Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Postman: A Re-appraisal and Reader's Guide

Gordon Krantz was a survivor -- a wanderer who traded tales for food and shelter in the dark and savage aftermath of a devastating war.  Fate touches him one chill winter's day when he borrows the jacket of a long-dead postal worker.  The old uniform still has power as a symbol of hope. With it he begins to weave his greatest tale, of a nation on the road to recovery. The Postman is the story of a lie that became the most powerful kind of truth.

Fundamentally, the novel is about civilization -- the things that we'd miss, were it to fall.

Just re-released in the U.K. and a perennial favorite in more than twenty languages, The Postman is my best-selling novel, and the one most accessible to folks unaccustomed to science fiction.

Many people ask my impressions of the film by Kevin Costner, and I posted an article on my website. I understand Hollywood and know that prose fiction is only glancingly related to what you see on the big screen. It's a director's medium, calling for visual storytelling skills and an eye for dramatic moments that are shown, not told.

But here I've recorded a ten minute YouTube author reappraisal of the book and the movie:

What follows is a discussion guide for the novel, that folks are free to use in Reading Groups or in the classroom -- or just to provoke thought among readers.

Discussion Guide: The Postman by David Brin (pages refer to the current U.S. paperback edition)

On page 1, Brin writes: “Short of Death itself, there is no such thing as a ‘total’ defeat…There is never a disaster so devastating that a determined person cannot pull something out of the ashes — by risking all that he or she has left…Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a desperate man.”
  • What would you be willing to risk in order to survive? To save your family…or your nation? Would it be hard to overcome the instinct for immediate, short term survival?
  • A willingness to risk all: Is this one aspect that drives criminals or terrorists, a sense of desperation that makes them particularly dangerous? Can the same be said of heroes?

Tracking the bandits who stole his supplies, Gordon chides himself: “His worst enemy, over the next few hours, could be his archaic scruples.”
  • Do scruples fall by the wayside when survival is at stake?
  • How do you maintain a sense of morality when civilization has crumbled? Are standards of morality/ethics less important when people are starving?

Talking to the bandits, Gordon contemplates: “He had witnessed this combination of cruel contempt and civilized manners in other once-educated people, over the years since the Collapse.”  (p. 7)
  • Why does Gordon find this worse than people who had “simply succumbed to the barbaric times”?
  • Is education a bulwark against descending to anarchy or chaos?

Referring to Gordon, Brin writes, “Hope was an addiction. It had driven him westward for half his life.” (p. 16) Later, Gordon had “…come to realize that his persistent optimism had to be a form of hysterical insanity.” (p. 19)
  • What keeps Gordon going when he has lost everything?
  • Is there a fine line between rational and irrational hope? Optimism and insanity? Are these valid survival tactics?

The Doomwar was not one single cataclysm, but a series of midscale catastrophes: nuclear war and radioactive fallout, followed by waves of riots, disease and starvation, from which America could have recovered.
  • What led to the final collapse of the government?
  • How do the survivalists and anarchists, led by Nathan Holn, use fear to control and isolate people? What form of government do they plan to re-introduce?

In Pine View, Gordon performs from Macbeth, quoting the lines, “Ring the alarum-bell! Blow, wind! Come, wrack! At least we’ll die with harness on our back.”
  • Why did Brin choose this particular Shakespearean passage?
  • How does Shakespeare’s dark tragedy of a tyrannical ruler relate to The Postman?
  • If you watched the movie, how did Costner modify that scene, and to what effect?

At the town of Oakridge, Gordon observes: “The farmer’s crop indebtedness, for instance – it was a classic early stage of share-kind serfdom.” (p. 72)
  • What other signs does Gordon see of a return to a semi-feudal society?

The Postman weaves his own legend, out of lies and half-truths, until it grows bigger than anything he had imagined.
  • Do you consider Gordon a con artist? Would he agree? How does he benefit from this charade?
  • Why is it so hard to stop, even as he is forced to invent ever more complex lies?
  • How does Gordon develop as a character throughout the novel?

Brin mentions the “burnished image of a horseman” on the postman’s cap, referring back to the origins of the postal service in the Pony Express.
  • What is the power of the postal uniform as a symbol? What if, instead, Gordon had encountered a military or policeman’s uniform? Would it have the same power to unite people?
  • What other symbols serve to revive a spirit of patriotism?

During the dogfight at Curtin, Gordon’s subtle disapproval serves as a mirror to allow the townspeople to see themselves in a new light. Later Brin writes, “Those who had fallen the least far into savagery were those who seemed the most ashamed of having fallen at all.” (p. 101)
  • How does shame serve to modify people’s behavior? Is conscience "what makes us behave well when no one is watching"?

Brin portrays women as being used as chattel in this near-feudal society.
  • Do you find this realistic? Historically on-target? How do women begin to regain power?
  • Why did Brin dedicate the book to the heroine in the ancient Greek drama, Lysistrata?

David Brin comments: "Most post-holocaust novels are little-boy wish fantasies about running amok in a world without rules. In fact, such lonely 'heroes' would vanish like soot after a real apocalypse.”
  • Does Gordon view himself as a hero?
  • What is the role of heroes in fiction (and the real world) in a time of crisis?
  • Can the distinction of heroes from scoundrels change in a crisis?

Gordon longs to stay in Corvallis, but he is trapped by his own charade. “He had to be a demigod in their eyes, or nothing at all. If ever a man was trapped in his own lie…” (p. 132)
  • In what ways has the man become the image?

In Corvallis, Gordon gets misty eyed over the return of electricity, and the sound of recorded music.
  • What things would you miss most?
  • Which aspects of civilization would be hardest to rebuild?

In Corvallis, Gordon encounters the House of Cyclops.
  • What is the role of Cyclops in re-introducing technology?  Is Cyclops a benefit or burden to the people?
  • What is the parallel with the Oracle of Delphi or the Wizard of Oz?

The words “Who will take responsibility?” echo in Gordon’s ears, whenever he desires to ride away from trouble.
  • How does he rise to the occasion?
  • What, if anything, in his background has prepared him to assume the role of command?

The people of the Willamette Valley are inspired by the symbols of Cyclops and the Restored United States.
  • How fragile, and yet powerful are these “twin pillars of hope” – a hoax and a myth?

Consider the very different characters of Abbey (from Pine View) and Dena (from Corvallis).
  • How do each of these women challenge the standards of their society? If you watched the movie, do you think the two women were combined as one stronger character?

Words fail Gordon when he seeks to rally the townfolk living with Powhatan, then he says: “For if America ever stood for anything, it was people being at their best when times were worst—and helping one another when it counted most.” (p. 223)
  • Why does Gordon fail in rallying support against the Holnists?
  • What are Powhatan’s reasons for refusing?
  • What finally inspires him to fight? How does he differ from General Macklin?

“It’s said that ‘power corrupts,’ but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted to other things than power. When they do act, they think of it as service, which has limits. The tyrant, though, seeks mastery, for which he is insatiable, implacable.”
  • How do you interpret this passage? What is its relevance to global politics today?
  • What is the significance of the Order of Cincinnatus – citizens first, soldiers second? Is it still relevant in the era of the professional, all-volunteer military?

Communication (its loss and re-building) is a major factor in the novel.
  • How essential are the lines of communication to maintaining civilization?
  • What power comes from controlling access to the news or mail? Is the Postman imagery obsolete in the Web-Internet age?

“All legends must be based on lies, Gordon realized. We exaggerate, and even come to believe the tales, after a while.” (p. 298)
  • Comment on this quote, in regard to the legends that arise in the course of the story. 

The novel revolves around four legends: the Restored United States, Cyclops, Powhatan, and Dena’s band of women.
  • Which do you believe has the most enduring power?
  • How does the legend of Dena’s band of women live on and inspire other women? 

Various post-apocalyptic tales have offered visions of the world destroyed by nuclear or biological war, flooding, global warming or freezing, runaway virus or plague, asteroid or comet impact, out-of-control nanobots, or even alien invasion.
  • Which are the most realistic threats to our civilization? To our planet?
  • Do we have the ability to prevent such scenarios? What traits help most: anticipation? Debate? Negotiation? Personal or societal resilience? Faith and love?

 In his speeches, Brin refers frequently to an acronym: IAAMOAC – which stands for: I Am A Member Of A Civilization.
  • What is he trying to say with this adage?
  • Why do many people have contempt for aspects of civilization, ranging from government and politicians to paying taxes, public schools….and the postal system? How does the last sentence of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address relate to all of these themes?

From the author: “The moral of The Postman is that if we lost our civilization, we'd all come to realize how much we missed it, and would recognize, for instance, what a miracle it is simply to get your mail every day."
  • What things would you miss most? Which aspects of civilization would be hardest to rebuild?

Contrast and compare The Postman with other post-apocalyptic novels, such as The Road (Cormac McCarthy), Alas, Babylon (Pat Frank), Blindnesss (Jose Saramago), After America (John Birmingham), Riddley Walker (Russell Hoban), The Stand (Stephen King), A Canticle for Leibowitz (Walter M. Miller), or Earth Abides (George R. Stewart).
  • What is the ongoing appeal of these tales of the End of Times?
  • What do they tell us about ourselves, about the fragility of our civilization?
If you’ve seen Kevin Costner’s 1997 version of The Postman (Warner Bros.), contrast and compare the book and novel:
  • How did they differ? Which did you prefer?
  • Is Costner believable as the Postman?


Rob Perkins said...

David, what do you make of the NBC series, "Revolution", which has elements congruent with The Postman, and, maybe, Vinge's The Peace War?

I tried to give the show a fair shake, watched the pilot, etc. But the nagging thing I couldn't let go of was, if all the electricity was gone, *why was there still fire?* How come the guns still work? Or for that matter, what about *life*? The same interactions that make electrons loose in a metal also make combustion and thought possible!

And so I couldn't take it seriously enough to suspend disbelief the moment a character was seen to overcome the problem in physics enough to power an old, dusty computer...?

Jonathan S. said...

Apparently, it's the result of a DoD program, one initially intended as a source of green power, but which of course was weaponized by those evil gubmint scientists and soldiers, because all soldiers want to do is kill everybody everywhere, you see... It's a field of some sort that manages to suppress transmission of electricity everywhere, except within the field of effect of the little amulets that a dozen people have.

There's a longish thread at Television Without Pity picking at all the various nits in this show (for instance, west of the Rockies should be the Nation of Deseret, not "the Wastelands" - only the Amish are better prepared than Mormons for such a doomsday scenario...).

rewinn said...

Electoral losers are petitioning on to allow secession. The rules are, if a petition gets 25k signatures in a month, the Whitehouse promises to respond.

Rather than curse the Endarkenment, I created a counter-petition which I ask you to sign and/or improve.

David Brin said...

"an even great Nation!" should be "an even greater nation!"

I'd tweak: "We do not all agree on every issue but our disagreements make us stronger through the healthy process of rational criticism. To the minority who think that losing an election is a reason to destroy the Union, we say: grow up! think things over and come up with better ideas!"


"We do not all agree on every issue, but our disagreements make us stronger through the healthy process of rational criticism, fact-based negotiation and pragmatic compromise. To the very small minority who think that losing an election is a reason to destroy the Union, we say: grow up! think things over and come up with better ideas!

"(And thanks for proving how shallow all your past, flag-waving patriotism actually was.)"

Paul451 said...

"What is the power of the postal uniform as a symbol? What if, instead, Gordon had encountered a military or policeman's uniform? Would it have the same power to unite people?"

Ooo! ooo! Sir! Sir! Me, sir! After the fall of civilisation, people would have gravitated around local authority, such as police and military, these would have quickly become symbols of rule. Power-hungry/ambitious people would similarly adopted the old symbols-of-power to lord over the powerless, and to psych out rivals who didn't use such symbols. Seeing someone in a military uniform, riding up to your fortified settlement, would have been seen as an aggressive act.

The symbolism of the postal uniform is uniquely that it is a service, not a form of government or control. It does symbolise a connection to the old order, but not one that can be co-opted as a form of conquest, therefore it is much less likely to be seen as a threat by communities it visits.

Re: Secession.

Do you need to be "allowed" to secede? Don't you just, you know, do it and dare them to stop you?

Personally I suppose secession by the old Confederate states. Particularly the deepest of red states. I suspect that afterwards, except for a few token issues, life will go on much as before. There are conservatives in blue states, is there any liberal state that voted over 2/3 for Obama? And there are liberals in the south, fighting loudly against creeping theocracy. Once the tension of maintaining the Union goes away, there may be a realisation that both the New Union and the New Confederacy are pretty much the same as the old United States. And maybe everyone will calm the hell down a little.

Vote secession for a peaceful America.

Jumper said...

Wait until border checkpoints are erected and it becomes illegal to hire undocumented Mississippians.

Tony Fisk said...

Secession and closing of borders might end up with airlift relief efforts for such things as 'the Austin Blockade'.

Something I might have raised before (If I did, I forget the answer I got!) Has the 'conservative' side of politics always been coloured red? I imagine this could have been a tad confusing at the height of the Cold War (or maybe not!?)

David Brin said...

There'd have to be ethnic cleansing. Ideally in an organized and calm and evenhanded way via computerized house and job swap lists. A VERY large part of the So Carolina population is black and or US-loving. The ideal solution is a local swap so that about 50 sq km around Charleston just goes its own way, like Hong Kong or Singapore.

Get the pure kooks into such a zone and have them pay an annual fee to be applied against defense, their share of the debt, shared environmental matters and maintaining the Supreme Court. Truly Hong Kong as a model. Also Savannah, Mobile and several other enclaves.

The remaining states ought to then settle down. So Carolina and Mississippi would be majority Black. I'd favor merging some of them. "Carolina" "MissBama" (funny how they both become girl's names! So's Georgia! And MizArkasah.

Merge the Dakotas and give em to the Native American s and buy out enough whites with offers of land in places that are actually habitable.

David Brin said...

In fairness, let Texas do what it has long threatened. Break up into several states.

Patricia Mathews said...

Have you read Steve Stirling's Dies the Fire series (now up to 9 books, I think). It addresses a good many of the same issues.

LarryHart said...

Tony Fisk:

Something I might have raised before (If I did, I forget the answer I got!) Has the 'conservative' side of politics always been coloured red? I imagine this could have been a tad confusing at the height of the Cold War (or maybe not!?)

Just going from memory, that "Red States/Blue States" expression was first used during the 2000 election, not to describe states which happened to vote that way in that year, but to describe the pheonomenon of states who were so certain to vote a particular party that it wasn't really a contest. California and New York were blue states; Nebraska and Utah red states, not just in 2000, but in the sense that that's part of their long-term identity.

Somehow, the notion of blue for Democrats and Red for Republicans just gelled. It might have been from a particular book or something like that.

Before that...well, the flag colors are red, white, and blue, so tv typically used red and blue to indicate the partiuclar results of particular elections before, but I don't think they identified either color with either party consistently like that. It could have been either way on any given Sunday (so to speak).

Nicholas MacDonald said...

"Merge the Dakotas and give em to the Native American s and buy out enough whites with offers of land in places that are actually habitable."

Well, you just lost this son of the Dakotas with that remark!

(Kidding. I don't hold a grudge.)

Merge Minnehaha and Lincoln counties- home of Sioux Falls, the only major population center and economic center in SD- with Minnesota, which it shares more cultural, economic and political affinities with anyway- and the rest of the state can go to the Lakota. The "Buffalo Commons" theory holds that economics alone will take care of this, though, in the next several decades- and the consolidation of farms and out-migration from the small towns of the Dakotas seems to be proving it correct. End farm subsidies, and they'd all be gone by 2020.

David Brin said...

In EXISTENCE most of the whites had been driven out of Lakota by the Yellowstone mini-eruption

Making republican areas red was obvious, because calling democratic states "red" might be taken as an aggressive political statement.

Acacia H. said...

Why not just appeal to people's sense of patriotism? Remind them that the U.S. is the greatest and most powerful nation in the world. If their state secedes, then that state will be a tiny little nation with no power of its own. It won't own nuclear weapons. It won't possess a significant military. It won't possess stealth fighters and bombers, a potent Marine Corps, an economy that shapes the world, or the diplomatic impact to make other countries sit up and take notice.

In short, because their candidate didn't win, they want to break away from the greatest nation in the world... and will never be great as a result. And that they can't be divorced from the U.S. and yet share in its greatness.

The secessionists will splutter and grumble... but shut up. Because they know that's the truth. They are a PART of American Exceptionalism. They are not the cause of it. And without the rest of America... they will be lessened.

Rob H.

Paul451 said...

"Personally I suppose secession by the old Confederate states."

Of course, I meant "support".

(While writing that correction, I wrote "suppose" again.)

Re: Politest of ethnic cleansing.

I would assume a peaceful secession would involve a long (generational) transition period. Dual-citizenship, open borders.

If the South doesn't secede, perhaps the North-East can, from DC to Maine (perhaps skipping over NH). Call the new nation New York, that way NYC becomes New York, New York, New York. (So good they named it thrice.)

(Perhaps southern Ontario will join this new nation, leaving the rest of Canada to the Vancouver and the Quebecois.)

Paul451 said...

Rob Perkins,
Re: NBC's Revolution and fire (and chemistry, biology).

Obviously the solar system has passed into another Zone in the galaxy, where different physics apply. Certain natural processes continue (although actually obeying different laws of physics), but technology is too finely tuned to the old physics.

Soon scientists will start to unravel the new physics, allowing new forms of technology that would have been impossible today. (And which pre-civilisation man may have experienced and remember in legend.)

Paul451 said...

"to the Vancouver"



Alfred Differ said...

Whatever nation remains, it is not in our best interests to subdivide the Greater Mississippi River basin. It's fertile, wet (for now), and a cheap, well-connected transport system for many things. Once the US came into possession of all of it in the 19th century, our path to national wealth was pretty much set.

Look at the map of the world and try to find a similar river basin. There are a few river basins that are also fertile, but they aren't anywhere near as large or interconnected. Nile, Po, Rhine, Volga, Yangtze, Indus... the list is long. Historically, each of them as been a source of wealth for the cultures who dominated them. Ours is the same with the Mississippi, but much, much larger in scale.

David Brin said...

There is a corner of me that knows that the kind of down-spiral that the redders hallucinate is something that COULD happen! You Poul Anderson fans be sure and get your hands on NEW AMERICA. I don't think that Eurasian style anti competition, socialist anti individualism is a threat right now, anywhere near as much as the Big Oligarchic Putsch and the vast know nothing cult...

... but I assign a part of me to be wary in EVERY direction. And what is hallucinated today is frightening because it could happen in actuality.

Speaking of Poul Anderson, his classic BRAIN WAVE shows the Earth passing into a new galactic region where neurons get more efficient....

Ian said...

Arguably, the extreme stupidity displayed by most characters in Reolvution is evidence that human neural activity, while not totally prevented, is seriously impeded by the field that prevents electrcial devices from working.

Tony Fisk said...

Going the other way; I rather liked the technique used in 'Legacy of Heorot' to allow Hollywood actors play highly trained and intelligent scientists acting... dumb. Brain damage from an imperfect cryogenic system.

rewinn said...

Happy Veterans Day Observed to y'all!


@ David Brin said...
"an even great Nation!" should be "an even greater nation!"
Gak! my self-editting skills are the sux LOL. Thanks for the improvements; unfortunately the petition site doesn't allow editting. Ah well! the secession petitions are fodder for comedy, is all.


@ Patricia Mathews said..
"Steve Stirling's Dies the Fire..."
... was really fun (in the little-boy, smash-the-world way) until he started to explain how it happened. "A Wizard Did It" doesn't get better by making a wizard a god or a patheon. And when he start got explicit with an explicit pro-autokracy theme (it's the will of the gods ya know!) then I would have been offended, except, heck it's just fiction; I'm now enjoying it as a guilty pleasure.
Although the opening scenes in which the cops are helpless because guns don't work are just silly; pepperspray would take down SCA men-at-arms no problem.


Today's explanation of Why Romney Lost is something to do with Obama not letting news about Petraeus get out in a timely manner. No doubt 1.5 million Obama voters would have switched to Romney if only they'd known.

Acacia H. said...

I rather loved Norquist's accusations that Obama called Romney a "poopy-head" and that decided the election. Yes, that's right, Norquist used the term "poopy-head" on national television. I think his anti-tax coalition is about to fall apart because he's obviously lost his mind... and why be scared of someone who goes around crying about "poopy-head" proclamations on national television? Seriously.

"I've decided to ignore Norquist's anti-tax rhetoric because it's obvious from his recent comments that he's lost his mind. Thus I'm going to do what's right for the nation as a whole rather than risk allowing Democrats to paint the Republican Party as against the will of the American People, which would allow Democrats to sweep the House in two years and raise taxes to an excessive amount. It is far better to negotiate and ensure any tax increases are not destructive or harm the Middle Class."

You have to wonder how many Republicans would join in that anti-Norquist tax rebellion with the caveat of "ensuring new taxes are not excessive."

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Not all that long ago, we gave some mention of that piece in Dr Brin's EXISTENCE where one of the aristocracy wonders whether someone really is running the world, or if everyone near the top just thinks that someone else is in charge.

Karl Rove and Grover Norquist are beginning to look like examples of those who seemed to be in control, but really aren't.

And BTW, several months ago I mistakenly attributed the line about liberals living in a "reality-based world" to Norquist and was (rightly) called on it by a commenter on one of the Ayn Rand threads. I then wondered what I had been confusing with that quote. Well, what Grover Norquist really DID say was the thing about liberal journalists vs conservative journalists:

> Quote of the week:
> "Liberal journalists are
> journalists first,
> while conservative journalists
> are conservatives first."
> - Grover Norquist

And he meant that as a good thing about conservative journalists.

David Brin said...

Robert and Larryhart... posts of the day.

matthew said...

Over at Wired, questions about the Patraeus affair.
Of particular interest is this question over at boing boing. Just how do you get the fbi to investigate the sender of non-threatening anonymous emails? The fbi started this mess investigating emails sent to the other other woman in tampa. The director of the cia was not involved when the fbi started the investigation. So, wtf?

This thing stinks.

Jonathan S. said...

Actually, Matthew, news reports have stated that the emails were indeed of a threatening nature. Apparently, Ms. Broadwell saw the woman she was emailing as a potential rival for Petraeus' affections, and wanted to warn her off in no uncertain terms. Since the woman was receiving anonymous threatening emails, she notified the proper authorities, and matters proceeded from there.

matthew said...

To clarify: either the official timeline is false and the fbi knew something was up with Pataeus or the fbi are willing to find out who was sending anonymous emails to a mildly connected civilian. Either way, we have a big problem with the fbi here.

matthew said...

The other other woman is just a civilian liason on the centcom base in tampa. Even if the emails were death threats, she should not be able to get the fbi involved.

Paul451 said...

Speaking of Anderson's Brain Wave, does anyone remember the golden-era short story about animals (starting with mice) aboard the first spaceship suddenly becoming smarter. As higher animals (cats/dogs) also become smarter, the mice realise that the effect comes on more slowly, but more powerfully, in larger brains. Which means the human crew will be the last to benefit... but if mouse-sized brains results in human-level intelligence, then human-sized brains...

Can you re-link to that purported Norquist quote? The link you provided was a blank blog, and Google doesn't recognise the quote.

Jonathan S. said...

Matthew, I Googled "proper response to threatening emails". From

Sending threatening emails or messages through the Internet using instant messages or other means is a federal crime in the U.S. Statute 18 U.S.C. § 875(c) states: "Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injure the person of another, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both." Intent is beside the point -- the act of sending the threatening email is a punishable offense.

As the offense was a federal crime, it was perfectly appropriate that the local police should notify the FBI and have it investigated at that level.

Sorry, this doesn't hold together as a conspiracy no matter how you angle it.

Acacia H. said...

To be honest? I could almost believe Dr. Brin's conspiracy theory concerning Republican efforts to steal the election... because of one incident: Karl Rove losing it on Fox News when it became clear Romney had lost Iowa. I mean, you had a man there who genuinely believed Romney was going to win Iowa. But why? Why did he have such a ironclad belief in this?

It's almost like he expected all these states to actually go for Romney, despite the voters. Like there was a switch that just needed to be flipped. And it was not.

The truth is much simpler. Rove had bought his own lies. He believed that the youth vote would be disenfranchised and that enough people would flip to Romney. When they didn't... he suffered a 300 million dollar breakdown on national television (which was a thing of beauty to watch). But for a split second... you could almost believe the OTHER lie... that it was supposed to be fixed.

Rob H.

rewinn said...

What is the conspiracy theory explanation of who would benefit from delaying the revelation of Petraeus' affair until AFTER the election?

There cannot be many people in our nation who would switch their vote from Obama to Romney if this had been an October surprise; the idea that the Administration sat on it is implausible.

You know who benefits MOST from this timing?

It was going to get out sometime; these are not the Olde Days when mistresses kept quiet or were kept quiet; and Petraeus is no longer just a guy in uniform having his extracurricular fun. The question is, does he do it the John Edwards way and torpedo his presidential campaign while THOROUGHLY alienating his supporters, or does he do it the Newt Gingrich/Rudy Guilliani way and offer public repentance far enough in advance that in Iowa 2015 no-one remembers the scandal?

Yes. I am suggesting that Petraeus narc'd on himself. Heck, what other theory makes any sense at all? (...except for the obvious one: girl friend got mad, messed up boyfriend, period.)


@Rob H's analysis of the vote-rigging nonevent seems to fit the observed facts with the simplest theory. Just for fun, let me suggest that instead the Big Boys running the voter-rigging operation assured Rove everything was fine, but (especially after the foreign-policy debate and Romney's ineffectual maunderings around Sandy), decided that Obama was the better choice. Michael Bloomberg did, so why not the Illuminati?


Another secession petition:
Sell the Republic of Texas to Mexico for the amount that would erase our national debt and rid ourselves from Texas.

Paul451 said...

"The other other woman is just a civilian liason on the centcom base in tampa. Even if the emails were death threats, she should not be able to get the fbi involved."

The FBI shouldn't investigate death threats received by a State dept employee on assignmnet to the US Military? Seriously?

Is the conspiracy that Petreaus was set-up as punishment for perceived disloyalty, or merely that someone sat on the investigation until after the election? The latter I can accept, although I'm reading today that leading House Republicans were told of the investigation and didn't leak it.

Re: The secret rulers switching the vote-rigging to Obama.
Alternatively, since the Tea Party, Karl Rove, and Fox have all be burned by this, perhaps it was a coup by the conspirators against the growing control over the Republican Party by the rival faction.

Re: Selling Texas.
I laughed. But would Mexico have enough to pay US debt? Perhaps China?

Mitchell J. Freedman said...

15The reason we must not allow any of these States, mostly the Confederate ones, to secede is the same as it was for Lincoln's time: You let these States secede, they will eventually turn into Napoleon man on horseback States and invade the rest of the nation. That was Lincoln's concern when he opposed the Crittenden Compromise, because he saw the South would move southward first, take over other areas, and then march on the North and West parts of the US.

The Red States are often poor economic performers already. They won't get better when federal US aid stops. They will eventually go for a man on horseback and push a militarism that will want to go after hippie CA and the Pacific Northwest for example.

So might as well send in the troops now if they start pushing secession again...

Paul451 said...

Big difference between the last secession and this one, a hostile Europe. The Confederacy would have fallen apart amid petty squabbles, and would have been easy pickings for either direct European invasion, or be under the influence of European powers.

If Britain had been able to pick away at the eastern Confederacy, and Mexico had regained Texas (perhaps with British support), the US would be trapped in a vice between British Canada, British South, and an expansionist, British supported, Mexico. I suspect (based on the North's performance in the Civil War) that it would have seen off a British invasion, but it would have been a much closer thing.

Today, the South would just be a bunch of poor English-speaking countries. Cheap labour for US industry.

There is absolutely zero risk of them aligning with a major US rival, nor in invading the US. Nor a risk of a US rival being allowed to invade them. The acrimony that leads to secession would quickly be replaced with a tight alliance. (Which is why I argue that not much would change. Both new countries (New Union and New Confederacy) would be almost exactly the same as the current USA. And that realisation alone is probably worth the pain of secession.

Mitchell J. Freedman said...

Weak countries, when organized, turn around quickly. One thinks of Germany and Italy being moribund in the 1920s and then becoming powerful in the 1930s, Germany turning around more quickly and strongly.

The right wingers who dominate Southern politics do not oppose big government when they are in power. They are just like the Southern aristocracy of the 1850s and 1860s: In the 1850s, they supported the federal laws, starting with the Fugitive Slave Act, over rights of states. They became more and more supportive of States' rights as the Civil War dragged on, and new conditions allowed them to conveniently forget how they cultivated federal power throughout the 1850s.

matthew said...

Jill Kelley (the other other woman) is not a state department employee, she is a local volunteer for military family outreach. Press reports say the the emails did not include death threats.
And how does the fbi would legitimately get involved in tracking down the sender of these emails? Thats my conspiracy-how the hell does the fbi justify checking out a few vaguely threatening emails? Jill Kelley maintains that she has no inappropriate relationship with Patraeus, so how in hell can she get an fbi investigation? She says that she went to an fbi agent that she knew personally to request help. Fbi just "helping" and they out the head of the cia?

Jonathan S. said...

Matthew, the sending of those emails was a Federal crime. The Federal Bureau of Investigation was the most appropriate law-enforcement authority to investigate the crime. It doesn't matter who the recipient of the threatening emails was. If I were to start receiving emails threatening myself or my loved ones, I would notify the local police (in my case, the county sheriff's department), which would in turn call in the local FBI office, as the crime is in their jurisdiction.

LarryHart said...

Can you re-link to that purported Norquist quote? The link you provided was a blank blog, and Google doesn't recognise the quote

Well, the original discussion I posted from was almost 10 years ago (2004).

It's mentioned (though not directly quoted) in this article, also from 2004:

Grover Norquist, the right's premier political organizer, once told me that the most significant difference between liberal journalists and conservative journalists is that the former are journalists first while the latter are conservatives first (if journalists at all). Right-winger Bill O'Reilly plays the role of a journalist on TV, radio and print. His grasp of the profession's fundamental tenets, however, seems hardly more secure than that of an actor hired to play a journalist in a phony White House Medicare video.

Tony Fisk said...

Were the red states to secede and form their own Confederacy, then I can imagine, without a trace of irony, that it might be called the 'United States of the Southern Republic"

Acacia H. said...

The question of if the e-mails were threats or not will remain unknown until the actual contents of the e-mails are released. It may very well be that the e-mails ended with a .gov address... or that the woman sent the e-mails was able to suss out the end-location of the e-mail (I can do that with my own website, I suspect e-mails are much the same).

What is known is that the woman was disturbed enough by the e-mails that she didn't just brush them off and instead contacted a friend in the FBI, asking what she should do. The Fed (possibly because it was a slow day) said he or she would look into it... and then slowly started uncovering a mess that would make Fox Mulder sit back and smile while claiming aliens were ultimately involved. ;)

Sadly, the Feds can't respond to all threatening e-mails or the like - I know they never got back in response to my query about a phishing scheme that came from a purported FBI agent (Hotmail assumed it was spam). In all likelihood if she didn't have a friend who was a Fed this would have gone nowhere... and this would have blown up months later when the biography came out and questions started rising about how this woman got all that data.

(Mind you, there is one last possibility: the woman herself was responsible for outing herself so that there'd be lots of publicity for the book when it was released.)

Rob H.

Tacitus said...

The Petraeus business still smells funny to me.

I have no problem with the President firing anyone who works for him. For any reason really. We should do this more often when there is perceived incompetence, conflict of interest or disloyalty.

But there are ways of doing so that preserve decorum. Here are some variants:

-I recognize the General's fine service but we have differences of opinion on policy. We have mutually agreed that it is time for new leadership.

-With reluctance I have accepted the General's resignation. He has indicated that he wants to devote more time to his family and assures me that the Agency is in good hands with the transitional leadership.

-With a new team coming on as Cabinet members the General has finally been able to convince me that his long anticipated retirement can now occur.

-Or you could always go the recently used "health issues" route. Does anybody even recall the departure of the Commerce Secretary?

And so forth.

When you air the dirty laundry in this public a fashion people will notice that this was a popular figure who was willing to work in administrations of both parties. It will have a chilling effect on those stalwarts willing to consider this in the future.

But more to the point, the Obama campaigns in the past have made a specialty of this sort of thing, unsealing divorce records and so forth. To use it as a way to, hypothetically, destroy the reputation of a potential future Presidential candidate and/or to punish a man for what could be regarded as either disloyal or worthy actions regarding a foreign policy fiasco...

David, do your many Obama favoring Generals and Admirals think this was done well?

If Petraeus had to go, do you personally think this was the best way for him and for the country?


Acacia H. said...

My Republican friend has commented on this. I have been urging him to run for State Rep, as I feel more sane Republicans are needed in Massachusetts (and because I think he'd make for a great politician) but due to the fact he's divorced he refuses. He's sure Democrats will unseal his divorce records and air dirty laundry.

Personally I feel he could work this to his advantage by stating "this is over a decade old, and you're airing this all and harming my family? What happened to respecting privacy and to divorce records being sealed? Especially when you consider many Americans have had divorces over the years. It's time for this shameful practice to end, and I fully expect sincere apologies from everyone involved, including my opponent."

After all, shame was used effectively on McCarthy. It should likewise be used on Democrats... if only to reveal those who have no shame so they can be voted out of office.

Rob H.

Tacitus said...


I think both major parties have effectively become "shameless".

And I am certain that the independent operatives who drive so much of our current campaign are far beyond shameless, even as their anonymity makes it impossible to even attempt the improbable task.

Mrs. T. refuses to endorse my running for any public office...and we have been uneventfully married for decades.


Acacia H. said...

My apologies, Tacitus. You are, in fact, correct. Sometimes I let my dislike for Democrats blind me to the fact that Republicans share many of the same traits, and commit many of the same political sins.

It's the problem of the Lesser of Two Evils style of voting. Eventually you're blinded to the sameness of the two sides.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...


The Petraeus business still smells funny to me.

I have no problem with the President firing anyone who works for him. For any reason really. We should do this more often when there is perceived incompetence, conflict of interest or disloyalty.

But there are ways of doing so that preserve decorum.

I had already planned to ask you about this today.

A few days back, you asked if anyone was bothered by the way the publicity was handled, and I agreed that it did bother me. But possibly for different reasons from yours.

I understand that it looks to you as if Petraeus was sacrificed for the sake of the Obama campaign.

This morning on (admittedly liberal) talk radio, I heard the opposite possibility discussed--that the first thing the FBI agent did with the information was to relay it to House Republicans including Eric Cantor. The speculation (admittedly by liberal talkers) was that he was offering it to Republicans as possible ammunition against President Obama.

So shall we both keep open minds? It may well be that the episode is being used as a political football, but not necessarily the way we think it is? Does your umbrage survive if the other side is responsible for outrageous conduct?

rewinn said...

My dear @Tacitus2 -
If "... the Obama campaigns in the past have made a specialty of this sort of thing, unsealing divorce records ..." refers to the revelation that Mitt Romney perjured himself, and made millions from it, tell me: what's wrong with that? No-one was harmed by this unsealing except the perjurer himself, whose protection is not the object of the seal.

Humanity is a pattern-seeking creature, and I can imagine that a large number of scenarios in which Petraeus ran afoul of Our Unseen Masters are more satisfying than the simple reality than Some Men Fool Around. It would have been much more effective to wait until the General had secured the GOP nomination before outing him; the Illuminati are off their game!

UNLESS ... the GOP ran candidates that are squeaky-clean in their marriage life. That didn't work. Maybe next time they're going to "broaden their base" by running Guilliani, Vitter, Ensign and now ... Petraeus!

The idea that Obama turfed Petraeus because he's a symbol of bipartisanship is supported by ... what?

rewinn said...

On a lighter note, harking back to OP: what if Gordon Krantz had "borrowed" a different jacket?

What other organizations go town-to-town, unifying communities through sharing information?

Will we ever see "The Postman 2:Jehovah's Witnesses Strike Back" ?

David Brin said...

Re: vote rigging conspiracies and Rove's surprise. It's simple. A henchman read my missive HERE and either sabotaged the Big Fix or else made threats or was caught trying to record the Masters and that spooked them, or...

Tacitus... WHY do as you say? You have two blabbermouth women clawing at each other in public... and you expect this to stay secret?

WHY? Petraeus will not suffer badly. He'll have corporate board memberships soon and possibly go to Congress. Neither republicans nor democrats have any interest or value in crucifying him. There are no election implications. Yeesh! Have you been following the illogical conspircay stretches?

Petraeus committed a major sin in the intelligence community, creating a situation in which he might be subject to blackmail. If you are having an affair, you bring the mistress AND the wife before the CIA inspector general and show that there is no basis for blackmail. Then the affair becomes nobody's damned business but the wife's, to deal with as she sees fit.

Watch last night's DAILY SHOW episode about the biographer who had been on the show! A blatant crazy woman (though alluring). DP should have seen that.

Tacitus said...


You too are off your game today. I said "past".

The recent Gloria Allred nonsense was inconsequential.

Go back to 2004 when B.Obama was running for US Senate.
First his D primary rival, a certain Blair Hull, has his messy divorce records unsealed by media clamor and presumably behind the scenes manipulation. Obama comes from behind to win the Primary.
Fast forward a ways...Jack Ryan, his Gen Election rival has his even messier records unsealed. Ends up dropping out.
So if you are looking for patterns, I think you can say that Axelrod and company do not shirk from using this sort of stuff. Indeed, absent these dirty tricks Obama is still an Illinois state senator.

As to an open mind on the many possible causes of the odd smell about all of this...I can see several scenarios where it is not Dem thuggishness. It just looks like the General is being punished by somebody for something.

btw regards Benghazi....has anyone yet heard a convincing explanation of how Ambassador Stevens got from the inside of a smoke chocked building to that hospital where there was an attempt to revive him?

I sure have not.

Absent a realistic time line I think the most likely explanation was that this was in fact a kidnap attempt. Only partly successful in that the intended target was near dead from smoke inhalation by the time some unknown Libyans got their hands on him.

If I have missed any quietly published details, please correct me.


Acacia H. said...

I'd heard some Libyans went into the building when it was burning and were seeing if there was anyone still in there. In theory it could be a humanitarian gesture. But yes, the attempted kidnapping is also a valid possibility with but one flaw: they could have kept the body and claimed he was still alive. And once the militants were released, vanish leaving just a cold smokey corpse.

Dr. Brin, you're grasping at straws. As I said, the simplest solution is in fact the most likely. Karl Rove had a breakdown because Iowa was lost despite his math. And he was realizing all at once... he had spent all that money... and seen practically no return on investment.

To be honest, I think this will be the deathknell for massive PAC spending. Why should billionaires spend money trying to buy elections when they can just use lobbyists and blackmail to buy Democrats after the fact?

BTW, (in case it's not already been posted on this blog) here's an interesting YouTube video arguing about the benefits of corporate personhood... and what Citizen's United was actually about. I definitely recommend viewing it. It's altered my views on corporate personhood... though I still feel that we need laws stating that money does not equal speech.

Rob H.

Tacitus said...


You are doubtless correct in saying I have been around too many giddy conspiracy theorists. Some of them wearing tin foil kepi hats!

The Republic will survive this minor event just fine. My contention is that, pending further information, this looks like a clumsily handled firing.

It could have been managed in a way that burned less political capital.


David Brin said...

RobH Meeeeeee? Graspig at straws when I claim direct credit for deterring a stealing of the elections in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia and Iowa?

Whaaaaaa? How DARE you sir! The direct cause and effect relationship is clear! (We'll never know, will we? ;-)

Tacitus, blatantly and obviously, we'll be electing a lot of straight arrows like Obama and Romney, from now on. Or else a whole lot of women! And your objection to outing bad divorces... is...?

I consider such things to be TOTALLY relevant in judging a candidate's fitness. Though please dig this. It is actually fairly subtle. There is the "ask the wife effect."

It goes like this. Basic, simple infidelity is a risk and allure that pulls at all men or power. We are descended from the herems of men who reaped sexual-repro rewards for achieving power. Now we demand they instantly put on the brakes! Many folks - including millions of women(!) understand this deep down. And hence, when a male politician sobs a confession, they look at the wife.

If it was an affair and JUST an affair that ended with regret and with the wife clearly forgiving... then the public generally forgives, as well. Hillary blatantly told everybody "Will you all PLEASE let me handle this?" And a vast majority of American women did just that. Much to the chagrin of deLay and others, who hypocritically assigned 12 GOP house members to prosecute BC... SIX of whom had had messy divorces!!!

OTOH, Gingrich and Edwards behaved in ways that women will not forgive, ever. And again, the wives lead the way. If the first wife curses you to hell, so will other women voters. And this will be true more and more, as time goes on.

Not all male pols will have to be perfect straight arrows like ROmney & Obama... or perfectly smart at picking mistresses. (OMG pick them for the attribute of calm/sane/loyalty; better yet, let your WIFE pick em for you; women have better instincts!) No, there will be sob confessions in the future. But men who go into politics will know, you had better not cross the line of POSSIBLE wifely forgiveness.

LarryHart said...


As I said, the simplest solution is in fact the most likely. Karl Rove had a breakdown because Iowa was lost despite his math.

You mean Ohio, right?

And he was realizing all at once... he had spent all that money... and seen practically no return on investment.

To be honest, I think this will be the deathknell for massive PAC spending. Why should billionaires spend money trying to buy elections...

Snark aside, I sure hope so.

In 2008, one reason I really wanted Obama to win was that I hoped his model of collecting small donations instead of relying on big donors would catch on enough to be emulated in the future.

This time, the opposite is true. One big reason I wanted Romney and the GOP to lose is that I hope the donors of billions of dollars to Rove and company might decide they don't get the bang for the buck that warrants such donations in the future. The only sales pitch Rove has now is "Well, if you gave even more money..."

I hope that's not convincing.

when they can just use lobbyists and blackmail to buy Democrats after the fact?

Mysterious plane crashes. Don't forget my favorite. :)

Tacitus said...

I am fine with straight, or at least straighter arrows going into politics. Lets just apply the standards equally please.

Seems to me that Hillary had a bit of an investment in the Clinton presidency. She would have been more willing to forgo the wrath of a woman scorned for the Greater Good.

Also seems to me that the relative opportunities for blackmail, and the disparity in power between the participants, was as great or greater with Clinton. I was not going to mention him but you brought it up.

And the poor dingy gal who got Petreaus into all this trouble? Ah, maybe people will just do darn near anything to try and sell a few books!

Tongue of course in cheek.


LarryHart said...

Tacitus2, here is what WikiPedia says about Jack Ryan's demise, and while I realize WP is hardly a foolproof source, this does conform to my recollection:

Ryan married actress Jeri Ryan in 1991; together they have a son, Alex Ryan, born August 15, 1994. They divorced in 1999 in California, and the records of the divorce were sealed at their mutual request. Five years later, when Ryan's Senate campaign began, the Chicago Tribune newspaper and WLS-TV, the local ABC affiliate, sought to have the records released.

The Tribune has been historically Republican, and while this is not the 1930s, I find it a bit of a stretch to believe that their motivation was to sabotage a Republican for a US Senate seat.

I mean yes, they endorsed Obama for president in 2008, but he was the first ever Democrat they ever endorsed for president in their 160-plus years of history. Part of that may have been driven by his being from here in Illinois, a factor that would not have mattered in a Senate race. Another reason for the 2008 endorsement might have been the candidate's huge populist appeal, something that also would not have applied to pre-convention Obama in 2004.

If you want to lay Jack Ryan's outing at Obama's feet, you might need to explain why the Tribune was complicit.

Also, when assessing Ryan's chances of otherwise winning, remember how un-popular Republicans were in Illinios in 2004. They ultimately had to run Alan Keyes because they couldn't convince anyone local to run as a Republican.

Ian said...

@ Randy Winn: The Garbage Man.

Ian said...

Tacitus, Obama didn't chosose to get rid of Petraeus, Petraeus chose to resign.


The FBI has stated that they determined that there was no national security risk involved and that they were investigating the matter as a criminal matter.

In such cases, the President isn't notified until there's sufficient evidence for an indictment.

Ian said...

"I'd heard some Libyans went into the building when it was burning and were seeing if there was anyone still in there. In theory it could be a humanitarian gesture. But yes, the attempted kidnapping is also a valid possibility with but one flaw: they could have kept the body and claimed he was still alive. And once the militants were released, vanish leaving just a cold smokey corpse."

Translations of the audio accompanying the footage of Stevens body being carried out of the buiding shows that one person takes his pulse and shouts:

"He's alive!"

THe rest of the crowd burst otu cheering.

Now that might be consistent with a kidnapping but it seems much more conssitent with a good faith attemp to save his life.

Paul451 said...

Back to the OP.

David went out of his way to destroy civilisation (heh), war and pestilence and especially ideological treason. The latter was emphasised as the real killer, the Holnists, the persistent infection that took advantage of the host's weakened immune system and prevented the patient from healing.

The film however, just took the assumption that every post-apocalyptic Hollywood fiction takes, that civilisation is fragile, that collapse after disaster is inevitable. However, wouldn't any sudden collapse be seen by survivors as an aberration? Wouldn't unification and reconstruction be assumed, particularly by anyone who held any previous role in the lost civilisation? No matter how severe the loss of the cities and civilisation? Go back to any age and there was need for messengers, after the loss of all electronic communication, the need would be amplified, and those messengers would gravitate to the symbols of the USPS. Likewise with other services. Many veterans and particularly serviceman visiting home would gravitate towards each other, reinforcing a sense of duty to defend the community around them. Likewise police, especially small-town police. And the professions, doctors, nurses, engineers, teachers... And yes, even the garbage man. And even if recovery took more than a generation, all would recruit new apprentices, feeling a huge burden to keep the knowledge alive, to serve the community, and all would be valued by their communities, protected and nurtured. Having your kid chosen as an apprentice to Dr Peterson, or engineer O'Reilly, would be an honour.

Can you have an instant post-apocalyptic world? Once the war, plague, super-volcano, year-without-winter, etc, ends, won't that first generation immediately start rebuilding? Doesn't a loss of civilisation require a long slow decline? Something that isn't obvious from one generation to the next, something that you personally can't really fight against. And isn't that kind of global loss of civilisation now impossible? As Britain declined, the US filled the vacuum. As Europe declined, the Asian tigers emerged. If the US declines, China or India or Brazil or something else will emerge. There will always be a continuity now, because every proto-civilisation has full awareness of the previous ones.

David Brin said...

Tacitus, you seem to ignore the fact that there are many KINDS of infidelity and women are acutely aware of them. Most women make a very clear distinction between purely and safely physical acts on the one hand and betrayals that lead to shame, humiliation, disease, alternate pregnancies, alienation of affection and/or divorce. And especially when there is insult added to injusry, as happened with Gingrich and Edwards.

Your cynicism toward Hillary might make the slightest sense if it weren't for the fact that they are STILL together, and blatantly affectionate. Indeed, BC's tryst with Monica L was not even the sort of "sex" that leads to danger of pregnancy or disease. I am not saying that the Clinton's had a marriage that was "open" to this degree of infidelity. Some are. But even when not, women have a sliding scale of forgiveness and you are ignoring that.

Yes, what's-her-name is gonna win out of this. A public figure now. DP was a fool not to see it looming.

Jeri Ryan? All she had to do was BORG the guy!

The obsession with turning Benghazi into a scandal, when VASTLY worse things happened every single year of GW Bush's watch, strikes me as weird.

David Brin said...

Paul the best apocalypse film ever was the TV Miniseries TESTAMENT which was female in outlook and broke with all the cliches. The police stayed at their posts until they dropped. People helped each other. Petty crime waves and looting happened, but without Max Max viciousness. Folks kept on keeping on... hoping that the radiation dying would taper off at some point leaving enough survivors to keep going.

Sad and beautiful and feminine and far far more realistic.

Tacitus said...

I am a big Seven of Nine fan so my sympathies are far from being in Mr Ryan's favor.

Ian, easy on the big ol' caps, they detract from your point.

Also, I would be rather surprised if the President only learned about this situation post election. Oh, I am surprised by things sometimes, but not on a daily basis.

As you should know, there are various kinds of resignation. This one seems likely to be a "have it on my desk tomorrow type".

As I said, I have no problem with firing people when they deserve it. There were just some aspects of this that smell funny to me, and to others. Maybe inevitable given the popularity and stature of the General.

On a prior point, these sorts of things should apply across the board. Being Ted Kennedy* should not give you a free pass to the Mustang Ranch on the basis of your good heart and right beliefs....


*or Newt, or J.Jackson Jr., or Tony Weiner, or, well, whoever

Paul451 said...

I see no advantage for Obama in humiliating Petreaus. If he wasn't going to be charged, he could have taken the "resign due to health/family/time-to-move-on" route that so many have.

Because it isn't necessary to destroy his reputation today to poison a future Presidential bid. After all, you get more impact from an October surprise revelation during his campaign. Going public now allows him to rebuild his reputation after it becomes "the past".

As for it being nasty ol' Obama punishing him over a perceived lack of loyalty after the Benghazi attack, that also doesn't make sense. Petreaus' supporters would have leaked it by now, he wouldn't just go quietly. And the media would have run it, it doesn't matter how biased you think they are, sex and scandal sells. Being able to carry a titillating story another day would be irresistible.

Ian said...

Tacitus, I normally avoid the use of internet shouting (aka ALL CAPS) but I'm getting a little tired of almost everyone commneting on the Peatraeus scandal proceeding on the assumption that Obama knew in advance.

Obviously, it's possible that he did but to date there's no proof that he did and he's denying it.

Tony Fisk said...

The obsession with turning Benghazi into a scandal, when VASTLY worse things happened every single year of GW Bush's watch, strikes me as weird.

Strikes me as the usual 'my sins are *your* sins, punk!' bullying projectionism that has become the GOP's SOP.

Tacitus said...


When you attempt to speak authoritatively for women I can only advise "beware, here be dragons".

But as to this being perhaps enough on the topic, I concur.

There are surprisingly enough, even a few things going on right now that are more important. Once we finish re-hashing the Bush years of course.


matthew said...

I'm still surprised that the press isn't covering how a tampa socialite was able to get the fbi to uncover the identity of an anonymous gmail account. Jill Kelley was not working for the State Dept. like some early accounts state. There was no .gov email account involved. "Stay away from my boyfriend" is not hate or threatening speech; it is constitutionally protected speech. The initial investigation by the fbi was unlawful, *so far as we know right now.*
Now, Jill Kelley is getting another four star general (Allen, if you at not keeping track) in trouble with their 30k emails to each other. So, if you are the mistress of a four star general, you get to use the fbi as your own private investigation service? Guess that's the bennie in the contact other than sex with the powerful?
It is the misuse of the fbi (or the fbi headhunting the cia) that is the scandal here, but do we hear about that part in the media?
Mistresses of the generals in afghanistan, not surprising. What those mistresses are able to do that violates US law, shocking. And directly pertaining to the purpose of this blog-transparency and reciprocal accountability. If the mistress of a four star general is allowed to use the fbi to catfight, then what are the really powerful allowed to do?

Jonathan S. said...

Reports this evening are that the 20k to 30k pages of emails between Gen. Allen and Mrs. Kelley were innocent in nature, and that they were probably exchanged because the Allens and Kelleys are friends. Yes, believe it or not, it is possible for men and women to be friends with no sex involved.

OTOH, the FBI agent who began the investigation appears to desire to have an illicit relationship with Mrs. Kelley, as he had apparently been emailing shirtless pictures of himself to her. He also attempted to inject himself into the investigation after handing it off to the appropriate department, earning himself a reprimand.

However, as I have pointed out repeatedly, Matthew, the involvement of the FBI was completely appropriate because a federal crime was being investigated. They may or may not reach the conclusion that there had been a crime committed; the investigation is not yet complete. We do know that Mr. Petraeus did not reveal any classified information pertaining to his CIA involvement to his mistress; thus, the FBI did not notify the President, as they have stated.

There is no mystery, there is no conspiracy, and there would be no point to any conspiracy - it's a bit late to discredit either Presidential candidate, especially given the prevalence of early voting in this country. (Once your ballot has been submitted, you don't get to change it, even if you change your mind.)

matthew said...

Jonathan, it is clear that you are not taking the time to read what I actually wrote. There were no threats in the emails.
No crime. No crime. No crime. Nothing for the fbi to base an investigation of a rival intelligence agency upon.
Clear enough?
And my question is with the fbi behavior, not with philandering military and mistresses. The agent has been reprimanded. He took the story to Eric Cantor. He was reprimanded again. Now he is claiming to be a whistleblower. That's the damn story, not how it may have played into the election.

Ian Gould said...


1. so far as I know the full text of all the e-mails in question haven't been released so your statement that they contained no criminal threats appears to be mere supposition.

2. If in the course of a legitimate investigation, law enforcement authorities find evidence of another possible crime they are required to investigate it.

Acacia H. said...

Came across another blog with a rather interesting take on the elections. One thing he admits is he didn't bother watching any of the debates for once, and avoided the political advertising. He also voted Green Party seeing that he lived in New York State and it didn't matter who he voted for.

It's an interesting view from a cynical liberal... and likely one of a number of cynical liberals who helped put Obama back into power for four more years. He doesn't have high hopes for the Obama Administration. He just prefers the inaction of Obama to the criminality of Romney.

Rob H.

Paul451 said...

Re: Petreaus.
I was one who repeated claims in the last thread that Jill Kelley was a "State Department liaison", which isn't true. Why the mix-up? Apparently she calls herself that, and an "Honorary Ambassador", and at least once claimed her home was "Honorary diplomatic soil".

Exactly the sort of pompous ass who would turn "stay away" emails into "OMG, death threats". Who would get FBI resources wasted on her because she knows someone (and if they don't, she knows someone else, and they'll make the first guy's job miserable.)

The sort of thing that happens all the time, I'm sure, but you never hear about unless it sparks some scandal.

[Local example: Routine intercept of refugees by a Navy frigate got turned into a national scandal, because a civilian chair of an immigration policy advisory committee... let that sink in... non-elected, non-government, civilian, on a policy advisory committee... used Navy communications to ring the bridge of the frigate and demand a briefing from the ship's commander. The commander made a careless "go away I'm busy" excuse, a comment which the committee chair exaggerated and brought up at a function. Anyway, there was a fuss, but what no one ever touched on, what no reporter ever seemed to find odd, was why a random guy from a policy committee would be able to contact a Navy warship in the middle of an operation and get a personal briefing from the commander.]

David Brin said...

Apparently the FBI guy who was coaxed by succubus #2 to go and out succubus#1... that FBI guy is apparently now being investigated by... the FBI...

Acacia H. said...

I thought Kelly's FBI friend was a woman. Well, I suppose it could have been a name easily confused as female, such as Robin or Leslie....

Rob H.

David Brin said...


Matt G. said...

If discussing apocalypse films, don't forget On The Beach

gg said...

I have always thought that there is a good movie hidden inside The Postman as we have it. Have any amateur editors taken a hand at it like some have done to the new Star Wars movies?

Jumper said...

Lord knows I like Tom Petty's music; I put some on a thumb drive just recently for the player; but putting him in that movie when he can't act was a big cow chip. I liked the movie pretty well but for that.