Friday, October 03, 2008

Debates (what was missing) - plus vital demographic changes

--- Debate Commentary ---

The essential thing to come out of the first presidential debate was "comfort" -- many marginal voters got to know Obama better and were thus incrementally, icreasingly able to accept him, allowing the normal dynamic of a "throw the bums out" year to move ahead. He did not have to attack and was better off being seen as the calm one. Keeping cool was smart and it has been reflected in the polls.

No accident that McCain’s most common phrase was: “Senator Obama doesn’t understand...” while Obama’s most common was “Senator McCain is absolutely right that___, but ____.” Very effective!

Though -- of course -- I yelled at him throughout the debate, shouting "Why didn't you say ____!" (My wife finally kicked me out of the room, and rightly so! ;-)

A few core things that Obama (and later Biden) should have mentioned:
- that McCain backed the Bush plan to invest social security in the stock market.
- that Iran is the chief beneficiary of our self-ruining adventure in Iraq.
- that Phil Gramm and 500 other Bush-crony sidekicks prove McPalin and Busheney are siblings, they are not reformers.
- Mexico (!) - helping it not to fail. (A great reach to hispanics while showing that Republicans have foreign affairs tunnel vision.)
- Science and Technology(!)
- The readiness issue.
- The abused civil service and officer corps

There doesn’t have to be any wonkish detail on any of these. Just a mention, even in passing, would perk the ears of those who care deeply about them. Add up those groups and you get a heap o’ voters.

As for Biden-Palin -- well, both exceeded expectations, Palin by a large margin. But I believe that the lasting impression will be of Biden’s good-natured solidity. His general demeanor as a smart and sensible and reasonable adult will resonate with people. The fact that Obama chose him increased my respect for them both.

Though -- still -- I yelled at Biden, of course. (And got banished again.;-) Not only for failing to mention the items above, but also failing to:

- graciously congratulate Palin for proving she’s a formidable pro, fully capable of mixing it up in the open... and therefore we look forward to news conferences... (expressed in tones of genuine respect and sure-’nuff expectation).

- nail her on her refrain of “the past doesn’t matter.” How CAN we fix climate change without acknowledging how it’s caused? And how can we “fix the Washington mess” without caring how it happened... and maybe chucking the 500 Bushite operatives who now surround McPalin?

- laying on her the burden of proof that she and McC really are different than a Republican establishment that sure seems to be running their campaign.

And no, Palin did NOT try to invoke Hillary Clinton. I was a little surprised, since they had signalled an eagerness to reach for Clinton supporters. Maybe word reached them that I had been urging (through my cousin) that Biden prepare a modified, ironic-wink version of that famous Bentsen “I knew JFK” gotcha. (Well, I can fantacize, right?)

I did think that the stark difference between them was never more clear than when they answered Gwen’s somewhat obscure question about the Constitutional role of the Vice Presidency. Palin sent a chill down my spine. She understood the question, and clearly wants to be Cheney II. (Even if Obama wins, we have not seen the last of her. You sci fi fans, remember that 2012 is the "year of Nehemiah Scudder.")

Biden made it clear he sides with the Constitution, America, and us.

As for future debates, sometimes it's little things. Like that viral image of McCain and Stephen Colbert ... and a lizard... all sticking out their tongues, a hilarious riff that has gone viral (look for it!) If it goes superviral enough, then will many people be watching for that nervous tick? Will McCain concentrate hard, in order not to exhibit it? This is not something he deserves (unless, as some cops believe, the tick actually means "I'm lying.") I am not proud of rooting for him to display his tongue. But I'll take whatever gifts that he can subconsciously give to his country.

-- Election Tracking Sites --

Watch out. These two are addictive. One of them is (though I’m puzzled as to why it isn't fivethirtyseven, which makes more sense.) It gives lively realtime analysis and has an excellent track record spotting trends... though there slips through some eident pro-Obama editorial commentary. Another site with an emphasis on informative poll lists and maps is

Have a look at the poll numbers there "w/ Barr, Nader." Yes, the GOP brand sucks vacuum. So one would have thought that some republicans would be seeking a compatible alternative in the LP. If the Libertarian Party cannot get it together this year, how can they ever? But polls show that the Libertarians are being of no help, either to themselves or the nation. Their truly awfulperson candidate, Barr (a monumental piece of work), is probably the reason. Meanwhile Nader is his usual drag-bummer. (Talk about a man his younger self would have disowned.) Made worse by the fact that I have yet to see any vote-swap sites emerge, to allow Naderites in battleground states to vote for Obama while a Californian compensates.

These sites are needed and should have been in motion, by now. Somebody go forth and make the queries, hm?

-- Demographic Tectonics? --

Recall how Nixon’s decision to go for a “southern strategy” leveraged upon regional resentment over Johnson’s civil rights push, resulting in a rapid “flip” of all the southern states (with brief pauses for Carter and Clinton) into the Republican column, transforming American politics? By pursuing this strategy to its most manipulative and take-no-prisoners extreme of Culture War, Nixon’s successors have brought us to the point where we seem to be engaged in the American Civil War Part III: Red vs Blue. The resulting ironic hypocrisies are too innumerable to count: e.g. the parts of the country that are net recipients of government largesse (net tax-receivers) and who are NOT likely targets of terrorism, and who have the worst marriage/sex/morality statistics, obsessively sneer at the net-taxpayers who raise healthier kids and who live in the terror crosshairs. A bizarre situation that has been fostered and foisted upon us by those who saw a divided America as one ripe for plundering. This strategy also benefited from the 220 year-old Constitutional bias in favor of rural states, giving those who live in high-population states much less bang for each vote.

But are we going to catch a break, at last? What suddenly struck me as fascinating about all this right now is to observe recent shifts in voting patterns in Virginia, Colorado, Missouri and North Carolina, all of whom seem to be tipping toward the democratic side of the ledger. Even allowing for a “throw out the bums” year, this is interesting.

One hypothesis: all of these states have seen major influxes of population from Blue America, heading for Virginia’s dyanamism, North Carolina’s incredible universities and tech corridors, or Colodado’s lifestyle. It’s been going on for some time, but, till now, it was always assumed that there’d be no political or social change. Rather, the influx would be absorbed, digested, with the newcomers either outvoted by locals or converted to local tastes and attitudes. Texas is a prime example.

What we are seeing now, however, appears to contradict that common-wisdom. Instead, we may be witnessing a tipping point, where youthful, increasingly urban and tech-savvy populations (both newcomers and evermore educated locals) may be propelling some basic shifts in three (or more) "red" states.

If so, it would be justice, since the old Union of Abraham Lincoln long ago lost Indiana and seemed sure to lose Ohio, as well. (Their blue-uniformed ancestors are grave-spinning, of course. Fetch coils and tap that energy!)

Again, one feels a taste of bile, having to look at recent history as the American Civil War, Part III. But just as Blue America had to win Civil War Part I in order for the nation to survive at all... and had to win Part II in order for us to abandon racism and become a decent society... it appears that it will have to (briefly, I hope!) get militant and pissed-off before this latest phase ends, before the Republican Party rediscovers some sanity, and before we can re-unite as a forward-looking and advanced civilization, once again.


NoOne said... leans toward Obama but strives to have a transparent methodology. (RCE) leans toward McCain but does not have a clearcut methodology. In the battle between the two websites, recently 538 pointed out that RCE mainpulates its numbers to be as pro-McCain as possible.

McCain is doing very well in Minnesota. One poll has him ahead by 1 today. This election is now going to descend into hitherto unfathomable depths. Watch as the gloves come off. Hopefully, McCain goes down swinging.

I expect McCain to do well in the second debate and get renewed momentum. I think (not sure) that the candidate who has "won" the first debate in the past has often lost the election.

Anonymous said...

I am back in the US of A, having missed most of the week of market upheaval. I was able to get the first debate, watching it on the edge of civilization with a mixed crowd.
I thought both candidates looked reasonably good, although the tendency to revert to standard campaign boilerplate was too evident. I see stats that indicate each group of partisans saw what they wanted and call their guy the "winner". I give it to McCain on points, but for Obama to get through the more or less foreign policy debate looking ok would have to be a win for him.

Was not able to see Palin-Biden.

Regards electoral vote sites my fave is the votemaster at He is openly pro-bama, but runs a fair game.

I am easing slowly back into the political maelstrom, so just a couple more thoughts.

If it turns out that the subprime meltdown has been triggered in such a way as to influence this election I am gonna be really angry. Not so far fetched, it would not involve creating a problem, just kicking a few key supports out from under an existing one. Unlike David's Manchurian scenarios this would only require a select bunch of participants, along with the media which is not just in the tank for the democrats, but in the hot tub with the bikini top off yelling "hey there sailor!". But I do not generally trade in conspiracy stuff.

I am already somewhat angry that people who seem to operate with Magic Unicorn Dollars have already cost me a pile of money. My just desserts I guess, for shunning debt, paying off mortgages ASAP and living modestly.

The next phase of the Campaign for Obama will be the Borg phase. You know, Resistance is Futile.

The polls suggest that may be correct, but don't invest too much emotional energy just yet.


Fake_William_Shatner said...

The REAL Ownership Society:

This is a more or less decent article about what I've been talking about. This financial collapse is going to result in all the money-making industries being externally owned. Interesting that all these developed nations are getting in debt -- who gets the surplus? More of the money is going offshore.

We would have been better off with whatever collapse Paulson was trying to create holding the fed and the money supply hostage than with this bail out. And it isn't over yet.

The Ownership Society -- if BushCo is successful, will mean that our major contribution to the world will be as corporate mercenaries. We can never get out of debt and will be in effect, wage slaves.

>> This debt was thrown upon us by people we had no control of. If we get a Democratic government, we might be able to just change foreign ownership laws, and deal with this criminal conspiracy. Maybe. I expect that if they are successful, leaving the US to become a citizen of another country would require paying off a huge debt tax.

I can't seriously get any of my friends here to understand the problem, because I'm so frustrated and angry -- I can't modify my speech to slowly speak to people based upon the reality we are presented on TV. I can tell someone a well documented fact that isn't well known, and I'm off the deep end.

I'd love to be talking about all the wonderful science, and hopeful solutions of the future with Brin. But Fat Cat, Robber Baron bastards are going to own whatever that is, and we are going to be stuck doing whatever makes the most people in debt to them. Even if we get off oil, we will still have some sort of centralized power -- or water will be owned, and parceled out as if it wasn't everyone's right.

I can plainly see what the Big Screw is going to be. We can look at what corporations did to third-world countries. Can you tell that the locals aren't calling the shots? This bailout ONLY helps foreign investors.

gmknobl said...

Even though Palin performed better than expected by most, she still showed an ugly, unreasoning, non-soccer mom, uneducated side that was disgusting. She played up the anti-educated real Americans vs. the educated arrogant unAmerican theme that truly needs to be educated out of existence. It was watching a spoiled child insisting that they were right even if all evidence points to the contrary, a theme beloved of Rove to tap into anger against so-called elitists. She played it well.

Of course, as a performance, it was effective for this one sub-class. But she apparently fell flat for the majority of women - by some reports - and in any meaningful sense of "debate" she failed utterly. I have to add we haven't had a real presidential or vice-presidential debate in the country for a long time and certainly none since the good League of Women Voters was prevented from hosting debates - something both Democrats and Republicans should be ashamed of and lobby their representatives to reverse.

Maybe I missed it but it should be pointed out that McCain has left Michigan entirely. I am surprised a little by this and it is a bad sign for him.

As for Virginia, my state, I would bet my bippy that the increase in the polls for Obama, if it is real, is being driven by Northern Virginia (suburban DC, Richmond and corridor) young people, as you suggest but NOT by most rural voters. Certainly, there are good number of rural voters that support Obama, especially in areas such as Blacksburg and UVA (there's that educated vs. supposedly uneducated divide again). I can tell you that STILL, those in more rural areas are getting bombarded in the media by lying, prejudiced ads and radio talk shows with little or no rebuff. Yes, even one single AM broadcast by an Air America affiliate would be welcome, even though this frequently devolves into name-calling uselessness. But the owners are uniformly neocons around here. So, at least in Virginia, there is more of a solidarity among those more responsible, modernist voters than before bolstered by the new, techno-savvy youth voters. The older, stuck in their way crowd hasn't changed one bit and is continuing, in many ways, a prejudiced and sometimes violent attack against anything that isn't neocon. (Reports are rising again of threats against people with Obama signs in their yards, preachers screeching against his Muslim, Communist connections while also proclaiming violence against them by "liberals," all self-manufacutured.)

Big C said...


Could you provide any support for your conjecture that the Democrats might be behind the financial crisis? The mere fact that the crisis has helped Obama in the polls is way below the threshold of evidence or even suspicion without some supporting facts. Any prominent Democratic politicians or contributors benefiting financially from the crisis? I'm serious, if you have that information, I'd like to see it.

Also, I'm puzzled by your assertion that the balance of the media is figuratively so far up Obama's posterior that they can see what he had for breakfast this morning. Yes, there several commentators (Olbermann, Maddow, Matthews) in the tank for Obama. Yet, Obama still does not have an entire cable TV network, or the entire expanse of talk radio carrying water for him. Until Obama or the Democrats have similar media propaganda outlets, the assertion that the balance of the media is completely in the tank for Obama is laughable. Even MSNBC only has the aforementioned 3 hosts actually boosting for Obama.

Also, nearly every media organization and pundit continues to claim that the debates between Obama and McCain and Biden and Palin were "ties." In the only metric that matters to the election, the opinions of independent and uncommitted voters, this simply isn't true. In both debates, independent voters gave the wins to the Democratic candidates by significant margins. This fact is continually underemphasized in the media.

So is it your assertion that the media is in the tank for Obama, but just completely inept about it?

Fake_William_Shatner said...

bWhen starting the foreign wars based upon manufactured Evidence, President Bush pushed for a huge tax reduction for high income citizens. Borrowing the money from foreign nations like Saudi Arabia and China instead of asking Americans to endure a higher tax.

When the Iraqi army was defeated, they were disbanded and sent home with their weapons. Huge stockpiles of munitions were left intact, and locked with padlocks to secure them. A resulting insurgency was well-armed and supplied with out of work troops. A big screw up, right?

The lions share of no-bid contracts is going to corporations that are no longer American corporations. Waste, fraud, and non-performance -- even tax evasion, has not changed KBR, Blackwater, Carysle Group or Halliburton's contracts.

While everyone at FEMA acted like they were surprised that they had to deal with a Federal Emergency, and the taxpayer spent something like $5 Million to ship ice around the country for 3 months, Bush was able to push through his supreme court justice pick (incidentally, the same man who helped bus everyone to the protest in Florida to end the 2000 Florida recount). He also managed to close 144 public schools. Important things to do during an emergency.

Paulson made $900 Million tax free, by agreeing to divest himself of his former company's holdings, for his 9 month stint as Fed Chairman. Meanwhile, Negroponte, empowered by Homeland Security rules, gives 5 major financial institutions carte-blance to raise their Leverage from 12 to 40. How does Bear Sterns
We know all the names of the other 3 corporations -- they've all surprisingly collapsed. How do you go from a $200 stock to a $2 stock when on paper, you should have Billions in assets? All those assets are leveraged. As soon as someone calls more than 8% you have to sell the store. The one winner of the businesses that could ignore SEC rules was Goldman Sachs -- also the winner of the "Mexican bailout." Karl Rove was deeply involved in the Mexican election and perhaps helping to rig it. In fact, the Patriot Act has a provision to make foreign elections a situation for national security; Once again ChoicePoint is involved.

We are led by Greedy psychopaths, with a history of getting away with big crimes. Nobody was punished for the S&L bailout, or Standard Oil, or with the Railroad barons. How many of them can't be bribed with a few Billion to engineer the demise of their corporations? What are the risks? Don't you know that anyone saying that rich people might be crooks is a conspiracy theorist? These people don't get together and plan things, do they?

Steel buildings don't collapse in 8 seconds at free-fall speed, and bank mergers don't happen in a week.

Hank Paulson is the Silverstein for this controlled demolition.

Unknown said...

Unusually good commentary this time by Dr. Brin.

It's possible that the deep south and southwest may be turning purple, and, eventually perhaps blue. The key to turning the red states away from their current worship of obscurantism raised to the level of dogma and end-times religious fanaticism remains education.

By far the lowest K-12 test scores throughout the United States come from the deep south and the border areas of the Southwest. (It's interesting that whenever I state this documented fact, southerners become hysterical and accuse me of "insulting the south.") In the case of the deep south, it's the result of grinding poverty combined with de facto segregation (poor mostly black counties have very little tax money for schools, while suburban mostly white southern counties have plenty of tax money for the best school eqpt and teachers), while in the border Southwest, it's due to massive numbers of hispanic children with poor English-language skills and rampant poverty. By far the worst K-12 state test scores nationwide are found in the southwest and the rural south, along with several outliers like Washington D.C. (which has no state representatives in congress, so no clout in getting school funding), Hawaii, Maine and Iowa.

District of Columbia and New Mexico came in last [in fourth grade math scores], behind Alabama, Iowa, Maine, Hawaii, Missouri, West Virginia, Mississippi, Kentucky and Georgia.

The recent rise in state high school grades throughout the south and southwest, incidentally, can't be taken seriously. It's clearly a classic case of "juking the stats" and school administrators giving politicians phony numbers to help their re-election bids, as shown in this article on the glaring contradiction twixt rising high school grades and weak test scores.

As newer higher tech industries replace the dying factory jobs in the deep south (which are all getting outsourced to asia and south america), education will get forced to progressively ramp up. This should eliminate a lot of worship of ignorance we see in the idolization of candidates like Palin.

What's striking about the map of the red states, however, is the deep red center of America. This is a region that is dying. Entire states are depopulating in the Bible Belt and the population there is rapidly aging. As soon as kids reach age 18 throughout most of the center of the country, they flee to either the west or east coast. This has embittered the aging population of the Bible Belt and made the Bible Belt a center of resistance to progress. The entire midwest is depopulating: abandoned towns litter the center of the United States, rotting buildings slowly returning to the prairies.

These rural people are not stupid. They're furious. Time has passed them by, and they don't know why. They've done and been everything that they were taught to do and be, and it's come to nothing. That's what liberals don't get. These people are furious, and they've got something to be furious about, however much their fury may be misdirected. They want somebody to blame – a useless but human need.

So I walk into their Kansas diner, and in my differentness I become an instant symbol of what's pulling them down. Their kids are leaving town, their towns are dying, their leaders are failing them, they're helpless to stop it. They expected to live prosperously in these places for centuries – their courthouses were built to last centuries. They're losing it all, and there's no one to give a damn. They didn't believe this could happen – could not conceive that their time would be so short and that their toil would be futile and that their dreams would die so hard.








If you look at a map of population density, America is turning into Australia -- a largely empty depopulated center, with virtually the entire population clustered around America's 2 coastlines. As a result, the red states are by and large going away in the center of America, leaving only the deep south a few southwestern states plus Florida as conservative strongholds. In another few election cycles there won't be enough people left in the rural areas of red states in the center of the country to offset the significantly more liberal urban voters in the midwest.

So in this election cycle it's no surprise why the midwestern red states are going to McCain -- they identify with him. He's very old, and so are they. His way of life is dying, and so is theirs. McCain is out of sync with the times, offering ideas which seem 20 or 30 years out of place, and so are the aging populations of the dying towns throughout the center of United States.

At present, it's not clear whether the southern states are turning toward Obama because they're fed up with the lunacy and incompetence of the current occupants of the White House (for which McCain clearly stands as a proxy, having voted for the current president's policies 95% of the time over the last 8 years, and 100% of the time over the last 4 years), or whether a deeper shift has begun in the heretofore post-1964 solid Republican south.

Meanwhile, yet another conservative wakes up, stops drinking the Kool-Aid, and calls on fellow conservatives to follow suit:

I...implore conservatives to stop ignoring reality just because they happen to like a candidate’s personality and biography. Besides being bad for the quality of conservative thought, it embraces the caricature that conservatives are indifferent to knowledge and have no use for expertise, which has become an all too legitimate critique of how conservatives have responded to the misrule of the Bush administration. That was not always the case, but if conservatives insist on making elaborate arguments that understanding and knowledge are not significant criteria when choosing our top elected officials they will lose whatever credibility they may still have. More than that, they will be crippled by their embrace of cheerful ignorance when it comes time to oppose the policies of the Democratic administration that is surely about to be elected.
Link to The American Conservative magazine

As powerful as this appeal to rationality and competence proves, it does present a serious problem: if conservatives followed this advice, it would have eliminated from consideration all Republican party presidential nominees for the past 45 years.

McCain is clearly temperamentally unsuited to the presidency and his ignorance of economics makes him an especially poor choice now. The current denizen of the Oval Office was obviously an ignorant incompetent sociopath, as anyone could see during the first presidential debate in 2000 or by looking at his history of business failures dating back to Harken Energy. Ronald Reagan was obviously a senile sociopath as well as an ignorant fool, as demonstrated by countless examples of fumbling incoherence, from Reagan's claim in 1964 that if Medicare was enacted "generations from now, in the sunset of our years, our children will look back and wonder what it was like to be free," to Reagan's claim in 1963 that the New Deal represented "the anthill of totalitarianism," or his assertion in 1983 that "forest fires have produced more pollution than all the factories in history." Bush 41 was self-evidently unqualified for the presidency due to his deep involvement with the Iran-Contra scandal, as well as his tenure at the CIA during the period when key foreign leaders were assassinated in South America. Nixon was obviously unsuited for any kind of position of authority -- indeed, for any position outside a prison cell, and Barry Goldwater's instability and loose talk about using nuclear weapons rendered him wholly unacceptable as a nominee in 1964.

So if Republicans were really to take this advice to heart, they would have found themselves forced to run no presidential candidates at all for the last 45 years. This suggests that something went terribly wrong with the process of selecting presidential candidates in the Republican party starting 40 years ago, and the current pathologies of irrationality and worship of superstition and hatred of science and cult of the "strong leader principle" (Fuehrerprinzip in the original German) came afterwards, as retroactive attempts to justify and excuse this pervasive pathology in the Republican party.

As Glenn Greenwald has noted:

Ultimately...the characteristic which defines [the Republican party today], the glue which binds it together and enables and fuels all of the abuses, is the vicious, limitless methods used to attack and demonize the "Enemy," which encompasses anyone -- foreign or domestic -- threatening to their movement. What defines and motivates this movement are not any political ideas or strategic objectives, but instead, it is the bloodthirsty, ritualistic attacks on the Enemy de jour -- the Terrorist, the Communist, the Illegal Immigrant, the Secularist, and most of all, the `Liberal.'

What excites, enlivens, and drives [Republicans today] is the identification of the Enemy followed by swarming, rabid attacks on it. It is a movement that defines itself not by identifiable ideas but by that which it is not. Its foreign policy objectives are identifiable by one overriding goal -- destroy and kill the Enemy, potential or suspected enemies, and everyone nearby.


If the current economic crisis get as bad as many reputable economists fear, the current culture war will soon be forgotten. If tens of millions of people wind up homeless and the financial system breaks down, debates about the war in Iraq or the division twixt church and state will become irrelevant. Churches will become soup kitchens, the war in Iraq will end because we we'll have run out of money to fund it, and so-called "conservatives" will stand side by side with liberals in bread lines waiting for their daily ration of a stale bread crust and a slice of Velveeta.

Personally, I doubt will get that bad...but at this point nobody knows. In any case, global economic meltdown seems to be making political squabbles irrelevant.

Unknown said...

big c:
You asked tacitus2 "Could you provide any support for your conjecture that the Democrats might be behind the financial crisis?"

Please. This is embarrassing. Stop it. The circumstantial evidence is overwhelming that Democrats engineered this financial crisis. After all, who controlled the presidency and congress as well as all the major corporations for the last 8 years? Obviously, Democrats. As you know, we've had a Democratic president and a Democrat-controlled house and senate since 2000, and as you also know quite well, all the CEOs of the Fortune 500 companies are radical Marxists who vote Democratic as a bloc. Common sense suggests that the party in control of government and big business are responsible for this financial meltdown, so clearly Democrats are to blame.

You also went so far as to ask tacitus2 "Also, I'm puzzled by your assertion that the balance of the media is figuratively so far up Obama's posterior that they can see what he had for breakfast this morning."

This is mortifying. Everyone knows Rush Limbaugh is an Afro-Leninist who bleaches his skin and pledges allegiance to a Stokely Carmichael poster he keeps above an altar to the Black Panthers in his bedroom. As an all-black all-radical-liberal network, Fox News, with its militant inner city black gangsta news anchors and daily chants of "Come the Revolution, whitey be up against the wall!" has clearly shown its bias.

Of course Dan Rather and Keith Olbermann were actually in the headquarters of the Symbionese Liberation Army when it burned down. They barely managed to escape, and gave up violent Marxist revolution for undercover fifth column roles subverting American democracy in the service of black power. Both have been promised a harem of white women when Obama takes power and enslaves the honkies. I thought you knew that. It's common knowledge, isn't it?

David Brin said...

Z starts with "unusual"... Thanks Z... I am girding myself for a visit by the minus guy. ;-)

Note the DEEP south is as red as red could be. It's Virginia and NC and Missouri... always part of the "softer" confedaracy, that are shifting a bit. And we'll see.
In any event, I find some problems with the picture Z presents. The southern states have been gaining population, not losing it. Granted, the best and brightest move away. But there's as much "empty shelling" going on in Michigan (where you can buy a house for $20) as anywhere else.

The citification of these states will make gerrymandering harder.

Here's the latest celebrity viral "Go register now!" thing aimed at young people.
If you know any, send it! nd send it right now.

And then visit the place where you can help make this a rout down in the trenches, where it matters most:

My friend John Mauldin is an unusual fellow... a very smart guy and sci fi fan... also a close acquaintance of the President... but also has warned about the leveraging crisis for a long time... an interesting guy. His newsletter always shines fascinating light on events. And when he cannot bring himself to say certain things (like the fact that widening wealth disparities are dangerous), he reprints Michael Hewitt's newsletter, saying all that! So do note, there are some smart conservatives out there. They stay loyal to their friends, but they can also see.

Anyway, let me reprint a few paras from Jophn's latest missive about the bailout:

Necessary but Not Sufficient

Now for the bad news. The Rescue Plan was necessary but not sufficient to fix the crisis. There is going to have to be more heavy lifting, I am afraid. Let me offer a few ideas about what possible actions might be taken in the future. I am not advocating these actions, I am simply telling you what might happen. These are possible, because authorities will do whatever they deem necessary to avoid a systemic economic meltdown and a potential depression.

If you are a large investor or sovereign wealth fund which put money into banks last year, you are down anywhere from 35-50% (unless you invested in Washington Mutual, and then you are down 100%). You are unlikely to invest more in any financial institution without some very real understanding of what is on the balance sheet of the bank that is asking for your money. What the Paulson plan potentially does do is remove the questionable debt. The bank may have to write down assets in order to sell the debt to the government, but they end up with a transparent balance sheet with hopefully known risks. Then they can go to the market and try and raise capital. Shareholders will get diluted. Such is the way of the world.

Sidebar: taxpayers really must demand that someone like Bill Gross of PIMCO and/or other savvy market specialists run this new government operation. He offered to do it, and I think we should take him up on his offer. Taxpayer losses should be kept to a minimum, and I believe someone like Gross would do his best to see that would be the case. The point of this exercise is to restart the frozen credit markets, NOT to bail out banks. Some banks may get bailed out in the process, but it should be at a cost to their shareholders and management, not to the taxpayer.

I am asked, why can't private money solve the problem? Because there is simply not enough private money. Buffett offered to take 1% of the new government pool. If that is all the largest pile of free money in the world can take, why does anyone think there is enough private capital to take the other 99%? Insuring the mortgage bonds is not sufficient, because there is not enough money to buy them in this market. When things have sorted themselves out in a few years, I think the bonds can be insured and sold, and likely at a profit if bought correctly. But we do not have the luxury of waiting a few years.

Between the relaxation of the mark-to-market rules and removing ambiguously priced loans from financial institutions at prices which allow the government pool to make a small profit, if held for five years, that part (the lack of a known price) of the problem can be solved. Banks can hopefully buy themselves time in which to work their way out of the problems they created.

It is much like 1982, when every major US bank thought it was a good idea to loan lots of money to Latin American countries. It was a most profitable business, right up until the countries decided to default. Then every US bank was more than just technically bankrupt. In a mark-to-market world, every large US bank would have collapsed. It would have been the end of the world as we knew it.

What did they do? The Fed let the banks keep the loans on their books at face value. Over time, they worked their way through the debt, making enough money to be able to write down the loans. That was done simply to give the banks the ability to buy time.
We are in a very similar situation.

Herbert Hoover sat by and decided to let the market solve the problems of 1929. He decided to run budget surpluses and ignore collapsing institutions. Combined with disastrous Federal Reserve policy (raising rates in a recession) and Smoot Hawley (which caused major trade wars and a slowdown in global trade), what should have been a serious recession turned into the Great Depression and resulted in the conditions for World War II.

The rescue plan does not address the need for the increased levels of capital needed by banks. As noted above, it simply creates the conditions under which capital might be raised. Banks have already raised $440 billion. They have written down $590 billion. Losses are estimated from a mere $1 trillion to as much as $2 trillion. About half of those losses would be in banking institutions worldwide. That means anywhere from $200 to $400 billion more must be raised in order for banks to get back to capital adequacy. It is probably closer to the latter number.

Until banks are adequately capitalized, they are not going to be able to do normal business lending. Further, large deposits are fleeing banks. Even with the new level of $250,000 of FDIC insurance, there is $1.9 trillion in uninsured deposits. These are mostly deposits of small to large businesses and financial institutions, which can leave a bank at the push of a button.

Note that John calls for Bill Gross to be involved in the purchasing of the actual securities... and he favorably mentions Buffett in the following para. He is edging toward a position I have urged... that Paulson's hands have to be levered off of the implementation

I still believe the same money, invested in buying partial equity in unstable mortgages, keeping people in their homes, would have accomplished the same thing, while bypassing the biggest sinners.

Oh, when he mentions "sovereign wealth funds" think guys dressed like Peter O'Toole.

Anonymous said...

Big c

Sorry to be slow in response, when I check in from work it can be hit or miss. The ER can be that way.

I not saying I think the subprime mess was a conspiracy. It is a real problem. But could one side or another try to use it for their ends? Sure, although it is playing with fire. G.Bush might be stupid enough to try this, but I doubt it. Would Reid and Pelosi be so craven, venal and nasty to do it? I would dearly like to think not. But recall that three weeks ago, just before this hit, Obama supporters were panicking. And McCain's admission that he understands less about economics would make a big fat target...
But put it aside, I am just musing.

Is the mainstream media biased?

Among conservatives it is axiomatic that this is so. But how to prove it?

I suppose you could start with which lists contributions from journalists/reporters 1999 to date. Dem 65% GOP 15% I am not sure where the rest went. I am reasonably sure that many donations of this sort go unregistered.

But maybe the inkstained scribes and blow dried anchormen can put their own political yearnings aside and manage strict objectivity.

Surely the public would notice this herculean effort.

Rasmussen Reports 8 June 2008. Voters Give Media Failing Grades.

17% of voters believe reporters to be unbiased. 68% feel reporters try to aid the candidates they prefer.

For democrats 56% see bias. repubs 82% Indies 69%. Heck, even self described liberals saw bias 50% of the time (conservatives 83%, presumably 7% did not understand the question. Of course, 7% of the population thinks they saw Elvis at Kmart).

Oh, but bias can cut both ways...

No, 54% saw Obama as getting the most favorable coverage, compared to 22% for McCain and 14% for H.Clinton, back when she mattered.

And remember, this was all before the media went ape-feces over Sarah Palin. I somehow doubt their numbers are on the rebound.

Now a partisan media is not entirely bad. I enjoy partisan blogs of all stripes. And we have a fine tradition of partisan newspapers. But TV is a trickier, slipperier thing, which creates and perpetuates ideas on a more basic level.

If you do not worry about a toothless watchdog, my progressive friends, you are naive. And ready to be fleeced.


Travc said...

On Palin's "Cheney II" intent for the role of the VP... we have had evidence of that for a while.

Remember her "explain to me, exactly what does the VP do every day" quote everyone made fun of. Well, it was taken out of context... what she was actually saying was much scarier.
Here is clip watch for yourself.

On 'biased' media (and poll tracking sites). There are different sorts of bias. As tacitus2 pointed out, there are folks which openly favor one candidate but "run a fair game" none the less. 538 fits that IMO.

For the news shows, the same thing applies IMO. There is a difference between having a bias and being partisan. Olbermann and Maddow are borderline some of the time... certainly biased, but not actually partisan most of the time. FOX is often more partisan than biased actually, as evidenced by jettisoning conservative ideas when the are unfavorable to their chosen candidates.

Anyway, a useful distinction IMO. Unfortunately, media with a conservative bias which isn't incredibly partisan is hard to find. On the liberal side, it is much more common if not the outright majority.

I've got two papers to finish up in 10 days, and 2 big meeting to attend in the weeks immediately following... so I'm going to have to bow out for a while.

David Brin said...

The problem of media bias is exacerbated by:

1) the fact that the top mainstream media people often KNOW MORE and hence may lean dem in their political contributions because of that fact. And related --

2) the fact that these are not normal times. The issues are not truly left-right and hence there's nothing to "balance."

The issue is between a criminal gang, plus their supporters who complicitly close their eyes -- vs those who see, open-eyed, what the criminals are doing.

The Fox/Limbaugh shills are not engaging in their version of "bias" out of fealty to a political theory, but because they are part of a massive conspiracy of outright and deliberate treason. And I am not exaggerating in the slightest.

Those in the media who appear to be "biased left" aren't really. Many of them are conservative in basic philosophy. They can simply see and allow themselves to be motivated by whether civilization should be allowed to fall. If that is "bias" then it is bias in favor of saving something for our kids.

Yes, this description sounds biased, in its own right. But this is easily refuted. By now, the statistics prove, perfectly, that the democrats are almost always better for the economy, for small business startups, for budget balancing, for fiscal oversight and efficiency, for transparency and accountability, for military readiness, for gathering a rich array of allies, for the stock market...

...there are no metrics under which pro-business, pro-free-enterprise people should pick the GOP, yet they frantically ignore all this.

No, it isn't about left-right but a putsch by a criminal gang -- that now manages the McCain campaign from top to bottom.

We've been raped and plundered. If the ostrich-republicans weren't utter hypocrites, in a state of frantic and hysterical denial, they would have at least tried to keep true to their beliefs by turning to the Libertarian Party!

If there were ever a year when the LP should be attracting millions of both voters and dollars, this is it. And Bob Bar - horribly repulsive as he is -- can't explain why it hasn't happened. The fact that Ralph $#$#!-pinko-loon Nader is doing better (without even a party of his own) than the Libertarians is proof positive that so-called "libertarian republicans" are in fact mealy-mouth rationalizers who actually have no principles at all.

All that is left for them to do is to make up just-so stories about Obama -- I hear many of them, from "muslim" to "secret tax-and-spend agendas" to "democrats are bad for the military" all the way to the counterfactual howler that "democrats are bad for business and the economy."

Your ostrich can only squint and concentrate on his chosen just-so story, like some kind of hippie mandala. Only, instead of mumbling "om," they cover their ears to avoid hearing the sound of their nation being raped by their own party. And they scream their mantra over and over:

"Nah! Obama would be worse! Nah! Nah! NAH!"

For the last three years, I have urged that we reach across to these "ostriches" in sincere hope that they would lift their heads, see that their party and movement has been taken over by monsters, and get angry enough to strive to take their movement back and restore some of its now-polluted soul. There used to be decent things about conservatism. Barry Goldwater was one of my heroes. (Who said much of what I've said here, just before he died!)

But I won't let nostalgia for (parts of) Goldwater conservatism, or respect for Friedrich Hayek's knowledge-based market libertarianism, or the decent Republicanism of Dwight Eisenhower, or the flashes of manic but sometimes weirdly on-target inspiration of Ronald Reagan, divert me from recognizing what even leftists cannot see --

-- that NONE of what we're experiencing is about classic left-vs-right. It is about a civilization that is under direct and life-or-death struggle for its very existence, against bona fide and malignantly cancerous enemies within.

And it is nothing less than that.

normdoering said...

Mr. Brin wrote:
As for Biden-Palin -- well, both exceeded expectations, Palin by a large margin.

I've seen Biden do better, and fairly recently during the democratic primary. In fact, I think Palin benefited from the debate's format while Biden suffered. If the moderator would have asked follow-up questions I think you would have seen Caribou Barbie doing exactly what she did during her interviews with Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson, trying to BS her way through questions she didn't even understand.

I've got some sample praise from the Republican spin doctors on my blog: here.

It's all superficial stuff.

Dave Rickey said...

Dr. Brin, you're starting to sound like me. Except I swear a lot more when I rant.

Anyway, this bailout contains some really bad stuff for the long run. Instead of tighter regulation, it removes what little remained. Among other things, it eliminates the need for banks to shut down in the event of a run on the bank by simply allowing them to say "No money today, come back tomorrow." Doing so won't trigger FDIC, so the increased deposit limit means little or nothing in terms of getting your money. It also eases capitalization requirements, and gives the Board of Governors the power to ease them further, all the way down to zero for an infinite leverage ratio if they choose.

Capital reserves at the Fed will no longer pay interest, which means the incentive to shave them to the minimum (and fudge what that number is) goes way up. "Haircuts" for assets to be considered reserves are made much laxer, with the presumption being that "book value" (meaning whatever value it was given when the bank acquired it) is the default unless the asset is sold (and even then, it won't apply to other assets of the same nature unless the Fed specifically says it does). There are no longer any firewalls between different bank divisions so investment accounts, private checking/savings, corporate lines of credit, escrow and trust accounts, it's all one big pool of money that can be shifted at will.

The purpose is to free up credit and inject liquidity (and the Fed has been quietly backing the money markets for months trying to maintain that, and already bought up $150B in shaky assets earlier this year)). But even if it succeeds at that and brings on another boom, it will guarantee that the next time they screw it up, things fall apart hard and fast. And it may not free up inter-bank credit anyway, as the banks themselves can see that this is the "last trench", and that inevitably banks that try to take advantage of their new freedom from regulation without experience in the businesses they are getting into are going to screw it up and fail.

The thing to watch will be Monday's markets, after the smart money has had some time to chew on it. If it continues to dive the way it was Friday after they passed the bill, we're screwed. On the other hand, since it just freed up hundreds of billions in capital reserves and Paulson is going to be throwing dumpsters of cash out of the back as he drives down Wall Street for the next few months (it will all be gone well before the Inauguration), we may get hyperinflation to replace our deleveraging spiral.

On the other hand, all those nightmare scenarios about corporate lines of credit and consumer loans drying up? If the market recovers and starts climbing again, that's virtually guaranteed, as the returns of retail/commercial banking can't compare.

Me, I'm telling the people I know with significant investment income to take at least half of it and divide it up between Hong Kong, Dubai, Ireland, and Australia. No matter how things fall out in the end, at least a couple of those will be left standing. But I'm not a financial professional and you don't know me, so consider it just one more thing some random guy on the internet said.

On other fronts, the extreme right is working themselves into a lather, now that they've finally realized that McCain is losing. They're mostly oscillating between denial and anger, but the ones that scare me are the ones that passed through those stages weeks ago and have since gone silent about current politics.

The thing I was expecting with Iran fizzled (probably because of the Georgia/Russia situation), and I don't expect it to heat up again. Israel is about to undergo a change in government as well, and the only thing that doesn't take it completely off the table is the anti-air systems that are rumored to arrive in Iran in the next few months. They're equivalent to the Patriot (some say they're actually a little better), and Israel simply doesn't have enough long-range strike capability to smash the Iranian nuclear program once the SA-300 system is online (they can probably penetrate it, but not without losses and without shifting some of the package from bombs to EW).

In other news, we have a new candidate for "October Surprise", Russia is sending a flotilla (including a nuclear-powered cruiser) for joint excercises with Venezuela, it left just under two weeks ago and should be arriving in mid-October. The Russians are outright daring us to say or do anything about it.

It's no longer a question of being paranoid, if you're not paranoid by now you're not paying enough attention. It's only a question of which dystopian nightmare seems most likely on any given day. Seems to be a bit of a race going.

Rob Perkins said...

Carrying this forward, if only to give it closure:

Rob, I ran that one past a number of Mormons. They said I was "close enough" as far as they were concerned. Certainly one is bemused by the incredible cognitive dissonance -- that Mormonism [...] theology was informed by science circa 1820.

-- and yet, as a matter of temperament and emotional inclinations, it tends to be hyper-conservative. This combination is fascinating to behold, among many other traits.

Glad you're fascinated. But "hyper-conservative?"

You must only really know SoCal Mormons, frothing (for some very good reasons) about opposition to Proposition 8.

My experience suggests the full political spectrum (with exceptions for social issues such as marriage and abortion) is proportionally represented in each Mormon congregation, where it is situated. Thus, the Oakton, VA congregation is more Democrat than Republican.

Think about Harry Reid. If you don't know by now that the Majority Leader of the Senate is a Mormon in good standing with the LDS Church (not to mention married to an almost-"disowned" Jew [her family couldn't go through with it]), then your thinking about Mormons is skewed by SoCal demographics.

My own congregation in the Portland area is evenly split between parties and many of us advocate just the kind of social rescue programs Republicans decry.

The era of George Romney and Ezra T. Benson is well and truly over.

Worldwide, most Mormons aren't even North Americans. And you can't expect to have our missionaries operate with you on higher cognitive levels; their task is to invite, explain, and introduce.

In any case, regarding Stones of Significance, "close enough" is precisely what I would have told you, as well. Your allegorical Episcopalian nodded assent to the act of conversion, after all... :-)

OK, back to how evil the etc etc... blah blah... stars imploding... Obama will probably win.

Big C said...

Hey Tacitus2,

No worries about taking a bit of time to respond. I have 2 kids under 6, so I don't have a lot of time during the day either to write coherent blog posts.

Anyway, to get back to your points. I don't dispute the existence of media bias. But that wasn't your claim. You specifically said that the majority of the media was completely in the tank for Obama. This is the claim that I dispute. The mere of existence of Fox News and talk radio refutes this. The Republicans have a complete propaganda network dedicated to pushing their agenda embodied in these outlets. The closest thing the Democrats have to that is MSNBC, and that network only devotes 3 hours of its schedule to full-on Republican bashing. In fact their entire morning news show is run by Joe Scarborough, a well-known conservative.

Ann Coulter, Michele Malkin, and Sean Hannity are so extreme in their opinions they should be considered hate-mongers, but they get on TV and are presented as respectable conservative commentators, well within the mainstream. Michael Moore might be considered their opposite number on the left, but he's presented as an obviously-outside-the-mainstream loony liberal, rather than a respectable left-of-center commentator.

In my view, the general problem with media bias is that they are biased towards established narratives rather than facts. And the Republicans have mastered the art of creating, pushing, and disseminating narratives.

This is how we got Gore being a serial liar who claimed he invented the Internet and was the inspiration for Love Story. Al Gore claimed neither of these things, but the media swallowed and pushed those narratives throughout the 2000 campaign. This is how we got Kerry being a windsurfing nancy-boy with fake purple heart medals. In fact, this is how we have the continuing meme that Democratic politicians are elitist snobby girly-men. And this is also how we have the prevailing wisdom that John McCain is a straight-talking maverick who bucks his party at every opportunity. Any facts that support the narrative are emphasized, while any facts that contradict this narrative are ignored.

What's been interesting this fall (and admittedly could support the idea that the media favors Obama) is that the narrative of "The McCain/Palin campaign are pathological liars" has gained legs. My sense is that this is because the McCain camp has refused correct itself when they've been called out on their many misstatements and lies, but rather continues to keep restating the same falsehoods after they've been exposed, and blames the media for exposing them. The Obama camp has been dishonest as well (though less so, if you count up the statements and ads) but this doesn't contribute to the narrative. The narrative that's emerged is McCain has "sacrificed his honor" to run a Rove-style dishonest, negative campaign.

Bob Somerby's blog The Daily Howler, is devoted to exposing how journalists continue to do this in the media. Take a look through his archives and you'll see how he attacks the media's disregard of facts from all directions. Full disclosure: Mr. Somerby is a liberal and was a roommate of Al Gore in college, so he's particularly critical of how the media treated him and the Clintons. But he has called out the media for its misstatements on McCain and Sarah Palin too.

The problem with criticism of the media from the Republicans in how they've treated Sarah Palin is that they've lumped all the legitimate coverage in with the outrageous coverage, and claimed they don't have to answer any questions at all. Yes, we should reject nasty rumors about Palin's kids and affairs she's had that have no evidence. But all the info about how she ran Wasilla as mayor and Alaska as governor should be thoroughly investigated, especially since it seems to directly contradict nearly everything she's claims to be and every position she claims to support. It's truly unprecidented that a VP candidate will not hold a live press conference before election day. No candidate in the modern era has been sequestered like this. Her interviews with Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson were not "gotcha journalism" but questions that any politician should be able to answer coherently, especially if they are running for high office.

David Brin said...

Dave R - Canada has oil, food and land. And - if McCain wins, a huge influx of dynamic Americans doming down the road. And new land opening up and the Norhwest passage! Bet on em.

Rob - heh! You guys are an American phenomenon. And Heinlein portrays you Mormons fighting Nehemiah Scudder to your last breath.

big c nails the basic dem-gop distinction. Both groups have crazy-loons. The difference is that the dems keep theirs in University "soft departments" and gops keep theirs in absolute charge of the party in every way, and thus our nation.

Dave Rickey said...

Utah Mormons, however, especially small-town and "Happy Valley" Founding Families types.... If it wasn't for the way both of them get pissed off when you suggest it, culturally you can't tell them from Southern Baptists. Utah is truly one of the reddest of "Red States", currently the only ones polling the same 2-1 McCain lead are Idaho (also full of Mormons) and Oklahoma.

In places where they are a minority, Mormons are perfectly wonderful neighbors. Where they run things...not so much. That's not a religious thing, strictly cultural.

Speaking of which, much of Obama's lead can be attributed to an over-performance that almost amounts to defying gravity in some traditionally very red states. The most dramatic is Indiana, a somewhat mercurial state with a strong independant streak, but still one that went to Bush by 21%. And there's a long list of red states that are polling 8-10% better for Obama than they did for Gore and Kerry: VA, NC, GA, MS, LA, AR, IA, and it goes on. Every single state he set up a full ground team in, he's polling way ahead of the 2000-2004 contests.

Most of those even that isn't enough, of course. But it was enough to swing IN, VA, and NC into true tossup status, and even in Florida and Michigan he's managed to repair any damage the primary delegate debacles did, putting FL back in play and MI out of it and in the blue column (McCain just pulled out).

The 50-State, "Community Organizer" strategy *works*, even when it's only really applied to about 20 states. Obama has built an electoral machine the likes of which has not been seen since the hey-day of Union Labor.

North Carolina and Indiana are prime examples, so completely dominated by the GOP for so long that people who weren't voting Republican simply didn't talk about politics. It wasn't just that they were outnumbered, it was that they were socially and politically isolated. Here comes Obama, opening offices in every county, sending volunteers out to knock on every door (increasingly locals as time went on), staff and volunteers putting together a float for the Fourth of July parade, waving the flag for the Democrats at a social level in a way they haven't seen since the Dixecrats bolted.

It shouldn't have been that much of a surprise, really. We saw in the primary the difference between the states Obama contested and those he didn't, with an especially close fit between WV (contested, lost by 30) and KY (uncontested, lost by 50). The only significant difference was that by KY squeezing out a few more delegates didn't matter as much as shifting to prepare for the General.

Where the GOP has a strong ground game, like Ohio, they fight to a draw. But where the GOP has gotten lazy and complacent, like just about everywhere else, they are getting rolled.

And now its frankly too late for the GOP to catch up. The registration window is nearly closed (already is some places, Monday for the rest), and a series of mis-steps have left the McCain campaign trying desperately to control the hemmorhaging and giving up on offense altogether (except MN, they've poured buckets of money in there as well as the convention, and have managed to keep it in tossup status).

Odds are that his real lead is being underpolled. Nobody is weighting youth or black turnout to be significantly higher, even as hundreds of thousands of new voters are registered by the Obama campaign. Add in the "cell phone gap" (nobody polls cell phone only voters, who skew heavily for Obama and make up a significant chunk of the population now), and the incredible 7-8 point lead may be seriously understated by as much as 4 points, with the difference all concentrated in states where that actually matters (has to be a reason that Plouffe hasn't pulled out of GA, LA, and SC the way he has from ND and others just a point or two further down).

They've been quite open about the math their working from: Each voter they register is 75% likely to vote, and at an 80% rate for Obama (which is probably pessimistic), netting 0.45 votes for Obama for each new registration. You plug that into the numbers of new Democratic registrations in those states, apply it to the Bush numbers from 2000-2004, and out pops a brand new "blue" state.

National news narratives are bullshit. All politics is local, and at the same time all politics is national. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of down-ballot Democrats, from Dogcatcher to Senator, including some "no-chance" sacrificial lambs thrown into the meatgrinder with no money just so the GOP candidate didn't run without opposition, are going to get lifted by Obama's coat-tails and organization into offices even they never thought they'd win. Like any high-school football coach could tell you: Half of winning is showing up with a full team.

That is, of course, if none of the tinfoil scenarios interferes.

David Brin said...

Russ Daggatt has another fine blog entry:

Fortunately, some of the opportunity for stealing the election has changed since 2004. In the last two elections a lot of Republicans were voted out of office at the state level. For example, whereas Ohio had a Republican governor and secretary of state in 2004, both of those posts are now held by Democrats (and the Democratic secretary of state is making sure there are enough voting booths in the college towns and poor precincts that had multi-hour lines in 2004).

Of the 12 most important battleground states, the Secretary of State is now a Democrat in 9 of them, and the governor is now a Democrat in 9 of them:

State SOS Governor

Colorado Republican Democrat
Florida Republican Republican
Iowa Democrat Democrat
Michigan Republican Democrat
Minnesota Democrat Republican
Nevada Democrat Republican
New Hampshire Democrat Democrat
New Mexico Democrat Democrat
Ohio Democrat Democrat
Pennsylvania Democrat Democrat
Virginia Democrat Democrat
Wisconsin Democrat Democrat

That still leaves Florida really worrisome... and leaves out increasing sophistication at Diebold. Anyway, even if there's an Obama blowout, they can still pull shenanigens to hold onto statehouses and state legislatures. That's where they REALLY can't afford to lose.

Also, I hear a lot of friends continuing to express concern over what is know in political circles as the “Bradley Effect” – i.e., that there is latent racism that isn’t being picked up by the polls because many people who wouldn’t vote for Obama because of racism wouldn’t admit it to a pollster. (Named for Tom Bradley, an African-American who lost the 1982 California governor's race despite being ahead in voter polls.) Harvard political scientist Dan Harvey just came out with a comprehensive study that concludes that since the mid-‘90’s the Bradley Effect has disappeared.

Well... we can hope...

Oh, but this will NOT be a repeat of 1996, when we finished the election (for the only time since Eisernhower-Stevenson) with a feeling that two honorable adults had faced off.

McCain's only positive commercial, called "Original Mavericks," has largely been taken off the air, according to Evan Tracey of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks political ads. …

All the positive ads have been pulled. McCain is going all negative from here on out. It’s all he has left of his “honorable” campaign of HEROIC LEADSHIP. Smear. That’s all the Rove junior varsity knows how to do. That’s what they learned at the foot of the master. And McCain will do whatever it takes. One last Hail Mary. One more throw of the craps. Honor be damned.

McCain's lack of balance and perspective could not be more clear. If he were the main he pretends to be, he would be aiming to set the highest standards of dignity. Not wanting to win any other way.

hich a couple of special moments might be possible.

I write about them at:


The latter is still possible, as a one-sided offer by Obama that would make him look great!

Anonymous said...

" or the decent Republicanism of Dwight Eisenhower..."

Ike was only a Republican because Truman was a Democrat. He was the closest thing to an Independent Pragmatist we have ever - yes, EVER - had in the White House.

He made some mistakes...some whoppers in fact...but never to appease factions of his Party.

He screwed up in Iran and bungled Cuba. Other than that...well, not much else bad to say.

We needed him badly eight years ago. Today...we need the bastard child of FDR and Tom Jefferson. We ain't got such a creature.

My advice?

DON'T pay any debts that have a locked in interest rate off early. If you locked in at a decent rate on Student Loans, defer if you can.

If you've been trying to pay your house off early, quit it. If you're locked below 8% on any loan, the slower you pay it the farther ahead you're probably going to be.

Quit buying with credit cards. Just quit it. They're taking three percent of your transaction from the merchant.

While it's always been good advice, buying from local merchants is now more important. Yes, that fridge or washer and dryer weren't made in America. However, at least you're keeping a fraction of the cash you spend down here instead of up there.

You just might be stunned by the quality of service those few extra bucks buy you.

It's also going to be important to do this in order to kill those Big Boxes you've been driving 20 miles to get too. We can't keep bitching about an unsustainable lifestyle without doing anything about it.

Beyond that, the value of commercial property near your home, the number of boarded up store-fronts on your Main Street, will have a substantial effect on your homes value.

Stock up on noodles and canned foods...even if you're completely solvent and not worried. Food banks all over the country are at historically low levels already.

Tent cities really are popping up, and it's going to be cheaper to buy it now and give it away in a year, a couple weeks before it expires, than to be cutting a check in a year - your dollar will buy more now and while you might feel like a bit of a freak you will have peace of mind untill you give it away.

There will be people who need it. This will be at least that bad.

Unknown said...

Jeez! Brin. "Unusual" was a compliment.

Your commentary is always good. It was even better than usual in your latest post. That's all I'm saying.

And you're right about the deep south gaining population. I said the midwest is losing population. So we're both right.

You're also correct about Detroit MI losing population. Cleveland OH and Balitmore MD are also dying, and they're getting depopulated as well. San Diego CA is losing population because no one can afford to live there, but it's not dying...yet.

You mentioned "If there were ever a year when the LP should be attracting millions of both voters and dollars, this is it."

C'mon now...seriously. Our whole financial system is melting down, and people are going to vote for the Libertarian Party that promises to remove regulation from the economy...?

Really. You're not serious, are you?

Libertarianism is the political philosophy of twelve-year-olds. Serious adults just don't buy it. I mean, think about it: what goes by the name Libertarianism today advocates letting adults have sex with 6-year-olds and letting adolescents use narcotics. Today's Libertarianism advocates eliminating the Federal Reserve banking system and the SEC (!) and opposes single-payer national health insurance (!)

I know you'll argue that what people call "Libertarianism" today isn't true Libertarianism, but there are an awful lot of folks today who call themselves LP members, and these are the kinds of crazy things they publicly support. We have to deal with political parties and words as they define themselves today. And the LP defines itself as a crazy set of beliefs right now. I honestly can't see how anyone could believe in the tenets of today's LP even in ordinary times...but in a massive financial meltdown, where our economy desperately needs huge amounts of government intervention in the form of liquidity injections and regulations... Well... I mean, c'mon. If anything, this financial criss has pounded the final nail in the coffin of modern Libertarianism. When we come out of this mess (and I think we will come out of it, it's not going to be financial armageddon), America is going to have a lot more federal regulation of the banking and insurance and investment system, investment banks as we know them are probably gone for good, hedge funds may disappear entirely, we're likely to have huge new infrastructure projects run by WPA-type government agencies, an RFC-type agency will likely take over a lot of excessing housing and empty office buildings and strip malls that were built on spec, and we're likely to end up with some form of national health insurance.

In short, America seems headed down the road toward a Scandanavian-style blend of socialism + free market with higher taxes and tighter regulation. I just don't see Americans voting to abandon more regulations and go in the Libertarian direction, given what we've seen in the real estate and financial markets from the deregulation we've already experienced over the last 8 years...

Intriguing article about how China has actually moved away free market capitalism toward a more state-directed system reminiscent of the Korean chaebols or the Japanese keiretsus. This seems to be a common Asian pattern. Singapore and Malaysia and South Korea and Japan also have significantly more state input into decisions by, and state funding of, key industries than Euro-American capitalism. However, this is really just a slightly different variant of the free market. As we all know, there's no such thing as a truly free market country anywhere in the world, and there can't be, because all markets require some government regulation, and all economies demand some external currency conversion controls, some means of injecting liquidity into the economy when things slow down, etc. In short, all modern economies require a central bank of some kind, and a central bank is by definition not 100% pure free market capitalism.

The article points out that China's state-influenced industries are less efficient and more polluting than they'd be if they had state interference. That's probably true. Of course, it's also true that wild amount of excess speculation of the kind we've seen in America since 1981 is also highly inefficient: far too much dark fiber was laid during the dot-com bubble, far too much vacat office space and strip malls and far too many houses were built on spec during the real estate bubble, and so on. So it's more a question of the kinds of inefficiencies you get by changing the mix of government oversight & regulation, rather than whether or not you get market inefficiencies at all.

The European rescue of Hypo bank appears to have failed; this really is a global financial crisis. And it's not limited to real estate, it's a general overleveraging, including commercial office space, credit card debt, student loan debt, and so on. We're probably going to have help rescue Hypo bank and then move on to bail out various Asian banks when they go belly-up. We're all in this together in a global economy.

matthew said...

Five thoughts on the popularity of steampunk.

Makes some really good points about why this sort of quasi-nostalga helps build better tinkerers today.

Whether you’re reading and identifying with Girl Genius or making yourself a pair of functioning telescopic brass goggles, the fact is that when you have to get your hands or brain dirty puzzling out how stuff works, you can’t be blasé about technological miracles — you’re forced to realize what miracles we’ve actually wrought. And once you’ve got that sense of appreciation, once you’re not taking all our modern-day scientific accomplishments for granted because you finally understand deep down that people had to sweat them out, experiment by experiment — it seems to me you can’t help but approach the world around us, here, today, with fresher eyes and a more adventuresome spirit.

Anonymous said...


A couple of thoughts.

I think there are at least three seperate "biases" in the mainstream media.

1.Pro-Dem, Anti-GOP. Or if you prefer Pro-gressive, anti conservative. You may disagree if you like. But I think this is a widely held view.

2. Anti-establishment. There is a residue of Watergate. The media has become inherently suspicious of authority.

3. In favor of anything, ANYTHING, that will sell a newspaper or a 30 sec commercial for laxatives. Traditional media is a very threatened industry, and at times desperate.

Of course, all three of the above converge in the current political clime. Next year? How would a nascent Woodward or Bernstein react to a bombshell that could harm President Obama? We don't know.

Howler is not a bad site. Little Green Footballs allows too much vile invective, but does some interesting things debunking photographic frauds. Mypetjawa has probed the links between campaigns and internet campaigns, and there is probably more linkage than you expect. is a must read.

I think the point made about bias and partisanship is worth clarifying.

In times past we had openly partisan newspapers. You want one perspective you bought the Pelosi Screaming Eagle. You want the other view, pick up the Straight Talk Railsplitter. Today's blogs are a modern, and very welcome version.

TV has the ability to create opinions on a different level, and at least in the case of broadcast networks, a mandate to operate in the public good. I believe that Wag The Dog was a precient, scary movie.

Bias, in my view, is an unstated partisanship, one that is willing to cut ethical corners.

We may be in greater or lesser degrees of agreement. Here's a few scenarios. How would you (and others) call 'em?

You are editor of the Evening News. Your anchorman wants to:

1. wear an Obama button on the air.
2. run a story damaging to McCain using a photo you suspect might be faked.
3. using one you know to be faked.
4. using one that is real, but with very unfavorable lighting that makes him look like a ghoul
5. you have a story, say the John Edwards baby nonsense, that will sell papers. Run it? If not, on what basis?

These are semi hypothetical, but I think the kind of decisions made every day.



Fake_William_Shatner said...

@Dave Rickey...
I live in Georgia and work with a company started by Mormons. Worked with lots of them. I'll agree that they are very much like Southern Baptists in temperament. They seem to keep logic and science safely separated in their brain from the other part that makes decisions.

I have despaired of my loss of Religious tolerance as a Unitarian. I'm now of the opinion, that no matter how noble and thoughtful the original religion -- the mere practice of having a belief "ultimate knowledge" and have a practice of "forcing people to accept their deeper truth over all others" are doomed to get co-opted by political expedience and power hungry individuals. We now have the idea that charities can solve problems like the logistics of getting money and rebuilding materials to Louisiana and that Government can't -- in the face of history.

@Brin, I have to agree with Zorgon about Libertarianism. No matter what YOU may believe it is, the reality is that it is populated by infantile notions that we don't need government. That all regulation is bad. And that somehow all problems come from people not being independent enough and stupid. The reality is that NOBODY can be smart enough and independent enough in this modern world to do well without other people who specialize in something. We are a village and there is always going to be government.

Big C said...


1.Pro-Dem, Anti-GOP. Or if you prefer Pro-gressive, anti conservative. You may disagree if you like. But I think this is a widely held view.

So, does this mean you exclude Fox News from the mainstream media? They claim only their pundits are openly partisan, while the news reports are "fair and balanced." Check out this youtube video and let me know if you think that Fox correspondent was showing some anti-Obama bias.

2. Anti-establishment. There is a residue of Watergate. The media has become inherently suspicious of authority.

Umm, do you mean since 2007? Because the media has been rolling over for the Bush administration for almost his entire time in office. They uncritically reported any narratives the administration pushed as unquestioned fact. WMDs? Iraqis responsible for 9/11 and anthrax attacks? Read some of Glenn Greenwald's blog for many, many documented cases of the media failing to factcheck or criticize the administration.

3. In favor of anything, ANYTHING, that will sell a newspaper or a 30 sec commercial for laxatives. Traditional media is a very threatened industry, and at times desperate.

Well, I pretty much agree with this. And I think this ties in to my point about pushing narratives that form sensational storylines. Push the storyline regardless of whether the facts support or contradict it.

I think another thing in play is the "false balance" position. Uncritically report "both sides" of any story, don't bother to check either side's facts, and always leave the reader with the impression that no one is right and no one is wrong. This is non-partisan, but not objective. You may disagree with me, but I'm going to say this harms liberal viewpoints more than conservative ones, because the facts are usually on the liberal side ;) I'm admittedly biased, but I'm willing to be proven wrong.

Regarding your hypothetical scenarios:

1. wear an Obama button on the air.

Of course this is a no-no for any show purporting to be a news report. Have you seen this actually done on TV anywhere?

2. run a story damaging to McCain using a photo you suspect might be faked.

I'd want to determine if the photo was faked or not beyond a reasonable doubt before running the story. If we can't establish its authenticity, kill the story until more evidence is found.

3. using one you know to be faked.

Kill the story. Maybe even create a new narrative about someone trying to damage McCain with fake evidence.

4. using one that is real, but with very unfavorable lighting that makes him look like a ghoul

Well, I could see this a couple of ways. If I'm competing for ratings/sales with several other outlets and the Internet who I know probably have or will have access to the same information I do, I run the story as quickly as possible to get the biggest possible share of ratings/sales. If the story is true and the photo is real, there's no journalistic integrity issues with running it. I guess here is where you could argue bias shows up. If I were an editor leaning towards McCain, I'd probably be more likely to not run the story, if I were leaning Obama, I would be more likely to run the story. But I think the ratings/sales concern is first before the bias toward a candidate concern. Maybe bias shows up in that if I were leaning towards McCain I might warn him before running the story and allow him to have an interview that tells his side of the story. Whereas if I were leaning toward Obama, I might be less inclined to give McCain that opportunity.

5. you have a story, say the John Edwards baby nonsense, that will sell papers. Run it? If not, on what basis?

Well, if I'm a gossip rag like the National Enquirer, of course I run it. But if I'm the New York Times and we have no factual basis other than unsubstantiated rumors, I probably don't until more solid evidence appears. Just as with Edwards, the mainstream media is not touching the Sarah Palin affair story the Enquirer is running, because there's no evidence.

TV has the ability to create opinions on a different level, and at least in the case of broadcast networks, a mandate to operate in the public good. I believe that Wag The Dog was a precient, scary movie.

I totally agree with you here. What I don't understand is how you seem to claim that the TV media has been pushing mostly liberal/Democratic narratives, when it's been mostly conservative/Republican narratives for at least the last 8 years. See this report (NY Times free registration required) from earlier in the year about "independent" retired generals being hired as "military analysts" for major networks, when their real job was to push Bush administration propaganda about the war (see Glenn Greenwald's commentary on this story here). Can this be anything other than pro-Bush administration, pro-Republican bias? Isn't this in direct opposition to the public good?

Jumper said...

There's some sort of link between amphetamines and libertarians, I think. For what it's worth.

Seems like we need a stronger engagement with Mexico. I don't know what it is exactly. I don't see any reason that our CLOSEST NEIGHBOR can't get an expanded supply of work permits and green cards. So long as everyone gets legal. Ever thought that most Mexicans in this country illegally have had their thumbprints on their paychecks? Of course if the banks tried to give my thumbprint to INS or any other agency, I'd scream, too.

In any case, I think the destruction of sovereignty in the name of trade is a bad idea. Sovereignty is like an organism's dermis, it evolved, and you can't just wish it away by saying we're all alike beneath our skins.

Jumper said...

That's the site I'm following for elections. I recommend it.

Unknown said...

big c:

You're exactly right on all points. tacitus2 is clearly a smart and knowledgeable person, and if I had to hazard a guess, I'd say he's an ER physician in a southern hospital or clinic. tacitus2 is sharp and sounds sensible a lot of the time.

Yet it's amazing to see how tacitus2 has swallowed the far-right crackpot talking points and regurgitated 'em practically line for line. You can almost see the Karl Rove talking points when tacitus2 posts. There's practically a FOX NEWS crawl going on under his words.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, yes, quite true, the media were anti-establishment and suspicious of authority. Starting in 1981 the media began to get managed on a daily basis by Ed Rollins and company, and ever since 1981, the media have deep-throated the president so hard the back of their was about to cave in. Any president, doesn't matter who. The mainstream media gave the senile sociopath Reagan a pass on his every unconstitutional crime, his every crazy claim, his every incoherent babbling. The media anointed Bill Clinton and stuck by him loyally even after he got blow jobs in the Oval Office. And when 9/11 rolled around...why, the media groveled like dogs and whimpered as they licked the the president's shoes with a craven obsequiousness unexampled since the court of Xerxes the Great. After 9/11, anything the White House did was noble and sublime.

The examples abound in such profusion that it takes a truly remarkable mind to shut off the mountain of evidence contradicting tacitus2's claim that "the media is suspicious of authority" since 9/11. For example, the New York Times boosted Judith Miller's lying stories about Iraq WMDs to front-page news time after time. All boilerplate lies printed verbatim from White House talking points. The media savaged John Kerry with a ferocity seldom seen since the Greensboro NC lynchings. The media uncritically accepted the Limbaugh-Coulter-Malkin-FOX NEWS lies that Al Gore was a 'serial liar who claimed to have invented the internet' and who 'said that the book Love Story was written about him and Tipper.' The media served as a vast echo chamber for the Swift Boat smears. The media breathlessly repeated every smear about McCain in 2000, the newspapers eagerly rushed to print every low-down dirty slander spread about Hillary by Rove and Limbaugh and company during the 2008 primaries. Hillary was cold, corrupt, vicious, contemptuous of poor people, the lies just went on and on. Unsourced rumour after baseless anecdote, ranging from the howlers about how Hillary looked out at a crowd in Arkansas and packed up her campaign, sneering, "There's no money here," to slanders that Hillary strong-armed the rich digerati of Silicon Valley for campaign contributions with antitrust threats. Lie after lie after lie, and the media repeated 'em all. Meanwhile, we heard NOTHING negative about the Repub primary candidates. NOTHING. Even when kooks like Huckabee spouted obvious gibberish, up to and including denying evolution, the Repub primary candidates got treated by the mainstream media with reverence verging on saintly canonization. By all rights, the Repub primary candidates should've been ridiculed by the mainstream press as a group of crazies straight out of Tod Bronwing movie Freaks. But no, the press and TV news strove to maintain "objectivity"...which in today's sick twisted media worldview, means "not pointing out that a Republican is batshit insane."

Meanwhile, the media remained silent about the connections twixt Bandar Bush and the president. The media did no investigation of Karl Rove's background or his long history of smear campaigns in Texas and going back to Karl Rove's involvement in Watergate as a dirty tricks operative until Rove left the White House (did he have dirt on key reporters, I wonder?). The media stayed mute about Jack Abramoff's bribe machine on K street right up to the very moment the scandal broke with indictments. And the media reported on it only then, because it would have destroyed their credibility not to cover the indictments.

Only when the lies and incompetence of Republicans became so extreme, in 2005 after Katrina, that refusing to report them as front-page would have sunk the newspapers and TV networks' credibility, did the media slowly begin to unclamp its mouth from the president's bunghole and begin to do actual investigative reporting about the incredible number of crimes perpetrated by this White House.

It's been a long time coming. One of the reasons I admire Brin is that while the media were in love with this White House post-9/11 and avid cheerleaders for the Orwellian far-right security state and its every crime and theft and crony-riddled corruption under the fig leaf of "national security," Brin is one of the few commentators who has been sounding the alarm. Brin is the only guy (until recently) who sounded the alarm about the fundamentalist Christian takeover of the military. Brin is the only guy (until recently) who has been shouting about Republican subversion of the U.S. civil service. Brin was one of the few who tried to draw attention to the Republican war against science. Brin was one of the only people, until recently, who was jumping up and down and shining klieg lights on the corruption on K street, the destruction of the U.S. military, the unwholesome connections twixt this White House and the Saudi Royal family... All huge stories which the newspapers and investigative TV journalists treated as though they didn't even exist until after 2005.

Of course the evidence is ovewhelming. Take a look at this book or this link or this link, each detailing dozens and dozens of Republican lies and distortion and lies by omission aided and abetted by the mainstream media.

And this is what tacitus2 calls "suspicious of authority"...???


How tacitus2 can have hypnotized himself into believing such obvious nonsense, so clearly contrary to observed reality, remains a mystery.

The claim that the media is "Pro-Demo, Anti-GOP" conflicts so wildly with the observed reality of the Reagan years and the Bush 41 years and the tenure of this current White House, especially post 9/11, that it's beyond hilarious. Time after time, the media have dutifully repeated right-wing lies, from the Swift Boat smears to the claim that Gore is a serial liar and flip-flopper to the really shameful stuff. The media really outdid itself in cravenness and dishonest bias toward Republicans and against Democrats when it uncritically repeated the drunk-driving C student's lies in 2000 on the campaign trail that his proposed tax cuts "would benefit middle class America." The media so grotesquely showed its supine adoration of the GOP at that point, by not just refusing to debunk the Repub lies on the campaign trail, but actually repeating them constantly, that it became clear by 2000 that the media had been completely captured by the GOP. By 2000, any lie told by any GOP operative was uncritically reported as though it was true, while any correction by a Demo was buried in the back pages with the contemptuous addendum, "The Democratic candidate offered a contrary opinion."

Stating the fact that the GOP tax cuts proposed in 2000 would not benefit the middle class was not an "opinion." It's a provable fact. Stating the Repub lie that the tax cuts of 2000 were not slanted overwhelmingly toward the rich wasn't "balance," it was aiding and abetting a deliberate lie.

Moreover, this massive bias toward the GOP and against Democrats continued right up until recently, when McCain's lies became so extreme and so pathological that the media could no longer ignore them. McCain lied and lied and lied, and for months the media uncritically reported those lies without correction. McCain claimed that Revered Wright was an extreme radical, when all Wright said is that America is a racist country. (Gee, d'ya think?) McCain called Obama an elitist while McCain pranced around in $500 shoes and his wife appeared onstage in a $300,000 dress. Did the press offer any correction? Of course not. They just reported McCain's claims as though they were facts.
McCain claimed he was a maverick -- and did the press ever report the documented fact that McCain voted with the current White House 95% of the time in the last 8 years, and 100% of the time in the last 4 years? Of course not.

Only when McCain's lies became so absurd that they could no longer be ignored, as when McCain attacked Obama for voting for the same bills that McCain had voted for, did the supine lickspittle GOP-favoring press finally begin to stir itself out of a stupor and print a few half-hearted caveats about McCain's non-stop lies.

It's astounding that tacitus2 can repeat these bizarrely contrafactual far-right talking points without recognizing how hallucinogenically they contradict observed reality.

Moreover, tacitus2's definition of "bias" is weird and has no connection to reality. "Bias" isn't a matter of being overt or not. Being "partisan" isn't a matter of advocating for or against a candidate.

Bias occurs when a media source fails to correct proven lies, or systematically declines to publish documented facts in response to smear campaigns. The media was showing a flagrant pro-Republican bias when it reprinted claims that Al Gore has said he'd invented the internet -- Al Gore never said that. It was all a lie. If the media had printed something like "Republicans claim that Al Gore claimed to have invented the internet but facts show that Gore didn't say that. (etc.)" that would have shown objectivity. Repeating lies verbatim with no correction isn't being "objective," it's serving as a megaphone for lies and smears. When every pundit from Fareed Zakaria to Tom Friedman enthusiastically urged the invasion of Iraq, how can tacitus2 possibly talk about a "liberal media bias?" When every liberal pundit and left-wing anchorman wildly cheered the Iraq debacle for year after year, even after it had become horribly obvious that it was a disaster, how can tacitus2 even think of claiming there's a bias "pro Demo, anti GOP"?

A democracy won't work if reporters refuse to investigate and debunk flagrant lies by those in power. Part of reporters' jobs is to determine the facts. When reporters abandon that responsibility, democracy breaks down. Reporters abandoned that responsibility starting in 1981 because they fell in love with the telegenic charming wonderfully genial sociopath Reagan, who gave them wonderful nightly news clips with his droll quotes and delightful charm, and only recently did the media snap out of its demented trance and start feebly and half-heartedly doing serious investigative reporting to ascertain the actual facts about claims coming from Repubs and the White House after Katrina...when it was long past too late to make up for all the damage the press had done by shilling for the Repubs in the intervening 25 years.

From repeating lies by the Reagan White House that tortured murdered nuns in El Salvador had been pistol-packing revolutionaries, to repeating Reagan's lunatic prevarications that forest fires were far more dangerous than air pollution from factories, to repeating Newt Gingrich's crazy lies about how Clinton's blowjob endangered the constitution, to reiterating Tom DeLay's insane lies that the shootings in Littleton Colorado were the result of teaching evolution to school children, to printing Judith Miller's monstrous lies that Saddam Hussein had stockpiled vast mountains of nukes and mile-wide lakes of sarin and 10-storey-deep underground warehouses full of germ warfare bombs just one button-press away from annihilating major U.S. cities in giant mushroom clouds, the press showed a flagrant and massive bias toward Republicans and against Democrats for the last 25 years.

Only when the Republican lies became so heinous and so bogus, and when this maladministration cracked up and fell apart so badly that not even the craziest wingnuts could continue to claim the lies were true, did the press start to back away from its craven worship of Republicans. From 1981 right up to 2005, the press delightedly fed on Republican lies about the glories of market deregulation and the magic of tax cuts for the rich and the magnificence of our successful war in Iraq, like a dog eagerly licking up its master's vomit.

Only when the carnage in Iraq became so grotesque that photos of maimed and mutilated vets began to leak out, did the media falter in its gung-ho boosterism for this failed genocidal war of aggression.

Only when the financial deregulation caused a meltdown so extreme that reputable economists began running in circles screaming in hysterical panic, did the TV shows and newspapers begin to timidly question the wisdom of Phil Gramm's bill to repeal Glass-Steagall and the current White House's war against effective oversight of financial markets.

Really, Brin is dead right, the media has been asleep at the switch since 9/11 (at least -- but really going back to Reagan) for failing to make huge front-page news stories of this maladministration's disembowelment of regulatory agencies throughout the government. If the news media had been doing its job, instead of giving 24/7 coverage to Elian Gonzalez, or the O.J. trial, newspapers would've been printing 50-point headlines about the gutting the SEC, about placing people in charge of FEMA who were deliberately working to wreck that agency, about criminals and crony getting put in charge of HUD and the FCC who actively opposed the missions of those agencies and worked actively to destroy them.

The media has been guilty of massive dereliction of duty. Instead, for the past 24 years, ever since the senile sociopath Reagan successfully figured out how to manipulate the daily news cycle and make his "sound bite of the day" the sole topic of the evening news, the media have concentrated on missing 18-year-old blonde girls in Aruba and breathless reports about how the Surgeon General of the United States said masturbation was okay, instead of doing their job and reporting on the countless crimes and thefts and malfeasances of Republicans in the congress and the White House.

Bias? Toward Democrats? Against the GOP?

What pharmaceuticals have you been using, tacitus2? I hope you didn't get 'em in the ER -- someone's bound to notice they're missing.

Carl M. said...

The Libertarian Party will not ever get it together. I tried. What a waste of time that was.

For the first time ever, they have a candidate who has a resume worthy of the office. Barr has more experience with Iran than either McCain or Obama; Barr lived there.

So what happens? Most of the LP activists sit on their hands, or actively work against the nominee. George Phillies stays on the ballot in New Hampshire. Libertarian blogs are mostly anti-Barr.

True, Barr has done a lousy job of working the libertarian base: to many equivocations, uses of the word conservative, etc. And the Barr campaign put on their stupid helmets when it came to courting the Ron Paul crowd.

It's time for the LP to be the PETA for Liberty, and let some other organization take on electoral politics in the name of liberty.

I get more done for liberty making satirical photo essays mocking Wall Street millionaires asking for welfare than I did working to support the LP.

Anonymous said...

I believe this is the first time I have been the target of a full Zorgon Tactical Nuke! I am honored.

Still working, so I can't respond until much later. But as to your guess as to my southern, red state origins...

Nope, Wisconsin as I have mentioned more than once.

Other fun trivia
I am learning arabic.
I have visited Iceland
I have been on national PBS and ESPN.
I have survived a small plane crash and been held up at gunpoint while holding my one month old son.
In the past year I have spent two months in the deep south working as a carnie, and two weeks in england on an archeological dig.
I take no pharmaceuticals whatsoever.
I created and have taught a robotics curriculum for the past 8 years.

Actually, only 9 of those 10 facts are true, but that still beats Fox, Kos, CNBC and most other news media!



David Brin said...

Big C said"I think another thing in play is the "false balance" position. Uncritically report "both sides" of any story"

-- This kind of "faux-fairness could be defeated if any media outlets were daring enough to add a third voice to any issue. Some "contrarian" willing to shake up the dichotomy with a different (possibly weird, point of view. ;-)

But the notion of a left-right dichotomy is the poison we've been fed. It means that - when the right is certifiably insane and totally corrupt, the answer is: "Well, the left HAS to be either almost as bad or worse, and that's all there is to argue about."

Alas, even the dems seemable only to say "we're an order of magnitude better."

LIARS! They are at least four or five orders of magnitude better. But they know that no one would believe it.

Welcome CSM. We look fwd to more from you.

But, alas, it will take some strong evidence to sway me from thinking Barr is bay far the very worst of the individuals nominated for president. He is a truly awfulperson,

Anyway, guys, you are conflating a dozen different ways to view libertarianism. Sure, most of the present libbies are lapel-grabbing, goggle-eyed, borderline-obsessive freaks. So?

Sure half of them follow a Randroid creed under which ALL of them would swiftly be enslaved or killed by new feudal lords, so?

Sure, they're "party" has betrayed America by failing to offer an alternative that anybody sane could possibly go for, with incremental solutions to problems, so that the market gradually weans people off of government services; knowing that such pragmatic incrementalism would require hard work and negotiation, naturally, they choose simplistic dogmatism and indignation-junkyism, so?

I see all of those as tragedies that have prevented what is, at-root, a perfectly legitimate worldview from playing a useful role in politics in American life. The underlying notions ARE deeply American -- encouraging more, rather than less, self-reliance, emphasizing joyful competition, and encouraging individual or self-organized group charity... these are totally legitimate themes. And yes, the LP isn't the only bunch to betray those themes. Nearly all of the "libertarian republicans" have, as well.

I see only one value to the so-called "left-right axis" and that is to distinguish between two tool sets that can be brought to bear upon any perceived problem. Here's one place where I discuss this:

And my famout GAR pieces:

Left-handed solutions involve deliberated decisions by the state etc. They include Pyramids, mass education, Universities, war, mass pensions and state oppression... a mixed bag. Right-handed solutions entail individuals and self-organizing groups and include markets, cathedrals, slavery, local oppression, and nearly all good art.

Ayn Rand may not tell me to lop off my left arm! Any more than Marx may order me to amputate my right! Gradually we are learning what these things are good for! And this is not time for simplism. A pragmatic and good-natured and willing-to-negotiate party of a libertarian right-handed perspective would be a welcome counterweight to those who see every problem requiring state solutions! But the party I am describing does not exist. Moreover, most modern "libertarians dogmatically refuse to consider the possibility that the Problems that are currently addressed by the state need solutions! Or that it is up to the market to prove it can compete with the state to solve them.

Instead, they (stupidly) tell citizens: "Problems? What problems? Just toss away the state solutions and WE PROMISE the market will solve them... afterwards."

Dogmatic dingbats. But that doesn't mean there isn't a core wisdom, down there. Someday, somebody more articulate than me, will explain it well enough for it to become the real movement it ought to be.

Dang, if you missed Tina Fey as Palin:

David Brin said...


Tacitus! You are so cool.

David Brin said...

re potential october surprise events and asking people for their precognitive dreams!

Carl M. said...

Thanks for the welcome, but I've been here before, posting under my first name. Just recently got a blogger account. We have corresponded by email back when I was running a certain caucus...

I was not saying Barr is a great candidate; he is not. I was saying that he had a resume for being president: congresscritter, prosecutor, CIA agent, and world traveller. With the exception of Ron Paul in 1988, the LP has run jokes for president. Barr is the candidate least likely to go to war with Iran, IMO. He appears to have recanted on civil liberties issues, but maybe he's just been infiltrating for the last few years. He's very iffy, but his opponents make him look good. But they also make my dog look pretty good, so that isn't saying much...

The party which you hint at needs to be created. I had some hope of turning the LP into that party, but with the aftermath of the 2006 convention, I decided to turn over the caucus to others. Now, the LP oscillates between being Republicans on pot and PETA for anarchy.

For now, I shall focus on education: where libertarian theory contradicts natural rights on the one hand, and where Keynesian economics subsidizes the already rich on the other. Maybe throw in requirements vs. design for environmental regulation as well.


Speaking of Ayn Rand, Joe Biden fared quite well when subjected to Objectivist interviewer Jan Helfeld ( Unlike certain others who blew up, or stole the video, Biden came back for more. Count him as an intellectual.

David Brin said...

Let us know the link!

Killing Moon said...

Please view this one.

Maybe even reply.

No obligation.

David Brin said...

Killing Moon, please verify what it's about and who you are, so we don't just klick an un-provenanced link?

Tony Fisk said...

I must say, our northern friend seems to think that standing on a quaking mass of melting permafrost gives her plenty of mud to sling.

So, Obama's 'palling around' with terrorists, is he?

By the same logic could McCain not be said to be 'palin around' with someone with links to a secessionist movement, and a church with 'interesting' philosophical views?

(slung mud = lost ground)

Anonymous said...

No worries, Dr. Brin -- I've taken the plunge so ya'll didn't have to. (In a Google Chrome isolated tab, so it couldn't do harm.) The link 'tis safe; text summary follows --

OBAMA = TGV bullet-train. [The wave of the future, perhaps?]
BIDEN = Amtrak. [A bit dog-eared at the edges, but serviceable?]
MCCAIN = Steam engine. [The workhorse of its day, now obsolete?]
PALIN = Thomas The Tank Engine. [No comment.]

Anonymous said...

Seems like we need a stronger engagement with Mexico. I don't know what it is exactly. I don't see any reason that our CLOSEST NEIGHBOR can't get an expanded supply of work permits and green cards.

That would be Canada, eh? Longer border, more trade…

Acacia H. said...

RE: Zorgon's rant about the media

Truth is a three-edged sword. The truth about the media being liberally-biased or conservatively-biased depends on who is doing the watching. The truth is far more complex.

The media has biases both ways. There have been media outlets that have been reporting the liberal-perception of the truth since Reagan's times. There are media outlets that are conservatively-biased and favor the Republicans.

The main problem is that the media outlets that have been reporting the corruption are fairly small. However, with the growth of the internet and the news media finally embracing it, news stories reporting on these corrupt practices are coming out now.

Basically, information technology has evolved to the point where the truth can be reveled in, and where vivid lies can no longer hide. And the mainstream media is realizing this... and shifting its focus away from the stories that its owners believe people want to read to the stories that have been proven to be of interest.

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

Tony Fisk said...

Oh dearie me.

Seven Alaska state employees have reversed course and agreed to testify in an abuse-of-power investigation into Republican US vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin.


This woman is, indeed, dynamite! (and things are crystallising)

David Brin said...

The current economic crisis demands that we understand John McCain's attitudes about economic oversight and corporate influence in federal regulation. Nothing illustrates the danger of his approach more clearly than his central role in the savings and loan scandal of the late '80s and early '90s.

This is Obama's retaliation for the veer of McPalin from 60% mudslinging to 100%. Note that BHO waited that long...

Call it a swiftboating based on facts, for a change.

Anonymous said...

Everything Obama knows about the political game, he learned from Ali.

This is round six of the Ali-Foreman fight.

He's roped the dope long enough.

Unknown said...


"Because it *might* impact financial markets, even blatant instances of insider trading, bank fraud and securities fraud will NOT be followed up on by Federal Prosecutors."

But wait -- it gets even better!

...Wall Street analysts believe the addition of so many terms to the bill might deter potential participants.

One of the least attractive elements is a section designed to curb executive pay at banks that participate in the bail-out package. These include limiting stock-related pay and banning 'golden parachutes' for executives.

'I think this hodge-podge of regulations and rules will be enough to put many [chief executives] off participating,' Caldwell said.


Magnificent. The parasites are so hungry for blood that they refuse to relent even when the host is at the point of death...

Meanwhile, in Iceland, a glimpse of America's future?

Devastating hits on Palin:
Link 1.

Link 2.

Link 3.

Link 4.

Tagline: Palin is the aroma that rises from the corpse of American conservatism. And they find it invigorating.

But the coup de grace gets administered by former conservative John Cole:

What planet are you all on? The wingnuts are in love. They see a new marketing opportunity, and that is what they need. Their only real principle is cutting taxes, so marketing is really all they have anymore. There is a reason McCain is not running on the issues- Republicans get killed on them. Thus, the never-ending authenticity/folks you wanna have a beer with/gosh darn it idiocy. If McCain/Palin loses, there is no way she is over unless she is thrown out of office in Alaska, and even then it might not matter. Even then, the Republicans will spend a couple million, rehabilitate her, and think nothing of propping her up for a 2012 run. For christ sakes- Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay are on my tv almost every night and Ted Stevens is running for another term. The only conservatives with actual ideas are folks like Daniel Larison, and they have been kicked out of the tribe.

Again, these guys don’t ever apologize or take responsibility for anything. A multi-trillion dollar economic meltdown- Barney Frank’s fault, doncha know- he insisted those CRA loans go to black people. Eight years of failed leadership under Bush- just shows we were not conservative enough! Plus, the liberal media had it in for us. Disaster in Iraq- not our fault. We were winning, but the Defeatocrats in Congress just refused to admit it. McCain losing in a landslide in 2008- no indictment of Republicans, they just ran a bad campaign and the media was in the tank. Blown budget and doubling of the national debt- not our fault, those damned moderates and the Democrats did it.

Palin won’t be done if they lose. Republicans never are done. They never admit fault. They never accept blame. They just move the goalposts, figure out a few new code words to work people into a froth, and get their hate on. Palin lying, being an incompetent boob, being incurious, being little more than a bot programmed to spew out talking points- that is what they want. She can deliver the lines, has no problem with lying, and gives Rich Lowry a boner. She is the full package. The only thing that matters is pissing liberals off and obtaining power. Period. That is just how they fucking roll.

You want Palin done after this, you need to work your ass off helping her primary challengers. Never let up. Never give in. Call her a liar every day, because she is.

She will not be gone, nor will any of the Republican farm team, until you hunt them down, drive stake through their hearts, and then bury them in a tomb of garlic.


And on our southern border, Mexico continues its disintegration into a failed state -- right on our doorstep.

Drug Violence Leaves At Least 49 Dead In Tijuana

And now...some comic relief:

Anonymous said...

In honor of the Russian Navy squadron sailing to Venezuela, lets have a "Comrads of the Caribean" post. I am well rested, and the gun-crews have been issued a tot of rum. But before coming about for a broadside lets clear the decks...

Z. I do appreciate your rhetorical style when you write your own stuff. Linkathons don't engage me that much. But watch it when using phrases like hallucinogenic and suggesting drug use. In my line of work I deal with the mad and the addicted on a regular basis. They are far from comic figures.

I very much hope that nobody here imagines that I am trying to "convert" you to conservative viewpoints. Long held beliefs are not subject to a Damascene Road conversion (or for you younger pups, a Homeresque "D'OH! I'm gonna put out a McCain lawn sign").

I am in part just trying to expose you to an alternative viewpoint. Without it you get stale here. Maybe a few notions will settle, prion-like, into your conciousness and alter your thinking. Its a two way street in that regard.

My viewpoint is different from some of yours. I tossed out a few biographic crumbs to give you a flavor of how different. We all have influences, but I have no delusions. Illusions sure, we need 'em to get along. Any of you married guys wanna go for brutal honesty when spouse asks "Does this outfit make me look fat?"

Stepping back from that ghastly precipice...

Do I trust the Mainstream (or as some say, Legacy) media? No. Should you? Your choice I guess. Does the general public? No, and nobody has really commented on the Rasmussen data I quoted early on. If the public does not trust them have they not already lost their main asset?

Many examples are quoted of media ignoring GOP sins. Granted. The media has blown their credibilty to smithereens, and trying to forensically determine the relative contributions of bias, fear of revenue loss and plain stupidity is like trying to figure out the exact fuel/air mixture when some idiot smoking in the paint locker blew up the ship.

I do not trust them to watch over a One Party State.

I think the moment of explosion was the Dan Rather National Guard story in 2004. I am running long, so google it up. The NYT headline "Fake but Accurate" is a fitting RIP for the traditional media.

But back to our Russian friends on the high seas. This is their biggest naval exercise since the Kursk went down. Glad to see you got three ships running. We look forward to your, little publicized, offer to help anti piracy patrol off Somalia.

Give us a call when you need a tow.



ps, I wish Fox would go away entirely. They have done more harm to real conservative ideals than anyone, arguably excepting GW Bush.

Rob Perkins said...

Mormons... seem to keep logic and science safely separated in their brain from the other part that makes decisions.

If I haven't refuted that kind of nasty sweeping generalization by my own words here... well, no matter; people will believe what they want about others, I suppose.

David Brin said...

Rob, you are right to be offended. But let's all chill here. Let me say something nice. You guys aren't obsessed with that blatant schizophrenic screed, the Book of Reveleations. Puts you all up a big notch! ;-)

Here's an item I've cribbed from. Guess what? Obama has been endorsed by... the New Yorker ! STill, some strong points.

Even before taking into account whatever fantastically expensive plan eventually emerges to help rescue the financial system from Wall Street’s long-running pyramid schemes, the economic and fiscal picture is bleak. During the Bush Administration, the national debt, now approaching ten trillion dollars, has nearly doubled. Next year’s federal budget is projected to run a half-trillion-dollar deficit, a precipitous fall from the seven-hundred-billion-dollar surplus that was projected when Bill Clinton left office. Private-sector job creation has been a sixth of what it was under President Clinton. Five million people have fallen into poverty. The number of Americans without health insurance has grown by seven million, while average premiums have nearly doubled. Meanwhile, the principal domestic achievement of the Bush Administration has been to shift the relative burden of taxation from the rich to the rest. For the top one per cent of us, the Bush tax cuts are worth, on average, about a thousand dollars a week; for the bottom fifth, about a dollar and a half. The unfairness will only increase if the painful, yet necessary, effort to rescue the credit markets ends up preventing the rescue of our health-care system, our environment, and our physical, educational, and industrial infrastructure.

...The indirect costs, both of the war in particular and of the Administration’s unilateralist approach to foreign policy in general, have also been immense. The torture of prisoners, authorized at the highest level, has been an ethical and a public-diplomacy catastrophe. At a moment when the global environment, the global economy, and global stability all demand a transition to new sources of energy, the United States has been a global retrograde, wasteful in its consumption and heedless in its policy. Strategically and morally, the Bush Administration has squandered the American capacity to counter the example and the swagger of its rivals. China, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other illiberal states have concluded, each in its own way, that democratic principles and human rights need not be components of a stable, prosperous future. At recent meetings of the United Nations, emboldened despots like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran came to town sneering at our predicament and hailing the “end of the American era.”

...The election of 2008 is the first in more than half a century in which no incumbent President or Vice-President is on the ballot. There is, however, an incumbent party, and that party has been lucky enough to find itself, apparently against the wishes of its “base,” with a nominee who evidently disliked George W. Bush before it became fashionable to do so. In South Carolina in 2000, Bush crushed John McCain with a sub-rosa primary campaign of such viciousness that McCain lashed out memorably against Bush’s Christian-right allies. So profound was McCain’s anger that in 2004 he flirted with the possibility of joining the Democratic ticket under John Kerry. Bush, who took office as a “compassionate conservative,” governed immediately as a rightist ideologue. During that first term, McCain bolstered his reputation, sometimes deserved, as a “maverick” willing to work with Democrats on such issues as normalizing relations with Vietnam, campaign-finance reform, and immigration reform. He co-sponsored, with John Edwards and Edward Kennedy, a patients’ bill of rights. In 2001 and 2003, he voted against the Bush tax cuts. With John Kerry, he co-sponsored a bill raising auto-fuel efficiency standards and, with Joseph Lieberman, a cap-and-trade regime on carbon emissions. He was one of a minority of Republicans opposed to unlimited drilling for oil and gas off America’s shores.

..Since the 2004 election, however, McCain has moved remorselessly rightward in his quest for the Republican nomination. He paid obeisance to Jerry Falwell and preachers of his ilk. He abandoned immigration reform, eventually coming out against his own bill. Most shocking, McCain, who had repeatedly denounced torture under all circumstances, voted in February against a ban on the very techniques of “enhanced interrogation” that he himself once endured in Vietnam—as long as the torturers were civilians employed by the C.I.A.

On energy and global warming, Obama offers a set of forceful proposals. He supports a cap-and-trade program to reduce America’s carbon emissions by eighty per cent by 2050—an enormously ambitious goal, but one that many climate scientists say must be met if atmospheric carbon dioxide is to be kept below disastrous levels. Large emitters, like utilities, would acquire carbon allowances, and those which emit less carbon dioxide than their allotment could sell the resulting credits to those which emit more; over time, the available allowances would decline. Significantly, Obama wants to auction off the allowances; this would provide fifteen billion dollars a year for developing alternative-energy sources and creating job-training programs in green technologies. He also wants to raise federal fuel-economy standards and to require that ten per cent of America’s electricity be generated from renewable sources by 2012. Taken together, his proposals represent the most coherent and far-sighted strategy ever offered by a Presidential candidate for reducing the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels.

There was once reason to hope that McCain and Obama would have a sensible debate about energy and climate policy. McCain was one of the first Republicans in the Senate to support federal limits on carbon dioxide, and he has touted his own support for a less ambitious cap-and-trade program as evidence of his independence from the White House. But, as polls showed Americans growing jittery about gasoline prices, McCain apparently found it expedient in this area, too, to shift course. He took a dubious idea—lifting the federal moratorium on offshore oil drilling—and placed it at the very center of his campaign. Opening up America’s coastal waters to drilling would have no impact on gasoline prices in the short term, and, even over the long term, the effect, according to a recent analysis by the Department of Energy, would be “insignificant.” Such inconvenient facts, however, are waved away by a campaign that finally found its voice with the slogan “Drill, baby, drill!”

Rob Perkins said...

Rob, you are right to be offended. But let's all chill here. Let me say something nice. You guys aren't obsessed with that blatant schizophrenic screed, the Book of Reveleations. Puts you all up a big notch! ;-)

We believe in the Book of Revelations, we just don't claim to understand it Tim LaHaye style, or to want any part at all in the human suffering it predicts before the return of Christ.

But to be totally fair, Dave Rickey pointed out a few of the sicknesses extant in places where Mormons are in the majority, and not at all behaving collectively the way they've been taught in church.

But to notice that facet without noticing that Utah's political decisions have been far more pragmatic (three legged stool taxation policy, creative application of right- and left-handed pragmatisms, etc) than Utah's national-scope decisions would suggest.

Put simply, Clinton betrayed a loyal Democrat from Provo, Utah, of all places, when he ram-rodded the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument without consulting local sensibility. Bill Orton deserved a fourth term, and Clinton got Chris Cannon, the Impeachment Manager, instead, for his trouble.

Yeah, they'll go McCain this time, five whole electors. But cultural diffusion from California and Oregon, along with some other factors, are working to make the state more purple than red. Salt Lake City's last three mayors have all been Democrats.

Fake_William_Shatner said...

rob said...
Mormons... seem to keep logic and science safely separated in their brain from the other part that makes decisions.

If I haven't refuted that kind of nasty sweeping generalization by my own words here... well, no matter; people will believe what they want about others, I suppose.

Rob -- I'm not talking about EVERY Mormon. I have a good lady friend of mine who is Mormon and I used to talk to every day. I would try and tell her about the less published aspects of the Republican party. She could see what I was talking about. And, we'd go round Robin on a number of issues.

She helps out at a Mormon Sunday school at scandalizes her family by loving rock music. A nice lady who I think is in her 50's. Very open minded.

The problem is, she is still going to vote Republican, and all her decisions will support the same Conservative ideals that the Mormons do. She can think about is what is wrong -- and be unable to influence her choices.

>> Mormons aren't bad -- or worse than any other religion. I've just kind of gotten pissed at the whole ball of wax, because these religious folks are going to vote for a phony like Palin, because she flaunts her ignorance and religiousity. These closeted Republicans sure to enjoy making a show of morality and then ripping everyone off.

I'm so pissed, that religious groups keep making themselves the homes to charlatans and con artists. When are ANY of these groups going to openly denounce Pat Robertson and the 700 Club? Because you know that no non-denominational group could do such a thing and survive. This group has been caught shipping mining equipment to Africa rather than food aide. Pat has gold mines there, you know...

Don't take it personally. But I also find it hard to hold very tight to any of these religions. They really do try and eliminate decision making skills in people. Being Smart is a big leap away from being wise -- they don't necessarily go together. Faith is a beautiful thing -- but here are many types. Organized religion, seems to push the idea that holding to your faith against evidence, is the greatest virtue.

>> You are probably the exception to the rule. But the Mormon church is heavily backing Republican leaders as well.

Fake_William_Shatner said...

Folks, notice the Stock Market?

Every time we bail it out -- it goes down a chunk. Could that be that the smart money couldn't find another sucker, so it had to get the government to replace their investments?

I've had October 7th marked on my calendar for some time now. Try to be away from major population centers. Get ready for a little market chaos or government shenanigans.

Fake_William_Shatner said...

I kind of had a thought of what creates extremism in blogs.

This blog may be the exception, because everyone seems to shun my comments -- perhaps because I may resemble the extremophile looking for attention. But then, who isn't guilty of that as they try to be noticed above the clamor?

But people rarely recognize the thoughtful, reasoned argument. They don't say much about your comment until you step on their toes. Zorgon can make a lot of brilliant comments -- like many, but it's only the extreme, wacky, or angry comments that get noticed.

The Internet, having moved on from its thumb-sucking, pre-cognizant days of "look, I have a web page -- change my diapers!" Is now perhaps in 3rd grade. Full of attention-seeking and negative reinforcement.

Maybe I have a lot of good comments, and the ONLY thing referenced is "the ability to separate reason from action." It is controversial, but I don't see much evidence to the contrary. A sweeping generalization? Sure. But do I have 4 hours to come up with a dissertation? No. Maybe we have to slowly build our points -- or have a website to link to things like "Ostriches." If there were a bit of feedback like; More of this, less of that -- it would be great. I try to respond directly to a lot of people here but it seems either I am not worthy of comment or everyone is busy. However, it appears that people notice only the most inane sweeping generalization or a punctuation error. If we want the Internet to grow up -- we should help moderate behavior in a positive way.

Otherwise, everyone here is brilliant and I have a lot to learn from all of you. I have been cursed with being a big-brained fish in a small pond - only to be aware that there are whales in the ocean. It is a socialization issue that I am amongst people who can change their minds given the right argument -- that is kind of a new thing and hopefully we can all respect that.

Anonymous said...

Never assume that response or lack of response reflects whether or not people have read and considered your comments.

That's not how the internets work ;)

Cliff said...

Zorgon said, at the top of the thread:
while in the border Southwest, [low K-12 test scores are] due to massive numbers of hispanic children with poor English-language skills and rampant poverty.

I have two friends (here in Phoenix) who recently began teaching - one in kindergarten, one in second grade. They have endless horror stories about the requirements the state and NCLB place on them, in madly galloping headlong attempts to teach Hispanic kids English.
Just thought I'd corroborate Zorgon's post with some anecdotal evidence.

Cliff said...

Also, that firedoglake link about how our economy will run into endless gray recession, a la Japan, was interesting and worrying.

I think there are too many different factors to allow a full repetition, though. We have two foreign wars going and possibly more on the way; Japan had none.

I think our population in general is more restless than Japan's - there's a huge difference in culture. As Brin has pointed out, the West has developed an inherent distrust of authority, which I don't see at all in Japan.

I'd hope that these, plus our geography, would keep us too disrupted to slump into stasis like Japan.

Cliff said...

I try to respond directly to a lot of people here but it seems either I am not worthy of comment or everyone is busy.

william_shatner, I know how you feel.
I definitely feel like the stupidest guy in the room with this crowd.
I wouldn't post but there's usually at least half a dozen topics in a given thread that are intriguing, so I do my best to participate. Sometimes I get some traction, sometimes I don't.

Acacia H. said...

Pshah. I never pause to let my lack of knowledge and stupidity shine through with my posts. ^^ Never let fear of ignorance keep you from speaking up. Sometimes the wisest of comments come from those who believe they don't know what's going on... and because of that innocence end up seeing through the dust and mirrors to the heart of what's wrong.

Or to put it another way, there are no wrong opinions, only wrong facts.

Rob H.

Tony Fisk said...

@tacitus2: a two way street is how I see it, otherwise 'cordial discussion' degenerates into a slanging match.

Cliff, William, you are victims of 'passive listening'. Don't feel too despondent. What you write may be read, but just not commented on. Not necessarily because it's worthless, but because there's nothing much to add. (In normal conversation, this is why it's polite to provide active feedback like nods and say 'umm' and 'uh-huh'. )

Rob Perkins said...

@Shatner -- She's probably voting McCain because of the power he'll have to appoint life tenure judges. For her, the largest fear surrounds social issues, that Obama won't press for a sane abortion policy or will seek to overturn the federal DOMA.

The Church itself has been concerned for years about the impression you have. See

Each election cycle it has each congregation read a letter forbidding members from using Church resources for partisan politics, and has never endorsed a candidate in my lifetime. That same letter insists that all Mormons should participate in voting, and choose candidates their conscience can tolerate.

Lots of members believe that Mormons can only be Republicans, but it is simply not true and it's been loudly denied by the Church itself.

Again, think: Harry Reid is a Democrat, a faithful Mormon, the Senate Majority Leader, and an Obama supporter. Nevada, more full of Mormons than Idaho, keeps voting him to the Senate.

Tony Fisk said...

... I agree with Rob's sentiments.

And now, in the spirit of the times, get ready to duck, because THE SKY IS FALLING!

(It's actually a pretty cool observation... if you're in Sudan)

David Brin said...

Cliff & William S... you are valued!

Remember, you are active posters. I wonder FAR more at the fraction who just lurk or read. Frankly, tho I am proud of the high quality here, I sometimes wonder if I am wasting my time that could be better used at other things.

My efforts at mirroring the more erudite of these posts - first ant Kos and then at Open Salon ...

...have not drawn much apparent attention to the ideas... some of which I think you guys will agree OUGHT to be given a chin-rubbing "Hmmm.." by people who could enact the suggestions. So don't think you guys are the only ones feeling neglected!

Rob Perkins said...

I vacillate between active posting and lurking myself, as circumstances permit.

But I almost never read Zorgon's missives. I like him fine but they're simply too long.

And what's this about the sky falling? (mumble... grumble... can't even pray to the *sky* and get attention... gargh... ;-) )

Hey, speaking of the falling sky, I once wrote an 8-pager on how similar ancient Mesopotamian and Indian nature-worship religious thinking was to Justinian's Christianity... anyone interested in that?

If so, I will post a *link* here, rather than transcribing the whole flippin' thing. <3 you all!

David Brin said... despite a conservative reputation, seems to be showing a relentless, steady drive upward by Bho. Even Georgia has slid from deep red to pink, making it worrisome to the GOP.

Anonymous said...

Barring martial law or a major terrorist attack, or MAYBE the killing of OBL, the race is over.

Obama only needs to pick up one of the seven actual battlegrounds. Any one will do.

McCain starts slipping hard in Virginia, so he sends in his brother, who says "Northern Virginia is Communist Country".

The race starts to tighten in he lies to Letterman and pisses him off to no end.

This could only get worse for him if he was to call coal-miners inbred idiots who deserve to lose their homes only a bit more than those stupid steelworkers.

I'm leaning more and more toward the opinion that the RNC set McCain up to take a dive so they can blame a Democrat for the economic fallout of the Bush Regimes policies.

Regardless, down-tickets matter and so do margins of victory. I'd hate to see the House decide this one.

While I'm disgusted with Obama and don't trust him as far as I can throw him, rhetoric matters. JFK wasn't everything he was cracked up to be...but the message changed how Americans viewed themselves.

JuhnDonn said...

I tune in and read every post, all day long. And I forward a lot of posts to friends and post links on my LJ and Tumbler blogs.

I'll admit to not posting a lot of original thought; I'm not that much of a deep thinker but more of a reader and re-director of information, pushing links and quotes to folks I think will find them interesting or relevant.

As for my background, I'm just a former military medic and now computer tech (working at a southwest national lab), the 21st C equivalent of an auto-mechanic. Hanging out here feels similar to hanging around Doc in Sweet Thursday. And yeah, reading through all these posts, I really don't feel I have a lot to offer, commentary-wise.

Acacia H. said...

And what about Obama disgusts you? Why don't you trust him? As far as politicians go, he's a hell of a lot purer than 90% of his peers. And I suspect that, seeing that he's wanted to be President since he was a child, he's deliberately steered clear of ethical mishaps for the most part so that they couldn't be used against him.

Pretty much, the only things against Obama seem to be associations. His Reverend. Some guy he worked with. His wife (in that she's not a quiet wilting lily, but has a mind and a tendency to speak what she thinks).

If you want to paint someone by association... then every single Senator, Representative, Governor, and Diplomat are not worthy to hold their posts... just because of the corruption allegations against others in Congress and the like.

So. What specifically do you dislike about Obama and why do you distrust him so much? Let's hear specifics. (Because I also find I have reservations about him. But when I look at those reservations, I realize that they're because he's black, and I realize that I'm better than that... and work to overcome those prejudices.)

Rob H.

Jumper said...

I fear you, William Shatner, because of your name.;)

Carl M. said...

David: If you are wanting places to mirror some of your ideas, consider The Free Liberal ( -- a site dedicated to filling the gap between classical liberal/libertarian and modern liberal thought. It's a good place to reach those libertarians who might be receptive to some of your ideas.

David Smelser said...

Hi, I'm a long time lurker and rarely post (don't have much to contribute), but I do read every comment.

But since you are encouraging comment from the lurkers, I have a question/comment:

I don't get Dr. Brin's idea to put Warren Buffet in charge of managing the bailout. This seems to further the meme that "if we only had the right person in charge" and I had gotten the impression that Dr. Brin considers that meme is wrong headed. Am I missing something?

It seems what we are facing is a failure in markets because the current 'market' isn't transparent. No one can make rational decisions because you can't trust anyone's balance sheet. If you want to know if someone is solvent, you might as well flip a coin. Why isn't Dr. Brin suggesting more ways to add transparency to the 'market'?

-David S, in San Diego county

Anonymous said...

Wish me luck:

I'm about to put about $31,000 into what I hope are unfairly maligned stocks.

Mature dividend paying companies that will hopefully recover next year.

Cliff said...

Thanks for the input, everyone.
I don't get too bent out of shape if my posts don't make a splash.

The discussions move so quickly and cover so many topics here that it's unreasonable to expect every contribution to have a visible effect.
Add in the fact that the commenters here engage in some serious thinking and the whole "Internet anonymity" thing and I become pleasantly surprised when I do manage to get a conversation going.

And Rob - I wouldn't mind taking a look at that paper, if you post the link.

Rob Perkins said...

Oh, you asked for it. :-)

David Brin said...

Gilmoure, we value you! Jester, yes, I hope BHO proves more blessing than mixed, the way JFK was. But really, Johnson turned JFK's rhetoric into palpable change. (Granted, part of the change was to drive dixie into the GOP. But it was worth it.)

I doubt, at this point, anyone will blame the dems for this economic mess. The collapse happened on the goppers' watch, without any ambiguity. Even if declines continue after mid-January, things will be poised for the dems to firmly claim that economic trends are almost ALWAYS better under their watch.

CSM: as you know, I spent a lot of (largely wasted) time trying to argue with libertarian monomania and show LP folks that there is a wider and far more valid way to interpret their principles. (see:
and )

I still think there's an opportunity, there, for something wonderful... maybe when the present generation of indignation-junkies passes. Right now, though, given that they can't even get their poll numbers above 1.5% in THIS election (!) I have to say that it's just a waste of time. They aren't interested in real history, real politics, real civilization... or reality at all.

David S! Glad to hear from you and knowing guys like you are lurking is a tonic. I do NOT believe that simply implementing things well makes things right. But the devil is in the details, and if the details are being run by a guy who:
1- is proved to be right a whole lot
2- understands all this stuff better than anybody
3- warned against the calamity and demanded better transparency
4- hates the SOBs who see this bailout as a way to bail out their pals
5- might even buy low so that we can later sell high...

...well, that sounds like the best deal we can hope for, out of this mess.

WOW Stefan... you got balls. And that is precisely how fortunes are made. Be smart enough to create liquidity during times of panic and illiquidity... then jump in and buy value exactly when everybody else is bailing. Of course the big problem is guessing when we're near bottom. Others hope to guess that, too. Is this mere;y a 1987-level panic? Or a truly historic disaster?

I've been smart and got mostly out many months ago... still, my remaining Euro mutual fund looks really nasty right now. Argh...

Rob Perkins said...

I doubt, at this point, anyone will blame the dems for this economic mess. The collapse happened on the goppers' watch, without any ambiguity. Even if declines continue after mid-January, things will be poised for the dems to firmly claim that economic trends are almost ALWAYS better under their watch.


It's already happening. You see, it's the Dems' fault, because Jimmy Carter signed a law, and because when BHO was 8 years old, one of the people he encountered and had to work with later on plotted to blow up the Capitol. He's also responsible for chapters of ACORN which committed voter registration fraud, even though BHO's ACORN stewardship was not named in the fraud.

Half a globe and a whole lifetime are not good enough for those people. Actually not being indicted is also not good enough. If Carter did it, Obama will do it too. And by the way, the GOP only supported the good parts of the housing bubble in that 2004 party platform, not the rampant evil of dishonest mortgage lenders.

I give up.

David, I'm afraid you can't count on me any longer for Ostrich grubbing. They're just too unpleasant to talk to.

(Stafan, you have more pocket money than the full contents of my depleted 401k. Buy me an airplane, please. ;-) And good luck with those stock picks!)

Anonymous said...

I figure I'm going to be working until I'm 67 no matter what.

What I plan / might invest week is designated risky investment money. A real gamble. Ironically, some of it came from selling off gambling (casino, lottery) stocks. These did really well during the Bush years!

I'm not touching 401(k)s or the emergency money I put aside during the juicy dot-com boom years.

Unknown said...

The most common reservation I see about Obama, that isn't insane or ignorant IMHO, is his pledges to Israel (e.g in his speech to AIPAC), specifically the extent to which he would allow the US to become involved in their next big war (e.g. with Iran, with whom Israel seems rather trigger happy at the moment).


I doubt, at this point, anyone will blame the dems for this economic mess.

Oh, really? Did you watch Saturday Night Live past the "palin debate"? It was pretty clear they were trying to lampoon Democrats who were blaming Republicans. (Though apparently NBC has decided they are too embarrassed to keep the sketch on their web site)

David Brin said...

So far, McPalin have been first off the gate in waving the "I love Israel!" flag, in both of the last debates.

If he's totally smart, Obama will mention Israel FIRST THING, even in mild terms, so that MCC will seem to be playing catch up when he does his thump.

But seriously, McC is on record having a hair trigger re Israel, which Israel does not need. It needs solid and committed, but very rational backing. The realists are making a play over there. They need America's support to seem to be behind THEM, not the Shas.

David Brin said...

This is from

"My government is my worst enemy. I'm going to fight them with any means at hand."

Was this former revolutionary terrorist Bill Ayers back in his old Weather Underground days?
Imagine what Sarah Palin is going to do with this incendiary quote as she tears into Barack Obama this week.

Only one problem. The quote is from Joe Vogler, the raging anti-American who founded the Alaska Independence Party. Inconveniently for Palin, that's the very same secessionist party that her husband, Todd, belonged to for seven years and that she sent a shout-out to as Alaska governor earlier this year. ("Keep up the good work," Palin told AIP members. "And God bless you.")

Vogler's greatest moment of glory was to be his 1993 appearance before the United Nations to denounce United States "tyranny" before the entire world and to demand Alaska's freedom. The Alaska secessionist had persuaded the government of Iran to sponsor his anti-American harangue. That's right ... Iran. The Islamic dictatorship. The taker of American hostages. The rogue nation that McCain and Palin have excoriated Obama for suggesting we diplomatically engage. That Iran. AIP leaders allege that Vogler, who was murdered that year by a fellow secessionist, was taken out by powerful forces in the U.S. before he could reach his U.N. platform.

The Republican ticket is working hard this week to make Barack Obama's tenuous connection to graying, '60s radical and now college professor Bill Ayers a major campaign issue. But the Palins' connection to anti-American extremism is much more central to their political biographies.

Imagine the uproar if Michelle Obama was revealed to have joined a black nationalist party whose founder preached armed secession from the United States and who enlisted the government of Iran in his cause? The Obama campaign would probably not have survived such an explosive revelation. Particularly if Barack Obama himself was videotaped giving the anti-American secessionists his wholehearted support just months ago.

And yes, this is ostrich material.

And note this! Even if only 5% of your ostriches have come awake and switched sides. There are still reasons to keep doing this.

1- to point to the libertarians
2- to savage their morale and maybe they'll stay home, especially in Blue states
3- to ensure they remember that their side was pummeled for good reason
4- for the sheer joy of pounding (some of) them. Not grandma! Not that otherwise-nice but supremely obstinate office-mate. But any who are awful and have proved it.

Anonymous said...

Since this blog is future oriented...

Suppose the Repubs do lose big, and subsequently "re-form"? What do you see the resulting party or parties looking like?

My projection:

"The New Republic Party" (aka "The Angry Party" will:

- Dump "the greedy rich who caused this economic mess" - blaming the bad economy and the rich for losing the Republican party the '08 elections. This will cut them lose from any remaining ties to real conservativism.

- Slam over completely to "marginalized populism" - they can't get the center, so they'll surround it from all sides - i.e. from many angry fringes. The longer they stay out of power, the angrier and more loyal their new coalition will get.

- Focus on appealing to the aging and elderly, who've seen their retirement funds evaporate. They'll be all for taxing the greedy corporations and rich, to provide economic security for retirees. Yeah, sounds odd, but they'll out-socialize the Democrats - since they won't be in power, they're free to do this.

- Make a play for low income black voters - pitting them against "illegal immigrants who steal your jobs", proposing "job-loss compensation" (i.e. a reverse income tax dole modeled on 2008 stimulus checks).

- Flip over to isolationism - "Iraq was the right thing to do, but the world didn't appreciate our efforts on their behalf". Punish the world by cutting ourselves off. Withdraw from NATO (abandoning an un-grateful Europe).

- Maybe abandon Israel - position it as another step towards the Rapture for their fringe Christians, and lump all Jews in with the greedy rich for the rest of their coalition? Or continue to support them as "almost a part of America"? Tough to call - betray or exploit?

- Talk about global cooling for a while longer (the solar minimum *may* lend them credence for a few years). When Florida and other low-lands start repeatedly flooding, they'll jump on the bandwagon, blame GW on China's growing economy, and absorb "angry, marginalized greens" and "angry GW-impoverished", which will fit their party perfectly by then. (China will eventually become their biggest boogeyman among many foreign devils.)

- They'll talk about strengthening Homeland Security with greater powers, to protect us from "them". If China gets more middle-eastern oil control after we leave Iraq, it'll be easy to link China to terrorists.

- Favor economic and physical border border barriers to "Preserve American Jobs". Subsidies for agri-bio-fuel until algae or something else much more efficient replaces corn - then they'll play on small farmers' anger over losing their farms as crop prices drop while expenses stay high.

- Advocate "Clean American Coal" and "Drill-baby-drill" and "'Nukyular' power" for a bit longer, until they can benefit by going "angry green American". Then they'll even jump on wind and solar, since those are "American" and help create "American jobs". Probably they'll advocate carbon sequestration so we can keep burning American coal and oil.

In short, they will NOT swing back toward the center, they'll swing further away and try to surround the center from the fringes, which they'll call America.

Unknown said...

"Both parties target voter registration, turnout."

Democrats have added more than 800,000 voters and Republicans have lost 300,000 in eight of the most tightly fought states in the presidential race: Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico and New Hampshire.

Why Swift Boating won't save the Repubs this time.

USA Today/Gallup poll shows such an overwhelming shift among young voters toward progressive attitudes that it heralds a large-scale shit in the electorate.

Ditto from Matthew Yglesias.

End of the road for Repub's Chicago School laissez faire economics.

Today, the public is reverberating with revulsion for Wall Street, a sentiment powerful enough to have caught backers of the financial bailout by surprise the first time it came to a vote in the House. The polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner annually surveys the public for its sentiments toward "big corporations." Over the previous five years, unfavorable ratings have outscored favorable ones by an average of eleven percentage points. In the current survey, unfavorable ratings scored 25 points higher. And this is before the financial crisis has even had much impact on most people.

The culture war turns deadly: man shot 3 times for wearing Obama T-shirt.

Concerning the Repubs' adoration of Palin: "Modern American Conservatives have sunk to the intellectual and emotional level of the guy who thinks the stripper really likes him."

As the McCain-Palin ticket continues to plummet in the polls, Palin's supporters scream obscenities at the press, cry "Kill him!" when Palin mentions Obama.

In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric’s questions for her “less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media.” At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, “Sit down, boy.”"

They're becoming a lynch mob.
This is dangerous and I'm a little afraid. Don't underestimate the ignorance of the wingnut supporters. First it is one person yelling "Kill him." Then another yelling that Obama is a terrorist. Where does that lead? Mobs of angry wingnuts looking for violence? (..)

The shocked look on McCain's face yesterday when that person in the crowd yelled he's "a terrorist" said it all. He recoiled as if he never expected to hear something like that. It was the look of a guy who just realized that he might have just gone to a dark place he didn't want to go to.

(..) I'm concerned about what comes next. I think that McCain and Palin may be knowingly or unknowingly becoming the leaders of a fear-mongering, racist, verbally-threatening mob and it's up to them to rein this thing back in before they become the leaders of something disturbing.


Yes, the GOP has returned to actual witch hunts. Not metaphorical ones. Real ones.

This "guilt by association" thing isn't working out too well for McCain -- John McCain linked to right-wing death squads in Nicaragua.

Obama continues to gain in states that voted for the drunk-driving C student last time.

Sixty seat house filibuster-proof majority for Demos may not be within reach for the first time since FDR's election in 1932.

Joe Klein, who formerly praised Republican lies and dirty tricks and deep throated all Republican sociopaths so hard the back of his head caved in, has now become shrill and subversive and apparently he hates America:

I'm of two minds about how to deal with the McCain campaign's further descent into ugliness. Their strategy is simple: you throw crap against a wall and then giggle as the media try to analyze the putresence in a way that conveys a sense of balance: "Well, it is bull-pucky, but the splatter pattern is interesting..." which, of course, only serves to get your perverse message out. I really don't want to be a part of that. But...every so often, we journalists have a duty to remind readers just how dingy the McCain campaign, and its right-wing acolytes in the media (I'm looking at you, Sean Hannity) have become--especially in their efforts to divert public attention from the economic crisis we're facing. And so inept at it: other campaigns have decided that their only shot is going negative, but usually they don't announce it, as several McCain aides have in recent days--there's no way we can win on the economy, so we're going to go sludge-diving.

Ueberconservative pundit William Kristol has the answer:

"Embrace the hatred...let it flow through your veins... Soon you will discover the POWER of the dark side of the Force!"

Meanwhile, over in the lunatic asylum formerly known as "The Republican Party," the kooks and cranks and flakes who call thesmelves "conservatives" shiver with terror at the prospect of Obama's election:

I am reading emails from readers and fellow bloggers who are worried that this might be our last free election if Obama is elected. It sounds a little extreme and over the top, but when I read their reasons for feeling that way it makes too much sense.

Yes, Obama will declare martial law and round up all the honkies if he gets elected. White folks, unite -- you're headed for Black Panther death camps if Obama wins this election!

But wait -- it gets better. What really gets this crazy far-right lady's panties in a knot, what makes her lick doorknobs and chew garden hoses in abject terror is the prospect that if Demos get into power they might reinstate the Fairness Doctrine.

If Dems get their way and are able to effectively shut down talk radio and other conservative outlets by reviving the Fairness Doctrine, our free speech will be stifled so the Obamagovernment will be able to do just about anything they want to control our elections and the public might not even know about it. Doubt it will happen? With Obama in the White House, the Dems controlling Cnogress and Obama's newly shaped Supreme Court seated, exactly what would there be to stop it?

What indeed?

This tells us what the Demos need to do the instant they're elected. The first order of business, the very first item on the liberals' legislative agenda, should be to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. Since this is the one thing that terrifies neocons above all, it's obviously Number One with a bullet on progressives' list of Things To Do once in power.

Meanwhile far-right kook Pam Atlas describes Obama's website as "a center of hate and terorrism."

Wingnuts run in circles in hysterical panic, calling the blue-state tsunami "terrifying":

John Hinderaker, that magisterial mind behind the "conservative" website Powerline, has figured our the underlying reason behind our current economic collapse - Obama is up in the polls.

...And yet, despite all the doom and gloom, I see tremendous signs of hpoe. Obama's candidacy has brought together white conservatives and black inner-city kids, the formerly right wing have made common cause with the formerly far left. Racism is being crushed and people both poor and rich are working together for the good of America in a way that hasn't been seen since the early 1960s, when white students went to the deep south to work in Martin Luther King's voter registration drives. In a strange way, this is a tremendously hopeful time for America, a true rebirth of decency and fairness across the political spectrum, as this moving story shows:

For my money, this is the single biggest unreported story in America right now. The press is covering this election as a horse race, but it isn't. This is an epochal sea-change in attitude. It's whole generations of people who've gotten sick of the hate, unutterably weary of rabid culture wars, disgusted with finger-pointing, and appalled by the politics of personal destruction.

Young and old, rich and poor are joining together to put adults back in charge of the government and roll their sleeves up to fix practical problems in the real world. Americans are walking away from ideology and getting back to pragmatism. We are descovering common decency as a people -- the signs are everywhere. The American Psychological Association just issued a resolution ordering its members not to participate in torture. Our country is coming to its senses.

This is big news. And, like all the biggest news like now, totally unreported.

David Brin said...

A fascinating scenario... and just manic-crazed enough to be plausible.

Except, where do they get their money? Rupert Murdoch will not subsidize the movement you just described, that attacks the rich and drives even more advertizers away from Fox.

What you are describing is a mad scattering, not a movement. A festival of Timothy McVeighs. ANd yes, it will happen.

But seriously, what will Murdoch do? Who will gather up the well-meaning but obstinately stupid ostriches?

Anonymous said...


I spent several thousand hours volunteering for Obama in the Primaries.

I traveled to two other States, I monitored Caucuses, I monitored polls, I knocked on literally thousands of doors. I made thousands of phone calls and registered over a thousand voters.

Slow the roll on that projection machine.

I compared him to JFK, not Stalin or Castro or Osama.

He's not a man of his word. Telecom immunity.

Not the mere fact that he voted for the bill, but that he voted for it after promising to filibuster...and then tried to stuff the whole issue down the memory hole without so much as an apology.

So, yeah, he's just a politician. Politicians mostly disgust me.

Still, the message that we're in this together, that peace is preferable to war, that we need to take care of each other, that Government has a duty to protect us from more than just scary Arab boogeyman....that's a message that needs to start comming out of the White House again.

Rob Perkins said...

Jester, I know. My last was a sigh of frustration, at a relative who ought to know better about fallacy and other types of bad reasoning.

He has a thousand good reasons in his head to support the Republican platform. Instead of sending me those reasons, he tells me Obama is the terrorist loving muslim sympathizing back room dealing cause of every economic pain inflicted on America since 1975.

That, put simply, is what makes me crazy about election season.

Unknown said...

The sane ostriches are moving into the Democratic party. Those who don't will simply drop out of politics and stop voting, sitting out each election until they find a candidate who suits their principles.

If what twinbeam suggests comes to pass, the Repub party will shatter like a sledgehammered lightbulb and atomise into fringe groups too small to have an effect on the electorate. They'll break up into the White Power party, the Theocrat party, the Libertarian Party, the Return To the Gold Standard party, the Lynch the Jewish Bankers party, ad nauseum. None of these splinter groups are large enough to tip the election against the new Demo majority in house and senate and West Wing.

In that case, the Repub party as we know will go away, like the Whigs. That leaves a power vacuum. It would probably be filled by dissatisfied true conservatives who've taken shelter in the Democratic party but will soon grow restless with progressives' government-based solutions. In that case, the Repubs vanish and the Demos fracture, calving into a new genuine conservative party.

Of course, if this worldwide economic crisis turns out to be the financial armageddon Nouriel Roubini says it is, then free market conservatism may vanish entirely from the political landscape as it did after 1932. If America becomes a land of homeless foreclosed families wandering from soup kitchen to tent city, it may be a generation before genuine Goldwater-style conservatism even re-emerges as politically viable.

Interestingly enough, progressives are already lamenting the absence of genuine conservatives (as opposed to the lunatic fringe of extreme radicals who who taken over the Republican Party and now defame real conservatism by usurping that title):

[Republicans] were the grown-ups. They were the realists. Sure they were a bummer, maaaaan, but on the way to La Revolution you need somebody to remember where you parked the car.

Dr. Brin boasted a while back about how America's pensions own 35 trillion dollars worth of the stock market as proof that American workers actually own the meanas of production. Well, that ownership just got a lot less glorious: pensions have now lost 2 trillion dollars of their value...and still counting.

The problem with claiming that workers who contribute to a pension fund "own" anything when the pension fund buys stocks and bonds is that stocks and bonds (unlike real physical assets like plant and equipment) have a nasty habit of periodically turning into worthless pieces of paper.

In fact, in global financial panics like this one, even the hardest of hard assets lose their value.

Real estate in Manhattan drops sharply in value.

Companies are now running out of money to make their payrolls in the U.S. and in Europe. The Fed is now buying up commercial paper in a frantic effort to stanch the financial hemorrhage:

“There is a growing recognition that not only has the credit crunch refused to be contained, it continues to spread,” said Ed Yardeni, an investment strategist. “It’s gone truly global.”

In the United States, consumers appear to be significantly curbing spending; last month, employers cut more jobs than any month in five years. The $6 decline in oil prices, which settled at $87.81 a barrel, stemmed in part from fears that demand will slacken in the face of a deteriorating economy.

The Fed plan is intended to renew the flow of credit on which the economy depends. Under its plan, the central bank would buy unsecured commercial paper, essentially short-term i.o.u.’s issued by banks, businesses and municipalities.

The market for that kind of debt has all but shut down in the last week, with many major corporations unable to borrow for longer than a day at a time, as banks become more fearful of giving out cash. The volume of such debt totaled about $1.6 trillion as of Oct. 1, down 11 percent from three weeks earlier.

These credit fears persisted over the weekend despite the $700 billion bailout package that Congress approved last week.


Illuminating perspective on the origins of this crisis from an economics professor who taught the drunk-driving C student now in the Oval Office.

Icelandic banks freeze customers' accounts - Iceland faces economic collapse.

TED spread widens to all-time historic high of 3.5%

The TED Spread is the difference in rates between the interest rate paid on three-month U.S. Treasury Bills (the "T"), widely considered the most secure of all investments, and the three-month Eurodollars (the "ED") contract, represented by the London Interbank Offering Rate, or LIBOR. (Eurodollars are, quite simply, U.S. dollar-denominated deposits held at banks outside of the United States.)

The spread is a measure of the credit risk that the market perceives in the general U.S. economy. It measures the rate of return the banks are requiring over the risk-free Treasury Bill rate to lend to other banks.

It shows the level of concern banks have that other banks are going to default. It is, if you will, one of the purest measures of the perception that banks are going to fail -- kind of a measure of our economic blood pressure. When the economy is strong, the TED spread is quite low. But when the economy weakens in systemic ways, it can skyrocket as banks choose to sock their assets away in Treasuries rather than take a chance that another bank will default. Call the TED spread an indicator of the risk of an economic heart attack.

Historically, the TED Spread has been around 0.5%. Just prior to the past two recessions, 2001-2002 and 1990-1991, the spread exploded to around 1.25%.

When the Paulson financial recapitalization plan failed to pass the House of Representatives yesterday, the TED spread shot up to an all time high of 3.5%. If the economy were a medical drama, doctors would be running around shouting "Push 500mls of (insert drug name here), stat!"

Keep in mind that the raised TED Spread is a sign of the perception of credit risk. It doesn't mean that the credit market is seizing up. It means that those who are in the best position to know think that the chances of default are much higher, and that they demand compensation from other banks in the form of a much higher interest rate as a result. That is expensive, and it means that some banks might reasonably refuse to cash checks drawn on other banks. If things get much worse, $700 billion will look like a bargain.


Baltic dry index falls off a cliff, signaling that shipping worldwide is at a standstill because banks refuse to issue shipping companies short-term loans so they can buy fuel for commercial cargo freighters.

A Glimpse Into the Abyss

Along with Nouriel Roubini, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard at the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph has proven most accurate in describing the current economic crisis. Here's Evans-Pritchard's take on the current situation, which makes use of phrases like "into the abyss" and "collapse":

During the past week, we have tipped over the edge, into the middle of the abyss. Systemic collapse is in full train. The Netherlands has just rushed through a second, more sweeping nationalisation of Fortis. Ireland and Greece have had to rescue all their banks. Iceland is facing an Argentine denouement.

The US commercial paper market is closed... The interbank lending market has seized up..... Healthy companies cannot roll over debt....

As the unflappable Warren Buffett puts it, the credit freeze is “sucking blood” out of the economy. “In my adult lifetime, I don’t think I’ve ever seen people as fearful,” he said.

We are fast approaching the point of no return. The only way out of this calamitous descent is “shock and awe” on a global scale, and even that may not be enough....


Bank reserves skyrocket as banks worldwide hoard cash, worsening the credit freeze.

None of this financial news should come as a tremendous shock. Bill Gross, the world's leading bond expert, prediction Dow 5,000 back in 2002. He backed up his prediction with solid analysis showing that the so-called "earnings" of most companies in the Fortune 500 consisted of smoke and mirrors. This was true not just of the Fortune 500, but worldwide. We've still got a long ways to go to Dow 5,000. The only big surprise should be that it took 6 years to reach this point. Dow 13,000 was unsustainable long before Lehman Brothers went broke or Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac went bankrupt.

Cliff said...

I feel like (regarding the conservative movement and the increasing mania and violence we see in its ranks) we are approaching that part of the movie where the werewolf, or the serial killer, or the vampire is unmasked, and they go on a rampage before getting brought down.

The question is, can we survive the rampage?

Anonymous said...

We've survived their previous rampages.

It's time to find out if we're still the country we used to be. There are good reasons almost no one actually starved to death in the panic of 1872 or the Great Depression.

Stay Human.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what Murdoch will do - but Ron Paul and Obama have already shown the way - they can survive on $5 donations and dedicated volunteers.

The main difference will be that their model will be more like televanglistm - putting the fear of hell into people to shake money out of them.