Monday, November 05, 2012

Campaign 2012: What's the Fundamental Issue?

We'll conclude this election season with some hard-hitting facts and a bit of entertaining polemic... followed by an appeal for us all return to the sci fi mentality of optimism and rising above petty squabbles.  Because we all should - along with our civilization - go "back to the future."

Me? I'm going to surprise you all by saying that I have not completely made up my mind for whom my presidential vote will be cast! 

As a registered republican who admired Goldwater and Buckley and who pushes the writings of Adam Smith, I am deeply saddened to see the Republican Party fallen into its sorry state, unable to point to a single unalloyedly positive accomplishment in the last 25 years or to a "record" as their basis for demanding votes. Their campaign amounts to: "Please don't ever ask us about our extensive record of governance over the United States, nor ask about our former president, the bills we passed or their outcomes! Instead, look here at these assertions, distractions and promises!"

Given their war on science, their incompetent and horrifically costly fumblings at war, their economic voodoo, and their glaring propensity for cheating, I have to conclude that Pax Americana hasn't faced a recent danger worse than these fools who most rabidly wave its flag. (Click to look over my careful compilations on each of those subjects.)

In fact, the fate of our very species may depend on good, smart conservatives rising up and taking back their movement from the loonies who have hijacked it. From the shills of Rupert Murdoch and his petro-prince co-owners of Fox, whose transformation of conservatism has Barry Goldwater supplying half the power in Arizona -- from the spinning in his grave.

== What is a smart-decent, science friendly conservative to do? ==

I know many such good, smart, pro-science conservatives... men and women who believe in facts and professionalism and who want small government without needing to reflexively hate all government. To denounce even the word: "government" and to declare it a hopeless fraud. (Have you ever actually read Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address? Go and re-read the last few lines right now!)  Some of these good folks know that the GOP will only reform itself after a good trouncing! So they are holding their noses and voting Democratic down the line.

Others, knowing that tax rates are at their lowest in 70 years, that the federal share of the economy at its lowest in 50 years, and with discretionary spending the smallest contributor to the deficit, aren't even holding their noses. They are the adaptable ones who know that threats to freedom can come from any direction. They know that our biggest danger right now is not from pathetic, declining labor unions, but from an oligarchic clade that wants to buy our democracy and bring us to wealth and income disparities as bad as France in 1789.

More on that, in a minute.

== The Gary Johnson Option! ==

Other decent, smart conservatives - like author scientist Gregory Benford - have done something eminently fine this year, throwing their support behind Gary Johnson, by far the best candidate ever fielded by the Libertarian Party in 48 states. A moderate and not a dogmatist, whose small-government notions and fiscal restraint come unencumbered by the crazy stuff that too often accompanies those things, crammed at us by the culture war inciters on Fox. If Johnson does well, this time, if his version of the movement jumps ahead to just the 5% threshold, he'll be in the debates next time, and everything will change. Smart, reasonable, science-friendly small-government types will find they have a home, for the first time in 20+ years.

I sent Johnson some money. And I try to vote for at least one libertarian every year. Indeed, because I can vote in California after 5pm, when projections are coming in from the east - I might even vote for Johnson for president! If I know by then that the country is safe from Bush III. You other westerners, consider it!

But if you are in a swing state... or on the east coast... or if the popular vote looks tight... it is the wrong thing to do.  We are in a fight for civilization, so prioritize.  You pot-heads in Colorado, you know I'm talking to you! Go ahead and vote for the legalization initiative and try to talk your Oregon pals into voting Johnson for you.  But don't let Romney get your state's electoral votes and thereby turn yourself into one of those folks who curse themselves forever, for voting Nader in Florida in 2000.

As for you surfers in Hawaii? And you Alaskan sourdoughs? Vote libertarian without a moment's hesitation! Boost Johnson's numbers. Do it for the rest of us!

(* Alert! Monday evening at 9pm Eastern the Small Party Candidates will hold their own pre-election debate.)

== The core question ==

Again... the challenge that has gone unanswered for six years! Name for me one unambiguous statistical metric of US national health that clearly improved across the span of and because of Republican Rule. 

One. Just one! Democrats can do this, easily, for their own (shorter) spans in power! Bill Clinton filled his convention speech with dozens of clear metrics that you can check, including vastly more jobs created and rising health of the middle class. And yes, more startups and entrepreneurship and return on investments... and investment in science, by far.

Not one of the erudite and knowledgeable conservatives I've challenged -- for 6 years -- has met this dare or come up with such a counter-example to the stark and utter uniformity of bad outcomes from GOP rule. Bill O'Reilly offers the lame excuse "Bush is gone!"  (What a terrific campaign slogan!)  But look who surrounds Romney. The entire Cheney team... and you'd hire them back?

== The deeper matter at stake ==

Here's the deal.  Americans are raised under memes of Suspicion of Authority (SOA). Each of us thinks he or she invented it and that the potential Big Brothers we hate are the only possible threats to freedom.  It is rare to be agile enough to turn your head and look at threats that might arise from your own, favorite side. Indeed, your most-hated boogey men may not be this decade's main danger.

I am not a "liberal" in any pure sense and have given speeches to libertarian gatherings, spending long sessions with pals in that uniquely American movement. I despise true leftists. I lived in Europe and saw the dogmatic left's foolishness. I fought the USSR and know dire threats can come from that direction.

But the soviets are gone and we've proved smarter than the Europeans in some (not all) ways.  Our banks are healthy now while theirs are wrecks. And US manufacturing hasn't been this optimistic in 20 years.  I'm investing in export companies.

It is simply monomaniacal, at a time when we're facing a frontal onslaught from the Olde Enemy of freedom... the one that crushed it in 99% of human societies... the foe whom Adam Smith denounced and our Founders rebelled against... it is simply narrowminded and foolish for smart people to declare obstinately that freedom and markets can only be threatened by pathetic declining labor unions and demoralized bureaucrats and taxation (when we currently have the lowest tax rates in 70 years.) And to wave away any reminder about Adam Smith's warnings. About the Olde Foe of freedom.

That is just as stupid as the American socialists of 1945 who refused to admit that Uncle Joe Stalin could possibly be a bad dude.  Yes, that is an exact parallel. 

To ignore the oligarchs' skyrocketing accumulations of wealth and conniving monopolistic power and ability to manipulate and crush competition, with wealth and income disparities now approaching the same levels as 1789 France... you can talk yourself into ignoring that?

All good things can go toxic... when they get too concentrated in one place. 

Water, food,  oxygen -- and yes, even the wealth that propels market enterprise and capitalism. 

Yay wealth! Yay entrepreneurial enterprise! 

But dense concentrations of wealth can be toxic too. As Andrew Carnegie proclaimed!  As Henry Ford said!  As Warren Buffett and Bill Gates tell us! As almost every decade of almost every society in human history shows.

If you deny this... jeez... please finally actually read Adam Smith.  Or else admit that you are a Tory. Hang a picture of King George.  And get ready for the revolution, because Blue America will reach a point (as in 1861) when we've had enough.

== And now... onward...  

I am guardedly optimistic. Whoever wins the White House will inherit an economy clearly on the mend, in less recovery time than the historical average for deep recessions.  
The wave of new sustainable technologies are paying off big time, with car mileage rates climbing and new kinds of energy booming and we'll all benefit from the new US energy independence.

Our fundamentals are good and the next president will get credit.

But it actually belongs to us.  And if we can rediscover the normal gifts of peacetime -- especially our treasured national talent for calm argument, negotiation, pragmatic compromise, mixed solutions, scientific curiosity, willingness to recite "I might be wrong about that"... and to accept the contingent hopefulness of a gaze that looks ever FORWARD and not into a nostalgic pretend-past...

...then yes, I think the prospects are good.  Not just for America, or Pax Americana, or the Periclean Enlightenment that reaches now into most continents, or civilization as a whole, or humanity or Planet Earth.  

As I discuss in both EARTH and EXISTENCE, so much more may be at stake. 

We are the chance, the possibility.

And the galaxy may be waiting for us.


Anonymous said...

If Romney wins, then it proves that old angry white men and their wives and friends are willing to crawl naked through broken glass to get rid of the black guy. It will prove that they want it more than the Obama coalition of blacks, hispanics, asians, single white women, and hipsters. The Republicans have passion, the Democrats do not have passion.

Hurricane Sandy might even turn New Jersey red since fewer Democrats might be inclined to vote than Republicans.

Nebris said...

I'm sorry D, but you lost me at "admired Goldwater and Buckley". *sigh*

JuhnDonn said...

But don’t let Romney get your state’s electoral votes and thereby turn yourself into one of those folks who curse themselves forever, for voting Nader in Florida in 2000.

Yeah, that was me. I really thought Gore had Florida and so I voted Nader.

And yeah, it still bugs me. I was active in trying to get the students of the college I worked at to vote and to think that just the student population of a small school could have swung things, it's still kinda incredible. Each. Free. Counts!

JuhnDonn said...

Grrrr! Stupid iPad. Each Vote

David said...

It's interesting to me that the name "Obama" does not appear in this final election-eve commentary of yours. Were you trying to avoid being filtered out of some conservative search engine? Or did you really have nothing to comment specifically upon, with reference to the sitting president? I think President Obama has some accomplishments that deserve praise, but I guess readers like me were not your intended audience.

David desJardins said...

Gary Johnson's leading political position is to cut government spending roughly in half, overnight. Do you seriously think this is either an achievable or desirable goal? It goes against everything you've said in the last 20 political postings you've made. Johnson's platform would completely abandon any form of government investment in a better future. You can't be for this and also for all of the other things you've said previously.

XweAponX said...

I'm sure I have a few of your works. Basically I read this as a running ad for Gary Johnson, whose policies are much worse than R-Money's lack of policies. At this time, a vote for either Gary Johnson or my preferred independent, Jill Stein, would be one less vote for Obama, and the only way to prevent a Mitt presidency is to vote Obama. Look at the facts: In 2000, too much of the popular vote went to Ralph Nader, but none of the electoral. Since it is the electoral votes which will determine the outcome, I must vote for Obama. If this were not the case I would have been talking abut Jill Stein this last year, but she is not strong enough. Johnson and mentor Paul support Gambles' "Thrive" movement, which is basically the Tea Party - Using a perversion of Gandhi's "passive resistance" to provide obstructionism in Congress. I MUST NOT support that. So it's O, and HOPE, all the way.

Tacitus said...

The young seem prone to the siren song of third parties. One of my sons in SwingState WI is voting for Johnson. Which is of course his right.

Here is a thought problem. Looking back, what were the biggest challenges faced by our recent Presidents. And could they have been expected at the time?

GHW Bush, fall of Soviet Union and invasion of Kuwait.

Clinton, impeachment for, lets call it what it was, immoral behaviour.

Bush II 9/11 and housing market collapse.

Now in retrospect all these seem obvious, but who was able to forsee them with something other than Delphic mumbling?

And if you claim to be such an oracle, what is the biggest challenge our next Pres ( or current in redux mode ) will face?

Lets hear it folks.

And of course vote for who you think will handle this problem better.


Jumper said...

This relates to a good recent post by David.

Acacia H. said...

Tacitus, the simple truth of the matter is that if President Clinton had not cheated on his wife while President, then he would not have been impeached. (For that matter, if his wife had been more tolerant on outside opinions when she was pushing for healthcare reforms during the Clinton Administration, Democrats might not have been spanked so severely during the 1994 election.) So really, the only blame for the impeachment was Clinton himself. And I was all for the impeachment and removal-from-office for Clinton as I did not want to pay for his retirement (and I was hoping if he was fired from office we'd not have to pay his pension).

Of course, I've realized since then that much of my hatred of Clinton was unreasonable and built from hype from Limbaugh and other right-wing commentators who were busy pushing the Republican Party further and further to the right until finally it abandoned me and a lot of other moderate conservatives. Sadly, I cannot see a path in which the Republican Party can be redeemed... unless more states embraced open primaries with the top two candidates (regardless of party) running in the general election. That possibility would bring about an increase in moderate candidates on both sides of the political spectrum.

Rob H.

Alex Tolley said...

Johnson's position is to reduce government spending, including stimulus, plus cuts in the safety net plus cuts in Medicare and SocSec.

How is this different from Romney? His economic plan would make the current economic situation worse not better. This is clearly ideological thinking, not based on dealing with the current situation.

David Brin said...

Everybody lynch Gilmoure! ;-) Seriously, the lesson that you preach and the fellow that you are... for those we forgive anything! (But from now on, let's campaign for Alaskans and Hawaiians to do our protest votes for us.)

David... of course you aren't my target audience today! Why would I talk to you? ;-)

Nebris, were you reading at all? Goldwater liked science and was willing to negotiate. Buckley loved having top liberal minds on his show to challenge him. If those three traits were now "republican" do you think we'd be in a train wreck right now? Those three would change everything and YOU would be the problem, for not willingly listen to and argue fairly with them.

David dJ I did not say I wanted Johnson's platform. I said that he was sane and willing to negotiate and the truly crazy stuff was not on his agenda. If we could get millions of sane goppers to join him, his positions would moderate into a platform that could then be ARGUED OVER. And science and outcomes appraisal would inform the discussion. Geez, some of you guys are too foxlike, assuming that your side should win without meaningful opposition and compromise. Not... gonna... happen.

Your top priority should be to defeat this mad version of conservatism. But a close second is HELPING CONSERVATISM TO HEAL AND WAKE UP. Because they WILL have power again.

Tacitus the fall of the USSR was a gift, not a problem. KUwait, he ran roughshod over the generals and booted victory into calamity. Clinton was the best administrator in the Republic's history. JD Powers audited and was "amazed." Cripes, W helped to $#%$# CAUSE 911! And the housing collapse! Clinton is popular now for a reason. For dozens and dozens and dozens of reasons.

David desJardins said...

But, if Gary Johnson represents the Tea Party Squared, then how does voting for Johnson help to undermine the extremism of the Republican Party? On the most important issues, he amplifies, not contradicts, Republican extremism. You believe in public education, public infrastructure, government-funded research, a social safety net. You've criticized what a Romney administration would do to these things. But Johnson's positions are much worse.

Anonymous said...

If you live in California, the electoral votes will be for Barak Obama so you can still vote for Gary Johnson without risk of California's electoral votes going Republican

Tacitus said...

David I said challenge not problem. And the collapse of the USSR was all of that. Loose nukes, shifting alliances, etc.

Calm down.


David Brin said...

Tacitus, heh! Check my blood pressure. Nate Silver has me (relatively) calmed down.

except... I am suddenly worried about Pennsylvania. Romney just campaigned there and the press wondered why. Could it be to give fig leaf cover for a Big Surprise?

If there's a surprise in Pennsylvania, remember you heard it from me first. PA has electronic voting machines that lack a paper audit track. Anything can happen there. Expect Shenanigens.

David Brin said...

DdJ I am so not worried about the cut-everything part of Johnson's message. Do you expect that would happen? I am willing to negotiate over some of the items and crush the rest.

No, what Johnson would do is open whole realms of FRESH negotiation! E.g. over the horrid Drug War...

see this:

And he would END the right's fixation on abortion and gays and idiotic social distractions that only serve Fox. The arguments would focus on how and when to limit government (a conversation worth having).

You aren't thinking strategically. If millions of conservatives do that re-definition, we'll be saved... even if/when that side regains power!

David desJardins said...

Johnson won't win, so answering questions like, "What will happen if he wins?" is logically impossible. The real question is, what message do you send by voting for him? I think the only plausible answer is, the more people that vote for him, the louder the voice for deeper and more savage cuts to every government function, especially those like the ones I listed. This is his signature position. Other stuff, like the drug war or reproductive rights, are far, far down the list.

Tacitus said...

I have seen quoted a stat that should be an eye opener. That the current response rate to public opinion polling is 9%. And that the pollsters thereby have to fudge their way to an estimate on the other 91%. If even close to true this should give all pause.

If as I posit, conservatives are even less likely to respond to pollsters than liberals, we are entering the Twilight Zone.

We will find out tomorrow.

What, no takers on identifing the biggest challenge for 2012-16? You disappoint me.


Acacia H. said...

Actually, a vote for Johnson is saying something OTHER than "cut deep and hard" for government (though government cuts with targeted tax increases would benefit the country - specifically if the target is the U.S. military and on Congressional salaries, pensions, and medical insurance - put politicians on Medicaid and Social Security!) - instead, it states "we want to hear outside perspectives in the running of Washington! Think of how the third parties have been denied a voice in this election. Allowing these outside voices increases diversity in politics and increases voter choices... which is a good thing and forces the Primary Two parties to start changing and increasing their own diversity.

In addition, the Libertarian party wants Washington out of a lot of decisions - including abortion, religion, and personal lifestyles. A Libertarian replacement of the Republican Party would castrate the increasing Christian Religiosity that wants to control the nation and make it into a "proper Christian nation" (question - which form of Christianity?). So trust me when I say Libertarians are not the threat that Republicans currently are.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Tactus 2016 problems:
- How to get the alien fungus out of my ear
- My kids want to reproduce by mitosis
- iPhone 12 is inserted nasally

more soon.

Dave dJ mistakes and conflates two things. The political debate you will have with sane conservatives, when their movement turns sane... vs how to make them decide to be sane people you otherwise disagree with about the role of government.

Sorry. Not only do I worry far less about the former... indeed, I look fwd to the debates and will even switch sides now and then! Moreover I am confident they'll have to settle for getting 5% of their wish list and then working on the next 5% and the next...

...but I am too concerned about de-zombifying conservatism... WHICH WILL NOT GO AWAY! Much asDave wants it to.

Ian said...

Tacitus from the previous thread:
"I believe Mr. Silver's methodology can be questioned. It's been a while since I exchanged email with him. But he seems to factor in various economic markers in his prediction of probability for the outcome of this campaign. He may not be looking at the right numbers. Or perhaps even honest ones...seems like the slightly rosier employment numbers of the last few months always get quietly readjusted downwards a few weeks later and a few pages farther back in the New York Times.""

I've been following the US unempoyment reprots for years for job-related reasns. It's an extremely noisy series and has alwasy been subject ot big revisions (the price you pay for near-real-time data).

Recent revisions have been downward just as often as they've been upward.
Tacitus from above:

"I have seen quoted a stat that should be an eye opener. That the current response rate to public opinion polling is 9%. And that the pollsters thereby have to fudge their way to an estimate on the other 91%. If even close to true this should give all pause."

No, it shouldnt because that support of response rate is typical, has been for decades and is easily compensated for.

It's also not unique to politics - any bit of marketing research hs the same sort of response rate or lower (often much lower).

When peopel are polled you don;t just ask them "Who will you vote for for President?" You ask them a bunch of questions about their race, gender, political affilation; income level etc an and the end of the survey you apply what's called multivariant renormalization - a fancy term for reweighting the results receiving to reflect some model of the population you're looking to sample. So, if your sample contaisn 45% men and 55% and your model says the population is 49% males and 51% females then you multiply every male vote by 1.09 and every female vote by 0.93.

This is why Republican complaints about polls "oversampling" Democrats are nonsense.

It's also why the Rasmussen polls have tended to differ significantly from other polls - they appear to apply a very different model of the target population to the other pollsters. Their raw numbers are probably quite similar.

Now if this bothers you or you think it's logically flawed - probably every national political poll you've ever seen has applied some version of this.

David desJardins said...

I just don't see how you get people to reduce their extremism by forcing them to contend with an even more extreme view. It's like voting for a socialist because you are worried that the Democrats are getting too fond of big government and you want them to open up to alternative views. It's not that I disagree with it, it's that I don't even understand it. How can you express your opposition to a trend by endorsing the candidate who stands for an acceleration and expansion of that trend? I feel like I must be missing something.

Ian said...

If Romney is eelcted the likely big issue of the next four years is the US economy re-entering recession and a catastrophic blow-out in the budget deficit. That or the war in Iran.

If Obama is re-elected the likely big issue of the next four years is going to be an attempt by Republicans in the House to impeach him on some totally ludicrous pretext.

The first big issue to face etiher candidate upon inauguration is going to be Syria.

Ian said...

Robert wrote: "A Libertarian replacement of the Republican Party would castrate the increasing Christian Religiosity that wants to control the nation and make it into a "proper Christian nation"'

Ye and empower Republican state governments to actually impose such Religiosity on a state level.

Followed by a reimposition of Jim Crow that would allow them to retake national power.

There's a reason Ron Paul was endorsed by white supremacist and neo-confederate goups.

David desJardins said...

The first big issue to face either candidate after the election is definitely going to be the fiscal cliff. Syria will hardly be on the radar.

If Obama is re-elected, the main issue of the next four years is going to be stubbornly high unemployment, and low median wages for US workers (even as GDP growth and productivity are relatively strong).

Ian said...

Oh and David you aren't the only ne who can be contrary:

The US crime rate fell significantly during the period 2001-2008.

I don;t think that's attributable to Republican policies but it is one indisputable metric of national wellbeing that clearly improved during the last Republican administration.

Ian said...

Of course if you follow that data series past 2008 you see the decline has accelerated since Obama took office and that murder and rape rates which declined less than overall crime rates under Bush have fallen significantly under Obama.

Acacia H. said...

The crime rate did not fall. The reported crime rate fell. I've heard an undercurrent theme that police departments have a tendency to ignore certain crimes (including violent crimes) in order to focus on more "profitable" crimes - ie, the drug war. Police departments get a take on each piece of property seized in a drug raid, and often keep the property even if the matter never goes to trial. Yes, that's right: your property rights are being violated by the police regularly if you are found in possession of drugs even if the case is later thrown out (because the sheer amount of paperwork and lawyer fees required to recover seized property is astronomical).

And seeing that minorities are often targeted by crimes and are also often accused of being illegals or are considered criminals until proven innocent by some law enforcement elements, there is a tendency by minorities NOT to report a crime. Thus crime statistics are in fact a very grey area and not reliable until the for-profit elements of law enforcement are eliminated. Including for-profit prisons, private defense lawyers (as opposed to public defenders), and property seizures.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Ian, you are the first to offer a clear statistic 2001-2009... though indeed, the trend began very clearly under Clinton, so the "we started it" response is pretty solid.

WHOMEVER is president next year will benefit from economic rise.

Paul451 said...

"identifing the biggest challenge for 2012-16"

As in, shock events, like 9/11, GFC?

China's economy unexpectedly collapses. We find out how much the world economy was riding on Chinese growth.

Euro break-up.

Eastern Europe turns neo-Nazi, fascism spreads. (Perhaps funded/manipulated by Russia trying to reduce the encroachment of full democratic states.)

Israel attacks Iran, trying to drag the US into invading Iran. Or anything involving North Korea. Or anything escalating between minor nuclear states.

Pakistan government falls, Pakistan is the new Afghanistan, with nukes.

Israel tries to stage a false-flag state-sponsored terrorist nuclear attack on a western city, but is caught... Different scenarios depending on the city.

The inevitable idiotic secession speechifying after Obama's reelection gets traction in a small southern state, within two years there's a referendum, and bam, first state to leave the Union since the US Civil War.

Super-storms. Several per year. Every year.

Attempted coup by a group of rapidly religious US military commanders and their most loyal men (almost instantly put down, but it seeds a huge public distrust in the military... leading to...)

Same, but with nukes.

The new messiah emerges in central Africa.

Or any of the usual out-of-the-blue SF events, pandemic, super-volcano, asteroid impact, Carrington event, Skynet, aliens, zombies, clowns...

"Calm down"

No. All things in moderation, including moderation itself.

David desJardins said...

Does "economic rise" mean that you expect the economic situation of the average American to improve in the next few years?

If so, why?

Ian said...

DaviddJ: I can't speak for Davi B. but personally I except the economic position of most Americans to improve significantly - if Obama is elected.

Economic growth in the US and globally is picking up and in the US you're abotu to see the point in the economic cycle where rising demand for labor pushes up wages.

Also, thanks largely to balanced budget amendemnts, local and state governments in the US have been a net negative for the economy durign this recession. Reveneu falls, so they fire people and cut spending - which means the economy contracts further and revenue falls further.

Now, finally, they've hit rock-bottom. After years of tens or hundreds of thousands of government sector jobs being cut every month, the job cuts have virtually stopped as government reveneus have started to rise again.

When government becames a net employer of additional labor, you're going to see a large full in the enomployment rate in a relatively short period - as in a full percentage point in six months.

One reason I really hope Obama is elected is that I think he deserves the credit for the economic upturn the US is about to experience and I'd hate to see Romney falsely get the credit.

David desJardins said...

This is what all of my left-wing friends think: the economy is going to take off, whoever is President will get the credit, they want it to be Obama. I think it's just a pipe dream. The causes of unemployment and underemployment and stagnant wages have been developing for 30 years, they aren't going to disappear, they are only continuing to build. At most, we can paper over it again, but that's getting harder and harder to do.

Ian said...

As for the potential big issues of the next four years:

1. Political reform in China (whether peacable or not) and how to respond it. We've seen in Egypt how even relatively nonviolent change in a long-established dictatorship can produce all sorts of bizarre and unexpected results. (For example, the election of a Muslim Brother as Presidnt of Egypt has seemingly convinced many Islamists elsewhere in the middle east that they can achieve power through peaceful politics. Even HAMAS is edging away from Iran and, despite the recent series of missile attacks, towards peace with Israel.)

2. India. The next Indian national election could be any time between now and 2014 and is essentially shaping up as a referendum on economic growth and corruption. India could finally emerge as a rival to China (and the US) - or it coudl slip back into corruption, economic stagnation and aggressive political posturing about Kashmir.

3. Climate change.

4. Climate Change

5. climate change.

6. Dealing with the US deficit. For Romney that would mean dealing with a deficit blowing out north of $1.5 trillion a year and the need to impose mssive cuts to social programs - potentially just in time for the 2014 mid-term elections. For Obama, it'd mean fighting Congressional plans for tax cuts as the deficit declines to "only" $6-800 billion a year.

rewinn said...

While Johnson maybe more extreme in important senses than Romney, at least it's possible to tell what he believes. A vote for him instead of Mitt could be counted as a vote against lying.


The biggest challenge for 2012-16:

No superstorms hit USA for three years (and the ones that hit elsewhere don't count cuz, you know, it's not the USA) leading to complacency and a lack of progress on AGW. Then Superstorms Able, Baker and Charlie move the Northeastern Seaboard to the Appalachians; SuperTyphoon Mary sinks most of California. The Red State Candidate takes over.

A flurry of handheld devices containing copies of leading personalities invite purchasers to copy themselves inside for a virtual lifetime of interacting with famous people; this is revealed as a social engineering attack when the Crystalline Entities use information from the copies to seize control of banking and weapons systems.

On the plus side, an outbreak of Ultimate Airborne Fever is suppressed within 24 hours through FEMA's expert deployment of social media warnings.

And, at the center of the universe: Seattle rebuilds our aging seawall just in time for a minor earthquake not to send significant parts of the port into Elliot Bay; post-Sandy, such improvements were a much easier sell to voters.

David Brin said...

Tacitus, great fun list! You da true sci fi man heah abouts!

US economy will benefit from -
- rising oil/gas independence
- plummeting sustainables cost and a real industry growing
-end of the wars!
- Banks will finally lend, if only out of boredom
- There's a chance BHO will finally get tough on Chinese IP theft
- There will be a fiscal cliff deal

Rewinns are good too!

David Brin said...

The only things that could mess up Nate Silver's estimates would be

1- systematic changes in what it means to be a "likely voter". I can imagine changes there, because of dramatic alterations in the parties' ground game. But almost every change seems tilted toward Obama. Sunday. Buses waiting outside churches taking folks to vote while music is played and pizza served.

2- Cheating.

I plan to blog about this:

. I am suddenly worried about Pennsylvania.

Romney just campaigned there and the press wondered why. Could it be to give fig leaf cover for a Big Surprise?

If there's a surprise in Pennsylvania, remember you heard it from me first. PA has electronic voting machines that lack a paper audit track. Anything can happen there. Expect Shenanigens.

Tony Fisk said...

I was going to suggest 'Climate Action' for Tacitus, but Ian beat me to it.

matthew said...

The first crisis will be that the election will not be resolved on November 6th. There will be legal challenges to parse before we have a clear winner. The "losing" side will challenge any state that is within a couple of percentage points, or exit polling differs significantly from the reported numbers.

After that:
- There will be an armed insurrection by US citizens. Either the "patriot millitias" and the Oathkeepers if Obama is reelected or by "black bloc" / radical feminists if Romney wins.
- China will roll tanks into Hong Kong ending HK's special status after the Chinese leadership changes cause protests in HK.
- Pakistan triggers a war with India to shore up the power of the Pakistani military with rest of the nation. India wins the war.
- Really big earthquake in the Pacific Northwest. We are way overdue.
- Loss of the Greenland ice shelf within ten years. Sea level rise of three plus feet.
- Flag burning. Confederate stars and bars in tatters and flames by a bunch of mean-looking NY hipsters wearing blue kepis and carrying assault rifles. Video goes viral. Countervideo of a bunch of southern gents burning the US flag brings back the argument over the flag burning amendment.
-First cloned human revealed to be a twelve-year-old living in Japan. North Korea counters with an eight-year-old clone of Kim Jung Il. KJI clone revealed to be drooling idiot by South Korean Intelligence Service.
Got all that?

Unknown said...

I appreciate your article. This is the same. Conversation I've had in my head recently as the morning to vote approaches. I agree more with Johnson on most issues but the real thought is to get more interest stoked in third parties in order to push both left and right towards the middle. If nothing will give more than and either/or answer to things. Our politics have completely turned into a black or white world when we all know there is much more grey that we agree with. Third parties will shed light on the grey. The problem is that nobody wants to vote for them. I'm fine with starting local...but my words get a shrug and Nader gets brought up.

But...but when we voted for that guy...the other guy one. I'm sick of hearing that.

David Brin said...

Laughlin... find a guy in Hawaii or Alaska and get him to vote Johnson for you. But if you live in a swing state, please help keep out Bush III.

Tony Fisk said...

Crisis: faced with a hung presidency, both sides negotiate with Johnston for
Hawaii and Alaska.

reason said...

I read those crime figures you published carefully.
A couple of comments
1. They should really be expressed in per capita terms
2. It seems to me murder, rape and robbery all increased under Bush. The other categories all declined, but what are you concerned about.

Ian said...

Reason, scroll down and there's a table giving the raets per 100,000 people.

It's largely an academic exercise anyway. For ages David has been chalenging people to fidn a metric of national wellbeing that improved under Bush.

Crime rates are one.

I suspect life expectancy and college graduaton rates would be others.

rewinn said...

In the spirit of BiPartisanship (...or, considering 3rd parties, MultiPartisanship...) I offer an Ultimate Concession Speach"
"My Fellow Americans And Members Of My Campaign:
Thank you for coming here tonight. We fought a good fight but, unfortunately, the other side got more votes.
In retrospect, it was probably a bad idea for me to have said my opponent would turn our land into a Hellscape teeming with festering trolls. Who knew that there were so many World Of Warcraft fans? Who knew how many of them run trolls?
It was probably also a bad idea to follow my consultant's advice on robocalls. Yes, people are extremely susceptible to suggestions whispered into their ear at 3 a.m. but, oh man, do they hate being called at that time!
Finally, let me remind my supporters that it's only three years to the Iowa Caucuses. Let's get out there and get started!"

Unknown said...

The fundamental issue is that democracy is rubbish. Democracy is a political system without vision or direction. Democracy gets nothing done and sets no standards; it is rule by the lowest common denominator. China doesn't have democracy, and they are better governed than the U.S. Democracy is on its way out globally.

What America needs is a Darth Vader to but us back on schedule and remind us that the Emperor is even less forgiving than he is. What America needs is a real imperial ideology to fit our status in the world, one that values science as the best means of increasing the Empire's power. What America needs is a dark side revolution. Death to the Jedi! All power to the Empire!

Acacia H. said...

Seems the NSA agent who was talking about problems with the electronic voting machines is in court now seeking to stop use of the software and require a hand count of ballots. And what's more, this appeared in Politico, one of the more reputable internet journals out there, so hopefully more people will be viewing this and be willing to question an unexpected Romney victory. Let's cross our fingers that either the theoretical conspirators decide it's not worth the risk... or that any shenanigans including an assassination of this agent will draw the attention of people across the country, resulting in widescale protests and forcing a legitimate investigation that results in the legitimate election of a President instead of election fraud.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Darth, you only slightly exaggerate what George Lucas said in real life in a NEw York Times interview.

In fairness, Lucas is actually okay politically in contemporary US electoral matters and plans to give billions to education... and he passed the torch to disney so his personal trips won't affect EpVII much...

Say Darth! How do those mouse ears fit?

David Brin said...

ONWARD... next post

Acacia H. said...

What I find amusing is that Darth advertised his YouTube video here first. Seriously, there were only three views of it when I visited it. So it appears the Sith consider Contrary Brin an effective ground for recruiting new Sith... or a viable threat which they need to corrupt. ;)

Rob H.

Hank Roberts said...

So -- looking forward --- here's the pit we're headed toward, ably described by someone at Slashdot:

David desJardins said...

The Slashdot comment is largely wrong because the US economy still makes a whole lot of stuff. We just do it with fewer people. It's entirely logical that $2/hour iPhone assembly work migrates to places where people can live on $2/hour. That's not happening for policy reasons, and if it were, we wouldn't want to change that policy anyway, because $2/hour jobs aren't a sound basis for addressing US unemployment or increasing our GDP.

A better analysis of manufacturing policy: