classic FDR doctrine of Just War. We intervene overseas if we're attacked directly: otherwise, we keep our grubby mitts OFF.
[4] Especially, NO national political figure is speaking out against the kind of police state gestapo tactics we see in the TSA and the DHS and in St. Paul with the police breaking down the doors of non-violent protest groups like Food Not Bombs and arresting them for alleged "terrorism." This is not America, and if Barry Goldwater was still alive, he'd be hopping mad and filibustering the Senate right now until this kind of insanity stopped.
[5] We need to stop spending more than we take in. That's simple common sense, but no national political figure is calling for it.

The Repubs have traditionally stood for these important values. The Demos I've heard sure aren't calling for any of these things. We badly need some political faction to articulate classic Repub values, so if the GOP implodes and disappears, as seems likely if it loses this election badly and merely becomes more fanatical and more extremist, where will we get the people who articulate these values?

I would like to suggest that if the Demos win this one big, especially at the local and state level, it's much more likely that the Democratic party will fracture. I would suggest that newly-minted Demos like the former hard-right Repub John Cole will probably break from the Democratic mainstream on all the above issues when they discover that mainstream Democrats have no problem with increasing the size of the TSA and the DHS and feeding the Pentagon war monster more money to keep their constituents happy.

In that scenario, the Republican party fades away and the Demoractic party shatters.

As for the Ron Paul liberarians, the fact remains that libertarianism is the political philosophy of 12-year-olds. It has simply never been a serious force in American politics and cannot be taken seriously by least, without a radical reorganization within the current libertarian wing, of which I see no signs. Ron Paul's policy positions are for the most part ridiculous: abolishing the Federal Reserve, shutting down the IRS...these are the policy positions of a grade school kid. They're not serious prescriptions for the real world. So I see the Ron Paul libertarians having no more influence on national politics in the long term than the John Anderson independents did in 1980, or the Bull Moose party in 1912. They'll simply fade away and melt back into the political fringe they came from.

Travc said...

Zorg, well put.

The Dems fracturing wouldn't be so bad IMO, so long as the current GOP is out of the picture. There is certainly a role for reasonable conservatives and little-l libertarians. At this moment, their place is in the Dems big tent though... actually, it has been since at least '92. Remember Clinton's cabinet had center left and center right folks... and the center right people actually won many of the arguments.

'Unity' in the Dem party has always been a bit like herding cats. Pundits deride Dems their lack of 'message discipline', but most of it is due to people having different POVs and opinions. That is a good thing, but not really stable long term for a political party.

One slight nitpick. There are all too many AIPAC Democrats too.

Matt DeBlass said...

From an opinion piece, "The Wrong Fight" by Rachel Klienfeld on

Curiously, for all his fighting words, there was one fight that Senator McCain forgot to mention Thursday. And that was Afghanistan. The country did not appear once in his speech. Nor did it appear in Sarah Palin’s speech on Wednesday, or in Joseph Lieberman’s the night before.

What are we to make of a fighting man who has forgotten a war? Who has forgotten, in fact, our principle war: the one against Al Qaeda, the terrorist force that attacked our country?

Hmmm... Senator McCain, care to elaborate on this one?

The full blog:

Dave Rickey said...

I know that my conspiracy theories of a dominionist plot to subvert American democracy either bore most of you, or make you quietly ignore the crazy guy in the corner.

But we just crossed a very dangerous line, and the other side is the only ones who seem aware of it. Palin is a Dominionist, and a particularly hardcore "Christian Reconstructionist" flavor of the breed, Assemblies of God and probably Joel's Army. She was hand-picked by the Council for National Policy, and in return they are going to throw their support and machine behind McCain. Ohio, Florida, and Old South state with the *possible* exception of Virginia is off the table. It doesn't matter what the votes are, the people who count the votes, the County Election Boards, are going to make sure she wins. With a little help from their new Diebold/Premier voting machines. Not all of the counties in those states, but enough. There's a sophisticated and well-entrenched system in place for suppressing the "wrong" voters and inflating the count for the right candidate, we've only seen it operating below the radar, but this time they will pull no punches.

Notice how uniformly the Religious Right went from trashing McCain at every opportunity to being enthusiastic about his candidacy. The Falwell heirs. Focus On The Family's James Dobson. I could go on, the point is that *all* of these groups, even the ones that throw conniptions over women having authority over men, just threw themselves completely behind McCain in a way they never did behind Huckabee, and they did it seemingly overnight and with total enthusiasm.

That's the obvious danger sign, now I've got to explain a more obscure one. The new GOP platform was also announced. In addition to the usual "stop picking on rich people" economic policies and the expected "fuck diplomacy, let's bomb somebody" foreign policy stance, the very beginning of it contains an odd reference.

Three decades ago, in a world as dangerous
as today’s, Americans of all stripes came together
to advance the cause of freedom. They had witnessed
the wreckage of inexperienced good intentions
at the highest levels of government,
the folly of an amateur foreign policy. And so, in
defiance of a world-wide Marxist advance, they
announced a goal as enduring as the vision of
Isaiah, to “proclaim liberty to the captives,”
summed up America’s strategy for achieving that
end in a timeless slogan:
Peace through strength — an
enduring peace, based on
freedom and the will to
defend it.

"Peace Through Strength" is an invocation of Reagan's slogan, which was on the GOP platform in 80 and 84. But "Proclaim liberty to the captives" is a dogwhistle, a secret code, to a very particular reference that will be familiar to most of the actual Dominionists.

It's a fragment of Isaih 61:1, and the full passage reads:

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
Because the LORD has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
2 To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
3 To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.
4 Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins,
They will raise up the former devastations;
And they will repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations.
5 Strangers will stand and pasture your flocks,
And foreigners will be your farmers and your vinedressers.
6 But you will be called the priests of the LORD;
You will be spoken of as ministers of our God.
You will eat the wealth of nations,
And in their riches you will boast.
7 Instead of your shame you will have a double portion,
And instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion.
Therefore they will possess a double portion in their land,
Everlasting joy will be theirs.
8 For I, the LORD, love justice,
I hate robbery in the burnt offering;
And I will faithfully give them their recompense
And make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Then their offspring will be known among the nations,
And their descendants in the midst of the peoples.
All who see them will recognize them
Because they are the offspring whom the LORD has blessed.
10 I will rejoice greatly in the LORD,
My soul will exult in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
And as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up,
So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise
To spring up before all the nations.

Read that without the filters of a rationalist. View it as someone who has been indoctrinated in biblical passages and interpretations from an early age. *Extensive* interpretation, the "study bibles" used by fundamentalists contain more explanation of passages than actual bible, and all of that expanation is based on a particular flavor of ideology called "Christian Reconstructionism". Someone who has been raised their entire life to believe they are a literal "God Warrior", not in any metaphorical spiritual sense but in the most literal way. There are a few million of them out there, and they are heavily involved in the proselytizing and coercive conversion that has been a big part of the "assault on professionalism" in the military Dr. Brin has been talking about.

What you are reading there is a declaration of the Dominion of God, the Regency of biblical government by His Chosen for 1000 years, until the Return of Christ, the Final Battle against the forces of Evil, and the Judgement. The "prisoners" etc. referenced are the righteous, the true christians, the Dominionists. The "Righteousness and Praise" that will spring up before Nations is a theocratic America that is prophesied to conquer the rest of the world and rule it by Biblical law. And it's incorporated by reference, in the style to which they have been sensitized, in the GOP Platform.

I thought we had until 2012, when a President Obama weakened by economic problems faced Mike Huckabee's second round (and he represents a less extreme faction in the Dominionist camp). But we may very well be out of time. These people will not be satisfied in their ambitions by being merely a "heartbeat from the presidency". And if imprecatory prayer won't do the trick, God helps those who help themselves.

If McCain is elected, within a year we will have President Palin. And after that, theocracy and scenes replayed from the Reformation. If he loses.... I don't think they can set this off and control what happens afterwards. I wonder if Rove and McCain realize what they've done, or if Ken Blackwell inserted that line and nobody else who wasn't in on the gag knew what it meant. This is a movement that contains such elements as the Christian Identity faction, white supremacists with a somewhat tenuous hold on their violent impulses under the best of circumstances.

Oh, on the Unemployment Insurance speech line, also in the platform:

Workers should be able to
direct a portion of their unemployment
insurance into a taxfree
Lost Earnings Buffer
Account that could be used for
retraining or relocation. With
financial incentives to return to
work as soon as possible, this
approach will also require
strengthening community colleges and making them
more accessible through Flexible Training Accounts.

That's also his health insurance plan, "voluntary" Health Savings Accounts, if you don't use them you're fucked. If you run out of money in them, you're fucked. And if you don't use them, free money for the government or your bank of account, depending on how the lobbyists negotiate it (with them on both sides of the table, I think I know). Oh, and he wants us to pay taxes on our employer's contribution to our health benefits as income. Some vague language in an earlier draft that wanted us to pay income taxes on paid benefits. Guess they realized that was a bit too much.

And yes, assuming it all doesn't descend into a Holy War, the political outcome is a Republican implosion (with lots of collateral damage) followed by a Democratic split, with the Blue Dogs forming the nucleus of a new conservative party.


Acacia H. said...

There is a danger in the latest election: willful blindness on the part of Republicans, fueled by cultural and racial fears. Ironically enough, I encountered one of these just last night... with my mother.

My mother isn't stupid, by any stretch of the imagination. She has a college degree and has faced the slings and arrows of an unrestrained corporate setting (ie, being laid off because of restructuring and mergers). However, she does not trust Senator Obama and feels the Democrats will destroy this country.

Last night she stated she was voting for McCain/Palin because she didn't want our national defenses to be dismantled and for the country to be left defenseless. Yes, you heard me right, the latest bullshit being flung around is that Obama is going to dismantle the military and allow the terrorists and commies to come marching in.

I won't get into my argument with her. I didn't have any real points to use with her, and hers is a protest vote as her state is so solidly Democrat that it doesn't matter if she votes for McCain/Palin or not. And in another 60 days, we may very well see the McCain/Palin coalition fracture if proof of Palin's corruption comes to light or any of a number of things.

One thing that I'm a tad curious about is: what happens if one of the candidates is suddenly unable to run? If something were to happen to either Obama or McCain? Would elections be put on hold pending a quick convention for that party, allowing either Clinton for the Dems or probably Romney for the Repubs to pick up the mantle? Or would it go along, one-sided?

I don't remember my history enough to recall what happened when RFK was assassinated as to what the Dems did for a back-up candidate, or what has happened historically in these situations. Though I did recently, in reading an article of FEI, come across an article on political campaigns of the past, where candidates would do things like sending out soap-carved dolls of themselves to people, give out pewter mirrors with their name and campaign on it, and even tire covers as a first incarnation of political bumper stickers, I suppose.

Sorry, went off on a tangent there. ^^;;

Anyway, back to my main point: our greatest threats are fear and ignorance on the part of voters. What's more, these voters are going to resist listening to information that deflates these fears because they're using political fear as a means of justifying their social/racial fears of Obama's skin color.

Why is the campaign so close? Because Obama is black. People will shy away from this simple truth, but that is the primary reason for it. And yet this is also the best chance we'll have in 50 years for a black man to become elected President of the United States... and if he gets in, I suspect that it will do more good in diminishing racial fears and prejudices in this country than decades of social activism.

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

Rob Perkins said...

The state trooper thing seems to me to be sound and fury, but nothing else.

Palin is interesting, in part, the way Obama is interesting. Onto the national stage after a short time in State politics, she seems to come from nowhere to fame on a speech. (Though, the circumstances around getting that speech are also telling and different from Obama's.)

In some ways, McCain is a bona fide genius for having chosen her, over Romney or anyone more well-known. It served to dampen Obama's convention bump.

Speaking as a millenialist (though certainly *not* an Evangelical or Calvinist predestinationist), the criticism about Palin's millenialism may be off the mark, by a little or by quite a very lot. A less than careless reading of the whole Bible, instead of taking Revelation as a single unit, produces a synthesis in which the Christian millenialist *absolutely cannot* be saved unless he *doesn't* wish for the suffering of anyone else, including those projected to die horribly during apocalyptic violence. "Love your enemies," and all that.

So, the question really becomes one of what kind of Christian Palin is, and the interesting part of that is that any criticism toward Palin can be deflected by the same things which refute criticisms toward Obama regarding TCC.

Fascinating stuff. Obama's words turned an R-leaning friend of mine from R-leaning to undecided. Palin's words might have turned that back.

David Constantine said...

Really good point on the Total Lack of Stats, David. I hadn't even noticed it, but it totally fits with the GOP's latest tactic of pretending to be the Opposition. I think a lot of people will fall for it, too: Red State America always believes itself to be the underdog, even when they've got their boot on the country's throat.

Anonymous said...

At the end of an otherwise fluffy article, Confessions of an RNC security guard, something very telling:

"This is my last convention," he tells me, lighting a cigarette.


"I'm a real McCain guy. I served. But I liked the old McCain -- when he was a true hero, before he signed on with the yahoos. I actually believe in 'country first.'"

"Not a fan of Palin?"

"If I were McCain I'd probably bring her onto my ticket, too. That's exactly the problem. I guess I tricked myself into thinking that McCain, even after he watered himself down for the election, could somehow restore sanity. The Democrats tried to paint him as a twin of Bush. Not true. But Palin ... she does remind me of Bush. McCain has made a devil's pact and sealed this party's fate."

Even though he's older, he smokes his cigarette like a young man, with earnest haste, before he flicks it off into the dark.

"That's it," he said, "we're through. Even if we win, we've lost."

I'd be fine with the GOP ripping itself to shreds, but the motor for that would be really horrible times for the Republic.

David Brin said...

Sociotard, I do not claim that Sarah Palin is 100% vile or hypocritical. She spent many months smiling at her colleagues at the Oil & Gas Commission while digging up dirt and evidence on them - and getting them to brag/confide in her - and while the smile-hides-a-knife traits she used aren't pretty, she used them in service to the public.

But note, this also propelled her to where she is. Can you really separate ambition from public service, in this case. I'm willing to credit both.

That's not the part of her that I find scary.

Z's analysis was fascinating and cogent, though I have some reservations. Red America has an inherent advantage in rural state electoral votes, for example.

Yes, the best-case would be for the GOP to implode, though I would hope that Decent Conservatives rally swiftly to revive -- well -- Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose Party (well, maybe Palin would shoot 'em.) Only that would really finish the job, leaving the rump GOP to fester in know-Nothing bile.

Alas, that will lead to McVeigh Hell. But we needed to wake up, anyway.

Frankly, a Bull Moose Party doesn't sound bad at all. Draw in all the pragmatist libertarians. Become representatives of TRUE "small government activism" instead of lying sacoshet hypocrite piggies who use govt as a private trough.

Robert, in 1972 George McGovern chose Senator Eagleton as VP nominee... then it came out that he had been treated for depression in a hospital once. A rump gathering of the Den Nat. Committee replaced him with Sargent Shriver, (father of the current Mrs. Schwarznegger, BTW).

In 1968, RFK (killed 20 feet from my father and the worst day of my life) wasn't yet the nominee, so the dem convention happened "normally".... meaning a teargas-drenched total implosion that nom'd Humphrey amid complete chaos and the most exhausting year America ever faced. God protect us.

Rob, I respect some of the millennialists and Pentecostals I have known. But many others deny wishing ill upon the damned -- but their eyes are windows to their souls, and through them you see nothing but unadulterated glee.

(And below, when I say "you" it does not men YOU but in the general scenario presentation sense.)

I mean, come on! We are human. How very convenient it is, to envision that "your side" is destined to come out not only validated and victorious. as an absolute and perfect promise from the Big Guy himself, who will give you the top prizes while all who ever disagreed with you will "get theirs." And it gets better!

While praying for this day to happen, you also get to pin all the bad stuff on the Big Guy! It's HIS will, after all, unalterable and vengeful and completely merciless... but what can you do but shrug? Ah well.

And dig the perfect part. you get to claim that you don't even hate your enemies! Yes, Dobson prays for harm on those he hates. But most get to wrap themselves in a hypnotic layer of muzzy "love"-sanctimony. "Loving" those who they believe to be damned to eternal torment.

Sorry, I don't accept it. If I am saved but others around me are damned - who are decent people, trying hard to do good and be good, even though their incantations may be a little different - then I don't want any part of that deal. Moreover, I don't believe for an instant that the Big Guy does, either. There is much that's good in the Bible. Some even inspired. But the Council of Nicea was full of bitter, vengeful men and they included that acid trip raving by John of Patmos because it made them feel a lovely hit of vengeance-wrath. They were not good men.

Anonymous said...

Dangerous to America is my summation of Palin. The thing that bothers me most is her trying to fire the town librarian while mayor, because she would not remove books from the library. Visions of a certain Ray Radbury novel came into my head on that one.

Unlike Hucabee had to study the bible and probably realizes that here may be opposing points of view. Theologically Sara has never been forced to think for herself.

I would lay off the criticism of Revelations its counterproductive and up until the 1800’s people saw it as a allegory and a spiritual ammunition dump. Its been used for good or bad just like most books of the bible. The book of psalms and a few others may preach genocide and infanticide but if you expel them from the cannon you exclude the reality of the dark side of human behavior.

David Brin said...

I waxed a bit too frothy there. I apologize.

Still, I feel that people who smile at their neighbors while assuming that they are consigned to eternity in torment... well, I just find it hard to picture doing that.

And if they're politicians I think they ought to come right out and say it.

Travc said...

@dave rickey,
I don't go as far as you, but the Dominionist stuff disturbs me a great deal. I don't think we are that close to the tipping point where they could really take power, but letting them set in place (they are 95% there without Palin) waiting for the opportunity (terrorist attack?) is not wise.

It appears there is more to troopergate.

After the announcement of Palin as VP, 7 people who were slated to testify in the investigation got lawyers and sent letters that they would not cooperate (all within 72 hours of each other).

Palin herself has signaled that she will probably be 'too busy', and the committee running the investigation (majority Republicans) have said they will not compel her to testify because it would be
"inappropriate conduct given the unique political circumstances" and "disrespectful."

Palin has also launched her own 'investigation' run by the State Personnel Board (three people she appointed). Her lawyer has already played the 'we can not cooperate with you because we have to cooperate with the other investigation' card.

The obstruction reeks. It seems implausible Palin and McCain's goons are so stupid as to make a coverup which stinks more than what it is hiding.

Finally, there is only one candidate if you care at all about mitigating Global Climate Change. Even Tom Friedman can see that.
(Stopped watches and all that.)

Travc said...

A thought, perhaps an ostrich argument:

The US is the most powerful nation in the world, right? I'm much more worried about the US destroying itself than some terrorists or a third-rate country being able to.

Economic collapse from insane fiscal policies.
Abandoning our civil rights and turning into a police state. Starting wars all over the world which drain or blood, treasure, and moral standing.
And even the possibility of our own Christian Taliban taking over.

These are much more serious threats to America right now than Al Qaeda or Iran.

Travc said...

Damn, forgot a big one.

Blindly destroying our own environment.

Anonymous said...

That's political life.

Unknown said...


As a junior officer in the Navy I appreciate your insightful and concise arguments as to where our country is heading as well as where it should be going. I only wish more people would understand the true gears of motion for our government. The current situation does remind of the conditions that gave rise to Rome's Social Wars. I ask myself every now and then how much further before the next American Civil War?

Hopefully never.

Unknown said...

I also ask myself how much longer before the next Uplift book.

Hopefully soon.

David Brin said...

James, thank you for your service and for your attendance here. I often send books to ship librarians. Let me know if you encounter any who could use a few.

Working on a giant book like EARTH right now. But I have hopes...

For about a dozen reasons -- God bless the Navy.

Dave Rickey said...

Yeah, she is Joel's Army. Here is a YouTube showing her not just in the pews, but on the stage and named as governor while her preacher talks about how Alaska will be a refuge during the Tribulation (starting at about 1:30). Believing the Tribulation is the first stage of the Last Days, and not the second or last, is a defining property of "Third Wave" theology that underlies Joel's Army.

Guys, this is the real thing, not a scifi plot or a conspiracy theory. There are people out there that genuinely believe that God wants them to wage a Holy War for the purification of the human race, and the GOP VP nominee is one of them.

David Brin said...

Only at the very end does the video zero in on the scary part.

I think the emphasis is all wrong. Showing that these people are kooky is interesting. But there is a two-way tug between shivering over their illogic and monomania, on the one hand, and the general American will-toward tolerance of all eccentricities. If you emphasize the former too much, then you come across as somebody who opposes the latter. Somebody smug and contemptuous of other peoples' beliefs, however crazy they may seem.

But there is another side to these Dominionist churches that has no two-ways of being perceived. It's very simple.

I doubt most Americans would vote for a person who explicitly believes them to be damned and who prays for the end of the world and the US, as we know it. That is really fundamental. And the question ought to be asked.

Travc said...

I second Dr Brin's sentiment. Thanks. More than once it has been mentioned here that the officer corps and especially the Navy are institutions with great merit and value. Some of us talk about drastically cutting military spending, but please never think that we (at least the regulars here) don't value the strategic importance and day to day work being done.

I'd argue we could actually do with a larger Navy. No other branch has the same strategic sense or importance in peacetime IMO.

On your comparison to Rome's Social Wars... Growing inequality coupled with an economy built on debt seems like a bad idea, even without knowing any history. Even a rhesus monkey is unhappy with a slice of cucumber when his neighbor was given a nice juicy grape.

So long as the US military takes an oath to uphold and defend the constitution, I feel a little optimism though. Dominionist infiltrators, political cronies and tools in the officer corps, and privatization of the military are rapidly weakening this last safety valve though.

sociotard said...

I was talking to an ostrich today and I mentioned Dr. Brin's argument that we need to make sure the next president doesn't engage in cronyism to the extent Bush has. McCain has begun surrounding himself with many of the same people Bush did, which is an indication McCain might engage in cronyism. Obamba has spent little time in politics, so he probably owes fewer favors.

They shrugged it off saying "I'm sure he owes plenty of favors. He's from the Chicago machine."

What is your favorite counter argument? What is the best evidence that Obama will be more meritocratic?

David Brin said...

1. what favors did he need? c'mon, He got State Senate on a local groundswell and vaulted to US Senate in an insurgent debate.

2. Clinton promoted from within the Civil Service. Bush never has. Under Clinton the civil service was respected, listened to. But no president has been as loathed by the pros at the FBI, CIA, Justice, or the US military Officer Corps than GW Bush.

3. If he cannot hear facts like "the economy, stocks, small businesses and the budget always do better under dems..." and willingly ponder "I might be wrong"... then he's beyond hope.

sociotard said...

Oh, some arguments that won't work:

Democratic presidents historically engage in less cronyism. They don't care. They see themselves mostly independents. Sure, they vote Republican often enough, but to them all politicians blend together in an morass of corruption and collusion. To them, the above argument sounds like "You can pet this tiger, because it's from the east side of the mountain. We haven't seen nearly as many people get eaten by tigers on the east side of the mountain."

Acacia H. said...

Just a sad little thought here. The majority of Americans are, as a nation, in essence a collective of abused spouses who are afraid to leave our abuser because the other person might be worse.

Think of all the ostriches we've seen who refuse to vote Democrat because the Democrats will be worse than the Republicans. Why do they believe it? Because. Never mind the fact that things were better under Clinton (damn, I need to wash my mouth out after saying that), Democrats are Bad.

The latest US Today/Gallup Poll shows Obama down by 10 with McCain over 50%. I am suspecting the poll is incorrect, but it is still worrisome, and makes me wonder. How do you convince someone who is being abused to leave their abuser... with the abuser being the Republican party?

Rob H.

sociotard said...

1) *shrugs* he does have William Daley as an advisor. The Daley family is notorius.

2)Obama is not Clinton. This guy sees himself as an independant. He will assume Obama to be free of cronyism just because somebody from Obama's party was.

3)He actually volunteered that the economy would do better under Obama than McCain before I could say it. I don't think he cares. He's old and rich and retired. Anyway that kind of skirts the subject. I'm not going to get anywhere if I just jump from topic to topic anytime I encounter resistance. I want to take one argument and prove it beyond all doubt.

He seems to view it as strictly an experience issue

David Brin said...

My main ostrich essay is at:'s been plenty of developments, since.

Tony Fisk said...

The barrascudder is a worry. (Although... ono! It's the fish slapping dance!)

My feeling is that the latest poll reflects the latest information bytes... which came from the Republican convention. That, and a certain admiration that the whole shebang didn't collapse under the onslaught of hurricanes and er.. family issues. I predict a return to prior polling levels in the next week or two.

I hope.

@sociotard: Experience? Can your ostrich say 'Palin for President!'?

sociotard said...

Some more connections:

David Axelrod: A top advisor. He was a political consultant in the Chicago machine. He is sometimes called the Obama version of Karl Rove.

Valerie Jarrett: Onetime employee of Richard Daley.

Zbigniew Brzezinski: Basically an old hand in washington. He's an important advisor and brings decades of favors to the table.

Now, there's nothing wrong with making connections in politics. The question is, how far will Obama go for a favor? What is the worst thing he would do in the name of loyalty? And what is our evidence for where that line is? Where Clinton drew that line is NOT evidence Obama would draw it in the same place.

sociotard said...

@sociotard: Experience? Can your ostrich say 'Palin for President!'?

I mentioned that. He says that the part of the ticket where experience matters most is the first line. He seems to think that McCain has at least four more years in him, and then Palin will be all nice and experienced. Heck, McCain only has to last two years, and then Palin will have as much federal experience as Obama has now.

I just say that experience isn't that good a predictor of who will be a good president. I'm voting Obama because McCain seems too hawkish. (but I still see the republican ticket as having a more favorable experience distribution than the Obama ticket)

David Brin said...

Except that any dem pres will have, use and rely upon the "experience" of the entire civil service and officer corps.

That is hundreds of thousands of man years more experience than Bush/Cheney plus a few hundred venial lobbyists and recent grads from Bob Jones University.

Tony Fisk said...

Sounds like your 'ostrich' is a party animal through and through (ie either a complete cynic, or someone unwilling to look beyond the party brand)

I suggest you look elsewhere (possibly the audience to your conversations?)

Travc said...

@Sociotard, Maybe try pointing out that Dem cronies aren't nearly as incompetent as the current crop of GOP cronies. The Dems also don't make blind political loyalty the number 1 virtue.

Unknown said...

Zogby poll from 5 September puts Mcain-Palin ticket at 19.7% vs Obama-Binen at 45.9% in the post-convention bounce. The one-on-one poll is closer, with McCain now at 48.8% to Obama's 45.7%.
This is a post-convention bounce. Obama's post-convention bounce was 6%, while McCain's post-convention bounce is around 3%. This puts the equilibrium polling, after the effects of both conventions have tailed off, at around what it was before the conventions: a 3% lead nationally for Obama.
The electoral vote picture looks significantly different from the popular vote, however.
Here's a roundup of the electoral vote summaries from four different sources: worst case has Obama at 273 to McCain's 265, best case is Obama 303 to McCain's 234.

Political Scientist John Bolz in the latest issue of Washington Monthly (not available online) penned an article in which he summarizes the overview based on previous elections. Presidential elections, Bolz writes, tend to boil down to referenda on the current administration's economic record. With the Repubs in power for the last 8 years, that gives Obama a comfortable victory, according to Bolz.

Joe Klein, a long-time apologist for the radical extremists in office, seems finally to have had enough:
Maybe I'm getting old, maybe it's that I've seen this act so often before, maybe it's that the people I talk to when I go out on the road really are having a harder time paying for things like health care, gasoline and college tuition, but I'm finding the Republican attempts to derail the conversation from the actual state of the country really depressing and disgraceful this year. They practice Orwellian politics of the crudest sort. They are trying to sell a big lie -- that the election is about the social issues of the 1960s, or Barack Obama's patriotism or his eloquence, or the "angry left," when it's really about turning toward a more moderate path after the ideological radicalism and malfeasance of the past eight years.

Kevin Drum argues it won't work this time.

Of course, the Repub dirty tricks have now hit high gear: 600,000 voters subject to caging in Ohio and the purging of 3 million Democratic voters from voting rolls nationwide.

In the longer term, however, the entire Republican policy of favoring the top 10% and crushing everyone else looks self-defeating:

The Vanishing Republican Voter
Measured by money income, Washington qualifies as one the most unequal cities in the United States. Yet these two very different halves of a single city do share at least one thing. They vote the same way: Democratic. And in this, we are not alone. As a general rule, the more unequal a place is, the more Democratic; the more equal, the more Republican. The gap between rich and poor in Washington is nearly twice as great as in strongly Republican Charlotte, N.C.; and more than twice as great as in Republican-leaning Phoenix, Fort Worth, Indianapolis and Anaheim.
My fellow conservatives and Republicans have tended not to worry very much about the widening of income inequalities. As long as there exists equality of opportunity — as long as everybody’s income is rising — who cares if some people get rich faster than others? Societies that try too hard to enforce equality deny important freedoms and inhibit wealth-creating enterprise. Individuals who worry overmuch about inequality can succumb to life-distorting envy and resentment.
All true! But something else is true, too: As America becomes more unequal, it also becomes less Republican. The trends we have dismissed are ending by devouring us.

Meanwhile, Europe pulls ahead of the U.S. in scientific research.

...Even as the U.S. mlitary readies another useless superweapon. How will this Buck Rogers death ray help us defeat insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Of course, it won't. It's worthless.

We Fought Cancer...And Cancer Won


The Virtual Is No Refuge From the Real
One of the most popular beliefs of the computer era has been that virtual places are every bit as okay as real places. This idea gained popularity in direct proportion to the spread of immersively ugly, monotonous, dysfunctional suburban environments through the 1980s and 90s. The more our nation came to be composed of crappy housing subdivisions, highway strips, Big Box fiefdoms, and parking wastelands, the more appealing the idea of virtual reality became. (..)
For children, this trend has been catastrophic because they lack the mobility to use environments designed solely for motoring. This consigns kids either to nebulous low-grade hangouts in the left over scrap places of suburbia - the 7-Eleven parking lot, the storm sump, the wooded "buffer" between the housing tract and the strip mall - or to virtual and heavily commercialized public realms of television and the computer, which include rentable movies, the Internet, and computer games.
The most remarkable aspect of these movies and games is their violence, grandiosity, antisocial behavior, and exaltation of technology. A lone Bruce Willis potently and adroitly kills dozens of enemies and saves the world. A gamer manipulates a joystick to waste legions of invaders with virtual gunfire or death rays to save the world. The wish to save the world is obviously not inadvertent since it is based on the perhaps subconscious recognition that our immediate "world" of American culture and American place badly needs to be saved.
The bottom line is this: No combination of alternative fuels or procedures will allow us to run what we are currently running in the United States, or even a substantial fraction of it. (..)
If we want American civilization to continue we will have to rescale and reorganize everything we do, from farming, to schooling, to retail commerce, to the places we live in. We will have to rebuild local networks of economic interdependence and we will have to reconstruct real communities as the context for it to happen in. There will be a lot less motoring. Circumstances will compel us to do this or the future will belong to other people in other places.

Of course, Kunstler's final sentence should actually read: "Circumstances will compel us to do this and the future will belong to other people in other places."

The era of American global dominance is over -- we just haven't admitted it yet. As the world's biggest debtor nation with a huge long-running balance of payments deficit, America is now dependent on the fiscal kindness of other nations like China. Far from being the strongest nation in the world, America is now a pitiful helpless giant, broke, wracked by chronic oil addition, morally destroyed by the depravity of our so-called "war on terrorism" which involves torture and kidnapping and support of foreign terrorists, paralyzed by incessant internal culture war, brain-damaged by a massive rise in irrationality and crippled by a casino economy which no longer produces real goods or real services. Clearly America is now a servile client state bowing and scraping to the real masters of modern world: the states with vast oil reserves and the nations with vast balance of payments surpluses courtesy of their cheap labor. When the Kingdom of Saud tell America to jump, we ask "How high?" And when the Chinese threaten us with their colossal balance of payments overhang and tell American corporations to crawl, we ask: "How low?"

Unknown said...

The Zogby poll obviously puts McCain-Palin at 49.7% as of 5/6 September, not 19.7% (typo).

sociotard said...

Wow. I must be articulating myself really badly. Lets try again.

Except that any dem pres will have, use and rely upon the "experience" of the entire civil service and officer corps. ~ David Brin

The Dems also don't make blind political loyalty the number 1 virtue. ~ Travc

Every one of these arguments says the same basic thing:

"Obama is a democrat, and previous Democratic presidents have not engaged in cronyism. Therefore Obama will not engage in cronyism."

That won't work for my ostrich, simply because he is not a party animal. He will not look at Obamas predicesors or Obamas friends. He will look at Obama and what he has said and what he has done.

Becoming a Democrat does not make people take upon themselves the virtues of Democrats. It's like saying that because Carter was an honest man, and Carter was a devout Christian, George Bush is an honest man, because George Bush is a devout Christian. It makes no sense.

Actually, now you've all got me wondering. Is the only piece of evidence you have that Obama will rebuild the civil service the little (D) next to his name?

I'll bet that if I tried I could find one Democrat, somewhere, that gave out a position based on owing a favor. Tell me how you know that Obama is not that Democrat.

Travc said...

How about looking at who they have as advisers?

Here is a WaPo article on FP advisers:
The War Over the Wonks. This was before the primary was over, and some of the other candidates advisers have come in to work with the winners.

There is also this Bloomberg article on Obama's economic advisers.

I'm sure the campaign websites have more info... well at least Obama's (McCain's site sucks.)

Anyway, I've gone into my spiel about how the campaign org and staff is probably the best indication of the potential administration before. No, "he is a Dem" isn't where my optimism comes from (though "he is a Repub" does pretty much disqualify candidates for me at this point.)

Travc said...

A good article on Georgia (the country) from the New York Review of Books. I don't really have anything to add to it.

Anonymous said...

"Just from what little I've seen of her and Mr. Obama, Sen. Obama, they're a member of an elitist-class individual that thinks that they're uppity."

-- Georgia Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland

Someone tuned their dog-whistle WAY too low.

Acacia H. said...

On a small non-political tangent, here's a rather interesting article about Japanese green vehicles, including a viable fuel-cell car, an electric car that gets 160 miles per charge, and how Japanese automakers are now making a profit with their hybrids. Considering Japan is dependent on other countries for oil, they have an excellent reason to go electric and hydrogen. They're years ahead of the U.S. And they're going to capitalize on it.

Of course, if the U.S. government decided to support Tesla Motors and gave them funding to get them building and selling electric cars on a large scale, we'd probably catch up fairly quickly. But the chances of that happening are non-existent.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

This darn campaign has been going on so long that it has taken on a sort of weird alternate universe life of its own.

Soon, but not soon enough, it will be over.

And then the real show begins.
Over the weekend I had a chance to catch up with some friends. My political views are known to regular posters here. But most of my age/class/educational level equivalents seem to be fervent, and I have to say a little uncritical, Obama supporters. And there is the smell of fear on them.
I do not know how the election will turn out. So many things can happen, and I have a few private predictions as to suprises that should not be surprises at all.
But at the end we will have a President and Vice President elect.

I am going to say now, for anybody who is interested, that I will support him (and him/her in the VP case).

Either Obama or McCain is going to take office, and have a gigantic job on their hands. Fond and approving as I am of political debate, there will come a time where the riper, conspiracy oriented flavor of it becomes counterproductive.

I have faith in the system, which is part of why I am a conservative. I can live with an Obama presidency if the people so ordain. How will you react to a McCain presidency?


Rob Perkins said...

(And below, when I say "you" it does not men YOU but in the general scenario presentation sense.)


Sorry, I don't accept it. If I am saved but others around me are damned - who are decent people, trying hard to do good and be good, even though their incantations may be a little different - then I don't want any part of that deal.

I appreciate you leaving me out of that criticism.

I don't think you could make a better case for putting the Evangelicals in a political penalty box for at least two years, than that gloss of Calvinism and its cousins, there. There's something wrong with a religious system which proselytes through implicit threat, if our goal is a liberal political union of diverse people.

It might come down to: Which Christians do you want? Do you want the Christians which (as David correctly points out) pray for the gruesome deaths of stubborn dissenters whom they "love"? (Dobson and ilk, and probably Palin)

Or would you rather have the Christians who say things like, "I can be a thinking person and still believe"? (Obama, also Harry Reid, for what that's worth, incidentally both converts to the Christian idea rather than having been raised in it.)

The inexorable conclusion is that the thinking-man's Christian is operating out of the Democratic party, at least where this election is concerned.

It's still marvelous jiu-jitsu on McCain's part. He chose someone who energizes exactly the factions which the Dems had hoped would stay completely home.

(And not to pick too much at nits, though, but the Bible wasn't compiled at Nicaea. Of course the council there was an unabashed political game.)

And I still say, with respect to the gleeful eyes of the millennialists you've known: They're not really Christians. "I say unto you, love your enemies," etc. Wishing them suffering and dead through the direct wrath of a just God ain't love.

People who forget that forget a fundamentally irrevocable tenet.

Acacia H. said...

So... any thoughts on the Palin Bounce? Several polls currently show Senator McCain and Governor Palin having seized the lead over Senators Obama and Biden, with much of this due to how Palin identifies with a lot of the base McCain was failing to attract on his own. But how long will it last?

One issue lies with how Palin has been kept from the media's eyes unless under the strict supervision of McCain. No interviews, not much in the way of solo appearances (I'm unsure if she's had any to be honest, but am willing to give the benefit of the doubt)... in essence, McCain is failing to capitalize on Palin's current popularity, and you have to wonder if Palin's negatives (Troopergate, appointing a sexual harasser to office, and other little bits that could tarnish her charm quickly enough) are enough that McCain feels it necessary to keep Palin on a very short leash.

Add to this the fact that McCain has turned on even his tame reporters (who loved him even more than the mainstream media seemed to love Obama) and you've a campaign that is looks like it's becoming your traditional Republican campaign - anti-media, negative, and fear-mongering. And this from the "maverick" candidate who said things would be different in this campaign?


Daily Kos also has its knickers in a knot over apparent voter disenfranchisement. Considering it takes the mainstream media several days at least to react to things like this, I doubt we won't see anything until near the end of the week. Still, this is an ominous little turn here... and at the same time it's also a good turn.

How could this be good, you ask? Because whoever was behind this acted too soon. If this was initiated just days before the end of Voter Registration for the general election, then it would be a huge problem. But at this point, Obama's campaign has the opportunity to find out who was removed from the rolls and work to get them reinstated.

In short, Obama's people will be out working to re-register voters who will be feeling angry at the establishment (ie, Republicans) and who will vote to punish them. You could see some widespread ousters of Republicans in what were considered safe districts for the conservatives. Further, when the news media finally does get off its duff and starts reporting about it, people are going to start asking questions and the blame will end up in McCain's court (even if he directly didn't give the order to do this).

So... it could have been bad, but I strongly suspect it'll benefit Obama and the Democratic party as a whole because the Republicans acted too early... and in large enough numbers that people will not believe it to be coincidental or accidental.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Excellent response, Rob. Your version is always welcome here.

When Palin finally hits the interview shows, a VERY carefully phrased "Do you think most Americans are damned?" question would be great. But dang, it'd have to be very very carefully parsed.

Anonymous said...

Palin. Clueless:

Speaking before voters in Colorado Springs, the Republican vice presidential nominee claimed that lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had "gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers." The companies, as McClatchy reported, "aren't taxpayer funded but operate as private companies. The takeover may result in a taxpayer bailout during reorganization."

A few weeks back a GOP camapign op said that this election wasn't about the issues, it was about showing the voters the candidates' personalities.

In other words, a popularity contest, right out of High School student body president elections.

Idiots. Fraking idiots. The Republicans can hardly bear to say the word "Bush" in public, and here they are creaming their panties over another down-home idiot from the provinces, where Real People live.

Anonymous said...

I have just downloaded a dispatch from that weird alternative political universe You know, the one slightly asynchronous in time but otherwise identical to ours except that John McCain wins by 15 electoral votes....

From: Chairman Democratic National Committee

To: The news media.
Gee thanks guys. Next time you want to give gushing, uncritical coverage of one of our candidates remember that from the perception of the public, being embraced by you types is like being publically nuzzled by an untreated leper, who won't stop nibbling on earlobes even as significant parts of said leper are falling off. Lets have strict professionalism. Don't make me bring this leper quote to Fox.

To: the entertainment industry.
You all have your right to free speech. And those of you who are actually US citizens each get one vote. Please, act as private citizens. Ham handed public endorsements do little for our cause. Man, that Letterman top ten reasons to like Sarah Palin "She Can't get on Oprah either!". Gotta leave a mark.

To: Trial Lawyers Assn.
See comments above re: hideous lepers.

To: Public Employee Unions.
You guys are a special case. You are actually well respected in America. But is is because of the fine jobs you do, not because of your political activism. Be the best teachers, fire fighters, DMV clerks you can be. And if politics gets in the way of doing so, then politics be damned.

To: Party chairpersons at all levels.
Recruit as many political newcomers as you can muster. We need nurses, farmers, machinists and secretaries running for office under our flag. The only cure for claims of elitism is eliminating the reality of it. Our worthy opponants will be doing the same.

Finally I will take my leave of you all, as our recent electoral defeat in the face of almost impossibly favorable odds demands that I submit my resignation. I remain positive about the American political system.

It sure beats what I would have to do under the Japanese system.

(tongue firmly in cheek)


Travc said...

@Rob Re: voter purging/caging/disenfranchisement

Yeah, they screwed up, but that may be a very bad sign of things to come. It may just indicate that their efforts are gearing up on a massive enough scale that the probability of someone opening fire too soon is really high.

As for the RNC Palin/convention bounce. 538 is guessing it may be largely due to increased enthusiasm among the base (who were going to vote for McCain anyway). The term of art is 'the shy tory effect'. Telephone based polls suck in a number of ways.

Rob Perkins said...

When Palin finally hits the interview shows, a VERY carefully phrased "Do you think most Americans are damned?" question would be great. But dang, it'd have to be very very carefully parsed.

It would be relatively easy, actually. Simply ask her two or three things: First, "What is it about her religion which makes her most excited? Can she talk a little bit about the things which inspire her to continue as a believing Christian?"

And second, "Which luminaries in her faith tradition, alive today, inspire her the most? Dobson? Osteen? Others?"

And finally, if the reporter is prepared, simply ask, "One tenet of Evangelical Christianity relates to the Rapture and the events surrounding it. For example, the depictions in Tim LaHaye's "Left Behind" books were very popular. Can you describe your opinion of those books, and talk a little about the Rapture and your beliefs surrounding the Revelation of John?"

Take the answers, triangulate against the publications of the luminaries she names, and there you go.

David Brin said...

Excellent. Still, once the triangulation is complete, I would still explicitly ask about both the damnation question and praying for a fiery day that will end the United States of America.

Anonymous said...

How would I react to a McCain presidency?

I would be dismayed, deeply disappointed with the US and kind of angry that I will be paying for the incredible cost of continuing the stupid policies of the Bush Administration. And afraid for America's future (and my future) I do not think that McCain has the strategic insight needed to be effective. McCain will have a much harder time leading this country due to the bitter disappointment of ~50% of this county and most of the rest of the world. (we might have to pay higher interest rate
on our debt?)

I would be slightly comforted with the Democrats in control of the house and senate, but if their performance is as useless as it is now, the comfort will be slight indeed.

But if McCain would govern by working with the Democratic majorities rather than trying to shave off a few yellow dogs to go with the the Republican minority I would reassess my judgment. But I will be judging based on actions not words.

Unknown said...

Your USA/Gallup poll citation deliberately pulled a fire alarm that's statistically unsound. You need to learn how to read polls, and you need to learn what poll numbers really mean.

First, popular polls always exhibit some variance around a mean. Second, specific events in the news give these numbers a temporary bump for one candidate or the other, which soon tails off.

So what we're talking about is a variance clustered a mean at any given time, and also a time-varying variance clustered around a time-changing mean. The second involve ANOVA analysis, essentially time-series analysis.

This is all just a fancy way of saying that we need to be aware of 2 things when looking at poll numbers: [1] any given set of polls on any given date will have outliers far from the mean, and results closer to the mean. To guesstimate the likely "actual" poll results at time X we have to take a look at the two outlying poll values and guesstimate some value between 'em. [2] the time-varying mean varies around some more stable time-varying mean, assuming the vote count is roughly ergodic.

In this case, we have 3 polls done on 9/5/2008:

ABC/Washington Post 9/5-7 49 47
CNN/Opinion Research 9/5-7 48 48
USA Today/Gallup 9/5-7 54 44

The 2 outliers here are USA Today/Gallup and CNN/Opinion Research. The value in between is ABC/Washington Post, which is why I cited that one.

A naive guesstimate would simply take the arithmetic difference twixt the USA Today & CNN polls, which gives us half of a 10-point variance. So naively we might expect that the "true" poll value is actually somewhere in the ballpark of McCain 51%, Obama 46%.

We also have to remember that this is a time series and it's been hit with a Dirac delta function by the RNC. Prior to the RNC Obama's long-term numbers had stabilized at 3% above McCain's. After the DNC, Obama's numbers temporarily hit 6% above McCain's. If McCain is now polling 5% above after the RNC and the Obama polled at 6% above after the DNC, common sense suggests that the mean value is somewhere around half of 6% up and 5% up, since there are now the time-varying variances. Half of that is about a half percent up for McCain from the long-term ergodic value, which put Obama up by 3%. That's 2.5% up for Obama. That's the way to read these poll numbers.

This still represents a crude metric, because we're only talking bulk national numbers and we haven't broken 'em down into margins among likely undecided voters in swing states. It turns out that Obama's edge among undecided voters is much larger than McCain's, and in particular Obama's margin among undecideds in swing states is considerably larger than McCain's.

I reiterate my earlier projection: a razor-thin popular vote but a substantial electoral vote margin for Obama.

The other question we haven't dealt with here involves Repub voter caging. Whether these poll numbers include voter caging, I don't know. We do know that the Repubs have purged around 3 million likely Demo voters from the rolls, most of 'em black.

Call me an optimist, but I just don't think this will help the Repubs this time around. The ovrall right track/wrong track numbers are just too lopsided. In other words, Obama's win will not come just from black people voting as a block or from liberals voting for him, but from disgusted moderates and conservatives. Repubs can't cage conservative voters because they'd be eating into their own base. If Repubs try to purge likely conservative voters, they'll cut their own throats. That's why I still think Obama will win.

Unknown said...

Call me a really inveterate optimist, but I probably wouldn't have much of a problem with a McCain presidency. Because it would likely play out like this:

[1] Demos seems very likely to capture both House and Senate in blowout margins. The House in particular is likely to get veto-proof and cloture-guaranteeing margins for Demos.

[2] This means that if McCain sends crazy neocon-theocon legislation up, the veto-proof Demo supermajority can just blow it out. And the repubs will try to filibuster, but the Demos can cloture every filibuster hard. A few of those, and the Repubs turn into the "obstructionist party."

[3] After a couple of months of hard stonewall, McCain goes to his own party and says, "Guys, we've got to work with the Demos. It's not 2002 anymore. We can't shut off the lights in their hearings and turn off their microphones anymore. We don't control K street anymore, and we don't have the country behind us on this. We have got to compromise."

[4] If McCain's backers won't compromise, his presidency becomes a giant gridlock. All McCain's nominations get nuked, the government grinds to a halt. Crazy bills like more tax cuts for the rich die in committee. More defense spending gets vetoed. Meanwhile, the house shuts down funding for the Iraq war.

[5] If McCain's party accedes to reality, we get a moderate center-right agenda. If they don't, 4 years of nothing getting done while the country gets increasing resentful of the Repubs for their obstructionism. Then, in 2012, an even bigger blowout for the Demos.

The right track/wrong track numbers are just too lopsided. There is no possible way McCain can ram through anything like the agenda the current crew in the White House have gotten passed into law. Factor in a nasty prolonged economic downturn, and you've got a renewed culture war...but this time a populist culture war against the rich. I mean, you can just see the Demo senators and congressman at news conferences, can't you? "The average homeowner is losing his house and losing his job, and President McCain wants to give _more_ tax breaks for billionaires!"

Remember the demographics: the more unequal society becomes economically, the more people tend to vote for Demos. This includes the upper 20% as well as the bottom 80%, folks.

Maybe I'm idiotically optimistic, but looks to me like a win-win. The important point is that control of the power of the purse, in the house, looks virtually certain to revert to Demos, and by a huge margin. As Brin keeps pointing out, it's the local races that matter here. The Prez proposes but congress disposes. That's why I'm optimistic. The only real danger involves a McCain order to invade Iran -- and frankly, given the deterioration in the U.S. Army, I'm guessing every member of the JCS will stand up and give McCain a hard "No!" if he tries to give that order.

Remember: Adm. Fallon shut down the plans by the current lunatics in the White House to attack iran. And they're much more wacked out than McCain is likely to be. McCain is former U.S. Navy. If every member of the JCS tells him, "Sir, with respect, it is not militarily feasible at this time," my guess is, McCain backs off.

learner said...

I seldom post here because of time and not wanting to look foolish but too many things are beginning to line up.
I have thought for a long time that the powers who run Bush do not want to be in the White House for the next 4 years.
One of the reasons McCain was put up for the seat.
They figured let the old guy have his run. Obama will kill him. but then Obama didn't put him away so...
All of a sudden the Rove guys show up to take over the campaign.

When McCain announced Palin I said that there was no way he was serious and that she would be off the ticket before the election but after the convention so he could pick the candidate of his choice. And please notice the slow release of information through the media to paint Palin as a liar and religious zealot. will still get the base but will lose him the independents. Tomorrow I expect to hear about her husband's membership in the successionist party whose slogan is F... America!

But just in case, they are throwing Bush under the bus with Woodward's latest book which shows how incompetent Bush really was but not necessarily Cheney please note. This is designed to show us that we can blame the war on the cult of Bush not the Republican Party.

This is the stuff of Primary Colors or Wag the Dog no one would believe it if it was in a book of fiction. but really a secret mysterious weapon that the military now has to get the bad guys finally?

Please tell me this is not news I am watch but another new conspiracy movie.

David Brin said...

Z - McC could still run interference for the kleptos by continuing to quash the FBI & civil service.

In any event, you are assuming he last 4 years. And he definitely would have our fervent prayers.

Anonymous said...

In reference to Zorgons comments on how to read polls -

Every poll other than USAT/Gallop shows 8-12% undecided. Note, this includes third-party voters.

The USAT/Gallup poll shows 2% undecided/third party.

When a methodology is this screwy, the best thing to do is chuck the poll out of your analysis.

Tony Fisk said...

Sayeth Zorgon:
Remember the demographics: the more unequal society becomes economically, the more people tend to vote for Demos. This includes the upper 20% as well as the bottom 80%, folks.

Does that mean the dems would naturally favour a pyramid society, whereas the GOP should strive for a diamond?

(Just kidding!)

My take on tacitus2's question is that McCain would cause me much angst, but I would tolerate it (after all, I tolerated Howard for 15 years!)

(Trouble is, there are signs we have been treading water for far too long, and really can't afford any more of the same old environmental policies!)

At the moment, until some of those links with dominionism are resolved, I would not accept Palin.

(On a vaguely related note, I came across this little statistic the other day: In March, Eight in Ten Say Public Should Have Greater Influence on Government. As a counterpoint, the report included excerpts from an interview with Cheney:
When ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz cited polling data showing majority opposition to the Iraq war, Cheney responded, "So?" Asked, "So--you don't care what the American people think?" he responded, "No," and explained, "I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls.")

wrt Rob's hypothetical interview, I would further suggest that the interviewer should arrange to let Palin broach the topic of religion herself. (someone like Andrew Denton could do this!)

I'll take folk's word on the local races.

Naum said...

Essay on (with other writers chiming in with their takes...) on WHAT MAKES PEOPLE VOTE REPUBLICAN by Jonathan Haidt

Intriguing, but mostly without any viable solutions (leaves me pessimistic, as someone wired that way just won't ever "get it" and that's a phrase I hate hearing because I've always learned to keep eyes open and ears receptive to dissenting views), though I love reading what intelligent people have to say... (including you too David, as I've read through your posted writings on there too...)

Anonymous said...

I've read Jonathan Haidt's stuff, and I qualify as having a strongly liberal morality by his metric. That being said, I do value ingroup/loyalty and authority/respect, but only because I believe that they are useful for achieving the goals of liberal morality, and not as ends in themselves.

(Loyalty and respect are good if they are deserved; if your father is going to go burn down somebody's house and you can't talk him out of it, then the right thing to do is turn him in to the police.)

Anonymous said...

An aside, Dick Cheney was in Rome last Sunday: we met the motorcade at a crossing...funny enogh, there was also an ambulance. It seems that he was recognized in a restaurant and someone yelled "Long live Obama" at him.

Re: Palin. From a libertarian guy on another list:

or, better :

Nice rant.

At the same time another of my not-ostrich rightwing friends are assuming that it's fully feasible that McCain could die during his term, or that Palin can become a Ann Coulter-like character opposing any moderate compromise McCain may try to achieve. How nice... now, I am in another country, but I don't trust nukes in tha hands of someone who believes she's in mission for God.
Expecially when US and Russian ships are both showing the flag in the same waters.


David Brin said...

Folks, it is getting serious. I am amazed that nobody has commented on how OLD McCain looks, how he tottered as he walked to the podium, how stiff and unsure of his gait.

Oh, one has hopes for the debates. The debates may decide everything... unless Palin does us a favor at some point, but they are tightly controlling access to her....

No. If you combine McC's health and Palin's -- everything -- then you guys have one web site to visit. Stefan's gone there. I have. It's your turn. And get others to go there too.

David McCabe said...

"Well of course he looks old, he was tortured in Vietnam! He can barely lift his arm! He's in very good health all things considered."

David Brin said...

After five bouts with cancer, five crashed planes, terrible Vietnam injuries -- none of which disqualify him for office. But the judgement to pick Palin does.


David Brin said...

Anyone know who I should talk to about getting a column at Huffington Post? DailyKos is a lost cause, pretty much worthless.

Anonymous said...


You said, "The second involve ANOVA analysis, essentially time-series analysis."

This is incorrect. ANOVA looks for differences in means amongst multiple groups, by making a ratio of the between and within variation. (It is a very elegant procedure statistically speaking, and one that I use a lot. I even wrote an article about it.

Perhaps you meant ARIMA (auto-regressive integrated moving average)? That is a time-series procedure.

My ostrich tells me that, "Obama scares her." Codeword possibly for the scary tint to his skin, I guess. FOX polls ask something like, "Have you heard someone say that Candidate X scares them?" Obama scores high on that one, alas.

I am going to tell her that Palin is the scariest candidate for public office, and have the data to prove it.

John Stewart has a riff on Palin and Republican hypocrisy if you haven't seen it yet.

Cliff said...

Learner touched on something that I've been seeing hints of in the blogs lately:
The Pentagon's new awesome terrorist killing mechanism.

Here's a mention of it on Consortium News, via Juan Cole:
A third factor, which Woodward argued may have been the most significant, was the use of new highly classified U.S. intelligence tactics that allowed for rapid targeting and killing of insurgent leaders. Woodward agreed to withhold details of these secret techniques from his book so as not to undercut their continuing success.


Now, my gut instinct is that if Bob Woodward goes on to Larry King to mention the Pentagon's New Hotness that he can't possibly reveal details about, he's lying.

Does anyone else know anything about this? Am I off base in thinking the Pentagon gave Woodward a million bucks and an F-22 ride to spread propaganda?

Acacia H. said...

Ain't it though, Dr. Brin? They're running around with their heads chopped off at this point. I've been reading it mostly for the entertainment value and for the few nuggets of halfway decent material in the massive piles of redundancy, idiocy, and flamewars that go on in there.

I'm afraid I know zero about Huffington. Heck, I don't even usually visit their site, mostly because it's easier to type Daily Kos on the search engines. Nice and short, you know. ;)

Then again, I come here for the intelligent discourse. Yes, Zorgon, that includes you. ;) I tried to lure a couple more your way (commenting on how you were always interested in hearing intelligent and well-thought-out comments on your opinions), but I don't know if any of them nibbled. Considering how quickly the diary I wrote vanished into the dross, probably not many.

Rob H.

Travc said...

My initial reaction to a McCain win would be a very pissed "Fuck America, she is just too stupid to be saved." I don't know what my more sane reaction 30 seconds later would be.

As for polls. 538 is one of the best places (as has been already I'm sure). BTW: Steveo is a real statistics expert here, so listen when he calls BS on something ;)

The close popular vote with a less close electoral college vote in Obama's favor seems most plausible now. Still a lot can happen in 2 months.

Palin said Fannie and Freddie had "gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers." Um, is she moron?

This actually hits yet another reason to favor Obama. There is at least a chance that under an Obama admin the 'conservatorship' Fredie and Fannie are now under won't just be used as another opportunity to give them away to corporate cronies (our very own oligarchs).

David Brin said...

The polls are weighted toward "likely voters." Much depends on so many mysteries:
- youth vote
- latino vote (and whether Palin is seen as anti-catholic, if anybody dares to raise the issue.)
- jewish vote (and whether Palin is seen as anti-semitic, if anybody dares to raise the issue.)
- getouthevote efforts (never made a diff before - but this time?)
-purported disenfranchisement scams and whether these can be spotted, publicized, uprooted in time...

Of course it all really hinges on the debates. BHO has to be spot-on. And now Biden has to, also. It's a mine field. Neither can seem "disrespectful" to a hero-geezer or a beauty queen-pitbull-mom.

(e.g. If she raises Hillary as a roll model, Biden has to START the expected "Governor, I know Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is a friend of mine..." and then STOP right there, with a twinkle in his eye, so that she can never fire off her prepared riposte!)

If McCain really has a corner of himself that loves America, maybe that corner will rise up and trigger a gaffe...

With all these completely in the air, now let's throw in complete paranoia! My friend John Peterson at the Arlington Institute seems to have turned a corner:

"Here at the Arlington Institute, we have worked with real precognizant dreamers who have had experience with intelligence services and we have subsequently learned about the hundreds of case studies of individuals who had explicit dreams about the 9/11 affair (people jumping out of burning high rise buildings, etc.), beginning some six months before the event. We have been intrigued with the notion that the human collective unconscious somehow anticipates large impending perturbations. Our WHETHEReport project, for which we are looking for funding, is in fact based upon this dynamic. In telling people about this project I have received strong confirmations of the efficacy of the underlying logic from many individuals around the world. Well, in the last two days I have received four independent, explicit indications from far removed friends suggesting that something very substantial and disruptive is going to happen to the U.S. within the next 60 days or so. If these warnings manifest themselves in an event of the significance of something like 9/11 then people all over the world should begin to experience dreams and other intuitions suggesting that something extraordinary is about to happen. So I’m asking you to participate in an experiment with us. If you, or someone you know, experiences any kind of significant suggestion (dream, intuition, etc.) that something big and disruptive is about to happen in the coming weeks, send us a note and tell us about it. "

???? Hey look, I got nothing against this. By all means, send him your dreams. It's an experiment! Still.... cue the twilight zone theme...

Anonymous said...

OK, step right up. Here is Tacitius' guide to the next 60 days of electoral fury.

1. Forget about a Palin Eagleton scenario. I think it is by now safe to assume that any "scandal" up North will be of inconsequential magnitude. Say, less than the Biden-lobbyist low grade ore.

2. Palin could go all weird and theocratic when she speaks her mind, but that is about 10% odds. Most likely she will be charming, bright, and explain the various things that need clearing up in a fashion that will satisfy GOP and indie voters.

3. The debates will be very important from several perspectives. McCain needs to avoid "senior moments". Staring at the camera without comprehension sinks him. Obama is not at all as effective a speaker off the cuff. I think one of the little secrets of the campaign is that His speech tends to be full of ummmss, and wellls. Fatal. Either guy could lose the game by catching a bad cold the night before.

4. The role of the press has changed. The attacks on Palin were, to mainstream America, damning evidence of bias and unprofessional behaviour. Geeze, if she were that horrid a candidate just ignore her and let the chips fall. (this is the McCain strategy with respect to Biden btw). It will be very interesting to see the tone and delivery of the questions at the debate. Usually it is just softballs to let the debaters spout blocks of campaign boilerplate. But we can dream, can't we, of thoughtful questions that actually address how the winner would lead. (hey, toss one in about how you would, as loser, work with the new administration!).

5. I do not think we will see an October Surprise. Obama has a track record of having nasty (political) things happen to his opponants, but has been third degree burned by the reaction to the Palin mess. McCain probably would not stoop to such sleeze, and if there were a political Nuke out there Hillary would have pushed the red button 6 months ago.

It has been a fascinating show, actually democracy in healthy form. I think a modest but effective electoral college win is in the cards (Obama by 15), and the near miss will have a salutary effect on him.

But the prospect of McCain announcing that he will serve a single term, and spend four years supporting the worthy and kicking heinies of the venal without respect to party affiliation does tickle me a bit.


Acacia H. said...

Something disruptive?

Like Senator McCain suffering from some sort of attack or illness that takes him out of the running?

First thing that popped into my mind, especially as I've had a recent premonition myself... but more family-related than political.

Still, replace one elderly person for another and add in the fact that McCain is pushing himself and looks run down and haggard lately... and he could very well be killing himself in his quest to gain the Presidency.

Of course, my brain kept wanting to insert "Obama" instead of "McCain" so... let's hope the Secret Service is being extra careful of our young star quarterback. There are plenty of people who hate those who look different from them. It takes just one to be "lucky" in one of their mad quests to "save" the country....

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Tacitus, you leave out the real October surprises that can be staged by the guys with real power, who don't want to have to rely on a Pardon Tsunami to save their asses.

The same people who - if MCC actually did start hunting cooks -- would see the veep as savior.

Acacia H. said...

And on the other foot...

Something disruptive. Time to take the cynical "realist" viewpoint. Of course these people are having bad dreams about what's going to happen in 60 days. No matter who wins, there will be a significant upheaval in our society. If Obama wins, then we have our first black president, and a number of racists are going to protest this by rioting. Black people will be targeted because Obama will be safe from harm. Blacks will lash out in return and you will see a number of cities suffering from a significant rise in violence.

Should Obama lose and there is any HINT of voter fraud and vote fixing going on, then there could very well be a massive uprising of black people protesting this blatant attempt to keep power by the Republican party (who will be considered racist, no matter what the reason for the fraud). This will happen in a number of cities and even in those cities where rioting didn't take place, overzealous police action to prevent riots will instigate riots.

The conspiracy line? The Shrub will use this as a reason to declare martial law and seize control of the nation. He will throw anyone who disagrees with him in jail as a terrorist and enemy of the state. He will keep this up for months, and eventually ease up. Seeing that McCain and Obama would be casualties of what happened (either tossed in jail if he protested and "vanished" into the system, or suffering from "illnesses" and the like), Bush will then declare the old elections null and void and state new elections would take place.

The Democrats, decimated, would be in no position to field anyone decent, and out of fear the populace would elect the Republican puppet to continue the Bush Administration. Condemnations from the rest of the would would be summarily ignored.


The spiritualist in me isn't so sure. A divination of the next sixty days suggests that we are in for better times. The distant past was the King of Swords which likely represents the Shrub. The future was represented by the Sun (Success, youth, generally a positive card), and influencing future events was the reversed Five of Cups (Generally a card of loss and sadness, but reversed. Thus: news, alliances, affinity). The final card was the Page of Cups (a studious youth, good augury). (The Devil's presence in the ninth slot, representing hopes and fears, is actually perhaps the most natural card for that slot. The fears of many is that we will get a person we feel is the Devil as President.)

In short... the Tarot suggests Obama will likely win. If you can trust a pack of cards.

But hey, if we trust premonitions and the like, why not card-based divination? ^^

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

Yes, there are free agents and semi free agents out there in the form of 527 groups and just plain zealots at keyboards. I would love to know the relationships between the campaigns and these folks.
Anything could happen.
As you know, I do not subscribe to most of your more intricate political theories, but I do consider them.

David Brin said...

Um... the people I refer to are (at present) the most powerful individuals in the world.

Tony Fisk said...

Can the rest of us have a vote, please? ;-)

It will pass... but the passing will not be pleasant.

Tony Fisk said...

wrt Huffington, there appear to be submission guidelines here.

Travc said...

Things may be getting interesting the the ad-wars. McCain has calculated (so far correctly) that they can lie without repercussions from the media, and Obama has all of a sudden gone silent in his opposition to allied 527s (which was amazingly effective).

Here is an article on it.

I'm hoping MoveOn, SEIU, ect don't try and emulate McCain... but they can be much more blunt than Obama. Hell, Obama should be much more blunt IMO, and may be leaning that way.

Acacia H. said...

Quick thought on Obama and the O'Reilly Factor: Obama seems to shine his brightest when challenged and pushed. Contrast his recent interview on NBC compared to talking to O'Reilly and you have two different Obamas. One was smug, a tad bored, and not that interesting. The other was forced to be concise, was on his toes, and was a delight to watch.

Heck, Obama should go on the O'Reilly Factor more often, if that's how he shines in the face of adversity!

Rob H.

Unknown said...

No, I meant ANOVA analysis. Repeated-measures ANOVA is a well-respected method of time series analysis. Why not ARIMA? It's perfectly clear that the polls are different animals. Some are reliable, others unreliable and unscientific. Zogby is infamous for its self-selecting unscientific methodology, while the Gallup poll remains infamous for overstating the length of effects of bounces.

You can see this by looking at the percentage of undecided voters -- it varies wildly from one poll to the other. Clearly, we're talking about multiple groups, not just one group which is being sampled at different times or in different ways. I don't believe a Box-Jenkins model will work for these time series because I don't believe it's even remotely possible to predict current values from past values without differentiating between the members (polls) within the group, and also because of the non-linear disruptions constantly being introduced. As you know, applying linear methods to non-linear data gives junk output.

ARIMA (p,0,0) doesn't sound like a fit to these data because I don't see any sign of the autocorrelation function decreasing to zero over time; ARIMA (0,1,0) isn't right because this isn't a random walk; ARIMA (1,1,0) and (0,1,1) look wrong because I see no sign of a linear trend bollixing up these data -- instead, we're getting a series of intermittant non-linear shocks. ARIMA (0,0,p) or (p,0,q) seem a though they might be vaguely applicable, but once again I seriously doubt the autocorrelation function in these polling data is decreasing to zero.

I would like to know the Durbin-Watson coefficient on these data. Somebody really needs to apply Ramsey's RESET test too.

Oh, and don't forget that in several states the Constitution Party candidate has now withdrawn, and his name has been replaced on the ballot by Ron Paul. So even more complexity added to the mix. Ron Paul's name on the ballot is going to siphon away some conservatives, probably the way Nader's candidacy siphoned off liberal votes from Gore in 2000.

Every liberal sounds terrified of Palin. If McCain gets in and croaks and Palin becomes Prez, it'll be the greatest gift to secular moderates since Pat Robertson announced his candidacy for president. A Palin presidency would pound the final nail in the coffin of the religious right. After she started issuing unconstitutional executive orders erasing the church/state divide, the courts and congress would smack her down so hard and so fast, and the vast majority of Americans would be up in arms so furiously, that the religious right would never recover.

The presidency of the drunk-driving C student gave us a black liberal as a viable candidate: a Palin presidency would insure that our next president is a radical far-left atheist.`

Jonathan Haidt is spouting ignorant gibberish. Conservatives are the ones who constantly claim that "there is no such thing as society, there are only individuals". Is it liberals who assert over and over again that the Great God called the laissez faire free market mandates that the devil takes the hindmost, and we're all just isolated competitors in a social darwinist world of eternal struggle? Or is it conservatives who make that claim over and over and over again while liberals constantly stress the importance of community and family under attack by sadistic giant corporations and cannibalistic out-of-control consumer capitalist fetishim?

Haidt's assertion that the Republican party is the party of sanctity proves hilarious. Has he sepnt the last 15 years living in a bathyscaphe? Nowadays, GOP stands for "Gay Older Pedophile." The Republican party today is the party of pedophilia, gay hookers with crystal meth, congressmen in bathrooms soliciting gay sex, televangelists getting dragged out of motel rooms with sleazy hookers, congressmen texting sexually suggestive come-ons to 16-year-old male pages. Sanctity? The Republican party is the party of gay sex, hard drugs, and non-stop constant year-after-year day-and-night adultery.

Haidt may have been drunk when he penned that article. Hae needs to lie down and sleep it off -- right now, he's not making sense.

Unknown said...

Brin remarked:
Um... the people I refer to are (at present) the most powerful individuals in the world.

How can oil company executives and the managing partners of giant advertising companies and the chairmen of the federal reserve and the CEOs of America's biggest defense contractors engineer an October surprise? What are they going to do, ship defective parts for the F-22? Suddenly lower the discount rate? Replace all the prime-time TV commercials with really sleazy cheesy swill? Hike up oil prices to obscene levels?

Earth to Brin: they're already doing all that.

Acacia H. said...

It's not been mentioned here (nor do I recall seeing it on Daily Kos though with the half-life of a non-popular diary on that site measured in the nanoseconds I may have just missed it), but Imam W. Deen Mohammed died on Tuesday, though no cause has been determined. Iman Mohammed was responsible for shifting the black muslim movement away from the creed of Louis Farrakhan and more toward a moderate, more traditional Islam.

He will be missed. Hopefully, his message of unity and tolerance will be remembered for centuries to come.

Rob H.

JuhnDonn said...

zorgon the malevolent said... Ron Paul's name on the ballot is going to siphon away some conservatives, probably the way Nader's candidacy siphoned off liberal votes from Gore in 2000.

Heh. Nader got my Republican vote in 2000, after I got pissed at the dirty tricks Rove pulled on McCain. Now, seeing McCain trade off with Bush, for 'his turn', 'cause 'he deserves it', I'm just sick.

Obama all the way.

Anonymous said...


Prefacing this with: the following discussion just doesn't matter for presidential politics...

Not to be too stats geeky, but I fail to see how repeated measures ANOVA is going to be a useful model for what you are looking for. I have never heard of ANOVA, even repeated measures ANOVA, referred to as a "time-series analysis." It just isn't, though the dependency can be measuring the same thing at different points in time. It has no provision for honoring time-based effects. I presume you are proposing treating each polling company as a level so as to isolate poll-to-poll differences in mean, then assess remaining variation for differences. I just don't see what that buys you. (And of course you would still need to do a post-hoc to figure which are different from which others.) It might be an interesting analysis to do a random-effects ANOVA to see *if* polling company has a significant effect, or if the differences between them are random fluctuations. More interesting still would be to see which, if any, polls actually have predictive validity. I would suspect none do at this stage in the race.

I didn't propose ARIMA as a model, just thought that you were referring to that instead of ANOVA since ARIMA is a time series model. Though it would be interesting to see what ARIMA showed within poll - I think you are too cavalier in rejecting autocorrelation (correlation with previous results) without assessing the data. I have learned to let data speak for itself. Of course no statistical time-series is going to handle "short sharp shocks" well since the models are based on past data, which by definition are different from special causes or events.

I don't disagree with your approach in accounting for pre- post-convention bounce - it is as reasonable as anything else. With only two levels, you could do this with a dependent t-test.

But it boils down to the fact that polls are pretty useless until after the debates anyway. Most people "in play" really don't pay attention until then (if then!). Polls in fact may not provide much predictive utility anyway. I would support eliminating polls completely until election day - getting rid of "push polling" as well as the bogus influence of legitimate polls on voters. I mean, really, what is the benefit of telling everyone how our sample is thinking of voting anyway? This somehow helps others make a better decision? Only if we were herd animals! Even a great poll only infers what the population thinks now. If the research question is how will they vote when it is time to, that is quite different. That is why I am watching for electoral mapping (which of course itself depends on polls) and InTrade for predicting future performance.

Aaagh, I better stop now. Geek quotient too high....

Travc said...

Steveo & Zorg,
I know you are aware of 538, but if you haven't really dug around on the site you might enjoy it. The "Pollster Ratings" methodology is interesting stuff.

For me, if I can't derive a statistical method from basic principles, I don't trust it... Though watching you 'geek out' is fun since I get about 1/2 of what your are saying ;)

Cliff said...

No one has a comment on Woodward's allegations of the Pentagon's super secret new terrorist killing technique?

Is it just a guy in Syria with a blowtorch and some pliers? Is it a mind-reading device?

Is anyone curious about this?

Anonymous said...


If you want to derive/understand ANOVA, check out that article I linked to. I think I do a fair job explaining why it works in not-too-stats terms. If you are really into it, I can send you an Excel spreadsheet that helps as well.

Geek-meister out!

Fake_William_Shatner said...

As much as I can go Hoo-Rah to Dr. Brin's comments about Palin being guided by a dangerous religion. -- you can't go there.

Neither can you point out that the Red states have more problems with all the things they say they are against; divorce, abortions, you name it. It is the elephant in the room -- but you don't get votes by trying to improve people and chastising them. If you follow Limbaugh or Carl Rove, you appeal to people's fear, vanity or greed.

That has been mostly working for the GOP -- coupled with vote-rigging.

I'm totally depressed right now, because I've talked to seemingly rational independent folks. Some at a party, where drinking games led to flashing. The hostess is for McCain because Palin represents her kind of moral certitude. Did I mention people were drinking heavily and flashing? Not two minutes later, did I witness her husband making the moves on another cute lady. Guess what they were talking about? Passages from the bible. Cute girl had just told everyone she wouldn't pay her drinking bet because "she isn't that kind of girl."

Now the host had her sitting in his lap, talking the bible and treating her like that kind of girl, while his wife cleaned up a storm after the party. Talk about Ostrich -- I mean, this lady had to really work at NOT noticing what is going on in her house.

So, do you think stats, or pointing out finer issues of policy is going to influence this "values voter" if she doesn't notice that cute girl house guest is about to get biblical?

I'm not that uptight with my wife flirting and being flirted with. But when you have one person in a relationship doing all the work and having all the standards, and the other using lines from the bible as pickup lines -- "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot."

That epitomizes to me, the problem with "Values" in America. These people don't care if demonizing druggies makes more druggies, or making prostitution illegal doesn't do a thing but increase STDs. They DON'T CARE ABOUT RESULTS. They must be moral because being moral is their sense of value in life. And making sinners miserable is its own reward.

We cannot count on these people. We need to sign up more young voters, and do our best to bring up the moral outrage -- the down in the gutter stuff you eschew as being too low for us.

It sucks. But use it. The left is going to be accused of anti-religion, being womanizers -- whatever can be used will be used. The damage to our integrity is much less than what another 4 years of Republicans will do. So bring up the issue of the baby-daddies. It is what concerns Values Voters -- not whether the earth will be destroyed.

Are fricken' Monkeys this self destructive?

learner said...

This super secret technique is probably a new method of listening in on and interpreting satellite/cell phone conversations that gives them a super fast id of call locations combined with long duration UAV armed aircraft controlled by US controllers in NIA HQs.

Cliff said...

Thanks, learner. The next question is, if that's at all close, why did Woodward feel it necessary to hide the details?

Anonymous said...


You need better friends.

The candidates are promising to have a respectful cease fire to commeorate 9/11. Maybe we should all do the same.
As to voter registration/fraud issues, I can say as a mostly republican that the more voters we enlist the better. Somebody is going to have to eventually govern, and there is a measure of inherent authority that comes from a higher voter turnout.
But don't necessarily assume all these new voters will pull the lever for Obama. It is a different race than it was two weeks ago.

Irony ends up ghost writing quite a lot of History.


learner said...

Communications intercept has been around for a long time. Obviously the targets know this but time lag from intercept to analysis to action has been in their favor.
Lot's of reasons for this, some bureaucratic organization issues, some lack of language analysis capabilities, some with time on target issues. If you attack the problem with old fashion system analysis combined with computational breakthroughs in foreign language analysis, forced organizational integration in a centralized location with intercontinental control of long duration UAV's you have a solution. Most of this is known tech, only real breakthroughs are realtime translation and analysis and long duration UAV. The UAV's are needed both for attack and for collection antennas.

I suspect Dr Brin's CIA non-disclosure requirements have kept him out of this discussion. Just applied Scifi from the 1980's timeframe though.

News reports today talk about new Predator attacks in Afghanistan. Makes sense!

learner said...

I also have to say there might be one more piece to this technique but if it is what I think it is I really do not want to talk about it. It is also something that has been around a long time but does not depend on target communication systems. See I can do a Woodward too!

My qualifications? I ran unattended ground sensor strings in Vietnam. Had a big problem with time on target issues then.

Fake_William_Shatner said...


I respect your understanding of Standard Deviation and statistical models to reduce bias, but I think that you've made this a lot more complicated than it needs to be.

The short answer is, with trillions of dollars more to steel from the American people, Pollsters, like so many companies with interlocking directorates, lie just enough to keep the status quo going.

The Polls are rigged, so that when the election gets stolen, we won't be quite so curious as we were last time.

The Daily Kos digs up the dirt, but you can follow these points back to "more reputable" sources -- whatever that means.

Fake_William_Shatner said...

@Tacitus 2,

My friends are good if you count the Liberal ones. I have good conservative friends -- but they are pretty selfish and kind of not all there in the head. If I get too picky, I won't have friends.

I'll probably have to move out of Georgia eventually.

The points you made about Irony, and this "cease fire" that seems a likely as one between Georgia and Russia -- wow! Talk about Irony. Every time the Republicans are losing they call for "bipartisanship" until they can get close enough to knife the Dems in the back. The Dems seem just so happy to put the past behind them and are Charlie Brown chumps every time.

What did Carter do after Nixon's spying on the opposition? Or the Vietnam war crimes or the fascist Putsch in Chile? What happened after the S&L bailout and going after Bush's CIA drug buddy Noriega when Clinton took office -- oh and don't forget Iran/Contra.

What will happen when Obama takes office?

I want war crime tribunals. I want a truth and reconciliation. I'd like to fix Habeus Corpus AFTER rounding up about 5,000 Bush cronies in administrative clerk functions and getting them to prove why they should keep their job.

The People who committed crimes during the Bush administration, have to fear REAL charges of treason, embezzlement, war crimes -- and they also have to fear Spain's courts as well, because they don't respect pardons by other war criminals.

So there is NO SLIM CHANCE IN HELL, that people on the Republican side, won't crawl over their own grandmothers to prevent a Democrat from getting in office. If they have to sell plutonium to Iran (read up on Siebel Edmunds) they will do it.

To hell with making peace before we've dealt with the double-agents for multinational concerns. And to Hell with Obama if he makes nice with these thugs. That is where I stand and I don't see any reason to be nice after 10 years of pulling a knife out of my back.

Fake_William_Shatner said...

On the SECRET WEAPON in Iraq.

1) New listening device that is about the size of a grain of salt. Lasts 3 months and broadcasts location and sound in an area. With spread/scatter data processing, they can get a real-time bead on people they have on a list. They open their mouths, and statistical analysis determines who they are from a database.
HOW TO DEFEND AGAINST: Large ultrasonic speakers. Blast an area to break up crystal diodes (just a guess).

2) Two new drones. One about the size of a dragon-fly (not a live one yet -- but they are working on it), to spy on localized targets. A second drone about the size of an orange that can deliver a needle shot or C4.
HOW TO DEFEND AGAINST: Attack falcons and blue jays. Train them to go after anything that doesn't look like a bird. Seriously.

3) A little sci-fi, but a DNA-based device that broadcasts sickness to an individual. I'd had a few ideas of how to heal people years ago, and I realized the same thing can be used to make them sick. The tricky thing about electromagnetic pollution, is that one frequency won't hurt you at all, while a slight change can stop your uptake of Calcium or some other nutrient in your cells.
HOW TO DEFEND AGAINST: This would entail talking about how such a thing is made. But basically, anything that would block EMF waves, silver threads in your clothes would be stylish.

4) Large, giant magnifying glass -- OK, kidding. Just as two maser beams can be combined in a body to create a laser effect at a specific location to cut out a cancer, you can target someone with resonant focused microwaves at a distance. 1 foot off target, and nobody feels or sees anything. On target, and you are cooked.

If they haven't figured out how to do this yet... then I'd better shut up.
HOW TO DEFEND AGAINST: Actually wearing the tin-foil-hats that we Liberals are always accused of wearing. Plant lots of Jiffy-pop popcorn containers in your office.

>> I'm sick of these better weapons that turns this into an asymmetric war. What happens when we are on the wrong side? Like now? We should be out of Iraq, and get a consortium to bring them a Marshall plan. This push-button death for the sake of Multinational corporate interests sickens me. I'd rather have adherence to our own laws.

Fake_William_Shatner said...


I have no insider information, but here are two places to start if you want to put articles on;

or Press inquiries go to;

I'd have to agree with your assessment of DailyKos -- a howl fest. They seem to keep the Right stocked with ammunition against "angry Liberals."

Huffington just seems to have thoughtful articles. They also don't have to be totally positive towards Dems -- just interesting.

It is mostly Progressive, so we look at the Democrats like someone would a useful poisonous snake.

Dave Rickey said...

There's a bunch of undercurrents that are scaring me shitless. Registered voter purges targeting Democratic precincts in Ohio, Colorado, and New Mexico are already starting, two months ahead of the election and on the largest scales yet (hundreds of thousands of voters in states that may be decided by handfulls). GOP state officials in Mississippi creating ballot layouts that are flat-out illegal (not questionable, not technically against the law, flat-out violations of clearly worded black-letter elections law). Rumors and peripheral press reports that Blackwater and other merc corps are recruiting rural police officers for unspecified duties in urban environments, no passports needed. The GOP platform contains dominionist and other right-wing-crazy dogwhistles, and a bizarre plank about the 2010 census that amounts to a plan to make sure electoral votes and House seats get shifted from blue to red, a national-scale gerrymandering to disenfranchise, and promises to restore the free speech right of rich people to buy elections. The GOP is maintaining only the thinnest pretext that they believe "Voter Fraud" is any time people vote the wrong way.

Resistance from the officers slowed down their Iranian Ocober Surprise, and the invasion in Georgia stopped it cold, but my "tinfoil" scenario for this election is starting to look like it was too optimistic. The corporate and neo-con wings of the GOP are so desperate to avoid an accounting, they're ready to do *anything*.

Meanwhile, the McCain campaign flat-out lies (about Obama, about Palin, about the economy, about drilling, about just about everything, at this point if McCain said water was wet I'd go to the sink to verify it), and the media can't bring itself to point out that they're lying without including "he said, she said" framing that makes it look like the same bullshit political narratives the voters are already used to hearing with only half an ear. Any reporter that actually points out the bullshit gets a double-barrelled attack from the GOP and their outlet folds under the pressure without even token resistance.

It's not any one thing anymore. It's the economy with too much debt in all sectors, the political system that is treated like a game, the press that has been corporate-owned infotainment so long they've forgotten it was ever any other way, the cultural divide that has split the country between the people that think, the people that don't, and the people who aren't paying attention.

It's every problem we've been kicking down the road for the last 50 years rather than addressing directly combining into an avalanche of catastrophe. This election is really our last chance to *begin* defusing things, and it's looking like the GOP is going to steal it rather than face any kind of accounting.

learner said...

Could not agree more that this is our last chance to advert the disasters on so many fronts that you mentioned. If we don't get someone in there that can at least start really dealing with the issues our next chance will be to join the rioting veterans on the streets.

Naum said...

So brazen, the Republican campaign, they don't even care that they're deceitful...

The more the New York Times and The Washington Post go after Sarah Palin, the better off she is, because there’s a bigger truth out there and the bigger truths are she’s new, she’s popular in Alaska and she is an insurgent. As long as those are out there, these little facts don’t really matter. --Republican strategist John Feehery

Fake_William_Shatner said...

I can't emphasize enough that this time around, it appears that the polls are being rigged;
Nationwide, there are about 42 million registered Democrats and about 31 million Republicans, according to statistics compiled by The Associated Press.
The Democrats have posted big gains in many competitive states, including Nevada, New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado and Florida. They have also been targeting historically Republican southern states.
Since 2006, the Democrats have added 167,000 voters in North Carolina, while the Republicans have added 36,000.
>> They've selected more Republicans in the Mix. That makes up most of the "surge" in points for McCain.
Now what is not to like about Ms. Huffington with a quip like this;
Sarah Palin: A Trojan Moose Concealing Four More Years of George Bush

Unknown said...

Dave Rickey:
You're panicking. Chill.

The voter purges have been going on for a while now. 3 million likely Demo voters have been purged nationally. We knew this. I've explained why it won't help. Defections from disgusted moderates and Repubs will seal the deal for Obama. And they can't purge likely Repub voters without cutting into their own margin.

Illegal ballot layouts in Mississippi or Alabama or Georgia don't matter, since those states are going hard for McCain anyway. Those deep southern states have never had any respect for the rule of law, so we don't expect 'em to start now. Remember, these are the states where all-white juries have traditionally acquitted white lynch murderers even with eyewitness testimony.

The good news? Even the deep south is changing. Byron De LaBeckwith got convicted of Medgar Evers' murder and died in prison. So even though the deep south right now still lacks much of the basic rule of law, it's slowly getting better. All the evidence shows that this process continues. Remember: just 50 years ago, black people couldn't even drink at whites-only drinking fountains throughout the south. Now a black man is running for president and will probably win. Look at the big picture and pay attention to the long run.

Blackwater is being groomed for use in domestic drug cases. This has been known for a while. That crap will end when the criminals get thrown out of the White House and the privatization now being used as an excuse to let crooked contractors (like Blackwater) steal the government blind gets shut down.

The GOP plank contains Dominionist language as a sop to the religious right, just as Reagan kept using religious right terminology and just as the drunk-driving C student in the Oval Office kept using fundamentalist language. It has no connection with actual policy. The Christian fundamentalists are too stupid to realize it, but the record remains entirely clear: despite lots of pro-fondamentalist rehtoric, neither Reagan nor the drunk-driving C student ever lifted a finger to put any of the Christian fundamentalist agenda into practice as actual law. Repealing Roe V Wade? Nope. Nationwide crackdowns on premarital sex? Nope. Forcing prayer in schools? Not a chance, courts have struck that down hard, it's not happening. So the fundamentalist talk is just that -- talk. It means nothing. When you see millions of Americans engaging in civil disobedience to strike down the constitution and put in place a religious leader with secular authority, then you can start to worry. The reality is that America is becoming a much less religious and much more secular country as time passes, and the Christian fundamentalists themselves are getting swept along with cultural liberalization just like everyone else. Womens right, gay rights, the constant drop in nationwide church attendance, the continual advance of science, this stuff is all happening despite anything the Christian fundamentalists can do. It's driven by technology and the structure of our economy and the physical infrastructure of America. Nothing the Christian fundamentalists can do will change this, and they themselves are getting forced to be more liberal as time passes. This time, they had to run a woman with a 17-year-old daughter who's pregnant out of wedlock. 40 years ago no major candidate for president could have picked such a running mate, he'd have been slammed so hard by the press and public the election would've gone up in smoke right there.

In fact, the very reason that the Christian fundamentalists are raising such a hue and cry and making themselves so visible is that they know they're losing hold of the culture. They're doomed. The future does not belong to fundamentalist religion in America, and the statistics prove it clearly.

As for the claim that this election is our "last chance," there's just no evidence of that. Whatever happens, the congress will shift massively democratic in this election cycle. Best estimates place 55 to 56 senators in the Demo column, which is close enough to the 60 required for cloture to make obstructionist filibustering a non-issue. The house will lean even more lopsidedly left, almost certain with a veto-proof Demo majority. Unless our courts throw out the law books and starting using the Bible, there's very little long-term damage a president can do without control of both the legislature and the courts. If McCain or Palin enter the White House and start issuing crazy executive orders, the other 2 branches of government plus the entire civil service will shut 'em down hard. Keep in mind the big prize here: Demo control of congress. That has already been won. The rest is a cleanup detail. Improtant, but not central.

You're depressed because the McCain campaign is telling non-stop lies? Please. What did you expect them to do? Frankly, I'm surprised the McCain campaign hasn't run ads yet that claim Obama is a radical muslim who was in the cave with Osama planning 9/11, with phony photoshopped photos to "prove" it. Have some confidence in the American people, Dave. We're talking about the most liberal senator on capitol hill, a black guy, running against a war hero. Just a few years ago that wouldn't even have been a contest. Yet the polls show Obama significantly ahead in electoral votes. The American people can be duped, but they eventually see through it. The American people aren't evil or hopelessly stupid. Have some confidence in your fellow citizens. I do.

There's lots of debt right now, but this can be addressed simply and easily. We're pissing away 1.35 trillion on our military budget and getting nothing for it for foreign quagmires. If we cut that by 80% we'd be able to dump at least 1 trillion into paying down our debts every year. If we apply means testing and raise the retirement age for white collar social security recipients, we can save even more. If we jack up the marginal tax rate back to where it was in Eisenhower's time, to 56%, and apply that to capital gains as well as regular income, we'll get even more, probably norht of 2 or 3 trillion per year. We can pay down a ton of debts with 3 trillion dollars a year. America has plenty of money. This is a self-created problem and we can fix it easily. We just need to want to. The corruption of current financial institutions stops when the overisght starts again. That will happen when we get people in the White House who aren't thieves, and that's going t happen too. It will have to happen if only because the rest of the world's financial markets will eventually demand it. No one will want to invest money in Wall Street if all our corporations allowed to cook the books. So this is self-correcting.

Don't pay attention to anecdotes about this or that reasonable-sounding middle-class person who's voting for McCain. Look at the stats. Obama is not in trouble. The popular vote looks like a squeaker, but the electoral vote is solidly tilted in his direction. That hasn't changed.

Also, don't pay attention to people like tacitus2 who question whether Obama is just a hollow shell full of ambition. Obama graduated from an Ivy league college and could've gone to work at a hefty salary for a big corporation. Instead, he spend his first few years out of college working as a community organizer to help poor people. Ask yourself how many Ivy League graduates do that. Ask yourself what that says about who Obama really is and what he really believes.

As for the allegedly corporate-controlled media, they seem to have been reporting on McCain's and Plain's lies. They're not giving enough plays to all the stories liberals would like, and what else is new? I don't see any sign of a national coverup about Cindy McCain's $300,000 dress or John McCain's keating 5 connection or Palin's earmarks or McCain's $500 loafers. The news is getting out there.

The polls, as steveo points out, are a mess. I don't think they're deliberately rigged. This is just the most bizarre presidential election of modern times, as Charlie Cook of Cook Political Reports keeps reminding us. The piths and gists to keep in mind are those pointed out by John Bolz: elections are basically referenda on the economic policies of the party in power, and the economy right now is not good, and getting worse. The debates, the TV ads, the sloans, the speeches...they're all just noise riding on top of that profoundly important background. The debates are simply not important, nor are McCain's lies, nor is the media coverage. Unless the economy turns around in the next 60 days and homes stop getting foreclosed and jobs start getting created at a record rate, this election is going to Obama.

Stay frosty, people. Obama is going to win this one. And after that happens, things are going to improve radically. Not because Obama is anything special, but simply because large parts of the government (like IGs and GAO and AGs and other oversight) that are now prevented from functioning will start working again. Obama isn't a miracle man and he doesn't have to be. You'll be amazed how much improvement you'll see throughout America merely because our leaders will have stopped taking a hammer to the basic mechanisms of government accountability.

Moreover, both Obama and Biden have been pellucidly clear that they may seek indictments against ex-members of this maladministration. That's why the current Repub hirerarchy is going berserk pulling out all the stops to defeat Obama. And even so, it's still not working.

David Brin said...

There is the wise and cogent Zorgon and the Bizarro Zorgon. We have had the wise guy tonight. Dang fellow. We'll put up with that other guy, if you'll keep sending us THIS guy, now and then.

One cavil. The electoral cheating in southern states may not affect the presidential election, but it might prevent the turnover of several dozen state assembly and state senate races... down at the ground level where this election could finally smash "culture war."

If that happens... but if the nation is saved up top... then we're gonna have to see federal prosecutors heading south again.

Travc said...

I have a fairly well used copy of Sokal and Rofle (Biometery) sitting on my shelf... ANOVA is one of the methods easily derived from basic principles ;) MCMCs and HMMs hurt my brain a little bit.

I was mainly just pointing out that stats terminology (particularly obscure named tests) tend to get in the way more than help (IMO of course).

Travc 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. Transmission of the raw data burns though the battery very quickly and local processing, while better, requires a heck of a lot of resources (fast CPU, DSP, and scads of memory) which also end up equating to a high power draw.

There is a counter-sniper system which is quite promising, but it only works because of the relative easy at detecting a rifle shot (muzzle blasts and supersonic N waves are easy). That entire detection and timing can be done on a fairly low power DSP, and the CPU/micro-controller and radio only need to be powered up when performing sensor fusion (based on the timing, not the raw data) to localize the source. Even this system requires at least a "matchbox" size device, where most of that is batteries to get any sort of longevity.

Your #2 also isn't really an effective 'secret weapon' just now either. Aeroenvrionment has some very cool drones, but the battery/longevity problem is even worse than with acoustic sensors. If the drones you suggest actually exist (functionally similar but more conventional ones do), they have very short ranges.

I could really geek out here (more than I have). I'm about as close to this stuff as possible without actually being in the military or working for a contractor. Talking about my research to folks wearing salads on their chests, while not routine, is not out of the ordinary.

I wish you were right about #1, because it would make my life much easier. Alas, no.

Dave Rickey said...

My number one reason for being confident in this election was that the fundamentals for the GOP were so bad that it wouldn't wind up close enough to steal, especially with the Religious Right sitting it out. It made maps that didn't depend on Ohio and Florida. With the RR out of the game, even those states were up for grabs.

I'm not freaking out over McCain being up in the national trackers, those polls have always skewed a bit McCain and a small lead for him there probably means nothing after you allow for the remaining fade of the convention bounce and that tilt.

What I'm freaking out over is that we now have a race that comes down to Ohio, Florida, or run the table on smaller swing states. With the RR back in, Ohio is history and Florida is iffy. And although the fundies aren't the dominant force in county election boards in CO the way they are through the Old South, they do have a very strong presence in the Colorado Springs area and the shenanigans that just started surrounding that do not bode well at all.

Beyond that, we needed an expanded map because although the GOP has a great "caging" team to mess up a state they don't control through other means, it had limited capacity. The current maps may be within that capacity, they may not.

The lying has crossed to a whole new level, with them responding to proof of the lies by repeating the lies and claiming the proof as being just a smear. If the press calls them on it, they go after the press.

It's more than just the national debt, every sector of the economy, public and private, is carrying debts like we haven't seen since the late 20's, except worse. In a very real sense, debt extension and service *is* our economy right now. Not "like it always was", but in ways with few parallels in history, none of them with pretty outcomes.

They're "doubling down" on everything. Even if they win, they won't be able to hide it this time. And the long term trends that spell their inevitable defeat if things continue as they are is not reassuring. They can see those trends too, and they've made it very clear that "defeat is not an option."

I'd really like to think we could just muddle through this one. But we can't, we've painted ourselves into a corner and there's no way out without making a mess of something.

They've done all of this stuff before, yes. And it worked. They are further behind than ever before, but they're

Dave Rickey said...

Got cut off somehow. Should end: but they're desperate and ready to do something rash as a result. Like put an apocalyptic cheerleader and enabler in the VP slot. If that's not enough, what's they're next move? Because "grab your passport and move to Dubai or Paraguay" is probably way down their list of contingency plans.

Acacia H. said...

Zorgon, you have some very well thought out points there. The cynic in me, however, feels the need to point out that between polls that have been gerrymandered to ensure that people believe the race is closer than it is, caging of a lot of voters out of the system, and a desperate GOP that is doing everything in its power to prevail over Obama... that we may actually be seeing an actual conspiracy at work here. What's more, it is sloppy enough, with enough bits showing here and there, that it seems a far more legitimate conspiracy theory than claims that 9/11 was staged.

The truly sad thing for this potential conspiracy is that all of their hopes and dreams are behind one old man who is looking particularly ragged and has a history of going off the deep end when truly frustrated. If McCain ends up dying or being disabled through illness... then the smoke and mirrors mean naught.

That, and for some odd reason I have faith in that silly little divination I did, showing a youthful and positive President. Oh, it is very likely psychological with the cards showing me what I wanted to see rather than anything close to the truth... but I still remember four years ago with the Summer of Shadows, with a friend witnessing these shadows acting in ways that couldn't be explained through simple diffraction or scientific principles (shadows where none should be, shadows that move despite no wind and no clouds, shadows that were darker than the darkest shadow).

There are far stranger things in the universe than we can explain with our science. (Water dowsing, for one simple one used by industry.) Divination with cards... and being accurate? With what else exists in the universe, that may be the simplest of oddities yet.

Meh. Sorry for the metaphysical musings there. We have a month and a half left before elections happen. A lot can happen in that period of time... and we very well may see what looks like a close election turn into a cakewalk for either candidate.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...


We agree in some places and disagree in others. But your last post is smarter stuff than 90% of what the pundits out there are selling.

No politics from me today.


Acacia H. said...

Just on a brief aside, Dr. Brin, I wanted to mention I glanced through a couple of your stories available on the web. In particular, The Loom of Thessaly was positively inspired... and was a wonderful blending of mysticism and science fiction. I too like to think that the world (and humanity as a whole) is becoming something greater and better than it was. It is pieces of literature like this that hint at humanity's potential greatness... and also remind us that there are more things on heaven and earth than our science knows of.

Thank you for putting that work online.

Robert A. Howard, Tangents

Anonymous said...

"I was mainly just pointing out that stats terminology (particularly obscure named tests) tend to get in the way more than help (IMO of course)."

Yep, I totally agree. Still, I can't let it go by, and maybe Zorgon would benefit when someone calls him/her out on a massive stats bolus (and of course, I would benefit if shown to be mistaken...).

Still and all, Zorg's last post was nice work. But I do continue to worry, since the Big Lies and inane distractions the McCain camp is repeating gives our ostriches the additional sand they need. Our (the U.S) predilection to selection bias based on "my team" (R or D)is fundamentally disturbing to me. And this from a person who supported McCain over Bush in 2000.

I have said it before - McCain is a different man than in 2000. Read the Time interview particularly when the interviewer asks, "Do I know you?"

I guess it will not be as bad as I fear (due to the checks and balances mentioned by Zorg) but not as good as I hope (i.e. the Republicans become a force for the nation, rather than a force raiding the nation).

David Brin said...

Thank you, Robert. Yeah, I was a smart whipper snapper... back then... sigh...

Travc said...

Dr Brin, do you have an essay on the 'professionals in government' problem?

Travc said...

A word on the polls. Most of the major likely voter polls are oversampling Repubs. This has been a good practice in the past, but there are numerous pretty convincing reasons to suspect that Repubs are being given too much weighting this time. New voters and response rates (including the celphone effect) are the big two IMO.

Not saying things are rosy, but don't panic (on either side). I'm mostly just depressed that the "assume voters are stupid" tactic is working as well as it is.

Joshua O'Madadhain said...


I generally agree with the message of your last comment (summarized: chill out, guys--Obama will win, and even if McCain does he'll be unable to act as Bush has).

However, I'd like to point a couple of things out.

First: please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that stopping spending $1T/year in Iraq doesn't give us a surplus of $1T/year, it just means we're going in the hole slower. Admittedly, much slower, but it doesn't mean we can start paying down our debt--or at least not by $1T/year.
(Does anyone know whether the projected $400B-odd deficit for next year includes the money we're pulling out of thin air for Iraq?)

Second: I agree that the electoral picture looks good for Obama. But, having volunteered as tech support for PFAW's
Election Protection
in 2004, I was in a position to look at their database of reported problems on election day (voter intimidation, ballot machine problems, spreading of misinformation, etc.)--and if as many as 1% of those were accurate, there's either a nationwide conspiracy to manipulate the elections, or many unrelaed grass-roots efforts to do the same. (I think the second would be scarier in some ways.)

I have not been reassured by recent reports that the Michigan GOP plans to
challenge voters who have received foreclosure notices
, or other similar tactics mentioned in that article.

It seems likely that the results for the 'battleground states' will once again come down to a few hotly disputed counties. At that level it doesn't take much to throw an election--and the followup tends to putter along for a while and then eventually die. (Anyone remember all the reports from Ohio in 2004?)

The good news--if you can call it that--is this.

(a) It's a lot harder to conceal election fraud that benefits all candidates of a given party, so I don't expect the anticipated tide of R->D seats in Congress to fail to come to pass, much less reverse itself.

(b) The Obama campaign clearly understands the importance of targeting those places where leverage exists to tip the results; that's how they won the primaries overall despite coming out second-best in a number of big states. So at least it seems certain that they'll be keeping an eye on this...and if there is evidence of irregularities that would appear to have flipped the result, I don't expect Obama to take it lying down as Kerry did.

Cliff said...

Joshua said:
First: please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that stopping spending $1T/year in Iraq doesn't give us a surplus of $1T/year, it just means we're going in the hole slower.

I believe Zorgon was referring to spending on R&D and administration. Things like the Air Borne Laser and the 380 JSFs (or is that the F-22) the Air Force wants. Judging from past essays, Zorgon wants to cease subsidizing the military-industrial complex to such a massive extent.
The point remains the same - we're still borrowing money to pay for it, but ending the Iraq War and cutting military spending simultaneously should bring us a lot closer to profitability.
(Assuming no unintended consequences get in the way.)

learner said...

Agree. Especially as the weighted sampled demographic once used to mean better educated. But that is from the old republican party line. Do not think that is case any longer. So do not worry to much.

Travc said...

A bit of context on Palin's rather disturbing talk about Russia in her 'interview'. She has been getting coaching from this guy:
Who is Randy Scheunemann?

Travc said...

Joshua, you have any idea how the hell we can institute a sane voting system? I've been following the issue since 2000, and it is obvious that there are some very powerful forces blocking really obvious common-sense reforms at every turn. I'm at a complete loss how we could overcome the resistance.

Acacia H. said...

I know. We use paper ballots that are marked with pencils, and to ensure there is no voter fraud we mark the index finger of the voter (or another body part for those lacking fingers/hands for one reason or another) with an indelible ink that cannot be washed off without it showing (ie, seriously scrubbed skin).

It worked for Iraq the first time. Why not for the U.S.?

Oh, but it would take too long for tabulating the vote? Bullshit. If you want something done right, you take your time doing it. Better the extra effort of some time and extra workers than allowing fraud through electronic manipulation of the results. With a paper ballot, you have a record that can be double-checked if there is any question as to what happened.

Sometimes the old ways are the best. Some of the best furniture are antiques, that were carved by hand. Some of the best coats are old, handmade and crafted with care. Some of the most durable cars are decades old, built before electronics and kept up with love and care. Why shouldn't our ballots and voting be the same?

Rob H.

Tony Fisk said...

While Palin's first interview appears to have gone fairly well, I am struck by the following:

Mrs Palin was also quizzed on previous comments about describing the war in Iraq as being a "task from God".

She said she was quoting the words of Abraham Lincoln: "I would never presume to know God's will or to speak God's words."

"But what Abraham Lincoln had said... was let us not pray that God is on our side in a war or any other time, but let us pray that we are on God's side."

Now, I know one can quote other people for one's own purposes, but can anyone see where Abe referred to having a 'task from God'?

This strikes me as an example of an ad hominem defence. (Abe was a great man who said great things. I am quoting Abe. Ergo...)

Close, but no cigar, Sarah.

(do people *really* call their children 'Truck'?? Oh well, is it any different from Crystal, or River?)

Rob, I rather feel your reaction to electronic voting is a bit over the top.

Putting Diebold's antics to one side, I have another vision: a fully open online voting system that allows you to vote whenever and wherever you like. (even as often as you like... the last vote being the valid one)

The point with this is convenience (and confidence!). It will encourage a greater participation in matters of government. I think that it is high time we allowed that, and it would seem a lot of people agree

Acacia H. said...

Okay. Having seen all of the O'Reilly interview of Senator Obama... I must say that I truly enjoyed it. While the DKos fanboys are all up in arms because O'Reilly wasn't subservient and ass-kissing, I believe that O'Reilly kept Obama on his toes, and as a result Obama truly shined. He needs challenges like that more often. And he should return to the O'Reilly Factor again.

I also have to admit, the thought of O'Reilly as Secretary of State because of a basketball game where he was spotted 10 shots... well, that's entirely too amusing.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Here's a posting that could really benefit from your visits and comments

Separately, Russ Daggatt had a well-phrased comment:

"The last-minute, unvetted Palin pick seemed to reinforce the worst aspects of McCain's impulsive, thrill-seeking decision-making style. "I make [decisions] as quickly as I can, quicker than the other fellow, if I can," McCain wrote, with his top adviser Mark Salter, in his 2002 book, Worth the Fighting For. "Often my haste is a mistake, but I live with the consequences without complaint."

Oh,here are some thought provoking comparisons of America and China.

Tony Fisk said...

...Speaking of whistleblowers, first Georgia, now attacks on Pakistan.

President George W Bush has authorised US military raids against militants inside Pakistan without prior approval from Islamabad, the BBC has learned.

An unnamed senior Pentagon official told the BBC the classified order had been made within the past two months.

Hardly something to turn an ostrich devoted to tough talkin' diplomacy, but Mad King George is sure trying to peeve a few people.

Palin says she wouldn't hesitate to go to war with Russia over... Georgia? (Earth to Sarah: relax, Georgia isn't a NATO member... yet)
She agrees with the 'Bush doctrine' of pre-emptive strikes (another Palin might have referred to it as 'Llap-Goch')

McCain is trying to distance himself from the last eight years. It would appear his tail's dragging it along behind him.

Tony Fisk said...

Oh no!
The scariest thing about that link to the 'Bush/Palin doctrine'?

There's a button...

Travc said...

Tony, "preemptive" is and always has been the policy (and a just casus belli). "Preventive" is the Bush doctrine.

I don't think Palin (or Gibson) understand the very important distinction though.

Tony Fisk said...

The Bush doctrine switches from a policy of containment to 'direct and unilateral action'

Which sounds like weasel speak for 'pre-emptive' to me (although 'preventive' is also mentioned in the wikipedia entry... which has been heavily editted recently).

(I will admit that the Lapp-Goch masters who drafted the 'Palin' doctrine wouldn't be too concerned about 'casus belli', though!)

Unknown said...

Daggett's assessment of Palin and McCain, like Brin's, the rest of the Demo party's and Obama's, completely contradicts observed reality. They are underestimating her and McCain, and if they persist, it will prove fatal.

McCain appears to be operating inside Obama's OODA loop with the Palin pick.

Palin now seems hugely popular with both the base and undecided voters. Rove probably focus-grouped a bunch of potential VP picks and picked her for this purpose.

All the available evidence shows that Palin is not some inexperienced small-town neophyte politician, but a skilled master of hardball Alaska politics with national ambitions who has been massively underestimated. Remind you of another Repub pol constantly underestimated by the Demos? Say, a former governor of California...?

If Obama and his campaign staff continue to underestimate Palin, things will get ugly for the Demo presidential race fast.

Brin doesn't realize this because his posts show he utterly lacks a grasp of Boyd/van Creveld/Lind's hierarchy of generations of warfare and Brin has no understanding of the importance of the OODA loop for 3GW and 4GW. Instead of dismissing these crucially important and innovative modern concepts as "cliches" (which they are clearly not), Brin would benefit from studying van Creveld's The Transformation of War (superb shorter version here)and Boyd's Patterns of Conflict. (Power Point presentation, but also viewable as HTML.)

Failure to realize that McCain has gotten inside the Demos' OODA loop will lead to precisely the kind of fatally foolish dismissal and underestimation of Palin we see going on right now, as well as the ineffective thrashing and flailing of the Demos' incoherent attack reflex against Palin we've observed from the Demos, which will only serve to make her and McCain stronger. Obama needs to make a sudden non-linear maneuver and get inside McCain's envelope.

I have an idea how to do that. At present McCain made an abrupt shift and switched the framing of the campaign to values + experience, at the same time co-opting Obama's message of change. Obama needs to abandon his old message of change in order to get inside McCain's envelope. He could do this by switching to campaigning on leadership instead of change.

Leadership, as Norman Schwarzkopf and Douglas MacArthur and countless other military leaders have emphasized, boils down to character. By switching to an emphasis on leadership (= honesty + competence) Obama gets to shred McCain and Palin for their dishonesty and ineptitude without seeming disrespectful or vicious. A sudden shift to leadership + character nullifies McCain's advantage in experience, since someone who is dishonest has no advantage in leadership regardless how much experience s/he can boast. It also demolishes the McCain emphasis on values.

Of course, such a sudden shift will only elicit another sudden change from the McCain campaign in response, forcing both combatants to maneuver for a way inside each other's OODA loop. Like modern 3GW warfare, a political campaign is dynamic and ever-changing, and, as Col. Boyd reminded us, "Machines don't fight wars. People do -- and they use their minds."

This campaign is a long way from being over. In fact, it's hardly started. If Obama has some people around him who understand Sun Tzu and Boyd, he'll be back on top. If not...does he deserve to president?

David Brin said...

Welcome back "Other Zorgon."

Van Creweld is smart and knopwledgable... and a pompous ass. "Each time modern (more or less), heavily armed, regular, state-owned forces took on insurgencies, they were defeated."

Except that examples abound. The IRA did not defeat the British, nor the Palestinians the Israelis. Nor Che Guevara even a single Latin American state. Nicaragua fell in part due to defections from the army. Vietnam crushed the montagnards, Cambodia finally quelled the Khmer Rouge. India has smashed at least TWO DOZEN varied insurgencies, including a major, state-supported one in Kashmir. The Brits put down the maumau and Malayan Communists. Saddam smashed the Shiites in 91-92. The Turks mostly-quelled the Kurdish resistance....

... it is a fantastical counterfactual pile of drivel.

David Brin said...

Guys! Go to
and pump up my viewer/comment scores!

Cliff said...

Wait a second.

Zorgon 1:
Look at the stats. Obama is not in trouble. The popular vote looks like a squeaker, but the electoral vote is solidly tilted in his direction.

Zorgon 2:
They are underestimating her and McCain, and if they persist, it will prove fatal.

Palin now seems hugely popular with both the base and undecided voters. Rove probably focus-grouped a bunch of potential VP picks and picked her for this purpose.

Which is it?

JuhnDonn said...

G. Allen has an interesting post on how, on 9/11, the U.S. was trolled and fell for it:

Seven years ago, 19 young men sacrificed themselves for a higher purpose. They sacrificed themselves to bring a message to us in the most graphic terms; they punctuated their message in spilled blood. They told us that our higher purpose is to go to war against Islam. They told us to go to war, they gave us our marching orders and like a herd of sheep we followed, like dogs we obeyed. 19 people did this, to the US. We reacted against our best interests because of 19 people.

A higher purpose almost always means, turning a bit of yourself over to another, allowing yourself to be overcome with some other person’t vision. Allowing your truth, your epiphany to be controlled by somebody who is NOT you. This is why 19 young men boarded some jetliners in 2001 and crashed them into buildings. They didn’t do that because they were bad people, they did it because they were filled with a higher purpose. One that dictated crashing planes into buildings and killing lots of people was a good thing. They were filled with the idea that trolling the US, making us attack countries in the Middle East would serve their interests. And they were right! They did it before; the Soviet Afghan war was instrumental in diminishing the Soviet Union.

...There is a storm coming, it feeds. It feeds on ignorance, it feeds on hate. It feeds on a higher purpose that was created by those who would tell you how to think and how to live. True evil lives there, an evil that caused people to be burned alive, fall thousands of feet to their deaths or be crushed seven years ago. An evil that sent our young men to fight a war so that we can have revenge.

We must awaken and understand that our higher purpose is to understand! Why else do we have intellect? Why do we have a mind and a will? Why should we follow? The paths are before us and we can make our own if we are courageous enough to try.

Sheep follow, dogs obey, humans should reason. We have no business as a society to follow the orders of 19 martyrs!

Anonymous said...

Lets gloss over for the moment the question of whether campaign decisions are made by the candidate or by the managers. (I think an in depth study would show the appearance at least of the good ideas being chalked up to the candidate, the flops to the manager, and generally the Dem candidates getting more personal credit/demerits than the Repub).

Right now books are being started on how John McCain waged a campaign against all odds and... (have to wait for the last chapter to be written to see how it turns out).

Obama should not panic yet, not unless Michigan polls start to flip red.

But here is Obama mid level anxiety: which will be greater, the Bradly effect or the new voter turnout?

And here is the cold sweat nightmare.

John McCain after enduring a week of Obama negative campaining goes on TV and says:

"My friends, see what the promise of new politics and bipartisan cooperation has come to. We need to stop, and stop now, the endless mean cycle of lobbying, fundraising, campaigning. When will the real work of governing get done?

Therefore, effective January 20th, when Govenor Palin and I are sworn into office, anyone who works for me and is caught campaigning for Palin '12 will be fired on the spot. Anyone who is caught working for McCain '12 will be summoned to my office, given a tongue lashing they will remember 'til their old age and then fired.
I will serve one term and put into it every ounce of determination I have in me. And those who have fought with me and against me will agree that it is a deep reserve.
In time, perhaps in 2011 or so, the work of the nation will be in hand sufficiently that I can allow thoughts of a new campaign for Vice President Palin to be entertained.

But for now, there will be an end to the old politics, if you wish it to be so.

I thank you, for your attention tonight and for the privilege of serving you with all my heart and soul these many years."


David Brin said...

A noble speech. And I would hate to be his food-taster, after that.

Unknown said...

Wake up. Stats change. Time flies.

At the time I posted the statement that Obama is not trouble, he wasn't -- yet. Post-RNC, McCain bounced, which we expect. But the RNC bounce has now largely subsided, yet McCain-Palin are still up 3 points nationally and more importantly, Palin has surged ahead among undecideds.

Next time you try the failed and futile kindergarten game of "gotcha," you'll want to recognize that the current prez race is like mercury -- it's moving all over the place. Presidential polling is now shifting by multiple points nationally per day. Too soon to say whether Obama's in serious trouble, but the trends seem to have started to move against him.

If you'd read any of the classic texts like The Selling Of A President, you'd be familiar with this. Read a book sometime and learn something, Cliff.

You can scale even greater heights of folly, though, Cliff, if you just push it a little harder. "Hey, Zorgon, earlier you said an electron is a wave -- now you say it's a particle! Which is it? Gotcha! (Giggle giggle, snicker snicker.)"

I stand by all my earlier statements that the presidential election is mainly about setting the tone now that Demo control of the house and senate seems assured. Setting the tone remains important, but the world won't end if McCain-Palin take the White House. In fact, it's not even clear that Obama et al. aren't on top of this. If they fail to respond to McCain's Palin gambit effectively, then the trends look dangerous for Obama.

Incidentally, the polling numbers for congress haven't changed one whit since last week. It's the presidential polling numbers that swing wildly per diem, not the congressional polling numbers. So the only real dangers right now involve a McCain appointment to the Supreme Court, which would be likely if he won, and a remote possibility of McCain ordering an attack on Iran...which seems most unlikely given how thin the U.S. military has gotten stretched by Iraq/Afghanistan. (McCain also claims he wants to spend lots more money on the U.S. military, but the money just isn't there. McCain's plan for boosting military recruitments involves bribing recruits with lots more money, but we simply don't have that much available. As a practical matter, a significantly larger standing army than the one we have at present will require a national draft, which seems off the table regardless of political party. McCain's election won't change that.)

A McCain supreme court nomination seems more serious. Recall that habeas corpus got upheld by a single vote on a 5-4 margin. One more far-right Supreme Court appointee, and habeas corpus could well vanish. That's worrisome. Not fatal by itself, since a Demo-controlled congress could pass countervailing legislation -- but it's enough for concern.

Brin is unfortunately spouting gibberish when he claims van Creveld's statements of historical fact are "drivel." The IRA clearly and obviously defeated the British by forcing 'em to accept the Sinn Fein as a legitimate political party. Earth to Brin: when 4GW insurgents get accepted as a legitimate political party, that means they've won. The Palestinians clearly and obviously defeated the Israelis both militarily and economically, and the construction of the wall offers the clearest proof of that. Unable to defeat Palestinian 4GW insurgents, Israel has tried to physically seal itself off from the rest of the middle east, which anyone can tell you won't work. How long Israel can limp along as a functioning democracy with its current economic hit from Palestinian terrorism and its current draconian security clampdown remains anybody's guess, but Israel is hurting badly. If this continues, it will surely cease to exist as a functioning democracy in the foreseeable future.

Che Guevara was defeated but note that the Sandanistas eventually triumphed in Nicaragua. Your claim that "Cambodia eventually defeated the Khmer Rouge" proves laughably false, since it required an invasion by Vietnam to dislodge the Khmer Rouge from Cambodia.

India of course represents the single greatest failure of government force against 4GW, since Ghandi won against the might of the entire British empire. Saddam did smash the Shiites by employing the kinds of tactics I've described as the only known effective ones against 4GW: kill everyone, kill children, kill the families, wiped out entire villages, torture and mass-murder anyone even remotely involved with the insurgency. That works.

The British did indeed defeat the Malay insurgents, as mentioned.

That's 2 counterexamples out of dozens of instances in which 4GW defeated heavily armed and armored states. Hardly enough to qualify van Creveld's thesis as "drivel."

The claim that the Turks "more or less defeated the Kurdish insurgency" is so laughable it's absurd. The Kurds have now set up their own independent state in the north of Iraq, ethnic kurds inside Turkey are causing a great deal of trouble for the Turkish government, and if this continues, the new Kurdish state seems likely to absorb the top part of Turkey -- which explains why Turkey threatened war against the Kurds unless they got the ethnic kurds inside Turkey to settle down. Sadly for the Turks, war won't help -- it'll only make it easier for the ethnic Kurds inside Turkey to join the new Kurdish state in what was formerly Iraq, since nothing transforms national borders like all-out mechanized war.

Brin remains a smart and knowledgeable guy, but his claims that van Creveld are wrong are embarrassingly false. Someone spouted drivel...but it's ain't van Creveld.

There seem to exist 2 David Brins: the sensible Brin who makes credible posts most of the time, and the wacko Brin who suddenly spouts nonsense like "look for ten thousand Timoty McVeighs" (I still have no idea what reasoning Brin used to concoct that one, but it's crazy) and absurd twaddle like "van Creveld is spouting drivel."

Gilmoure: perfect example of 9/11 as 4GW. Al Qaeda hoped to damage the legitimacy of Western democracy as of the Kingdom of Saud with the twin towers attacks, and on one of those 2 counts they've succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. America's hysterically disproportionate anti-terror erosion of the constitution has damaged the legitimacy of the U.S. government mightily indeed. Sadly for Al Qaeda, the primary target of the 9/11 attacks was the legitimacy of the Saudi regime, not the American government. So Al Qaeada miscalculated slightly. By any reasonable standard, however, they've been outlandishly successful in their secondary goal of provoking a U.S. response so psychotic that all of world opinion has now turned against America. Classic 4GW strategy.

The response to Al Qaeda's 4GW 9/11 attack is obvious and simple: we need to treat terrorism as a police matter. We must, above all, avoid using 9/11 as a cudgel to beat our former allies as well as non-aligned states and our own citizens over the head with extremist military and political and economic agendas. (No-bid contracts in Iraq for cronies, anyone? How about a little pre-emptive war? Or some diplomatic hardball, threatning the G8 with "you're either with us or you're against us"?)

Once terrorism in the U.S. gets treated as a police problem, foreign visitors will no longer be treated like prisoners in a military stockade, the rule of law will return for suspected terrorists, America will stop pre-emptively invading other countries on the pretext of terrorism, and we'll be able to repair our badly broken alliances with the rest of the G8.

Cliff said...

Sorry, I didn't realize I wasn't allowed to point out contradictions in the arguments of Zorgon the Malevolent.

Perhaps I was confused by the authoritative, end-of-discussion, brook-no-argument tone that infuses each and every one of your posts.

In other words, your post at 10:01 PM suggests that Dave Rickey is a hysterical fool for believing Obama might be in trouble.
Yet your post at 9:22 AM, a mere 35 hours later, suggests that unless Obama hires 4GW specialists and quick he is surely doomed. That's not a great length of time, and yet no explanation was offered for the black-and-white shift in rhetoric.

All I'm suggesting is that you sometimes swing wildly from extreme to extreme with little to no regard for your previous stance.
You bring a great deal of information to the table. In order to find relevance in it, and your opinion, I need at least a little coherency and consistency. Without those, I'm no better off than if I had read Bill Kristol or Robert Novak.

David Brin said...

Yup, having Sinn Fein serve a minority role in parliament sure was THE main goal of the IRA! Har!

The rest is similar silliness. Tell the other Z we miss him.

Acacia H. said...

Zorgon: The problem with predictions that the sky is falling is that it indeed is. Every single day, the Earth gains mass from dust that sifts from outer space and into the atmosphere, finally to settle on the planet's surface. I believe it's a matter of a ton or two of material each day. So yes, the sky is falling but no, it's not as serious as you predict.

The worm is starting to turn on Senator McCain. He overestimated his charm with the mainstream media and the fact that the media doesn't give a damn about the Republicans or the Democrats. It cares about the bottom line: profits. Forcing a close race and bringing in viewers is all in the MSM's interests.

Having burned the bridge of friendship with the MSM (such as hiding Governor Palin from them and no longer chatting with them on the Straight Talk Flight), his former buddies among the reporters have decided to strike back. If McCain wants to demonize them and call them evil and liberal, they'll be evil and liberal. The Associated Press has begun to turn on McCain (I link DKos in this because it has several articles, rather than linking each independent article. I know DKos is so liberal that communists seem conservative in reflection, but they do hit the truth from time to time.)

In addition, (and apologies for another DKos link but it has two YouTube videos embedded, thus making it easier for me to code), The View turned on McCain, calling him on his lies (which he continued to deny, but to what effect?), and also had perhaps the biggest blunder that McCain has made in the campaign: he stated he believes Roe vs. Wade was a mistake. This little statement will be used by pro-choice advocates to paint McCain as an anti-abortionist who would take away the rights of women to not have a child. The white women currently starting to converge behind McCain and Palin are going to stop and go "do I really want this?"

Third, Todd Palin and others have been subpoenaed to testify on ethics violations concerning Governor Palin. Should they snub these subpoenas... it will look more and more like what Bush and his cronies are doing in Washington right now... and comparisons with the Shrub are the absolute last thing that McCain wants at the moment.

So we have the media turning on McCain, McCain gaffing big on abortion issues, and Palin's ethics violations taking a center stage. Should anything else go wrong... like McCain's health or looking tired and haggard during the debates or any of a number of possibilities... and the USS McCain will have taken a torpedo hit below the waterline and start taking on water. Sure, the ship will still float... but the damage will slow the USS McCain, and keep his campaign from catching the newer and sleeker USS Obama.

Robert A. Howard

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't mind a President Obama and VP Biden taking the "no second term" pledge.

A lot of what it would take to clean up the messes -- environmental, political, financial -- will be horribly unpopular, and not just with D.C. insiders, corporations, and other usual suspects.

Woozle said...

tacitus2: Your "faith in the system" and lack of worry about the outcome fit pretty well into my recent observations about American republicanism.

In short: you believe all politicians are corrupt to a degree which is more or less equivalent (within, say, an order of magnitude), and you don't believe that either side is capable of evil of any depth much beyond this garden-variety level of corruption. The election is a wrestling match: rigged and corrupt, but basically just a game and possibly good entertainment.

Correct me where I'm wrong...

Those notes are based in large part on my interactions with my own ostrich, regarding whom I've finally had to declare defeat (for now, anyway). His opinions are not based on facts, but on some kind of gut-level assessment which probably has a lot to do with party affiliation and his evaluation of each candidate's personal affability. He hasn't been able to either defend his choices or find flaw in mine, but he hasn't changed his views one iota either. Palin is a looker and a "go-getter", and he likes that, and that's essentially the end of the story.

From other observations, I suspect strongly that a large enough percentage of American voters think the same way (perhaps even a majority) that anyone who can be convinced by a rational argument already has, and we are (to some degree) wasting our time barking up that tree.

For the rest, rationality is not sufficient to persuade them, while the shallow coverage by the networks apparently is.

I'm thinking we may need to organize against this (carefully cultivated) tide of irrationality and followerism. Even if Obama wins, we still have 2012 to look at -- and plenty of evil gnawing away at the mechanisms of government all the while.

In the spirit of brainstorming, I offer the following:

People make decisions by watching TV? We need to do something to counter the increasing centralization of mainstream media -- we need to retake the airwaves. This morning, I came up with the idea of a nationwide network of very small radio stations -- small enough not to require FCC licensing -- possibly accompanied by mass giveaways of very cheap pre-tuned radios to encourage non-activist, non-internet people to have a non-centrally-owned source for their news...

Dunno if it would work as far as getting people to listen, but it seems like a great idea technically. Even if not, the main goal remains: to prevent others our national discourse (our national nervous system!) from being controlled and owned by entities whose motives are not at all transparent, we must somehow restore the media to the hands of individuals and small companies. Until then, we are being assimilated.

Woozle said...

(ack! editfart. Revised ending to final paragraph follows.) prevent our national discourse (our national nervous system!) from being controlled and owned by entities whose motives are not at all transparent, we must somehow restore the media to the hands of individuals and small companies. Until then, we are being assimilated.

David Brin said...

Tacitus knows that "they're all corrupt" doesn't fly. After a billion dollars & 14 years of investigations -with droves of FBI agents diverted to search for smoking guns, not one Clintonite was ever proved to do a single thing wrong, having to do with official duties.

That is a disproof so stunning in its perfection that republicans have to cover their ears and scream "Nah!" in order not to let it into their reality.

What a species. A fact that stunning. And I have never met a Republican who was willing to face it, deal with it, argue about it or even remotely admit what it implies. "I was wrong."

Re the recent Palin interview:

"And she has told colleagues that Christ will return within her lifetime, which raises questions about what sort of Armageddon she has in mind."

As quoted on Truthout:

Now to get someone mainstream to ask the same question.. Parsed EXACTLY right.

Unknown said...

You're perfectly entitled to disagree with me. Just get what I said right. There's no indication that Obama is "doomed," nor did I say that. if the last 36 hours of polling trends continue, Obama's campaign may be headed for trouble and in view of that, underestimation of Palin would be fatal. The polling trends which have developed over the last 36 hours seem worrisome. If the trends which appear nascent today continue, it would prove fatal for Obama to underestimate Palin. That's all I'm saying.

Charlie Cook pointed out 4 days ago that the national press & general electorate would converge on one of two master narratives about Palin: either she's a crazy corrupt wicked witch of the west, or she's an interesting quirky American-Idol-style underdog. The national press & general electorate appear to have settled on the second narrative, as have the undecided voters. This suggests that for the Demos to continue their scattershot attacks on Palin will merely generate more sympathy for her. So they need to stop it. Obama also needs to stop ignoring her, as she's clearly developed into a significant factor over the last 36 hours.

Obama's instincts that we need to stay away from Palin's family are dead-on, but he needs to go further. He needs to treat her as though she's smarter and more competent than he is. She's not, but he needs to treat her with that kind of respect in order to get inside her OODA loop.

Brin is absolutely correct that the meme "all pols are corrupt won't wash." But an even better counterargument than Clinton's innocence in Whitewater is the K street project under DeLay and Rove. Folks, don't you realize that under Jack Abramoff, the Demos were completely shut out of access to any lobbyists at all on K Street? Over the last 8 years Rove/Abramaoff/DeLay laid down the iron law: any lobbying firm that wants to offer money to Repubs will get shut out of capitol hill hard if it tries to represent any Demo causes at all. That's unprecedented. It completely locked institutional corruption into the Repub half of the aisle of capitol hill, and it starved the Demos of campaign money. To claim "they're all corrupt" in view of the K street operation of the last 8 years, tacitus2, represents an absolutely mind-boggling inversion of reality. Over the last 8 years K street turned into a corrupt lobbying machine which worked solely and exclusively on behalf of Repub causes, with Demos totally shut out by deliberate policy of DeLay & Abramoff. Tacitus2, even if the Demos had wanted to become politicaly corrupt and get into bed with lobbyists over the last 8 years, it was not possible for them to do so because of the DeLay-Ambramoff Repub monopoly on dealing with K street lobbyists.

robert et al.:
You're quite right that the elite pundits have now turned against McCain. Even the pundits like David Brooks who normally tack hard right. Brooks has now asserted that "the Republicans are intellectually incapable of governing." That's nice and all...but we mustn't confuse the consensus of the elite beltway pundits for the gut feelings of the electorate. The Demos made that foolish mistake with Ronald Reagan, who was despised and viewed with utter contempt by the elite beltway pundits when he first ran against Carter, and that underestimation proved fatal.

We've seen what happens when the Demos and the elite beltway pundits persist in personal attacks (using a candidate's family and religion) again a candidate to whom the general public has taken a liking. It badly redounds against the Demos.

This is why Brin is completely off base in urging attacks on Palin based on her religious beliefs. Sorry, that's totally out of bounds. In America, we don't do that. Let me be blunt: I don't care if Sarah Palin believes in sacrificing little babies to the Aztec god Tlaloc. As long as she doesn't act on those beliefs and doesn't bring 'em overtly into politics right here and right now, Palin's religious beliefs are her own business and nobody else's.

The Demos need to wake up and realize that. Brin, you're very sharp, but this is an example of why you wouldn't last 2 seconds in politics. The instant any Demo opens hi/r mouth to hammer Palin about here religion unless she exlicitly acts on it in politics right now, right here, today, that's the instant when the entire electorate starts to drift away from the Demos and toward the poor little devout soccer mom underdog Palin.

Perception, people. Perception. The Demos cannot be seen to be using religious litmus tests against anyone. Palin's religious belief's are completely out of bounds as campaign fodder unless she or her handlers make the unlikely mistake of trying to inject her Dominionism directly into the current political campaign.

This is another instance of the wacko Brin suddenly popping up and spouting nonsense. Others have pointed this out. In America, you just don't attack a political opponent on religious grounds except in extraordinary and extremely exceptional cases where the opponent has directly acted on hi/r relgiious beliefs in the current campaign (i.e., Pat Robertson's presidential bid). The Repubs tried it against JFK. Bad, bad, bad move. The Demos tried it against Ronald Reagan. Bad, bad, bad move.

Oh, and Cliff, I never said Obama needs to hire a 4GW specialist. Boyd's OODA loop is a basic staple of modern 3GW warfare, which has been around since 1918. McCain getting inside Obama's OODA loops is really just the thing Bill Cinton did to Bush 41 during the '92 campaign. It's not 4GW or related to 4GW, it's just really smart modern maneuver warfare. I hope Obama has someone as sharp as the Ragin' Cajun around him, that's all I'm saying, because it's now clear with the ripple effects from the Palin pick that McCain (or more properly his handlers) aren't the trivial pushovers the Demos expected.

Folks...relying on the mainstream media to out McCain as a liar won't get you anywhere. The Demos hung their hopes on that one throughout Reagan's presidency, and it never ever worked. Reagan was a liar, and Palin is a liar, and McCain is a liar, but vainly hoping that if the MSM hammers on 'em long enough it'll take with the general electorate just won't work. Right now, McCain has painted himself as the the crippled hero vet maverick and Palin as the quirky spunky underdog soccer mom. The more the mainstream media beat up on them, the more sympathetic they become to the electorate.

Unknown said...

Your analysis seems insightful & accurate. A nationwide network of low-power radio or TV stations, however, remains impossible in the current climate of media consolidation. Over the last 20 years we've gone from 1200 nationwide independent radio stations down to one, Clear Channel, in many service areas, and from hundreds of global media corporations to 4 giant global vertically integrated media monopolies.

When the Demos take back congress, order of business number one should be to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. That'll shut down Limbaugh/Fox/O'Reilly and the rest. You won't believe how much difference that'll make.

Anonymous said...


I worry a great deal about the outcome of our political process. I worry that the sort of agrarian society envisioned in our Constitution no longer exists, and that our institutions no longer function in the modern world. I worry that we will become ungovernable. I worry that my children will live in a world ever less generous.
If I were an amiable chucklehead willing to simply buy a certain party line it is unlikely I would wander into this saloon with regularity.
We have to respect each other's right to disagree in places.


Unknown said...

Everybody's worried. Looks like I touched a nerve in urging Obama et al. not to underestimate Palin.

Okay, here's some more encouragement.

Naum said...

some observations:

* you all underestimate palin — she might be an intellectual lightweight lesser than president bush but she can read a script/teleprompter, is photogenic, is a shrew political cutthroat...

* facts really are meaningless in these campaigns now, and i think the mccain strategy is a brazen path that just says "truth matters not" as they continue to lie, repeat lies, then lie about the media entity reports that catalog them... my office, with fellow ostriches, i can point out the evidence, yet their cognitive dissonance is such that it doesn't matter:

me: palin lied on the bridge to nowhere, and the earmark claims are no way in bounds of reality

ostrich: (after conceding the point), i like her, "palin for president"...

me: what about the deceit and dishonesty, especially coming from a committed evangelical christian where honesty should be a cardinal virtue on display?

ostrich: all politicians are deceitful...

me: what about the other ethical lapses — use of public office to settle personal scores?

ostrich: that guy should have been fired anyway...

remember, a large base has been energized that readily and eagerly employ a total double standard — imagine if it was Obama's daughter (or even look to existing cases), where the parents would be lambasted and held up as poor parents... ...but when it's another ostrich, it's "well, these things happen"...

* tying in to the media consumption, christians increasingly are segregated in the aspect that the so called christian broadcasting they consume is all coming from a dominionist, far right perspective - dobson, hagee, robertson, lahaye, jenkins, and they ingest words that make their Sunday preacher look liberal... ...when they crossover, it's Rush, Savage, Hannity, etc..., makes the conservative/centrist corporate media look like raving leftists... …even the moderates defer to someone they "want to like" if they've accepted christ... ..."he's a christian!" (but that doesn't work for those they don't like bill clinton or obama — because they're "fake" christians, that just act like they're christians)...

* then you have the folks whose extent of political knowledge is People Magazine or a fluff piece on TV, or maybe a glimpse of cable news (generally Fox News or CNN)... ...that Sarah Palin is nice, I sure support her, what raising a kid like that, and encouraging her daughter to keep the baby... might sneer that nobody is that superficial, but you haven't spent much time outside the coastal states (and even a good bit of suburbia/exurbia, is the way it is)

* karl rove just penned an "advice piece for Democrats" that they are foolish to go after palin - and that's how they lost to nixon in 68 and poppy bush in 88 (quayle)... ...but this race is a lot different as I bet if a poll were taken, most mccain/palin supporters would prefer palin #1 and the possible expectation that mccain may not finish (or not run in 2112) is a big factor in their support for a ticket they would be lackluster over... ...and i heard again listening to christian talk radio today from local host + callers (and callers were still saying to host that they couldn't vote for obama because he's a secret muslim)...

* obama needs to hit hard on (a) bush == mccain, whether he on the strings of puppetmasters who are the same architects who powered GWB or if its his own flawed character, (b) he's "out of touch" (which he's begun with the email ad, which mccain is countering now by saying injuries prevent keyboard usage, but that then raises a whole other issue that reflects as poorly on mccain candidacy as obama campaign that has never been revealed about mccain handicap), (c) the honesty problem illustrated by the blatant lies repeated over and over by mccain/palin, many of which seemed really unnecessary, even if i were mccain/bush^H^H^H^Hpalin supporter...

Travc said...

Please, don't get into the G4W crap again... From my POV it is just obvious observations described in inane management school drivel and pawned off as some grand new theory. Who the fuck cares.

At best it is like the 'named statistical tests' steveo and I were chatting about earlier. The fancy names are only useful if you are talking in shorthand to someone else who is immersed in the field or are trying to BS.

Co-opting a political opponents terminology and reframing it is hardly a shiny new thing, or at all surprising.

Mostly unrelated... has anyone else read "Interface" by Stephenson and Jewsbury. If not, I highly recommend it just now.

Sorry Dr Brin, I really should pimp more you your books ;)

Travc said...

Zorg, the K-street project didn't completely cut off the Dems from the lobbyist taps. To make that blanket statement invites an easy smack down.

I totally agree that the comparison of Dems to GOP in this regard is a tricycle to a tank though.

Unknown said...

Obama's Electoral Vote lead seems to have evaporated! oh noes...



Acacia H. said...

There is something to remember here. While there is a goodly number of people who just shrug it off and say "all politicians are corrupt" there is also a significant new crop of voters who are just now being added to the voting rolls, despite efforts to remove them.

These younger voters are looking with some outrage at the blatant lies that McCain and crew are saying. They're going "this is more of the same-old, same-old bullshit that Washington keeps trying to feed us! Let's get rid of it!"

Obama is doing the right thing by not being an asshat who attacks McCain and Palin on trivial inanities and on family and religion. He's staying above it, and in doing so he's being a symbol for these younger and newer voters. These are the people not covered by pollsters. These are the people who are ignored by the electorate in general. And these are the people McCain are hoping to disenfranchise through his lies, hoping that he can pull the wool over their eyes and cause them to give up in disgust.

He won't. They're fed up. They've had it. And come November they will be filling the voting booths and they will be voting in the young candidate for change and saying "We. Have. Had. Enough."

If we're truly fortunate... Obama will not be corrupted by that power, Washington Democrats will be invigorated by Obama and by new blood coming in, and our country will start moving once again. And in four years, a number of people will sit up and say "you know... I didn't vote for that boy. Too young, too inexperienced, and I'll admit I was scared because he was black. But he wasn't so bad. I think I'll vote for him this time."

2012 will have Obama win by a landslide. He'll win all fifty states, in a move that will stun Republicans and crush the remnants of the Neocon and religo-conservative movements. It will be the End of the World as we know it. And it'll be the start of a new world, something better.

Because the world ends every day. And it starts anew as well. Let's make it an ending... and a new beginning... that we can respect and gladly say "I was a part of that."

Robert A. Howard

Anonymous said...

"Yup, having Sinn Fein serve a minority role in parliament sure was THE main goal of the IRA! Har!"

If you really think that's all they achieved, you need to read up on the relevant history.

In brief, they -

1) Virtually ended discrimination against Catholics in government hiring. This means gaining an almost proportional share of Bureaucratic pull for those who, overwhelmingly, wish to leave the UK.

2) Got the Crown to crack-down on the Protestant versions of the Klan, the Paras. Little reported in American media, these groups killed more than twice as many people as the IRA, and far more of their victims were civilians.

While I don't condone many of the tactics the IRA used, they never did murder Catholic girls for marrying Protestant boys.

3) Forced a agreement out of London that the UK will not assert soveriegnty over Northern Ireland if a simple majority vote is held asking them to leave.

Demographics mean the IRA already won, Dr. Brin. No more violence allowed by groups like the Peep O' Day boys to try to force Catholics out, and a massive decrease in employment discrimination across the board, mean that the Demographics change even faster as fewer of the "Mere Irish" are pressured to emmigrate as a result of poverty and violence.

Having the sense to stop killing people once victory is inevitable is not exactly a loss, or even a compromise.

Woozle said...

tacitus2: no disrespect intended, of course. I haven't had time to keep up with Contrary Brin lately, so I may have missed a lot of relevant comments you may have made.

However, I can't see anyone feeling even slightly relaxed about the current political situation unless they agree with at least one of the following statements:

* The people behind McCain/Palin are not significantly more evil than Obama. There was no significant cheating or dishonesty in either the 2000 or 2004 elections.
* Regardless of the contrast in evil between the two candidates, it doesn't really matter who gets in because the real power is elsewhere, behind the scenes.
* Regardless of where the power lies, the checks and balances in our government will prevent any real evil from being done.

Perhaps there are other scenarios, but those are the only ones I can think of. So which of those do you agree with? Or can you explain your position some other way?

And on a related note...

1. I don't know any uncritical Obama supporters. We're all rather ticked about his support of FISA (despite reassurances from some trusted sources that it's not as bad as it seems), and many of us are also annoyed by his pandering to religion. But he's still far better than the alternative.

2. Do you have any sources for your claim that "Obama has a track record of having nasty (political) things happen to his opponants"? This sounds an awful lot like the baseless but chronic (and still continuing!) accusations against the Clintons, and it makes me suspicious.

3. Yes, there is the "smell of fear". I will never deny being scared sh*tless of the neocons and their idea of government, and most of the people I know feel pretty much the same way (ostriches aside). (A republican voter I spoke with recently angrily proclaimed that Bushco are "a bunch of yahoos!") Obama scares me far less -- not because he makes vague assurances, but because he is specific and answers questions knowledgeably. I also like that he seems less unshakably certain of his answers to interview questions, which indicates to me that he likes to consider all the data before making a decision.

These features are sharply inverted in the McCain/Palin campaign. Mc/P seem to be more into posturing and trying to scare me into voting for them; but it makes me fear them more. I don't want a World of Warcraft; I want a peaceful world. Can McCain deliver that? He seems to want the opposite.

And it belatedly occurs to me to actually answer the question you posed: "How will you react to a McCain presidency?"

He can score big points by restoring habeas corpus, repealing the Military Commissions Act, employing diplomacy rather than military force, fighting for more government transparency, fighting against creationism in the schools, repealing or repairing No Child Left Behind, repealing or repairing the Patriot Act, opening the books on Bushco's crimes and anything else Bush has had sealed, or setting up a proper investigation of 9/11. (What am I leaving out? Oh, reversing media consolidation and fixing the civil service and... anything else? The list of Bush's travesties is so long. Bush endorses McCain, McCain endorses Bush; how can anyone think that he will work to fix any of this?)

If he does none of those things (as I expect), he is violating his oath of office the same way Bush did, and I can't be loyal to the Constitution and support him.

If he at least attempts all of those things, then he would exceed my best-likely hopes for Obama, so I would completely rally in his support.

I'm not sure where the line would be crossed, if he only does some of them.

Either way, the two-party system has got to go, and I will keep working on that.

Zorgon: You understand the problem (this is exactly what the "media consolidation" page is talking about) -- but you missed the part where I mentioned "low power". It is my understanding that there is no licensing requirement for a low-enough power level. Yes, that makes them less effective -- but this is why we need a lot of them, in a network. It also makes them cheaper to build.

Also, re the hypothetical veto-proof Dem majority: what, you think they'll suddenly start standing up to a GOP president when they've been mostly spineless since taking office? Just because there are more of them?

Unknown said...

Better watch out, atomicsmith. Brin will start smearing you as "the Bizarro atomicsmith." As long as you paint rosy scenarios, you'll be called "wise and cogent," but if you point out inconvenient facts and use inappropriate logic that disturbs those idyllic visions with an injection of sudden bad news from the real world, you'll be called "bizarro."

In fact, you've just noticed what prompted me to post that warning about underestimating Palin. Here's a particularly insightful piece by Peggy Noonan:

Democrats, hit reset. Accept the fact that the race has changed utterly, that you're up against a ticket that has captured the public imagination. Now you must go out and recapture it.

Peggy Noonan is a sociopath and the former speechwriter for the senile criminal Ronald Reagan. However, she's also smart and alert and in this case she's spot on point.

Obama needs to play catch-up. The evidence appears to show that he's doing that, changing tack on his approach to McCain and ignoring Palin. Looks like a solid approach. Time will tell if it works. I'm optimistic.

The reason why I'm optimistic gets summed up by another Peggy Noonan piece from May 2008. Although her recent tone sounds a triumphalist note, nothing she points out in the earlier piece from May 2008 has changed.

McCain might capture the presidency this time. But over the longer term, the Repub brand has been fatally damaged (not just by the crooks int he current White House but by Abramoff, the Repub congress, and all those megachurch ministers found in hotel rooms snorting crystal meth with gay hookers, as well as by the skyrocketing rates of teen pregnancy and STDs and divorce and drug abuse in red states), conservatives have run out of ideas (they've all been tried and imploded badly -- pre-emptive war's a disaster, deregulating Wall Street gives you Enron and Lehman Bros and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, beefing up the military gives you worthless superweapons like stealth cruisers and F-22 joint strike fighters that don't work, abstinence education gives you more STDs and teen pregnancies).

Worse for the Repubs: the long-term demographic trends now riptide strongly against them. The more economic inequality we get, the more Democratic party affiliation trends upward in the top 20% as well as in the bottom 80%, theocons find themselves under pressure from the long-term secularization of Western culture which is driven by technology and the modern economy; collapsing financial institutions like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and most recently Lehman Bros are now giving America socialism on a grand scale whether we want it or not, the health care crisis has gotten so bad for big corporations that they are the ones now clamoring for national single-payer socialized medicine, and peak oil and global warming are relentlessly forcing main street Americans into the camp of the formerly fringe left greens.

Those macro trends can't be reversed by caging black voters or nominating a "pitbull with lipstick." Those long-term trends spell disaster for the Repubs as that party is currently constituted. That's just the reality of the early 21st century.

That's why your latest analysis generally points toward a likely correct conclusion. However, almost all your details contradict observed reality. You're an editor: you should fact-check this stuff. You have gotten lots of important facts wrong in your latest post.

As an editor, you'll doubtless pardon me for going paragraph by paragraph through what you wrote pointing out factual inaccuracies.

You mentioned:
While there is [sic] a goodly number of people who just shrug it off and say "all politicians are corrupt" there is also a significant new crop of voters who are just now being added to the voting rolls, despite efforts to remove them.

Partly true. However, these voters are not primarily young people, as you suggest, but are overwhelmingly black. If you look at the voter turnout stats they show quite clearly that turnout among young people (age 18-24) has declined steadily since 1972 while turnaout among blacks has risen steadily since 1972, with a sharp spike in 1984. Turnout in the age 18-24 cohort is now dismal compared with every other group of potential voters. See Youth Voter Turnout Has Declined By Any Measure

Youth voter turnout in 2006 stabilized because of massive registration drives, and has risen slightly according to the registration stats for the 2008 election, but this plays little role in this year's presidential election because even with current higher registration in the 18-24 cohort, these voters actually vote at a dismally lower rate than blacks, hispanics, asians, voters over 25, or any other group in the electorate.

If young people actually did vote in significant numbers, say, at a 70% or greater rate, like the over age 55 group, young voters would have a significant impact on this year's presidential election. As it is, with expected turnout in the 40% range, young people remain unimportant in this election cycle, as always.

The evidence for this is clear and comes from demographic breakdowns on likely voters. Charlie Cook has identified the 4 voter blocs Obama must capture to win this year: they are [1] blacks, [2] hispanics, [3] whites under 50, [4] whites over 50. You'll notice that voters from 18-24 aren't specifically mentioned as a distinct group. That's because they don't vote, so they just don't matter in the electorate. This is what frustrates me most about young people. If they voted at rates comparable to whites over age 55 (> 70%), they could change America and the world. Instead, their fashionable nihilism and cynical anomie cripples them and blinds them, rendering 'em impotent. Every time I hear some 20-something voter whine, "My vote won't count anyway," I shout back, "Yes, it won't count IF YOU DON'T VOTE!"

You go on to say:
These younger voters are looking with some outrage at the blatant lies that McCain and crew are saying. They're going "this is more of the same-old, same-old bullshit that Washington keeps trying to feed us! Let's get rid of it!"

Yes, and it hasn't spurred younger voters to register in anywhere near the percentages of their older counterparts, or hispanics, or asians, or recent legal immigrants, or people over age 55, have. That's shameful and appalling.

You continue by observing:
Obama is doing the right thing by not being an asshat who attacks McCain and Palin on trivial inanities and on family and religion. He's staying above it, and in doing so he's being a symbol for these younger and newer voters. These are the people not covered by pollsters. These are the people who are ignored by the electorate in general. And these are the people McCain are hoping to disenfranchise through his lies, hoping that he can pull the wool over their eyes and cause them to give up in disgust.

Agreed about Obama. However, the voters getting caged are not younger voters. They're black. There's a reason for this: black voter turnout rose sharply starting in 1972 and in 2006 was record high. Black voter registation today runs at record levels. And these blacks actually vote, unlike the nihilistic fashionably ironical and cynical young people under 25, so that's why the GOP is pulling out all the stops to disenfranchise blacks this year. Not only are we getting record registration and turnout from blacks since 2006, they're going for Obama in record numbers, at least 95%, probably more, which is unheard-of for a Demo candidate.

Your statement that younger voters are the people not covered by pollsters contradicts the known facts: pollsters have studied this group. They just don't vote, so they're not important. Young people are ignored by the general electorate for that reason. As a person older than 35, I have little interest in the opinions or political activism of younger people because history shows they simply don't vote. Marching in Seattle wearing a dolphin suit creates a great effect on TV, but the real change comes from pulling the lever in the voting booth. This is highly conservative viewpoint, and I stand by it. Experience has shown that modern liberal democracies get their power blocs from people who vote. Groups who tend not to vote render themselves irrelevant.

Your claim that "these are the people McCain is trying to fool by telling lies" is clearly and provably false. Available evidence shows that Obama is only doing poorly among whites older than 50, and this is the group among whom McCain leads at present. These are the people at whom McCain is aiming his lies "hoping to pull the wool over their eyes" in your words. (As an editor you really should avoid such cliche stock phrases, though.)

You go on to aver:
He won't. They're fed up. They've had it. And come November they will be filling the voting booths and they will be voting in the young candidate for change and saying "We. Have. Had. Enough."

The first part of your claim is true, the second part provably false. History shows that young people simply don't vote. We may get at most a 43% turnout this year from the 18-24 cohort, which renders that group unimportant compared to the > 70% turnout among age 55 to 80.

See this paper for details.
" all years, young people
are turning out at lower rates than
their older counterparts."
[op cit.]

You go on to claim:
If we're truly fortunate... Obama will not be corrupted by that power, Washington Democrats will be invigorated by Obama and by new blood coming in, and our country will start moving once again. And in four years, a number of people will sit up and say "you know... I didn't vote for that boy. Too young, too inexperienced, and I'll admit I was scared because he was black. But he wasn't so bad. I think I'll vote for him this time."

You appear to be unfamiliar with Obama's position on important issues. For example, Obama has made remarkably militaristic speeches about the need for continued expanded U.S. military intervention abroad. See this penetrating analysis of Obama's recent speech "Iraq and beyond." See also here. Short version? Less Iraq, more Afghanistan and Pakistan. Obama isn't going to reduce America's foreign military adventures, he's just going to shift 'em around from one country to another. Out of one quagmire, into two more. Say hello to the new boss, same as the old boss.

Versailles on the Potomoc may get a new Sun King, but the Pentagon will continue to piss away trillions of dollars getting us stuck in unsustainable quagmires worldwide. A real change would occur if we saw a sharp reduction in the number of U.S. military bases around the world, , currently standing at the incredible number of 761.

Is this staggering number of U.S. military overseas bases going down? No, it's currently going up.

But that's not all. Obama's answers at the Saddleback forum proved jaw-dropping:

Warren: There are 148 million orphans in the world, 148 million kids growing up without Mommies and Dads. … Would you be willing to consider and even commit to doing some kind of emergency plan for orphans like President Bush did with AIDS?
Obama: I think it’s a great idea. … I think that part of our plan though has to be how do we prevent more orphans in the first place and that means that we’re helping to build the public health infrastructure around the world...


So Obama plans not just to crank up new military adventures abroad in Pakistan and lots more troops and bombs and JDAMs and cruise missiles and blackhawk choppers and F22 fitghers and other worthless useless superweapons in Afghanistan...America will also start building orphanages and hospitals in third world failed-state hellholes around the globe. Exposing us to yet more Blackhawk Down scenarios.

This is madness. We can't afford any of this. America is literally going broke. Half of U.S. hospitals are now insolvent or at risk of insolvency, three quarters of our pension funds are technically so badly insolvent that the U.S. federal Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (which insures pension benefits with government money) will itself probably need to be rescued in yet another government bailout this time costing tens of trillions, most U.S. banks are now technically insolvent courtesy of the subprime mess, America is now by far the world's largest debtor nation with a sky-high unsustainable trade deficit, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac just went belly-up and got nationalized by the Federal Government to the tune of 5 trillion in long-term taxpayer debt. To pay for their college education, young people are now reduced to this.

America is bleeding red ink from every orifice. We just don't have the money for any of this.

At the same time,
Americans are wolves on the world stage, boldly invading 3rd world nations. But we are sheep at home, cowering before our government. Its power expands quietly like a moving cat. Slowly and relentlessly, like the incoming tide.
Link 1.
Link 2.

Obama has promised to fix none of this creeping totalitarianism. Instead, it's likely to continue, expand, and extend along with the misbegotten War On The Constitution (misnamed "The War On Terror").

Robert concludes with:
2012 will have Obama win by a landslide. He'll win all fifty states, in a move that will stun Republicans and crush the remnants of the Neocon and religo-conservative movements. It will be the End of the World as we know it. And it'll be the start of a new world, something better.

Millions of CCTV cameras tracking us? Our every credit card transaction recorded, young women's breasts fondled at airport secureity lines, our laptops scrutinized by customs officers at airports who demand that we show them our emails and our personal photos? Peaceful demonstrators tased, beaten, handcuffed, and charged with terrorism under the Patriot Act? More and more U.S. military bases built overseas, more and more foreign wars in third world countries, more and more national debt, more and more bank failures, more and more bankkruptcies and home foreclosures, constantly rising gasoline prices? This is "the start of a new world, something better"...?

I admire Robert's clairvoyance. Apparently he can foresee the national crisis that will hit us in the next 4 years, the unexpected crisis that slams every president without warning: in 1960 no one foresaw the Cuban Missible Crisis, in 1964 no one foresaw LBJ's entry into Vietnam, in 1968 no one foresaw Watergate, in 1976 no one foresaw the second Arab oil embargo and the Iranian hostage crisis, in 1980 no one foresaw the S&L collapse or Black MOnday on the stock market, in 1992 no one foresaw the Timothy McVeigh bombing of the Murraugh Federal Building, in 2000 no one foresaw 9/11. The next 4 years will bring us something comparable -- we don't know what.

I'm impressed that Robert's ESP powers have allowed him to discern this new crisis, currently unforeseeable to anyone else. If Obama does get into the White House, will he preside over a massive national financial collapse, skyrocketing inflation and sky-high oil prices? We don't know. In 2002 only two forecasters foresaw $120 a barrel oil prices, and then only as a result of wildly improbable "doomsday scenario" terrorist attacks on Saudi production facilities. No one predicted $140 a barrel oil.

In 2012, will oil cost $500 a barrel? Will half the firms on Wall Street be in receivership, nationalized by the federal government? Will the majority of U.S. pension funds finally have bitten the bullet and declared insolvency? Once again, we don't know. But right now, the odds seem pretty good that Obama (even if elected) could wind up getting Jimmy Cartered by stagflation and economic collapse. Then, when the American people clamor for relief, another cruelly rapacious Republican with a kindly smile soothes 'em with promises of "morning in America"...

It would be particularly easy for the Demos to get stuck in Iraq. After 4 years of flailing and thrashing and non-stop quagmire, the Repubs can then run as the saviors who'll finally get us out of Iraq -- just as the Demos did in 1972 during the Republican-run Viet Nam quagmire, even though Demos had originally started that war.

The preponderance of the available evidence suports cautious optimism in the long term. Obama's campaign has recently run into trouble, though guarded optimism there too seems prudent. In the middle distance, say 2 to 4 years out, much depends on financial and global geopolitical and military developments no one can at present predict, and the details of which remains sketchy outside of a very few insiders. As just one example, no one outside the Saudi Royal family and their petroleum engineers knows the true state of Saudi oil reserves today. All we know is the Saudis just walked out of a major OPEC meeting.

Will the insolvency of major Wall Street firms like Lehman Bros herald a domino effect that catapults us into a near-depression? Or will we dodge the bullet and get only a prolonged recession? Will outsourcing slow as oil prices rise, or wil lit accelerate? Will stagflation hit us again, or will be avoid it? Will oil jump again beyond $120 a barrel, or was that just a bubble? Have the major middle east oil producers already hit Peak Oil? Or is it 20, or 30 or 50 years off? Can the U.S. retool for electric cars in time to save ourselves from severe economic and social pain? Will we kick-start a major new program to build nuclear reactors, or has the left permanently captured that issue and killed the nuclear power industry forever in the U.S.? Will the TSA and DHS be disbanded and violations of the constitution get rolled back, or has abolution of habeas corpus become permanent?

We don't know the answers to these questions. In the short term, Feburary 2009, the available evidence supports guarded optimism, and in the long term, say, 2050, the trends strongly support cautious optimism. In between...we just don't know.

Acacia H. said...

Why Zorgon, I thought you knew. I am psychic. ^^

Just mostly about things that don't matter. ^^;;

You want gloom and doom? Here's gloom and doom for you. McCain gets in. In two years there is a massive upsurge in Republican candidates who win in States which are predominantly Democrat. However, polls and electronic voting results show time and time again that the Republicans are winning and the Democrats are discouraged and giving up.

The truth behind it is that the polling companies, under the aegis of the corrupt corporate powers backing the Republicans, subvert all of the official polling agencies and the electronic voting machines. Democrats will still get in. But it'll be in places where electronic voting machines don't exist.

Emboldened by their victory, the Republicans will strip more and more rights from Americans while empowering corporations. In ten years, the U.S. will be a third world nation with 99.99% of the wealth held by 0.1% of the population. Riots and such will be dealt with violently through such groups as Blackwater, and the news media will not report on it as they are under the thumb of the corporations.

In twenty years the environment collapses because of the runaway greenhouse effect that the corporations refused to believe in.

And you want to know something, Zorgon? This possibility is as valid as the earlier one I spoke of.

As for your dismissal of the youth vote... other politicians have given up on them. I don't think Obama has. I think he's working hard to get college students voting and for other young people and then to encourage as many people as possible to vote. I've read articles about college kids voting and college kids being told that if they register to vote their parents can't claim them for tax purposes and all sorts of things. Why do this at all if the youth vote was negligible? Why would the Republicans care/

Because this time around, it's more than just black and white, it's more than just Republican and Democrat. Obama's message of Change and his battlecry of "Yes We Can" has captured the imagination of a youth dismissed as callow and uncaring.

The youth vote will surprise you this time, Zorgon.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

OK, time for the shorter Zorgon,

I haven't been able to find by meds for at least 46 hours,

Peggy is a hack, so I will quote her
ramble, ramble ramble,
OMG!! Obama is as bad as Bush,
ramble ramble ramble
were screwed,
ramble ramble,
I am actually a very optimistic person, just ask me.

Anonymous said...


It does seem, ahem, a little late in the day to be scrutinizing Obama's early political career, but I aim to please. There are, it must be said, many ambiguous features, and places where I can't prove things. But a fair reading might be as follows:

1996, Obama's first campaign, for IL State Senate. Of a field of five Dem primary candidates, only Obama ends up on the ballot. Why? his operatives went over the filing papers for the other four systmatically, challenging signatures for technical reasons.
All four ended up having insufficient signatures that passed muster. This is legal. And is how things are done in Chicago. Many of those sigs were bogus. But a tad hypocritical for a man running to "empower the disenfranchised". And his subsequent writing that the people of his district must have liked what they saw is a crock. In a massively Dem district he ran against token opposition. At that point anyone able to maintain sphincter control in public is a lock. Effort to win the General Election-nil.

He did run for House of Rep along the way. Lost.

Once you are in the IL State Senate from a safe district, you would have a hard time not being re-elected. Effort to win Gen Elections-modest.

US Senate in 2006. His Dem primary opponant is Blair Hull. Hull's campaign collapses when allegations that he beat his wife are disclosed. True, btw. Involvment of several campaign's in said disclosure is asserted.

US Senate General Election 2006. Republican Jack Ryan was married to the delicious Geri Ryan. Local news outlets want access to divorce and custody hearings. Murky back and forth on this, ultimately nasty stuff is unsealed alleging Ryan's encouraging Geri to perform in sex clubs. Again, newspapers at the time (who may indeed have wished Obama ill) suggest Obama operatives involved in this effort. Ryan campaign collapses, replaced by the witless carpetbagger Allen Keyes. Effort to win Gen Election-nil.

This stuff is all out there, did you indeed not know it? I regard it as old hat, but might illuminate the difficulties that Obama is having in making the transition from a redoubtable primary campaigner to an ineffective general election force.

My personal political journey might be of interest to some, but it will have to wait for now. Not ducking the question, just tired. Pulled a 12 hr ER shift and it was brutal. I need some rest.


Woozle said...

tacitus2: Thanks for the overview on Obama; I've posted it on Issuepedia's Barack Obama page, hopefully for further comment by others. Hope the reposting is ok; please let me know if you'd like any changes.

I have had very little time to research Obama beyond scratching the surface of the avalanche of news items, so this was in fact news to me.

None of it seems notably heinous, however. Your point about "empowering the disenfranchised" is well-taken, but I have to wonder if there were extenuating circumstances -- not to start inventing excuses for Obama, but the overwhelming degree to which Bushco and their would-be heirs have been pulling this sort of thing (and getting free passes from their supporters) kind of makes this look like a boulder next to Mount Everest.

However, I've posted it without further comment at this point, and will be looking for relevant evidence.

Also, if this stuff is even slightly true, why hasn't McCain's campaign brought it out -- instead of the irrelevant and easily-refuted crap they have been bringing out?

Travc said...

A question for anyone who has the stomach to watch the MSM coverage of the election.

Is the "McCain & Palin are lying their assess off" meme catching on? From what I've seen, it maybe a turning point in the narrative. A more durable one because it is actually essentially true.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I don't mind. But you did leave off my qualifiers, which I feel are important. There is an opacity to Chicago politics, to put it politely.

And it is not quite fair to refer to me as an opponant, I voted for Obama in the primary and have discussed at some length my feelings on McCain/Obama in the general.

Sometimes I feel like my job is to try and offer a viewpoint from a (in this forum) minority perspective.


Tony Fisk said...

Younger voters don't vote, eh?

Well, as a demographic, there may be an element of truth in this. However, I'd just like to poke a counter-example from last February in the way...

Texas students shut down highway and march 7 miles to vote in gerrymandered district

(The obvious riposte is, of course, did they vote or did they just march? Can't see the dolphin suits clearly)

Unknown said...

tony fisk:
Stats show young people don't vote. They march a lot, they shut down highways, they get arrested, but they don't vote.

shorter Occam's Comic:
"I don't have any facts or logic or ideas of my own to contribute to the discussion, so I'll ridicule others by distorting what they say."

Too late. Your worst-case scenario is already happening. You think you have constitution rights? Try arguing with a TSA officer -- see how fast you get tased and handcuffed and thrown in the airport jail. Or try holding a protest sign outside a political convention. See how fast you get beaten and pepper-sprayed and tased and handcuffed and then charged with terrorism under the U.S. Treason Act (misnamed the "Patriot Act").

Unknown said...

Anyone who cares about contemporary literature will take a gut punch from this story:

Writer David Foster Wallace hangs himself.

Want to know why Wallace hung himself? Here's why:

Encouraging or horrifying -- take your pick...

David Brin said...

Passing this along down here to the core group... not up top.

Alan Cohen writes: “Let me see if I have this straight.....”

If you grow up in Hawaii , raised by your grandparents, you're"exotic, different."

Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, a quintessentialAmerican story.

If your name is Barack you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.

Name your kids Willow , Trig and Track, you're a maverick.

Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.

Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you're wellgrounded.

If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, becomethe first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create avoter registration drivethat registers 150,000 new voters, spend12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as aState Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people,become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Servicescommittee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representinga state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills andserving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works andVeteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadershipexperience.

If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the citycouncil and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000people, then you're qualified to become the country's secondhighest ranking executive and next in line behind a man in hiseighth decade.

If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years whileraising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches,you're not a real Christian.

If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and thenleft your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month,you're a true Christian.

If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education,including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding thefiber of society.

If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, withno other option in sex education in your state's school systemwhile your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant, you're veryresponsible.

If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a positionin a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her innercity community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family'svalues don't represent Americas’.

If you're husband is nicknamed "First Dude", with at least oneDWI conviction and no college education, who didn't register tovote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocatedthe secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremelyadmirable.

OK, much clearer now.

Anonymous said...

NY Times article on cronyism and secrecy in Palin's Alaskan administrations: NY Times

Sounds a lot like the Bush administration.

Tony Fisk said...

Zorgon: Yep, thought that would be the response (must find out if those marchers actually did register. Meanwhile, to the undiscovered country! ;-)

David: as Peter Gabriel put it:

It's only water
In a stranger's tear
Looks are deceptive
But distinctions are clear
A foreign body
And a foreign mind
Never welcome
In the land of the blind
You may look like we do
Talk like we do
But you know how it is

You're not one of us
Not one of us
No you're not one of us
Not one of us
Not one of us
No you're not one of us

Oh yes! Has anyone else caught Adam Greenfield's piece portraying Sarah Palin as an example of Future Shock yet?


Personally, I don't buy it. I've been through this political slough of despond twice before. Things turn.

Then again, I am half a world away from these events, and so may not have fallen under the despair of the Dragon's spell or become a pod person (beware the one who calls himself Stefan Jones;-). OTOH , I am wading through Pulman's 'Dark Materials' .... Spectres, eek!

Hmmm! I think I'll let Gabriel have the final word as well...

Don't give up
Don't give up
Don't give up

Acacia H. said...

I have some faith in my fellow Americans. Yes, there are a group of Americans who honestly believe we are doing better than we were eight years ago. They feel that since they are doing okay financially, the rest of the country is as well, or that they don't matter. That they aren't trying hard enough.

But the people who have gone through hard times, the people who have been betrayed by the Bush Administration, the people who four years ago voted for Bush hoping, praying he'd be better this time around... they are watching McCain and Palin and realizing something: this is the same story with different faces.

Several years ago I started reading Terry Goodkind's "Sword of Truth" series. I actually managed to get into the fourth novel before I noticed a pattern forming: the novel focused on keeping the two protagonists apart. It did everything possible to take this pair and cause them misery. And I realized a hundred pages into the fourth novel that once again the same patterns had formed and that the same story was being spelled out. I put down the novel and I walked away and never went back. (And lo! from what little I've heard of later books, they also followed this pattern that I had discovered.)

This pattern is apparent with McCain's tactics, his behavior, his blatant boldfaced lies even in the face of being called on them, and his selection of Palin as his running mate. And the press is turning on him as we speak, pointing out that McCain had an obligation to choose better, to choose someone with more experience because of his age and his health, and because of the times.

The people who cannot vote for Obama because he's black and those who believe that because they're doing okay under this administration, that's all that matters, and those who hate and fear the Democrat party... they will vote for McCain/Palin. Except for those who find McCain so distasteful that they vote 3rd party: Barr and Nader and the other 3rd party candidates.

The rest of the country, faced with the possibility that abortion will be made illegal and that someone who is less prepared for the White House than Dan Quayle will vote for Obama because they've seen that while Obama might be green around the edges, he also has a tendency to ask the right questions of the right people and then to adjust his views according to the information that came in.

Here is an example of where Obama has outfoxed McCain. Abortion. Obama is pro-choice AND pro-life. He feels government should not ban abortion... but that alternatives should be made so attractive that people will decide not to get an abortion because adoption is a better route and because packages meant to support young mothers can help them support their child. If McCain had embraced this ideal, if he had called for ending abortion NOT through legislation but rather through making the alternatives far more attractive... he'd be a shoe-in. Obama beat him to the punch. And that's only the first punch he's beat McCain to.

In the end, McCain has lies, smears, hate, and fear as the foundation of his presidential candidacy. This is destroying his "Straight Talk Express" persona and turning him into just another Republican that will do ANYTHING to get elected. That will turn far more independents against him than fear will turn indies against Obama.

Add in the extreme care Obama and his campaign (and the Democratic party) are going to take in ensuring voter disenfranchisement does not happen, that people are allowed to vote and that their votes will count... experience that has already started under some of the tactics Hillary Clinton used to season Obama... and it will be very difficult for McCain to prevail.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

McCain managed to mobilize the whacked out elements of the Religious Right (and, no, not all elements of that faction are entirely insane) with Palin.

Now they're manning phone banks and donating to the RNC, when previously they were considering not voting at all.

This has almost no electoral college effect. This is why battleground state polls are showing so little movement.

She's managed to sell a narrative about being a set-upon Working Mom that some have found appealing, and a fantasy image for NASCAR dads to jerk off too. This is the real danger, and is reflected in small swings in Ohio and PA. It's not selling out West, but it could be enough.

Right now, this election is in the hands of Hillary Clinton. In October, we'll find out whether she wants a Democrat to win this year, or wants to try again in four years.

Palin will stumble. She will go a step too far in comparing herself to Clinton and trying to pander to her voters, or she will take some cheap shot at Michelle Obama.

Clinton will have her opening, and if she decides to fire off with both barrels, this will be over. Senator Clinton has effective immunity from cheap accusations of sexism, and unlike Claire McCaskill and Senator Boxer, she can grab a national megaphone and at least a week worth of news cycle at a whim.

She'll have her opportunity to get offended...and Palin won't like her when she's offended :) (Insert your own Hulk image here).

Unknown said...

tony fisk:
That Adam Greenfield article proved outstanding. Sounds like he's nailed a lot of the reasons for what's going on right now in America.

Fabius Maximus' blog covers the rest of Palin's appeal, I think:

Your personal political journey would be of great interest. Your comments are highly valued here.

Battleground states have shown almost no movement? Check the tally of electoral votes at McCain now clocks in at 290 electoral votes to Obama's 248. As ABC News points out:

White women have moved from 50-42 percent in Obama’s favor before the conventions to 53-41 percent for McCain now, a 20-point shift in the margin that’s one of the single biggest post-convention changes in voter preferences.

The good news? Still 7 weeks left before the election, and in politics, that's an eternity.

Dr. Brin:
All your points about Palin make excellent sense, sound convicing, and employ bulletproof facts and logic. And all your points about Palin remain utterly unimportant to most of the electorate.


Josh Marshall expalined why almost exactly 4 years ago, when John Kerry got swift-boated:

Consider for a moment what the big game is here. This is a battle between two candidates to demonstrate toughness on national security. Toughness is a unitary quality, really -- a personal, characterological quality rather than one rooted in policy or divisible in any real way. So both sides are trying to prove to undecided voters either that they're tougher than the other guy or at least tough enough for the job.

In a post-9/11 environment, obviously, this question of strength, toughness or resolve is particularly salient. That, of course, is why so much of this debate is about war and military service in the first place.

One way -- perhaps the best way -- to demonstrate someone's lack of toughness or strength is to attack them and show they are either unwilling or unable to defend themselves -- thus the rough slang I used above. And that I think is a big part of what is happening here. Someone who can't or won't defend themselves certainly isn't someone you can depend upon to defend you.

Demonstrating Kerry's unwillingness to defend himself (if Bush can do that) is a far more tangible sign of what he's made of than wartime experiences of thirty years ago.

Hitting someone and not having them hit back hurts the morale of that person's supporters, buoys the confidence of your own backers (particularly if many tend toward an authoritarian mindset) and tends to make the person who's receiving the hits into an object of contempt (even if also possibly also one of sympathy) in the eyes of the uncommitted.

This is certainly what Bush's father did to Michael Dukakis and, sadly, it is what Bush himself did, to a great degree, to Al Gore.


Paul Rosenberg fills in the blanks here.

Brin is using the elegant exquisitely rational debating tactics of a scientist..when this is a death struggle with battle axes straight out of the movie Gladiator.

Kos puts it succinctly in yesterday's article "In a Nutshell":

...Obama [says] that his magic "new politics" bullshit will carry us to victory. He may or may not believe that crap, but I don't. We're going to win this thing the way campaigns are won -- by playing hardball. Politics is a blood sport. Republicans understand this and never flinch from flinging the shit. We won't win until we learn to fight back in kind. And I'm more than happy to get down in the mud with our friends on the Right so Obama doesn't have to.

Recent history vindicates the "tough and aggressive" path. We went toe to toe against Rove and his machine in 2006, and our math beat his. I have no doubt we're in for a two-peat this year, and it'll happen because we won't back off from exposing the GOP for the den of lies and corruption it has become.

[Here is] more salient quote from a pre-conventions Bob Novak's column:

I asked one of the Republican Party's smartest, most candid heavy hitters last week whether John McCain really has a chance to defeat Barack Obama in this season of Republican discontent. "No, if the campaign is about McCain," he replied. "Yes, if it's about Obama."


Obama needs to step up and use a meat hook on McCain, and then after he's ripped McCain's guts out (rheotrically speaking), he had better strangle McCain with 'em uisng his bare hands (again, rhetorically speaking). This campaign has degenerated into pure animal ferocity. It's noq a uestion of which candidate can out-brutalize the other. Outright denial of facts now signifies strength to the electorate, grotesque lies indicate determination to the electorate, and batshit-insane craziness spouted with a straight face means moral clarity as far as the electorate is concerned. If Obama keeps on trying to take the high road, he's on the same highway to hell John Kerry travelled.

NoOne said...

zorg's gory advice:

Obama needs to step up and use a meat hook on McCain, and then after he's ripped McCain's guts out (rheotrically speaking), he had better strangle McCain with 'em uisng his bare hands (again, rhetorically speaking).

There are two problems with this:

1) The combination of Faux News, Limbaugh, Hannity et al. will tear Obama apart if he descends into the swamp with McCain.

2) The media will start talking about angry black men and then the game is up.

Instead, it has to be done by surrogates of Obama and they have to be higher profile than Kos, MoveOn. Unfortunately, there's no high profile media organ that Obama can delegate to. And that as they say is the rub....

Face it, this election is over...

Unknown said...

Fox News, Limabugh, Malkin, Coulter, and the rest are already ripping Obama apart. He might as well fight back.

He could start by pointing out that McCain isn't qualified to be president because the torture in Viet Nam made him crazy. Then Oabma could ask McCain why we should trust him when he whored around on his first wife? If McCain was f*cking a rich bimbo while telling his first wife he loved her, why shouldn't the American people suspect he's f*cking America over while telling us he loves it?

Then Obama could stop being so gentle. he could point out that McCain is showing signs of Alzheimers, and who wants a senile guy with his finger on the nuclear button?

It's not like Obama has anything to lose. They're already telling every lie about him they can dream up. Better to go down fighting than with a whimper.

This election's not over. There's still nearly 2 months left. A lot of things can happen between now and November. It ain't over till the fat lady sings.

Anonymous said...

Hit fivethirtyeight, and look poll by poll and state by state.

You'll find the news for Obama isn't currently as bad as some picking polls to make their case would like to think.

CNN polls? ABC Polls? USAT and Fox?

Look at their track record in the Primaries. Time after time, getting it wrong by 8 to 15 points.

Some folks are looking to create buzz and sell air-time. Stick to the independent pollsters, while bearing in mind that Zogby and Quinnipiac are both bad jokes whether or not you like what they have to say.

Tony Fisk said...

I asked one of the Republican Party's smartest, most candid heavy hitters last week whether John McCain really has a chance to defeat Barack Obama in this season of Republican discontent. "No, if the campaign is about McCain," he replied. "Yes, if it's about Obama."

At the moment, it appears to be about Palin!

Greenfeld's article serves as an good insight into *why* Palin has captured the spotlight so completely. I just don't or can't believe that American's are going to be mesmerised into another four years the same as the last so readily.

Unknown said...

Agreed that things aren't as dire as the polls make it seem, for several reason. The polls probably oversample Repubs. And the margin of polling error is around the difference twixt McCain and Obama right now (3 to 4 points). And McCain's numbers probably still show a post-convention bounce. And Palin-McCain will probably do poorly in the upcoming series of debates.

But this verges on the realm of driving into a concrete abutment at 90 mph while talking yourself into believing it isn't there. The poll numbers have shifted from encouraging for Obama to discouraging. That's a trend. It's an observed fact. Obama and company have got to start acting and thinking as though they're 20 points down and the fate of civilization is on the line. I'm getting the same goddamn Kerry-goes-windsurfing vibe out of the Obama camp right now that I got back in September after the swifting boating in 2004. Obama on Meet the Press was soooooooooo cool, he practically grew icicles. He needs to snap out of "cool restrainted distant" mode and kick some ass. And when the Repub attack machine smears him as an angry nergo, he retorts, "You bet I'm angry. I'm angry about the last 8 years of lies, I'm angry about the last 8 years of brain-damaged Iraq war vets based on a lie, I'm angry about the incompetece, I'm angry about the corpses floating in the Mississippi river in Katrina, I'm angry about the repeal of habeas corpus, I'm angry about the shredding of the constitution, I'm angry about the abolition of the right to free speech in St. Paul Minnesota, I'm angry as HELL AND I'M NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANY MORE! And neither are the American people!!!"

Then Obama should turn to the crowd and urge 'em to chant with him "END THE LIES! END THE CRONYISM! END THE TORTURE!" over and over and over again until the massed roar of thousands of voices dorwns out the Fox news creep who's playing "gotcha" games with Obama.

That's how you do it.

got2be said...

A bit older but very fervent discussion here :)