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Science Fiction, Cool War and Civil War

Science fiction – or more accurately, speculative fiction –  has a rich tradition of exploring What if... scenarios, exploring alternative paths of important historical events, asking questions such as, “What if the South had won the Civil War?” or “What if America had lost World War II?”

Just a few of the multitude of novels diving into divergent paths for the American Civil War include Harry Turtledove’s The Guns of the South, Terry Bisson’s Fire on the Mountain, and Ward Moore’s Bring the Jubilee. The recent, best-selling Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters posits that the Civil War never happened and slavery persists in regions of America. Even politician Newt Gingrich has written in this genre: his novel Gettysburg, co-written with William R. Forstchen, explores how history might have unfolded if the Confederacy had won this crucial battle. In a more outlandish speculation, William Forstchen’s Lost Regiment series, beginning with Rally Cry, envisions a Civil War era Union regiment transported through time and space to an alien world.

But science fiction more often projects into the future. Something deeply human keeps us both fascinated and worried about tomorrow’s dangers. Several recent novels have foreshadowed a possible – and plausible – hot phase of the recurring American Civil War. I’ve written extensively about what I view as ongoing Phases of our American Civil War; luckily most segments of this persistent animosity have been tepid or cool, though the 1860s fever was near devastating. Indeed, I fear, with current tensions, the possibility that something could go volcanic. This was portrayed – in retrospect – by my post-apocalyptic novel The Postman, which has been receiving a surge of attention lately, for its depiction of “holnists” whose rationalizations sound very much like those of Steve Bannon.

One novel I’ve touted lately is Tears of Abraham, by Sean T Smith, which chillingly takes you toward a disturbingly hot second Civil War, a deadly struggle of countryman against countryman. What would happen if the U.S. split apart into warring states — set off by a far-reaching conspiracy? A president who declares martial law as states take steps toward secession. This page turner offers vivid, believable action and characters, along with sober, thoughtful insights into what it may mean — when the chips are down — to be an American. What divides us… and what unites us?

This seems particularly relevant considering the deep divides across America during the election cycle of 2016, where Red States and Blue States were more bifurcated than ever, seemingly unable to fully comprehend the opinions and problems of their own neighbors.

220px-TheCoolWarAnother science fiction vision that came to mind, given evidence of recent efforts by foreign powers to sabotage our democracy and economy, is The Cool War, published by science fiction master Frederik Pohl back in 1981. This tale portrays ongoing slow-simmering international tensions, a series of shadow wars where rival countries seek to sabotage the economy and markets of their enemies — and allies. In fact, I deem no novel to be of more immediate pertinence to any member of our defense and intelligence communities.

Wars, cool, cold or hot? David Rothkopf, editor of Foreign Affairs, distinguishes them, commenting, “The purpose of the Cold War was to gain an advantage come the next hot war or, possibly, to forestall it. The purpose of Cool War is to be able to strike out constantly without triggering hot war, while making hot wars less desirable (much as did nuclear technology during the Cold War days) or even necessary.”

51YXFeqOcQL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_In a similar vein, the near-future thriller Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War by P.W. Singer and August Cole envisions a revived Cold War, with rising tensions between the United States, China and Russia. An all-too believable war played out not just on land and sea, but also in space and cyberspace.

Returning to parallel universes, Philip K. Dick’s alternate history of World War II,  The Man in the High Castle — follows a scenario where the Nazis have won the war; it has been vividly adapted in the recent television series of the same name by Amazon. I’ve also explored that dark aftermath where the Nazis won World War II in my graphic novel, The Life Eaters. Connie Willis has revisited World War II in her novel, Blackout. Three time travelers find themselves stranded in London during the Blitz, facing air raids and bombing raids.

Another book just hitting the shelves –  American War by Omar El Akkad – is a dystopian novel about a Second American Civil War breaking out in 2074. The United States has been largely undone by devastating ecological collapse, a presidential assassination, the onset of a virulent plague arising from a weaponized virus, and a militantly divided North and South. The novel vividly portrays a doomed country wracked by vicious guerrilla raids, refugee camps interning displaced citizens, accompanied by relentless violence and death.

Whew! One can only hope that dark visions from these nightmarish scenarios might serve as self-preventing prophecies — much as George Orwell’s prophetic 1984 girded many to fight against the rise of any possible Big Brother to their last breath. Can we resist the divisions that threaten our country?

Indeed, our civilization’s ultimate success may depend on our foresight — perceiving potential problems we are able to navigate, mistakes we manage to avoid. Science fiction has often served to shine a light to reveal possible — and catastrophic — pitfalls in our shared future.

Warnings we would be wise to heed… and wounds we would be wise to heal.

 

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Standing Up for Abe Lincoln

I generally approve of Jon Stewart.  Among many reasons: he brings top opposition guests onto his show and argues with them respectfully, hearkening back to the style of William F. Buckley, on Firing Line… only punctuated with a little elevated potty humor. Stewart’s mostly-liberal audience follows his lead and is generally gracious to major Republican officials or authors… who flock to The Daily Show in order to hawk their books.  Which apparently do gain sales boosts, because Stewart’s viewers are open-minded and curious.  (Otherwise, those Republican authors would stop coming.)

In fact, Stewart has more top opposing guests on his one show than the entire Fox News network. (If you subtract the “adult in the room” at FN — Bill O’Reilly — FN would score zero, most months.)

jon-stewart-napolitanoHence, I wan’t too surprised when Stewart invited Judge Andrew Napolitano to convey his recent tirade – a real hit on Fox – against Abraham Lincoln. It’s one of the most spectacularly deceitful and perniciously vile rants we have seen in an era rife with vile rants, but on the Daily Show Napolitano was allowed to argue his point with Jon Stewart. Then guest historians (in a faux game show called “The Weakest Lincoln“) shot down Napolitano’s purported “facts” amid a tenor of friendly humor. The judge chuckled amiably. Sure. Fine.  I guess.

Still, I was drawn to recall something I read just last November, referring to how the angry white males of the New Confederacy are now dumping all their former heroes, like Adam Smith, whose version of open-fair-flat capitalism is no longer suited to the right’s narrative… and the leader that their parents loved above all others:

150-Lincoln-Gettysburg“How ironic, for this coincides with the passing of the Greatest Generation — men and women who fought down the curse of Hitlerism, who overcame the First Great Depression, who embraced the plan of Marshall, Truman, Acheson and Eisenhower to contain communism peacefully until its fever broke… without nuclear annihilation. All so that their unique nation might live.

“A generation that created the mighty American middle class, amid a burst of entrepreneurial productivity so fantastic that their children could afford to take on ancient evils that all others had taken for granted, like racism, sexism and environmental blindness.  The brave men, living and dead, who struggled in those mighty causes shared one trait more common than any other.  The Greatest Generation adored Franklin Delano Roosevelt — once compared lovingly and in all ways to Lincoln — but who now one third of our fellow citizens have been talked into equating with Satan Incarnate.

“How long until the same thing is done to Honest Abe?”

Okay, I didn’t just read that, last November… I wrote it, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  Indeed, that posting was one of my best and far more worthy of your attention than this little growl.  But it came to mind as Andrew Napolitano’s hateful slander began spewing across the Rupert-verse…. crashing upon the shore of The Daily Show. This spiteful revisionist attack upon Lincoln.

== The essence that Jon Stewart misses ==

denunciation-proclamation Stewart had dealt with some of Napolitano’s incantations in an earlier show. And mind you, there was time to only deal with a few of Napolitano’s “inventive” interpretations of history. Like the fabrication that slavery was “on its way out” in America by 1860 when, in fact, every historical analysis shows it to have been fantastically profitable for the top 0.1% plantation owners — though an economic disaster for poor whites.  Indeed, the total value of southern exports of cotton and tobacco exceeded ALL northern industrial exports at the time.  His screed is based on that outright lie.

Alas, many other falsehoods were left unanswered.  For example, Napolitano asserted the southern states’ top grievance was largely about tariffs.  A howler that slides past because half-educated folks vaguely recall that John C. Calhoun had threatened secession around 1830 over tariffs.  But a closer look shows that the 1830s levels were rescinded to appease the South.  Soon the South took over the federal government for three decades!  By 1860, tariffs were at their lowest rate in half a century.  In other words, the judge just keeps those bald-faced lies a-coming.

PAST-civil-warOf the “grievances” that filled the secession declarations, there is no  mention of “tariffs” or “states rights” even once, though “slavery” is praised in glowing terms in the S. Carolina document, thirty or forty times. The notion that such people would simply have let Lincoln “buy” the slaves’ freedom isn’t just laughable… it is functionally insane.

In fact, the Civil War did not start with the firing on Fort Sumter.  It began in 1852 with the passage – and brutal enforcement – of the Fugitive Slave Act, which led to invasion and outright raids of northern states by squadrons of irregular southern cavalry, committing outrages and depredations from Illinois to Pennsylvania, supported first by southern-appointed U.S. Marshals and later – when locals began resisting – by federal troops.  These slave-catcher raids, smashing into homes, terrorizing neighbors and dragging off friends you knew since childhood, were the prime provocation that radicalized northerners into re-starting their dormant militias. It is what drove many of them to support Lincoln.

Read more about this!  Napolitano rages at Lincoln for continuing to let US Marshals catch and return a few slaves after the Civil War began.  But note these were all along border states like Kentucky, that he was desperate not to rile up and to keep in the Union — touch and go in the first two years.  That may have been iffy realpolitik, but it does not make Lincoln a “kettle” next to the Confederacy’s volcanically evil coal.

== The miscalculation ==

All right, all of that does not matter. What matters is that this time, Jon Stewart deeply miscalculated. He thinks he put Napolitano in his place, amid general hilarity and joviality, by showing some college professors refuting his “facts.”  But watch the clip and look at the judge’s face!  His smile.

He is winning.  Because he is not playing to Stewart’s Daily Show audience. And he is not doing this to convince a majority of Americans.  Certainly not those who would listen to a college professor!

GettysburgAddressLincolnGovernmentNapolitano is part of the Murdochian campaign to keep just 25% of the U.S. public riled up in frothing fury. A New Confederacy that’s so far around the bend they’ll help tear down every consensus effort and success of the American republic since FDR… and even since Lincoln.  So stoked on hatred of “government” that they sincerely want to ensure that “government of the people, by the people, for the people SHALL perish from the Earth.”

Older Republican icons are now toxic. Dwight Eisenhower is assailed as a lackey of FDR. Richard Nixon is called a “liberal”  … (compared to today’s GOP)… and Ronald Reagan is barely mentioned, so soft, progressive and “green” he now seems, by comparison. Confronted with the pro-competition positions of Adam Smith — warning against oligarchy — rightist shills now dismiss Smith as “archaic.”

ReclaimAdamSmith(See “Liberals Should Reclaim Adam Smith: The ‘First Liberal‘!”

Should we be shocked that this radicalization now extends to Abe Lincoln? The Sumter shots of  re-ignited Civil War have been landing for more than a decade in the America that pays the taxes, invents, creates wealth and forges the future. Like our forebears, we who are of cooler blood, steadier emotion and scientific-mindedness have been slow to realize the fiery heat of this assault.  But we’re not lesser men and women than those blue legions who finally stood up when pushed too far.

I said it much better here.  If we must, we’ll rouse and — peacefully, with malice toward none and charity for all, but with the firmness of purpose to do the right, as God allows us to see the right — we’ll struggle for our Union. So that the great American Experiment may go on.

Tuesday evening on The Daily Show, author Paul Taylor discussed the millennial generation and his book The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown.  In discussion with Jon Stewart, Prof. Taylor said that the clade following the millennials… encompassing those born after 2000… does not yet have a name.  Um, well… may I weigh in?

Blackjack-generation-21Way back in 1989, in my novel EARTH, I portrayed folks in the 2030s referring to this generation as “blackjacks”… because they were the first ones born in Century Twenty-One.

Blackjack? Twenty-one? Get it?  Cool, eh?  Oh… never mind…

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Past keeping faith with future… and day with night

== Why the U.S. Civil War -relates to Sci Fi  ==

BurnsCivilWarEach night in November we watched Ken Burns’s CIVIL WAR documentary with our 16 year old. A terrific work of high-class, dramatic and enriching media, very highly recommended. Still, I felt the documentary was a bit light on the underlying causes of a national trauma that is resonating within and among Americans.

Oh, sure, slavery was central. Those who try to minimize that or make other excuses ought to read the actual documents and declarations of secession published by South Carolina and other rebel states. South Carolina’s declaration used the word “slavery” proudly, dozens of times. Those declarations presented “grievances” which pretty much consisted of hating northern states for not shutting down abolitionist newspapers. That truly was about it, in almost every secession declaration: “you Yankees allow freedom of the press so folks can say mean things about us. In that case, we spurn the oaths we swore. Goodbye.”

“States’ Rights” were scarcely mentioned — indeed, the south had pretty much owned and operated the US Federal Government for thirty years till Lincoln’s election ended that long run.

I have long held that the Civil War did not start with the firing on Fort Sumter.  It began in 1852 with the passage – and brutal enforcement – of the Fugitive Slave Act, which led to invasion and outright raids of northern states by squadrons of irregular southern cavalry, committing outrages and depredations from Illinois to Pennsylvania, supported first by southern-appointed U.S. Marshals and later – when locals began resisting – by federal troops.  These slave-catcher raids, smashing into homes, terrorizing neighbors and dragging off friends you knew since childhood, were the prime provocation that radicalized northerners into re-starting their dormant militias. It is what drove many of them to support Lincoln. Nothing like it happened in the south until Sherman.

But slavery is gone.  So why are we still blatantly fighting the same Civil War, 150 years later? Across pretty much the same geographical and cultural divide? Can it be something deeper and psychological?  A current that flows through impenetrable veins, that made slavery a poisonous side effect and not a primary cause?

GettysburgA hint can be found in Ted Turner’s excellent 1993 Civil War film, “Gettysburg,” based upon the 1974 novel, The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. (Don’t bother with its putrid film prequel “Gods and Generals.”)  In “Gettysburg” a British military observer, sympathetic to the Confederate cause, comments to General Longstreet that both sides spoke the same language, sang the same songs… but had different dreams.

This resonates with what Mark Twain said — blaming the war on the addictive quasi fantasy novels of Sir Walter Scott and the streak of romanticism that wove through Southern sensibilities. Indeed, Sam Houston is quoted in the Ken Burns documentary, predicting that hot southern blood would be overcome by northern coolness and ponderous momentum of will.

A hundred years ago, in the time of Spengler, Spencer, Wells and Stapledon, this notion of national character was taken seriously.  That the pragmatic cynicism of the French and British contrasted against the Romanticism of Germany and Russia.  And yes, Nazism was the most thoroughly Romantic movement ever conceived.  It is one reason why I am chilled by Tolkien, though I respect him.  It is why I find deeply disturbing the utter-romantic visions of George Lucas.

This is not unfamiliar territory for me! I have a romantic soul – sired by generations of poets – that has been harnessed by discipline in science. Hence, I know what both science and romance are good for. Romance is for the evening, when the day’s work of contributing to civilization is done.  When all the drudgery of adult endeavors — cooperation and competition and accountability and all of that — can be put aside. The stars come out, a chill breeze blows, and the snapping of a twig out there can suddenly send chills up your spine!

Romance renounces accountability and so-called “objective reality!” It sees no need for them. And when that mind-set ruled our daylight hours, warping politics and business and the way we perceived our real-life neighbors… horror ensued.  In almost every other culture and society, the romantic tendency to view our own worldview as perfect and the enemy as subhuman reigned.  Until the Enlightenment came to show us – oh so painfully and gradually – how to utter the great words of science and decency: “I suppose I might be wrong. Let’s find out.”

KillerAngelsBut that way of thinking is for the things we do in sunlight. Cool science is for day, when a civilization must be built by negotiation and practical arts and compromise and fact-checking and the banishment of rage. When matters are decided that might decide or alter life… or death.

Romanticism must never again be allowed anywhere near the world of policy! Despite the Riefenstahlian machinations of Rupert Murdoch and Rush Limbaugh. Or Vladimir Putin or Al Qaeda. Or the residual torches of recidivist leftism that keep trying to warp the liberal mindset. Romance ruled our forebears and made ten thousand years of living nightmare! Good-riddance in the daylight of grownup activities.  Justice, science and saving the world – these pursuits can’t afford delusion, no matter how vivid and tantalizing it may be..

But oh, how horrible it would be to live – as human beings – without any romance at all!  The shiver of something unknown.  The brush at the cheek.  The thrill of obsession. The itch that must be scratched.  The itch – the compulsion – to howl! We pay our dues by day, striving to make a civilization without fear or want or much pain. But it will all be for naught if –  at the end of each day – we cannot welcome back night!

I thought of this a few weeks ago, while visiting my home town of Los Angeles help dedicate a square in honor of LA’s greatest literary son, Ray Bradbury.  I pondered how Ray was the truest romantic of all. How he plumbed the darkest corners of the human soul.

But Ray also despised pessimism. He was grateful to a civilization that had been good to him, that gave him readers and audiences and a chance to play pundit during moon landings… and to see four healthy daughters grow up into bold, unlimited women. How to reconcile those two apparent contradictions? Honest gratitude with a soul that screams at infinity? It’s simple. Division of labor.  Be willing to be many.

Darkness is to be shivered at voluptuously…

… and shivers make the darkness ours.  They push aside the Gernsback Continuum of day, which strives to make a future for our children…

…and instead give us the moment. They take us back to wallow in past eras and ways, when light did not fill the world but rather flickered bravely against a chill wind and looming darkness.  Against all odds, we flickered. When courage was our only weapon in the wild and vivid night. The same realm we still go to in our dreams, after dusk, when duty’s put aside.

Oh, if we make a better, saner world… as in Star Trek… I hope we never lose that driving need, that penchant and longing!

For telling ghost stories by the campfire. And wolf-calling at the wild moon.

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The Case for a Scientific Nation: Part One

While the Democrats held their gathering, I kept getting messages: “How did you know offshore banking havens, like the Caymans, would become a big issue?” Referring to my 1989 novel EARTH, in which secret caches of stolen wealth became the world issue by the 2020s.

Despite grim satisfaction from successful forecasting, I get no charge out of a looming, worldwide class war, (discussed a few posts ago… and we’ll revisit soon).  It could be tragic, wasteful and dangerous, though unsurprising, if you study history and human nature. Fortunately, we’ll have good billionaires on our side – Buffet, Gates etc.  But it will be rough. And enough of that.

Anyway, scores of other matters leaped to mind, during DemCon2012.  Especially the role of science in this election.

First though, a confession. It’s a rough time for contrarians. My liberal friends hear me go on about Robert Heinlein and Adam Smith: how creative competition makes positive sum civilization. Libertarians call me an “eco-nut,” a comprimiser and a “bleeding heart.”  I like to straddle fences, pointing out flaws and positives to all sides, encouraging the pragmatic negotiation for which Americans were once renowned…

… till we plunged — or were pushed — into phase three of our Civil War.

Alas, despite that contrarian instinct, I must take sides, because one wing of American political life — the same one that was wrong in all the previous stages of civil war — has veered away from the logical, courteous, cautious, pragmatic and intellectually cogent conservatism of giants like Goldwater and Buckley, into fevered fact-aversion unparalleled in the U.S. since the pre-1861 Know Nothing party. I’d love to see a mature conservative or Libertarian movement present at the negotiating table, standing up sensibly for the role of competition in a mixed and agile civilization.  Adam Smith’s enlightenment  suffers when they are absent. Indeed, perhaps sane conservatives will rise up someday against the hijackers of their movement… as liberals once did once, in the “Miracle of 1947.”

Overcoming the dogmatic followers of Rand, Limbaugh and Murdoch and Prince Waleid, they might bring the spirit of

Smith and Goldwater, Heinlein and Buckley back to the table, reminding us that the state is not always the whole answer.

While admitting that it isn’t always the enemy.

== What can end our Civil War? ==

Nice dream? Well, it assumes there’s still a “table” at all.  Instead of a smoldering pile of ash, in our modern era of no negotiations!

Alack, it will take a rout, a towering, epic defeat this November, for that kind of re-assessment to happen.  Hence, every smart person I know in the castes hated by the New Right – scientists, entrepreneurs, economists, teachers, doctors, military officers, engineers, economists, civil servants and so on – had their eyes fixed on Charlotte this week, hoping for more than just some sane liberals to vote for.

What will finally convince those moderate, sane, Buckley conservatives and Smithian libertarians to help end the civil war, by making November a rout?  They need proof that this struggle is not between left and right.  Instead it is between future and past.

What it will take is . . .  a re-dedication to science.

== Making Science an Issue ==

The professional pols don’t want to go there. Even those who like science fear discussing it. If you start talking like a boffin, especially after two decades of Fox propaganda that scientists are cowardly, conniving, herd-following elitist lemmings, you might get hammered as a “snob.” Nor is the other side guilt-free in the dumbing down of American discourse. The left has contributed to this problem, an aspect I’ll discuss in Part Two.

Still, there has been some movement!

For example, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have both agreed to address the questions posed by Shawn Otto and ScienceDebate.org. See their answers here. (And support the effort, if you can!)

Indeed, there is room for some encouragement. Mitt Romney’s answers about climate change have shifted from his adherence to the Fox party line, back to the answers – vague but not troglodytic – he used to give, before the primaries. That is, he went reasonable for ScienceDebate.  Of course he also still voices the “I doubt it” answer, depending (chart it!) on which audience he is speaking before… as if he does not quite realize that we have recording devices in this century.  Ah, well.

Unfortunately, to date, only two members of Congress have responded to the ScienceDebate questions! And House Speaker, GOP Rep. John Boehner outright declined. (See the site, to easily pressure your own congress-critter to answer!)

Go look the answers over.  Discuss them here in comments and with your friends.  Make science policy an important topic. And if folks don’t seem to care, ask them why.  Their answers may illuminate what’s at stake.

== Science is the linchpin of this civil war ==

Next, in Part Two, I’ll talk about how some democrats, too, have sinned against science, but how — despite that — this issue still distills a crucial difference, one the should decide any reasoning U.S. citizen during Phase Three of the American Civil War.

No, this election is not about left-vs-right. (Not when the economy, stock market, business startups, innovation and every other metric of competitive market health always does better under democrats.)

No, it is about whether we’ll remember that half of all economic growth since 1945 was propelled by science, technology and innovation.  And whether we might decide, once again, to be a pragmatic, scientific and calmly reasonable people.

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Custer and Sitting Bull…and the politics of idiocracy

Stinky bull — Fox sings the praises of “General” Custer. President Obama’s new children’s book — “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters” — celebrates 13 famous figures in American history, including George Washington, Jackie Robinson, Neil Armstrong, Helen Keller and Sitting Bull. Profits will be donated to a scholarship fund for children of fallen and disabled American troops. But this is how Fox Nation chose to present the book… “Obama Praises Indian Chief Who Killed U.S. General.”

Never mind that Sitting Bull was too old to fight at Little Big Horn and certainly killed no one, on that fateful day. Even making allowances, anyone with an ounce of intelligence would dismiss this snark as just another example of pinheaded culture war.
Still, I do have to offer a small side note, in the interest of historical nit-pickery.  I don’t know if anyone else has pointed this out.  But at the time of the Battle of Little Big Horn, George Armstrong Custer was not a general.

Yes, he had been one, during the Civil War, when rank inflation made generals as common as grass nettles.  But after peace returned, those choosing to stay in the army took steep rank cuts.  Heck, at the time of his fateful encounter with the allied Lakota and Cheyenne nations, Custer wasn’t even a full colonel!  He did not command the Seventh Cavalry, but just one of its battalions, as a Lieutenant Colonel.

Violating clear orders, he led that battalion off scouting duty and straight into premature hostilities.  Violating all military sense, he peeled off two companies and charged them into certain death… thus saving the other two companies from the misfortune of his further suicidally insane leadership. (Those two mostly survived.)

Two companies, badly led by an insane lt. colonel, were wiped out.  A Fascinating event that did resonate loudly with the public. Still, on the grand scale of things, this wasn’t a “battle” but a dismal skirmish, in which all sides have been over-rated. Without taking away from the courage of Custer’s men or the victory of the tenacious war leader, Crazy Horse, certainly the earlier triumphs of Tecumseh were more substantial and came far closer to achieving historical change for native peoples.  But let’s admit the Lakota and Cheyenne earned a moment of significance in history, fair and square, especially through the later diplomatic skills of Sitting Bull.

So, does this nit-pick really matter?  Not really, except to illustrate another example of really, really bad journalism.  The shabby villain in all this is snippy little episode — as always — Fox News. No other force in American life is as responsible for undermining the old spirit of pragmatic negotiation with our neighbors and non-political problem-solving, than this foreign-owned organ of bilious hatred, whose incessant lying has forced many of us Goldwater Republicans to flee in disgust from a GOP that has gone quite un-dead.

OTHER POLITICAL MATTERS:

Faced with rising, dogma-driven attacks upon science, hundreds of climate scientists are joining a broad campaign to push back against congressional conservatives who have threatened prominent researchers with investigations and vowed to kill regulations to rein in man-made greenhouse gas emissions…. Now, the American Geophysical Union, the country’s largest association of climate scientists, plans to announce that 700 climate scientists have agreed to speak out as experts on questions about global warming and the role of man-made air pollution.
I have urged that scientists take a less-passive stance in the “war on Science,” which is spearheaded by precisely the same law firms, think tanks and ad agencies who brought us 40 years of “tobacco is good for you” and who now pushboth creationism and climate change denialism from the same slush funds.  In fact, the scientific consensus is not always right, and benefits from regular scrutiny and criticism! But parsing the difference between genuine Skeptics and members of a dogmatic cult is something that scientists are going to have to learn to do.
Following up on my posting about “corporate personhood:
Murray HIll Incorporated Running for Congress.”
And finally… from a classic article (2005) in Esquire: “Greetings from Idiot America” Creationism. Intelligent Design. Faith-based this. Trust-your-gut that. There’s never been a better time to espouse, profit from, and believe in utter, unadulterated crap. And the crap is rising so high, it’s getting dangerous. By Charles P. Pierce

“…a pastor named Ray Mummert delivers the line that both ends our tour and, in every real sense, sums it up: “We’ve been attacked,” he says, “by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture.”

“The rise of Idiot America is essentially a war on expertise. It’s not so much antimodernism or the distrust of intellectual elites that Richard Hofstadter deftly teased out of the national DNA forty years ago. Both of those things are part of it. However, the rise of Idiot America today represents — for profit mainly, but also, and more cynically, for political advantage and in the pursuit of power — the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people whom we should trust the least are the people who best know what they’re talking about. In the new media age, everybody is a historian, or a preacher, or a scientist, or a sage. And if everyone is an expert, then nobody is, and the worst thing you can be in a society where everybody is an expert is, well, an actual expert.”

“In the place of expertise, we have elevated the Gut, and the Gut is a moron, as anyone who has ever tossed a golf club, punched a wall, or kicked an errant lawn mower knows. We occasionally dress up the Gut by calling it “common sense.”

Is that creepy enough for you to realize they mean it, when they say “Culture WAR”?  Now recall that these are allies of the same folks who brought you “cars don’t make smog,” then “flouride is a commie plot,”

Now hop over and have a look at these links, and remember, these are the guys who, via their wholly owned propaganda machine, have used populist methods to rile up a third of the US population against science, against their own government, against the universities, the cities (that pay most of the taxes and that sit in the terrorists’ crosshairs) and against modernity.

http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ List_of_Saudi_ billionaires
http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ List_of_the_ richest_royals
http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ List_of_Arabs_ by_net_worth
http://www.zawya. com/story. cfm/sidGN_ 11032010_ 120349/The% 20Billionaires% 20Club
http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ List_of_richest_ American_ politicians

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