Thursday, December 03, 2009

Democrats and Republicans -- two very different kinds of internal party struggle

There seem to be civil wars taking place within both of the major American parties.  At least, that is how internal disputes among republicans, and among democrats, are portrayed in the media -- as bitter tiffs  between political pragmatists and stubbornly intransigent (or else 'principled') idealists of either the far-right or far-left.

Certainly, you do hear some left-leaning democrats accusing President Obama of betraying his promises and beliefs, by accepting anything less than the full suite of liberal health care recommendations, or by continuing to put troops in the Middle-East.  Meanwhile, the wrath of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck crashes  down upon any GOP office holder who so much as utters the word "compromise."

So, have we embarked on an era of ever-more bilious partisanship?  Is dogmatism on both left and right all that remains of the once-vaunted American gift for dialogue, courtesy, reciprocal-learning and practical problem solving?  Certainly, one can be excused for picturing this trend -- sometimes called "culture war" -- as a pell-mell rush toward one inevitable conclusion.  The violent and hate-drenched third phase of our ongoing American Civil War.

Each Party Has Its Own Style

We'll get to the fascinating and rather surprising nature of internal conflict between democrats, a little later, leading to something even more astonishing -- what may be a unique and highly strange historical phenomenon. A weird new take on how legislation is now done, under the U.S. Constitution.

 But first, let's talk about the republicans, among whom the popular diagnosis really does appear to be on target. No one can deny that influence within the GOP is measured by a person's fierce adherence to doctrine. And to bitter, uncompromising, partisan wrath.

The results of a poll conducted by "60 Minutes" and Vanity Fair magazine and issued Sunday (November 29, 2009) show that, by a wide margin, Americans consider Rush Limbaugh -- who openly prays for the current administration to fail, even at achieving any good for the nation -- to be the nation's most influential conservative voice. The radio host was picked by 26 percent of those who responded, followed by Fox News Channel's equally vociferous Glenn Beck at 11 percent. Top politicians -- former Vice President Dick Cheney and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin -- were the choice of 10 percent each, neither of them particularly well-known for concession-trading with folks on the other side of the spectrum, or being amenable to agreeable bargaining.

As for those GOP members who now hold actual office, few even figured as blips on the influence poll.  But stalwart partisanship applies to them as well.  Reciting the same talking point phrases -- sometimes within minutes of their issuance over Fox -- these men and women seem content to be interchangeable, seldom making any effort to be distinguishable, in a political sense, from one-another.  When it comes to the republican denizens of the U.S. Capitol, the current style of GOP partisan uniformity has had an odd effect -- of rendering them into doctrinal clones who matter only en masse, never as individuals.

Stunning Party Discipline

Sure, the 40 republicans in the Senate and 200 or so GOP representatives in the House appear to be there.  They inhale and exhale, make speeches and intone "present" during roll calls.  But to what effect?  To a man, they have submitted themselves, almost 100%, to absolute party discipline.

Let's make this situation plain; on the republican side, there is no bargaining, dickering, haggling, persuading, pleading-to-conscience, intercession, arbitration, or mediation -- nor efforts to find common ground of any kind with the majority party, representing more than half of America. They do not seek to come up with incremental steps toward creating new laws, amending old ones or allocating tax dollars  These "delegates" do not serve their constituents or the districts.  They are party men, first and last.

Now lest we simply shrug and accept this as normal, let's recall that American legislators used to be among the least party disciplined in the world, notoriously willing to negotiate as individuals.  Traditionally, the way things used to get done was that you might seek the least-unpalatable portions of the wish-list of the opposing side, and grudgingly let some of those smelly-but-acceptable measures come into being, in exchange for getting some progress on matters that you consider to be really important. It is the "sausage" approach to making law... perhaps inelegant, even ugly, but it's democracy and we did okay with it.

But that sort of behavior is now impossible, at least among republicans.  Even one deviation from party line perfection may be punished, volcanically, on radio and in the blogosphere. Everything is now purely black vs white.  Good vs evil. A complete matter of "sides," with no permissible shades of gray.

History Lesson: How Has This Played Out?

Now, you might imagine that this trait would have differing effects, depending upon whether the party is in the majority, controlling Congress, or in the minority.  Let's see if that was the case.  Take the brief era of 1993-94, when -- for a short time -- newly elected President Bill Clinton also had slim democratic majorities in both chambers.  As economic pundit Russ Daggatt put it:

The 1993 Budget Act, which was designed to eliminate the record budget deficits inherited by Clinton From Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, included an overall increase in taxes and extended the pay-as-you-go budget rules.  It passed without a single Republican vote in Congress by the closest possible margin – by one vote in the House and with Vice President Gore breaking a 50-50 tie in the Senate.   Republicans predicted that the economy would collapse as a result. (Like all predictions based on Supply Side theory -- that one failed diametrically to come true.) Instead, it produced record budget surpluses and the strongest economy in a generation.  But the Democrats paid a price, as they were crushed in the 1994 elections and lost control of Congress.  Unfortunately, the lesson that was learned in Congress was that fiscal responsibility doesn’t pay politically."

In fact, polls showed that it was not the 1993 tax bill, but Hillary Clinton's overly complex attempted Health Care legislation, that helped propel the 1994 rout. Nevertheless, Daggatt's point is taken.  While in the minority, in 93-94, the GOP showed impressive discipline and utter devotion to partisanship, just like today.

One might have expected the Party of No to change its tune, after it gained control of both houses of Congress, in late '94.  After all, Newt Gingrich led that "revolution" with a full agenda of clearly stated goals.

Indeed, it is instructive to recall the one time that Gingrich actally negotiated with Bill Clinton in good faith.  Out of that narrow moment of adult-style bargaining, we got the Welfare Reform Bill, which was without any doubt one of the most successful pieces of social legislation in the last forty years, correcting hundreds of abuses and inefficiencies, effectively getting millions off of the state dole and into job training... followed by real employment. Despite dire predictions by both radicals of left and right, this pragmatic piece of goal-oriented legislation achieved real progress, proof of which is seen in the simple fact that nobody mentions welfare anymore.

Alas, though, Gingich got so much grief from his partisan-dogmatic wing, for even speaking to Clinton, that this kind of thing never happened again. Indeed, apart from a relentless flurry of brinksmanship confrontations with the President (which Clinton always won), republicans on Capitol Hill settled in for the laziest, do-nothing stretch in the history of the Legislative Branch.

Until democrats wrested back control in 2006, the Senate and House spent fewer days in session and considered fewer bills than any comparable period in the last 100 years.  Except for seeking the ever-elusive "smoking gun," to prove that the Clintonites were corrupt, they held almost no investigative hearings. Even bills that might have pushed the conservative agenda languished and were seldom even reported out of committee.

During the long era from 1995 through 2009 -- and especially 2001-7, when they  controlled every branch of government -- there were only three general ways in which the Republican Party consistently used its sweeping power to change conditions in the United States of America. (1) They passed bills cutting taxes and granting special privileges to the wealthy and well-connected.  (2) They then passed more bills cutting taxes and granting special privileges to the wealthy and well-connected.  And (3) they yet again gathered the energy and will to pass bills that cut taxes and granted special privileges to the wealthy and well-connected.
Beyond that, despite having the best-disciplined and most potent lock on government since the democrats' Do-Everything Year of 1965... and despite the nation facing major problems, plus a tsunami of outright corruption... the GOP consensus seemed to be to Do-Nothing.

 Never Really Happy in the Majority
My private impression?  Fellows like Tom Delay, John Boehner and James Imhofe never seemed all that happy when they were in the majority.  For one thing, they had to face nagging questions from sincere conservative citizens, demanding: "Well?  We sent you to Washington, and now you have complete power. So legislate!"

They couldn't even blame the darned democrats, since that party almost never practiced lockstep-obstructionism.  Here, again, is Russ Daggatt:

'During the George W. Bush years, his tax cuts and Medicare Part D passed the Senate with less than 60 votes. which meant there was no problem with any democratic fillibuster.'  In fact, Medicare Part D was -- "the largest increase in entitlement spending since the creation of Medicare in the 1960 s with a ten-year cost of almost a trillion dollars.  At least when LBJ created Medicare he also enacted taxes to pay for it.  Bush and Congressional Republicans never even discussed any means of paying for their budget-busting initiatives.  To pull that off, they had to let the pay-as-you-go budget rules lapse."

The point here is that from Nixon to Ford, from Reagan to both Bushes, there was always some way to get democratic votes, when they were needed. Always some who were willing to horse-trade... as when the mega tax cuts of 2001 and 2002 passed without any serious threat of a democratic fillibuster. In that case, one small concession got enough democrats to go along. That was an expiration date on the tax cuts.  The GOP simply assumed that, by 2010, every supply-side dream would have come true and they would thereupon be so popular that they could make the cuts permanent, before they expired.

 (Alas, at risk of repeating, every major Supply Side forecast in history has been disproved.  It is pure voodoo, and our children are deep in debt, as a result. But let's move on.)

 The crucial point is that, when the GOP was in power, the opposition Democratic Party nearly always let things come down to an open, majority vote.  And that had a real downside to GOP leaders like Boehner and Delay.  For it meant they never had a very good excuse to offer conservative constituents, for their near-total inaction on any part of the official GOP agenda... except, of course, doing favors for the rich.

 Happier to be in the minority again
Ever since the GOP became the minority party in both houses, the republican senators and representatives now seem -- in fact -- much more cheerful!  Not only is it easier and more emotionally satisfying to be outraged outsiders, but this has meant that their existence, in either chamber, is simply a matter of standing up, whenever the party whip calls, shouting "Nay!" when ordered to, then perhaps staging an irate public statement before going off for an early weekend.

And yet, whether they are in power, or in the role of Loyal(?) Opposition, one thing stands out as consistent -- republican grumpiness and refusal to negotiate. This uniformity is far more than simply a function of being in the minority.

It is a character trait.

Are The Democrats The Same?

In a word, no.

All right, I'll add a sentence or two.  Popular American humorist Will Rogers used to say "I'm not a member of any organized political party. I'm a democrat."

Everyone knows that the very words "Democratic party discipline" constitute an oxymoron. Any democratic representative has his or her own, weird internal concoction of ideology and pragmatism, local interests and global passions.  If republicans are dogmatically uniform, disciplined and lockstep dedicated to both complaining and to doing nothing...

...then democrats are scattered across the political horizon, flighty, distractible... and each of them frenetically determined to save the world. (And yes, that can have its scary aspects, too.)

That is where the real difference between the parties lies -- in the small but vital matter of personality. And it explains why we have embarked on one of the weirdest epochs in American political and legislative history.

The Result: A Completely New Approach to Legislation in the USA

So what does this mean for the Republic, right now? It means that all actual negotiation over legislation -- such as finance/banking reform or healthcare or passing a military budget, must take place within the Democratic majority caucus... and that caucus must somehow achieve unanimity, before a bill even goes to the floor of either house. Because, given the predictability of lockstep GOP opposition, only with a completely united democratic caucus can there be any chance of passing any bills, at all.

But we've already seen that democrats don't march well together. If republicans click their heels and obey Rush, then democrats are more like a herd of cats. This means that unanimity must be achieved the hard, old fashioned way.  Through persuasion and negotiation, one legislator at a time.

  It means that the Democratic caucus in each house is the locus of deliberation in today's United States.  That is where men and women who are charged with the nation's business do the actual arguing, criticizing, tradeoff-balancing and incremental modification, by which legislation improves (we hope) enough to become law.  It is there that Santa Monica liberals must debate semi-conservative "Blue Dogs" -- sometimes late into the night and across weekends -- struggling to find common ground, combining (we hope) good ideas from the moderate left and the moderate right, shambling, bleary-eyed, toward a consensus that everybody can live with.  That is, everybody who has chosen to participate in negotiation.

No wonder things get so excruciating!   We have sixty senators - with sixty fractious and varied viewpoints - who must come to complete consensus (with some murkiness regarding Joe Lieberman and Olympia Snowe) in order to get by a Republican filibuster that is now seen as automatic, reflexive, inevitable, and impervious to any effort to placate, mollify or apply reason.  In fact, the GOP senators might as well just go fishing, under the new quasi-Constitutional tenet -- "when the dems are unanimous, it passes.  If not, it doesn't."

Things are similar in the House, only with a teensy amount more slack.

Is that it?  All that blather, just to point out the weirdly obvious?

Well, yes, it's what I'm routinely paid for.

Nevertheless, we now see that the civil wars within the two parties are very different phenomena.  In the GOP, it amounts to the systematic purging of any hint of heresy from central dogma.  Among democrats, today's tiffs between liberals and "blue dogs" constitute something that Americans have almost forgotten the name of -- "deliberation."

Does this grate on liberals? That blue dog semi-conservatives have extra leverage these days, because legislation must be passed unanimously?  (In the real legislature: the Democratic Caucus.)

Sure it does!  The lesson??  Live with it. Learn to accept incremental change. Better yet, recognize that the sane version of conservatism, that the blue dogs represent, does have important and useful things to say.  Moreover, that part of America deserves to be heard.  Especially since the main "conservative" party is lost, down boulevards of delusional catechism that Barry Goldwater denounced as quite mad, before he died.

Indeed, the top liberal agenda right now should be to help more Blue Dogs win in contested districts!  Recruit decent, progressive, if sometimes a bit too-crewcut ex-military men and women to run against the loony culture warriors, everywhere possible.  Help the GOP to continue along in a long, self-chosen path, marginalizing itself into the New Know Nothings, and thus finally put the once-great party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower out of its  terminal illness.

And, if the predictable result is to eventually split the Democratic Party in two?  Into a Liberal party (mostly free of loony lefties) and a Decent-Moderate Conservative/Libertarian Party (free of monstrously crazy neocons)?  Well, it may surprise you to learn that this exact thing happened before, earlier in the life of the republic.

What? You cannot see that as possibly the best of all possible worlds for the nation of Washington and Franklin?  A nation that desperately needs to rediscover the grace and power and effectiveness that arises from the adult practice of reason.


1 – 200 of 212   Newer›   Newest»
Acacia H. said...

I'm not sure if we'll see this happen in my lifetime. For there is one thing that will keep the Republicans in some semblance of power: fear. Republicans are very good at fear. What's more, many supporters of the Republicans are very apt to fear. They fear a loss of control. They fear change. They fear Democrats, which are fractious and active and try to do things.

There are two things that may very well spell the end of the Republican party, but only if tremendous effort is made by Democrats to keep these two forces interested: the Hispanic vote, and the Youth vote. And the Republicans know this, and are doing everything in their power to ensure neither gains momentum.

Look at the attacks against ACORN. Yes, the agency has done some stupid things... but you honestly have to wonder at how frakking stupid those people at ACORN were... or if they were in cahoots with the people who played them, either wanting revenge against some slight that a superior did against them or even having joined ACORN to infiltrate and destroy the group. Yes, I complain when you suggest things like this... but that entire scenario just rang false to me. Something stunk in those videos, and I don't think it was the organization itself.

The other strike will be against immigration reform. Republicans don't want immigration reform. They don't want new Hispanics (and other immigrants from non-European nations!) to come to America and start voting Republican. So they spread slander and lies about how Hispanics and other immigrants only come to America to get on Social Security and leech off of hard-working Americans... and the fear-driven part of the populace eats it up and votes the Republicans into power once more.

The next battle will be fought (and is even now being fought) over the Internet, to determine who spreads knowledge. Look at the attempts to destroy information and news aggregation? There's talk about the "rise of micropayments" once more to pay for news stories and the like. It won't work. People have been getting news for free for a bit now, and they'll turn to amateur sources and abandon the newspapers in droves. And the final volleys will be fired from "professional" news reporters against "amateur" reporting... no doubt some people will start posting faked stories so that the professional news media can claim "amateur news is not reliable or honest."

No doubt this will play out over the next decade. The end result will be the final death of newspapers. Oh, local town newspapers may continue, little weekly affairs that are paid for by advertising from local companies and the fact that printing costs will go down further with newer printing technologies... but the big papers will mostly vanish. Those who survive, will have learned how to harness the power of "amateur" reporters and will very likely be mostly online, or available via electric paper tablets like the Kindle.

Ultimately, I believe the death of the Republican Party is going to be long and quite nasty. We may very well see another Republican President before it's done... and I just hope that it's not a complete nutjob... while knowing it likely will be and that a lot of damage will be inflicted before the end.

In twenty years, the Republicans will be a permanent minority party. At that point, we may see a split in the Democrats, into a Leftist/Center party and a Moderate/Right party (with the Republicans being the far-right as they are now). Ironically enough, it'll still be the two branches of Democrats that get laws passed. I very much doubt that the remaining Republicans will ever do anything other than vote "No."

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Webcomic Reviews

David Brin said...

I don't know whether to be pleased or saddened by the troubles of Mike Huckabee.

1) he is by far the most likable Republican prospect, by miles. Clearly a decent fellow who is capable of liking folks he disagrees with and who frowns on bilious hate-war and fearmongering.

2) he remains a complete nut-job. And his likability makes it more possible he might actually win the presidency. I've already said that I worry deeply about giving nukes to people who pray for the reification of the Book of Revelations. I imagine his picture of that event is different than Sarah's... but he still prays for it.

And he would bring into office with him a LOT of the Olde Guard. And they would insist on a true feudalist being his veep. And they would watch him for an opportunity....

Acacia H. said...

If I were a betting man, I'd say that Huckabee is going to wait until 2016 to run for the Presidency. He'll allow Palin and Romney to bloody each other's noses in the 2012 election which will likely result in Obama's reelection (recessions are cyclical, and this one is coming to an end; by 2012, the job market will be recovering, the economy will likely be doing a lot better, and Obama will likely look good as a result - at least, better than Romney or Palin after they're done tearing one another to pieces).

No. It's 2016 where Huckabee will make his move. People will have forgotten his "Willie Horton" incidents or it'll be explained away as Huckabee being a forgiving Christian man and turned into a strength instead of a weakness. What's more, we won't have a strong Democratic candidate in all likelihood; it's rather doubtful that Hillary Clinton will run in 2016, and I doubt Biden will run.

The telling thing will be the state of the world political scene in 2016. If Russia has stabilized and if China and India are in decent shape and not killing each other in a war over resources... then Huckabee may very well not have anything on the foreign scene to sharpen claws on. In which case he may end up destroying the country from within.

But he might surprise us. He's a decent man from all looks of things. If that decency shines through... and if enough of the Old Guard Republicans die off through scandal or poor health or the like... then he may end up being the last breathe of decency from the Republican Party before they descend into inanity.

But then, I'm a scifi writer at heart. That optimist within refuses to lie down and die. ^^

Rob H.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Robert, I largely agree with you, but here's a thought on the longevity of a belligerent Republican 'Party of No' after they successfully marginalize themselves.

Polls have already well-established that the hard core Republican base to which the Party of No caters to, and which is fired by Beck, Limbaugh, et al represent an increasing minority of the population, somewhere between a third and a quarter of the population, with some polls indicating closer to a fifth of the population.

Given this minority, how are the Republicans managing to keep themselves in power right now? A lot of it is a hold-over from previous elections before they had alienated so much of what had once been their base, and there are certainly greater concentrations of the kind of authoritarian followers (as described by Dr. Altemeyer's book "The Authoritarians" that was linked to in an earlier comments section) in some states and districts that magnify their numbers in certain areas.

However, much of their continued positions of power comes from gerrymandering of voting districts. The Dems do this, too, though to a lesser degree, but I think gerrymandered voter districts are playing a key role in the continued presence of these 'radical extremist' Republican leaders.

The point to consider is what happens when the Republicans become too marginalized to have enough influence over how the districts are gerrymandered. If the Republicans continue to marginalize themselves, they will eventually cross a threshold in which they will become so marginalized, that their influence over the gerrymandering of their districts into twisted and contorted regions of lock-step authoritarian follower voters will fail, as conservative Democrats (or whatever new conservative party is formed) shift the gerrymandering into shapes that better suite them. And it wouldn't take much to split the increasing minority of hard core Republican voters up, eliminating the megaphone with which they have been drowning out more moderate conservative and centrist voters.

At that point, might we not then see the utter collapse of the Republican party?

Tim H. said...

Plausible, but the Democratic "Big Tent" may have quite a bit more stretch to it. By contrast, would it be the GOP "Propellor Beanie"?

"banchblu" sound made by alcohol leaving the body.

Acacia H. said...

On a brief tangent from my earlier comment on internet news, Eric Burns of Websnark wrote an interesting article on news micropayments. I have to admit, his thinking reflects my own and for a much simpler reason than my belief that people prefer free media: it is easier to view the free media than to use the micropayments.

Anyway, Burns' article is well worth reading, and is a cautionary tale not only for the print news media... but also for writers as we look at the future of publishing.

Rob H.

Rob Perkins said...

Huckabee is willing to immolate (metaphorically) about 5% of the Republican base on the logic that they don't worship Jesus properly. And, he'll do it with a wink and a smile, by word of mouth from church to church to church.

Not fond of that.

Unknown said...

"Obama is too conservative, but I like that he's black."

This is the rejoinder my girlfriend shoots off when we find ourselves rubbing elbows with folks who vote republican and spout Glenn Beckisms ( snark- Has Glenn yet responded to allegations that he raped and murdered a young girl in the 1990's? /snark). Essentially it is the opposite of what the Repubs whine about endlessly.

Invariably they call Obama "socialist" or somesuch. It's a good sign; it shows we're self-civilizing our rednecks. They can't use the word they're actually wanting to use, so when they say "socialist" you can almost hear it come out "niiiii uh - socialist".

One epithet begets another, from race to politics. Hooray.

Happily, it really does deal us a vast amount of entertainment watching the closet and out-of-the-closet racists and bigots squirm. They so desperately want to say it, it's on the tip of their redneck tongues, but they know the minute they do, they will be censored out of existence.

I've never had my dark self-righteous schadenfreude tickled so deliciously.

For that, I can never thank President Obama enough. The lulz keep coming and he just stays classy.

Anyway, snark aside, Obama seems politically more conservative than Eisenhower. Not that anyone more progressive could have been elected from the Dems at this point in US history. Most of the Dems, aside from folks like Dennis Kucinich, the late Mink and Wellstone, talk and vote like the classic conservatives from the fifties. Hell, it took Nixon to sign the EPA - look how hard it is to deal with CO2 emission legislation, which should be relatively easy and market driven in comparison. Look at Kucinich, who would have been a middle-of-the-road lefty about forty years ago, now comes off as a Molotov chucking red.

At least we can laugh through our tears, no?

Marc, Austin, TX said...


I'm disappointed that you of all people believe the Fox controls the Republican Party crap. It’s a weak excuse. This tactic does the Left/Liberal/Progressive side no good. Attacking Fox or propagating this story only increases their ratings and their subsequent power. Or is anyone saying here that they should be censored? And Rush, controlling the Republicans, just because someone talks the loudest and tries to stand in front doesn't mean they are leading.

Fox has insane ratings and typically beats both MSNBC and CNN combined and many Fox anchors also continually dominate the NYT best seller lists. Which means that while some may be watching to see the train wreck, something else is striking a cord with MILLIONS of Americans (plz don’t fall into Obama's elitist mistake here) there are some smart people in both parties. I can say with reasonable certainty (being married to a Southern Baptist Woman) that what many Right – Republican - Conservative Americans do not like, is the blatant disrespect of their beliefs. (Gawd forbid someone trash Islam, but Christianity is fair game?) Their beliefs matter to them. And regardless of whether those beliefs are scientifically provable or not. (I am a scientist, not religious, AND conservative). The left should ‘get’ that people do not respond kindly to the destruction of their belief systems or culture. Not many people like to hear others shout them down as wrong. Why the ‘left’ gets this about the other foreign cultures and not about ‘middle’ America, I don’t know. If the ‘progressives’ can’t play nice when they are supposedly the ‘enlightened’ group why would the traditionalists or fundamentalists feel the need to play nice?

Anyway, I responded because, our government was designed to make it HARD to change things. That’s a good thing. It should take awhile to pass massive sweeping nation altering legislation. If the Republican’s feel they are serving their constituents by being rocks, then maybe they are correct? If 50% of the population doesn’t want the other 50% to do something, there aren’t many options to try, unless you like running around with a machete. The Republican Party is far from dead or marginalized, but even if they were it will be the Democrats that revive them. One successful attack on this nation under the Democrats watch will cost them their control. I believe you think the ‘Islamofascist’ threat is overblown, and there may be some valid points there, but when/if a nuclear device goes off in the nation’s capitol it will be for very specific reasons. We need both sides of the personality to be successful. There is no reasoning with a shark, no talking, we are food. There will always be people that believe differently than ‘WE’ do. If the ‘Left’ can’t get along with the Christians on the ‘Right’, what hope do they have with radical Islam? You can’t appease them, even if the Left fed them Europe (thru inaction), they will show up on our door eventually.


Marc, Austin, TX said...


Also, Hispanics are for the most part traditionally Catholic, and regardless of what Evangelical Baptists say, Catholics are Christians, which means they will be conflicted with most of the Democrat ‘belief’ system. If the Republicans make any (at all) significant immigration moves, you may find they will get a very large influx of new voters as the Latin population increases. The Republicans are not an ‘Asian’ style culture; they will accept ‘foreign’ blood when they realize they need it. Even they understand America’s draw of the best and brightest of all humanity is ‘our’ true power.

Now I am fairly moderate on social issues (slightly center right) and I'm neoconservative on Foreign policy. I watch the 3 major channels, read their websites, the NYTimes, WSJ, Washington Post, and several London newspaper sites. I read Libertarian, Conservative, and Liberal blogs, and what strikes me as the most confusing issue in all this, is the complete and often total lack of understanding the often highly educated ‘Left’ have about the ‘Right’…

Patricia Mathews said...

Re: today's GOP: There is only one kind of creature who knows only two things: the word "No!" and throwing temper tantrums. That is a 2-year-old.

Acacia H. said...

@Marc, Austin: It's funny how Democrats are accused of attacking Christian beliefs... when it was the Republicans who spread so many rumors that Obama, a fervent Christian, was Islamic. In fact, Obama's faith has been attacked multiple times despite the fact he is very much Christian. Respect works both ways; you want respect for your Christianity? Respect his.

I speak as a pagan who has long defended Christianity from the more fear-stricken elements of my own fragmented faith (because many pagans are former Christians and view Christianity as an enemy; myself, I believe in tolerance working both ways and in respect).

Rob H.

Marc. Austin, TX said...


You miss my point. Skimmed my rant? I apologize for bouncing around and removing some content that may have made it clearer.

I am not Christian, but I try to respect all beliefs (to a point). The problem with some groups/beliefs is that there is no common ground to meet on.

My point is someone needs to be well behaved to move forward. A potential benefit of working with someone of faith is that you can understand the tenants of what they claim to believe in. It’s out in the open, and you can hold them to it.

I am not saying they are always reasonable, one only need look at evolution to see the stubbornness many fundamental Christians demonstrate when discussing the topic. Though, hey it potentially conflicts with their world view. I understand the conflict. One can at least see why they believe what they do. Understand it, perhaps not, but one at least has a point of reference.

I agree with your point about respect, but if both sides are screaming 'respect me', you get no where. And The 'Left' can be as rigid, unreasonable, and hateful as the 'Right'. Yes, that part of Right had control for a long time, but it’s shifting, may be slower than you would like, but it is moving.

Pointing out another’s bad behavior to defend ones own is not a legitimate recourse.

Anyway, I don't know where Obama came up in my rant, as I didn't reference him, and I don't care if he’s Christian or Muslim, what I do care about is that he participated in a Christian Church that (like many do) pushed hate. (Which I can intellectually understand, not being Black, I have no direct reference, but I wouldn't deny anyone the right to mourn 'their' unacceptable treatment over the last several centuries). That doesn't really justify outright hate of the entire nation. It helps no one.

Ignorance must be fought with compassion and patience. Not vitriol and name calling.

(Speaking of which (Dr Brin likes to name call, so I don't know why he slams other posters about it.) ./amusing)

I respect Obama’s positions, I don't like them, I disagree with them, but that’s not a race issue, it’s an experience issue. I would have liked him to have spent more time in the Senate. AND please people not every Republican is an ignorant redneck. I am so tired of the Hitler thing; there are more Bush as Hitler posters out there than the reverse.

I disagree with ‘the it’s all a plan’ mentality. People are greedy, which is probably evolutionarily handy, which would explain the behavior. I would like to be rich, and while I may share some of the wealth with some people I know, what if I didn’t share it like ‘you’ want me to? Do you take it?

David Brin said...

Marc, you are welcome here... but you do seem a bit frantic.

"One successful attack on this nation under the Democrats watch will cost them their control."

Um... there has been ONE successful attack... on whose watch?

Bush diverted SCORES of FBI & other agents, befor 9/11, from normal and anti-terror duties, to searching (totally in vain) for a "smoking gun' to send even one (they promised us hundreds) even one Clinton appointee to jail for malfeasance.

That diversion was direct, incontrovertible and calamitous treason.

But soft. If you can name ONE statistically verifiable metric of national health that went up, under neocon rule... or even one that did not PLUMMET under their rule... we'd all be very interested to know what it is.

It is called reality-basing. Here's another.Find us a supply side economics prediction... EVER ... that unambiguously came true.

You see, you are NOT among a bunch of lefties, here, Marc. Ask anybody. "Brin regularly drives the real lefties completely crazy and they run screaming out of here."

We are pragmatic, problem-solving-oriented, techno-loving, scientifically-oriented, future-eager progressives, mostly... some of them still dreamy about Barry Goldwater even! One of us even gave a keynote at a LIBERTARIAN PARTY national convention!

If we are leaning hard toward the dems, right now, it isn't out of leftyness. (The europeans think the US has "a conservative party and a crazy-extreme conservative party.) No, we lean that way because by every conceivable metric, the GOP is led by a pack of absolute raving maniacs.

And that's at-best. Don't get me started logging all the "coincidental" connections between the entire GOP clade and a certain clan of petro princes.

By the way, for proof that I am NOT a typical lefty, see my PREVIOUS POST!

In which I defend Pax Amaericana and talk about how much the world owes to our "benign empire."

Yeah, neocons claim to love Pax Americana too.

So, um, why did everything they do seem aimed at destroying it?

Tony Fisk said...

To be fair, I think Marc is referring to perceptions in an already somewhat one-eyed lot rather than his own opinion.

But, yes, it would be the height of hypocrisy to blow Obama away for any successful attack.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Hokay, Marc -- I am a fellow Southerner born and bred, steeped in a culture shaped primarily by the Southern Baptist faith for much of my life. I say this out front to reassure you: I am neither ignorant of what you say, nor unsympathetic to it. It's my home too.

You're not understanding Dr. Brin at all. He *wants* FOX to stay popular for a while... among an increasingly narrowing base. It's the best way to lock either the whole Republican party or the uncompromising wing thereof into stasis (and thus out of the political mainstream).

If the Republicans were merely trying to slow things down -- "stand athwart history yelling 'stop'" as one pundit put it many years ago -- I would understand, and in large part agree. We shouldn't go off half-cocked doing things without thought or due solely to ideology.

Sadly, they're *not* doing that: they're not negotiating for the minimum necessary to help the country and no more. Instead, the Republicans are proudly asserting that they would rather do nothing (and risk damage to the nation) than lift a finger to help the despised opposition. Only since DeLay double-crossed and overthrew Gingrich has this been a consensus view of Republican leadership... and despite the short-term electoral gains it garnered, I don't think it's been healthy for the party at all. We *do* need both sides of our personality, you're totally correct. But when the right hand won't even TALK to the left except to complain... how can we be drawing on our full strength??

I do agree with you that perceived affronts and disrespect are the biggest emotional driver of rightist sentiment. (I can't describe it as conservative anymore; as I said, it's not the Armey/Gingrich Republican Party I grew up with.) These emotions are driven by vast pride in tradition as they understand it, and by deep fear for the loss of tradition and all the strength it provides. So far, so good.

The problem arises when there is a lack of understanding on BOTH sides, and a loss of the sense that both sides have legitimate grievances. Rob H. pointed out one: the loss of respect for alternate strains of Christianity -- frequently characterizing them as one step from atheism or secularism, simply for breaking bread with Pharisees and sinners, or disagreeing with doctrine. (You point this out yourself with Baptists vs. Catholics.) There are others; many of them stem from a tendency to respond to challenges not with defense or negotiation but counterattack. Yankees, particularly progressive ones, feel that their culture is just as much under attack: on civil rights, on abortion, on fiscal policy, they're terribly afraid of what Southern culture will try -- in some cases, HAS tried -- to impose on the rest of the nation.

Catfish N. Cod said...

You complain of the Left not understanding the Right -- but again, the feeling is mutual. For example, you write:

Catholics are Christians, which means they will be conflicted with most of the Democrat ‘belief’ system.

Ted Kennedy represented the very heart of what most folks in the South characterized as a 'Democrat belief system'. Yet Kennedy was a devout Catholic all his life, and sincerely believed that all his pro-governmental social activism was powered by Christ's command to care for the poor, sick, naked, and oppressed. I offer this as a counterexample to the assertion that there is no room in the Democratic Party for sincere, devout Christians, 'cause it just ain't true.

But in the world as constructed by the dogma of the Right -- a dogma that, you're right, Fox reflects more than it creates -- there must be a "Democratic Party Line" just as rigid and inflexible as the "Republican Party Line", and in that world, only the most extreme leftist views can possibly be tolerated. In that world, the whole party operates according to what Dennis Kucinich, the Cambridge, MA city council, and the humanities staff of UC Berkeley would like... because that's how the rightists would build the Democrats, were they in their shoes.

But Dr. Brin's whole point was that the Democrats don't work that way at all! You're operating on a false impression of your opposition... just as our ancestors did, when they presumed that Lincoln would never compromise with them, just because he was a Republican and "all Republicans are rabid abolitionists".

When you say that 'There is no reasoning with a shark, no talking, we are food. There will always be people that believe differently than ‘WE’ do.... I know you are referring to al-Qaeda and our foreign enemies. But couldn't that same wording be applied to "the Left"? I know there are folks back home who would, even if YOU wouldn't. Are progressives 'WE'? Or 'THEY'? It shouldn't even be a question... but it's one I hear raised frequently, and not just by Dr. Brin or frightened progressives. Would a successful WMD attack on America bring merely retribution and justice for the external enemy? Or would it also provoke assault on the perceived internal enemy? I think it a fair question...

I was raised believing that the Republican Party stood for less government. For the freedom to do as you wished in matters of conscience. For libertarian principles of governance, and free markets enforced by a few basic rules: antitrust, secure contracts, support only to enhance the free flow of commerce and no further. It was a terrible period for me in the years 1998-2001, as I watched every one of those principles systemically betrayed. To paraphrase Reagan: I didn't leave the Republican Party. It left me. And I'm hardly alone.

Marc, Austin ,TX said...

Frantic, eh. I don’t live in Washington… and you seem a tad uh, breathless to me. ;)

I won't split hairs with you about the build up to 9/11. Hindsight is 20/20 and the consequences of historical actions can look obvious from the future. “That will take to long, let me sum up.”

911: Any party would have been blindsided, both share equal blame. Clinton did plenty wrong dealing with the issues as a police matter. Shall I recite a list of bombings during his tenure? Bush made plenty of mistakes after the fact (plenty of public record there). One thing I will say about Bush is he followed his beliefs. (Right or Wrong) He was consistent. And now he is gone.

Now we have the Intellectual of nuanced reason in charge. We all know how well that went last time..

A hard (predictable) swing from a earlier ‘simpler’ leader.

But to repeat the same mistake? That is my point. I happen to think that the best defense is a strong offense, and honestly I’d rather chew up someone else’s backyard fighting, than my own. Hard, cold, maybe, but well, its how I feel, and it sucks, but well I was in the military, and I saw it first hand.


Marc, Austin, TX said...


This is human nature 101, to hate what is different, to point and blame. It’s the same claim of the 'left' about all republicans being racists and bigots. To want to tear down and destroy what one fears or what is different, what one disagrees with.

If it wasn't colonialism, or imperialism, or Dancing with the Stars, it'd be McDonalds as the justification to bomb us. Tastes Great - Less Filling, PCs suck, MAC is better, Windows/Linux, whatever if you are rabid about something, you are rabid.

We need Oil right now. So do we take it? No we pay for it. Some get rich on that, and then want to protect that wealth and that advantage. I say human nature. Figure out a way to ‘fairly’ legislate Human nature, that 7 million years of evolution, and we’ve found our Utopian society. Seems to violate a few physics laws to me, but hell I hope we do it.

And I responded to your last post and you responded to me. I know you are as much a 'Democrat' as I am a 'Republican'.

I can not argue with you about supply side failings, or deregulation, I do not have the specialized interest in those topics to compete with you or probably hold an 'educated' debate at that level. But I lived those Presidents, and I would not say I tend to be revisionist.

What I can say is Carter's policies were failing, Reagan and Bush Sr, had specific goals that appear to have had certain outcomes, Bush Sr raised taxes and got booted, and Clinton reaped the rewards of a relatively peaceful (embassy – boom X what 7 times?) and economically successful period, (good for him) while making 'smart' and 'dumb' (keep it your pants) decisions. I happen not to like how to guy treats women…fine sleep with them, but the treatment after the fact – nasty.

The Republicans then pissed their time away attacking him for his lack of morals - a waste of time and money - and generally a sign of our nation’s success at the time.

We then got our nose bloodied. (Crap I’m arguing 911)

So Republicans are beholden to Oil. Ok. Good you know their starting point. Ok Oil is bad. There isn't a viable alternative, YET. Once there is, when that/those options are cheaper, they will win. Efficient - no, but realistic - yes. See free news as a reference. ;)

AND the Democrats are beholden to their groups; I won’t bother naming them, but now we have ‘their’ starting point(s).

I could say I am a pragmatic, problem-solving-oriented, techno-loving, scientifically-oriented, future-eager ‘conservative’; that likes to read about Barry Goldwater even! I even (gasp) have LIBERTARIAN friends!

My problem David, is that you sound like a lefty…. (When attacking the Republicans, can you honestly say, the current Democrat financing plans are going to work, REALLY? Health Care* for ALL. Seems to violate a few well know facts of nature. Plus when you don't have the money, you don't have the money. (Insert pet cause here*)

If you feel your only option is to side with the Democrats, well I feel I have no option but to side with the Republicans. AND I imagine that is the problem for both of us.

Marc, Austin, TX said...

@Catfish N Cap Thanks! Awesome responses and I think you followed most of my drift.

So you know; I am actually a 'Masshole'.

I was born and raised and lived in 'Plimoth' Taxachussetts as a Catholic, until I left for the Military at 19, so I know Mr. Kennedy very well.

So you see the arguments I could start?

@Tony - I don't disagree about the potential hypocrisy, BUT you know that would happen.

Unfortunately, our 'enemies' only 'respect' strength. We must project strength.

David McCabe said...

Off-topic news: Washington has become the first state to pass gay equal rights legislation by a popular vote. Referendum-71 makes same-sex domestic partnerships legally identical to marriage, except in name. The ballot measure, which passed with 53%, stated:

This bill would expand the rights, responsibilities, and obligations accorded state-registered same-sex and senior domestic partners to be equivalent to those of married spouses, except that a domestic partnership is not a marriage.

Tacitus2 said...

From time to time I tinker with a ripsoste to David's oft uttered challenge...i.e. to find a single element of national health that actually improved on the GOP watch. But darn it, you always toss the gantlet when I am in the middle of a busy work stretch. Or you have a moment of candor and allow as how it is a claim heavily larded with hyperbole. One of these days.....

You may be right in your predictions. But from my, midwestern perspective you are setting up GOP strawmen to castigate. And putting a bit too much faith in polls. Some of them are a bit dodgy. Rasmussen for instance came out with one recently that showed party self identification for R only a few percentage points under D.

But lets ante up some predictions.

Republican nominees in 2012:
Pawlenty and ?

Cap and Trade legislation never comes to a vote, after unemployment hits 10.6% in Jan/Feb.

Some kind of health care bill passes. The current bill being about as poor a slab 'o legislation as could be concocted, the amended version has to be a little better. But still fiscal dementia.

Speaking of which, Jimmy Carter diagnosed with Alzheimers in 2011.

Modest GOP gains in 2010 elections. Obama becomes a better and more popular pres as result. And is re-elected in 2012.

Marc from Austin, welcome. Conservatives are tolerated here, even encouraged. But don't expect to be offered a glass of "Tranya" in friendship every day.*

*geek level Trek ref for Illith!

Tim H. said...

Speaking of pre-9-11, seems Clinton sent Bin Laden some cruise missiles, and missed him by minutes. Guess which party accused him of trying do distract the nation from scandal? But let's not give up on the GOP yet, they've reinvented themselves before, and they're not as dumb as they look.

Unknown said...

One point: My understanding is that the Republican tax 'cuts' (these were 'cuts' in the same sense that a cash advance on my credit card is a 'raise') were passed under reconciliation rules and were thus not subject to a filibuster.

Acacia H. said...

@Marc: Ah. You're a Massachusetts Republican. That explains a lot. I'll explain to the others: Massachusetts is a hotbed of liberalism and corruption. Unfortunately, the Democrats in office have done everything in their power to ensure their own power and disenfranchise the Republicans, to the point that the state is, in essence, a single-party state. In response, those Republicans who could leave, did (often to New Hampshire. Hi! Well, I'm not a Republican, but still, the sentiment stands.).

Those forced to stay there by reflex start becoming increasingly hard-nosed on their beliefs and values because they have hands-on eye-witness accounts to the threat that rampant uncontrolled Liberal Democrats can be. To wit: political corruption, cronyism, theft, disdain toward anyone who doesn't embrace values that they themselves fail to live up to, and a refusal to admit that Republicans actually can have intelligent ideas that should be implemented into the government.

It's to the point that I'm surprised northern and western Massachusetts haven't seceded from the Commonwealth to form their own moderate/right state and leave Boston and Cape Code to fester in inanity.

The problem is? Massachusetts Republicans are not true conservatives. They may look that way from the rose-colored glasses of Massachusetts Liberals, but they're more akin to the Blue Dog Democrats than to the Southern Republicans. Heck, look at how a certain Senator from Maine is treated by her own party because she believes in compromise. I would not be at all surprised to see her bounced out of the Republican primary come her next election and for some Democrat (hopefully Blue-Dog) to take her place. They refuse to see the damage that "Republicans" have inflicted because their own experiences show that Democrats are a much greater threat.

It creates blindspots. To the point that when I was arguing with my friend (a Massachusetts Republican) last night, he dared claim that Obama was going to drag the country down and that Bush hadn't done anything wrong. After about 30 seconds of laughing into the phone, I asked about 2008. His response? That was Clinton. To which I said "But Bush saw [the crash of 2008] coming for months and did nothing." This holds true to the Republican Party as well. The warning signs were out there. But they didn't act.

Hell, Bush was hoping, praying that he'd be out of office when the Crash happened so it would be blamed on someone else. If he'd acted before things went south, it would have lessened the impact but things still would have started to sour. He didn't. The neocons didn't. And this is the great betrayal of the Republican Party. This is what has forced me, a lower-case "l" libertarian, to side with Democrats (despite having lived in Massachusetts and not liking the party at all because of that experience).

So. In response to a punishing 2008 election, and to losing power in 2006, the Republicans are closing ranks. After initially castigating the neocon movement, they are fully embracing it. And they are embracing what Dr. Brin calls the Loony Right. In doing so, they are forcing people like myself, who look at Democrats with distaste, to work with them.


Acacia H. said...

(part 2)

But is this a bad thing? Of the two parties, the Republicans have proven to be incapable of change. The Democrats? Constant change. (They're the party of Tzeentch! Sorry, Warhammer 40K reference there...) And that element of constant change gives us non-liberals the ability to manipulate the Democratic party to evolve into something more wholesome and more viable to our own interests.

It should be interesting, some twelve years from now, to see what the liberal Democrats say about how their party is morphing into something more conservative in nature. This is when the true split will occur; when the liberal Democrats leave their own party and form a new one, while their old party changes from the Party of Change to the Party of Stability.

But that's my scifi roots showing again. Darn optimist that it is. ;)

Rob H.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Marc: Well, then, we've swapped places; I'm broadcasting to you from the People's Republic, Our Fair City, just a few blocks from Car Talk Plaza. So we both understand both cultures we're talking about here. :)

You wrote: We need Oil right now. So do we take it? No we pay for it. Some get rich on that, and then want to protect that wealth and that advantage. I say human nature.

And: I happen to think that the best defense is a strong offense, and honestly I’d rather chew up someone else’s backyard fighting, than my own.

Fair enough. But not all offenses are military ones; and one major point of Dr. Brin's (and mine) is that we've paid far too little attention to the home front. Not "domestic agendas" distracting from the war: the home front, the adjustment of the internal economy to support war aims. Military theorists from Sun Tzu to Clausewitz, Frederick the Great to Colin Powell, agree that this is a critical element to any strategy.

What better offense could we make than to deprive our opponents of funding? And what better way to do that than to reduce our dependence on the oil -- the oil that is used to fund 'Islamofascism' the world over? (And I'm not just talking about militancy; I mean the r'oil-funded network of extreme viewpoints that is pushing against moderate forms of Islam the world over.)

Such a project isn't chewing up our backyard OR theirs; it's BUILDING our backyard, while simultaneously hurting the enemy where it really counts: in the pocketbook. We didn't win the Cold War by direct fighting (though we leveraged small wars into forcing the Soviets to waste vast resources); we won it ECONOMICALLY and TECHNOLOGICALLY, by prospering where the Soviets couldn't and inventing gadgets faster than they could steal them. We can do the same to the current enemy -- call them 'Islamofascist' or 'Islamic extremists' or what have you.

This is a very American strategy -- and very capitalist and democratic-republican (in the uncapitalized versions of those words) too! So WHY is the Republican Party opposing it with all their might?! Why isn't "drill, baby, drill" condemned for the air castle that any petroleum geologist or engineer will tell you it is?

The best way to speed up the increasing efficiency of alternatives to fossil fuels is to FUND them: to provide market incentives to invest in R&D and installation! Wind power is already taking off; solar will not be too far behind. With those, new nuclear plants, judicious use of domestic fossil fuels, and hybrid vehicles, we should be able to knock foreign oil use entirely (and help the planet, and deny plenty of nasty dictatorships the funds they need to survive). This is a win-win-win-win policy... so WHY stand in its way? Adjust it for better operation, sure; cap-and-trade vs. gas tax is a reasonable debate, and reducing bureaucracy to the minimum required is a worthy goal. But stonewalling can't do any of that! It *BURNS* me that the Republicans continue to shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to defending ANY of the principles they espouse...

...when they're so efficient when it comes to cutting taxes and easing the ways of the fat cats. Oh Teddy Roosevelt, where are you when we need you?

(Side note: many times I have had to explain to folks back home why it was that Massachusetts, that known liberal hotbed, kept electing Republican governors. Simple: because someone had to stop the Speaker of the Massachusetts House from destroying the state with corruption. Single party legislatures are NOT healthy, even when fairly elected. The Massachusetts Dems should have split into two parties LONG ago; but national pressures have kept them together.)

Acacia H. said...

@Catfish N. Cod: The problem is that the Republicans gave up in Massachusetts. Thus there was no strong Republican candidate to run against Patrick and the Dems finally got their wish; only to have it turn south on them. Ironically, the adversarial relationship that the Mass. Legislature had with Republican Governors had too much inertia and they turned against their own and treat Patrick like the enemy. It would be amusing to watch if I didn't have family who lived in Massachusetts.

Rob H.

Ilithi Dragon said...

On Referendum 71: Great news! Definitely a step forward, with the 'same but not marriage' tactic that Dr. Brin has promoted before (for all my ranting about how homosexual marriage should be legalized now because there is no legal precedent against it and because the continued illegality of homosexual marriage constitutes religious persecution, I agree that the 'ju jitso' maneuvering is likely the most effective resolution).


I have a few issues with some of your premises, primarily from your initial post. First, the FOX/Limbaugh bit; sarcasm, jokes and exasperation aside, I don't think anyone here seriously maintains that FOX/Limbaugh/et al are the 'voice of the Republican Party', etc. They don't control the GOP. They do, however, heavily influence the GOP (and the rest of America), largely because they are a well-funded branch of the GOP (especially FOX), and are controlled by the same masters who ultimately control the GOP (see Murdoch, etc.). Their message is also undeniably that of radical partisanship, as extremist in some cases (which have been steadily increasing in quantity over the last 10+ years) as the radical Islamists whom they insist are a bigger threat than Soviet Russia at the height of the Cold War or Nazi Germany in the first half of WWII (or any other threat this country has ever faced, bar none). It is this extremist partisan influence on what was once an honorable party, and on our nation as a whole, that we criticize (though as was pointed out above, it's generally thought, at least here, that the continued radicalization of the GOP and the further alienation of its moderate base, to the point of the marginalized collapse of the GOP is the best possible scenario we can hope for).

And yes, the GOP is marginalizing itself through radicalization. There are a great many conservatives in this country, yes, roughly half or so, and probably a little more. However, many of them are DEMOCRATS! Repeated polls have shown that self-identifying Republicans are down to somewhere between a quarter and a third of the U.S. population, with some polls indicating numbers closer to a fifth of the population. Democrats, on the other hand, are over a third of the population, and most independents lean towards the Democrat side. Take a look at the Gallop party affiliation poll data. GOP affiliation has consistently polled between 25% and 30% this year, and has slowly declined from a consistent ~33% in 2004 (the earliest year listed there). Dem party affiliation has consistently polled between 30% and 40%, mostly around 35%, since 2004, and Independents have increased. Most independents also lean towards the Democratic affiliation, consistently polling around 50% and a little over, while only 40-45% of independents lean towards Republican affiliation. And then you have this party affiliation map which shows party affiliation by state. 29 states plus DC are solidly Democratic, with 8 more states leaning that way. Only 4 of the remaining 4 states have a Republican majority, and only three of those are solidly Republican. The remaining 9 states are competitive between the two parties, and of those 9 states, only Mississippi has a slight Republican majority, the rest have a slight Democratic majority.

So no, we're not dealing with half and half here, the country is not split in two over issues, with a slightly dominant half trying to press hated policies upon a slightly minor half. We have a very vocal minority trying to obstruct the majority from making progress (however haphazard, imperfect and ultimately successful that progress is) on fixing the critical and not-so-critical issues of our day, out of ignorance, fear, extremist traditionalism and pure political partisanship.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Moving on, WHAT persecution and disrespect of Christian beliefs?! What the hell are you talking about, especially relative to the persecution and disrespect of other belief systems coming from the Religious Right!? Yeah, sure, there are non-Christians who criticize or make fun of the Christian faith, but I honestly do not see any recent increase in that, especially in the serious, vitriolic criticisms. What are you talking about, here? Yeah, there are some aetheists, pagans, etc. who harshly criticize Christianity, but most of those criticisms are not leveled solely at Christianity, and I am not aware of anyone in a prominent position in the public eye who has gotten nasty about it. I am not aware of fundamentalist Christians being declared an evil enemy that the nation must expunge. I am not aware of Christians being shunned, or denied equal opportunity simply because the fact that they are a Christian became known. Not in this country, anyway.

Teaching Evolution in our science curriculum instead of Creation? That's not disrespect, that's called teaching science in science class, and theology in theology class, and a clear separation of church and state. It is the insistence that the theological ideology of Christian Creationism be taught in science classes that is the disrespect of religious beliefs, not the other way around, because it is an attempt to deny and deligitimize alternative religious beliefs that do not follow Christian Creationism, while officializing Christian Creationism. Doing that is not providing base respect to Christianity, but rather elevating a particular range of Christian denominations above other Christian denominations and even more so above other religious spiritual beliefs. That is abhorrent, morally wrong, and unconstitutional. That anyone, of any religious or spiritual denomination in this country, with this country's long-established position on the separation of church and state, should think that that kind of deference to their particular religious views is required for the base respect of their religion, and that failing to provide that extraordinary deference is disrespectful, especially while simultaneously railing against and trying to snuff out any contradictory belief, is a clear example of just how deluded and hypocritical the 'Religious Right' is.

If that is the kind of 'disrespect' of Christianity that you are talking about, I call BS. That's a double-standard and self-victimization, and characteristic of extremist authoritarian followers, of any political or religious affiliation.

Ilithi Dragon said...

As for Islamic extremism and militancy, the 'Left' 'feeding them Europe through inaction', 'fighting them over there instead of over here', etc. you really should re-examine the causes of militant extremism in the Islamic faith, and the motivations behind them. The hate-filled rhetoric, military invasions, torture practices, etc. promoted almost uniformly by GOP leadership and much of the GOP membership actually ENCOURAGE militancy in the Islamic faith, because it makes many otherwise non-hostile Muslims feel as though they are under attack by the U.S., that the U.S. is at war with Islam, and it gives mountains of propaganda ammunition to those who would defame us (and what's more, it makes them right about us in many ways). See this article on the movement away from militancy by many former jihadist Muslims, and their reasons and motivations for both, as well as what helped and hindered both, and this article providing additional commentary. Also see this article on the effects of the Iraqi occupation on increasing Islamic militancy and insurgent activity (not to mention experience and competence). That kind of jingoistic, hardline approach of 'putting them down at all costs because they are the greatest threat we have ever faced' does exactly the opposite of 'putting them down', and really only increases Islamic hostility towards America, while giving them valid reasons to be hostile to us, AND undermining the very principles and moral high ground upon which we once stood and built the foundations of this country. In short, they do not work! Providing them aid and making honest attempts at cooperation, support and tolerance, etc. reduces Islamic militancy, because it not only deprives militants of propaganda ammunition against us, it directly undermines their own position that we are some evil empire with no regard for international law that is hell-bent on destroying or oppressing them and their religious beliefs (claims we have had trouble denying the last 8 years).

A book you should read, that was posted by Shawn Corey a few threads back, is The Authoritarians by Dr. Bob Altemeyer, a psychologist who has studied authoritarianism for the last 40 years. It outlines the nature of both authoritarian followers and the two different types of authoritarian leaders (the amoral 'social dominators' and the fundamentalist 'double highs'), why people submit to authoritarianism, how people come to lead it, why you can't defeat them if you defeat them or attack them directly, and also how authoritarianism has become very strongly associated with conservative movements in North America, and especially the modern Republican brand of conservatism here in the States. It's a very interesting and informative read, and I highly recommend it. I also highly recommend that everyone who reads the book use it as a tool to examine themselves for authoritarian behavior.

Sorry for the tripple-post (I really hate character limits).

Also, Rob H., thanks for the enlightening description of Massachusetts Republicans. Very helpful and informative.

Rob Perkins said...

Re R-71 -- We here in Washington have considered that a passed referendum for quite a few weeks, now, and my opinion is that the next best step (in the current political climate) is to discontinue issuing marriage licenses in favor of a simple domestic partnership registry for all couples.

(What's also as true in Washington as it was in Maine is that the LDS Church didn't utter a peep for or against. I felt free to vote "yes".)

If California had done that...

David Brin said...

WOw, Catfish. That was a terrific post.

Marc said: "Now we have the Intellectual of nuanced reason in charge. We all know how well that went last time.."

Um... let me return to reality basing. When Clinton was in charge almost every statistically verifiable metric of national health went sharply upward.

That included nearly every metric that conservatives should care about, from military readiness (ALL brigades "fully combat ready") to decisively WINNING a clearcut war, to fiscal responsibility and efficiency in the civil service, to whatever a decent conservative should have wanted.

THAT is the ultimate churlishness of the Delay/Limbaugh era of Fox-driven Republicanism. There are NO metrics by which AS CONSERVATIVES you should not have preferred Clinton over Bush, and yet you go along with a wholly fabricated strawman image to screech-at, instead.

Again, please every statistically verifiable metric of national health went DOWN under Bush. So, what does it take?

This is what you call aggression from the left, my friend. Pointing out stuff like this.

Oh, the military? The United States Officer Corps is the 3rd best educated clade in American life. They are switching to Democrat faster than at any time in History. They waged a "work action" quasi mutiny in 2006 that might have saved our lives, prying Bush's hands off of the entire US Defense department. I hobnob with generals and admirals and I can tell you that no US President in living memory was so despised.

"It’s the same claim of the 'left' about all republicans being racists and bigots."

Who said that? It is a strawman that you erect in order to make your opponents seems simpleminded and Fox-like.

"So Republicans are beholden to Oil."

It is VASTLY more than that. Bush took nearly all of our energy research money and simply GAVE it to his oilco pals. At a time when we needed desperately to research better efficiency, he eviscerated US science. And have you ever followed the MONEY TRAIL behind the whole Global Climate Change Denier Movement?

Oh, on 9/11 and 9/12... when Americans were forbidden to fly, WHO got VIP flights aboard US jets, in order to rush them all out of our country, in luxury, and so they could get out of the reach of the FBI?

If that had happened under a dem, you guys would have howled.

David Brin said...

Marc said:
"I could say I am a pragmatic, problem-solving-oriented, techno-loving, scientifically-oriented, future-eager ‘conservative’; that likes to read about Barry Goldwater even! I even (gasp) have LIBERTARIAN friends!"

There now there you go. Mocking instead of reasoning. I don't just have libertarian friends, I keynoted a libertarian national convention and am known as a scholar in libertarian thought. If I sound like a lefty" to you, it is because of your ears.

Again, let me reiterate... I can list an endless list of ways in which the GOP has betrayed you IN ENTIRELY CONSERVATIVE METRICS.

A neocon DARES to lecture us about "financing plans"? You guys gave us Medicare Part D! A TRILLION dollar program without even a HINT of how to pay for it!! It was Clinton and the Congress of 1993 that instituted pay-as-you-go budgeting. It was Bush and Boehner who THREW OUT pay-as-you-go budgeting


Robert you get it. The dems and gops differ far more over personality than doctrine. it is manics vs depressives. Sigh.


Ah, but being a republican in Mass. is probably as frustrating as being a college professor in Mississippi.

I genuinely do sympathize. I can see where it's be mind-numbing... yeesh.

Tim H. said...

On radical islam, have the Saudis ever issued a fatwa against suicide bombing?, if not, could they be persuaded to? I suspect we have more than a few armed forces people who might not mind enforcing such a fatwa. Though what's likely needed to take the wind out of their sails is to disengage from the mideast.

Acacia H. said...

Something Catfish said struck a chord of whimsy in me, particularly because my own conservative friend constantly mentions Teddy Roosevelt (though as he's originally from Maine and has a soft spot for moose, the "Bullmoose Party" might have something to do with that!): Teddy Roosevelt is the King Arthur of all true non-neocon conservatives and Republicans. They want him to reappear and ride to the rescue, striking the bastard sons of conservatives that have corrupted the Republican Party down in a modern-day Battle of Camlann, only for Roosevelt to survive where Arthur fell. ^^

Rob H. who rides at the right hand of whimsy

rewinn said...

Tim H. said
On radical islam, have the Saudis ever issued a fatwa against suicide bombing?


At Fatwa-Online see several examples. It appears that many use the Quran'ic verse Al-Anam 6:151 "And take not life, which Allah has made sacred, except by way of justice and law" as further reason to prohibit suicide.[63] In addition, the hadith unambiguously forbid suicide."

It's worth noting that Islam is not as centralized as Roman Catholicism so it's entirely possible for one expert to fatwa X and another to fatwa not-X. The Saudis aren't like the Vatican.

@Marc -
As to the issue whether we can "afford" universal health care, I recommend the simple experiment of taking a typical injury or illness to the top 6 or 8 nations and seeing who does the best and cheapest job fixing it ... or you could let T. R. Reid do the experiment for you, in The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care

I endorse the concept that Dr. Brin drives lefties crazy, but we don't all run away!

David Brin said...

Alas, the TR of their fantasies is like the Adam Smith they hurl hossannas at...

The real life Teddy and the real-life Adam Smith would have nothing to do with the weird thing the GOP has become.

Unknown said...


In the United States, we swear on Bibles in court, pledge allegiance to a nation under God in school, and have "In God We Trust" on our money. We have laws prohibiting us from buying alcohol on Sundays, and even standing state laws prohibiting atheists from running for office.

The United States is about 3/4 Christian by population, and it has a major political party just for its extremists. I can pick up five Christian-themed channels over the air from my home. I was once called to the office in public school to be accused of "devil worship", and even now, the closest public park has a sign on the walking track saying "Monday, Wednesday, Friday, <- that way. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, that way ->. Sunday, see you in church!"

On top of that, every presidential candidate ever, Democratic or Republican, has always paid at least lip service to Christianity.

So it's hard for me to see where you're coming from when you talk about the persecution of Christians.

Marc, Austin, TX said...

I wish I could respond to everything here, but I can't.

@Robert, excellent points about Mass. It’s so hard to live there, so expensive, it is grinding. So hard to own a home, and not struggle. I owned two there, tiny and ridiculously expensive, children packed like sardines into ancient schools. (Both my sons go to brand new state of the art schools in here in Texas, and my ISD taxes are fraction of what they were in Mass)

I returned to Mass after serving in Storm, and Bosnia, and Haiti, and etc, etc… I lived in Texas, and HATED it when I first arrived. But then I began to live and see how much easier it was to be successful down here. Yes the medical care is awesome in Mass, but it’s still not a perfect utopian state. You can’t have your cake and eat it too, is the lesson I learned from Mass. Those that did were usually corrupt. Why would I want that lifestyle for the rest of the nation? California is bankrupt, those systems do not work.

@lilith, I think you prove my point with your back to back posts. I am not saying the Christians are right, or excusing their horrendous behavior, but they should be treated like the Muslims. No one screams for the Muslims to change their ways. Oh no they’ve been victimized! No *&^%! So just like the fundamental Islamic faithful, the Christian faithful will resist if you attack them, they will dig in to protect what is theirs, and what they believe. I don't disagree with everything you said. BUT Clinton protected the Muslims in Bosnia, what good did that do us? Did it turn Osama’s opinion? What about all the aid we send to the ‘Muslim’ world; more aid and assistance than any other nation. To many in the Muslim world we are simply and extension of European power. They still talk of Crusades! I have Muslim friends; I have been in Muslim countries. I have read the propaganda filled English versions of their papers. The US is used an excuse for every local ill by their often oppressive Authoritarian leaders. We send more aid than anyone else to the Palestinians yet they celebrated on 911. We send billions to Pakistan and we have a 6% ‘approval’ over there. (Though its also important to understand many of those cultures don’t poll very well.)

Acacia H. said...

Undoubtedly it's because of the lawsuits that enforce separation of Church and State, such as not allowing the Ten Commandments to be posted in courts, not allowing Manger scenes on public property, and other related issues. Christians see each of these as being slapped upside the head by uprighteous godless atheists who want to drive the country to ruin and remove the fundamental basis on which the country was founded (ie, Christianity).

In truth, religiousness has waxed and waned through the history of the United States. It is not a core building block of the country, and the inclusion of Separation of Church and State was an extremely wise choice by our Forefathers. The problem is that some Christians see it as their right to bring Christianity into every aspect of public life, especially as they were allowed to get away with putting manger scenes on public land in the past or posting the Ten Commandments in courthouses. To enforce the Separation of Church and State, while Constitutional, is considered heresy by some people.

Ironically, the Republican Party (which claims to be the party of the Constitution) refuses to alienate its one source of power: conservative Christian groups. Thus they end up being two-faced concerning upholding the Constitution while allowing one fundamental aspect of it (Separation of Church and State) to lapse.

Rob H.

Marc, Austin, TX said...


@llithi I appreciate the links, I will read them, but I can pull polls and articles that show the opposite. I think we will simply have to agree to disagree on some of these points.

@Brin, I will see what I can find for metrics, but I suspect it will be an interpretation thing. Knowledge and study wise, it really isn’t a fair fight (Me vs. You) like I said I don’t have your education. But really everything wasn't all bad during the 80s. I find it incredulous that you make such cut and dry claims as a scientist.

The Intellectual barb was directed at Carter, not Clinton, like I said I think Clinton did a pretty good job of riding the wave.

I did not mean the reworking of your words to mine as sarcasm, that’s how I feel.

Bush is an oil man, what did everyone expect? Again his family are longstanding friends with the Saudis ruling elite, again how is this out of character or surprising? I am not excusing his behavior; I am saying I understand it. I could predict reliably what he would do, and how he would respond.

(Was the Iraq war REALLY a surprise to anyone? Really?) (And a perpetual (16 years) of enforced no fly zones with them firing missiles at us daily was sustainable? Cruise missiles and predators executing people remotely is fine, but troops on the ground is verboten?)

I can’t look at Obama, and predict what he will do. Does that scare me, no, but it is troubling, and it obviously scares many ‘middle’ Americans. There is such a thing as too nuanced.

Marc, Austin, TX said...


@Cat I agree and disagree. We need to drop Oil. But when the Middle East is poor, they won’t be Militant? The people there sacrifice their children, because they have no hope for a future, TODAY! What hope will they have when their nations have no money? Are you saying they won’t have the money to do it? There will always be some power around to fund that dissention. The Iranians fueled Iraq and Afghanistan… Russia doesn’t need Iranian oil or gas, so why support them? To thwart us, China can then sit back, because they do NEED Iranian oil and gas and aren’t alone. Can you really say that if Russia sided with us, China would go it alone and support Iran?

Yes, Oil must be replaced. BUT even with the wars and death and misery. It’s still cheaper to drill it than invent something else over night (or more profitable). The most ridiculous thing I have seen recently was a massive Ford Expedition with a 'no blood for oil' bumper sticker! Drill down enough and WW2 (the Pacific) was ultimately about resources about OIL. Germany lost because it ran out of Oil, among other mistakes.

I already said OIL is bad. But if the Dems are so enlightened, that 700 billion could have gone 100% to clean energy projects....

This is the theme that is being missed, I don’t expect the Republicans to go willingly, but why don’t the Dems? Oh yeah they are a fractured loose association of disparate belief systems! They don’t agree. And Many Independants would rather have no bill, than a very bad bill, filled with pork and waste.

How is the current Republican behavior in anyway surprising?

OIL! How long did it take to build all these cars and the supporting industries that require massive amounts of OIL? The materials make the society, and OIL is currently that material. It will take decades to change, and I think we are starting to see those changes. They will come slowly, but they will come. People here seem to think for some reason Human nature will suddenly shift? Oh hey OIL sucks, lets change! Yeah right.

When will it change, when the alternatives are cheaper and profitable to make. When China and India cosume so much OIL, its not easier to drill in the ocean and squeeze oil from Shale.

This story has been seen over and over. It’s going on with Newspapers and Media right now.
The old guard can’t see the future, can’t understand the change, so they death grip what they know. They block and resist and die or change and survive.

I happen to think the Republicans will adapt. Personally I am impressed with the lock step, the monolithic pour that is the Senate. It’s the Dems prerogative to go around them as an obstacle, but I think people misunderstand the consequences. If ONLY they vote in health care, and it isn’t fixed to be financially viable (Again, I’m a Necon on FP, not internal social issues) the Dems will have hung themselves.

And Speaking of Olympia – the Dems burned her!

I mean really, how can you look at Reid or Pelosi and not howl? Why has Obama let Pelosi become so powerful? Why does Reid face a serious threat for his re-election if he is doing as 'his' people desire?

haha my vefification word is 'polosi' /classic.

Abilard said...

The problem with this line of reality-based reasoning is that it would lead to libertarian-leaning independents like me joining the Democratic Party. Since that would cause me to break out in hives, I must reject it out of hand and declare a fiat reality of my own. Of course, in that reality I get another Uplift novel.

Acacia H. said...

@Marc: If given an alternative, both Russia and China would gladly turn their backs on the Middle East (Russia doesn't exactly need them as they have plenty of oil reserves that they sell elsewhere). And lo! There is an alternative. Algae-grown biofuel. As I've mentioned multiple times, the use of algae biofuels not only cuts emissions but also helps cut carbon emissions from fossil fuel power plants. And once fusion power becomes a reality (we'll very likely see viable and cost-effective Fusion in under 40 years) then we'll probably wean ourselves off of fossil fuels for power and fuel.

If just $10 billion was added to the existing research for algae fuels... I'm willing to bet we'd see the first cost-effective closed-loop systems using carbon-capture of coal plants and algae fuel manufacturing in under five years.

Rob H.

Marc, Austin, TX said...

@rewinn: We could afford Universal health care. What shall we give up to have it? The Dem number for the uninsured is practically the same as the population of France. UH in a country like Canada is one thing, in a nation of 300+ million it is an entirely different animal. If the states that already have the populations used to dealing with huge tax burdens can't make it work, how will we make it work nationally? We are unwilling to give up what we already have to get UH responsibly.

@Stuart: True, AND see Robert’s post. The nation is changing can you not understand why they* (insert any group with power) would resist or feel under attack? If they perceive the nation to be Christian, and its shifting away from them, why would that not threaten them? (I didn’t say they treated others fairly.)

@Robert: Slam dunk.

@Abilard: A much better job of summing up than I did.

Acacia H. said...

The irony is, and Dr. Brin can back this up as he's seen me cluttering up his blog for a while now, I used to be in as deep of denial as Alilard and Marc. My dislike for Clinton was deep and immense (okay, still is, but I'm slowly starting to forgive his lapses) and my distrust for the Democrats vast. Yet I've gotten over it. Even if it leaves a bad flavor in my mouth.

The reason? The only viable alternative (the existing Republican Party) is far worse. There is no reforming it. There is no electing people with a more reasonable mindset. There is no curing what ails this party. The neocons and fanatics have gotten their hooks far too deep into the skin of the Republican party, and it has started to rot from within.

To put it in a slightly more whimsical aspect, the Republican Party is now a party of zombies, singlemindedly marching forward crying out "brains!" while devouring anyone who can't escape. They are hurting this country, and the alternative is a bunch of at-times overzealous chaps who want to save the world from itself.

Yet of the two, the Democrats are far more able to be molded into something of use. The Republicans? They're mindlessly marching and refusing to change, despite the fact their actions ultimately risks destroying this country through inaction and hate. So I'll hold my nose and work through the Democrats. I'll hope and pray that the Republicans die that final death, and that they do as little harm as possible in the years ahead. And I'll then wait, quietly, for the Democrats to bud, and split into two parties with similarities and the ability to change and evolve... and maybe even compromise and work together.

But that's the inner scifi writer in me speaking out again. I really got to work on one of those story ideas of mine. ;)

Rob H.

Marc, Austin, TX said...

@Robert I agree that the Algae looks very promising, but that’s a not a brand new technology. I watched a Science channel show about it a few weeks back. The question is can it 'feed' the worlds power needs NOW? No. Could it? Maybe, prove it.

3 ocean going ships cause more pollution than all the cars in the US. Feeding our pets is more costly than SUVs... Often what we think is green is not. We use more fuel shipping the electric car batteries around the world than the cars then save in their entire life times. Should we stop trying? No! Should be deal realistically with the issue? Yes.

Oil = necessary evil of the moment.

But the world will be far from perfect when it’s (mostly) gone. So many industries rely on it, that its production will go on for centuries. Consequences..

@Brin Clinton allowed the Military to be gutted in 90's, I was there, I remember. And regardless of whose idea it was, the concept and idea of moving our active forces to the Guard was and is a fiasco.

I have a friend in AGW right now and another in Iraq, both guard, both have done multiple tours. Again we want what we don’t want to pay for, hmm hey wait didn’t we just experience a collapse of our credit markets? Hey lets buy UH!!

Yeah the Dems are brilliant, almost as smart as the Republicans. How can you yell about Medicare D, when we are going thru the redux version right now?

AND Europe can barely muster the forces for the AGW, they have almost zero ability to project power and move their limited assets. The US shouldn’t have been needed in Bosnia, but Europe sat on its hands.

Why? Maybe they didn't care, more likely they just couldn't do it.

Because they don't have real Militaries anymore. Europe traded military spending for Healthcare - very noble. Why could they do it? Because WE protect them and they complain while we do it.

Marc, Austin, TX said...

@Robert. So when the Republicans make massive gains in 2010, what is that? It’s the same reaction as 2008. The American public is fickle. I think many here don't understand what Stuart pointed out (inadvertently) is that if the right can claim to represent Christian beliefs (not hard to do: abortion - gay marriage - etc) (and I know there are Christian Dems - obviously) and the US is 3/4 Christian (eh), I think its easy to overestimate or over predict how upset many actually are over Radical Religious Republicans.

Their behavior isn't 'strange' to many Middle Americans; this is not some alien religion that has popped out from nowhere. They get it, they understand it. Many find comfort in it. Many will hold their noses and vote with them.

I think the demise of the Radical Religious Right is wishful thinking. You may wish it so, but if they are so trivialized, why is Palin’s book a massive best seller? Many see an attack on Palin's values as an attack on their own values.

Traditional values (insert any major religion or belief system here) have power. Discount or disrespect them at your own peril.
For example: Gay marriage has had grinding slow success, for every success there are several failures. What if more Christians become blue dogs? They still have to resolve that internal conflict.

I think you are looking too far into the future. Who knows what will happen. One technology from left field could change everything, overnight no, in 10 years sure. But what’s everything?

The AF jet I used to refuel F-15s over Iraq, to deliver fuel to U2s in Italy so they could fly over Bosnia, to drop Marines into Haiti was around at the end of the Korean war (where 50k US troops still sit), and flew in Vietnam. Hell it flew with fighters to intercept Russian bear bombers flying over Finland towards Iceland (in the 90s)I know, I was there, I have the photos.

Those airframes continue to fly now, air frames built as early as 1953. We used potentially a hundred thousand of pounds of OIL based fuel per flight. Could we modify those airframes to hold engines that burn bio fuels, why not. But I can also tell you that when that fuel was inconvenient, we would simply dump it on the ground. It was cheap.

Who pays for it?

Does the Military go first? Do the ocean going freighters go first?
How much does it cost to dry dock a ship, cut open its hull, and replace an engine? More than the fuel it uses? Maybe not, a cruise ship just did it! Oh wait, it put in NEW diesel engines...

Cheap, easy, profitable, accessible.

When we build the Fusion plants in 10-20-30 years, we will we build them worldwide? Who pays for them?

The navy constantly struggles with fuel consumption and cost - hence nuclear – or was that for sustainability on the projection of power? ;) The bad guy is suddenly a good guy! Nuclear is GREEN? WTF! - Who would have thought! Now they have another that is ship that is experimenting with green tech. What are the true costs?

Unknown said...

I have to agree with Marc that rumors of the death of the Republican Party have been greatly exaggerated. For many people I know, it is the only alternative to a party they equate with Satan himself, and I have not yet found a way to convince them otherwise.

I fear that I'm making a common liberal mistake even trying to do so: Thinking that if I can just explain the benefits of tolerance well enough that they will have to concede, when for many people, intolerance is the point. In that case, I'm not sure how to proceed democratically.

David McCabe said...

> 3 ocean going ships cause more pollution than all the cars in the US.

Refuted; do some googling.

Marc, Austin, TX said...

Stuart: Exactly! But here is the problem, they don't see it as intolerance, what you believe is simply wrong. Swap out the word Christians for Muslims, one could see a larger worldwide problem.

No amount of statistical data will change a significant number of minds.

Evolution is a fact, the same type of people (scientists)that make cell phones work using theories (electromagnetism), and drop probes on other planets using theories (gravity), have proven evolution, but large amounts of Americans (The majority! boggle!) Don't believe it. Nope not true. Oh let me make a cell call to my Senator to complain! Sure execute that guy based on DNA, but that didn't evolve it’s always been the same, it was designed, don’t mind the flaws, and crap, and randomness, the defects, it’s a perfect design... (And Don't get me start on the stats of DNA either.. wow!)

So why do people even try to argue about Global Warming with the American public? If they don't 'get' evolution, how will they 'buy' GW: An exponentially more difficult to truly understand subject? Never mind topics like the North Atlantic conveyor that could cause a mini - ice age if Greenland melted. Now that is just stupid, right? Salinity, what the oceans aren’t infinitely soluble? They have currents, warm and cold water behave differently? Europe is mild because of the Ocean current? Huh? You've lost them before you started. The world is man's do with as he wishes. God told us so...

I know a creationist medical doctor. How does that happen? Modern medicine and biology fall apart if you remove evolution. But here is a surgeon that literally interprets the bible. How he deals with that conflict, I do not know.

What I do know is that, we can't discuss the topic. We just loop around in a circle. Loop, loop, loop. I know a decent amount about physiology, but our world views are diametrically opposed. So I should attack his beliefs and insult him to agree with me right? I should call him a redneck and ignorant (a MD) because I am right and he is obviously wrong. Oh I know we should BOTH compromise, and meet in the middle…uh so i should marginalize him right, shun him? this guy who saves peoples lives on a daily basis?

So UH: We can't afford it, without taxes and cuts. We can't really afford more taxes, and the public will punish anyone that cuts something or raises taxes on the ‘not-rich’.

So we talk of compromise, which is basically bribing someone to do what you want by offering a trade...Again how are the Republicans abusing their constituents by resisting?

Marc, Austin, TX said...

Ok 20 or 100 or whatever. The point remains valid. How many ships are there world wide? China is building a 1000 ship Navy.

Whats the pollution caused by a 1000 diesel buring destroyers racing across the Ocean?

rewinn said...

Marc wrote: @rewinn: We could afford Universal health care. What shall we give up to have it?


If you had bothered to check out the source I provided, or any other reputable source, you would know that France, Germany, Japan, Canada AND Switzerland spend less money per capita AND have better health outcomes. Each has a different way of solving the problem and the source I provided describes them in detail. Why do you think that our great nation cannot do as well as Switzerland?

UH in a country like Canada is one thing, in a nation of 300+ million it is an entirely different animal.

Yes, our United States of America would have superior economies of scale.\

It's worth noting that the European Union is much, much larger than our United States. And has healthcare that is both more effective overall and less expensive. Why do you lack faith in America's ability to do as well?

Let me propose a simple plan that would be (A) revenue-neutral, (B) voluntary, and (C) effective:

"Any American citizen under age 65 may buy into Medicare at a rate set to, in aggregate, cover costs for the entire uner-65 pool." (commonly called Medicare Part E)

If you want to make the common objections to such a plan is that it would require tax money, please go back and read the part starting " a rate ..."


P.S. When, oh when are white male Christian straights like myself going to get a FAIR DEAL? When will we have our REPRESENTATION proportionate to our NUMBERS in the corridors of power: Congress, the courts, the White House, Corporate board rooms? How many of us will have to get boot if that day ever comes?


"China is building a 1000 ship navy..."

OK, playtime is over. You've had your fun and we've treated you respectfully; now put up a source or admit you're just trolling.

David McCabe said...

For reference, the US navy is currently 280 ships and 3,700 aircraft.

Anonymous said...

Brin here as anonymous, from the road...

Marc said: "like I said I don’t have your education. But really everything wasn't all bad during the 80s. I find it incredulous that you make such cut and dry claims as a scientist."

No Marc, YOU are being unfair and copping out, by whining that I am bullying you.

Marc, I do not expect you to be super educated (though respecting the scientists and civil servants and military officers who DO know a lot would be a nice thing for Republicans to return to.)

No, Marc, I pose my challenge for a simple reason. Because you neocons keep yattering about how pragmatic you are, about how dreamy lefties are. About how
RESULTS matter to you! And yet, in three years of offering this challenge NOT ONE NEOCON has ever been able to cite a single way in which their era of (mis) rule actually resulted in benefit to the United States
of America.

If you are honest, results should matter to you! America was ascendant under Clinton and in steepdecline under Bush. THAT SHOULD MATTER. Almost all the scientists, civil servants, professors, doctors and military flaf officershate the neocons with livid passion. Above all, every supposedly conservative value was betrayed.

Again.. what will it take?

"Bush is an oil man, what did everyone expect? Again his family are longstanding friends with the Saudis ruling elite, again how is this out of character or surprising? I am not excusing his behavior..."

Yes you are! I don't care how NATURAL his treason was. I care that you guys seem unable
ever to admit that is WAS treason!

Marc says: "@Brin Clinton allowed the Military to be gutted in 90's, I was there, I remember."

No Marc, you do not. You may remember such a thing but it is an absolute hallucination, like supply side economics.
And the "fact" that Clintonites were "corrupt." (Demonstrably not. I know dozens of generals and admirals
and they ALL (some grudgingly) said he was the best and most focused administrator and left a VERY healthy
military with its highest morale EVER. Please, don't try that BS.

ALL brigades were Fully Combat Ready when BC left office. NONE were FCR when Bush left office None. None.

Again, Marc, what will it take?

"How can you yell about Medicare D, when we are going thru the redux version right now?"

because at least how to pay for it is being DISCUSSED! And if the goppers would NEGOTIATE they would
be able to change the bill. Their refusal is criminal

And no, the Red Right isn't going to go away. Their rage has driven off almost every body in the US who has a post graduate degree.
They drive away hispanics and immigrants and everybody who wants progress. They march to a tune beat
by Rupert and the Saudis... and they actually think they will win the civil war, when they re-ignite it?
You can portray this as THEM being victims It doesn't wash. And the proof is that their brightest KIDS LEAVE THEM
and go to live and work in Blue America.

SAh well... you are challenging us and welcome here. But you'll exhaust me and I simply cannot keep up this pace.

I have a late novel, three teens, and I have learned how futile it is to teach a neocon that he is Rupert
Murdoch's puppet.

Marc, Austin, TX said...


The source you gave is a book on Amazon...Sorry it hasn't arrived yet.

But from the reviews I can see, its loved by Newsweek (a truly balanced and reasonable publication.) ./eye-roll. Economies of scale only work so far. Aging populations are an issue that negates any economy of scale gained by a ‘large’ population and the theoretical tax revenue gained from them. If they are all consumers, there is no advantage. European countries populations are stagnant or in decline. Japan has serious problems with that currently they are 2 to 1 youngsters supporting elders. (Numbers from Bloomberg TV, the former prime Minister of Saigon) nations also may have different health issues, different rates and types of disease, better eating habits. Less illegal immigration (it’s a burden) and I’m not against letting as many people ein as wants to come in. Just do it right. Many add money to the economy, but please don’t tell me they all add actual profitable tax revenue. Only the rich are taxed right?

HC: For example: Alzheimer’s is virtually unknown in the Phillipines. Ref: My wife is a nurse and works with 20+ Pilipino nurses, brought over by the hospital because there aren’t enough US nurses to staff their hospitals. Shall I tell you a story about the percentage of overnight patients that are only drug seekers that the hospital is required to treat and give beds to for legal reasons? Or how about how they are regulars and are repeatedly admitted by doctors and given the controlled pain meds month after month?

The European systems aren’t perfect and have their flaws. But more importantly they don't have our legal system. So let’s say we could afford UH as is. The current plan doesn’t do it. They have to bait and switch the numbers or come up with another bill to hide the size of the bill. 10 years tax for 6 years service? In what reality is that fair? So what gives? Number of doctors, services offered? How long do you have to wait? What medicine I can receive? Experimental Cancer meds have to be sued for in Britain. You can’t something for nothing. So I ask again, what do we give up, or what group do we take it from? Lawyers, sure could stop ‘them’ making gobs of money? The victims of malpractice or Doctors, they are paid to much anyway right, take it from them.

Again, we can argue back and fourth about this. Let's talk tax burden in Europe. No wait how about efficiency, no wait lets talk LEGAL systems! No let’s talk about the restriction of trade across state lines. Where’s tort reform? Oh wait the Lawyer lobby owns the Dems. We aren’t Europe. I think we could do it. So who will compromise first? Again who is going to give soemthing up. You can't fund everything.

And ./sigh China/Navy that number popped up in a article on a Newsweek blog. Research: ‘Mullen’

China is ‘allowed’ to have a Navy, is the number 1000 over the top, well that’s what I read, is that propaganda, probably, but from ‘which’ side, ‘US’ or ‘Them’. I don’t care.

Lets say they only build 200 ships, good for them, they are allowed to protect their foreign interests. Again, you miss my point. We (humans) don’t spend OUR money where it makes the real difference we aren’t very efficient.

I don’t care how many ships the Chinese build, but I care what runs thru the engines of ANY ship worldwide. Oh and those engines need lubricant also.

Troll, I’m not stirring the pot. I’m trying to have a debate with reasonable, compromise capable people, but hey name calling, that works too.

Marc, Austin, TX said...

Sorry Brin. I will slow down and take the time to respond, refute and/or answer your questions. I wasn't complaining or whining, I was merely stating a fact. I have not done the specific historical research that allows me to instantly respond to your assertions. My interests lie elsewhere and I was dubious as to whether it was worth the effort to even provide opposing data. You seem very entrenched. If you are in rush, then you may not have fully read my statements.

I was trying to respond to everyone, because I had the time today and was enjoying reading the responses.

I will also reprint several statements in my posts (keeping them short) where I make some important points about MY beliefs. AND please, I don’t call you a Soros-ite. Don't call me a Rupert-ite.

I take the time to read many 'flavors' of opinion.


The Army brigades may have been fully CR, whatever that means, I can only speak about my experiences in the AF, which was not Fully CR at the beginning or end of the BC reign.

But, AGAIN, as I have said repeatedly, I liked BC.

AND Again, again, I’m a center (slightly) right social moderate, but a foreign policy neocon. People have belief spectrums even on the ‘Republican’ side.

Unknown said...

(What's also as true in Washington as it was in Maine is that the LDS Church didn't utter a peep for or against. I felt free to vote "yes".)

Weird. Is there not a large LDS presence in these states, or has the Church changed its tack since the backlash against their campaigning in California?

Marc, Austin, TX said...


"No, Marc, I pose my challenge for a simple reason. Because you neocons keep yattering about how pragmatic you are, about how dreamy lefties are. About how
RESULTS matter to you! And yet, in three years of offering this challenge NOT ONE NEOCON has ever been able to cite a single way in which their era of (mis) rule actually resulted in benefit to the United States
of America."

Lets seen a neocon decision that has been a 'benefit' to The US of A.

Nixon was a neocon.

Nixon opened trade with China.

Trade is good. Countries that trade are less likely to fight.

Would you not agree that Trade with China has turned out to have been a benefit to the US of A.

Isn't China our principle financial backer?

Rob Perkins said...

I never thought of Nixon as a neo-conservative.

Marc, Austin, TX said...

./Sigh Thus the issue with this type of debate.

First define what the term means.

Then agree on who can be considered to have (mostly) followed that doctrine.

Then throw around the names of books, articles, and authors that push your particular concept of the word in an effort to win the pre-arguments.

Are we at a stalemate before we can even start on the meat?

Fine: Reagan (Can we agree here?)

Neocon benefit to US of A:

Nominated Alan Greenspan. BC reappointed Alan Greenspan, and kept him as a core member of his economic team.

So Alan was there for BC's utopia! He only screwed up later right? or was BC successful despite the existance of Alan?

Tacitus2 said...

Indeed, the atmosphere has grown a little less collegial in these parts of late. Almost I am tempted to forgo posting. But what the heck. Lets do some Clinton/W.Bush comparisons. I believe the challenge is to show a single metric of "national health" that improved under the latter.

Life expectancy 1990-76.9
same in 2008 78.1

Infant mortality 2000 6.9/K
same in 2006 6.3/K

school expenditures in constant 2006 dollars
'92 617,318 (in millions)
2000 782,975
2007 972,000

expenditures per pupil in 2006 dollars

90-91 7,472
96-97 7,609
05-06 9,391 (most recent data)

by another measure, the US tied with Switzerland in 2005 for highest annual spending per pupil

Under W the GDP goes from 10 trillion to 14.3

emission rates of a wide array of pollutants are down. Here's carbon monoxide
'93 136 k tons
2000 114 k tons
2008 78 k tons

And so forth. I sense the character limit approaching, so will close by saying that this does not prove W was some falsely maligned paragon. Nope, he was an inexperienced leader who landed in the Oval office in large measure due to rebuke of his predecessor. He came saddled with shifty cronies and did not rise to the challenge of his times.

These things often go badly.

But if he was treasonably sabotaging all that is good in America he was pretty incompetent at that too!

Or do you reject these "metrics" as having no relevance to national health?


David Brin said...

was most definitely NOT a neocon.

He was a crook and a jerk, but he

1. Negotiated with democrats on everything. In fact, the Health Care system that he OFFERED was far more extensive than Obama's and we'd have it today, if Dan Rostenkowski hadn't been pigheaded about cooperating with Nixon

2. The China trip proves it. W. Could have done the EAXCT same thing in 2002 by flying into Iran with gifts... including a promise to help them get the man who murdered a million og their citizens. As it is, we got rid of both of the Iranian Mullahs' worst enemies for them without asking for anything in return!

3. Nixon signed the Environmental protection act. He also supported science. Nohe was NOT a neocon.

ANyway, my challenge had to do with national health skyrocketing under BC and plummeting under W. No one yet has shown ANY rebuttal.

Secondary challenge: A supply side prediction that ever came true. There I'm not quite as certain, but it seems a clear zero.

Greenspan wasn't a neocon. He's a libertarian fanatic. There's a big diff.


Tacitus2 good fellow! You are reliable to rise to a challenge and took it on!

In fact though, it is highly debatable that any of the metrics that you cite plausibly relate to policy or implementation in the political levels of the executive branch. Education is mostly run by states, life expectancy, infant mortality and such are genrally implemented by the civil service over VERY LONG lag times. And the GDP rises over ANY 8 year span. (That rise was far less than the rise in clinton's years.

Still, you tried and certainly did come up with statistics and not pablum nostrums.

I think most people would agree that metrics directly related to executive branch policy and legislation are more relevant. Budget deficits, expenditures on science (federal), military morale and readiness, rate of small business startups, rates of entrepreneurship, public and private indebtedness and leveraging, trade deficits and beholdenness to foreign oil producers... You know I could go on and on and these are HUGELY indicting of the neocons. Without lag times as an excuse.

Marc, Austin, TX said...


Heh, so nixon doesn't meet YOUR definistion of a neocon? O.k. i won't bother with an argument there yet.

I said Reagan appointed Alan, not that Alan was a neocon. Alan claims to be a Libertarian Republican. Apparently something you don't approve of.

Reagan did something benefitial in appointing AG, who impacted BC's economic policies. Hence a benefit to the US.

And Bush was big on education. So how is that spendingnot a valid metric? come on David, its your blog sure, but you are acting like an Authoritarian here, who are you Judge Dredd?

Marc, Austin, TX said...

So lets have it. What's your definition (without name calling) of a neocon?

Marc, Austin, TX said...

Ah a little honesty here, you've changed the rules:

"Anyway, my challenge had to do with national health skyrocketing under BC and plummeting under W. No one yet has shown ANY rebuttal."

That wasn't your first challenge.

Bush Jr is a Neocon? Wait what?

Medicare D...

Ridiculous unrestrained social spending

The first Bailout..

How is Jr a Neocon? Maybe on FP, but socially? Really?

Marc, Austin, TX said...

Pablum nostrums, more insults David? Please why the continued attacks?

I love science. Statistics are fun and I love bayesian math as much as the next guy, but really.

If the supply-side argument is so straight forward why haven't the Dems used that argument to pummel the Repubs?

I'd go with some kind of consumption or flat tax personally.

Rob Perkins said...

Tacitus, are your figures adjusted for CPI or PPI inflation?

David Brin said...

Marc I have little time, but notice what you are doing. You are reaching WAAAAY back in time, even though you know that my challenge had specifically to do with the era that encompassed the Clinton and Bush administrations.

Neoconservatism was a SELF made identifier thast erupted in part with Newt Gingrich's "revolution" around 1994. But arising primarily out of the American Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation weirdos like Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz et al.

"ush Jr is a Neocon? Wait what?Medicare D...
Ridiculous unrestrained social spending"


Of course they betrayed budget rules! They are neocons! Of course they plunged us into stupid wasteful land wars of attrition in Asia. They're neocons!

"If the supply-side argument is so straight forward why haven't the Dems used that argument to pummel the Repubs?"

Beats me! Now you are asking about DEMOCRAT foolishness? WATCH how fast I can get started insulting them. Just because they are generally vastly more sane doesn't mean they don't make me want to tear... my...frigging ... hair ... out!

The dems want the US govt to work and they are sincere about wanting to solve problems. I will give em that. But they are politically absolute morons

David Brin said...

BTW, Popular Mechanics (of all publications) has an excellent summary of the meaning of the climate email contretemps:   
It ends with this nice bit:
What We Know for Sure

Leaving the model predictions aside, I'd like to end this by taking stock of the data. Please keep in mind that this is just the view of a nonspecialist, who has not read all of the many papers on global climate written over the past decades. 

The atmosphere is well mixed on a year-long time scale.

It is not necessary to cover the globe with sensors to determine how the average atmospheric CO2 concentration is changing over periods of years. All data show that atmospheric CO2 is going up. This increase is very strongly correlated with the historical increase in human CO2 emissions. Ice-core gas samples show that the current concentration in CO2 is unprecedented for at least 500,000 years (and probably many millions of years, based on other data).

There have been many other periods in the glacial record when atmospheric CO2 went up without any help from humans, but they show a much slower rate of increase of CO2, and much lower maximum concentrations. 

For these reasons, and based on carbon isotope data, it is all but certain that the present, unprecedented rise in CO2 is due mainly to human output.

But one cannot rule out with complete certainty other factors, for example, global warming itself, that could also be significantly contributing to the atmospheric CO2 increase. 

CO2 (and methane) in the atmosphere are nearly transparent to UV and visible radiation, but absorb in the infrared, creating a "greenhouse." If it were not for this, the surface of the Earth would be much colder.

This leads to the inference that increasing CO2 will lead to increasing warmth. Also, high CO2 concentration in the air leads to ocean acidification, which is probably bad for coral and perhaps also for plankton that make their shells from calcium carbonate (soluble in acid) and form the base of the ocean food chain.

A good-faith effort has been made to determine average global temperature using the instrumental record, with increasing accuracy and precision as the data become more comprehensive. For sure, the average temperature of the atmosphere has been rising for most of the last 50 years.

This is consistent with the greenhouse theory, though one cannot rule out with complete certainty that other factors—variation due to sunspot activity, or the last gasp of a long warming trend caused by variation in the Earth's orbit—might also be contributing to temperature change.

The Arctic ice cap is getting smaller, in apparent response to this global temperature increase. Sea level is rising, due to the thermal expansion of the oceans and, increasingly, to melting of the Greenland and/or Antarctic ice caps. It has been shown to most people's satisfaction that the Greenland ice cap is getting smaller. 

There may be other factors, not yet accounted for, which could more or less suddenly emerge, and offset some or all of the future CO2 increase, the warming, the melting and the acidification that are predicted from these simple, well-known observations and the inferences and projections from models based on these observations. That's the nature of science in general. It is really almost impossible to prove beyond all doubt that nothing important is missing from a theory.

excerpt continues...

David Brin said...

excerpt continues...
As a trail sign in Yosemite used to say, "Caution, unknown hazards may exist." In addition, the ecological, economic and social consequences of global warming are also uncertain, adding another layer of unpredictability to this whole scenario. 

Most scientists know and acknowledge these uncertainties, and reason as follows.

We're in an unprecedented situation, with regard to the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and the rate at which it is rising.

Because this is unprecedented, we are not sure what is going to happen. But global warming is very likely, and reasonably probable outcomes could be fatal. Ignoring it would be like Russian roulette.

Want to play? I do not.

--- Russ Daggatt comments:

The so-called "One-Percent Doctrine," attributable to Dick Cheney, is described thusly:
"If there's a 1% chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al-Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response."
This is a variation of the "precautionary principle": " If an action or policy might cause severe or irreversible harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of a scientific consensus that harm would not ensue, the burden of proof falls on those who would advocate taking the action."
If there is a one-percent chance that continuing to pump anthropogenic carbon dioxide into the atmosphere would cause catastrophic climate change, the burden of proof falls on those who would continue to engage in those activities.

matthew said...

@ Marc -
Alan Greenspan a net positive to the nation? Have you been paying attention to our latest depression (yes, it is a depression, by the economics textbook definintion)?

Alan Greenspan *caused* this financial screwup by keeping interest rates artificially low to promote the real-estate, big banking, manufacture-nothing society that benefited only the weathiest 2% of Americans. His brand of Libertarian crap has cost us our middle class. He and Phil Gramm bear the single largest amount of blame for literally trillions in damages to our GDP, our American Dream.

Alan Greenspan is proof that deregulated, crony-run markets are not viable outside of an Ayn Rand dream world. Here's a quote from Ms. Rand (AG's stated #1 hero and influence), "Evil requires the sanction of the victim." Now, Mr Marc from Austin, do you see anything wrong with calling AG a net benefit to our nation, our world?

AG a proof of neocon wisdom? Why you have made the point for neocon idiocy simply by using AG as a positive example.

isheott : what I did in my pants while trying to hold in my laughter at the idea of Alan Greenspan being anyone's idea of a success.

David McCabe said...

Transparency: London CCTV cameras to be streamed on the net; cash prizes for catching criminals.

David McCabe said...

The tone here is become strident. Might I humbly suggest that Dr Brin calm down, and that Marc stop jumping around from one sentence to the next like a TV anchor. Thank you.

Marc, Austin, TX said...

The first Necons 'self' description reportedly shows up in 1973.

I like this definition better than yours, less foaming of the mouth:

"Neoconservatism is a political philosophy that emerged in the US which supports using American economic and military power to bring liberalism, democracy, and human rights to other countries. Consequently the term is chiefly applicable to certain Americans and their strong supporters. In economics, unlike traditionalist conservatives, neoconservatives are generally comfortable with a welfare state; and, while rhetorically supportive of free markets, they are willing to interfere for overriding social purposes."

@matthew Depression - I agree. But, I thought it was all Bush Jr's fault? So Alan was bad the entire time? Re-appointed 5 times by the evil Republicans and Clinton the Great. So Clinton didn't listen to Alan and we did good, and the Republicans did listen to him and we did bad?

I agree that the lack of regualtion is bad,and Alan was definitely wrong there, but like most things I suspect the working model lies somewhere in the middle of none and the nanny-state with its hand in my wallet, telling me what I can eat. Balance. The Dems running Fanny-mae and giving out millions of dollars for homes to people with out the finances to pay it back had nothing to do with the housing issues?

@Brin I can see disliking troops in Iraq, but AWG is useless?

Marc, Austin, TX said...

Sorry David. I am guilty of that.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Dr. Brin, you're awesome: but you DO need to slow down and read posts more carefully. You're rightfully ticking Marc here off by staying too close to your assumptions and definitions. CITOKATE time...

1) "A neocon DARES to lecture us about "financing plans"?

Marc *said* he was only a foreign-policy neocon, that he was a fiscal conservative.

2) Rob H: Teddy Roosevelt is the King Arthur of all true non-neocon conservatives and Republicans.

Brin: The real life Teddy and the real-life Adam Smith would have nothing to do with the weird thing the GOP has become.

....that's what Rob and I were saying. We wish Teddy would come bash some heads, just as you wish Goldwater would. Hey, they could be a tag team! :P

3) Marc said: The Intellectual barb was directed at Carter, not Clinton

and I have to agree there. Carter has been a far better ex-President than President. He reminds me of Wilson: a little too intellectual, unbalanced in a way Clinton and Obama are not. Insufficiently savvy.

4) Marc: @Brin Clinton allowed the Military to be gutted in 90's, I was there, I remember.

Brin: You may remember such a thing but it is an absolute hallucination...ALL brigades were Fully Combat Ready when BC left office.

You're talking past each other. Marc is upset about the SIZE REDUCTIONS and about the shift from Regulars to Guardsmen: a move designed to make long land wars in Asia difficult and painful...

...which is EXACTLY what happened with the neocons ordered us into two such wars, one necessary, one not.

It may have been wise or foolish, but you can't say the Guard shift policy wasn't successful in its aim.

And Dr. Brin -- you can't just pick out the Regular Army's stats and say the whole military was in good shape. I actually agree with you re: morale and resources, but you really should show your work on this one (especially since Marc here is Air Force).

Finally: The so-called "One-Percent Doctrine," attributable to Dick Cheney, is described thusly...

I generally like Daggett, but I'm not going to use Cheney as a reference for any darned thing. His thought processes are compromised beyond repair, as far as I can tell.

zatickte: the state of being annoyed by the need to apply citokate.

Catfish N. Cod said...


1) No one screams for the Muslims to change their ways.

They don't? My understanding is that a good part of the Euro-Muslim strife is because the Europeans do scream. French headscarf ban? Swiss minaret ban? Dutch far right party in the government? Any of this ringing a bell?

But if the Muslims were asking for one-tenth of what my brethren in the South want in terms of government recognition of religious doctrine... there'd be hell to pay, and nothing short of it.

Christianism just LOOKS like the Christianity most Americans are comfortable with: deep down it's scary as hell. Literally.

2) BUT Clinton protected the Muslims in Bosnia, what good did that do us? Did it turn Osama’s opinion?

No. It turned the Bosniacs' opinion. Ever hear of a Bosniac suicide bomber? How about a Bosniac terrorist attacking the West? No? Nor will you. Bosnia could have caused all KINDS of problems for Europe today, the only indigenous Muslim population left on the continent after the Greek-Turkish population exchanges. But not after the West saved their butts (and continues to do so). Instead, they're eager as heck to join the European Union. While we can (and should!) grouse about the EU not lifting its weight... I fail to see how this is not a net win for NATO.

3) We send more aid than anyone else to the Palestinians yet they celebrated on 911. We send billions to Pakistan and we have a 6% ‘approval’ over there.

I agree we should press the Muslims, and the r'oils in particular, to pay more for the Palestinians. But Pakistan? We're not sending money and troops there because we like them, or because they like us. We're doing it because Osama is in Pakistan. The long-term interest of the US is much more in India; but we have to do something to keep Osama away from Pakistani nukes. If you have a better way to do that, please, speak up.

4) Are you saying they won’t have the money to do it?

In a word: yes. With less money they will turn on closer targets of opportunity.

5) It’s still cheaper to drill it than invent something else over night (or more profitable).

Who said anything about overnight? This is strategery, not tactics. The turnover will take years: therefore we have no time to waste.

6) We use more fuel shipping the electric car batteries around the world than the cars then save in their entire life times.

The answer to that, of course, is to stop building the stupid things in China. But to make that economical, we'd need cap-and-trade, or a gas tax, or something... oh wait...

7) Aging populations are an issue that negates any economy of scale gained by a ‘large’ population...

Well then, your argument would be supported by how the age/youth ratio is so high in America compared to all those other countries you mentioned.

Oh wait. Actually, America has a lower age/youth ratio, and is projected to keep that advantage as far as growth curves can be reasonably extrapolated. There are problems with paying for health care, but that's not one of them.

speuckmk: mining comment pages for useful concepts.

Marc, Austin, TX said...


1) No one screams for the Muslims to change their ways.

France – Yes they really cracked down after those weeks of nightly bus and car fires and riots by disgruntled Muslim youths because they couldn't get jobs a few years back. Scarfs - Dress codes are hardly forgiegn here, and there have been news reports of people not allowed to wear crosses, etc, etc in the US.

Switzerland – I’d say that’s more about the skyline. Its interesting but hardly effective if they are trying to actually accomplish some other goal. Other than to annoy people.

Even the scary Christians don’t have Sharia law. But you missed my point. If the far left Dems can’t grok Christians, what hope do they have with Traditional Muslims, that when radicalized will be happy to kill them.

2) BUT Clinton protected the Muslims in Bosnia, what good did that do us? Did it turn Osama’s opinion?

Yes, Bosnia was a win. I used it as reference because Dr Brin likes that war. We did the right thing to stop the genocide. I can’t say it was a truly NATO win, but it was very good. My point is that its a shame it did not help us in the larger Islamic world. That the Bosnics like us, er good I guess, do they export anything? Good will is great.

3) We send more aid than anyone else to the Palestinians yet they celebrated on 911. We send billions to Pakistan and we have a 6% ‘approval’ over there.

We’ve been sending aid to Pakistan for 20+ years or more. (lots)

4) Are you saying they won’t have the money to do it?

”In a word: yes. With less money they will turn on closer targets of opportunity.”

I completely disagree here. 911 was done on the cheap. That type of event is single individual fundable. Cell phones, fertilizer, and a truck don’t cost much either. McVeigh wasn’t exactly well to do.

5) It’s still cheaper to drill it than invent something else over night (or more profitable).

"Who said anything about overnight? This is strategery, not tactics. The turnover will take years: therefore we have no time to waste."

So pick a tech to fund…

6) We use more fuel shipping the electric car batteries around the world than the cars then save in their entire life times.

"The answer to that, of course, is to stop building the stupid things in China. But to make that economical, we'd need cap-and-trade, or a gas tax, or something... oh wait..."

Heh heh

7) Aging populations are an issue that negates any economy of scale gained by a ‘large’ population...

Babies cost money, youthful sports injuries cost money, car crashes cost money, drug seekers cost money, drug addiction costs money, HC for illegal immigrants that amount to an entire European nations population costs money.
(and before anyone blows a vien, I like immigration.)

More people = more of those issues.

The Dems are counting on the young not participating and paying the fine for not participating… that means the ratios are broken somewhere…

Lizy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sociotard said...

I found a cool online magaine! DayBreak Magazine offers "near-future, optimistic SF". They claim they'll publish an anthology called "shine" next year.

I just finished The Branding of Shu Mei Fen and highly recomend it.

Tacitus2 said...

I think many folks would consider the stats I quoted as valid metrics of national fitness. Consider them "canaries in the coal mine" if you will. I could have also quoted stats on number of patents issued, number of students in grad school, percentages of home ownership, inflation rate (3% when Clinton takes office, 3.4% when he left, 3.8% when W left).

Lag time is a valid point. The percentage of home ownership that peaked in 2004 (69.2%) reflected policies of Clinton and Bush admins, plus Congressional input and pseudo-governmental agencies like Fannie Mae. Of course, many of those homes were purchased with Magic Unicorn Dollars.

But a request. If you are going to make, well, rather blustery assertions about how all metrics of national well being decline under Neocon/GOP rule, please upfront include your qualifications and provisos. Otherwise you come across like the drunken Klingon comparing the Enterprise to a garbage scow, and I have to do the Scotty line of "Laddy, do ya think ye might want to---rephrase that a bit?".

I could easily quote more immediate budget/deficit stats, and I concur, under W they were damn ugly. But they would really cry out for some comparison to the similar, even more deplorable budget policies of the current admin. And that is another matter.

Rob. The educational funding stats come respectively from the CIA World fact book and from the National Center for Educational Statistics. I am on the road right now and it is not convenient for me to dig in right now.

Oh, and regards mil. ready status. Under Clinton we were without doubt more prepared for the T55s of the Red Army to come storming through the Fulda gap. Under Bush we certainly became more ready to deal with a foe whose main battle vehicle is the donkey.

Now, back to work for me.


Tim H. said...

It's so much fun to blame "shrub", especially when he had a veep who'll do until the Elder Gods return. But it's not really fair, the nation's economic difficulties go back at least to the stagflation that began in the late 60s. A variety of band aids has been tried, but they've mostly been brazen attempts to enrich whoever had the ears of power, or assaults on old political enemies. This is a situation where conservatives could be very useful, if only the ones in power could do something other than cheap shots. Is it even possible for the existing republican base to support a thoughtful conservative?

Acacia H. said...

*blows a loud whistle*

Shoving. Both sides. Penalties negate. Redo the round.

Now, I'm not precisely the most polite of individuals (I get... antsy at times) but things have been going from a fairly friendly back-and-forth to Marc Vs. Contrary Brin (the collective, not just Dr. Brin).

There are truths on both sides of the equation. All sides in this discussion (including the charm and weird sides of this multi-dimensional "cube") need to accept that each has something to contribute and that each is correct in some things.

Now, please. Take a breath. Everyone. And after you write, take a five minute break and return to what you wrote and see if perhaps it might be a little hot under the collar.

Rob H., looking at hespes verification and hoping it's not catching...

Abilard said...


This is a little inflammatory. Amusing, but inflammatory.

Marc, NeoCons are what happened when a bunch of liberals bolted from the Dems and joined the Republican Party:

They are not conservative, but their school of thought now runs the Republican Party. They DO include Bush Jr., Rumsfeld, William Kristol (his father was one of the founders of the movement), Wolfowitz, and the other architects of the disastrous big state policies of the last decade. While the peers of Bush Sr. and members of his inner circle WERE neocons, Bush Sr. himself is not considered one (nor Reagan, Nixon, or any of the earlier Republican leaders).

Michael Harrington, who coined the term, defined neocons as "liberal intellectuals and political philosophers who were disaffected with the political and cultural attitudes dominating the Democratic Party and were moving toward a new form of conservatism."

Like the Democrats, they favor a large, interventionist, Federal state. They have no interest in conserving the constitutional interpretations of Madison or Jefferson, which they do not share. They are not, in that sense, conservatives at all, though through Karl Rove they have learned to manipulate social conservatives rather cynically.

I strongly oppose them. I do not, however, like the Liberal big-state approach much better. It's not that I don't think (like Ayn Rand apparently) that society exists, or that society has no claim on us.

For example, if I see a stranger bleeding on the street, I have a moral obligation to help him. So would you, or anyone else. The people can choose, collectively, to handle such obligations through the government (though Madison might say it would have to be at the state level under our constitution). They could also choose to handle the obligations through charity. The electoral process is there to work such things out.

My personal opinion is not that something like universal health care is necessarily a bad idea, I just don't think the federal government is competent to do it. I also think a strong case can be made that the authors of the Constitution would say an amendment would be required to make it legal for the federal government to do it. Their narrow interpretation of the Constitution lost favor in the 19th century, but at some point we might want to update the document to reflect how we actually govern.

As for the climate change debate, consider for a moment how accurately economic modeling software predicted the recent collapse: it didn't. Why? The economy is not properly understood and it is extremely complex to model. How much more so the environment?

In preparation for planting a few acres I looked at the Hadley and Canadian climate models, as the trees I intend to put out will be alive a century from now. I want species that can survive what comes. One model has our property as a slightly warmer and wetter temperate forest. The other model has us verging on a desert.

I then looked at an economic impact analysis commissioned by the state of Ohio predicated again on climate change. The report made some surprising statements about Lake Erie's water levels, so I checked government data on the same. Guess what? The figures did not jive.

Having spent a decade or so in academia and having worked on a contract for an economic modeling company, none of the above surprised me. The latter was probably a project pawned off to grad students, who did it sloppily. The former simply involves the complexity involved in writing modeling software for a system as complex as the climate. The mathematics can get ugly.

However, if the science is not mature enough for me to use it to pick a few species of trees, how can we justify reorganizing the globe based on its currently accepted conclusions?

David Brin said...

etting ready for a trip or from the road. Thanks for being a thick-skinned lot. And you too, Marc. You seem to understand the group well now. Keep poking. Just less overall volume, yes?

Greenspan's low interest rates did not directly result in the corruption that actually did the worst damage.

Yes, they inflate bubbles. But the worst aspect to the recent bubbles was the deceit that accompanied them. When housing prices crashed, a lot of people's houses went "under water" but that did not automatically mean foreclosure, so long as they kept up their payments.

The tsunami of foreclosures came from millions who could NOT keep up payments because the entire mortgage industry had gone crazy-unregulated and was handing out debt like it was candy at Halloween... NOT in order to make money by lending, but to have more paper to peddle to leverage/hedge funds. That wasn't Greenspan - though he was an enabler. Far worse were the shills Bush had appointed to the SEC and Treasury and other regulatory agencies.

I just don't get why people diss Carter so much. When he entered office, American trust in our institutions had fallen to nothing, even lower than today. Within a year he had eased the rampant fear and people had calmed way down. Alas, he was prexy when the boomers were in their twenties and the crazed era of fumin angst was still rising in the background. But, if his energy program had been allowed to continue...

BTW he was the one who started rebuilding the military, after Vietnam

He made one big mistake. When the hostages were taken, it was an act of war. He should have taken all official Iranians hostage in return and interned them for trade for our diplomats -- keeping them at a resort beach hotel, for maximal contrast. By taking the high road and simply sending them home, he lost the leverage tool that would have let Khomeini have an excuse for letting our hostages go. Seems a small thing, but it would have changed everything.

Catfish... yes, I am critical of the Guard shift, too.

Indeed though, you are right about the Bosniacs. Clinton's Balkans War was different from Bush's attrition wars in every conceivable way, including making us MORE popular among muslims.

Marc: Even the scary Christians don’t have Sharia law.

They don't? Just wait. They have plenty on the agenda. Cherry picking Leviticus for vague, dubious mentions of homosexuality, while ignoring repeated and explicit banishings of pork... and praying for events to take place that would end the United States of America... you want the whole list?

Marc: But you missed my point. If the far left Dems can’t grok Christians, what hope do they have with Traditional Muslims, that when radicalized will be happy to kill them.

Christianity used to be affiliated with the civil rights movement, till the seminaries got taken over by crazyguys. But let's keep things clear. Muslims have NOTHING like the Book of Revelations, a monstrous, paranoid acid-trip that should never have been included in the canon and has been linguistically proved to be the direct product of a schizophrenic. Anyone who prays for those events to happen, knowing full well that it will mean agony and death and endless torment for 90%+ of her fellow Americans, is unfit for office.

Oh, Bosnia DID help in the MUslim world. But it is not an on-off switch. Indeed, it made Osama more frantic to lure us into doing something stupid. What? You thought he just wanted to topple some buildings?

Yes Tacitus, good one. Our brigades haven't trained at Ft Irwin to face a "peer enemy" for most of a decade and "combat ready" is partly aboout being able to fight peers, not insurgents.

So? The army that defeated saddam no longer exists. So we suddenly assume that we'll never need an agile force that can actually fight war?

David Brin said...

Okay guys, apologies. I was really dashing my responses off, the last couple of times... either gAbilard is right that neocnservatism is largely the result of REBELLION within the GOP establishment. The Wolfowitz crowd was not all "liberals". Many were former Trotskyites, long ago in youth. But their common thread was that they fled real universities when horrid lefty dingbats trashed their offices , forcing them to take shelter in faux-"academia of the Heritage Foundation etc, where they became direct lapdogs and intellectual whores for about two dozen very rich troglodytes.

Combine this with a generational thing. W. may love his dad, but he snubbed GHWB's republican establishment in favor of a much more radical team. Harrington calling them "liberals" is facile. It makes one think... but is wrong.

Among democrats, the word "liberal still has some semblance to its original meaning. The First Liberal was Adam Smith and the state's function was to level the playing field so that everybody could compete fairly and thus generate all the benefits of markets. Leveling the field was urgent, in his opinion, because he could plainly see aristocratic cheating all around him... the TRUE enemy of capitalism that ruined markets for 99% of human generations...

...and the enemy that is trying hard to do so, again.

But how to level? LEFTISTS (as opposed to liberals) seek equality of outcomes and actual wealth. They see competition itself as inherently suspect. So is private property. Just like Jesus, they feel that cooperation can be preached out of people, whose inherent design is now known to be fundamentally competitive.

Liberals see cooperation and competition as synergistic. What THEY mean by leveling the playing field is maximizing rights, so that there are no artificial/prejudicial barriers, subsidizing education, to lift as many potential competitors to the field as possible, removing other impediments, such as poor health, if possible, subsidizing the research that businesses would not do for themselves, under short-sighted ROI horizons...

...and regulating markets... a VERY difficult task, given that cheaters abound and are always seeking new ways to cheat. Such as REGULATORY CAPTURE under which monopolies and oligarchies have taken over agencies like the ICC and CAB that were meant to curb their power.

The crux is this. Liberals want government to function, to achieve these goals. Hence, they are not always piling regulations and stifling business.... in fact, democrats have done vastly more DEregulating than republicans have ever proposed! They eliminated the ICC and CAb for example. And small business startups always thrive better under dems... as monopolies do better under gops.

David Brin said...

Sociotard, do you have any idea how I can reach the EDITORS of the Shine anthorlogy, or the author of that short story? They make it hard...

soc said...

Boy I came in a bit late in this thread...

As Dr. Brin mentioned, the Bosnian war helped America's image a lot. Balkan Muslims are furiously pro-American, even during the bad Bush years.

I find it troubling that Marc would use Bin Laden as a metric with which to judge the entire Muslim world. As hinted earlier, the purpose of the 9/11 attack wasn't to knock down a couple of buildings. It was to draw America into a lengthy, unwinnable, guerilla-style war that would drain it of its' resources and leave it impoverished. Bin Laden likes to take credit for impoverishing the USSR and eventually bringing about its' demise. He figured he could repeat the trick.

The other goal was to have America come in to the middle east and kill a high number of Muslims. The more atrociities that America could be seen to be committing the better. The idea was to make the Arab rulers look impotent in the face of yet another attack by the West.

As the average Muslim watched some gruesome image of a beheaded child, via an American missile, on al Jazeera, it was hoped that his anger would be directed not just against the West, but against his own leaders who stood idly by, or worse, even facilitated the attack.

Al Qaeda envisioned uprisings across the Arab world, overthrowing all the leaders and creating space for them to walk in and take control.

Essentially America is being manipulated into doing what Bin Laden couldn't acheive on his own: destablizing the Middle East and bringing its' pro-American governments crashing down.

Needless to say, this plan hasn't quite worked out, as not a single gov't came tumbling down as a result of outrage over the Iraq war.

The only government that faced any concerted challenge to its' authority at all, was the anti-American government of Iran, which also happens to have the most pro-American population in the region.

Although I doubt the Iraq war had any positive effect on the pro-democracy movement their. Although there were adverse ones.

Basically, what I'm trying to say is that an "the only language they understand is violence so let's 'shock and awe' the shit out of them" attitude is overly simplistic and will leave you open to manipulation.

sociotard said...

David Brin: Sociotard, do you have any idea how I can reach the EDITORS of the Shine anthorlogy, or the author of that short story? They make it hard...

The main editor is Jetse de Vries.

However, reading through their magazine, I learned that the short story I linked to did not make it into the anthology. It's what you might call an honorable mention. The same goes for all the stories published online.

Anyway, I haven't found Amanda Clark's contact info. Maybe I'll try again later.

Unknown said...

One more comment on terrorist attacks during GWB's term - don't forget the Anthrax attacks. They targeted liberal lawmakers in an appearent attempt to influence US gov't policy regarding WMD, and did definitely play into the pre-Iraq war hysteria. And they are still unsolved.

Every time I hear about GWB keeping us safe since the "unforseeable" attacks on 9/11, I want to puke. (an aside, unforseeable my ass. Nothing but a meme spread by the neocons after the fact to justify GWB's inattention to the Al Quida leadership.) No one plays freer with inconvient facts like a once-burnt neocon.

matthew said...

Last comment by "Amy" was me. Didn't notice that she was logged into google.

Catfish N. Cod said...


1) The French are not just about dress codes, nor the Swiss about the skyline. They are attempts (very clumsy ones) to enforce each country's codes of inter-religious contact. For instance, The Swiss thing is NOT about the skyline; the pro-ban campaign explicitly described minarets as a political symbol and scared the population into believing they would be used for not only broadcasting the call to prayer (which none of the four, count 'em, four minarets in Switzerland do) but also as political propaganda. The French scarf ban is part of the general French sentiment that religious sentiment is private and not to be displayed in public: originally a reaction to the excessive influence of the Catholic Church over details of French life.

However, it's easy for the European Muslims to misinterpret these acts, given that Europe is also still quite racist in a way that is no longer tolerated in America. America's Muslims don't scare me because they are FAR, FAR better integrated into our society than Europe's. Of course, our society is DESIGNED to integrate newcomers; it takes movements on the scale of the mass migration from Mexico to even move us off center.

2) While I could debate how the fundies are trying to invent a sharia-equivalent, it's not germane. Your point about far-lefties not understanding the right is, but only to a point. The far left doesn't have anywhere NEAR as much influence in the national Democratic Party as the far right does in the Republican... at least at the moment. (This was different forty years ago. It is still different in eastern Massachusetts today -- this place can go nutz sometimes.)

3) "I completely disagree here. 911 was done on the cheap."

Not the point. It's not the funding for end-stage tactical logistics I want to stop; as you point out, I can't anyway. It's the massive machine designed to indoctrinate and train people to WANT to be and make cannon fodder. Sure, Muslim youth are angry. They've been angry for generations now. But there are lots of targets to attack, many of which are a lot easier to hit than the U.S. homeland -- especially since we are now forewarned and forearmed.

The r'oils have a vast 'philanthropic' network to train and evangelize Muslims worldwide from the indigenous moderate forms of Islam to their W*h*bi lunacy. Left to its own devices Islam does NOT become a violent creed: witness the decay of the Nation of Islam, as the masses in the 80's and 90's chose moderate Sunni creeds rather than Farakkhan's screechfest.

On health care costs: I'll have to find the reference, but it was mentioned in a lecture I attended that 50-75% of the medical costs of an entire average American lifetime occur in the last five years... predominantly in the last year.

omotor: the generator for posting impulses.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Abilard: However, if the science is not mature enough for me to use it to pick a few species of trees, how can we justify reorganizing the globe based on its currently accepted conclusions?

It's a fair question. For specifics, you're right, we can't. Really, all the science is good enough for at this point(IMHO) is a global-scale prediction, a direction (temperature up), and a vague estimate of rate (fast). Precision will require more data, but mostly better understanding of interactions and how they scale. It doesn't help that we've completely upended the normal patterns of growth and albedo over the last 10,000 years; it makes much of the historical data less useful.

So while I'm skeptical of claims like "we must act in the next ten years or we are all doooooooomed", we do seem to have enough information to justify acting with some degree of alacrity.

I also think a strong case can be made that the authors of the Constitution would say an amendment would be required to make it legal for the federal government to do it.

*shrug* I'd vote for it. However, typically, empowering changes to the Constitution are only made when the Supreme Court decrees them necessary (by striking down a 'necessary' law as unconstitutional). That's a conservative position I can live with.

@Dr. Brin: I just don't get why people diss Carter so much.

It's the Iran thing more than most; it wasn't just a screwup, but a MASSIVE one. Second, Carter was elected as an over-reaction to both Nixon and Ford, and people got tired of the medicine once the foul stench of Tricky Dick had faded. Finally, Carter's Georgia-based team didn't mesh well into Washington. Clinton and Obama both took note of this and adjusted their teams accordingly, with much better results.

[The Book of Revelations] has been linguistically proved to be the direct product of a schizophrenic.

Just like Jesus, they feel that cooperation can be preached out of people, whose inherent design is now known to be fundamentally competitive.

References please?

matedici: a composer of the 23rd century, noted for using early Information Age prose data sets as input for her classical music composition matrix algorithms.

Rob Perkins said...

The supposition is that John the Revelator got a look at warmaking from modern times.

If *you* were a 1st century C.E. denizen, shown things like tactical nuclear weaponry, chemical warfare, tanks, planes, helicopters, and such, how would it come out when you put it down on paper in 1st Century C.E. Greek?

Schizo, that's how.

Incidentally, those people praying for that day to come? Not remotely Christian in behavior. The Apocalypse is just as clear that those folks are not in the actual Jesus Camp.

David Brin said...

Actually, Rob, it is both simpler and more complicated.

1) the fire -from-the-sky parts might plausibly be nukes. The twelve-headed beasts and such are pure raving... and any God who would pursue such a scenario would have to be a Total Loon. (Note my respectful capitalizations.)

But it goes deeper. I have seen frequently utterances by BoR thumpers that they deeply "regret" that this horrible things will happen to their neighbors. One said he would cling to our legs, pleading for us to repent, till we are ripped out of his hands by Satan... and sobbing over us... till his own total bliss began, of course.

Yet, he fervently believes that all is pre-destined and that the number saved is already pre-limited and that the prediction is unerringly set in stone... so whence all the blubbering? What's it for, except to lay a gloss of "love" on top of the far deeper current of hand-rubbing glee and schadenfreude?

Sure they claim not to be praying for THAT STUFF to happen, only for Jesus's reign to happen soon... though they are inextricably linked, as is the end of the United States and all human ambition.

Of course we have discussed all this before. The core issue, - that infuriates BoR junkies when you mention it -- is the clearly stated (at least a dozen times in scripture) fact that God can and does change his mind. From Genesis to Jonah to Daniel to Kings to Isaiah, it is plain. Indeed, to claim that he CANNOT do so sound pretty damned arrogant and pushy -- especially since even Patmos himself never says that mind-changing can't happen!

And if He can, then the BoR is (at best!) no more than the cavorting dire warning that Jonah spouted, in Nineveh, tuned to a specific time and aimed at some long ago ends.

Ah but it serves us, still, separating those who actually love their neighbor, from hypocrites who gleefully wish millions of children to suffer torment, just because they aren't chosen.

Rob Perkins said...

I've long thought of the twelve-headed beast stuff as metaphorical. Call that what you will, but it's a lot like us saying to each other, "And the smirking chimp listened to all the conversations of the foreigner and the citizen, seeking the evil-doer."

You know what I mean. A thousand years from now, given a break in record keeping commensurate, with, say, a period of relative decadence and an invasion of Goths, and you might have a bit of interpretive confusion...

Plenty of room for interpretation there without calling God a Total Loon. Even if He did make the Moon.


Tim H. said...

BoR should be seen in the light of the Christian community's attitude towards Rome and the necessity of indirect language, to get the manuscript past the guards. Ergot contamination could explain the rest.

Rob Perkins said...

Of course I ought to actually answer your counterpoint, with which I have no problem whatsoever.

My religious tradition is filled with lots of "unfulfilled prophecy" because the warnings went heeded or unheeded.

But I have my doubts, based on what I know of complex social systems and human nature. If political rhetoric is any indicator, the Human Race is not getting better at getting along.

David Brin said...

Rob: "'ve long thought of the twelve-headed beast stuff as metaphorical."

Fine! But that makes you a NON-fundamentalist.

I never said I despised Christians. I do despise those who pray to end my nation and for my children to roast in hell.

Tim H. said...
"BoR should be seen in the light of the Christian community's attitude towards Rome and the necessity of indirect language, to get the manuscript past the guards. Ergot contamination could explain the rest."

Sure, there are lots of explanations. Discussing them would be cool. Heck you know that *I* could write that kind of stuff! ;-) But that's not the issue. There are people in America today who want to blow up Al Aqsa Mosque in order to clear the way for Israelis to rebuild the Temple, a pre-requisite act for armageddon... and thereupon for all unrepentant Jews to have geysers of blood gush from their eyes. Fortunately, the Israelis have mostly scratched their heads and asked "Explain again why we'd want to do that?"

Rob: "ut I have my doubts, based on what I know of complex social systems and human nature. If political rhetoric is any indicator, the Human Race is not getting better at getting along.

Irony time? There's TONS of evidence that, indeed, we are getting LOADS better, and the only issue is whether it is fast enough.

soc said...


given that Europe is also still quite racist in a way that is no longer tolerated in America. America's Muslims don't scare me because they are FAR, FAR better integrated into our society than Europe's. Of course, our society is DESIGNED to integrate newcomers;

This reminds me of a Pakistani novelist (I've forgotten his name) who was born in Britain and had British citizenship. However, he lived in America for most of his life so he had an American accent. He said that in Britain he was always referred to as "that Pakistani novelist," while in America he was always treated as a fellow American, despite not being American.

I think that pretty well sums up the difference between America and Europe when it comes to foreigners.

Rob Perkins said...

David, then I'm blissfully happy to be wrong. I'll come to your house with a Mariachi band and two Bollywood dance troupes behind me to sing of my folly in seven languages, as off key as possible.

Watch for that. :-D

Acacia H. said...

Watch for it? He'll have a camera ready and film it so he can put it on YouTube. =^-^=

Acacia H. said...

BTW, I have heard from multiple people who are against the Public Option that they would change their mind in an instant if one change was made to the bill: whatever was passed, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate would be forced to use that insurance themselves. They do that? They'll have 90% approval for it. ^^

Rob H.

Marc (with throttle pulled back), Austin, TX said...


I don't disagree with what you have written. I understand Osama's intent, having studied the subject, watched plenty of discovery channel specials (./grin) and having lived in several of those types of nations and discussed similar issues with citizens I had befriended (In the 90s).

I also understand that these are complex difficult issues. I expect the people to resist and hate us. Hell, remember the movie Red Dawn? That’d be me screaming ‘wolverines’ and shooting an RPG at ANY hostile tank that rolled down my street. I am not surprised by the results.

Personally I would have airdropped televisions, chickens, sacks of rice, and generators over Iraq, after bombing the snot out of the Military targets. I also remember Somalia (BC’s (EPIC failure) if Bosnia is his major win) which hey now we have pirates operating out of that failed state. (I also know why we aren’t there, we aren’t bloody enough to do the work, we aren’t capable of the wholesale slaughter and outright genocide (nowadays anyway) required to subdue such an area. Also the same reason we aren’t in Dafor.) (Sure some will say no OIL, no strategic values, but a true necon wants to spread Democracy everywhere.)

I also looked up necon Wiki and I read about different timelines. Again anyone can manipulate data to match ones preconceived notions. Say like some Christians or Muslims or Scientists or Politicians. (./grin)

However, I also spent a great bit of time in south Boston as a young adult, and when its time to fight, its time to fight.

I also happen to be of the school of thought that believes that when Jesus said turn the other cheek, he wasn't saying turn away, and accept the pounding, he was telling the slave to present the other cheek to his master, who would then have to use his other hand to slap him , elevating the slave to the status of an equal.

If we can't understand Left v Right in America, nevermind Middle Easterns cultures, how they hell do we think we can understand a culutre 2K+ years old.. Sure we get the themes, there are some eternal concepts that trancend time so long as our brains have been similar.

Now (again, I am not 'Christian', so I TRY read the teachings of Jesus as those of a wise man of his time and culture.) What does this mean to me? It means I believe that we can argue about [Revelations] all we want, but we likely can't ever really fully grasp its original intent.

So while a fundamentalist Christian literally interpreting the books, and some wanting to speed paradise’s arrival, (SCARY) I can at least understand why they think what they think. I have also read the Koran (in english). I also understand the despair felt by many Muslim youth and their families (mentioned in an earlier post.) So I can grasp why it seems to be fairly easy to get one to strap a bomb on and kill lots of other people.

But then I also remember the many fundamentalist Baptist B1 nuclear bomber pilots that I knew when I was in the AF. I remember the bible studies in the alert facility bunker, where we would sit for a week underground next to our fully fueled and armed aircraft waiting for the signal to start Armageddon. Guess what: None of them seemed to be in a particular rush to speed its arrival.

Marc (hand shaking on throttle) Austin, TX said...

Man I wish I could respond to everything here. @Cat you make good points, I think we still disagree along the same line as earlier. And I apologize I was being snarky about the recent Switzerland vote.

@matthew: The ramp up to the attack started on a BC’s watch. The Dems put the firewall between the FBI and CIA. But, I wouldn’t lay blame on any President. Yes, he is the commander and chief, but I don’t blame BC or Bush for missing 911. Sometimes things are in your blind spot, regardless of the reasons why. Our agencies failed us period ALL of them. The anthrax terror was internal homegrown terror, like the D.C. Sniper.

It may not be fair, but I guarantee, if there is another spectacular attack on the US under Dem watch your mythical Repub meme will be successful in unseating them.

Brin said: "...and regulating markets... a VERY difficult task, given that cheaters abound and are always seeking new ways to cheat. Such as REGULATORY CAPTURE under which monopolies and oligarchies have taken over agencies like the ICC and CAB that were meant to curb their power."

Cheating is evolutionarily advantageous. Again how is this surprising?

Extrapolate that out to more recent times: To Farm, or steal 6 months of someone else’s work in one quick raid?
AND PLEASE! Treason, what should Bush JR have done, arrested and held the Saudi royalty?

Brin said “Just like Jesus, they feel that cooperation can be preached out of people, whose inherent design is now known to be fundamentally competitive.”

Reference please.


Humans have civilization because we cooperate, AND because we have the best emotional control of any other ape.

How can you discount that we have been cooperating more successfully in larger and larger groups over time.

Brin said: I just don't get why people diss Carter so much.

Brilliant people seldom make good leaders. I slam him because he couldn’t delegate, he tried to understand every issue. He also told the nation to put on a sweater if they were cold, and while that may have been true, people just don’t want to hear that.

Like one can be too nuanced, one can be too smart. Professor Obama gets a bit too 'academia' for me.

AGW isn't some theoretical puzzle to mull over like an equation on a black board.

Anonymous said...

(aka Tony Fisk)

Woo! Busy weekend here!

(On the great BoR: reading Farley's Apocamon to make sense of it all, I was struck by how much the entrance to Abaddon's pit resembled Uluru!!)

Somalia is often cited as Clinton's failure, yet who was in office when Somalia was 'invaded' (by a media circus)? Sorry Marc. Minor peeve of mine from a prior gent who waved this one about with great enthusiasm. You've got enough to chew on as it is!

Tim H. said...

On BoR again, there's what it likely was intended to be, and the way it gets interpreted. Way too much hellfire and brimstone for fundies to stay away from, not to mention papist bashing. At least that's what I remember, from back when I had a religion. Also don't live as far away from the Irreverend Fred Phelps as might be safe ;-] .

Tim H. said...

An interesting carrot that could be dangled in front of GOP congress critters, offer ten years of regulatory stasis in exchange for their support of health care reform. It might get something moving, and it would deprive them of one of their favorite complaints.

Acacia H. said...

I do believe I understand why the tone in Contrary Brin has turned a tad adversarial of late. It's a matter of presentation. And unfortunately, Marc, you are a bit to blame with this; I don't mean to cast snowballs (it just snowed and I'm not into stones unless they roll), but it dawned on me while reading through your posts that you are remarkably adversarial in how you present your arguments.

I'm going to show myself to be a complete geek or nerd here, but this is how I kind of envisioned Contrary Brin before the recent brouhaha: a bunch of English gentlemen (and some ladies perhaps, the internet is quite apt at hiding gender unless the person is specific on it) sitting around in a quiet clubhouse with a cheerful fire burning while sipping tea and contemplating world events. Dr. Brin is the more lively one of the bunch, often starting things and walking about gesticulating from time to time, but for the most part we're sitting back and saying "Well I say! Very good thought there, but I can see a few flaws in that argument..." and then debate it.

Then Marc, the brash young American (to be stereotypical, but whimsy has the reins and is busy having fun), bursts in the door and goes face-to-face with Dr. Brin (and some of us others) all snarling and demanding. And we get up and snarl back out of surprise and because hey, our tea just spilled and that was HOT! and well, the tone and mood has just changed and it's catching.

Marc, there is an important thing to realize about Contrary Brin: we respect each other and try to keep respectful in our tone and mood. We may not always agree with each other, but we still respect what the others say. Even when some of us (me) frankly doesn't know what they're talking about half the time. And for some strange reason, I get this subconscious feeling from how you say things here that you don't respect us. There's one perspective: yours. Everyone else is wrong and can go to the Hell of their choosing and if we are unable to realize that we are in fact wrong and need to admit this to you, then we're idiots.

Now, it may be the lack of caffeine talking (I did sleep late and would be sleeping later still if the upstairs neighbor hadn't just turned on music loud enough to identify individual notes, though not lyrics) but right now the veils are down. You're catching me before I have time to put on the socially acceptable mask many tend to wear. And after reading through your latest posts? That feeling of a lack of respect just seems to ring true.

If I'm wrong? I honestly apologize. This is just how I'm perceiving it without other distractions (outside of music which honestly isn't bad for music). We need many contrary voices here. It helps liven things up. But we also need respect here. (That's perhaps the problem with the Republican party right now - they don't respect Obama or the Democratic party, which is why they can easily become the party of "No" without blinking an eye.)

Meh. Better stop before I start rambling. You have valid perspectives, even if some of us believe them to be wrong (whether from a liberal or a libertarian perspective). It's all in the presentation, which you need some work in. ^^;;

Rob H., currently more asleep than awake

Tim H. said...

Marc, I I enjoyed reading your comments, even if I don't completely agree with you (Or, really, anyones at all.). I have occasionally found one of Dr. Brin's sensitivities myself, so don't feel singled out.

Tacitus2 said...

Or to distill it into less bandwidth:

Marc, with whom I find myself philosophically in sympathy, duels are fought with rapiers not broadswords.

And David, if I have contributed to the confrontational air, my apologies. We all have lives to live, teenagers to chivvy along to responsible adulthood, work to keep on deadline. But the rest of us can just give Contrary Brin a break from time to time. You can't.
Feel free to put your higher priorities ahead of all of this.


Acacia H. said...

Heh. Even my short stories read like novels. ^^;;

soc said...

LOL Robert,

Your vision of Contrary Brin can't be described as nerdy or geeky. It's what the English would call 'posh.'


You clearly have an undertanding of where many Muslims are coming from. You even said you can understand their anger and why they resist.

So what's the way out? If you were the President, what would you do?

David McCabe said...

I'm surprised this hasn't gotten a mention here:

Have a character in David Brin's next novel named after you. Proceeds go to a good cause.

David Brin said...

Not that Revelations is entirely without merit.

It says explicitly that the rich will be the first to run and hide and writhe in torment. (How socialist!)

Also there is this from Rev 7:3

"Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads."

Anybody out there know how they wriggle out of that one?

David McCabe said...

That's taken out of context. The four angels that pour wrath upon the earth at the end of days are told to wait a while.

Tedify: of a topic, to summarize it in a charismatic 15-minute presentation.

Marc, Austin, TX said...

@Robert I can say I am honestly ‘floored’ that you find my responses to lack respect or be 'disrespectful'. It could be culture. I admit it is a very ‘American’, caffeine fueled, 5 minute news cycle, style, (also pointed out by someone else already) which may be annoying to some, but well its how I think and not intended as disrespect. I’m direct, I challenge, I question. I comment. I also have titanium skin. Trust me; your beliefs do not hurt my feelings. Your comment does not hurt my feelings. It does genuinely surprise me.

I find Dr. Brin to be overly academic is his writing style, I find it to be elitist, and condescending. I find his need to name call to be in conflict with the content of his writings, but I also enjoy how different people can be, and while I could make an argument that it’s very disrespectful and counter productive. I don’t take personal umbrage with it. I have already accepted it as a fundamental part of his ‘style’, which I can choose to continue to interact with or not. (I think this theme shows up in my copious responses.)

I like to story tell, to make my arguments, because all I can do is make judgments from my personal experiences. For example, one of my best friends is an agrarian hippie, who pines for the simpler farming societies of the past. We joke that I would be the one to show up on horse back with the broadsword demanding tribute. In his meme however, I am the educated barbarian and know not to burn down my source of food and plunder. ;) We talk and argue for hours, and at the end we agree to disagree. I do not think him ignorant, or misguided, or wrong. I respect him and his beliefs. And he shows respect to me. What does he really think? I can not claim to know his mind; I can only judge him by his words and actions.

I acknowledge I do hop around, and perhaps it’s naive to answer all challenges. I tend to feel obligated to attend every fight to which I have been invited.

I also acknowledge my grammar and writing style may leave much to be desired, but that’s the American computer engineer/technician in me striving for speed and conciseness. Yes it's choppy and my language is direct. I think I have already established that I am not inclined to extreme nuance; it leaves too much open to misunderstanding and misinterpretation. If I am disrespectful because I don't spend enough time in the composition my responses, I try to be respectful by making the effort to carefully read all responses. I haven't name called, or called out anyone’s beliefs as wrong. I think I have expressed considerable willingness and demonstrated considerable effort to try to at least minimally understand other belief systems.

Let me say I absolutely do not think I am ‘right’, context and timing is everything. There is a temporal component often missed in many arguments over current and historical issues. I have already alluded this belief in others posts, where I comment about hindsight and the perspective of history. All issues are colored by the time and culture from which they are examined. I do not claim to fully understand one or all of these topics. All I can offer are belief and opinion, which are based on my, assumptions, biases, education, upbringing, and life experiences, which are hopefully somewhat informed, given that background and culture.

That said As president, I think that if [Me/I/US/Allies/Them] are threatened, I believe that [violence] is a perfectly legitimate diplomatic tool and I reserve the right to use it now or in the future as necessary or required.

Marc, Austin, TX said...

@soc. I don't think there is a way out. The Middle East has developed for thousands of years, and the Colonial era can not be undone. It took thousands of years for those societies to develop and hundreds of years for other cultures to get [US] up to this point in history. For last 100 years America has stepped and then in the last 50 years stomped around this world. We now own, what we AND others have done.

However, like Karzai says, [We] created the modern afghani radical Muslims, and then abandoned the afghan people to that cancer. I say: What else can we do, but try to cut that cancer out?

What else can we really do in so short of a time? Yes, it’s easy to destroy, so much harder to rebuild, and almost impossible to maintain, sustain, and rebuild, while still destroying. So do we leave AGAIN? Do we abandon them to hopelessness?

America has stumbled into world, and done good and bad. I personally think more good than bad.

Maybe this is simplistic, but for the most part, I believe many of the American people and therefore the American meme can be summed up this way:

“America is a large friendly dog in a small room. Every time it wags its tail it knocks over a chair.” Arnold Toynbee

We often have no idea what damage we do, but more so than any other nation, we at least allow (even if it is reluctant) the acknowledgement of the negative. If we are not perfect, we at least ARE willing, (if we do scream and resist), to glance, (even if it’s from the corner of our eye), at our mistakes.

What other cultures can truly make this claim?

Is it arrogant to push our beliefs on others? Sure. Is it annoying that some of us are unapologetic in those beliefs? Yup. But I have met so many other cultures that make even less effort to apologize for their ways or beliefs and make ZERO effort to understand [US]. Not that it excuses our behavior, but it makes the complaints a tad hypocritical.

I believe all people deserve Justice. Can [WE] provide that justice to all people? No. As the world is right now, I can not even guarantee justice for my self. So do we not even try?

I can only try to be honest and faithful to my beliefs and to try to question my actions. I will not however, allow hesitation or doubt to cause inaction or lower my defenses.

I do not try to reason with the ‘shark’. However, I am not surprised or offended when the shark tries to eat me. AND Yes, I can choose to stay out of the water, and avoid the shark. But I did not enter the water to hunt the shark or had a specific wish to harm it, hell I believe [OUR] major sin, was not to acknowledge that we were in the shark’s domain, we did not consciously ignore it, we were ignorantly oblivious to it. We were too distracted with watching the mythical dragon, to even consider the shark.

BUT if or when it tries to eat me, I will not hesitate to kill it if I can.

Acacia H. said...

Trust me. For all my envisioning Contrary Brin as an "English Clubhouse" of sorts, I am very much American and have been in New England all my life. I also understand brashness and the like. And I have a tendency to say and do things that truly piss off people (to the point that at one point I attracted the ire of some of the 4chan crowd for my tendency to defend people in the webcomic field that they felt obligated to say nasty things about).

I still strive to be a tad respectful. I work hard to overcome my own intolerances (to the point that I tolerate other people's intolerance because if I stay they can't be intolerant, then I'm being intolerant toward them; sort of a Catch-22 there, but one I consider in line with my social libertarian beliefs of "it's okay to believe what you want so long as you don't harm others").

Now, you caught me first thing in the morning. My masks are off. I speak straight and don't bother coaching things in more polite terms. And part of this may also be my own increasing anger at the Republican Party which refuses to act in an intelligent manner. The Republicans are acting like they should have won 2008 and that the will of the majority of Americans is wrong. And that it is their duty to force people to accept their beliefs and do as they want.

Why hasn't Obama acted bipartisan? Because Obama has offered X. The Republicans demand Y. Obama then offers X-5. The Republicans once again demand Y. He then offers X-10. They demand Y. They believe that because Obama offered less (called "bargaining") that he is weak and will give them Y. And when he says "frak this, we've got a majority in the House and Senate, we can work without you" they scream "you're not being bipartisan!"

When the standing order is "no negotiation" and Republicans are punished because they did negotiate... when sitting Republican candidates are tossed out for "not being Conservative enough" (which reads "willing to negotiate with terror^h^h^h^h^h^hDemocrats")... then I lose any and all faith in the Republican Party. And all the signs are pointing at them continuing down this road.

You come in here and you spout that party line. No negotiation. No bargaining. Well, among the pagans, the most anti-Christian are those who were Christian and have bad memories of it. I'm a small-case libertarian, but I've seen this line of discussion in the past and seen the Republican Party prove itself false time and time again... and yet the Democrats are wrong. The Democrats are mistaken. The Democrats are evil. And doing things differently than the Republicans (which led us to ruin these last eight years!) is going to destroy this country.

You wonder at the ire? You wonder why your arguments are not taken seriously? Why some people here dismiss "climategate" as so-much bullshit that is meant to distract and allow the ultra-rich to screw over people for a bit longer until things fall apart and they can take over (or even just leave and let us rot)?

Tacitus2 has often said things we disagree with. But despite the disagreements, things don't turn nasty when chatting with him (for the most part). He knows how to pick and choose battles. He hits where he knows he's right and where he has the proof and we accept it. He sees where we are right and where his views don't quite work, and he accepts that we may very well be right and says as such.

As for going off on tangents, you're talking to a person who uses "Tangent" as his internet handle. The few times I'm not on a tangent, it's usually because I've driven people onto a tangent and am now being contrary and redirecting the conversation back on track (before inevitably drifting off onto another tangent).

Rob H., who uses his RL name here because of his issues with anonymity and his willingness to stand with his beliefs, both right and wrong.

David Brin said...

Guys, please. I haven't noticed any unusual levels of actual discourtesy from Marc.

Certainly he has pissed me off, but only in argumentatory terms. Like most of you, even Tacitus and the orther generally conservative members,I blink in astonishment when someone actually contends that today's neocons are this side of cerifiablly crazy.

We have plenty of arguments about the details, and Tacitus does a good job of poking and pointing as bona fide flaws on the other side. Certainly my own crackpot theory... that there is less lunacy and stupidity on the far-right than actual and deliberate treason, bears a burden of proof and he is right to demand it! Still, he admits that serious crazitude has been going on over on that side of the spectrum.

So, when we have a smart, garrulous guy like Marc come in and actually deny the ground assumption, it does test us. And it tested me into a couple of ALLCAPS shouts.

Still, I am unworried. After all, I think he realizes by now that we aren't asking him to abandon principles... just a bunch of maniacs and crooks who have HIJACKED those principles! (Marc, admit it... such things have happened, and there is some pretty potent prima facie evidence that it has happened to the right.)

In any event, I've not seen outrageous behavior. Just please, Marc... slow down a bit. CONTRARY BRIN is a fest for reasonable humans. Eat (and argue) more slowly or you'll exhaust us.

Marc, Austin, TX said...


Yup saw your site and I understood your 'English' reference. You also said you were in NH earlier. ;) I honestly don't care where anyone is 'from', diversity makes things so much more interesting.

As you know I'm originally from Mass, so [IRE] is my life blood. Am I surprised at the hostility? Nope. I didn't consider it was hostile until others chimed in. I apologize if my participation has caused the strife, and if Dr Brin wants, I will cease posting.

Do I write like a certain speaking style? Yup. Do I have a tone? Yes and No. Am I intolerant? Maybe, it’s possible, but I question whether you've really read anything I have written, if you think I am anymore intolerant than any other being capable of opinion.

I find many from academia to be as intolerant as anyone else. Hell hyper-knowledge often makes many academics even more intolerant, than the innocent ignorant.

I’d like to say that I am truly sorry you do not like my presentation, but I am not, this is me, that's not going to change.

Dr Brin asked for less volume, and it’s his blog, so I will try to comply. It's his prerogative to boot me if I can not comply with his rules.

But so I am clear: I dislike both groups. I'm amazed you think I spout a party line, but I do happen to be ok siding with the Repubs.

My theme is that I am not surprised by either side’s behavior or their responses to each other.

I suspect my volume is now excessive for the day and will sign off to allow others to comment.

Marc, Austin, TX said...

@Brin: We crossed posts.

Thank you.

I can absolutely understand your perspective, and will grant you some of that evidence; I still have strong disagreement on many points. Ultimately, I think we simply stand in different places on the spectrum. Perhaps, I have lived with crazy-right too long, and I am comfortable with it. I will examine that more closely.

I will also endeavor to be less voluminous.

Unfortunately, I am the ‘road-runner’, so it will be a struggle to control my speed, but I will try. [Meep-meep, pachoo!]

and with that I will shut up - shutting up.

Tony Fisk said...

Politics on the other side of the globe:

The weekend by-elections in Australia saw no real change in voting positions.

This is remarkable given the tumultuous week in liberal politics that saw Turnbull replaced with the climate skeptic Abbott who promptly rejected the government's Emissions Trading Scheme. I felt for the local lib candidate, who made it quite plain that she did believe that climate change was occurring and needed to be dealt with (ie Turnbull's camp).

Emboldened by the apparent lack of damage (= approval of change in policy), Abbott then called on Rudd to join him in a debate on the impact of ETS 'tax' on the public.

Now, Turnbull has blasted Abbott: claiming his stance on AGW is 'bullshit' (we don't mince words down here!) and claims that the backtrack demonstrates that the liberals can no longer be trusted.

I see a party split coming.

My interpretation? Most folk made their minds up on the issue long ago. The frogs that are going to jump have done so. While clarification of a complex and somewhat compromised bill would be welcome, further debate isn't going go to change many minds either way and should be called for what it is: a delaying tactic.

@Marc: you're hanging in here! Most 'right wing' (I know: unfair. Failure of language!) commentators sail in here expressing shock that a revered author can be saying things at such odds with their own world view, and then either retreat into smug nay-saying or degenerate into howling trolls. So far, you've stuck with saying things as you see them without disparaging others (or not too much, anyway).

(aside: I agree that David's prose style is a little 'purple' on occasion, but he has repeatedly stated that this blog is a time sink as it is, and he doesn't have time to write short notes; to paraphrase Pascal. Thick skins have been recommended, on occasion, too)

Now, if this is a gentleman's club, I suppose it's time to say 'en garde!'

Apart from my Somalia comment (which is minor) I consider your 'shark'* stance on foreign policy to be the classic broadsword wielding, daisy trampling that guerilla activists just lurve to see! (and which has made Iraq such a miserable place for all concerned). Apart from containment, I would suggest that cutting them off at source (ie starving them of recruitments) is a more effective policy, if a lot slower to get results. Otherwise, the threat just perpetrates itself in the seeds of bitterness growing in the trampled ruins.**

Oh, a simple action is to stop calling them with affirmative bogey-man labels like terrorists and martyrs. What self-respecting macho young lad is going to aspire to become some sad man's bang-boy?

(* interesting trivia point: while not many studies have been done on shark neurology, it appears that the great white is a *lot* more intelligent than is commonly believed. They know when to turn up at seal colonies, and they appear to learn at least as quickly as dogs.... although I don't see them appearing in future 'uplift' tales anytime soon!... unless the Tandu have snaffled a few!)

(**OK, so I can get purple as well!)

Tim H. said...

Another reason there's a little hope for the GOP:;contentAux

Ben Stein commenting on the bailout, amazing how neocons make paleocons seem so much more reasonable...

JuhnDonn said...

David Brin said... And if He can, then the BoR is (at best!) no more than the cavorting dire warning that Jonah spouted, in Nineveh, tuned to a specific time and aimed at some long ago ends.

Reminds me of the Bill Cosby bit, talking about his mother being mad at him as a child: When your father gets home, he's gonna' shoot you in the face with a BAZOOKA!

As far as the club room goes, Florida State and U of F did have broadsword fencing teams for awhile. I think that was so the SCA'ers had access to college vans for road trips.

And if we're characterizing, I guess I'm the mechanic from outside who wanders through, reporting on the weather and what Mrs. Bucket has said recently.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Well, that was quite a bit to catch up on. Marc's posting, especially early on, remind me of a hyper-active pinball bouncing around inside a pinball machine. Bing! Bing! Bingbing! Bing! Bingbingbing! Bingbing! Bing! Bingbingbingbingbing! Bing! Complete that mental image with Dr. Brin chasing after that hyperactive pinball with a giant whack-a-mole hammer, while all the rest of us operate the mechanics of the pinball machine (or just have the pinball bounce off of us and shout "Bing!").

I know, for my own part, much of my ire over Marc's postings (especially the earlier postings, including the ones I responded to), came from this hyperactive bouncing from subject to subject. It carried with it the image of frenetic ADHD, and the implications of sound-bited compartmentalization of contradictory data that is so common in the far-right/religious-right hardliner base. I have also debated against people who used that kind of frenetic overload of topics and/or arguing points as a debating tactic, bouncing from point to point with brief sound-bite arguments, and then railing against anyone who tries to approach each point individually instead of as a massed, confusing and contradictory conglomerate.*

Since this seems to be much of the source of raised ire here, might we try slowing things down and focusing on one point, or a small selection of points (related or not) at a time? The rate of discussion won't be so frantic and confusing, and we would be better able to address and debate each individual point.

*If you want to see some solid examples of such compartmentalized thinking and argumentation, just go onto any Star Trek discussion forum and ask which would win in a fight: A Galaxy class or a Sovereign class starship. I've seen Sovvy fanboys who could give the worst GOP fundamentalist a run for their money in terms of compartmentalized thinking.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Also, I feel compelled by nature of my persona to protest to the following statement:

Marc said...
We were too distracted with watching the mythical dragon, to even consider the shark.

Mythical? Pffft.
} ; = 8 P

Marc, Austin, TX said...


Ah no offense intended to Dragons! If it helps I used 'Dragon' to indicate a much larger and nastier foe. ;)

As far as your description of my posts:

"It carried with it the image of frenetic ADHD, and the implications of sound-bited compartmentalization of contradictory data that is so common in the far-right/religious-right hardliner base."

I think there are probably as many ADHD left-siders as there are right-siders. As far as contradictory data goes, again the right-side does not have a monopoly on data manipulation or spin.

Attack me if you must, but painitng me as relgious right hard-liner means you are ignoring most of what I have actually written.

I find it amusing that you point to discussions about the technology of a 'universe' that is so rife with both temporal and technological contradictions as an example of how things should be done here. I'd rather discuss Dr Brins 'universe', which is much more consistent. ;)

Marc, Austin, TX said...


Your point is valid though. One topic at a time would be very helpful, but its probably not realistic.

I will try to be better at 'cherry-picking' what topics I respond to. ;)

Damn there goes the snark again.

Brendan said...

Tony has already posted some Australian stuff so here is another. Robert Dean is an ex-liberal(GOP in US terms) politician and I think what he says pretty much sums up what David's thinking is on the current state of the GOP at the moment.

Liberals have betrayed the Menzies dream

Ilithi Dragon said...

Marc, you misunderstand me. I was not making an attack against you, but merely explaining the source of my own ire early on. Your attempts to cover everything that was thrown at you, while laudable, resulted in a very brief, sound-bite-sized response to each point, which then gave the impression of frenetic hopping from subject to subject, which I have seen used by others in other discussions not because they were trying to cover all points, but because their knowledge of those points has been compartmentalized into sound-bite-sized snippets, or because they were employing a blitzkrieg tactic, attempting to overwhelm the opposition with tidbits about so many points, and then either railing against the addressing of points individually instead of all together, or railing crying victory over any point that was missed in response (though the tactical usage has been less common). I'm not actually saying that that's what you are doing, not in the least, I'm just saying that in the first half of the conversation here, that's the impression that I got.

I was also not accusing you of being a fundamentalist in any way, and I apologize if you got that impression. Again, I was explaining the source of my ire and annoyance, based on my initial impression of your posts, as with the ADHD comment as well (one of my siblings growing up, and a couple of the younger kids we associated with, have ADHD, and any time I see someone bouncing around from subject to subject, it reminds me of them whenever they failed to take their meds for whatever reason).

Marc, Austin, TX said...

@Tony Fisk

Tony said: "Apart from my Somalia comment (which is minor) I consider your 'shark'* stance on foreign policy to be the classic broadsword wielding, daisy trampling that guerilla activists just lurve to see! (and which has made Iraq such a miserable place for all concerned). Apart from containment, I would suggest that cutting them off at source (ie starving them of recruitments) is a more effective policy, if a lot slower to get results. Otherwise, the threat just perpetrates itself in the seeds of bitterness growing in the trampled ruins.**”

Yes, I wield a broadsword, and I will freely admit that the problem with that approach is the American people lack the blood lust to wield one correctly. We are no longer capable of the scorched earth tactics required to completely CRUSH our adversaries. (A good thing.)

But, the American people also do not have the attention span to wait-out a generation of people. (Not realistic)

Tangent Alert**[BEGIN]
(This is a serious question) Millions die when a nation is blockaded or sanctioned (most of all, babies). So if it’s not the death of innocents that upsets liberals, why do they care if we have troops somewhere? The expense, it takes a Military to sanction, we spent money enforcing the no fly zone? Our dead troops, a volunteer force that signs a contract, and should have an idea of what they are getting into? That liberals could care less if they have extremely destructive and deadly life styles as civilians? Sovereignty, they don’t seem to care about US sovereignty? Anyone?)
**Tangent Alert[END]

Anyway, Osama was pissed because we where IN Saudi Arabia, that was enough to bomb us. The US is an Empire with a worldwide presence, someone is always going to mad about something we do. We are also the global scapegoat. Our lifestyles provide endless ammo.

So it’s not like we can contain everyone or make everyone happy. So America goes for the middle ground, and we can’t win to loose. We laser target, we don’t carpet bomb, we don’t slash and burn, we don’t pillage and rape. (Yes, agression is bad, I get it, but such is the way of the world. Animal eat each other. Its the local model of exisitence. Life = violence.)

So withdraw from the world? How is that realistic? It didn't help us pre WW2.

I think the look on Obama’s face summed this issue up nicely when he was giving the AGW speech. He obviously did not want to make that decision, but knew he had to. Now almost everyone has attacked it and its caused a nice amount of confusion.

Why, because he tried to run down the middle of the issue.

Sub tangent #2:

Tony said: “Oh, a simple action is to stop calling them with affirmative bogey-man labels like terrorists and martyrs. What self-respecting macho young lad is going to aspire to become some sad man's bang-boy?"

Only our liberals care what we call them, the terrorist don’t care about our nuances.

Question for Dr Brin:
You said Bush should have gone Iran and given gifts to a President that wants exterminate an entire nation of people?

Tony Fisk said...

Dean is saying much the same thing about today's liberal party that Malcolm Fraser did a year or two ago.

While Howard certainly led the liberals in the same direction as the GOP has gone, in twelve years he never quite succeeded in doing so.

Abbott is Howard's successor in outlook and, having apparently gained the leadership by accident, now appears intent on continuing the process.

Unfortunately, he has managed to tear the tent wide open in the process. (Turnbull is actively attacking Abbott from the backbenches already. I haven't heard anything from Rudd yet! Probably because he hasn't needed to).

I think the party is going to split.

Marc, Austin, TX said...

@llithi, Fair enough. I apologize for misunderstanding.

Marc, Austin, TX said...

Where is this Australia place? Does it have Oil? Do we need Annex it? ;)

David Brin said...

The Climate Change Emails Imbroglio makes me quote Cardinal Richelieu:

you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will
find something in them which will hang him.*

Two emails taken out of context really don't have anything to say about the
vast body of peer reviewed research that confirms the reality of climate
change. But what gets the news play?

Marc, Austin, TX said...

@Brin: 'Climategate?'.. (./snicker)

Its a shame, but its gives the unbeliever's all the ammo they needed, to justify their stance.

But I think the GW 'side' over played their hand with the 'we are all doomed!' play. And now the emails have exposed the often legitimate methods of statistical analysis, to a public that does not understand modeling, which = instance MESS.

So when you add in some conspir-secrecy, info withholding, and (The most damning IMO)the exclusionary language, they've shot themsleves in the foot.

But can you blame the public for being confused? That majority that doesn't believe in evolution?

Along this line though, its my understanding that the US is halfway to the Kyoto number from its 90s high: Currently 5400(?) aiming for 4700(?).

So if business is getting there on 'their' own, why crush the economy with legislation?

Personally I'd use the carrot with this one, not the stick.

(Never mind that many fear GW is simply a ploy by the 'left' to gain further control of 'business'.)

For example, I have absolutely no doubt that man has impacted the climate, do I give this a negative value, no) The climate changes. Do I think we need to 'do no harm' to the [Earth], Yes.

The EPA just passed something today also, the Dems are moving way to fast here, and right or wrong all this behind the scene's stuff is going to add up against them.

No likes to hear "I know better than you, go away, don't worry about it"

Like HC, what and who gives up something to get GW legislation?

Catfish N. Cod said...

Will someone please explain in non-scary, non-hysterical terms why any climate change legislation is presumed to, in Marc's words, "crush the economy with legislation"? I mean even The Economist, the classical liberal 'newspaper' of Britain, frets about this -- and they're in favor of fixing the climate.

I understand the basic principle that rising energy prices reduce flexibility of corporate budgets, impede free flow of goods/people/ideas, and increase opportunity costs. But energy prices are rising anyway because of:

(a) actual fossil fuel shortages;
(b1) artificial fossil fuel shortages caused by governments;
(b2) artificial fossil fuel shortages caused by corporations;
(b3) artificial fossil fuel shortages caused by rebels/terrorists/what have you;
(c) artificial inflations of price by budding aristocrats rolling dice with big bucks in the futures market. [Full disclosure: one of my affiliated universities has benefited from rolling dice with big bucks in the futures market.]

Given all this, if energy prices are going to go up anyway, I would far rather have the extra money go to getting out of the trap than to creeps, dictators, r'oils, suicide bombers, the Fernando Poo Liberation Front, Wall Street high rollers, or even my own pension fund. Yet I hear even people who are not in denial and not hoodwinked by propaganda going on about how this plan or that will totally destroy our economy and cause a Second Great Depression while China and India stink up the planet and get filthy (pun intended) rich in the process.

So what gives?

gmknobl said...

Where's a whig when you need one? :)

Brendan said...

I think many over here think we are heading towards becoming the 51st US state already

Marc, Austin, TX said...

@brendan They'll be the 52nd, Canada will be 51st, I'm planning to annex them next week (they have oil).

@cat: It’s one thing to compete 'fairly', but if others don't have to comply with the same rules, it causes concern. The threat of fines and additional taxes are also challenging. It adds a great deal of uncertainty into the mix. How will I be ‘capped’, what is the artificial limit that will be imposed on ‘me’, will the regulations continue to change, how will they be enforced? Will they even affect my business? Do I need legal and environmental experts now to interpret these rules? How much will those ‘experts’ cost me?

Not all corporations make massive ‘profits’. Some ‘make it’ by very thin margins. A lot of people also miss the point that many industries may need to completely refit and redesign their physical plants and processes. Its not that they love carbon energy, it's that they are dependant on that particular tech. Trust me I am constantly researching new tech that will allow me to spend less money, but it often costs quite a bit money to run those projects. I love when people say, ‘pass it on to the consumer’. If my competitor doesn’t have to do that, and I raise my prices, I just shot my self in the foot. But, sure my local power company can pass it on to me.

Many cities have programs to help. I recently got credit for changing light fixtures, bulbs, and turning in old servers for credit with the local power company. Good right, sure, will it save me money? Yes, eventually, but that credit did not really provide a huge amount of incentive to do it. I had to time it to a normal technology refresh. Yes, it will lower my energy bill, maybe up to a 1,000 dollars a month, (off a 30k a month bill), which is not the kind of ROI many get excited about, especially after I factor in labor, electricians are not cheap, and the other expenses associated with making those changes. Initially, (at first), much of the work will be ‘break-even’ at best.

Its also now one more issue I have to worry about. Esp if I can't get credit, and I have to lay off people, so I can be compliant, etc, etc.

Acacia H. said...

@Marc: So what if Canada has oil? (Or more precisely, oil-sands and oil-shale.) We have oil. Have you traveled out west lately? I did. After the vast expanses of wind farms in Kansas are vast farms of oil wells, most of which are pumping because it's now economical to pump out that oil. And yet you know where that oil goes? It's exported to other countries.

Yes. The majority of oil that we pump in the U.S. is exported to other countries, making a nice profit for the oil companies because it's cheaper to export it than to refine it and keep it in the U.S., just as it's cheaper to bring huge barges of it into the U.S. (and for that matter there were huge oil tankers full of the stuff and just idling off-shore waiting for oil prices to rise so its content would be more profitable).

You wonder why I hate the oil companies? It's because they don't care about the U.S., they don't care about any of the nations they are with. They care about profits. That's all. And they want to make profits at the expense of everyone else. The ONLY reason oil prices dropped was that we crossed the line between where the oil prices were sustainable and the rest of the economy could handle it. And we're balanced on that line right now; if oil prices were $20 per barrel lower then we'd see an economic recovery coming along quite nicely. Instead, much of that money is being slurped away by the oil companies while they make what would have been record profits four years ago.

So. How is this right? And why is it so wrong for the U.S. government to try and wean us from fossil fuels and achieve true energy independence? Because that is the ultimate end-product of lessening our carbon footprint and working on global warming. We lessen our reliance on oil, we lessen our need for coal, we expand on infrastructure to make the country more efficient and less polluting.

And we can't rely on private industry to do this. It won't. The oil companies have too much to gain by keeping us reliant on their product. So if the private industries won't go Green... and if we're at the mercy of oil companies and supply-and-demand of petroleum levels that will only get worse over time, then what is the alternative?

It's something to think about.

Rob H.

Tim H. said...

Rob H., don't overplay the evil oilco card (They are, but it's not quite relevant here.), in this case they aren't out to strangle green energy in it's crib, they're out to co-opt it. In my neck of the woods, petroleum has little to do with power generation, but is dominant in transportation. Electrical power here is from coal (Filthy!), natural gas (Kinda' clean and available from biological sources, when the infrastructure's in place.) Hydroelectric (Clean, but tough on fish.) and nuclear (Anti-nuke = pro-carbon, with the technology available, today.) By the way, any increase in the cost of electricity will prolong the dominance of the oil companies by making hybrid and electric transportation more expensive to use.
"rencola"?, nothing for Stimpy?

Tim H. said...

Catfish, what Marc might be referring to is a combination of free trade and asymmetric regulation. If you have to do it, and a competitor doesn't, you might fairly describe it as crushing. Next time you shop for a car battery, look at where it was manufactured, it probably wasn't here. Not being a fly on the wall, I can't say what the deciding factors were, or their order of importance when the factories moved away, but the regulatory environment had to have been a factor. Manufacturing lead-acid batteries is dirty work, but Americans were willing to do it. I understand the urge to strike out at corporate entities, but think about who's in the line of fire before you pull the trigger.

Abilard said...


Energy is at the root of all human activity. Raise the cost of energy and you raise the cost of everything we do. This means that we will do less, make less, have less, and so on if costs go up.

Unfortunately, we cannot replace our energy infrastructures over night. Our electrical grid took decades to build. If an EMP took it out today, it would take decades to rebuild ([tangent]though we would tear ourselves apart first as our food and water distribution systems would collapse[/tangent]).

Consequently, legislation that raises the cost of fossil fuels will ramify through the system. It is, in fact, meant to do this. The idea is that in raising our costs we will be given incentive to use less energy and begin the decades long process of replacing our existing energy networks (as well as replacing or improving the networks that depend on them).

This will be painful. An argument for it is that it is pain we will have to face anyway, so we might as well get it over with. Perhaps.

[hypothetical]So, assume the EPA levies fees on Massey Coal, who raises the price of coal on Mountaineer Power Plant. Mountaineer in turn is charged hefty fees by the EPA for burning the coal. This leads to a several cent increase per kWh per household and business. Grocery stores raise prices to compensate (or fire a couple people). Other businesses do the same. They then raise prices again because the EPA will levy fees on large buildings. The little family across the river from Mountaineer Power Plant just had several hundred dollars vanish from its monthly budget as the result of the EPA.[/hypothetical]

I'm not looking forward to it. Are you?

Tim H. said...

On energy prices, why not just have a carbon tax? possibly exempt non food-derived biofuels, use the proceeds for weatherization, methane recovery, electrified rail lines and etc. The governmental infrastructure is already in place to administer such a tax. You could cut carbon and bureaucracy.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Marc:It’s one thing to compete 'fairly', but if others don't have to comply with the same rules, it causes concern.

Fair enough. Indeed, that's why I opposed Kyoto (one of the very rare times I agreed with W): it was obviously unfair to the West while letting China and India pollute all they liked. Europeans who like to blame themselves for all the world's ills loved it, of course, but I have finally realized that the "Europeans are at fault for everything" meme is really the stinking corpse of Eurocentrism, inverted from a universal positive to a universal negative. America has no business catering to Eurocentrism.

Still -- isn't that what the climate negotiations are for? Setting the rules for everyone?

Rob H.:You wonder why I hate the oil companies? It's because they don't care about the U.S., they don't care about any of the nations they are with. They care about profits. That's all.

There are numerous multinationals who don't care about any of the nations they are with. The difference is that most of them are not vital to the entirety of the economy. People can and do live without Coke (to pick a name out of a hat), but without energy sources or reliable banking, there can't be a modern economy.

Abilard: This will be painful. An argument for it is that it is pain we will have to face anyway, so we might as well get it over with. Perhaps.

That wasn't an argument that would have gone over very well a few years ago. But now? I'd rather have pain for saving the planet, disempowering enemies, and building a base for future prosperity... than pain because some Wall Street schmoes were too greedy to care about the health of the world economy.

Tim H: On energy prices, why not just have a carbon tax?

Some thoughts on that, courtesy of Andrew Sullivan, Robert Hanson, and Paul Krugman.

grayburst said...

Dr. Brin,

You said in a short earlier post how the real Adam Smith and Theodore Roosevelt would have nothing to do with the modern Republican party. As a republican with a healthy respect for history, I fully agree with you. BUT I also believe neither of those men would have had anything to do with the modern Democrat party.

Smith would have loathed us all for our deficit spending and endless wars, while Roosvelt would have found the Republicans ignoring the common people appalling yet the current sitting President's constant apology tours and softsoaping tyrants equally distasteful.

Wes E. Tower

Marc, Austin, TX said...

@Robert. I live in Texas bud; I know what a pump-jack looks like. ;)

I think you will find the reason we have been shipping the crude overseas is partly because we lack the refining capacity to process the oil 'locally'.

A major problem contributing to the exporting of the local product is that, no new permits to build a new refinery have been granted in the US for 20 years or more.** A factor likely contributing to the artificial pricing referenced earlier by @Cat, Ah isn’t the law of unintended consequences fascinating. I wonder what that looks like as a probability.

**(This may have changed recently, I will have to look in to it, but even so, refineries are complex facilities that take years to build and ramp up, and really need water access, often a premium, plus no one wants a refinery in their backyard, they smell. (Interestingly enough a very similar situation that likely impacted the lack of new nuclear plants.)

As I like to say hindsight is 20/20.

Who would have thought 20 years ago that nuclear would be green?

Another absolutely fascinating development! Think of the disparagement the supporters of nuclear have suffered over the years.

However, I absolutely agree with the sentiment that we need to break [OUR] addiction to oil, but it is a process that will take decades if not more to accomplish, and it likely won't ever fully go away, it’s just too good of a lubricant, not to mention our love of plastics. Perhaps we won't need to drill for it anymore because we will have nearly perfect recycling, or maybe a bio alternative will be even better, but even then I think it will linger.

We are moving in the right direction, and while it may be slow, it will speed up, like a rock rolling down a steep incline. I would council patience, as someone said to me earlier; we have enough to chew on right now.

I also think that the Middle East will be infinitely more dangerous when the demand for oil runs out in 100 years or so as China and India reach the US standard of living nation-wide and fully embrace whatever more recent technology that has been developed.

As a Sith Lord, I must contradict bi Wan's assertion, as I think the the world does not have any absolutes; many sources of power will provide our energy in the future, just like many do now.

Marc, Austin, TX said...

Four additional long winded comment/questions:

1. How, who, and what do you measure in order to levy this carbon tax? (I sense the beginning of massive amounts of fraud and waste all ready, never mind the massive expansion of the EPA. (Oh goodie more government)

2. So oil companies profit? That’s good. They are also run by people, not monsters. They have children, and also live on this planet. Lets acknowledge that they are not stupid or suicidal. They may be 'blind' or 'ignorant', though I suspect they see the writing on the wall. I promise you 'they' probably know exactly when the oil is going to run out, and its sooner than later. Can you honestly say the are going to stonewall themselves into extinction? If so, trust a major advantage of capitalism, they are beholden to their greedy shareholders, demanding their share of those profits.

3. Another consideration often missed is that they also have massive investments in the existing infrastructure that they need to pay for. It's difficult to walk away from a billion dollar oil platform, for a tech that costs slightly more, and requires an entirely different infrastructure, that costs as much. This makes the impetus for the new tech to be extremely inexpensive all the more difficult to manage.

4. How exactly do [WE] enforce these regulations on the other nations, especially the ones that already have extremely dubious records as ‘nations of law’? Hell, we can't even get China to allow its currency to fluctuate. How would we enforce their pollution compliance? (My broadswords staying in its sheath on this one people) Never mind a country like Iran that is gleeful in its open snubbing of the global community.

We need to ready China and India's places at the table, and while we can try to hold them to the rules and obligations required, no demanded of world powers. We can not force them. China wants this, but I guarantee, they are willing to wait for it, they are a patient people, with internal concerns, they have a nation to build.

India as a democracy may be slightly more accommodating, but they are also a nation of 40+ official languages, meaning that a leader can not go on TV and directly address all the people at one time.

Do not underestimate the many issues these budding world powers have to overcome. Sometimes, its easier to simply take what you need.

Acacia H. said...

Seeing how Dr. Brin is big on talking about the need of transparency in government (and industry), I thought he might enjoy reading this. I'm glad to see Obama is following through on this campaign promise, at least.

Rob H.

Abilard said...

TEXT... over... whelming... TEXT

Must... type... something...


A few prominent environmentalists have changed their ideas on nuclear and had the courage to say so. Stuart Brand comes to mind:

I suspect he is being pilloried for his trouble by the majority in the green movement. Admitting you are wrong is not easy. That he and others in the movement are willing to do so publicly is a testament to their intellectual sincerity. If more of them did, and more of those on the right of the political spectrum embraced the idea of abandoning oil like you, then we could find consensus in the middle.

Given the situation in Nigeria and other countries where the world's oil companies have been extracting wealth, I don't think they are worthy of the defense you give them. There are many in this country who work hard for every penny. However, the bloodshed and environmental damage associated with oil suggest that more than pure capitalism is involved. As with Wall Street post-bailout, I have to wonder if those companies merit association with those of us who live and die by capitalism. The rules, risks, and consequences are different for them.

As for enforcing rules on China or India... yeah, I don't see that happening either.

Marc, Austin, TX said...


Valid points.

Many companies have not learned, but others pay their debts.

I can not speak to which oil companies have done harm in Africa, but to paint them all as evil seems to broad a stroke.

As far as Wall Street is concerned, we completely agree.

As Emperor, I would have allowed them to fail.

So it annoys me very much to learn; the help that would have mattered came too late.

Help the helpless, not the clueless.

Kneel before Zod. ;)

Tim H. said...

Marc,I suggested a carbon tax because it seems less destructive to the economy than cap and trade, and we're already doing it, in a smaller way. Agree with you on the likely rate of change, but the greens are doing a Veruca Salt, they want it NOW! The times were interesting enough already.

Nate said...

Hello again, Dr. Brin and all, it's been a while. Life's been interesting, in the Chinese curse sense. And I appreciate the whole "contrary" thing, and that Dr. Brin wants to get conservatives to listen too, but honestly, this is nonsense.

"Learn to accept incremental change. Better yet, recognize that the sane version of conservatism, that the blue dogs represent, does have important and useful things to say."

Now, some of the Blue Dogs in the House may represent "conservativism" in this sense. (Not my current rep, who's useless, but hey). But in the Senate? Oh, HELL no. Look at the "moderates" in the Senate. Joe Lieberman is a petulant jerk who's opposing everything the Democrats do out of sheer ire that the hippies would DARE to run someone against him, and WIN in the primary. Max Baucus? Kent Conrad? They're not standing for any kind of principles, other than showing off for themselves. They value their reputation as "moderates" more than they value their jobs or the citizens of the country. Just look how they acted with the stimulus bill, demanding major cuts to state aid and other parts, just to get the numbers on the bill down to some round number. Because that shows they are Very Serious Moderates. They oppose their own party to keep their Very Serious Moderate reputations, cocktail circuits, TV show invites, etc. There was no principle, no care for effectiveness, nothing. And they're doing the same with Health Care Reform. Lieberman's opposing because he has to show those damn hippies and stick with his buddy McCain, the others are opposing effective parts and making the end results cost more, just to be "moderate" and make the apparent price tag of this bill seem smaller.

Or listen to them whining about deficits and the debt now, after many of them voted uncritically for two expensive wars, massive rounds of tax cuts, and even to get rid of the estate tax. Because, y'know, military spending's not really spending, and tax cuts raise tax incomes! Or something.

That's not representing any sane version of conservative. That's representing their own egos, and putting their reputation as "moderate" ahead of their own party, and their own country.

What we need isn't more Blue Dogs, it's some actual liberals who don't decide to come to the table with a pre-compromised version of what they really want, so what goes on in Congress would actually resemble negotiating, rather than just Very Serious Moderates cutting down an already compromised bill, or putting in things to appease Republicans who then won't vote for the bill anyway (like the retarded Stupak amendment to the House health care bill).

Sorry for going off like that, but seriously, the Blue Dogs, especially in the Senate, haven't been representing any kind of principle besides showing their own power, and have repeatedly hut the country doing that.

Acacia H. said...

And it looks like (according to the Wall Street Journal) Reid has abandoned the Public Option in order to gather as many Democrats as possible and overcome the Republican fili-No-buster. Which is a shame; I'd have loved to see the Colbert Amendment as a part of any Public Option (in which the Senators (and probably House Reps) are forced to use the Public Option for their own insurance).

Interestingly enough, this isn't good enough for the Republicans. No. They want to kill the entire bill. From what I can gather, the Republicans feel health insurance isn't broke so long as their own insurance is paid for by the public (the ultimate Public Option, only available to the Political Elite) and the Lobbyists from the Health Insurance industry line their pockets with moolah, and lots of it. Oh, they claim they want reform, but they've not offered any actual viable alternative to the Democrats reform bills.

This frankenbill will make it through the Senate. It's not what the medical industry wants, but the alternatives ended up being unviable. And then a compromise bill will be hammered out in committee.

I'm afraid I'm a tad unsure as to the specifics of the final vote: when the revised Bill comes before the Senate, are the RepNoIcan'ts able to filibuster it? Or does that final bill just require a majority vote?

(On the plus side, maybe now that the healthcare bill is in its final stages, the Senate can get to working on such things as carbon dioxide regulations and other bills that have been piling up while the Republicans try and shut down Congress...)

Rob H.

Nate said...

Robert: Somehow, I doubt the Republicans, or the "moderates" like Lieberman will be any kinder to cap and trade or, frankly, any other legislation proposed by the Democrats. Like I said, Lieberman's just being spiteful, the Republicans want to stop anything, and the "moderates" just care about their position as "moderate", not the actual effects of their positions.

Marc, Austin, TX said...

@Tim H: I'm not necessarily against a carbon tax out of the gate; I am concerned with its application and management. It’s an option that should be explored.

I think your rate of change observation is very accurate. I feel like the Dems are acting as if they are subconsciously aware that the legislation they want to enact with get them booted from power, so they are in a mad dash to get everything done all at once regardless of the consequences.

Marc, Austin, TX said...

Is it only me or is the contrast between Nate and Robert's posts what Dr Brin was originally talking about in his post?

@Nate: So I am clear, what are you saying? That the Dems should [behave] like the Republicans and move as a 'group'?

Isn’t the assertion that the Republicans have stifled dissent or disagreement within their own party by force and the alienation of the more moderate voices, contrary to what most of the ‘liberal’ voices here would want for the Democrats?

Do you think it is a reasonable expectation, given (ignoring the negative language and obvious bias) of Dr Brin’s mostly accurate (despite my critique) premise about the actions or behaviors of each party?

Is the assumption then that multiple smaller political parties are 'superior' to a two party system? I ask because there seems to be a theme about parties splitting in several posts.

I wonder at the consequences. When I look at the nations that have a large number of partys(?), that are then required to build coalitions in order to govern, I do not ‘see’ a style of government that would 'increase' the speed or passing or enactment of legislation.

Which, I perceive as the other major theme of the posts on this site.

Many here seem frustrated (Dr Brin included) with the pace of legislation.

(An amsuing dichotomy given the annoyance with my rate of posting. ;)

(@Tim H: Thanks for your rate of change observation. ;))

Nate said...

Marc: "@Nate: So I am clear, what are you saying? That the Dems should [behave] like the Republicans and move as a 'group'?"

Not exactly. My point was mostly that the Very Serious Moderates Dr. Brin talks about, at least in the Senate, are not "moderate", nor "serious", nor "conservative." They're grandstanding for their ego, or their petty personal reasons. Joe Lieberman especially is holding up legislation (to my eye) not out of any principle, but out of spite, because he lost the Democratic primary to Ned Lamont. The others, like Max Baucus, Kent Conrad, etc, don't have any discernible principles either, since they're making a fuss about deficits, after voting repeatedly for expensive wars and tax "cuts" for the wealthy. Or, here, just look at the bullet points on this "deficit commission" poster here. $764 billion in tax cuts, oh, and to cut the deficit in half. While cutting a huge chunk of the most effective money out of the stimulus earlier, and fighting the health care reform bill portions that would control costs, while whining that the bill doesn't control costs enough.

These are NOT serious people. These are not the kind of people we need more of in Congress.

Different opinions in a political party are fine, but when somebody is against one of the major defining issues that all of the candidates last year ran on, and are hurting the rest of their party members, who may lose elections because they can't get anything done because of obstruction? Or when they campaign for the other party's candidate, after renouncing their party and opposing major initiatives? There has to be a limit somewhere, otherwise, why even HAVE a party.

Additionally, let's be clear about what these people are doing. They're not even allowing the bills to come up to a vote, they're enabling the Republican fillibusters. They're exploiting the Republican's unanimous opposition to anything Democrats do make themselves important, prepare for post-politics careers, whatever. They're not even allowing legislation to come to the floor. And the Republicans, who cried for years about "up and down" votes on Bush's right wing judges? They're denying votes on EVERYTHING, including judges.

So one party is indeed acting in bad faith, and it's being enabled by these hacks. Political parties are bound together by shared beliefs and values, the question is, do the Democrats stand for anything other than "Not as crazy as the Republicans"? Is there any line Senators can cross, any party priority they can oppose that will get the leadership to say "Enough"? Thus far, it doesn't look like it. But the Bush years already proved Harry Reid useless.


Nate said...

Look, we just got through eight years of being ruled by a largely inept group of thieving thugs who stole the 2000 election, took FBI agents off terrorism before 9/11, let Osama Bin Laden get away, set up worldwide torture camps, invaded Iraq based on lies, spied on Americans, gave everything they could to their rich buddies, generally treated the Constitution and country like toilet paper, and tortured hundreds of people (at least) and killed at least a hundred thousand more.

And we've got a President who ran on Hope and Change, and took office, and hasn't investigated any of these crimes, hasn't undone their spying, is still protecting liars and torturers, hasn't closed Gitmo, and evidently hasn't learned anything about dealing with the current Republicans, since they keep starting with pre-compromised proposals, then give and give to the Republicans and Very Serious Moderates until the bills are substantially worse. See: Stimulus, Health Care reform, etc.

You're worried about the Democrats working "madly" to pass bills? Cripes, the problem isn't that we've got lunatics in charge trying to ram through things, the problem is we have HUGE problems the Bush administration ignored, made worse, or caused, and the Democrats are being TOO cautious. Maybe they're worried about looking like they're moving "too fast", but all they're doing is mostly looking like a bunch of ineffective idiots. Yeah, people aren't always comfortable with change, but you know what? If it WORKS they're a hell of a lot more likely to end up supporting it than if the politicians drag their feet and end up passing something too half-assed to be of any help.

Rob Perkins said...

Do you think, now that it's been nine freeping *years*, that y'all could get over the 2000 election stuff? hmm?

David Brin said...

Yes, the world amazes. And wonders never cease. And Brin finds himself (!) agreeing with Marc!

Nate, you are being dramatic. For every Baucus there is a blue dog like Eric Massa, of upstate New York, who ejected a longtime right wing jerk and who is now working hard to find ways to mix progressive forward motion with fiscal responsibility.

The guys you mention are problematic precisely BECAUSE the Dems have no margin for error at all, in the Senate. SOme of them, like Lincoln and Landrieu, HAVETO make big gestures at fighting the "lib'ruls" to have any chance of staying in office. (Lieberman has no such excuse, he's just crazy.)

Remember, the key thing is to pass a bill in the Senate. It then goes to reconciliation with the more liberal House bill and the resulting bill is voted by strict majority, with NO 60% needed. Allowing Lincoln even to vote against it while still smiling as it passes.

Will you please try to understand their rough situation and wait to see what happens?

In any event, the solution to today's weird situation, in which the Democratic Party Caucus is the legislative branch, with a unanimity rule... is MORE Democrats!

And dig it... all the low hanging fruit is taken. Blue America is tapped.

Till gerrymandering gets dumped (Marc and other newbies see: )
there is no way you'll elect more liberal congressfolk. If you want more dems, they are going to HAVE TO be blue dogs, of some sort or another. Live with it. Embrace it.

Acacia H. said...

@Marc: Kneel before Zod? I think not!

Marc, Austin, TX said...


[./inhales deeply! AGAIN]

The current Dems are a loose association of extremely diverse beliefs, if they could move with any more solidarity on all issues without very serious compromise, they would. But at what price, Obama has already made a decision he must feel was his only option (given the months he took to decide) and this decision has consequently angered a significant portion of his support. He has now expended serious political capital to further, what I hope, are things to which he strongly believes. Because in attempting to hold the middle group and get something for everyone, he may have split the difference.

Even if the assumption that compromise is the more moral or ethical position, you will have individuals within the larger cooperative group take advantage given any momentary power, to further the agenda of the smaller cooperative group they represent and are beholden too. For example, while I am impressed the Reid is willing to sacrifice his job to pass HC, is that the best decision, may he have not have passed a more realistic and valuable bill with a bit more time and negotiation?

Marc. Austin, TX said...

@Robert, HA! You may cry while you kneel before Zod. 'Your tears are all the pay I'll ever need'!

@Brin: :)

[Still exhaling]Sorry all. ;)

@Nate: Eh I'm not saying [they] think they are moving too fast. I think they are moving too fast. I happen to disagree with many of the basic tenants of what they propose. What I find interesting is the assumption that a majority wants all these changes. HC is easy for everyone to want. Who will turn down a new entitlement? I happen to think we are too free with the [free]. I don't necessarily think it’s the government’s job to provide HC for all regardless that I believe it’s the correct moral decision, e.g. to provide access to ‘free’ HC for all humans. We can’t afford too.

I have to say, that I appreciate the veracity of your beliefs, (and without making any judgments of right or wrong,) I do not believe they are held by even a significant minority of the American public, (regardless of their dominance on the Internet) ;).

As others have said to me here, you have to pick your battles.

Example: One of the things I happen to respect about Obama is that he hasn’t made the mistake the Republicans made during the Clinton years of starting multiple waste of money –waste of time witch hunts. When people look at Gitmo and don’t understand why it’s still open, they misunderstand the difficulties and cost of compromise.

Politics at this scale requires a level of vagueness and generalization of its practitioners that is often a tar pit for any rigid ideology. How could you possibly get elected otherwise? People hate Bush for his right/wrong, bring it on, dead or alive, style. (Among a myriad other things, I obviously don’t need to list) Some people (22% apparently) like him for that very reason.

In a nation of 300+ million individual opinions, I am surprised there aren’t more Lieberman’s (crazy or not). Though like the current tactics of the Republicans, I am not upset by the moderates behavior. I respect that Lieberman announced at the start of the fight, what his deal breaker was, and that he is sticking to his guns. As I said in an earlier post, it’s the Dems prerogative to work around any road blocks.

However, I also think that what ever party is the majority, it has an obligation to keep its hand extended out to the minority. *Tangent: Private meeting with the President don’t help this issue. I don’t understand how someone can say we need meet and work with Iran, and not espouse the same tactic with the Republicans. Is it really easier to work with an actual enemy that wants to kill you?

Anyway, what makes a person moderate? Is it not that they are someone willing to compromise? Which by its very nature will mean they must ‘behave’ in the manner about which you are commenting about from the moderates? They are individuals competing within large diverse cooperative groups, which are comprised of similar beliefs systems represented as a spectrum.

Nate said...

Re: Marc on health care: We can't afford it? Funny, every single other industrialized nation has managed to afford health care for all their citizens. And they've managed to do it for much less than we pay per person. So yeah, the "we can't afford it!" argument is unconvincing. And we don't even cover everybody. Our health care system is a farce.

Also, for what the majority wants, there's quite a few polls out there about support for health care reform, the public option (which was the compromise from single payer, but since that's where the bill started, the "moderates" had to whack at it) here's a poll showing a good chunk of opposition to the current health care bill being because it doesn't go far enough. link Not quite a majority, but bigger than the "oppose" side, with 20% undecided.

Also, the "moderates" AREN'T compromising. The rest of the Democrats are compromising, while the Very Serious Moderates are grandstanding. They're not negotiating, they're not insisting on any principles, other than "Well, hey, lop off some numbers, I don't care what, so I can show how much I hate hippies."

@Rob: Given the only reason the Bush thugs could get away with their crimes was the theft of that election, and the results of the disaster that was the Bush years, no, I don't think it's time to "get over it". Not until some of them do time, for at least some of their crimes.

Dr Brin: With all due respect, I'm pretty sure the Republicans can (and will) filibuster the conference bill as well.

As I mentioned though, the House is different, yes, in part because the Democrats don't need unanimous consent from their caucus. That doesn't mean the Very Serious Moderate Senators are working in good faith. Nor do I find it easy to feel sorry for their tough situation. While they're screwing around and grandstanding, the rest of the country is hurting. Hurting they aided and abetted, in most of their cases, during the Bush years. I have no tears for them.

Marc, Austin, TX said...

@Nate: Oh I agree we [could] afford it. (Well not for ALL humans, like I said in the last post.) All citizens sure. What do we change to get it?

I don't think [we] can afford it, 'as is'. We aren't actually trying to fix what is truly broken in the system.

Tim H. said...

One way to fix healthcare would be to put everyone on medicare, but hospitals would have a drop in income, and all the personnel who administer private insurance would be job-hunting. There's reason to believe such a move would cut costs, administrative overhead in health insurance costs a lot. But can we afford more jobless? Fixing healthcare will also help jobs, but not immediately.

Acacia H. said...

There is one genuine method of reforming health care, but only a few Senators had the guts to offer it. You strip the Health Insurance companies of the protections that prevent genuine competition so that market forces will result in lower prices. But the Health Insurance companies have collaborated to divvy up the pie so each has a specific piece and there is no competition.

Heck, you want competition? I'll use a Republican suggestion for a different field against them: vouchers. Any employee can get a voucher from his employer to get insurance from a different company than the company's preferred insurance provider. You'd see competition start up all right... but insurance companies don't want this. They want to keep milking the cow even though they have it pumped full of growth hormones and steroids and antibiotics to ensure she gives them milk despite being sickly. And eventually? She'll give out.

That cow, btw, is the American people.

Rob H.

Ilithi Dragon said...

To add a completely different subject to the current topic mix of the discussion, I wanted to get the opinion of this community on the following.

Some Trekkie friends and I have long been doing analysis on Trek tech and equipment, including weapons performance, and we have recently determined that a maximum yield phaser blast from a Galaxy class starship would have an effective yield comparable to a 7.85 - 15.7 gigaton bomb (that's 157-314 times the yield of the Tsar Bomba, and the 15.7 gigaton bomb would literally break windows on the other side of the planet). Now, that would completely drain the phaser banks and they would have to completely recharge the banks to fire that kind of shot again, but that is still with just one shot, and the delay between another shot of equal power would only be a matter of seconds. We also hear that single starships could easily devastate entire planets (Defiant class and Constitution class), and a small fleet of just twenty starships (half of which were Cardassian, and were therefore smallish and technologically inferior) was sufficient force to blow away the crust and mantle of a planet of ~Earth size in only five hours.

That kind of raw firepower (most of which is thanks to the Nuclear Disruption Force (NDF) effect of phasers and disruptors, which acts like anti-matter and disrupts the nuclear bonds of matter, increasing the effective yield per joule by a factor of ~11,000) is staggering, mind-boggling. It's almost inconceivable in the face of the orders of magnitude we deal with in our daily lives.

What I am curious about is the thoughts and opinions of this community on the idea that our technology could advance to the point that we had the ability to devastate an entire planet in a matter of hours or even minutes with even light, antiquated weapons. What do you guys think about that, and the implications of that?

Tacitus2 said...


I am not going to think about that nightmare even a little. (off topic, and just for you, my son and I attended A Klingon Christmas
Carol recently, a reworking of the Dickens classic in the "original Klingon"!)

As we wind down to the bottom of a long and spicy thread, my thoughts on health care.

Yes we, like all modern economies, can afford the provision of health care to all citizens. But, we cannot affort the entitlement of health care for all citizens. The current proposal has no real limits on costs. Oh, a drop or two of eyewash and some CBO projections that contain a level of fantasy that even Brin only hits on a good writing day.

An honest bill would address this up front. A dishonest one kicks the can down the road and hopes that blue ribbon committees of non elected experts will put the necessary limits in place. Some day.

The Democrats are either realists, who know an honest bill can't pass. Or delusional and think it does not matter. Or just plain dishonest.

These three scenarios should cover all political beliefs represented here.


Ilithi Dragon said...

True, it is a very frightening concept, but is it not prudent to think about it now, before it becomes a reality (and assuming we don't kill ourselves or regress culturally and technologically, we will eventually reach such a point)?

Also, A Klingon Christmas Carrol? Awesome! I'm so jealous.

As for health care, I think a mix of all three of your possibilities are actually in play; there's a little bit of honesty, a little bit of dishonesty, and a little bit of general and special stupidity all mixed into this bill. I think the Dems are largely honest, with a small mix of dishonesty and stupidity/naivette (such as the entering into negotiations with a pre-compromised position, which assumes the 'other side' is willing to compromise and deliberate, etc.). The goppers are being largely dishonest and stupid, largely by making the whole thing one giant, unending maneuver of pure politics, hoping for a repeat of 93/94, with a dash or two of honesty for some honestly-held ideologies. And then there are the HC 'powers that be' that benefit greatly from the current system, and would have those benefits seriously restricted or compromised with actual, functional healthcare reform. They're largely dishonest, with a lot of special stupidity for their short-sighted and self-centered greed, with bare traces of honesty, and they spread that mix across both sides, though it mostly sticks to the GOP and the few belligerent 'VSM' Dems (to borrow Nate's term), who are most receptive to it.

Abilard said...

@Ilithi Dragon

That would be pretty impressive. However, as soon as the Federation started threatening order in the galaxy through wanton use of primitive phasers, the Empire would be forced to step in with its 450 terawatt turbo lasers:

This would lead to the devastating sight of trillions in Federation hardware vaporized in a matter of seconds. There would be no debris leftover, however, enabling Grand Admiral Thrawn to reestablish the pax imperium with few complications.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Oh no you didn't. Ohhh no you did not just link to on here! Here, of all places! SDN is the epitome of bad science. Seriously, some of Mike Wong's stuff makes the Flat Earth Society look good. You should go here for a much, much better and more scientifically sound analysis of turbolaser firepower. That analysis (which doesn't claim scientific absurdities like the instant transfer of energy throughout the asteroid, allowing for all of it to be vaporized instantly, which violates the laws of thermodynamics, especially since the asteroid is mostly likely comprised largely of silicates, which are poor conductors of heat/energy, instead of the solid iron that Wong uses) shows that sustained turbolaser outputs are much more likely in the high megawatt to mid-gigawatt range.

And even if they WERE in the 450 terawatt range, average sustained phaser outputs from a Galaxy class are roughly twice that, with the heaviest observed shots being 3-6 times a one-second turbolaser output, and with a calculated reserve roughly 12 times the one-second turbolaser output. The 42-megaton standard yield of a photon torpedo also puts out some 175,728 terajoules, which is roughly equivalent to 6.5 minutes of output from the SDN turbolaser figure. That's just in raw energy output, though, not even accounting for the Nuclear Disruption Force (NDF) of phasers and disruptors, which magnifies the effective yield against materials not hardened against the effect by a factor of ~11,000, because it literally induces a chain reaction that disrupts the nuclear forces holding the target matter together, converting it into energy much like in a matter/anti-matter annihilation (unlike an anti-matter particle beam, however, this would have the same effect on the much weaker gravitational and electromagnetic forces that comprise most sci-fi shield systems, just without the chain reaction effect).

So, even with the ridiculously inflated SDN figures, Wars firepower doesn't come close to Trek's, even more so if you use figures derived from a more accurate analysis.

/nerd rage
} ; = 8 P

Ilithi Dragon said...

Oh, quick addition:

Wars capital ships pull up alongside each other and park within spitting distance to shoot at each other; they can't reliably hit anything with their manually-targeted turrets if they don't, and stated maximum weapons ranges have invariably been well within visual range; that can be stretched out to a 5,000km bending-over-backwards absolute most, against an ISD-sized target.

Trek phasers have effective ranges, with considerable accuracy, out to 300,000km, and torpedoes have ranges (launched at sublight) of 3.5-4.5 million km, with precise, computer-controlled targeting hitting small meter-sized targets at almost 100,000 km with ease. Even if SW had superior firepower, they couldn't get in range of Trek ships to fire, and even if they could, they probably wouldn't be able to score any hits except by blind luck.

And now I'm done. For now... >.>

Abilard said...



It is possible I was being trollish. My wife and I at a con:

Notice the costumes are not Wars inspired. While I enjoy Brin's novels, it was his essay on Star Wars that led me to this blog.

Nate said...

Of course, Star Trek and Star Wars spaceships both fight at ABSURDLY close range, and more like WWI and WWII naval battles respectively. More realistic space battles would involve swarms of drone missiles, anti-missiles-missiles, anti-anti-missile-missiles, anti-anti...oh, you get the point, and focused energy weapons with ranges probably on the order of light seconds. Probably all done by computers in fractions of seconds, without any human input.

That's not quite as dramatic to show on TV or the movies, though, so.

My money's on Necessarilly Evil But Still Awesome and its cohorts.

Ilithi Dragon said...


I half-expected as much. It's often hard to tell with these things, though...

It was Dr. Brin's article on ST-v-SW that led me here, as well, and from here to his books. Nice costumes, btw.
} : = 8 )

@Nate: Yeah, that's true, though precise targeting of shipboard weapons systems would start to become a problem even for computers beyond a certain range, because of how a very tiny error in targeting can cause a miss by dozens of kilometers or more. At a great enough range, just the act of one crew member inhaling would throw the ship's aim off. At least Trek has spent as much time fighting at the light-second+ range as they have within visual range, and we've seen a torpedo engagement or two with ranges easily in the billions to trillions of kilometers.

Unfortunately, few Sci-Fi shows/movies address that realistically by any measure, and Trek is actually one of the better ones at it.

Tony Fisk said...

So, it's true then:

Starship Captain, James T. Kirk:
Ah! We come in peace, shoot to kill, shoot to kill, shoot to kill;
we come in peace, shoot to kill, shoot to kill, men.

Firepower like that would certainly provide Vorlons with their wake-up call.

fruspnol: pyroclastic mineral formed from the annihilation of a planet.

Tony Fisk said...

Babylon 5 features some of the most dramatic (and believable) space battles ever (Severed Dreams is just awesome)

Realistic, though? Well...!

Ilithi Dragon said...

Well, there's realism, realistic eye candy, and just plain eye candy. Wars is the latter, Trek is the middle one, and B5 falls somewhere in between.

Acacia H. said...

Oh dear Goddess... Contrary Brin devolved into a Star Wars vs. Star Trek geekfest debate. There is nothing left for us but to fall upon our swords.

Well, except in my case. I'll curl up to a nice Ciaphas Cain novel and enjoy soft science fiction at its worse and best. ^^ I mean, who needs Star Wars/Star Trek when you have overpriced tabletop wargaming?

Rob H.

Marc, Austin, TX said...

Why all this talk of beam weapons anyway? One antimatter torpedo of any significant yield and your atmosphere is gone.

Personally, if I could control gravity like they do, I would just throw large dark rocks at everything. Try stopping that black swarm of asteroids, my fleet just threw at your planet at a significant percentage of C from your Ort cloud. Never mind some kind of warp speed.

Hell, what you could do to a planet with some type of gravity beam weapon? A sufficiently powered tractor beam could be extremely nasty.

Hell, if you could generate a warp bubble or field and just pop the rock out at point blank range on the planet.

I sure hope Dr Brin is wrong and all aliens share our ethics. Fighting technologically advance bug equivalents would suck!

In Dr Brin’s universe, I'd be more worried about the star diving tech, hyperspace to the star, one supernova coming right up. Fortunately everyone values life, so you’d be screwed if you destroyed someone else’s rental property.

Here’s the problem with that level of tech. What happens when its single individual possible? I sure hope our defensive and detection capabilities are up to the task.

How common would 'green' planets need to be that even crazies would destroy them?

Tony Fisk said...

Fall on our broadswords?

(The problem with Trek is they *never* got the feel of momentum right. I suppose you could put it down to the presumedly inertialess effects of warp drive?)

Still, I suppose all this firepower would settle trivial issues like health care.

Tony Fisk said...

In B5, mass drivers were a proscribed weapon (which didn't stop the Centauri).

For planetary obliteration, the Vorlons used laser blasters based on platforms 20 miles across, while the Shadows opted for saturation bombing with crust penetrating nukes.

Then someone stood up and told them to 'get the hell out of our galaxy!'.

Considering the errm, 'playful' tone this thread has taken on, I wonder if we'll find that the speed of light is a matter of demonstrably mature outlook?

Catfish N. Cod said...

Nate: Of course, Star Trek and Star Wars spaceships both fight at ABSURDLY close range, and more like WWI and WWII naval battles respectively. More realistic space battles would involve swarms of drone missiles, anti-missiles-missiles, anti-anti-missile-missiles, anti-anti...oh, you get the point, and focused energy weapons with ranges probably on the order of light seconds.

David Weber's Honorverse universe has space battles of this sort, and manages to have exciting action and meaningful human input despite the long ranges and computer controlled ABM defenses. Weapons ranges are in the 5-20 light-second zone; fights are almost always in realspace due to the amplification of all gravitic effect at FTL speeds, and so the speed of light imposes enough time constraints to allow for human direction of the computer-controlled weaponry.

This despite the Weber series being blatantly based on an earlier age, namely, the 18th century Anglo-French wars.

Weber's answer to the poser presented by our draconic colleague is the same as Frank Herbert's in the Duneverse, and is the rule everyone understands fully although it is nowhere written today: use of weapons of mass destruction against civilian targets, even incidentally, is equivalent to a declaration of war on all humanity. Try it and you will be hunted down like a dog; only by the mercy of the rest of the world will your home not be laid waste.

Marc, Austin, TX said...

HC: Until we do something about the litigious nature of our culture and doctors can stop practicing defensive medicine, costs will remain at insane levels regardless of any other measures.

This makes me wonder, how we are going to handle medical costs in 30 years. How much are cloned body parts, synthetic body parts, and cybernetic replacement parts going to cost? What’s it going to cost me for my nano-regeneration therapy? We are going to see this stuff in our life times. Will the next big fight be about covering that stuff? What exactly will be an elective procedure? Is life extension optional? I could argue that it’s the government’s job to buy me a new replacement body as mine wears out. ;) Damn it I have a ‘right’ to eternal life. ;)

Marc, Austin, TX said...

@cat - I agree. But my insane fanatic follower Jeff, with a quantum gravity bomb strapped to his ass, has just imploded your capital planet.

For not worshipping 'The Living Gawd, He that is Eternal, Master of All, Marc'.

Kneel and Cry before Marc.

(Oh by the way I provide free HC to all my minions.)

Ilithi Dragon said...


The problem with HC is a LOT more than just defensive medicine/over-litigation. That's part of the problem, yes, but there are a dozen other problems that have just as much impact, if not more.

Unfortunately, there is no one issue with healthcare that we can fix to make a silver bullet; there are a dozen or more major problems that all need to be fixed in order to fix HC. Over-litigation is one of them, but it is far from the ONLY major problem, and it certainly is not the primary contributor by far (it's one OF them, but not THE one). There are also ways to solve that problem that don't involve forcing mass changes to people's mindsets, or that leave patients without recourse should they get screwed over by a doctor/hospital/what-have-you. It is a fixable issue, but like everything else with HC, it's not easy, and requires compromise and cooperation.

Marc, Austin, TX said...

@Llithi: I agree there are many factors. I don't think any issue can be summed by any one 'thing'. However, our legal system is a MAJOR variable in the equation.

Having direct experience in the trenches, it boggles me that we aren't even addressing this very specific foundational problem. A problem is that is rather straight forward to address. Save for the super powerful minority guild that wants to block it, a guild that many of our lawmakers obviously and necessarily belong too.

I want [accountability] (as Dr, Brin) says (I am just now reading his main site, and I understand his arguments more now, (still have to argue though [./grin])) is SUPER important.

EVERYONE should be accountable for their behavior. Now how that’s accomplished requires serious consideration, and like Dr Brin says technology may decide this issue for us, if we don’t.

**Tangent Alert
[Begin]: Personally, I think this issue will radically change over a generational timeframe as our young (as we are already seeing) begin to adapt and take many technologies for granted. As technological innovation and application continues to exponentially increase, I believe there is a divide or conflict that may develop that I have yet to see Dr Brin mention; the divide between the technological ‘young’ and ‘old’. (A flavor of his modernist argument maybe (yes and an obvious eternal issue), however, we can not discount that a generation of hyper technological young, that is almost alien to us, could develop very quickly in the not too distant future. (And yes there are plenty of sci-fi books that address this issue.) A super young, super intelligent, geographically distributed, elite aristocracy could seemingly ‘pop’ into existence. [End]
**Tangent Alert

Anyway back to HC:

I would not deny justice for any sentient being due to incompetence or malicious intent, but really do I deserve 10 million dollars for that justice, of which the lawyer gets 50%? How is this justice? It’s a perversion of a natural and understandable desire. It has swung to the extreme, let’s let it swing back and stop it, in more reasonable balanced location.

We could start by acknowledging the fundamental conflict of interest poised by our lawyer leaders legislating a few of these specific issues without close supervision and oversight. It smacks of a much simpler issue, voting to give my self a 'raise'

Rob Perkins said...

You want fun Space Navy stories? Try the Kris Longknife books. Horatio Hornblower as a woman, in the Navy, in spaaaace.

She literally (yes, literally, because it's a BOOK) saves the world three times in every novel, and Mike Shepherd is on his seventh. Find it in the Kindle store. Fun stuff with only three Maguffins!

Marc, Austin, TX said...


HC: You are definitely on to something with competition.

However, vouchers miss the point of the reason for employer based insurance to begin with. Let’s acknowledge that like most of the other government programs HC started out simple and straightforward, but as it and our culture and technology have evolved, the level of complexity has now warped the original intent into a system of unnecessary and asinine complexity.

Insurance: How did our current system evolve? Is the intent of the current system to allow people to pool their resources and therefore lower the individual costs? How did we get here? Were we trying to retain the original concept of an employer providing HC as a benefit? Is that not a relatively recent concept that was certainly not at all prevalent in all industries lets say even 50 years ago? Ah, unions.

Now can we not say that this concept has moved through most industries and is now pretty much ‘expected’ as an option for an employee? Now has that system not devolved into the employer only paying for a portion of the HC? A system that has also been augmented to allow the employee contribution portion of the money to used pre-tax in order to make the sting of paying a tad more palatable, never mind tricks like deductibles, etc, etc?

All this stuff is, is a handful of band-aids used to try to minimize the self inflicted and artificial limitations imposed on the industry for various and probably reasonable concerns given the 'old' assumptions.

The problem is we have changed our most basic assumption. That people deserve HC.

So we attack the current mess not with scissors or a wrecking ball, but with a bigger band-aid. Have we learned nothing from Medicare?

Yes, like any major industry; jobs, fortunes, guilds, and lobbies are involved, and all involved will fight to retain their status. This is why we are trying to slap a cast on this mess.

Sure everyone points to Europe, BUT they started out with different assumptions!!!

So I ask, how would a business solve this problem? Wouldn’t it first acknowledge that our priorities have changed?

Have we as a society have gone from: “You are on your own', to ‘Let government help you?’ as we have 'matured' and have grown more 'enlightened'?

If that’s what everyone wants, fine.

But again, I ask what would business with a BUDGET do?

Would it not define the problem and then state the intent of the project: “All citizens are entitled to [Free? Cheap? Inexpensive?] health care” and go from there?

How can we solve these problems if we can’t even agree on what we are trying to accomplish or what the actual problem is?

Catfish N. Cod said...

Marc: I agree. But my insane fanatic follower Jeff, with a quantum gravity bomb strapped to his ass, has just imploded your capital planet.

The fact that either you or your planet will disappear as soon as the nearest elements of the Solarian League Fleet (crappy individually, but the largest navy in the galaxy by a factor of twenty) reach your planet gives you... um... a strong incentive to make sure that nuts and nutty weapons don't leave your world. And because leaving a world and going FTL is 'rocket science'... you can sufficiently police such things. Unlike on Old Earth, where borders were continuous and porous, and any idiot could circumnavigate the world in a dinghy.

Emporer Marc, Planet Marc, The Empire of Marc. said...

@cat I didn't tell him do it. He did it on his own, using a foes technology, secretly smuggled to his well known, exiled fanatical groups headquarters on a different planet.

All Kneel and Cry beofre Marc, benevolant provider of free HC, loved by all the innocent and peace loving followers of Marclam.

Tony Fisk said...

Now this is starting to sound like the plot in 'Iron Sunrise'*

(Anyway, what if you haven't got any knees?)

sesse: the general tone of this blog at the moment.

*thinking of Stross reminds me of Accelerando I: Lobsters, and it suddenly occurs to me that this might have been the inspiration for District 9's aliens (based on descriptions of a film I haven't seen)

Marc, Austin ,TX said...

@Tony oh something to look up.


All prostrate and indicate the equivalent of emotional distress before Marc.

isn't as much fun. ;)

Nate said...

Marc: As I understand it, a significant portion of malpractice awards is to cover the medical bills the person faced and will face over their lifetime, from whatever mistake was made. Plus lost income, etc. I suspect that if medical costs for life for a mistake like that weren't going to cost tens of millions of dollars, the size of the awards wouldn't be such an issue. Which is one more reason to support single payer health care. :)

Also, as I understand it, most of the time the hospitals/doctors involved won't come up with the evidence of if it was a mistake, or the best choice under the conditions, or an unexpected whatever if people just ask. So a decent chunk of the malpractice suits that get dropped were filed mostly to get to the discovery phase, and if there really wasn't major negligence, they get dropped. If the doctors/hospitals were more transparent about practices, and adopted more best practice things like checklists, that would probably also cut down on the number of lawsuits.

On the other hand, we could try "tort reform", which in most iterations I've seen is just about making it harder to sue, and arbitrarily capping damages, and doesn't actually address any of the actual causes of the number and costs of malpractice suits.

«Oldest ‹Older   1 – 200 of 212   Newer› Newest»