Ebola, terrorism and political mass extinction

“We are entering a bifurcated world. Part of the globe is inhabited by Hegel’s and Fukuyama’s Last Man, healthy, well fed, and pampered by technology. The other, larger, part is inhabited by Hobbes’s First Man, condemned to a life that is “poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Although both parts will be threatened by environmental stress, the Last Man will be able to master it; the First Man will not.”

Robert Kagan, The Coming Anarchy, 1994

Thirteen years ago, with the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, the darker side of the End of History was brought home to our shores. We have yet to come to terms with its implications, choosing foolishly to fight these new threats with outdated tools and methods. The frequent comparisons to Pearl Harbor are worse than inapt, they are deceptive. In reality, 9/11 could be best thought of as the opposite of our experience in World War II, our introduction to a world in which freedom has become a dominant value but order is the most precious resource on Earth.

The world is rapidly growing smaller, freer, and richer, but the same forces behind this happy trend are wreaking havoc on some corners of the world. And those same forces mean that the misery festering in forgotten hellholes can neither be ignored nor contained.

We often think of evolution as a genetic process, but like many other creatures human beings evolve along three planes simultaneously. To speed up our adaptation beyond the pace of our genetic mutations, we have also evolved the capacity to adapt through our social structures and technology. Over the past ten generations or so the pace of technological adaptation has suddenly accelerated, putting pressure on us in numerous other ways. Cultures are struggling to keep pace with the new landscape of demands, but though they evolve faster than our genes, many of them are falling behind or even blinking out of existence.

Accelerating technological progress has placed amazing new power in the hands of individuals, weakening or destroying oppressive institutions that once exploited millions. Like attacking a cancer with chemotherapy, this same cure has weakened virtually every kind of institution regardless of merit, rendering the social and cultural institutions on which civilization depends more brittle almost everywhere.

Where core institutions are traditionally strong and dense, as in Europe and North America, these forces have brought increasing government dysfunction and political polarization, but basic order remains largely unthreatened. Where public institutions have been weak or few, as in parts of the world once dominated by empires or monolithic dictatorships, this dynamic has bred a technology-infused chaos.

This is an age of mass extinctions, driven by an explosion of human technological evolution. Those extinctions are not limited to rare frogs or charming songbirds. Social institutions, cultures, entire political frameworks are collapsing under pressure from new, more adaptive innovations. As these less durable frameworks collapse they create little black holes of chaos, murder and disease that contain the potential to undermine the entire environment.

Terrorism, Ebola, mass immigration of unaccompanied minors – these are all essentially the same problem. Pockets of anarchy created by the collapse of poorly adapted institutions can be the birthing ground of new, freer, more liberal institutions. Or they can become poison factories. For those of us in rising Asia and the traditional West, decisions we make about how and when to intervene in these evolutionary episodes will grow increasingly complex and consequential as the world shrinks and only the hard cases remain to be worked out.

This is not a military problem, though the problem has a military dimension. The first order of civilization is to monopolize the use of violence in order to make it accountable and therefore legitimate.

Our enemy, per se, is not ISIS any more than the enemy is Ebola or unaccompanied migrant children. The enemy is chaos. Battling chaos might begin by using violence to thwart an organization like ISIS, but to accomplish any useful objective the fight must extend beyond the reach of the military. Using air power to combat ISIS is roughly equivalent to using fighter jets to stop the gangs on the west side of Chicago. It amounts to a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the situation. Violence does not create order, though it sometimes can be used to remove forces that stand in the way.

We will not be secure from the reach of roaming terrorist gangs in Syria until some accountable structure exists to govern the place and channel the needs of its people into policy. We will not be free from the dangers of Ebola, or the diseases coming in its wake like Marburg or nature’s as yet undiscovered surprises, until some credible order exists in the places where these diseases arise. No drone yet invented can bomb Ebola. It can only be stopped by a minimally effective public health system.

‘Foreign policy’ has become a quaint concept, evoking an age when the term ‘foreign’ referred to matters that were distant and only relevant in exceptional circumstances. We now operate in two political categories: matters under our direct legal jurisdiction and matters outside the reach of our legal sovereignty. There is no ‘foreign.’ There is ‘legal’ and ‘extralegal.’

To add to the complexity of the challenge, rising chaos is not a geographically distant problem. Sometimes it emerges in places under our legal authority.

Detroit is a laboratory for domestic social collapse as the institutions that tentatively supported that long-troubled place have dipped below the water line. Depressed rural areas of the Great Plains, the Deep South and Appalachia face similar challenges as the economic value of labor for mining and farming continues to decline. Many of the same basic political tools we will need to combat the expansion of chaos abroad might be sharpened in our own back yard. Our first order of business is to protect the viability of our social institutions.

What can we do to promote our interests in this changing landscape? First, we must begin to recognize the limits of military hegemony as a policy tool. We are exquisitely prepared for problems that can be bombed away – so prepared that those problems have largely disappeared.

In light of that recognition, we must begin building international institutions capable of doing more than talking about problems (the UN) or bombing those problems (NATO). The world’s free countries should be working together much more closely, likely starting with the nations of NATO and extending to Asia, to build government-sponsored organizations that look less like the army and more like Medecins Sans Frontieres.

Trans-national organizations in the shape of the Peace Corps, backed by the political and diplomatic force of free governments while supported and protected by military alliances, are the next evolutionary step in fighting the breakdown of social institutions in fragile places. They could succeed where the US military failed in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, or Haiti, Liberia and Honduras.

There may be no better symbol of the need for such a force than the US military’s recent deployment to Liberia. Using troops to ‘fight’ a disease is expensive and it’s a mission for which they are poorly suited on almost every level. Yet we have no appropriate force, no US or transnational medical or political reserve, ready to respond to such scenarios.

At home, our response to this challenge requires us to protect the viability of our own fragile institutions. Weakening social institutions are creating instability and feeding the rise of dangerous extremism and malaise. Our most important global challenge, the declining effectiveness of social institutions and the resultant rise of chaos, is not a foreign problem.

For at least the next couple of generations the most precious resource supporting human life will be organization – and in some places it will be perishingly scarce. We are living through an unprecedented shift in human evolution, in which the pace of evolution of our technology has overwhelmed our cultural and genetic evolution.

For those lucky enough to live under institutions with the resources and flexibility to weather the storm this is likely to be a time of wonder, wealth and freedom. Elsewhere in the world there is going to be trouble and that trouble will not stay put. We will either take intelligent calculated actions to limit the growth of chaos in distant places or the consequences will find us.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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Posted in Foreign Policy, Political Theory
290 comments on “Ebola, terrorism and political mass extinction
  1. objv says:

    The following concerns the collapse of social institutions. Esther Cepeda’s articles are frequently reprinted by my local paper. Here’s one that appeared a couple days ago. I’m curious what those here of Hispanic heritage think.


    “The Hispanic Paradox is the good health and well-being of recently arrived Hispanics as compared to their generally wealthier and better-educated white U.S. counterparts. They diminish the longer a family resides in the U.S. — much like the conservative nature of a highly religious Latin American culture.

    A recent report from the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families on family structure and formation among low-income Hispanics in the U.S. illustrates this sad state of affairs.

    It notes that over the past several decades, families of all races have seen fewer couples get married, while more cohabit and have babies outside of marriage. “Low-income, foreign-born Hispanic women are more likely than the U.S.-born to be married at the birth of their first child and to still be married,” the report says. “Conversely, low-income, U.S.-born Hispanic women are more likely to have their first birth outside of any union than are the foreign-born.”

    Put this in a context in which those who marry and stay married tend to be wealthy — and the reality that, according to the Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project, about 25 percent of all Hispanics live in poverty — and the future of intact, third-generation, middle-income Hispanic families looks compromised.”

    • tuttabellamia says:

      OV, I was unable to open the link to the article itself. So, it’s essentially saying that there’s something about American culture that somehow promotes cohabitation and births outside of marriage, which can be seen especially in the cases of poor Hispanic families — those with strong ties to their native country versus those who are more “Americanized?”

    • tuttabellamia says:

      So, the article is saying that in general, living in the US, and American culture in general, are detrimental to Hispanics?

      Is it just relative? Does it have something to do with what their circumstances are in comparison to the rest of society in the US? Or how they’re portrayed?

      I think it was John Galt who mentioned how other countries excel in PRE-secondary education versus the US. My mom only got as far as sixth grade in Mexico, but I would say she had the equivalent of a US high school diploma. In Mexico, even nowadays, schools instill discipline, respect, and patriotism in their teenage students. Here in the US, Hispanics have garnered a reputation for just the opposite qualities in the high school environment.

      What the heck is it about American culture that brings out the worst in Hispanics? Does it really, or does it just look that way?

    • objv says:

      Here’s the rest of the article. The part I copied was sandwiched between

      “Class, not race, may be the defining discrimination issue of my children’s lifetime.

      If Charles A. Murray’s thesis in “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010” — that people of similar socioeconomic backgrounds cluster together, leaving the less affluent on their own without a community-wide stabilizing influence — comes to pass, my sons’ futures may be determined by who they wed.

      As depressing as that is, it’s only slightly less bleak than the fact that they’re at risk for what’s being called the “Hispanic third-generation U-turn,” or that they’ll live in a country in which social and economic capital eclipses race as the biggest hurdle to national harmony.

      Maria Enchautegui coins the “U-turn” phrase in a study by the Urban Institute. Using Census Bureau data on lifetime school enrollment, she tracked a path in which the first generation (immigrant parents) and second generation (their U.S.-bred children) made economic and other gains. But then the third generation fell back down the socioeconomic ladder.

      Enchautegui found this pattern in high school students and in young adults 19 to 22, and noted that it extended beyond economic measures of well-being to positive community behaviors such as voting.

      Her theory is that the first generation is full of immigrant zeal, the second generation grows up seeing their parents work hard and attain the American dream, and the third becomes complacent. This comes as no surprise to second-generation people who have struggled to get their kids to unglue themselves from their Xbox or text messages.

      And the idea that marriage will make or break their futures? Well, that’s in peril too, since the “third generation” has no special benefit — often referred to as the Hispanic Paradox — and fewer strong cultural bonds to call on.”

      And …

      “Those already out of the realm of low-income living could put a premium on finding love only within their socioeconomic class. But it’s difficult to imagine my sons — or anyone else who isn’t already in the mindset of maintaining their established privileges — making such a cold calculation.

      A study by economists at Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley, says that our fears of frozen socioeconomic mobility in this country are overblown and that, based on an analysis of 40 million tax returns of people born between 1971 and 1993, America may be no less mobile a society than it was four decades ago.

      But as the essayist Eula Biss states in her book “Notes from No Man’s Land,” our society holds beliefs that the affluent possess a whiteness that even skin color can’t confer, while the poor are unable to transcend race.

      “Whiteness is the distinction many of us cling to when we have nothing else,” Biss writes. “But poor whites, who were once the primary targets of the eugenics movement — sterilized so that they would not doom their children to poverty and ignorance — have always had more in common with poor blacks than with anyone else.”

      I hope I’m wrong. But right now, it looks like instead of simply transcending race, our future population stands to swap one kind of bigotry for another. “

    • tuttabellamia says:

      I think of my uncles from Mexico, where they are well-respected, influential pillars of the community. Here they would be seen in a different light, towards the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder, a seeming reversal of fortune without having done anything differently. It’s all relative.

      An uncle of mine from Mexico was once encouraged to move to the US years ago, and he replied by asking why would he want to leave his small ranch and move to a place where he would be talked down to.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        I do not think he would be talked down to Tutt. I do think our culture with it’s celebrity role models and peer pressure distract kids from excelliing.

        I believe my high school diploma is equivalent to two years of college today. Education is worsening while we spend more on education administration then the student.

        However, your uncle is correct, why leave your home if you are comfortable in your surroundins?

      • rightonrush says:

        Tutt, my best friend and foreman was one of the finest men that ever walked. His parents brought his family to Texas when Hector was 5. He was my best friend, my mechanic, and he saved my ass in Vietnam and became foreman of my company. I’m sure Hector was like your uncles and I am very proud to have been part of his life. His son will take over my company when I retire next year.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Gentlemen, thanks to you both.

        OV, thanks for the link to such an interesting article. It hit a nerve with me, because I have such a large, extended family here, a mixture of anywhere from the newly arrived to third generation, from those whose main language is Spanish, to those who speak only English, from high school dropouts to PhDs, from those who married other Hispanics, to those whose spouses are “White.” They are all represented within my family, and I don’t know where and how to start responding to your questions.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        OV, did you take that photo with Governors Martinez and Christie?

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        The kitling mews, “I do think our culture with it’s celebrity role models and peer pressure distract kids from excelliing. I believe my high school diploma is equivalent to two years of college today.”

        College students are supposed to understand apostrophes (“it’s” vs. “its”) and subject-verb agreement (“our culture… distract [sic] kids from excelling”).

        But kabuzz makes a regular habit of believing things which just aren’t so, and of complaining about the motes in others’ eyes despite the plank in his own.

  2. texan5142 says:

    kabuzz61 says:
    October 29, 2014 at 1:55 pm
    ” as you are a loyal party person while I am not.:

    Hahahahahahahaha!……..breathe…………..Hahahahaha! “loyal party person I am not”, Hahahahahahaha……….make it stop, my side hurts……….Hahahahahhaha.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      I’m willing to believe that kabuzz is not a loyal Republican.

      I’m pretty confident, in fact, that he’s one of those sad sacks who thinks the Republicans are often not conservative enough.

      • Turtles Run says:

        I am also confident that even though he claims independence his voting record is solid Republican. At least for the past 20 years.

      • johngalt says:

        And for the 20 years before that, he voted for the exact same people, except they called themselves Democrats then.

  3. Crogged says:

    So another website links to a video of smart person playing to the lowest common denominator and comments about the video, usually with the same extremity of discourse.

    On and on we go, idiots all.

    I was browsing through the (disappearing) stacks of dvds when I stumbled on “Being There”. For years I’ve wanted a copy of this movie-when it came out I was in the throes of my youthful rebellion and other minor, occasionally illegal, behavior. I believed the subject was what was wrong with America, rather than just a non-judgmental picture of the world we still live in.

    [Riding in a car for the first time]
    Chance the Gardener: This is just like television, only you can see much further.

  4. bubbabobcat says:

    “Obamacare: Who Was Helped Most”


    Take a look at the graphic of who was helped the most – those who embraced it and Medicaid expansion including Kentucky.

    And look at the other graphic of where the most uninsured remain – the ENTIRE deep south. D’Oh!

    “Many of the poorest and most rural states in the country tend to favor Republican politicians.”

    Republican “intelligence” at its finest. But then again, they never believed in evolution/Darwinism, did they?

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      *Social* Darwinism appears to be Republican gospel.

      If you’re rich, God likes you, and you deserve better treatment than anyone else.

      • dowripple says:

        (toungue firmly in cheek)

        You know Owl, you didn’t have to penetrate that egg. If you want to be born rich, you have to be more selective! Choose a poor egg and, as our idiot friend on the Chron would say, you get “predictable surprises”.

      • dowripple says:

        That would be “tongue” for those who don’t speak idiot. Sorry.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Whenever I hear the term “tongue in cheek” I get an off-color mental picture.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        It’s hard to help, when kabuzz keeps reinforcing that interpretation with Sternn.

  5. rightonrush says:

    The nuts are gearing up for a “Jihad” and I ain’t talking about ISIS.


    Conservative psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow, the biggest race-hustler on Fox News, issued a fatwa on Tuesday in a column for the channel’s website calling for “an American jihad” and “war or struggle against unbelievers.”

    “An American jihad would embrace the correct belief that if every nation on earth were governed by freely elected leaders and by our Constitution, the world would be a far better place,” the Fox contributor wrote.

    Ablow’s American Caliphate would wipe out the “psychological plague” brought on by the reign of Barack Obama, from the President’s “apology tour” onward.

    The screed demanded that America pressure countries, including allies such as Germany, Sweden and Italy, to “adopt laws similar to our own.” Ablow even suggested U.S. politicians obtain dual citizenship so they may run for office in other nations.

    “We might even fund our leaders’ campaigns for office in these other nations,” he wrote.

    Ablow admitted that you can’t have a crusade without war: “We would accept the fact that an American jihad could mean boots on the ground in many places in the world where human rights are being denigrated and horrors are unfolding,” he wrote.

    “[W]e have a God-given right to intervene,” he added.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      If Republicans should truly believe that “if every nation on earth were governed by freely elected leaders and by our Constitution, the world would be a far better place” then why has every Republican leader from Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush set up parliamentary democracies abroad instead?

      • rightonrush says:

        The guy is nuts, however he’s preaching to fellow nuts so he should be taken seriously. Freaking cowards trying to incite violence, Joseph Gobbels would be so proud.

    • kabuzz61 says:

      Wow! Such insanity.

      “We would accept the fact that an American jihad could mean boots on the ground in many places in the world where human rights are being denigrated and horrors are unfolding. Because wherever leaders and movements appear that seek to trample upon the human spirit, we have a God-given right to intervene — because we have been to the mountaintop of freedom, and we have seen the Promised Land spanning the globe”

      We should let all those humans being killed and terrorized alone. I mean we have it good, screw them, right ROR?

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        As usual, the kitling seems to miss the obvious point, and leap from one inane extreme to the other.

      • rightonrush says:

        Actually, screw you Buzz. Folks like you that follow this idiotical belief that America has a “God Given Right” to take over other nations makes you not any better than ISIS. Forcing your religious beliefs on people that do not agree with your dogma is tyrannical and will not be allowed.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Yes, it’s *wrong* when ISIS do it… but the Texas Taliban, like Dan Patrick, take pride in being incontrivertibly on God’s side.

        Patrick deserves living in the same sand-holes with them. Of course, there, losing his head might have a more literal meaning.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        RonR, I know you had a comeback and just itching to post it but I didn’t say anything about taking over nations, etc. That is in your meek mind buddy. Moderate man.

        I didn’t see what you made up as being in the article even though I don’t know him or watch him, I am sure you are an avid watcher.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Kitling, who taught you to read and research, and can you still sue them for educational malpractice?

      • CaptSternn says:

        Well, I see things got ugly and stupid during the afternoon. This Ablow guy, if RoR’s claims are true, sounds about as crazy as the New Black Panther Party standing outside voting places with clubs telling people that blacks would rule once Obama is elected and white people would be put in their place. They were even calling for blacks to go out and kill white babies. He sounds about as crazy as the far left liberals claiming that Obama is the Messiah.

        These claims by RoR are just his way of spreading lies about conservatives. That’s the usual MO from far left extremists. And the bird is speaking out of ignorance, the U.S. has guided nations defeated in war to establish a constitutional republic, but mostly let those people do it their way.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the New Black Panther Party as a hate group, just like the KKK or the Neo-Nazis. Of course, conservatives love to paint the SPLC as a far-left organization. Comic-boy’s head would explode if it had any actual contents.

        I have yet to see any liberal hail President Obama as the “Messiah”. Perhaps comic-boy, against all odds, can offer an actual, verifiable source; we all know kabuzz would merely post someone saying it must be true since conservatives believe it must have happened somewhere.

        And Ablow specifically called for nations to follow *our* Constitution, idiotic electoral college, vulnerability to partisan intransigence, and all. The fact that all our nation-building has involved parliamentary systems, using political science developed after our own revolution of independence, shows both Ablow and comic-boy to be idiots.

        But it’s par for the course with Sternn’s meretricious misdirection and harlot-like hypocrisy.

      • CaptSternn says:

        All of our nation building, except for our own. Building our own nation brought the world the richest and most powerful nation the world has ever seen.

        FYI, Louis Farrakhan is not a right wing conservative by any measure.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        More clods of dung from comic-boy’s tongue.

        Here: let’s use one of Kitling’s favorite sites to put to bed this simplistic conservative claptrap.


        Capitalized emphases are mine:

        “‘Brothers and sisters,’ Farrakhan said, ‘Barack Obama to me, is A HERALD OF the Messiah. Barack Obama is like the trumpet that alerts you something new, something better is on the way.’

        “Returning to the theme that Obama is a mystical figure, Farrakhan said, he ‘is NOT the Messiah for sure, but anytime he gives you a sign of uniting races, ethnic groups, ideologies, religions and makes people feel a sense of oneness, that’s not necessarily Satan’s work, that is, I believe, the work of God.'”

        So, comic-boy, apparently you’re still an incompetent right-wing hack who can’t get even the simplest facts straight.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Hereis your link, bird …

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Ouch! That’s going to leave a mark on the Buzzard of Bellaire. Good play Captain.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Good Lord, comic-boy, this is the sort of hapless crankery which shows everyone on the forum that you’ve got the mental acuity of a piece of bleached coral.

        How are you an idiotic hack? Let me count the ways.

        1) You’re offering up as solemn evidence a video from YouTube, happy home to every wacky conspiracy-theory maven and would-be guitarist on the planet.

        2) It isn’t even a very good video: the usual ham-handed propaganda hit piece with ominous white-on-black lettering offering lots of supposed context, followed by the merest snippet which is supposed to prove its thesis beyond any reasonable doubt (as if upstart nematodes like you, comic-boy, had any reasoning ability with which to doubt in the first place).

        3) If you think the audio clip is proof positive of anything, then you presumably also believe that James O’Keefe is a respectable investigative journalist, and that taking brief quotes out of context is actually an honest way to represent someone. Of course, hapless conservative hags like you don’t usually have the wit to understand anything above a bumper sticker, so I understand the need to process the universe down into deceptively simple soundbites.

        4) The speech in the video is EXACTLY THE SAME ONE as I referenced in my earlier response. Apparently you’re too incompetent to do your own basic research and discover as much. Honestly, Sternn, someone who properly skull-fucked you would probably die within seconds just from the entrenched rot and corruption you’ve got suppurating there. In fact, the very video you tout as hard evidence is careful, even in its own grotesque distortions, merely to say that Farrakhan “implied” that Obama might be the Messiah.

        Really, comic-boy, does Tuttabella have to get you dressed in the morning? You’re getting feebler by the day. Why, with shameful nitwittery like this, you might end up as badly off as kabuzz if you don’t watch out.

    • texan5142 says:

      The crazy seems to be spreading.

    • dowripple says:

      I’m constantly amazed at the hubris required to declare that a deity grants one rights to violate someone else’s rights. Whenever I hear quotes like that I always picture a crusading idiot declaring “God wills it!” after another successful pogrom. (BTW, I was late to the Christian/Atheist Hitler party the other day, but if one knew what the root cause of anti-Semitism in Europe was, one would realize that Hitler’s personal religion is a meaningless discussion).

      This is the one aspect of “dominionism” that scares me the most. After watching “Edge of Tomorrow*” on the flight back from Vegas, I’m wondering if our interstellar settlement aspirations have a touch of this narcissism. Do we deserve to inhabit other planetary ecosystems, especially over the rights of the indigenous flora and fauna? Maybe instead of trying to spread our “seed” across the universe, we should just be happy in blasting some Led Zeppelin, blues, and opera in every direction. It’s sort of an interstellar radio station that someone else may enjoy, but not enough of an intervention to f–k up another environment. This way we get to “live on” and maybe make someone else happy in the process!

      *I’m not apologizing for watching a Tom Cruise movie, I happen to love any science fiction.

      • CaptSternn says:

        “I’m constantly amazed at the hubris required to declare that a deity grants one rights to violate someone else’s rights.”

        No doubt. But a lot of people do believe just that, and the vast majority of them are to be found on the left and with the democrats. They even go so far as to deny they are even dealing with other human beings in the process, maybe to ease their conscience, or maybe they really believe some human beings don’t deserve to be counted as human beings.

        Edge of Tomorrow was a cool movie. Rented it from Xfinity, but might invest in the DVD.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Yawn. Comic-boy continues to demonstrate his mastery (since he has to have *something*) of the non-sequitur.

        The Left is the party of militant atheists, except when it’s not. My, my: witless conservative rhetoric is both fascinating and amusing.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Was that the best ya got, little owlet?

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Still too good for you, comic-boy.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Non liberals will say “I shouldn’t smoke so I’ll quit” while liberals will say “I shouldn’t smoke, so no one else should either.” Certainly seems they think they are god like.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        kabuzz, the exercises you do to stave off old age aren’t supposed to include avoiding the point or straining language.

    • kabuzz61 says:

      Oh and RonR, linking to a far left site for ‘accuracy’ won’t do. Ask Texan.

      • texan5142 says:

        What he said RonR, if you want “accuracy” you need to link to the cats trusted sites like WND or The Blaze or Breitbart, you know , those bastions of conservative truthiness and non partisan reporting.

      • texan5142 says:

        Oh that is right, you only visit three sites, count them three, how dare I impugn your worldly informed opinion yet get from those three sites………my apologies.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Three blog sites my challenged friend. I do not live on far left wing nut sites like you prove you do and I don’t for right wing either. It is a concept that you can’t grasp as you are a loyal party person while I am not.

      • rightonrush says:

        Buzz, you are like a dog-pecker gnat. You have no more purpose in life than to buzz around and make sure we all recognize you for what you are: Dumber than a box of rocks. Don’t you have another great American novel to work on, I’m sure this one will be a “Best Seller”…..(insert derisive snort here)

      • texan5142 says:

        I visit right wing sites as much as I visit left wing sites that way I can get a cornucopia of information…..you should try it some time, you might learn something….oh wait, never mind, that ship has passed.

      • texan5142 says:

        Wait a minute RonR, kabuzz just might be smarter than we think.

        (PhysOrg.com) — A lot of people who have gone to the zoo have become the targets of feces thrown by apes or monkeys, and left no doubt wondering about the so-called intellectual capacity of a beast that would resort to such foul play. Now however, researchers studying such behavior have come to the conclusion that throwing feces, or any object really, is actually a sign of high ordered behavior. Bill Hopkins of Emory University and his colleagues have been studying the whole process behind throwing and the impact it has on brain development, and have published their results in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

        Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2011-11-poop-throwing-chimps-intelligence.html#jCp

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Let me make it plainer for you RonR, if you aren’t a liberals you are stupid. That has always been the faux intellectuals bigotry. You as a liberal look after the ‘common’ people whilst you hold your long nose.

        Texan, been meaning to tell you I like the picture of yourself. It just seems…fitting.

        Don’t worry about the novels, they are coming out as planned but thanks for your concern.

      • texan5142 says:

        Why thank you kabuzz, I resemble that remark, you old poop.

    • rightonrush says:

      I’m not much interested in the results of polls conducted online.

      Methodology-“In 2006, the survey expanded to N=2,400 interviews, as we began interviewing members of the 18- to 24- year-old cohort who were not currently attending a four- year college or university. In addition, because of changing uses of technology among younger Americans, in 2006 the survey moved from a telephone poll to a survey that was administered online”

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      “When everyone is included, the choice is for Democratic control of Congress by a 50-43 percent margin.”

      You were saying, kabuzz?

      • CaptSternn says:

        We will see what the real polls show next week, bird.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Yes, because modern Republicans are *all about* ensuring that not everyone is included, and then declaring victory when brought into office by a (sometimes all too literal) rump electorate.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Voted yesterday. A big turn out of Chris and Homers favorite people. Older and white. I haven’t seen this much early voting in an off year election since…2010.

        And now Mayor Parker ‘changed her mind’ on her trampling the first amendment.

  6. texan5142 says:

    kabuzz61 says:
    October 29, 2014 at 7:31 am
    The Birdy tries to project intellectual acuity and knowledge but it is very obvious it is meant only to impress those that don’t know her. Her rants are boring, snide and snooty. In other words, a liberal.

    Let me fix it for you,

    The cat tries to project intellectual acuity and knowledge but it is very obvious it is meant only to impress those that don’t know him. His rants are boring, snide and snooty. In other words, a conservative.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      One minor plus for the kitty: I’m having fun mulling over the differences of meaning and flavor between “snide” and “snooty”.

      So sometimes you can find a diamond in the sewer. (Speaking of which, has anyone else been following PBS’s *How We Got to Now, with Stephen Johnson*? He and I were contemporaries at the same set of high-school institutions, and it’s fun to see him “in the flesh” after enjoying a couple of his books.)

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Owl, this reminds me of the book CONNECTIONS by James Burke, which I read in high school in the early ’80s.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Heh, that was a great book. I thought of it as a spiritual successor to Jacob Bronowski’s *The Ascent of Man* (which others, I understand, view as a follow-on to Kenneth Clark’s *Civilisation*, which I neither read nor saw).

        And I *loved* Burke’s long-running column by the same name in *Scientific American* magazine, which basically consisted of page-long meanders in the same sort of vein.

        My spouse and I very much enjoyed the recent *Cosmos* remake, though we find we still prefer Sagan’s original in tone and, frequently, presentation.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        You should check out the book IDEAS From Fire to Freud by Peter Watson. He also wrote THE MODERN MIND, THE GERMAN GENIUS, and THE AGE OF ATHEISM.

        I have skimmed over all of them. They can be read back to back or used as reference books.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Sorry, I meant cover-to-cover.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        I’ve been watching the series. I especially liked the episode on cleanliness.

  7. rightonrush says:

    COPENHAGEN — “On a recent afternoon, Hampus Elofsson ended his 40-hour workweek at a Burger King and prepared for a movie and beer with friends. He had paid his rent and all his bills, stashed away some savings, yet still had money for nights out.

    That is because he earns the equivalent of $20 an hour — the base wage for fast-food workers throughout Denmark and two and a half times what many fast-food workers earn in the United States.

    “You can make a decent living here working in fast food,” said Mr. Elofsson, 24. “You don’t have to struggle to get by.”

  8. kabuzz61 says:

    Chris, I think The Birdy is trying to take over your blog. At least the bandwidth. Cheesh! Talk about long winded nonsense.

    OT. Any comments on the dem running for Governor in SC calling Haley a whore?

    • Turtles Run says:

      Yes Owl. Don’t you realize how much time Buzzy spent looking up all those words with more than two syllables. Then looking up the meaning of those definitions.

      Don’t worry Buzzy I got your back.

    • texan5142 says:

      Well some would say she is a whore. Should he have said it, no, but if the shoe fits………..

      “Marchant submitted an affidavit in October 2010 – swearing that he and Haley had a one night stand in Salt Lake City, Utah in June 2008.”


      • kabuzz61 says:

        Chuckling at your ignorance. You don’t even know the context but blather as a Frandenite would. You know, I visit maybe 3 sites, the Chron, GOPLifer and Wizbang. But it seems you spend most of your time on the left wingnuts hate blogs.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Texan, to your point, you might not want to characterize folks who have a one night stand as whores.

        At the time, I doubt she was married to nor engaged in a relationship with you (or anyone you know), so it is probably best not to comment on or characterize the sex lives of others.

        If she is running around campaigning on her strong family values and trying to outlaw one-night stands, then sure, hammer away, but I do not believe Haley is campaigning on those issues.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Kitling proclaims, “You know, I visit maybe 3 sites, the Chron, GOPLifer and Wizbang.”

        So it sounds like most of his crap *does* come from forwarded email links… and he’s either incapable or uninterested in checking them.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Someone doesn’t know what the word ‘site’ means??? Faux intellect I tell you.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        A “page” is on a “site”, child.

        You’re in the same position as someone who says he only visits the U.S., U.K., and Italy… but, oh, yes, he was in Wiesbaden and Frankfurt the other day….

        Typical kitling caterwauling.

      • texan5142 says:

        Just three sites, no wonder you are so ill informed.

      • texan5142 says:

        Point taken stay-at-Homer, I do not think she is a whore, just pointing out that some people might……like the spouse of the man she allegedly slept with.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Actually, kabuzz is pretty clearly the closest to a whore, selling out what’s left of his brain to anyone who will give him a good time.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      Now Buzz…I think your interpretation of “calling Haley a whore” is a bit overzealous.

      I think even you would say it was clearly a slip of the tongue gaffe. He didn’t say, “Haley is a whore”, he said something like, “we need to escort whore out the door”, clearly meaning to say “her” instead of “whore”.

      My bigger issue is that after he said it, he didn’t correct himself, and he looked a bit to pleased that he said it. For that, he’s an ass and he deserves to get knocked around about this.

      It is just one more piece of bullshit that female candidates have to endure that boys get to ignore.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        I agree Homer. He picked up on the audience clapping and laughing and he joined in but he apologized quicly in the media and it seemed sincere.

        But it seems Texan does agree that she’s a whore. How is that? He has his own war on woman going on.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      Kitling, the bandwidth is available to everyone, in near-infinite supply. If you had something worth saying… well, let’s stop that ridiculous speculation right there.

  9. Owl of Bellaire says:

    Should the U.S. have collapsed and rebuilt itself during the 1930s? I found myself discussing the issue with my spouse over the weekend.

    Our own clumsy national constitution is currently the oldest one extant on the planet. Is that a good thing or a bad one? France has had five republics (and two empires, to be sure) in the time we’ve had one. England can claim far more continuity of government, given their “unwritten constitution”, but a citizen of King George III’s realm would be sorely confused by the government of Queen Elizabeth II’s. Would we be better off if, at some point, we’d simply thrown out our national constitution, picked the best bits, and started over with the latest in historical evidence and political science?

    One main reason we didn’t, despite the sore pressures of the Depression, seems to be Franklin D. Roosevelt. He took our creaky Constitution and radically re-interpreted it, even threatening the Supreme Court to ensure his re-envisioning took hold… but ended up producing a country in which we *agreed* on what our Constitution said, even if it didn’t *actually* say that in so many clear words. Now, such a system works so long as everyone agrees on the interpretation. But the inevitable conservative backlash points out the problems of making do rather than starting over.

    We currently live under a government which possesses the necessary powers to maintain a modern, post-industrial nation-state… but, in a way, only because we say so. Voters, legislators, and executives can interpret all they like, but the most poisonous and principled battles of the modern era, the real political knife-fights, are over the opportunities for nominations and confirmations in the *judiciary* branch… because THEY are the ones who do the actual, *binding* interpretation, when it comes down to it, and thus are the lynchpin to our mutually agreed-upon interpretation/illusion.

    What Sternn and his 18th-century-adoring ilk would love to do is get the Supreme Court to simply blow out the fire lit by Roosevelt’s candle and plunge us all back into the darkness of a plutocratic robber-baron system where the national government is utterly subordinate to local interests and prejudices. And, as most of us know, that would make an end of the U.S. as a credible international power, let alone any sort of global exemplar.

    I’ve heard plenty of objections to the idea of a constitutional convention: there’d be too much danger from anti-abortion zealots, or division along racial lines, or the loud and long-winded Dominionists who cling to a Christian national identity, or any other number of special interests. But other nations have managed such transitions, sometimes many times, and I find myself wondering why we Americans can’t do the same.

    Are we really doomed to live under a rational government we have to *interpret* into semi-competence, eternally in danger of being hedged back to the literal instructions for the antiquated contraption we inherited, or will we ever end up with something which fairly and reasonably interprets the desires of the populace and maintains a modern, global society? I fear one of the best opportunities, the 1930s, passed us by, through the wisdom of a re-envisioner now excoriated by many as instead a traitorous destroyer of our Constitution. Another crisis strong enough to crack governmental continuity might not enable us to continue among the foremost rank of nations.

    Anyway, just a report on our local musings.

    • CaptSternn says:

      No, bird. You throw out a lot of words, but as usual they are based either on ignorance or lies. I will allow you to explain which it is.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        From illiterate, innumerate, and uneducated comic-boy, that’s rich.

      • CaptSternn says:

        That’s almost funny, bird, if it weren’t so sad. You claim that somebody, me, would like to do away with all amendments and return to the 1700’s, which is false. You claim that I would be against government, which is false. But you do admit that you hate the founding principles of this nation, individual liberty and rights. You admit that you don’t like what the U.S. Constitution actually says, so you need the English language to be “interpreted” for you.

        Is it ignorance or lies? I don’t think it is ignorance.

      • BigWilly says:

        The level of unrest presented an opportunity for the Reds. It also presented a very real opportunity for the Fascists.

        There were significant numbers of sympathizers, and outright supporters, in the American polity.

        In my opinion the President took the middle route, and may have saved Capitalism by doing so.

        The Capitalist punt. It is interesting to watch these systems work their way through the democracy.

        I don’t think I’ll be calling out people as Reds or Nazis again. You have to carry the card to be a member.

        I always kind of liked the Buzzard of Bellaire and the LitterDwellingNumbskull.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        The Birdy tries to project intellectual acuity and knowledge but it is very obvious it is meant only to impress those that don’t know her. Her rants are boring, snide and snooty. In other words, a liberal.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Sternn, your need constantly to lie about your opponents’ statements and views is the clearest sort of evidence that you’re an insecure liar and windbag, a rhetorical whore seeking attention rather than enlightenment.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Bird, you are the one that said I would like to turn it back to the 18th century. Own your words or don’t write them to begin with.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        And there’s the one truth you use to defend the rest of your shit-spewing lies. Aren’t your ears tired of all the internal pressure?

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      Excellent post.

      Why can’t we revise the constitution?

      For my whole political life, the idea of a constitutional convention has been dismissed as impossibly dangerous: yes, it’s messed up now but could be so much worse. Don’t touch.

      Are Americans just too weak, too lazy, to easily ideologically swayed to be able to do it?

      • CaptSternn says:

        We have revised the constitution 27 times. The last time was in 1992. Some revisions have been good, some have been bad, some should not have ever been necessary but were necessary because people like the bird want to have it “interpreted” to fit their agenda.

    • johngalt says:

      No, I can’t agree with a wholesale rewrite of the Constitution, nor do I think that the expansion of powers at the Federal level began (or ended) with FDR. The writ of the Federal government has been slowly expanding since the Constitution was ratified. The framers intended it to be that way. They had just completed a largely failed experiment with a loose federation and they knew there needed to be a strong central power. The Constitution serves as the framework for this.

      The strict interpretation of Sternn and his ilk had little following even in Jefferson’s day. The Department of Education is unconstitutional, they protest, because it’s not written in there. No, nor are a lot of things we have today. The framers couldn’t, and chose not to try to, anticipate every need, every technological advance. They couldn’t anticipate the need for the FAA. Schools are an exclusively local phenomenon? Perhaps when each village had its little red schoolhouse, but we now have urban districts with 200,000 students.

      Why, then, did it take so long for all this to be set up? Why wasn’t there a DOE (education or energy, take your pick) in the Jefferson cabinet? Because there wasn’t a need. Plus, it takes time to build institutions.

      Sternn will undoubtably invoke the 10th amendment here. This is routinely used to rail against the size and power of the federal government because it is supposed to limit it to doing only what the Constitution says. But rarely mentioned in this states’ rights argument are in the four words that follow “reserved to the states” and those are “or to the people.” The people don’t want a severely limited federal government and they never have. Strict libertarians like Ron Paul have a cult following of perhaps 10-15% of the electorate and no more. No occupant of the White House has had such strict interpretation for, well, forever, because we’ve never once elected one. The people have delegated these powers to the federal government. If you want to change this, elect a majority of strict interpretationists. This will be the sign that the people remove this delegation of powers. I won’t be holding my breath.

      • CaptSternn says:

        The people didn’t delegate the powers, John, the courts did. If the people had done so you would be able to point to the amendment.

      • johngalt says:

        The courts recognized the will of the people, as expressed through their continual and repeated election of candidates who support a larger federal role.

      • CaptSternn says:

        That is judicial activism, John. Legislating from the bench and amending the constitution without going through the amendment process.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        What our founders found out from the Aricles of Confederation is that the government needs to be the central power to regulate commerce. I have no idea where you get the founders wanted to grow a centrallized power after living under England’s oppressive rule. Come on JG, where do you get this stuff?

      • Crogged says:

        The principle of equality of men was as important to the founding fathers as the liberty of the individual. They shirked the authority of the singular, of rules of royalty derived from God, for the authority of men agreeing to govern themselves by rules they establish and create. Reasonable people differ, unreasonable people ignore any evidence to the contrary regarding their ideas.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Great point, John: I rather like your view of it as delegation of powers by the people. But it’s still, as you say, an “unwritten” delegation, which can be questioned (and, indeed, overthrown) by activist conservative judges more interested in parsimony than in patriotism.

      • CaptSternn says:

        You mean we should still be subject to the British Crown and Texas shod belong to Mexico?

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Sternn shamelessly shills shit.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Well JG, the liberals love to use ‘restricted’ or ‘powerful’ but never quite seem to define what your intentions are. Most of the public during Jefferson’s time was illiterate yet you say we didn’t need a Dept. of Education. Wow!

        How about our elections are always creating causes to go after. Not finding a cause, creating one.

        And on top of all the nonsense you wrote, we should disregard federalism because of your ‘four little words.”

        Stick with biology. You exel on that topic but your sense and knowledge of history is sorely lacking. It is on par with The Birdies.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        The kitling once again flaunts his fatuousness: “Most of the public during Jefferson’s time was illiterate yet you say we didn’t need a Dept. of Education. Wow!”

        Except, like most things the kitling says, that’s an uninformed lie.


        “Literacy rates followed a similar trajectory in North America. At the signing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787, nearly 60 percent of about 3 million American adults could read but in the following 19th and 20th centuries, literacy rates in America grew rapidly.”

      • johngalt says:

        I clearly wasn’t an English major, because I haven’t the slightest idea what Buzz it talking about.

        A funny thing about “activist judges”: they always rule against conservatives. When highly questionable rulings go the other way, they’re never made by activist judges. “Corporations are people too, my friend.”

    • objv says:

      Owl, I’ve been reading over your posts this morning. You’ve made it abundantly clear that you dislike our current government structure under the Constitution. Before I respond, I’d like to know what framework you would use if you were to set up your ideal form of government.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Thanks for the question, objv. Actually, I think there are plenty of good things about our governmental structure; that’s one reason we’ve been willing to keep it, despite its flaws.

        I have some of the same complaints as are usual, such as with the electoral college. Beyond that, I abhor the deference given the states as separate from the people within them (through the electoral college or, more fundamentally, the notion that both Wyoming and California get two senators). It’s simply a relic of the divisiveness among the early colonies, with little relevance to a more unified and internally mobile twenty-first-century polity.

        I’m also annoyed by the ease with which our system calcifies into a duopoly of political parties. George Washington was a great man, but a political naïf, in his wish that the new nation would avoid “faction”. And political parties have now wormed their way thoroughly into the fabric of our government, whether through elections or redistricting, when they ought to be subservient to it. That’s one reason I would support a parliamentary system which encourages multiple-party coalitions and elects representatives based on a system more representative of true public preferences than our simplistic “first past the post” voting system (see “single transferrable vote” or other post-1789 innovations).

        I’ve been reading a bit of late about “semi-presidential” systems, in which an elected head of state is responsible for foreign policy, while a prime minister oversees domestic policy.

        I’ve also seen some intriguing proposals about what would happen if we allowed non-integer voting power in the House of Representatives, in order to move closer toward truly equal representation of the nation’s people. Basically, if a state ends up with only a single representative (and don’t get me started on the arbitrary 435-member cap), that representative’s vote still might have a “strength” equal to anywhere from 1.0 to 1.9, in order to ensure that the quantization enforced by whole numbers of representatives doesn’t have the potential to partially disenfranchise voters.

  10. Owl of Bellaire says:

    “The first order of civilization is to monopolize the use of violence in order to make it accountable and therefore legitimate.”

    I found this statement hilarious, since our local baying conservatives (Sternn, TThor and, to his usual fawning extent, kabuzz) are always railing *against* a monopolization of violence, since they claim the general ownership of lethal power by the population reliably makes the government either accountable or vulnerable (depending, I suppose, on how much effort the kvetching conservative wants to make). Of course, such fever dreams don’t actually have much if any legitimate support in terms of history or sense. But it’s amusing, all the same.

    • objv says:

      Complete and utter balderdash, Owl. No time now. I’ll have to address this travesty later. 😉

    • CaptSternn says:

      It’s very simple, just depends on which is viewed as the soveriegn and which is viewed as the servant.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        …and in whether we think governments should be changed by a majority with ballots, or a minority with bullets. I’ll take the former, thank you. Hardline conservatives know that they’re reviled by the majority of sensible people, so they try to cheat through voter suppression and the threat of violence.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Unless the majority doesn’t want gay marraige. Unless the majority doesn’t want illegal immigration. Birdie you are just comical.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Kitling, are you really claiming that a majority of U.S. voters should be able to override the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the laws?

        Or, as usual, are you just guilty of a terminal failure to think or reason?

  11. Owl of Bellaire says:

    “Where core institutions are traditionally strong and dense… basic order remains largely unthreatened. Where public institutions have been weak or few… this dynamic has bred a technology-infused chaos.”

    I find myself reminded of British SF/fantasy author (now residing in Austin, Texas) Michael Moorcock, and his *Elric of Melniboné* cycle, where Order and Chaos are actual universal forces with tangible heroes and beasts pitted against each other.

    The obvious result is that too much of either is a bad idea, in the fantasy realm as in the actual one. There’s a balance to be struck between the chaotic vacuum of untempered barbarism or the crushing order of the unfettered surveillance state. And our modern keening press and politicians seem all too ready to insist that any movement back and forth in the middle portends an inescapable slide down a slippery slope toward one or the other extreme.

    “Violence does not create order, though it sometimes can be used to remove forces that stand in the way. We will not be secure from the reach of roaming terrorist gangs in Syria until some accountable structure exists to govern the place and channel the needs of its people into policy.”

    And, again, a useful duality prescribing a moderate middle. Violence is most certainly an element of chaos; by itself it creates nothing. Educators (and many parents) learned this maxim long ago. Negative reinforcement, in Skinnerian style, can *reduce* an unwanted behavior… but it givers the enforcer *no control whatsoever* over what type of behavior might REPLACE the “extincted” actions. Such a pure Skinnerian is essentially offering the universe a giant gold-engraved invitation for a game of moral whack-a-mole. And it’s such brainless barbarism that makes me shake my head over those Southern conservatives who seem to think their most noble and necessary duty is the power to beat their children.

    So violence can clear the stage; but to create a new scene, we need structure, apparatus, accountability, channels, governance. We broke Germany and Japan in World War II… and promptly swept in to spend money to repair them.

    Let’s not think of the Marshall Plan purely in terms of money — $17 billion, or approximately $160 billion in current dollars, over four years — but in terms of a national priority. Marshall Plan aid amounted to roughly 5 percent of 1948 U.S. GDP (see http://www.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/05/30/foreign_policy_on_the_cheap ). A similar level of national economic support today would amount to about $700 billion.

    Now, I shudder to think about such expenditures, given that George W. Bush’s administration managed to lose $12 billion in cash airlifted into Iraq in 2004. The entire Iraq War cost something like $845 billion, most of it for destruction rather than reconstruction, even though we all know it’s easier to destroy than to create.

    But if we really wanted to rebuild parts of the Middle East to be future friends rather than inveterate enemies, that’s rather what we needed to do: to fund an actual redevelopment effort, rather than tailor a tiny fig-leaf for an incompetent president’s wars of foreign choice.

    Note, also, that the government we crafted for post-war Iraq, like those in Afghanistan, West Germany, and Japan, was a parliamentary one. Despite being hobbled by a government cobbled together by nascent political scientists who predated most of the work and experimentation in the area, we don’t enforce our own messy system on others, instead offering the latest modern version.

  12. Owl of Bellaire says:

    Great article, Chris. I’ve been out of pocket for and since the weekend, but this piece prompts a lot of thoughts and associations!

    “[It’s] our introduction to a world in which freedom has become a dominant value but order is the most precious resource on Earth.”

    This reminds me of the “sovereign citizens” on America’s ultra-Right who believe in individual freedom over *any* kind of tools for social order, from taxes to driver’s licenses. To a certain extent, they’re the fat and happy ideological counterparts to the lean and desperate Abidjan youths of Kagan’s 1994 article.

    “To speed up our adaptation beyond the pace of our genetic mutations, we have also evolved the capacity to adapt through our social structures and technology…. Social institutions, cultures, entire political frameworks are collapsing under pressure from new, more adaptive innovations.”

    The word you’re looking for is “memetics”, or the field of “memes”, the ideational equivalent to physical “genes” (as first posited forty years ago by Richard Dawkins in his book *The Selfish Gene*).

    “Where core institutions are traditionally strong and dense, as in Europe and North America, these forces have brought increasing government dysfunction and political polarization, but basic order remains largely unthreatened.”

    And *why* are those institutions strong and dense? Because Europeans and North Americans have become thoroughly infected by a set of memes which support modern, liberal democracy and the rule of law. The evolutionary culling process which produced those memetic ecosystems involved colonialism and slavery, mercantilism and laissez-faire and unregulated plutocrats, absolute monarchy and the rise of democracy, all-out religious warfare and the acceptance of governmental secularism, and the horrors of industrialized warfare contrasted against the subtler and safer conflicts of international trade: in short, the whole sweep of high-school history from the Renaissance through World War II. THAT long and dreadful gauntlet was the crucible that forged Fukuyama’s Last Man. Africa and the Middle East have, to both their benefit and their detriment, had nothing like it, except as pale, colonialized observers of others’ unintelligibly distant conflicts. They, by and large, still have the primeval memetic landscape of Hobbes. And it’s both impossible and immoral to put their entire populations through the four-hundred-year curriculum that produced Western values.

  13. fiftyohm says:

    OK. First things, first. http://www.eia.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/iedindex3.cfm?tid=5&pid=57&aid=6

    Next things, next: I’m certain you realize that “Proved Reserves” involve a bit more than verifying the presence of hydrocarbons with test wells. It’s a ‘standardized’ metric required by the SEC. Proved Reserves could vary wildly were not a single new well to be drilled, nor new technology be implemented, were the price of the underlying commodity to change. I used the metric to establish a baseline for the dialog. In fact, hydrocarbon production from onshore, unconventional wells will play a significant role in the energy future of the United States for generations. More on this in a minute.

    Unfortunately, the referenced article from the American Scientist is behind the paywall, but I can offer a few comments. Firstly, I do not believe Malthus, or even Ehrlich were wrong, when their thesis are considered with a long-term view; a *very long term view*. The essential problem with all predictions of this nature is that it is not possible to anticipate disruptive technologies and changes to human civilizations caused by them. It is also entirely true that the mass of men are innumerate regarding the exponential. What is somewhat surprising to me is that scientists like Hall and Day fail in a similar fashion by ignoring inherent uncertainties of their predictions, not only in the initial conditions, but the changing environment along the way. The problem is identical.

    To the ‘waste heat’ issue, and not to be pedantic, but it’s *all* waste heat. Aside from quantum effects associated with entropy, 100% of all energy produced ends up heating the planet. (We’ll ignore electromagnetic waves radiating into space from broadcasting, etc. here as well.) So how bad is that? Well, let’s see – the sun provides a net influx of something like 175,000 TW of power, of which all but a very small fraction is reradiated. (The difference is the global energy imbalance, which is what the climate controversy is all about.) Global energy production is something like 200 TWH/yr. Converting this to TW, we get ~0.022 TW. So, the ratio of total generated power from anthropogenic sources to solar influx is 127 parts per billion. (Of course, the earth is a black-body radiator, but I’ll leave the affects of this to the reader.) Which brings me to my conclusion:

    Malthus (and Ehrlich) probably were not wrong. They just got the time scale so wrong that their predictions have about as much social relevance as worrying about the ultimate heat-death of the universe. Hall and Day decry the fact that the scientific community seems uninterested in studying this sort of stuff any more. To my mind, it’s no small wonder why.

    • fiftyohm says:

      Dammit. This was for EnonZ, below. Dunno whappened.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I think you just wanted to show off your knowledge and expertise. The crème de la crème always finds its way to the top. 🙂

      • fiftyohm says:

        You’re a sweetheart, Tutt. All there is to it…

      • CaptSternn says:

        Indeed she is, Fifty.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Heh! We agree on something, Cap!

      • objv says:

        Tutt, fifty and cap are right. Here’s looking at you, kid. 🙂

      • tuttabellamia says:

        OV, who are you calling “kid??”

        Give my regards to the bellycose Gov. Christie.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Gov. Christie is more than just a pretty face.

      • objv says:

        Tutt: Well I’m off to see Governors Martinez and Christie this morning. My husband tells me that many of his coworkers are taking off at work to go. Since this is a public event, my hopes of snagging a photo with Christie are becoming dimmer as time goes by. Wish me luck. 🙂

        If I do manage to shake hands with either governor, I’ll make sure to send regards from all at the GOPLifer blog and mention how it is our goal to support calls for smaller less intrusive government especially from members who call themselves Owl of Bellaire and Texan …

    • EnonZ says:

      Enough already. We’ve now reached the point of diminishing returns, arguing past each other. You’re obviously an energy and technology optimist, which I used to be having been raised in the era of Star Trek, the space race and the green revolution. Now, not so much.

      BTW, your figure for global energy production is too small by almost three orders of magnitude. I checked several sources.

      I’ll leave you with a quote from Professor Murphy’s post which I linked to earlier. Your timeline and his are very different. Rather than continue to post snippets of his arguments, I encourage interested readers to visit his site and come to grips with his calculations.

      No matter what the technology, a sustained 2.3% energy growth rate would require us to produce as much energy as the entire sun within 1400 years. A word of warning: that power plant is going to run a little warm. Thermodynamics require that if we generated sun-comparable power on Earth, the surface of the Earth—being smaller than that of the sun—would have to be hotter than the surface of the sun!”


      Thanks for the interesting and civil discussion. Some other comment threads for this post have become quite toxic.

      • fiftyohm says:

        You are most welcome, and on Chris’ behalf and the rest of the gang, welcome to the blog. Yes, it can get a bit salty around here at times, but if you have the patience, stick with us.

        Actually on review, the math error was exactly 3 orders of magnitude. (Thanks!) I rounded 143,000 “up” to 200 TWH annual energy production. So instead of 127 ppb, it’s 127 ppm. Not at all sure this changes the conclusion, though.

      • Crogged says:

        Fitty/Enon-thank you. I read the links and chased other sources from there–saved “Early Warning” as a place to check in every so often. Perhaps there will be a reckoning, because we understood everything except how to control ourselves?

  14. texan5142 says:

    This is the GOP plan for the entire country, be afraid, be very afraid.


    Since Brownback’s inauguration, 1,414 Kansans with disabilities have been forced off of the Medicaid physical disability (PD) waiver. In January of 2013, Brownback became the first governor to fully privatize Medicaid services, claiming he would save the state $1 billion in 5 years without having to cut services, eligibility, or provider payments. Now, under Brownback’s “KanCare,” PD waiver cases are handled by for-profit, out-of-state, Fortune 500, publicly-traded managed care services. Kansas has contracts with three managed care profiteers — United Healthcare, Sunflower State Health Plan (owned by Centene Corporation), and AmeriGroup. Amerigroup and Centene each gave $2,000, Kansas’ maximum allowed contribution, to Brownback’s re-election campaign.

  15. objv says:

    The discussion last week on education and Germany providing free college tuition was interesting although I never found the time to participate.

    Slate had an interesting article on the subject:


    I have a few questions regarding if this could ever work in the US. Liberals would actually have more of a problem with the German model implementation than conservatives.

    Germany tracks students onto certain career paths. College is free, but requirements to get in are stringent and require taking the Arbitur. If a preponderance of Asians and whites got into college with free tuition and Hispanics and blacks were routed onto a less expensive vocational track early on,how would the US deal with this disparity?

    I’m certainly all for making college less expensive. My husband and I are close to making our last full tuition payment in December. Yay! Fortunately we were able to afford sending both our kids to college, but I meet plenty of people who have to rely on loans or give up on the idea of a college education for their kids completely.

    • Crogged says:

      If you mean using only the German model regarding college entrance I think you are right regarding the ‘objections’ of liberals, but to do so means ignoring Germany’s much larger welfare state and the call of the article to vastly improve our education process prior to secondary education in the US.

    • Anse says:

      I don’t think you can necessarily assume there would be a political divide, as you characterize it, should the U.S. ever take any cues from Germany on higher education, though the idea of free college tuition is likely dismissed out of hand by many on the Right. Yes we on the Left do support efforts to close the achievement gap in education, of which counseling services are a big part (and which German institutions generally lack), as well as things like affirmative action. But I think there are also a lot of areas where conservatives and liberals could agree. If all that tuition American students spend and go into debt for were going to research, I might understand it, but I have my doubts about a lot of it. American universities are pretty lavish by world standards. Students don’t really need athletic facilities (I’m talking about health club-style workout facilities for average students, not athletes) or swimming pools or any of that stuff.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      The title of the article is “Kid, I’m Sorry, but You’re Just Not College Material”
      I think it’s unnecessary to say that. Kids usually know when they’re not college material. We need more people pointing out to smart kids with low expectations of themselves that they ARE college material.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Too many kids assume they are NOT college material, and not the other way around.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        And what parent, teacher, or counselor would address a young person as “Kid” and not by their actual name?

        The headline is condescending and misleading, just to grab attention.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Now, I am in favor of vocation and technical schools. I think young people should be presented with several options and be allowed to decide which path to take. I think there is a great enough risk that young people will underestimate themselves and choose the vocational path when they may actually be qualified for college and not the other way around. Overestimation is not the problem; underestimation is.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        “We need more people pointing out to smart kids with low expectations of themselves that they ARE college material.”

        Thank you Tutt. Agree 100%.

        Or in fields they would like to be in but underrepresented traditionally for societal bias reasons.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Yes. Teachers told my older sister — very high test scores, every year — that she really must go to college.

        No one said that to me. I distinctly remember sitting in my room thinking, “I guess college isn’t for me.” with all the certainty a teenage mind can muster.

        I understand that Texas edu law now requires 9th graders to choose a professional education track. That’s 9th graders. Geesh.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:


        I’ve been so many different people since the 9th grade…I hope kids who get tracked this early realize they can always change things, including their lives.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        As for doing more harm than good . . . I think that underestimating the abilities of a large segment of the student population and not encouraging them to go to college is much more harmful than sending a handful of under-qualified students who end up flunking out.

      • Anse says:

        I think the goals and hopes and dreams of the student ought to matter at least as much as their intelligence or work ethic. Plenty of kids in college really shouldn’t be there. They have no real interest in self-improvement or have much intellectual curiosity about the world around them. They just want the piece of paper that gets them in the door of corporate America. Which they have to have, of course, which is a shame. For the corporate world, a college degree is often not much more than a screening mechanism for acceptance in their little club.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I’m a big believer in a liberal arts education.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Crogged…I think the folks putting together the Chronicle story might not have done all that well on their SATs.

        I’m not sure they could have put together a less useful summary of information than clicking through a slide show with individual state results. A simple table would have been 10x more informative and 100x easier to navigate, but hey, we wouldn’t get to see random pictures from their photo library to represent each state.

      • BigWilly says:

        I thought college pretty much sucked ass. Worst investment I ever made, and a veritable Sword of Damocles of debt.

        I remember the guidance counselor asking me if I’d “Ever done anything requiring intelligence” when I went to her office as I was about to graduate.

        Guess going to that shit hole didn’t require much in the way of brains.

        And we wonder why there are so many “Shooter” events happening.

      • Crogged says:

        HST I agree. Did you see the article about ‘favored zip codes’? No table, but a collection of random screenshots from the database were attached to the article. If you clicked thru the random images, maybe you found your own zip code! There was a link to the data provider, but I’ve found that android tablets are kind of buggy and not nearly as quick as laptops in providing access to data.

        You would think there is information which might cause unrest if it were reported objectively and in conjunction with other events in the state, but…….ISIS-save me Dan Patrick!

    • johngalt says:

      Iif you look at lists of university rankings worldwide, California has as many universities in the top 12 (4) as Germany has in the top 100. Of the top 20 universities in a long standing and respected list from Shanghai University 17 are American, including 7.5 public universities (Cornell is part public and part private). The other three are Oxford, Cambridge and a university in Switzerland. Columbia, Harvard, Chicago, MIT, and Berkeley have each won more Nobel Prizes than France (fourth behind the US, UK, and Germany). There are a number of issues with our university system, but lets not toss it out in favor of an objectively inferior one.


      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        At the highest levels, the US university system is by far the best in the world.

        At the mid-level, the major public universities in Texas would be the cream of the crop in most countries.

        At the lower (or lowest) levels, our universities probably are not doing a massive amount of good for a majority of students.

        For students with the ability to complete a four-year degree, starting in a community or junior college can be a financially feasible way to begin a college career. Sadly, many students are not going to make it to a four-year school and will instead take out loans to pay for sporadic semesters at junior colleges with little to show at the end.

        One cause of that is a the large number of organizations that require a college degree for jobs that do not really require a degree. If a job requires a college degree but does not specify a field of study for that degree, a college degree is not required. The company just is hoping the degree serves as a proxy measure for maturity and the ability to read and write.

        That is an awful lot of writing to get to what I think is a more interesting point.

        At the university level, the US excels in education, but I would venture to say that our elementary. middle, and high school education lags behind a large number of countries.

        Across the planet, learning foreign languages in primary schools is almost a given, but in the US (or especially in Texas), we freak out if folks don’t speak American. The US has been the big dog in business, so folks had to learn our language, but students in other countries are picking up their native language, English, and increasingly Spanish and Mandarin while many of our students in the US can’t figure subject verb agreement in their native language.

        I would also bet that European children are developing more critical thinking skills than their American counterparts.

        Yet, at the university level, the US flips it around.

      • johngalt says:

        Homer, I agree with much of this. There are way too many 4th tier colleges out there whose educational ROI for their students is poor, and don’t even get me started on for-profit places. Certainly many students would be better off with some intensive vocational training rather than those colleges and in that sense, the German system might have something to teach us. But, given the uproar over the “high-stakes testing” to which we already subject our kids, can you imagine the reaction to a single mid-teens examination to determine their career path?

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        JG…the freak out would be loud (and probably deserved) for a single mid-teens test.

        However, a series of more diagnostic assessments through high-school coupled with discussions of options outside of traditional four-year universities might help.

        Doing poorly on the assessments shouldn’t get you kicked out of any advanced classes or prevent you from going to college, but they should trigger a “hey, let’s talk about maintenance mechanic vocational programs” types of discussions.

        It is worth pointing out that the mechanics, electricians, pipefitters, and instrument techs at the refineries and chemical plants along the ship channel are going to make more than an entry-level engineer. If they like to work overtime, many will crack $100k. It is also worth noting, these companies are struggling to find qualified workers in these fields, and it is going to get worse over the next 5 to 10 years.

        A process technology program at Lee College or San Jac will open some doors to be a refinery or plant operations worker, making $60k a year, and if you love overtime, you can push it to $80k.

        As with most things, it could be done well, but alas, when it comes to education, we don’t do a lot very well.

  16. kabuzz61 says:

    Of topic but a really interesting article on CBS. It will make the left wing nuts heads explode, but she seems very credible.


    • Crogged says:

      I’ll take “How Working for Heritage Foundation Doesn’t Show Bias” for a 100 Alex. Executives from the failed socialist experiment “Solyandra” took vacations, some of them may have occurred the same year of the Benghazi attack. Why?

    • kabuzz61 says:

      Doesn’t fit in with the left wing nuts talking points??? What’s the problem? A veteran investigative reporter? The facts?

      Face it, you left wing nuts fell for the BS and now you have to stick to it.

      At least I know Fox News leans right while all the others lean left. You guys can’t even admit that. Kool Aid kids.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Buzzy gets all his information from Rupert Murdoch (NY Post is also owned by him) and spews Obama hate non stop (ref exhibit 2,698,512A above) and yet again hypocritically sneers about “left wing nuts [sic] heads explode” and “Kool Aid kids”.

        Still proving you have no credibility whatsoever buzzy. Thanks for playing.

        Oh and you forgot to kiss Cappy’s but two or three times before 7 AM buzzy.

      • Crogged says:

        All the others lean ‘left’………of course. One hand there are sources you trust and on the other ‘left wing nuts talking points’ and no one here has ever noticed this tendency. Now I’ve published an ‘original hard hitting objective story the mainstream blog commenter hasn’t seen!” Show me the money!

      • texan5142 says:

        Pure projection from the rabid cat…..that is all.

      • objv says:

        Texan, what a terrible thing to say about bubba!

        BTW, I must say your new look is simply stunning.

      • texan5142 says:

        Thanks, glad I did not go with the Baboons ass.

      • objv says:

        Me too, Texan, me too! My only recommendation would be to buy some Crest Whitestrips, and you’ll be good to go.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        No, OV, not Crest. Texan has a Colgate smile.

    • Anse says:

      You know, you should have more respect for voters. You dorks on the Right think you’re the only ones smart enough to “read” the media.

  17. An interesting post. Actually, I don’t hold out much hope for the “hearts and minds” approach. We had *no* chance to succeed in Iraq without achieving a degree of military oppression far greater than that attempted. In order to be successful in Iraq, we would have first had to utterly *subjugate* Iraq. We don’t currently have the stomach for that (if we ever did), and pretending that a hopped up Peace Corps backed by military force would get the job done is a pipe dream.

    There are only two ways that a given society will make the kind of changes that are required in the Middle East: 1) the people *want* to change, or 2) the people are *forced* to change. We employed option 2) in post-war Germany and Japan, because the alternative was intolerable, and option 1) wasn’t an option. Option 1) isn’t an option in the Middle East, either. It remains to be seen whether that part of the world gets to the point to where it’s a sufficient PITA to cause us to go for option 2).

    • goplifer says:


      This isn’t about ‘hearts and minds,’ or persuasion or making people feel good. It’s about institutions.

      Bombing a village might kill of this particular wave of enemy fighters, which is nice, but it still leaves the need to build something to fill that vacuum. Somalia and Afghanistan are dangerous because they are anarchic, not because we haven’t killed enough people there..

      The gist of the article is that we have exhausted the utility of force and we are living with the consequences. It’s not that force doesn’t matter or doesn’t have a place, but without the ability to build something in the wake of what we destroy we are spinning our wheels.

      • texan5142 says:

        Amen to that Chris, the vacuum left in Afghanistan after the Russian war was a direct cause for the rise of the Taliban.


        US imperialism celebrated its great ‘victory over communism’, but immediately turned its back on Afghanistan, offering no resources for the reconstruction of the war-torn country. Washington viewed with indifference the conflict between the contending militias. With the demise of the Soviet Union, this remote country was no longer considered to be of any real strategic importance. Ironically, this was a return to the stance adopted by the US in the 1960s and 1970s, when its reluctance to provide economic aid led nationalist leaders like Mohammed Da’ud to look increasingly towards the Soviet Union for military and economic assistance.

        Between the overthrow of Najibullah in 1992 and 1995-96, the rival warlords fought themselves to such a destructive impasse that they created a chaotic vacuum that facilitated the emergence of a new force, the Taliban, which was financed, armed and trained by the Pakistan military and the reactionary Saudi regime. Moreover, the anarchic state of the country, lacking an effective central government, made it an ideal base for non-state, Islamic armed groups drawn from a number of countries, including those of Osama bin-Laden and the al-Qa’ida network.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Our Empire isn’t what empires once were, Texan. It is an economic empire, not one of occupation and control.

        Other than that, all three of you are quite right. First we must defeat the enemy, really defeat them. Kill them until they decide that they no longer want to be killed. Beat them into absolute, ubnconditional surrender. Don’t beath them until we extract the unconditional surrender, not even to the point where they offer the unconditional surrender. When they come knocking on our door offering it up, leave the door locked and ignore them and keep on beating them. Beat them until they are banging on our door begging us to accept it.

        Then we rebuild things in such a way that suits our security and interests, and we stay there whether they want us to or not. We don’t ask permission or be nice about it, we just do it our way. If they don’t like it, well, go tell your friends in other countries that it is a very bad idea to go up against the U.S. and start wars against us. Be our friend, or fear us to the point of wanting to do nothing to get our attention in a military manner. Don’t go up against the U.S. if you want to run your country the way you want instead of the way we want.

        Texan, Afghanistan is a perfect example of how things go bad when we ignore such places and “allow them to work it out on their own”, as so many of the left say we should do. Every time I read those words I ask how well it worked out with Afghanistan. We didn’t defeat Afghanstan in the 1980’s, but we defeated the USSR in Afghanistan through a proxy war. But it was brutal and left that place in ruins.

        Of course this is in looking back at the mistakes, and it is much easier to see what went wrong and maybe we should have done things differently. That’s why I am not too harsh on Bush41 for leaving the Hussein regime in place or even Clinton for not doing more towards Iraq, Afghanistan and al Qaeda.

        But it seems that some people refuse to accept the hard lessons and see the mistakes, and then they repeat them. Obama abandoned Iraq, and now we are dealing with the consequences. Of course only the very beginning consequences, because it will grow if we don’t get serious about it. He even has a scheduled time to once again abandon Afghanistan.

        HEEELLLLOOO!!! Anybody home there? Or as my DI’s would say, “Lights are on but nobody is home.”

      • CaptSternn says:

        Lifer, can you add an edit button to this site? Sadly I don’t do enough proof reading before I post, then I see all those typos. D’oh!

      • texan5142 says:


        I have no answer for that.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Good night, Texan.

      • johngalt says:

        Tracy and Sternn live in a fictional black and white world in which it is still 1942 and everyone living in Japan or Germany was out enemy. Kill ’em all! In the real world of messy colors, most Iraqis were actually as terrorized by Saddam as many people thought we would be. These were not our enemy, until we bumbled our way in, causing more death and destruction via a criminal lack of understanding of an ancient society. ISIS exists today precisely because of our failures in winning the war that happened after Baghdad fell. Tracy and Sternn are today’s neocons, arguing that if only we had dropped more bombs, all this would have been prevented.

        Yes, we bombed the hell out of Germany and Japan in 1944-5, but today they are allies and trading partners not because we nuked Hiroshima or firebombed Dresden, but because we were benevolent occupiers who spent a huge pile of American treasure to rebuild those societies, with some nudges toward American democratic values along the way.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Was that supposed to mean “Win The Future”?


      • CaptSternn says:

        John, I am not a “new conservative”. I have never been a liberal. Try to learn the difference, educate yourself and stop with the deliberate ignorance.

        And once you figure that out, work on learning the ways of war.

      • johngalt says:

        Neo-con has an entirely unique set of implications. You seem to fit many of them when it comes to this subject.

        I would rather learn the ways of peace. In some cases, winning the peace requires blowing things, and people, up. It is usually more important to win minds. That is what we did in Germany and Japan post-WWII. It is what we most singularly failed to do in Iraq. Perhaps it would not have worked, but it couldn’t have been worse than what we actually did.

      • Crogged says:

        Anyone watch the Simpson’s, listen to the theme song for Itchy and Scratchy and want to distill Neocon foreign policy to its essential element?

        They fight
        They fight
        They fight fight fight fight
        Fight fight fight
        Fight fight fight
        The Itchy and Scratchy Show!

        Kill them until they decide that they no longer want to be killed. Just like a cartoon.

      • CaptSternn says:

        You’re skipping the whole point about defeating the enemy, John. But alright, let us skip the destruction and look at the post war actions. Compare the amount of time we kept troops in Germany after the war to the amount of time we kept troops in Iraq after the war. See any differences?

      • Turtles Run says:

        Cappy – You said you were stationed in Germany. When you were there did you think you were there to occupy a conquered nation or as a part of an allied force to defend against the Soviets?

        The trouble with your claim is that it does no critical analysis. At some point the Germans became allies even NATO allies and both our nations had a common foe and the German nation wanted the United States to remain in that nation. The Iraqi Government did not want us in their nation anymore ,- they wanted us gone. That is a critical point you seem to be missing. President Bush 43 agreed that we wold withdraw forces, all President Obama did was honor the agreement between the former POTUS and an allied nation. If the Germans want us gone we would leave that nation as well and I am pretty sure WW2 will not restart.

      • johngalt says:

        Who was the enemy in Iraq, Sternn? You seem to think that the enemy was all Iraqis. Anyone with brown skin speaking a funny language, shoot them. That’s certainly not what we heard a dozen years ago about liberating Iraq from the tyranny of Saddam and the Ba’ath party.

      • CaptSternn says:

        It was both, Turtles. We had armed Germans breaching our walls. We had bombs planted in snack bars on our bases. Convoys of tanks would be rolling down the autobahn. I was there about 40 years after the war so there were a lot of people that had lived through the war still around and they did not like us at all.

        John, now you are skipping the part about staying and rebuilding. This discussion is not going your way at all.

      • Turtles Run says:


        I was in the Army about the same time as you and I also was sent to Germany (when I was in the reserves after Desert Storm) for a bit. The attacks you describe were from the Red Army Faction and PLO affiliated groups. Not German resistance to our troops stationed in Germany because of WW2. Sure the Germans often times resent us being there but that does not change the point that our military is now an allied force that was invited there and we would leave if asked.

        You completely ignore that Iraqi Government that is supposed to be our ally wanted us gone. So what you are basically advocating for is a new invasion of that nation.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Stern…if you cannot be a neocon because you were never a liberal, I think you probably need to rethink your protestant religion since I’m assuming you’ve never protested the Catholic Church.

        Although, I think Tutt may have mentioned being Catholic, so I guess it is possible you are a Martin Luther and actively protesting and trying to reform her religion.

        I know I have been guilty of protesting the Catholic Church on more than few occasions.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Turtles, you are missing the point. We should have stayed in Iraq and to hell with what Iraq wanted. Don’t want us there then don’t start a war with us.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Cappy – The Government in Iraqi did not start a war with us. It is a government that we consider an ally. We were after all propping up their military, building infrastructure, and trying to get them in a position to govern their nation.

        Others have pointed out that we have to win the peace and attacking those parts of the government that supposedly are your allies is not the way to win a war or the peace. If you want to fight friend and foe then JG is correct when he stated: “You seem to think that the enemy was all Iraqis. Anyone with brown skin speaking a funny language, shoot them.”

        The Iraqi people have a right to govern their own country.

      • Crogged says:

        So Itchy and Scratchy are too highbrow for this argument……

        You have to be fucking kidding-right? You are-aren’t you?

        Kill everyone in Iraq until they have a democratic process AND a result you want, because, AMERICA and DEMOCRACY! I never noticed Lady Liberty put her lantern down and grabbed a M-16, I need to get to New York more often.

        Yeah, pragmatism is too nice a word to describe a brutal empire worse than the Mongols and Huns combined………

      • CaptSternn says:

        Well, Turtles, ISIS, al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood thank you and Obama. Great job there.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Crogged, you might want to pick up a history book. Especially one that deals with the 1940’s and 1950’s.

      • johngalt says:

        We did not spend anywhere near Marshall Plan money to rebuild infrastructure and institutions in Iraq. We spent a lot of money arming our own troops to deal with insurgencies for which we were poorly – very poorly – prepared.

      • Crogged says:

        There are political parties in Germany and Japan with whom most reasonable (have to tread carefully here) Americans would find disagreement. Would election of these parties to ruling status give us a right to start treating those countries as ‘reoccupied’ for a lack of a better term?

        I think your study of ‘history’ needs to begin with ‘Hmmm, Germany and Iraq have completely DIFFERENT histories and culture, I wonder if that makes a difference with regards to American foreign policy?”

        America has armed men and women, with formidable armament, across the world. These men and women ostensibly are there for ‘peace and order’. In many situations a man with a gun shows everything but ‘peace and order’ and I doubt you would want armed Canadians in Houston because of neighborhoods with high crime rates. Saddam has gone on vacation with Ken Lay and Elvis, let the Iraqis decide on their own to proceed peacefully and at least show some sort of restraint in order to strengthen the more moderate elements of their society.

      • CaptSternn says:

        We did that with Afghanistan through the 1990’s, Crogged. How did that work out?

        Yes, Iraq and Germany have different backgrounds. Japan and Germany had different backgrounds. This is no longer a case of if you do that, this will happen. It is now the case that it was done and this is the result, just as predicted. Happy with the results?

      • Turtles Run says:

        So your solution to resolving our issues with those groups is to attack an allied government.

        You constantly claim you were in the Army? What the hell did you do there? Because the thought of you carrying live ammunition is scary.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Turtles, now you claim that ISIS is an allied government? That’s insane. Had we stayed there this would not be happening. Thought you were brighter than that.

      • Turtles Run says:


        The reason you always claim people said something you know they didn’t is because you know you are full of stuff. Nowhere did I make the claim you accuse me of.

        You are a troll, plain and simple. You are incapable of honest debate or discussion and when given the opportunity to state your case intelligently you instead chose to troll. It must be pathetic to have a worldview that cannot withstand any honest critique or discussion.


        If he is like this in real life I pity you.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Turtles, you keep bringing up the idea of attacking an allied government. Are you saying that the Hussein regime was the allied governt? Maybe you are doing the trolling because you are making no sense.

      • Crogged says:

        Well, I don’t really care what is ‘working’ or didn’t work in Afghanistan as long as the Afghan people are solely responsible for it. Why do you consider Afghanistan a failure-most everyone has guns, precious little strong centralized government and people practice their religious beliefs as far as they wish them to go with no resistance from secular humanists–it’s bloody paradise!

      • CaptSternn says:

        Why do I consider Afghanistan a failure? September 11, 2001.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        No, Turtles, Cap saves all his arguing for the online world.

      • johngalt says:

        Sternn, you have repeatedly said that we should not have left Iraq, regardless of the wishes of the Iraqi people and their duly elected government, which we have supported. We agreed to terms of an occupation to end on a specific date, unless the agreement was renewed. Maintaining an armed military force inside a country without their consent is most certainly an attack on its sovereignty.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Oh, maybe they would have whined and cried about it, John, to which we should have said “tough cookies.” Iraq spent more than a decade waging war against us, Iraqis fought against us in the 2003 invasion, they continued to resist and kill our troops. Too bad, we ain’t leaving. And we will dictate the terms.

        But the left wanted out, and Obama got out, and all the mighty praise was heaped on Obama for leaving Iraq. Didn’t exactly work out, and now the left is back to blaiming Bush.

        That’s the problem with the left, always after instant gratification and never thinking things through to what the consequences will be. And when they are confronted by the consequences of their choices, their decisions, their actions, they whine and cry and blame the right.

        The left runs on raw emotions, the right runs of logic and facts. There are rare exceptions to that rule, one being Lifer’s blog entry here, and Texan’s reply to Lifer and TThor up above. They show that occasionally reality actually gets through.

        Then it gets followed up by Turtles thrashing around incoherently. Still not clear on which government he is claiming was or is an ally, the Hussein regime or ISIS? Or maybe he is talking about Afghanistan, or something else completely different? Maybe he is suggesting that I was proposing attacking Germany? Or France? Or Japan? Nobody here is suggesting or proposing any such thing. Maybe you can explain it, John?

      • johngalt says:

        At some point, Sternn, the things you post are so stupid and delusional that they defy any sort of refutation. As Twain said, “Never argue with a fool, onlookers might not be able to tell the difference.”

        In your analogy, we should still have been fighting an active war against Germany in the 1980s when the Red Brigades were active because they were German and we won so fuck all of them. This is just astoundingly stupid logic. Clearly, our decision to mostly ignore minor terrorism (or to fight it behind the scenes) there was the right one, 100 times out of 100.

        Turtles, like me, wants to know why you would attack the sovereignty of a government that we supported, by which we both mean the present government of Iraq. They are the ones that wanted us out – BECAUSE WE WERE DOING MORE HARM THAN GOOD by that point. ISIS, of course, did not come from Iraq. They were born of the Syrian civil war and the empty expanses of western Iraq was easy picking.

        Finally, your delusion that it is the right that relies solely on logic and reason is so laughable as not not merit a response. Perhaps that was once true, but that horse has been dead for a long time.

      • CaptSternn says:

        John, you are being as idiotic as Turtles. ISIS, al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood thanks you. Much like al Qaeda thanked people like you through the 1990’s, resulting in September 11. 2001. Only this is growing much larger, thanks to people like you, Obama and Turtles.

        And now you will resort to blaming republicans like FDR. D’oh!

      • CaptSternn says:

        “Turtles, like me, wants to know why you would attack the sovereignty of a government that we supported, by which we both mean the present government of Iraq.”

        Well, since it is only you and Turtles that have ever suggested such a thing, it is up to you and Turtles to explain why you would ever suggest such a thing. I have never suggested it and I have never witnessed anybody else other than you and Turtles suggest such a thing. It’s all on you and Turtles at this point. So explain why we should wage war against the curremt governments of Germany, Japan, Iraq, Afghanistan, England, France, Italy. Just go ahead and explain it all, because the two of you are the only ones suggesting such things.

        Or be like the bird, deliberate ignorance or outright lies. I am thinking the latter.

      • Turtles Run says:

        JG – Cappy knows exactly what he is doing. He knows his comments are idiotic and gets off reading the responses to his idiotcy. Most of us are people that want to engage in intelligent conversation Cappy is neither capable nor willing to do so.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Let the rest of us know when you want to enter into an intelligent conversation, Turtles. You can start by showing where anybody has suggested we go to war with a friendly nation or government.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Cappy issues challenge: You can start by showing where anybody has suggested we go to war with a friendly nation or government.

        Challenge accepted

        CaptSternn says:
        October 28, 2014 at 10:26 am
        Turtles, you are missing the point. We should have stayed in Iraq and to hell with what Iraq wanted. Don’t want us there then don’t start a war with us.

        As JG pointed out maintaining an armed military force inside a country without their consent is most certainly an attack on its sovereignty.

  18. objv says:

    Tutt, are you out there? While I was enrolling for annual health benefits (and free birth control), I found some information you might find interesting.

    If your Canadian friend was transferred from a foreign subsidiary to headquarters in the US, she would be considered an inpat instead of an expat. The company my husband works for has both expats and inpats. If my husband were to be transferred to Norway he would be considered an expat under company policy. A person transferred from Norway to the US would be considered an inpat. Confusing enough? It seems that a person can be an inpat as well as an expat depending on how she wants to define herself to others outside of work. 🙂

  19. rightonrush says:

    I know Sternn, your claim to fame is being on the same base as Elvis in Germany.

    • objv says:


      Don’t be cruel ♫

      Elvis has left the building.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        My claim to fame is that I’m on the same blog as OV. 🙂

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Actually, my real claim to blog fame is my “association” with Captain Sternn .

      • objv says:

        Tutt, are you referring to the infamous Captain Sternn? For the life of me I don’t understand why he’s treated so harshly on this blog. Why do people feel like they are winning arguments against him by hurling insults?

        Speaking of famous people … Gov. Chris Christie will be in town with Gov. Susana Martinez this week and the San Juan County Republican Party is hosting an event on Thursday morning to meet them. If I manage to get a photo op with Christie, I’ll post the picture. (The pretty blond will be me.) 🙂

      • CaptSternn says:

        Um, Tutt, not sure that is a “claim to fame”. Maybe “infamous”?

        Lomg post was going, but screw it. No point now.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        OV, good luck. Gov. Christie’s presence can be overpowering.

      • objv says:

        Tutta, I like Gov. Martinez’s politics much better and sincerely hope that she will run for president some day, but darn it all, I have to admit she’s prettier than me, so Christie will have to do for the photo op. 🙂

    • CaptSternn says:

      Well, yes, that was pretty cool. But I wasn’t on the base when Elvis was there. I don’t think I was even alive when Elvis was there.

      But there is quite a bit more to military service than being posted on the same base that Elvis was on, even during the 80’s.

  20. flypusher says:

    Some food for thought/ discussion related to this topic:


    Not just the economy, but the foundations of society. Quite a few of us would say yes to the prospect of living even less extremely long, but still exteneded (500, 200 years) life spans if being healthy and functional was part of the deal. But if you don’t lower the birthdate along with the death rate, you are courting chaos. How do you do that without infringing on basic rights? Do only the rich have a shot at it? Do people have to choose between living for a few centuries OR having a child?

    • rightonrush says:

      After a few centuries I’m sure life becomes boring. I’m 69 yrs old, in good health and still very active, so is my wife. If my wife goes, I will not be far behind I don’t imagine. We have been together for so many years that I can’t imagine life without her. Our 5 sons will not have to make life decisions for us because of our living wills. I’ve never retired because my foreman (my Vietnam buddy) died last year and no one can take his place yet. His son is coming along nicely and I expect he will take over the company next year. Forgive the musing of an old man, but Fly brings up a very thought provoking point.

      • flypusher says:

        That’s exactly what keeps good discussions going, the musings, so muse away. I’ve heard plenty of people older than me say that the absolute saddest thing about getting older was long-time friends starting to die off. I haven’t gotten there yet, but that time is coming. I do have one advantage in having social circles with a wider than usual age span; I have good friends who are literally young enough to be my children.

        The boredom possibility is a real concern, but I don’t see that as an impossible problem to solve. I think if you can find interesting and rewarding things to do, and you are capable of doing them, the days and years would not weigh so heavily on you. All the more so if the you love best can be doing them with you. But I have brought up the boredom concern in discussions about an afterlife a number of times.

      • CaptSternn says:

        That is an interesting topic, Fly. There is a short story I once read where people were basically immortal because of technology. They did have to apply for the privilege of having a child, and they had to have a lot of friends in high places to get permission. The short story is “We Were Out of Our Minds with Joy” by David Marusek. Not that I recommend it as some great story, but your comment reminded me of it.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Yes, getting a fix on how long one to live is perplexing.

        Just this morning I visited the family of an artist friend who died a few weeks ago. They ‘knew’ that I would love to have some her tools and supplies and that she would want me to have them.

        True, I will love having these reminders of my creative, loving friend. On the other hand, I have artful clutter of my own. Shouldn’t I be down-sizing? You know, to spare family members after I die? There’s a lot of advice like that. Like we’re supposed to live like monks for the last 20-30 years of our lives.

        There are also legions who advise earning money as long as possible and spend nothing because they’re sure no one in my age group will make it to death without imposing on social safety systems. We all know how embarrassing that would be, they suggest.

        One good reason to know when I’m going to die is to know when to tap the 401K. Thanks to extended unemployment and subsidized COBRA during the Great Recession, I didn’t have to when I was laid off. Some co-workers laid off just two weeks later did have to in order to keep their homes until they found jobs.

        I’ve lost two old boyfriends, my parents, of course, three friends I spent a lot of time with, but no siblings yet. How to deal with that is a mystery and I hope it remains so for a long time.

        When my health and the weather are good, I want to live forever. When my health is poor, the weather doesn’t even register. It would probably be easy to depart then.

        Musings over and out.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Fly and Bobo, speaking of losing people, I have lost three of my best friends already, Tutt’s mom and most recently my dad. There are many other relatives and people I knew that have left this realm, but those are the ones that hit most close to home. My dad and mom have lived long enough to lose many friends and family members. Sometimes we reflect that living longer means we lose more.

        My paternal grandfather lived to be 102. He buried not only one of his children, but some of his grandchildren and even great-grandchildren.

        But what if technology meant that great-granparents and great-grandchildren were of equal health and appearence of age? Reminds me of another short story, “For White Hill”.

        Funny how science fiction not only often predicts the future, but discusses the problems the future it predicts.

        And another idea through a short story, “Though Dreamers Die”.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Fly, I consider the idea of living that long, with no end in sight, to be a living hell. I would have to seriously reconsider my moral misgivings about suicide.

    • Fly, birth rates decline as standard of living increases. The reason for this is that it’s so dang expensive to raise offspring in a way that will equip them for success in our modern world. An extended lifespan would make the financial impact of child rearing in such an environment somewhat more bearable, but I’m not sure that would mean a concurrent rise in birth rates.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Turtles will be pleased to hear he is immune to the effects of aging, according to the article fly posted.

  21. flypusher says:

    “We are living through an unprecedented shift in human evolution, in which the pace of evolution of our technology has overwhelmed our cultural and genetic evolution.”

    Amen brother. Cultural evolution has always gone faster than biological evolution, and that has caused problems. Now we notch the problems up a few more levels with the technology advances that run far ahead of the culture trying to adjust. It’s like all silver linings come with their clouds. Take an issue mentioned in the previous post- the fact that modern medical technology can save the lives of people who would have previously died, but it can’t always provide good quality of life. Now I think that the effect of all these advances is weighted more towards to good, but our societies seem to be decades, if not centuries behind in dealing with the down side. You constantly hear/read the refrain that the families ought to be shouldering all the responsibility/ effort in caring for the people who have been kept alive but are too disabled to fend for themselves, because that’s how it was always done (and often accompanied by some “back when we had values” lament). That glosses over the harsh reality that families in the “good old days” wouldn’t have had to go through the agonizing experience of seeing their parents/ grandparents slowly waste away from neurodegenerative diseases over years or even decades, because the technology wasn’t there to keep afflicted people alive so long. They wouldn’t have had to wonder who would look after a non-functional adult member with severe autism/ Down syndrome once they got too old, because again, the afflicted individuals mostly didn’t live that long. Today’s biomedical research may solve those problems by finding therapies that halt degeneration and rebuild/restore function, but until and unless they do, our culture has to figure out a better way to get more safety net under the people who face these challenges.

  22. Anse says:

    This passage sticks with me: “We now operate in two political categories: matters under our direct legal jurisdiction and matters outside the reach of our legal sovereignty. There is no ‘foreign.’ There is ‘legal’ and ‘extralegal.’”


    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      I think about this a lot.

      Must we accept ‘extralegal’ actions in other countries if they appear to be protective?

      Must we accept ‘extralegal’ actions by other countries if they hazard only others?

      Actually, the more I think about this the more I think it doesn’t matter. Each country responds to extralegal actions based upon its situation at the time. War or diplomacy? Official outrage? More spying?

  23. CaptSternn says:

    Well, ummm, there must be something here that I can vehemently disagree with, something political, but I just can’t find it. Drat!

    Very good entry, Lifer. As Bush43 noted on September 11, 2001, while flying over the sites attacked, this is what war looks like in the 21st century. Sure, it wasn’t really something that just began on that horrible day, but it really brought it home to us as not something that just happens “over there”.

    I remember a single frame political cortoon where a person, presumed to be a U.S. citizen, remarked how the world had suddenly changed, and the other person in the frame, assumed to be Middle Eastern, responded that no, the world had not suddenly changed, you have simply had your eyes opened to the way the world really is at this time.

    We in the U.S., born here through many generations, tend to be very sheltered and ignorant of what the rest of the world is like in the Middle East region, parts of Asia and Europe, Africa and large parts of the American contents. Technology is turning us into a nation of ignorant zombies even though the devices and technology are capable of accessing the information.

    People in the U.S. tend to have short attention spans. Reminds me of one answer to the question of what would you tell a person from 50 years in the past about our age. It was that we carry a device in our pockets that is capable of accessing all of human knowledge, and we use it to look at pictures of cats and argue with people we don’t know. I guess here I should say except for me, but that would obviously be wrong. I am here and on the Chron arguing with people I don’t know, and I like looking at the cheezeburger site for the humor.

    No doubt that we commenting on your blog will quickly devolve into the usual bickering, blame throwing and finger pointing, with a healthy dose of insults, name calling and going off topic. But thanks for a well thought out non-political entry. I certainly don’t know all the answers (the rest of you can ignore that, I know everything about everything and I am always right, except when I am not, and those times don’t count), but it is refreshing to have an entry that is above it all, at least just for the moment. An non-political non-partisan observation.

  24. “we must begin to recognize the limits of military hegemony as a policy tool” YES !

  25. RightonRush says:

    There may be no better symbol of the need for such a force than the US military’s recent deployment to Liberia. Using troops to ‘fight’ a disease is expensive and it’s a mission for which they are poorly suited on almost every level. Yet we have no appropriate force, no US or transnational medical or political reserve, ready to respond to such scenarios”

    As a veteran I’d rather face ISIS simply because I understand and can fight an enemy I can see. Ebola is something new for this old veteran. I can’t see it, can’t smell it, and I can’t shoot it to make it stop infecting others. My hat is off to the military folks that are doing battle with this unseen enemy.

    • objv says:

      RoR, as an ex-nurse I’d pick taking care of an Ebola patient. At 5’2′ and 98 pounds (soaking wet) with an aversion to firearms and shooting at things, I’m not exactly military material. As long as I’m given the right training and protective clothing, I’d pick Ebola any day.

      Hey, it takes all kinds. 🙂

      • rightonrush says:

        objv I’m not exactly nurses material either. I would and could fly patients in and out of Africa etc. but am clueless on how to help the folks that come down with the virus I have a nephew who is with Doctors without Borders and I worry about him. He’s in Africa and his Mom (my sister) is a nervous wreck.

      • objv says:

        RoR, best wishes to your sister! I sincerely hope your nephew is able to come home safe and healthy soon.

  26. EnonZ says:

    Industrial civilization was able to begat Kaplan’s Last Man because of over two centuries of ever increasing flows of cheap energy. Now that the flow of net energy through industrial civilization is beginning to slow (because it takes more energy to make available in the market the more remote and lower quality fossil fuels we are by necessity starting to exploit), I am no longer as sanguine as Kaplan was twenty years ago that the Last Man will have the wherewithal to master the situation he finds himself in.

    • fiftyohm says:

      Actually, new technology is making available higher quality fossil fuels from local, less remote sources, while older, lower quality sources like coal, are becoming obsolete. The situation is actually opposite of what you posted here.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        And non fossil fuels too fitty. Solar is almost dirt cheap now. And even innovative cooperative programs that allow renters and multi dweller owners or those in inadequate locations to buy into solar generation as a profit making(for the producers) and cost savings (for the buyers) venture.


      • EnonZ says:

        Please give a citation for these local higher quality fossil fuels. I don’t believe they actually exist.

        And the Chinese would be quite astonished by your assertion that coal is becoming obsolete, as over 80% of their energy use comes from coal. As well as the Australians, who are highly dependent on coal exports.

      • EnonZ says:


        What you say is quite true and entirely irrelevant. US energy use from such sources, although growing, is still trivial.


      • fiftyohm says:

        Gentlepeople – [Hit tip HT] Solar power is hardly ” dirt cheap” absent government
        subsidies. Our boom in natural gas production from on-shore sources hardly needs any citation, and China’s exploitation of Australia’s coal resources has virtually nothing to do with the topic.

        In fact the entire discussion would be completely irrelevant were a sane course been plotted wrt nuclear power instead of the hysterics of a handful of ignorant ludditites.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Actually fitty, solar power is “dirt cheap” compared to even 5 years ago, not necessarily from government subsidies (which are declining thanks to the do nothing Repubs in Congress), but from China trying to ride the wave/corner the market on solar panel manufacturing and flooding/glutting the market and driving the prices down precipitously. Economically it is still not competitive with fossil fuels currently but not everything has to be a capitalistic for profit venture.

        As for the overall picture, EnonZ solar (and other renewables) may be insignificant currently but based on its growth rate, it won’t stay that way. Particularly when the cheap natural gas boom/glut runs its cycle as it inevitably will. Germany is well on its way to achieving 20% renewable energy production by 2020 and not relying on capitalism/profit motivation to drive its goals.

        Also, in 3rd world countries, just having cheap renewable solar lamps instead of polluting and expensive kerosene lamps or more likely nothing at all at night will improve development and productivity significantly whether it is studying, household chores, or general output generating commerce work. That was one of the justifications of awarding the Nobel Prize to the inventors of blue spectrum LED lighting (which then can be combined with red to provide us the functional bright white light).

      • fiftyohm says:

        Bubba – The price of solar panels is only one part of the equation. There are two problems with solar that would remain were panel prices to fall to zero. First, is power density, and second is energy storage. These are, from a practical standpoint, insurmountable.

        If you were to cover completely the roof of your house with solar panels, you *might*, might mind you, produce 30% of the power it takes to run your A/C alone. And then, only during peak hours of insolation. Even this estimate is wildly optimistic when we consider roof orientation, and tree cover. (Figure about 3.5 kW per ton of A/C.) Add structural considerations, wind loads, and all the rest, and you’d be hard-pressed to economically justify the capital costs of the installation if the panels were free.

        Unfortunately, so-called ‘renewables’ hit the walls of physics, esthetics, engineering, and lastly economics long before they can make any real impact on the overall energy picture. Now, efficiency is another thing entirely. Huge strides have been made, and continue to be made with great and lasting benefit in that area.

    • EnonZ says:


      If you’re going to claim that coal is becoming obsolete, I can’t see how you can then turn around and claim that the Australian coal exports to China, which are booming, have virtually nothing to do with the topic.

      The boom in on-shore gas production is a bubble. Highly energetic (and thus expensive) to develop and depletes quickly.

      Assuming 4th generation nuclear can be brought on line, that just substitutes heating the planet with waste heat for heating the planet with greenhouse gasses. Buys us a few years at most.

      • fiftyohm says:

        To characterize current production of onshore oil and gas from shale in the US as a “bubble” is an exaggeration at best. US reserves have grown 50% since 2010!

        China’s use of coal is the “bubble”. We have to keep in mind that China was until very recently an agrarian society. That country is engaged in primary electrification; a phase the West completed nearly 80 years ago. Electricity production with coal is only feasible there due to pretty wholesale disinterest by the government in environmental quality issues. This will change.

        It is reasonable to assume China will in coming decades begin to follow the trajectory of the west insofar as energy use in concerned. Falling per capita energy consumption is the rule in the developed world. The same forces that drove that in the west will apply to Asia as well. Also like the west, China’s population growth is slowing, with a rate placing it 149th globally.

        The comment regarding waste heat from Gen iV nuclear reactors heating the planet to an extent anywhere close to that potentially posed by greenhouse gasses in really, really fanciful. To tell you the truth, I started on a few calculations and the numbers were so absurd under any remotely rational scenario, I quit. “Buys us a few years at most.” Seriously?

      • EnonZ says:


        You didn’t give a citation for your reserves figure, nor indicate if you were referring to estimated reserves or proven reserves. Oil and gas companies generally give one figure to the government and another to investors. Estimated reserves are educated guesses; sometimes they pan out, often they don’t. Companies have good incentives to tout the upper part of a range of estimates. Proven reserves are just that, proven by test wells.


        In any case, it really doesn’t matter. It’s normal for reserves to increase as technology improves and prices rise because reserves refer to what part of a resource can be economically and technologically extracted.

        As an example, suppose some driller has been able to extract 20% of the gas from a particular type of formation. The company’s engineers have been tweaking their fracking techniques in various ways and in a few years are able to extract 30% of the gas. They haven’t discovered any new gas, but their reserves have increased 50%.

        Of course there are limits. Generally each increment of improvement requires more effort (read more time, money and energy) and are subject to diminishing returns as extraction reaches its physical limits (which are never anywhere close to 100%). The Saudis are now using deep injection of sea water to push oil to the top of their aging fields.

        Which brings up the issue of net energy. Optimists tout gross figures, but what’s important is the net return. It puzzles me that this is rarely addressed in the MSM or by energy optimists. We live in a capitalist society; surely everybody understands the difference between gross and net!

        The point is that as we extract more difficult oil and gas, the net return of energy (usually referred to as Energy Return on Input or EROI) inexorably declines. The net energy is what can be used by the rest of society to do work and create wealth.

        The more important point is that there isn’t much difference between the net return for an EROI of 100 (typical of West Texas and Saudi conventional oil fields when first drilled) and an EROI of 30 (typical of aging conventional fields using tertiary extraction techniques), but when EROI declines below 8 we fall off an energy cliff in net energy terms. See the second graph at this link:


        Fracking oil and gas is indeed a bubble, one fueled by debt (as all bubbles are). Most fracking companies are spending money faster than they are making it. The drop in gas prices, and the more recent drop in oil prices are just going to make things worse.


        Besides, fracked wells decline much more rapidly than conventional wells and the sweet spots are being drilled first. This means the pace of drilling will have to increase just to sustain production, much less increase it (often referred to as the Red Queen problem).

        China is an interesting case. They are throwing everything they can at their energy problems, including fielding prototypes of nuclear power designs that Americans invented and then abandoned. They are between the rocks of pollution and depletion and the hard place of increasing demand. However, power generation is only half of China’s coal use and they’ll be using lots of coal for decades. No way it’s a bubble.


        Finally, if we continue on our path of increasing emissions of greenhouse gasses, we are going to get serious climate disruption by the end of the century. Assuming energy growth that’s been typical of industrial civilization continuing into the future, fueled by fission or fusion instead, it might take another century or two for our waste heat to bring the temperature of the surface of the planet to the boiling point of water. Obviously that growth path would end a lot sooner. Even assuming a much lower rate of energy growth, which doesn’t seem to be happening, only puts off the reckoning for a few generations.

        “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” — Professor Albert Bartlett


      • fiftyohm says:

        EnonZ – Sorry bud, but my reply ended up at the top of the thread. Please check up there. Sorry.

  27. Brent says:

    I really enjoy your blog Chris. Good brain candy…
    I don’t really disagree with any of the points in this piece but I do think it misses something rather important. Are our institutions not being set up to fail through the application of a deliberate strategy of “starve the beast” and privatize? 40 years of budget cuts has crippled the capacity of most institutions. The loss of Communism as an existential threat left capital free to roam the globe unanchored from any concern for an localized social order.

    • kabuzz61 says:

      40 years of waste in government and stupid policies. That is the cause of the shrinking dollar. We have a government that first and foremost looks after their position and party first. Everything else is secondary to that goal.

      I agree with RightonRush. This old veteran was trained for your typical enemy but the military does have a pretty big bio hazard response team, which is now deployed in Liberia with some grunts to protect them.

      GW Bush said this is a new kind of war. It can’t be won like past wars. It will be a long one. Rumsfeld said we have to modernize our military to be ready to act quickly and surgically.

      I am really glad you agree with them. Also, good post.

      • Brent says:

        40 years of stupid policies? Like what specifically. The Clean Air Act worked, social policies like head start etc were successful at increasing social mobility. Public housing was a mess due to the unintended consequence of ghetto-ization but as that policy was tweet it had some true benefits. Almost every professional class person I know benefited mightily from Fed Student Aid.Funny thing, when you want to spend money to invest in people – we’re broke, but there never seems to any problem finding money to kill.

      • Turtles Run says:

        ” That is the cause of the shrinking dollar.”

        Buzzy – you may want to sit down for this. The dollar is getting stronger not weaker.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        So “GW Bush” and Donald Rumsfeld are so astute at war making huh buzzy?

        And that’s why Bush lost and dragged out two simultaneous wars beyond his 8 years of horror? That both were won and could have been won in the first months of combat despite the motivations and justifications?

        And Rumsfeld a visionary? Who dismissed concerns from combat soldiers complaining about being underequipped with his dismissive “you fight the war with what you brung”?

        And the soldiers having to take the initiative to go digging in junkyards for “hillbilly armor” to protect themselves in combat?

        Really buzzy?

      • bubbabobcat says:

        I don’t have time for your willful wingnut delusional crap Cappy, much less the patience.

        Second paragraph in your own damn Fox crap article:

        “Acknowledging that the progress still could reverse in such a volatile region…”

        And there was no al Qaeda in Iraq until we invaded which is what Chris’ point was about our misapplied military might.

        And there was no functioning WMD in Iraq. And what did the Bush cabal of draft dodging cowardly incompetent warmongers do when the ambassador Joe Wilson who was tasked by the CIA to investigate the Iraq – Niger yellowcake uranium connection and found none and dared to publicly state so in contradiction to Bush’s public pronouncements and lies?

        They treasonously outed his wife, a covert CIA operative.

        Quite the “patriots” you have for heroes Cappy. But not surprising in your delusional warped wingnut world.

        Go argue with yourself in your sensory deprivation isolation box.

      • CaptSternn says:

        No, Bubba, there wasn’t. But you have no clue of startegy, or of the violations of the cease-fire, or of anythng beyond talking points, headlines, soundbites and emotions. You have no clue of the world nor what to do about it. You base your understanding to bumpersticker slogans. And that is part of the bigger problem. That is what Lifer is talking about, but it is over your head and beyond you capability of knowledge and understanding.

        I guess you really miss Dan. He would engage you on your level. I will not. Lifer ran him off, but allows you to stay. That says a lot.

      • RightonRush says:

        Sternn wrote”But you have no clue of startegy, or of the violations of the cease-fire, or of anythng beyond talking points, headlines, soundbites and emotions. You have no clue of the world nor what to do about it”

        Oh bullshit Sternn. Bubba has done more military time and overseas missions than you will ever do so stop with the superior military understanding, because you don’t have it.

      • texan5142 says:

        The Captin reads from a script, it is all performance art.

      • rightonrush says:

        Whoever is writing his script needs to find someone more believable to deliver it. Normally I just let his bullshit slide but sometimes enough is enough.

      • flypusher says:

        “Whoever is writing his script needs to find someone more believable to deliver it. ”

        No, a completely new script is also needed to replace that old and busted crap. If you have the gall to disagree with Sternn, you are the one who is emotional, who can’t speak in anything more complex than “bumper stickers and sound-bytes”, never researches anything, has no clue as to how the real world works, is just jealous, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum, regardless of how well you construct your arguments, back them up with evidence, or do the actual math.

        I would really love to believe it is a performance, but the narrow-minded, irony impaired, my-ignorance-carries-the-same-weight-as-your-knowledge types really are out there.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Well, if you haven’t been in the military, the left wing nuts think you shouldn’t comment. I did serve and what the Captain said is spot on.

        I meant to say the budget cuts not the shrinking dollar.

        Captain, you will serve yourself well not to address Bubba even though you are spot on with his comments, he is uncontrolled rage personified, but yet the left wing nuts here support him with lips firmly planted on Bubba’s behind.

        GW Bush did say what I said as did Rumsfeld but if it happens not to fall in line with Media Matters, it didn’t happen. Except for the last two years of GW’s presidency, I pretty much have a very favorable opinion of his service. You can only imagine where we would be if the Empty Suit was in the WH. We probably wouldn’t even be on this blog due to loss of power from terror attacks…er…I mean domestic violence.

      • rightonrush says:

        Another bullshit artist speaks up in the form of a man in a cat’s suit. What you and Sternn are is a boil on the arse of the GOP. The sooner the boils are lance the quicker the GOP can get back to being a creditable party. The Dems should pay you two to post your bullshit because you sure make folks not want to be associated with a party that spawned you two.

      • CaptSternn says:

        This isn’t real complicated, folks. Just answer two questions …

        1) Was Iraq in violation of the cease-fire?

        2) Does our main fighting force, regular troops and equipment, work better in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan, or the more level and open terrain of Iraq?

        RoR, I did my time in the military. You’re welcome.

      • flypusher says:

        “This isn’t real complicated, folks. Just answer two questions …

        1) Was Iraq in violation of the cease-fire?

        2) Does our main fighting force, regular troops and equipment, work better in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan, or the more level and open terrain of Iraq?”

        Trouble is, you leave out the most important and relevant questions:

        Was Iraq a direct threat to the US?

        Was Iraq a threat to any neighboring countries?

        The answer to both is no. They were in violation of the cease-fire, but that was NOT justification for invading at that time, not with Iraq being so weakened and it being watched so closely. They were in no position to pull anything on anyone in early 2003, and there were other possible means of getting rid of Hussein that could have been explored if necessary. Invasion should have been the last resort, not the first resort.

        As for the terrain being more favorable, it is morally reprehensible to bring your fight with someone onto the territory of someone else who is not any threat to you.

        Those two questions are just lame excuses to cover the real motives. I suspect Bush & Co’s primary motivation was Iraq replacing Saudi as the main base for US operations in the ME. And that plan might have worked but for all those meddling kids with their sectarian differences. They had the example of Yugoslavia to instruct them, but they were too arrogant to pay any attention there.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        In the same damn paragraph AND sentence that buzzy blindly and hypocritically declares, “the left wing nuts here support him with lips firmly planted on Bubba’s behind”, buzzy obsequiously fellates Cappy with:

        “Captain, you will serve yourself well not to address Bubba even though you are spot on with his comments”.

        And buzzy even STARTS OFF his own nonstop Cap symbiotic mutual suckup fest with this initial : “what the Captain said is spot on” in the same post he decries the imaginary transgressions in those he disagrees with. Twice in one post alone as he whines about what he partakes in ad nauseum.

        Wow. Just wow.

        Not to mention these recent bon mots from the last blog post of buzzy and Cappy’s perpetual mutual simultaneous mouth to derriere verbal orgies that they gleefully partake nonstop yet hypocritically imagine and whine about “from the Left”:

        kabuzz61 says:
        October 24, 2014 at 7:17 am
        “Captain many times explains in detail any comment he adds and you and others attack on it, he writes simpler comments with brevity and he is attacked on it. How about this? He makes a point that is valid, you can’t answer the point so you attack the man.”

        CaptSternn says:
        October 23, 2014 at 3:25 pm
        “Kabuzz says it well, belssed [sic] are those that believe without seeing.”

        Forgive me for my utter disdain for both Cappy and buzzy’s perpetual willfully blind hypocrisy. Put a sock in buzzy. Go back to trying to sell your books by pettily lashing out at your critics on Amazon.

        And get a room already.

        And not one response to Valerie Plame being outed or our soldiers having to pick their own hillbilly armor from garbage dumps like poor third world street orphans.

        Yeah, so much for wingnuts “sticking to issues” and “not making personal attacks”.

        Wingnuts revel in their hypocrisy as that is their badge of “honor”. As demonstrated by buzzy and Cappy time and again non stop.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Fly, the answer to your questions are both “yes”. Iraq was actively waging war against the U.S. and our allies, and Iraq was a direct threat to Saudi Arabia. Many on the left try to point out that Iraq was a serious threat to Iran, and that is why we should not have removed the Hussein regime.

        Texans beat the Titans. Sa-weet.

        Anyway, our “occupation” of Saudi Arabia is what turned al Qaeda against us, and that was done with permission from the House of Saud to “contain” Iraq, which means the war was dialed down but ongoing.

        Iraq could have avoided all of that if the Hussein regime had not invaded Kuwait. Could have avoided it if Iraq left Kuwait when we threatened military action. Could have avoided it if Iraq had chosen to abide by the terms of the cease-fire. Could have avoided it if the Hussein regime took our threats in 2002 seriously. Hussein made the mistake in thinking that Bush43 was just going to drop a few bombs and be like Clinton. Democrats are weak, and that causes problems in the long term.

        I don’t really blame Clinton that much, he didn’t have the support to launch a major military action. He did take action due to Iraq working with al Qaeda, and he did it in the midst of the scandal involving the blue dress. Obama should know better, things today are very different from the way they were in the 1990’s.

        You whine about morals, this is war. And we were winning it, we had al Qaeda on the ropes, defeated in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Now the Muslim Brotherhood is coming back, as well as splinter groups like al Qaeda and now ISIS.

        Lifer did a really great job with this latest entry in identifying the situation. We can’t just bomb or even invade our way to the solution, though those are things that are part of the battle. Lifer didn’t go into what he thought were the proper and necessary actions, and not that he would agree with my ideas of what needs to be done, but we are going to have to go the “extralegal” miles to deal with it. It will take generations, it will be a long war, as it took generations to get this bad.

        The left thinks dropping a few bombs, declaring victory and running away works. It doesn’t. Even Obama is starting to figure it out now, much too late for him to do anything effective. And he isn’t doing anything that is effective. He is cornered and doing the very least he can while wringing his hands as he realizes what mistakes he has made and has no real idea nor guts to do what is needed.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Armitage outted Plame, but gets a pass from the left because he hated the Bush administration.

        So go find Dan, Bubba. You won’t have any luck trolling me.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Who the fuck gave Armitage “a pass” you willful lying troll Cap? And where the hell was he ever critical of Bush? He was part of Bush’s inner circle and he has no qualms having Scooter thrown under the bus for him. No honor among gutless coward wingnuts as amply demonstrated here.

        Find a comment from me “extolling” Richard Armitage? Go ahead.

        I have always included him in Bush’s cowardly cabal of draft dodging warmongers.

        Go back to trolling your fellow lying idiots on the chron Cap.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Well, Bubba, guess some of us were actually paying attention.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Prove it Cap. Think you can just lie and walk away? Maybe on the chron. So go use your ignorant lying slumming tactics there.

        Prove I somehow absolved Armitage.

        You can’t just help be troll can you Cappy?

    • kabuzz61 says:

      Fly, must you change the goal posts instead of just answering the questions? Was or wasn’t Iraq shooting SCUD missile’s into Israel? Was or wasn’t Saddam constantly violating the no fly zone? In case you guys think Captain and I are joined at the hip, Captain was never for Iraq, I was and am to this day. If you have a problem with someone or something, take it to them. Anything else would be whining and cowardly.

      Wow! Simply wow! Someone misses Danny and I know who it is.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Yes buzzy another fellow suckup OV who characterizes DanTroll as a “breath of fresh air”. That’s who misses a fellow wingnut troll.

        Not to mention YOUR never saying a word about his misogynist vulgarities buzzy.

        Keep trolling. All you are doing is painting yourself into a self immolating wingnut corner of lies.

      • CaptSternn says:

        I wasn’t originally for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but I did change my mind after doing a lot of digging and reasearch.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Something ‘you know who’ needs to do. 🙂 Some people just have rage and hate problems. I pray for them and pity them. It must feel awful to live like that.

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Some people have inveterate honesty problems. Even with themselves. Pathetically insecure and dishonest.

        It must feel awful to live like that buzzy.

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