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October 18, 2008

AWOL Campaign Issues

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

I'm not a total political junkie. Honest.

And I do try to focus my posting on arts and cultural matters along with whiffs of how I experienced life in the distant past (so that younger readers might get a sense of those times).

Nevertheless, it's a presidential election year and November isn't far off, so indulge me this observation.

A year ago and perhaps even six months ago the Iraq war was a major subject of political controversy. Now it borders on being secondary except when candidates occasionally feel the need to burnish their ties to their bases or jab at their opponent's presumed flaws. This would have been surprising to junkiedom a year and a half ago.

Here's what's even more surprising. Well, it is to me. Maybe I don't read the better blogs or pay as much attention to political debates as I should, but I haven't heard as much about Global Warming and other environmental issues as I had expected.

Some of this probably has to do with $4 per gallon gasoline prices. Hard-core environmentalists doubtless stuck to their plan to save the planet regardless of human costs. But even Democrat politicians seem reluctant to push those issues hard when the general population is unhappy about the cost of transportation and heating houses.

Then there are statistics indicating that the earth essentially hasn't warmed since the end of the century. Plus the cooler weather most people have experienced the last two years or so. These too might have dampened public willingness to buy into the notion that world catastrophe is right around the corner.

Yes, McCain mentions now and then that he plans to do something or other. And Obama when in Berlin said something about lowering the oceans or maybe parting the Red Sea. But I've heard little about Kyoto Treaties, carbon footprints and all that.

I suspect this lull is temporary. We'll be hearing far more about such things than I want to after the election if the vote goes according to current polling data.



posted by Donald at October 18, 2008


If the economy tanks, you won't hear about GW, Peak Oil or Iraq even after the election. Iraq has more or less been won, (US combat deaths so far this month...3!,) oil is down 50% from its supposedly inevitable Kunstlerian level of the summer, and GW is collapsing at the scientific level and not just in popular concern.

The Supreme Court follows the election returns, said Will Rogers. Well, concern about global warming, the environment in general, foreign affairs, etc., all disappears when the money and jobs dry up. That stuff follows the economic returns.

What is interesting is that the immigration issue will likely go the other way...if illegals don't mass self-deport in the first few years of the upcoming recession, if that's what's going to happen to the economy, they will find to their surprise that the laissez-faire attitude about them will disappear along with Eco-Armageddon, and they'll be bundled lickedysplit out this country before you can say DELICIOUS CHILE RELLENOS.

No matter who's in the White House. Won't matter a bit.

Posted by: PatrickH on October 18, 2008 2:39 PM

I remain impressed that our friend from Canada has become so engaged in our politics that you might assume from his comments that he lives in Dallas rather than Ottawa. You'd think he might instead answer some of the questions folks south of the border have about the election he actually just participated in rather than paying so much attention to our upcoming election.

What shall we make of Harper's victory? Did the financial crisis help stay in office or hurt his party from getting a majority? Was Dion's heavily accented English part of the reason the Liberals lost ground? Are there issues and outcomes that might foreshadow what may take place here on Nov.4?

Iraq went from being a key issue to a non-issue for a variety of reasons. The final element in taking it almost completely off the table just occurred with the announcement that the Bush Administration and the Iraqi government have pretty well closed the deal on a timetable for troop withdrawal. Anyone care to comment on how close it seems to be to the one Obama was campaigning on before the financial crisis pretty much drown out Iraq policy as an issue of public interest?

Issues like GW and the environment are playing out in the differences between the two parties over how to best restructure tax incentives and subsidies to get the economy moving again. Is it time to aggressively revitalize the nuclear power industry and "Drill, baby, drill!" or do we need to focus more on building a new sustainable "green" power industry? Do we favor decentralized and emerging approaches or expansion of the centralized system based on fossil fuels we now have? This is how these topics are being framed rather than the old debate over whether climate change is being contributed to by man or not or whether we should give greater weight to air quality or industrial productivity.

Call me a Puritan, but the sooner we accept the idea that it is time to figure out what comes after oil and other fossil fuels the better. We're obviously going to need to use them throughout the transition to whatever comes next. There are also obviously going to be those tasks that will still continue to require them no matter what. So, not inefficiently burning through what we have at an ever-accelerating pace on the faith that more oil will always be found seems a no-brainer.

Posted by: Chris White on October 18, 2008 4:31 PM

During the Congressional elections two years ago, immigration was actually the big scary issue and we have not heard a word about it on the campaign trail during 2008 either.

My hope is that voters next month do what many did not seem to in 2004 and that is VOTE YOUR INTERESTS. If you're not voting what is really important to you, you end up voting for someone else's agenda.

Posted by: Joe Valdez on October 18, 2008 4:42 PM

As Tina "Sarah Palin" Fey puts it: Global Warming is nothing more than God huggin' us a little bit closer!

Great blog, guys! How about we exchange links? here's my most recent posting:

Meet the latest inductee into the Hypocrites Hall of Infamy

Posted by: Rich Merritt on October 18, 2008 5:27 PM

In the past year, I've seen more people embrace some of the things us tree-huggers have been bleating about for years due to the high cost of energy. Just look at the plummeting SUV sales and the waiting lists for a Prius. Both major party candidates are fairly committed (in their rhetoric, at least) to focusing on alternative sources of energy, with the only real difference being offshore drilling.

Posted by: JV on October 18, 2008 6:01 PM

I try to take an interest, I really do, but presidential campaigns have seemed dull ever since they stopped playing "Happy Days Are Here Again" at every opportunity.

Posted by: dearieme on October 18, 2008 7:24 PM

Global warming has become less of a partisan issue. McCain has made gestures in that direction, though Palin hasn't.

The big issue seems to be that McCain hasn't succeeding in disengaging himself from Bush. The Iraq War didn't help him at all, economic crisis pretty much killed him.

The real problem about the Iraq War is that the Democrats have not really renounced the policy that got us there, though I expect Obama to be less adventurist than McCain would be.

Posted by: John Emerson on October 18, 2008 8:16 PM

> What shall we make of Harper's victory? Did the financial crisis help stay in office or hurt his party from getting a majority? Was Dion's heavily accented English part of the reason the Liberals lost ground? Are there issues and outcomes that might foreshadow what may take place here on Nov.4?

I'm sure Patrick H. won't mind if I, a fellow Canadian, answer these for your edification, Chris White (but if he does, he can give his own answers).

> What shall we make of Harper's victory?

Nothing; it was a vote for the status quo, really.

> Did the financial crisis help stay in office or hurt his party from getting a majority?

Neither; we all know that that's primarily a global matter, and that there's not a whole lot Harper or Dion or anyone else could do about that.

> Was Dion's heavily accented English part of the reason the Liberals lost ground?

No, but the fact that in an interview a week or two ago, he didn't understand some interview questions put to him in English, and asked to restart the interview TWICE, didn't exactly inspire confidence in him.

Believe me, we've been mostly governed by French-Canadian prime ministers in the last forty years; heavy accents aren't even an issue, but basic English comprehension is.

> Are there issues and outcomes that might foreshadow what may take place here on Nov.4?

Nope. Different country; different priorities. We voted for the status quo; America is almost certainly going to face an Obama administration, which is at least a partisan change, even if in many areas, there are very little significant policy differences between him and McCain.

> I remain impressed that our friend from Canada has become so engaged in our politics that you might assume from his comments that he lives in Dallas rather than Ottawa.

Chris, we Canadians are de facto culturally dual citizens, both of our own country and yours; we watch American TV, including CNN; we go see American movies, we listen to American music, we read Time and/or Newsweek and/or National Review and/or the New York Times, etc.; we read American political blogs; we are equally conversant in American affairs as we are in our own; sometimes even more so, alas. Such is the price of living next to an empire. So there's no reason why Patrick and I and Clio and any other Canadian commentator here *shouldn't* be as conversant in American political affairs, as someone from Dallas. We know you, almost as well as you know yourselves, whether you like it or not. :)

Posted by: Will S. on October 19, 2008 12:20 AM

Let me apologize to Chris White for taking an interest in American politics and the election. Let me furthermore apologize for taking an interest in two aspects of the American election that clearly should only be talked about by Americans: GLOBAL warming and the supposed inevitable decline in WORLD oil supplies.

Sorry, Chris. I'll mind my own business in the future.

Posted by: PatrickH on October 19, 2008 12:55 AM

France's huge hydro and nuclear industries are proof that fossil-fuel dependence can be greatly reduced. Australia, with its massive coal and gas reserves, is in a different situation to France, but diversifying into hydro and nuclear would have enormous benefits for us. Nuclear and hydro aren't effective because we wish them to be so. They are effective because the French experience has proven it.

Don't approve of total oil-dependence? Neither do I. Citroen are designing a clever little diesel hybrid that promises to be a good performer yet stupendously economical. It will be manufactured by factories in a nation rich in nuclear and hydro power.

Why am I saying all this? Because for decades, here in uranium-rich Australia, nuclear and hydro initiatives have been consistently stifled, often violently. By whom?

Yep. You guessed it.

No wonder petroleum companies and gas-guzzlers like Richard Branson are so willing to gush green pieties!

Posted by: Robert Townshend on October 19, 2008 1:49 AM

Patrick – I fear I've been misunderstood.

I'm eager to have Canadians express their perspectives here. I'm a guy whose family spent summers living with his maternal grandparents way Down East; we made frequent hops across the border and watched Canadian television. Having moved back to Maine a couple of decades ago I'm more aware of Canadian culture and politics than many Americans. I find it distressing how little attention so many Americans give to Canada and how we fail to follow or think about what is going on there. And throughout the rest of the world, too, for that matter ... unless we have boots on the ground somewhere.

It is when you write comments about immigration policies like, "they'll be bundled lickedysplit out this country before you can say DELICIOUS CHILE RELLENOS" [emphasis added] that prompts me to ask which country you're writing about. Hearing how you think the Canadian approach to immigration is different in better ways would be exceedingly interesting. Or what mistakes you think both nations make or where Canada's experience with immigration policies should act as an example of missteps America might avoid, these are all of great interest.

Canadians might well have a very different perspective about GW given the increased navigability of the Arctic sea lanes as the ice shelf breaks up sooner and refreezes later each year. How you see these issues and the changes that might be occurring there is, again, of great interest.

Replace Canadian with Australian or New Zealander or Irish or German or Pakistani and my opinion would be the same. I think it is GREAT that a blog like this can attract an international group of commenters whose different perspectives are important, edifying and expand the dialog in compelling ways.

Posted by: Chris White on October 19, 2008 8:50 AM

No, Chris, I understood you very well [my emphasis below]:

You'd think he might instead answer some of the questions folks south of the border have about the election he actually just participated in rather than paying so much attention to our upcoming election.

Will S, you were so Canadian in your answer to Chris, because you were so polite! Chris isn't asking "questions" about Canada's election any more than he asks "questions" about immigration. He just doesn't want comments made here that challenge his position on certain issues, in this case Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming and sustainability as it relates especially to oil.

Sorry about the "this" country, though. I've been guilty of sometimes using that kind of phrase before...I identify very strongly with America and Americans. Sometimes I use "your country". Since you and everyone else here know EXACTLY WHAT I MEAN no matter which word I use, the issue is not that I'm a Canadian commenting on an internal American matter, it's the substantive nature of my opinions. You just want me to shut up and stop making uncomfortable points.


Postscript point about Iraq

Chris: Anyone care to comment on how close it seems to be to the one Obama was campaigning on before the financial crisis pretty much drown out Iraq policy as an issue of public interest?

I'll take that as an invitation that even includes us Canadians! After all, if we're not anyone, who are we?

The Iraq war withdrawal timetable is taking shape because the WAR IS WON. By the pursuit of a strategy that Obama OPPOSED. A strategy implemented by a General that (which strikes me as a Chris White-y kinda place) called "General Betray Us". A strategy designed by (among others) the notorious neocon Frederick Kagan. Iraq is not an issue only because Democrats like Obama, who favoured a strategy of precipitate withdrawal DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT. They've got egg on their faces that's worse than the after-action facial closeup in a full-scale bukkake flic. And they just want to right along, nothing to see here, along folks.

And now you're giving Obama credit for it. What's next? As the globe cools (my prediction) you'll claim credit for that all along?

As I said before, when the worm turns on you, y'all on the left on these issues will be claiming you and 165 billion other lefties were all in La Resistance the whole frickin' time.

Sure you were, mon oncle Chris. Sure.

Posted by: PatrickH on October 19, 2008 10:57 AM

Patrick – Your persistent misreading of my positions is perplexing. I'm very curious about what Canadians and others think about topics (like climate change) that affect us all and about how you see America's role on the international stage. I'm also interested in how you view our internal politics ... as I am interested in domestic Canadian politics. For example, as a First Amendment absolutist I find the Canadian human right tribunals punishing "hate speech" to be a frightening and sad state of affairs ... even if I sometimes find the "hate speech" being prosecuted abhorrent.

I'm far from a supporter of and its holier-than-thou tactics. That said my opinion about Iraq is reasonably close to Obama's. The thumbnail of my position is as follows:

I did not like the '91 Gulf War, but thought that it had to be done. It was done with the sort of international support and participation that speaks to its validity. When during that conflict Bush 41 called upon the Iraqi people to rise up against Saddam, with the clear inference that the coalition forces would support them if they did, it made sense. But when he then failed to lead the coalition to do so when they responded it was a terrible mistake. That mistake cost the Iraqi opposition dearly and fostered anti-American feelings among Iraqis who would otherwise be our natural allies. I thought Clinton did a lackluster job of dealing with the mess Bush 41 left him in terms of Iraq, although given that he was hobbled both by the way the '91 Gulf War ended and by domestic distractions it is unsurprising that he was not inclined to expend too much effort or political capital on Iraq.

When Bush 43 confronted the attack of 9/11 I believe he listened to a group of advisors who cared more about their political careers than the real security of the country or the peace of the planet. When efforts to find and either capture or kill OBL and the leadership of Al-Qaeda bogged down in the mountains of Afghanistan they decided to make Saddam Hussein's Iraq a target instead. Unable to reform a broad international coalition Bush 43 moved ahead on an attack against Iraq anyway.

Like Obama I think this was a mistake for a host of reasons. The touted reasons behind the invasion were distorted and oversold; Iraqi resistance was underestimated; the appropriate troop strength required for the job was underestimated (although not by the military); little attention was paid to the requirements for bringing stability to the country after the invasion. Decisions made by the Bush administration in a variety of areas related to forming a new Iraqi government were sufficiently misguided that they made sectarian and ethnic divisions worse than ever before in Iraq. These same decisions also strengthened Iran's influence in the region and have left us with a ticking time bomb where the Kurds are concerned.

The Surge was a needed corrective, late in the game, to deal with on the ground insurgent attacks that succeeded militarily. Unfortunately, there was a lackluster diplomatic surge to accompany the military surge.

Obama has been calling for a speedy draw down in Iraq matched by increasing the troop strength in Afghanistan and a tighter focus on Al Qaeda. Current events show that this is what the Iraqis want and what the Bush administration has finally accepted. McCain has persisted in calling any move to draw down forces "surrender" which I take as evidence that McCain is too tied to failed Bush policies to navigate a better course.

Posted by: Chris White on October 19, 2008 1:30 PM

You're right, PatrickH; he certainly doesn't care about Canadian politics; he didn't even respond to me. I'll not make that mistake again.

Posted by: Will S. on October 19, 2008 2:49 PM

Will S. -What response was I supposed to have? You offered cogent and insightful answers to some questions I had about Canada's recent election and how it relates to our upcoming one. Thank you. Your point about Dion's English comprehension skills being an issue, not his heavy Francophone accent, was particularly illuminating. As was your comment about how Canadians choose the status quo. There was little else I might say in response to your comment, while I still wanted to say more to Patrick. If that somehow offended you I'm sorry, although I'm somewhat perplexed why you would feel that way. And if you read my comment to Patrick you'll see that my view is the more different nationalities commenting here, the better. And I apologize that so few Americans, including the better than average bunch here on 2BH, seem to have much interest or knowledge about what is going on in other countries, even Canada with whom we share so much.

Posted by: Chris White on October 19, 2008 3:29 PM

Will S., yeah, don't make that mistake again. Notice how he simply stated that I was persisting in misreading him about not wanting Canadian participation in the comments area here...while completely ignoring the direct quote (with emphasis helpfully provided) that showed him doing just that. There's no truth so big or so obvious that Chris can't ignore it.

By the way, your answers to his "questions" were succinct and accurate, and you gave the best answer I've read about Canadian knowledge of American culture and politics. While I'm sorry Chris didn't bother to show you the respect of responding to your points, I hope you keep commenting here. I read everything you write, always learn something from it, enjoy your clean flowing style, and envy your good manners and your ability to control your temper...the last is something I really need to work on.

Keep commenting. You write good stuff.

Posted by: PatrickH on October 19, 2008 5:27 PM

Chris White: thanks. I certainly wasn't necessarily looking for praise per se, but I had assumed that you had asked questions because you wanted to learn the answers, and I suppose I figured a simple "thanks for an explanation" might have been forthcoming, which has indeed now happened; thanks again.

Patrick H.: thanks, bro'! Oh, I'll continue to be here, and comment as I see fit; you need not worry. :)

Posted by: Will S. on October 19, 2008 6:11 PM

Between this exchange and one I'm in on a neo-conservative blog I'm beginning to understand the allure of those echo chamber blogs. Silly me for preferring diverse company and wanting to read what folks I don't always agree with have to say.

How Patrick got me "not wanting Canadian participation in the comments" from my comment (with his emphasis) "he might instead answer some of the questions folks south of the border have about the election he actually just participated in rather than paying so much attention to our upcoming election" is, quite frankly, beyond me.

I enjoy jousting with you Patrick. I always appreciate Will's thoughtful and erudite comments, and often find myself agreeing with his points. Once more, with emphasis, I think it's great that 2BH has voices from different countries. As well as different political POVs. And that most definitely includes anything either of you have to say about our up coming election. My only caveat is that I do sometimes question Patrick's apparent self-identification as an American ... a partisan political one at that. I will no doubt continue to tweak him when he slips into speaking as if he did, indeed, live in Dallas not Ottawa. Just as I'll tweak ST about his love/hate relationship with Woodstock. And as I expect I'll keep being tweaked for my hippie dippy ways.

Posted by: Chris White on October 19, 2008 6:26 PM


I demand equal tweaking rights! For that pleasure I'm willing to adopt strident immovable political beliefs... about the Japanese political system.

How is it you get a caliber of such interesting and entertaining opponents anyways? All I get for beefs are dudes who post creepy ass stories about macking on teenage girls with braces and face glitter and "groundbreaking research" on the statistical decline of cupcakes on their blog. I demand foes like PatrickH and Shouting Thomas!

On a more serious note, is the Japanese parliamentary elections getting any coverage in the Western media? A lot of the stuff here makes dealing with the current global financial crisis the crux of the issue. One would think how one of the largest economies in the world handles its financial institutions and international credit levers would be of interest in America, if back-paged to A-32 due to the current Presidential election, of course.

Posted by: Spike Gomes on October 19, 2008 10:04 PM

Spike, your envy burns through as always. The "Decline of Marxism" series was picked up by A&LD, the Times Education Supplement, and the Globe & Mail -- all for something that took me an afternoon of work sitting at a computer.

Were you one-thousandth as intelligent, curious, and hard-working as I am, people might pay attention to your ideas too. You don't have to be a genius, just not a blockhead.

Tell you what, though. Since blogging is a goof to me, I'll let you put your name on the next thing I figure out that's interesting enough to publish on the net but not anywhere else.

I'm an old-style snob, so I believe in noblesse oblige.

Posted by: agnostic on October 19, 2008 11:29 PM

Other countries are having elections too? I had no idea ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on October 20, 2008 1:45 AM


Oh yes, because this is a place where we put so much stock in credentials and such-like.

Krugman gets in a lot of egg-head newspapers and even has a Nobel Prize. That doesn't mean he isn't a shrill, dull-minded hack who has built a career on finding the precise mechanisms of the utterly obvious, then beating the side of the tub proclaiming his prescience.

You mistake the lack of quantifiable research into certain avenues as evidence of a lack of intellectual rigor and creativity in others. No, it's more like a lack of interest in what is tedious and ultimately worthless.

You brag of finding such sublime statistical snapshots of humanity in a few hours time digging. I fail to be impressed by it. It's like proclaiming a retired Los Alamos engineer lazy because he had to use a slide rule to calculate his functions and didn't use a computerized modeling engine. Oh to look down on those who came before, so mired in their antiquarian methods, they have nothing to contribute to us, we the perfectly modern, eh?

The sad thing is, you're quite right in one respect. This way of data-mining is quite revolutionary. It will change how social research is done. However, you will not be the one remembered for creating the magnum opii using this new tool.

Just as qualitative genius devoid of any sort of empirical or numerical awareness leads to the secular equivalents of monks arguing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, or the shrill Kumbayah cum war chants of the "Fill in the blank" Studies departments, so too does a mind that can only think quantitatively provide only passing fodder for the chattering classes.

You mistake flawed conceptions presented with maximum braggadocio as a stand-in for actual fact. While a thick skin and an ability to posture are certainly necessary to be a successful academic, one makes conservative claims and spends months on developing a case for a reason. Namely, when it comes down to it, once you get past your dissertation committee, the gloves are off. I do wish I could see what will go on when you submit a peer-reviewed work for publication, it would be... delightful. Suffice to say, I don't think it would even phase you.

No, I'd just get pleasure out of seeing your rhetorical flailing while being flensed, raked over coals and bitchslapped by people who are much much smarter and well informed than I, a mere dabbler. Hah, it exists for that sole purpose. That's why I got out. Call it weakness if you like, I don't care. To be strong in *that* isn't something I value much.

That being said, I have no illusions that you *won't* end up an academic. It just takes a strong stomach and a willingness to eat cup-ramen much more often than a grown human should. If you can take the 5-9 years of grinding poverty, constant ego-battling and being around people who simply couldn't hack life outside the university, and pump out your 300+ pages, you get to battle for an academic job, where anything less than a Ph.D from a top-flite school means teaching at a Community College, mostly likely without benefits.

The sheer rarity nowadays of even State colleges hiring someone just out of grad school who is *not* in engineering or computer science or one of the fields where there is high private market demand bespeaks the most likely outcome of your life, being the dickish, priggish and a little bit creepy community college/junior college prof who fancies himself important because non-peer reviewed magazines still publish him and "they count for more, since they're not forced to speak the party-line and have higher circulation rates".

I can further imagine: You'll wear light colored sports coats to campus mixers and lean in uncomfortably close to frosh girls as you tell them "you remind me of this one chick I met in Barcelona with the most amazing smile. Really, you'd be a dead ringer if you dressed as elegantly as her, and hey, do you like to dance?" as they smile uncomfortably and nod, some of them putting a note in the back of their mind that if they take your class, they'll get decent grades if they wear tight jeans everyday and giggle coquettishly and stroke your arm during office hours. You may even go through the hassle of creating business cards with your publications listed on them.

You'll avoid doing as much of the endless committee work that academic life entails, but the others won't bug you about it, because of how intensely irritating you are to be around, as socially tone deaf as that Physics professor, but without his bumbling eccentric charm. Plus, it's whispered by some of more loose tongued, you had *improprieties* with a student once. Not just a plain vanilla affair, but with some quid pro quo involved. It might be true, it might not. No one really knows.

It's not such a bad life. It's a full-time job, and you will always be convinced of your vast import in life and the intellectual world. A few people will actually like and respect you. In the end though, after you die, you'll be as forgotten as myself and the countless others who sought to make themselves Ozymandias of the mind, consigned to dusty untraveled worm-eaten sections of the university library, where undergrads have furtive clumsy sex against the shelves.

What more fitting fate than to have an uncracked tome of your brain droppings grasped for physical leverage by a young coed?

One thing you can say about me, Aggie me boy, is that I don't lack for a vivid imagination or a sense of grasping a person's character, two things you are utterly devoid of.

To have your intelligence would be a curse to have a large amount of brain power and no discipline to use it wisely. To have your measure of curiosity would be to find delight in the obvious and tedious. To be as hard-working as you would involve too much time invested in maintaining a personal and mental facade as false as a three-dollar bill. You can keep your "strengths".

Though, however, I would like to take you at your word if you are a man who'll stand by it. It'll get to the real heart of the matter, and none of this oh-so-tiring shuck and jive in comment rolls.

Don't publish one of your net-pieces. Send the data, cites, and writing to me directly. I won't even put my name on your writing when I do publish it online. I only put my name on what I clearly write as my own. I pledge that I will not alter one single word of what you write. It will be posted as yours, complete and without any editing or expurgation, with my comments and critique following. Think of it as having a light preliminary peer review. I'm otherwise occupied in my writing through November and the beginning part of December, so I can't get to it until then, but after that I'm game. Now, I'm not a genius like you, so it won't take me an afternoon to do *my* work, but it will be done.

If you truly believe what you say about the solidness your finished work and my intellectual abilities (or lack thereof), then you have absolutely nothing to fear by this little exercise. You'll crow over my eviscerated corpse, and quite rightly so. I'll never ever bother you again with my needling little voice.

My one request is that you give me something interesting to work with. I really don't give a shit about cupcakes or teenaged asscheeks.

So, what say you? I've put my chips on the table. You going to ante up or fold?

Call it, friendo.

Posted by: Spike Gomes on October 20, 2008 10:26 AM

Wow. Folks have totally taken out the nerf bats, haven't they?

Anyway, when I first heard of global warming back in college (early 80s), it freaked me out because doomsday scenarios can do that.

So, for years, I read up on it and researched it and so on.

I've come to the conclusion that Michael Crichton did in "State of Fear" - it's probably not happening. If it is, it's probably a natural cycle we can't control ("ice age" anyone?). We also have not been collecting relevant data long enough to make any such long-term prediction either way (ice age or tropical age).

Should we try to be greener? Of course. It makes sense regardless.

Posted by: yahmdallah on October 20, 2008 11:20 AM

Chris, I don't know what Canadian culture you can pick up in Maine other than the hairy legs on the ladies from Kaybeck on the French-Canadian Riviera, otherwise known as Old Orchard Beach. Oh, wait, you can get poutine at Duckfat in Portland...

Will & Patrick, if you follow the press here in the self-absorbed States, you know that you'd probably have to question 50 Americans before you'd find 1 who knows who Harper is. Let's face it, your average American can't name his state representative!

Me, I want Madame Trudeau back!

For residents of the People's Republic of Massachusetts, compelling issues are definitly not AWOL. Our first 2 ballot questions concern eliminating the income tax and decriminalizing weed, both being given a good chance to pass in spite of the opposition from the good, "socially liberal" political class, which is 85% Democrat here. Statewide, the election of the hideous Barry O-blah-blah creates great opportunities here. Rumor has it thet Gigilo Kerry and Pimp-My-Gov Deval Patrick, our alleged governor and Obama buddy, are both slated to occupy some part of the new administration. That, coupled with the imminent demise of the Great White Whale of Hyannisport, gives voters here the possible chance to vote on the governor and both senators with NO incumbents in the running!

What's great is that state law used to dictate the the governor appointed the replacement for a congress critter not serving out the full term, but when Kerry ran for POTUS, the aforementioned Democrat-controlled state house developed hives over Governor Romney, a Republican for those who haven't noticed, having the chance to pick Kerry's replacement if he won (thank the Supreme Being that that never came to pass), so they changed the law, and now we have special elections. Given the love of justice and fair play that exists in our Commonwealth's power stucture, however, I expect them to change the law right back when the next session convenes.

Posted by: Brutus on October 20, 2008 8:10 PM

Spike: I demand foes like PatrickH and Shouting Thomas!

Spike, you wound me! That was a very hurtful comment. I hope you can see why.

Although I do admit that both ST and I are members of the human race, if at opposite poles of human development, so to speak. Membership in humanity is something I question when it comes to your little ant-aggie-nist, who's shown himself to be a genuinely nasty little c*nt.

So I like you too much to be your foe, Spike. Sorry.

Posted by: PatrickH on October 22, 2008 1:04 PM

Brutus, I too want Madame Trudeau back. She had balls, didn't she?

I join you in anticipation of the demise of the Chappaquiddick Floater, which will remove (finally!) the single most damaging political figure from American politics of the last fifty years.

I'll bet you God is going to f*ck us over though and give Ol' Noseveins a reprieve. After all, God is an Irishman, and that means he doesn't know his own Divine Afflatus from his Divine Flatulence.

He'll fart Teddy in our general direction for another couple of years. Enough to help pass an amnesty. Wanna bet?

Posted by: PatrickH on October 22, 2008 1:10 PM


All apologies, Patrick. I should have qualified the different ways of being entertaining. You and ST are both entertaining, but in very different ways. Wit versus the buffoon.

That said, one can say that at least ST has a soul buried under all the comic opera rhetorical excess, and is no doubt a very decent man in his personal dealings (which for the most part I would extend to the vast majority of posters here).

Like yourself, I do reserve such a personal estimation from that "mouse who roared". He is a nasty catty bitchy little thing, isn't he? Funny thing is, I could forgive him that, if his intellectual merit were worth anything. Goodness knows some of my favorite writers and thinkers were hardly decent human beings.

Well, at least he's smart enough to stay silent to my little proposition. Mores the pity. It would have been so much fun to play such a little game, but I suppose he's probably not the type to actually do anything when something is on the line, even if the stakes are as paltry as an online reputation.

Posted by: Spike Gomes on October 22, 2008 8:06 PM

ST has a soul

He does indeed. Much as I hate to admit it, I actually like him a lot. He's a character, and that's no mistake. I can't help the feeling that he's the kind of guy you'd want on your side in a bar fight.

Not like, ah, know.

Posted by: PatrickH on October 22, 2008 10:52 PM

Could we have more on the "light-colored sports coats" years. What book will he carry to impress the lay-dies? (I don't know if it is true, but it is entertaining.)

Posted by: sN on October 23, 2008 2:24 AM


Haha, I'd never thought I'd see the day when I would be praised by you.

In any case, it's a gestalt of certain academic types. I spent almost a decade working and studying on college campuses. Guys like Agnostic are an archtype, though he combines elements of the "balding over the hill player who thinks he's still with it" prof, the "socially tone deaf asshole" prof and the "genius in his own mind " prof in one body.

It's like some bastard offspring of the worst personal aspects of both the humanities and sciences faculties.

Suffice to say, my personal experiences both on-line and off feed into my fictional endeavors, so if I ever get around to publishing anything fictional, maybe you might be entertained by what I can do when I'm not shooting blog comments off the cuff.

Hey, even race realists get into my work, though with a much more positive portrayal than most depictions in fictional media. If you can believe it, I understand the roots of what you feel strongly about, even if I don't agree with the interpretation or expression.

Posted by: Spike Gomes on October 23, 2008 11:31 AM

Spike Gomes, I look forward to seeing your future efforts in fiction.

And feel free to continue throwing punches my way when the mood strikes. I think we both know that is the way it should be.

Posted by: sN on October 24, 2008 4:27 AM

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