Tomorrow Happens

...trends slamming at us from the dark

David Brin

David Brin
Location
San Diego, California, USA
Birthday
October 06
Bio
http://www.davidbrin.com David Brin’s novels have been translated into more than twenty languages, including New York Times Best-sellers that won Hugo and Nebula awards. His 1989 ecological thriller, Earth, foreshadowed cyberwarfare, the World Wide Web, global warming and Gulf Coast flooding. A 1998 Kevin Costner film was loosely adapted from his post-apocalyptic novel, The Postman. ............................................ Brin is a noted scientist, futurist and speaker who appears frequently on television (Life After People, The Universe), discussing trends in the near and far future, on subjects such as surveillance, technology, astronomy, and SETI. His non-fiction book, The Transparent Society, deals with issues of openness and security in the wired-age. ............................................. David Brin web site: http://www.davidbrin.com http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ Twitter: http://twitter.com/DavidBrin Facbook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/David-Brin/22358129265

MY RECENT POSTS

Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 27, 2011 3:04AM

Things Obama Did Not Have to Say - But Said Anyway

Rate: 12 Flag

The president’s State of the Union Speech was - at long last - the one I wanted him to give. It went after the very poison that has so sickened the United States of America. His call for us to shake off the Cult of Future-Hatred, indulged in by both right and left, was about urging us to start looking forward again, instead of to some mythically better past.

Clearly, Barack Obama does not expect that to happen through a sudden coming-together in unity and courtesy.  (He did ask for those things, but we know that asking will not make them happen).  For those those demanding accountability for the greedocracy of a looming oligarchy he had only incremental steps toward transparency. And, while the President pointed out the hypocrisy of Teaparty “deficit fighters,” who plunged the nation into tsunamis of red ink during their watch, in the name of disproved Voodoo Economics, he did so in fairly gentle terms. For one simple reason.

Because none of these side-skirmishes are where the real battle lies.

As I’ve said for months, for years, the real agenda of the neoconservative movement - its one consistent theme - has been to wage bitter war against nearly all centers of American expertise.

You may have only heard of one part of this campaign -- the relentless and undeniable Republican War on Science, now so blatant that Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh have all taken to deriding “scientists” as a universally-damned caste, no longer even applying qualifiers or conditionals! It’s become so flagrant that - whereas twenty years ago thirty percent of U.S. scientists registered republican - now, according to the AAAS and the Pew Research Foundation, only 5% cling to their old political loyalties with the GOP. Many remain “conservative” over matters of fiscal or foreign policy, but none can any longer abide an all-out, Know Nothing campaign against fact-based reason.

Is this why I applauded, so heartily, the president’s repeated references to science, technological leadership, innovation, education and bold entrepreneurship, in his State of The Union address? To renew that post-Sputnik spirit -- the fierce dedication-to-curiosity that forged the keel of our prosperity and success?  Of course it was. 

It reminded me of the moment I liked best, back on election night in 2008, when Obama’s victory speech resonated in so many ways... but I kept aloof from the regular, ringing rhetoric, listening not for the words that he had to say, but those that he inserted wholly on his own account.

(Try to develop this habit. It can be illuminating!)

We expected him to endorse all the requisite motherhood and apple-pie phrases... some of them universal, or pan-american and some blandly liberal.  You know, like unity, brotherhood, responsibility and - yes, hope. Yada. Good things. And totally expected. 

But when he spoke of a nation propelled forward by curiosity... that was what I had been listening for.  It wasn’t a word on anybody’s requisite political litany or list of necessary catch phrases. It was not compelled by politics, polemic or audience expectations, nor by tradition or dire need. Nobody even commented on it, in all the speech postmortems. It was there simply because Barack Obama thought that it ought to be.

A nation propelled forward - in part - by curiosity.  In 2008, it was a drop-in hint.  Last night, it was the central theme!

Moreover, Make no mistake, it was militant. They were fighting words. For, I was watching closely, and every single time that Barack Obama referred glowingly to science, or innovation, or entrepreneurial boldness, you could see the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, grimace or frown a little deeper, making clear that this is precisely where our deepest battle will take place.  Not across fictional gaps in a mythical and stupidly misleading so-called “left-right political axis.” But across a chasm between those dedicated to the past and those eager for the future.

Let’s be plain: I would have liked the speech even better, had President Obama directly challenged Congress to perform an act of good faith, by restoring the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), and other independent advisory boards that were wiped out during Republican control, when they decided to dispense with the inconvenience of reality checks from even the most studiously impartial and nonpartisan commissions.  Not having restored the OTA, when she had the chance, counts as my biggest grudge against former Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Obama should have demanded this, and dared the GOP to justify its refusal.

Yet, this is about so much more than science and technology.  Last night’s speech hinted that the President at last understands; the “war on science” is only the most blatant, surface manifestation of a general campaign against all of our professional castes. 

Name one that isn’t under fire from the new-right! Scientists, teachers, university professors, attorneys, civil servants, diplomats, journalists... heck even cops! And yes, if you have watched carefully, or know anything about the “miracle of 2006”-- even the brilliant men and women of the United States Military Officer Corps have been under assault, for years.

Why? Why has such a broad campaign to discredit (almost) every highly skilled and educated expert class become the centerpiece of conservatism?  A hijacked version of conservatism that has Barry Goldwater spinning in his grave?  You have only to look at the few centers of elite expertise that have been left alone! Those that are spared this all-out onslaught. The financial industry, industry lobbyist associations, and the hyper-rich.

A select group who are spared attack by Fox News. Now why would these groups want to fund propaganda aimed at undermining all other intellectual elites? Unless... in order to the power of those with the skill and fact-based knowledge to notice and point fingers at outright lies....?

Hm... well... maybe we can analyze that another time.  For now, let’s get back to the speech.

I had one proud moment when I heard the president drop in another of those “he did NOT have to say that!” lines. There was one sentence, while he discussed our need to improve American schools, when Obama mentioned something that our schools do better than any others on the planet. Do you recall what it was?  Did any of you catch it? Even briefly?

I doubt one pundit in a hundred  noticed.  But it is something that we do SO well that  Education Ministries in Delhi, Tokyo and Beijing send out hundreds of minions, every year, re-training teachers to instruct their classes in a more American manner!
   
Boldness, confidence, creativity, and unabashed willingness to question.  These are traits that American schools (and parents) encourage very well! They are not easily measured by standardized tests, so they do not get mentioned in the news, nor do they become the fodder for hand-wringing political diatribes. But, at last, I have seen one politician notice! Moreover, it is important. In order to improve, it is necessary to grasp what you are doing right, as well as what’s wrong.

    Do I expect this speech to make much difference? Indeed, was it even worth the time I spent writing about it? 

Not really.  Certain parties in high places, not just in America but in foreign lands, have already chosen to re-ignite Phase Three of the American Civil War. We are in it, right now, 150 years after the first shot was fired at Fort Sumter. (Which happened ten years after the Civil war actually began, in 1850. Ask me later.) When things have gone that bad, one doesn't hold out much hope for transformation emerging out of a single speech.

But at a time when all forms of expertise and skill and knowledge are the chief victims and targets in a bilious civil war, and when science is the paramount enemy - openly declared - of a faction that wants us to turn our backs upon tomorrow... any talk of "winning the future" is welcome, indeed.


----  FOLLOWUP ---

“During an appearance with Greta Van Susterin on Fox News, Sarah Palin criticized Obama for referencing Sputnik during the State of the Union, because she believes that Sputnik brought down communism. She said, “Yeah, they won, but they also incurred so much debt at the time, that it resulted in the inevitable collapse of the Soviet Union.” Yep, Sarah confused the space race with the arms race.”

Please, go read the article.  See what she said. Does it get any plainer than this? Choose tomorrow.

===

Your tags:

TIP:

Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:

Comments

Type your comment below:
This was smart, articulate, informative and (in the follow up), sadly hilarious. Excellent post.
I'd be a fool to try and outdo Cartouche's comment, especially since I agree with every word.
I would like to add one comment: even the attributes of our public schools you mention - boldness, confidence, creativity, and unabashed willingness to question - are under the same assault. This, in the name of "accountability" applied to teachers, puts so much stress on ensuring success on the standardized tests that such vital areas as creative thinking, problem solving and other skills that are less measurable objectively are pushed into the background by all but the boldest, most inspired and committed teachers. And even those teachers are feeling the crushing weight of expectations devised by politicians and their appointed bureaucrats.
I still can't believe Palin has a following. She and Rick Perry are clones. ;)
Science, innovation, the future, it seems like such an easy argument to make. I am reminded that when the Khmer Rouge gained power in Cambodia the first thing they did was kill off all the professional classes. Is that a common theme to revolutionary takeover? Is there a silent form of that occurring here?
Mr. Brin, thank you again for an insightful piece of writing. Very well put indeed.
Bravo for technological Utopia! Bravo the President and David Brin. We all need to unite firmly and look boldly to the future. Science and technology have already made great progress but we haven't seen anything yet compared the wonders we will soon achieve. We have hardly begun to reap the rewards of sci-tech. It is always encouraging when the the Establishment presents a positive view regarding sic-tech but I feel we are no going far enough with the positivity. We really need to instill everyone with the expectation that absolutely perfect technological utopia is coming.

The power of our expectations is crucial. The concept of Social Reflexivity and Self Fulfilling Prophecy clearly show how our expectations are extremely important regarding how the future is manifested.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reflexivity_%28social_theory%29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self_fulfilling_prophecy

Let's see the the Cult of Future-Hatred wither away and POWERFUL LOVE for the future arising in its place - utopia is coming.
Hope that makes sense, I'm in a rush, I love SCIENCE and TECH!

Thanks David for bringing this to our attention xxxx
It might be worth a look at another blog on this site at http://open.salon.com/blog/beverly_akerman/2011/01/26/the_soccer_moms_view_of_school_uniforms

where the overwhelming comments are in favor of stripping the kids even of the moderate possibility to wear inventive and original clothing, not to speak of having original and perhaps even unpopular explorations in their thinking. The whole cultural ambiance in the USA where a hefty sector of people dismiss evolution and are permitting all sorts of private invasions by authorities from the groping airport exploration of their bodies to the total permission of the enforcement agencies to blunder through their electronic correspondence with no necessity to demonstrate reasonable cause. Those involved in supporting Palestinian resistance to the brutalities of Israel are now labeled terrorists and are threatened for merely speaking out. I don't see much room for original thought there.
No one seems to know what the hell the USA is still doing supporting the drug lords in Afghanistan and Iraq with Obama's full enthusiasm. All that money seems to be much needed within the country and why isn't it used there?
I agree that Palin seems to be presenting herself as somebody out of touch with reality but it is rather naive to believe all the money spent to send the men to the moon was to bring back a few sacks of rocks and plant an American flag. Isn't there some suspicion that the expertise and hardware developed had something to do with the perfecting of intercontinental ballistic missiles?
I grew up in the nineteen thirties reading Campbell's wonderful cohort's space stories and being fascinated by Bonestell's interstellar views but the actuality brought back by modern robotic probes, although wonderful stuff, seems not terribly attractive for capitalistic exploitation and the quickly shrinking budget for NASA seems to confirm that.
I hate being negative but I see very little to stop me and turn me around.
Back to feudalism. Why aren't Americans rioting like the Egyptians and Tunisians?
Technical note for Dr.B: I left you a tip (theoretically, this would cost me nothing since I would get $10 for registering with Revolution MoneyExchange) -- but when I try to register, all I get is a large white frame with nothing in it except a button allowing me to cancel. So I can't pay up on that. (I tried this in both Firefox and Chrome. They probably never bothered to test it under Linux, and are using some proprietary 3rd-party plugin for which there isn't a good Linux equivalent.)
You see, and give voice to the forces underneath a great deal of our public conversation. Thank you.
Many of the surface level facts we are up against in public conversation are demonstrably false but have large public relations agencies and political advertising dollars spinning them to a place of power and prominence.
A guiding light equally compelling as Tea Party rhetoric is essential. Where is that being crafted?
I am committed to an effort to pull together talent to help craft an articulate and compelling frame forward that is rooted in hope. Any interest in joining forces?
Thanks so much for this David! I too liked what he said and didn't expect to - because he wasn't as eloquent as at the memorial service a week earlier (I know I know). But strip the words from their delivery (try reading instead of watching) and there was a lot of common sense.

The U.S. _must_ get back to having an economy based on production and not consumption because we Americans can no longer buy, buy, buy our way out of economic messes. And I blame both parties for the sorry state we are in: Bill Clinton (and Obama during his first two years in office) was every bit as much to blame as Reagan and Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. for relying on Wall Street to fix a mess they themselves created in demanding "reforms" that reward companies for sending jobs overseas and for making paper profits instead of products.
Thanks all. Woozle, I do not know how to accept such a "tip"... the number of cute web gimmicks out there proliferate like mad. Is this one really worthwhile?

Laura hi and thanks. I am blessed with having a bigger voice than most citizens get... and it still amounts to almost nothing.

For example, I have tried to dig UNDER our current culture war to show that it has little to do with old topics like left vs right. See:
http://www.davidbrin.com/realculturewar1.htm

and

http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2005/02/modernism-part-15-modernism-science.html

Can't even interest a nonfiction book editor. This despite the success of The Transparent Society: Will Technology Make Us Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?

I better stick to what I am paid for... sci fi!
I expected no less than a voice of reason from you, and once again you came through with golden flourishes. Well done!
My mother has long contended that what makes American education so good is that it's so bad. It doesn't take a bright eight-year-old long to figure out that s/he can't mindlessly absorb information from the authority figure at the front of the classroom who can't spell or factor numbers.

Now, I don't think that's fair to the legions of dedicated and talented teachers out there helping kids to learn, to think for themselves, to explore the world of ideas. But there's just a grain of truth there that is intriguing.
Dr.B: not that you need more time-sinks, but maybe something like KickStarter.com would let you raise funds to self-publish something based on those non-fic works. That would at least give you an indication of whether there was sufficient interest to warrant the effort.

There's also lulu.com, which has a range of packages starting at free and including options for promotion. I don't know if they give you any kind of option for a "trial balloon" the way KickStarter does, however. (Maybe a combination: raise money at KS to buy a promo deal from Lulu. The way KS works, if there isn't enough interest to meet the funding goal you set, nobody pays anything and you have no obligation to continue.)

[The "tipping" thing is a feature of OpenSalon; I only mentioned it because it said it was going to send you an email that there was a tip waiting for you -- and I wanted to let you know that it's bogus because the site wouldn't let me make good on it.]
So true about the education system in the US...I taught for many years in Africa, and while there are many flaws in this system, I love the freedom that the students have to question everything. That is democracy in action and encourages independent thinking.
Bravo!
Insofar as suspicion of social engineering is concerned the vociferous denial of reasonably solidified scientific truths would be highly comical if the results are not so tragic. The small group of powerful people that are in solid control of the media find it very profitable to keep the general public highly confused and resentful of any governmental action that might in any way infringe on the profitability of seducing and raping the public financially with all sorts of odd charges for mysterious services in communication and utilities and financial services and medical practices that are either not necessary or could be accommodated at far less cost. It does not do them well to have a rational and analytical and well informed public that can see to it that responsible legislation and governmental oversight produces an efficient and economical economy. Fear and confusion and secrecy are magnificent tools for manipulation of the general public and the US public in general are wonderfully susceptible to these refined methods. A good education would undermine all this manipulable machinery so it is naturally fought against by those who profit from it. Unfortunately those in control seem totally blind to the inexorable endpoint when a blind and stumbling and robbed citizenry causes the total mess to come crashing down in what probably will be horrifying violence.
Caracalla is flat-out wrong. The war on science is open, broad-fronted and across the board. Recent relentless statements by Beck, Palin, Limbaugh etc have made it clear that this is far beyond Climat Change.

You have it backwards. The fetishism over climate change was NOT about increased profits for oil sheiks and the coal Koch brothers. We thought that was the case, but it's not. It was the opening wedge IN ORDER to begin the major war on scientists as a general caste of expert human beings.

Um... where have you been?

The left does not have its equivalent of Fox because it is NOT ABOUT LEFT VS RIGHT. It is about personality types and blue-educated folk do not want to go zombie in front of ranting radio-heads, even ones they agree with.

Hence, blues have not been able to get their acts together to do the one thing that could end all this. * tune in to Beck's show... write down the names of all his advertisers... and participate in a boycott of those companies! *

That's do it. You all KNOW that'd do it. I doubt even one of you will. I haven't! Because I am the kind of american who is too busy and distracted and interested in so many things. I am NOT a lefty. I am blue.
This reminds me of a quote from TH White's Professor in Mistress Masham's Repose: "There are a thousand non-thinkers for every thinker in this world, and the non-thinkers hate the thinkers like poison." (Paraphrase. I'll have to find the exact quote)

But my day is made: I discovered that David Brin is posting on OS. Thanks! I point people toward your essay on skepticism vs denial often...I work in a science museum, and even our administration is reluctant to accept anthropogenic climate change. The exhibit and program departments forge on regardless. I run the planetarium, which is a terrific platform to do stealth education for the public...and a lot of school groups. Unfortunately the economic conditions keep many schools from sending students here any more.

I look forward to your next post.
This article may be of interest here.
http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/105982/20110127/teachers-back-away-from-evolution-in-class.htm#
More than anything, this piece makes the fatal flaw that most on this forum make conflating Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, demagogues if nothing else, with mainstream conservatives and Republicans. The vast majority of people in this country fall within the center of the political spectrum and for them (according to the National Science Foundation), scientists are the most well respected professionals in our society (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind10/c7/c7s3.htm).

It's very dangerous to take something as important as science, technology and engineering and make them into political issues. As a government-paid scientist, I truly abhor the likes of Palin, Beck and their colleague for politicizing every facet of culture, science included. They lower the individual IQ's of viewers by placating their already held political views on many issues and do not engage the skeptical concerns citizens may hold.

But do you all really think that the appropriate response is to politicize science even more? Do you think that it would be a good idea to make science and scientific research a political platform issue that stupidly conservative power mongers like Palin can use to further degrade our great nation?

That wasn't even the purpose of Obama bringing up science and innovation in the first place. He brought it up in the context of bringing different political minds together to appropriately tackle the economic situation we face now and will face in the future. So the very premise of this piece is fallacious and factually incorrect in itself.

If you all believe in science and technology as much as you claim, let others echo their bullheaded and factually baseless garbage into an empty chamber for the rest to see. Engaging them to a point where a fight begins will only legitimize their position where science becomes a real political issue. As a scientist, I can't afford that to happen and neither can you.
Thank you Altaira. You are at the forefront of the fight! Remember, you can read these postings also at http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ where the comments section has an excellent, well-developed blog community.

Demon I appreciate your attempt to distance mainstream conservatism from crazies like Beck and Palin. As a registered Republican who gave a keynote at a Libertarian Party convention (!), let me assure you that I am no kneejerk liberal. For years, I was tempted by the kinds of rationalization that you offer, above.

Alas, let me be clear.

1. There are moderate pragmatists who are democrats because they lean slightly toward using government, to help level the competitive playing field and to prevent oligarchy... but who love free enterprise entrepreneurship and who know that competition is essential to our success.

2. There are moderate pragmatists who are "conservative" because they lean slightly toward resisting government "solutions" because they have seen such "programs" get stifling, yet they do not refect government as evil and they know some is necessary, to help level the competitive playing field and to prevent oligarchy.

3. There are lefty flakes who actually yearn to use a nanny state to "equalize all outcomes." They make excuses for the oligarchy that called itself "state socialism."

4. there are right-wing crazies who denounce their own constitutionally elected government as inherently evil, who drum up populist hatred of all of the knowledge castes, especially scientists, except for a rising oligarchy who can do no wrong. They are inciting phase three of the American Civil War.

That was a long intro, Demon, but necessary. Clearly groups 1&2 could negotiate. Mixed methods that encourage most problems to be solved by the market, but use the state lightly to ensure all kids get ready to compete and oligarchy - THE consistent enemy of freedom that was denounced by Adam Smith, never prevails.

Great. Groups 1&2 want the future, science, adaptability. Progress.
Both agree that groups 3&4 are crazy.

Here's the problem. Group 3 is yammered-about by Beck & company, but they number a few thousand flakes on some university campuses and maybe an ACORN or two. They are isolated, marginalized and have no effect on govenrment.

Group #4 owns and operates an entire political party. For a decade it ran every lever of power in the USA, made ZERO correct decisions, and did everything conceivable to drive the greatest nation on Earth into the ground. The movement has been hijacked by bona fide monsters. Barry Goldwater is spinning at 10,000 rpm.
There is very little doubt that facing reality with the tools of science is unpopular with, not only the previous Republican administrations, but also the current Obama administration. The 180 degree divergence between what Obama says and what he does is so blatantly apparent that one must revert to something like religious faith to believe his actions reflect his words. As tragic as this is for science it should be acknowledged that reality in all aspects of US government policy seems to be as plastic as well worked bubble gum. The obvious subjugation of the basic foundation of good government as an advocate for the general citizenry to the objectives of those holding economic and financial power whose only targets are the accumulation of monetary wealth for themselves no matter the cost in quality of life of the average working citizen who merely desires the basic securities of food and shelter and education and health and sensible consideration for the environment and those fundamental aspects of nature which make life possible on this planet. The meaningless enthusiasms for the hopeless useless and viciously brutal and horrendously expensive conflicts and the military bases throughout the world that support them that suck expenditures vitally needed by the life of the country can only be viewed as political psychosis. It is not only the sciences but also the arts which are the lifeblood for billion dollar industries which are being neglected and destroyed. And Obama's cry for competitiveness of the US work force can only mean a race to the bottom in wages to further destroy the buying power of the working public which is also the health of the US marketplace.
Sorry, but a generic "I know one side is horrible, but that must mean the other is just as bad!" does not fly.

Two decades ago, scientists were polled as about 33% each Republican, Democrats and independents. Today, just five % are Republican. That means the smartest people in our civilization have noticed something. That the science-friendly GOP of Barry Goldwater's day is long gone. There has been no similar flight from the dems.

You can say these things, but that does not make them true. All the scientists I know have higher morale now. They universally say they feel the government is at least prepared to listen to reality.
If only listening were enough.
Since education is a key component in developing an aware and active citizenry it is worthwhile to look at this article to understand some of the factors concerning Obama and his interaction with private influences in education.

http://dissentmagazine.org/article/?article=3781
David,

Again, I think that you're overestimating the influence of the loudest portions of the extreme wings of our political system.

I do think there is a very rich, very influential, very conservative and very small group of people that comprise part of your fourth of four subgroups. They could disrupt public perceptions of scientists if they so choose...

...but they haven't. The NSF report I linked to in my last comment clearly shows this fact. Nor do I, a scientist, see any beginnings of any degradation of people's perception of me personally or my profession.

I think there is some degradation of the perceptions of teachers in our society, but I'm not really sure who is most to blame for that. Teachers certainly have one of toughest jobs and are not compensated enough for doing a good job. That said, as the product of an inner city public school system, many teachers need a good deal of improvement.

I'm not as familiar with the situations of other professionals.

Moreover, I think you ought to be more rigorous in your interpretation of the political leanings of scientists. The study you cited above uses membership in the AAAS as a prerequisite for participation. It is highly likely that members of AAAS (mostly university profs. and government research scientists) do not represent the larger population of scientists, the vast majority of whom work in industry. So unless a study is conducted proving that the political leanings of AAAS are truly, statistically representative of scientists in general, your Goldwater remarks are unfounded.

But even if they were representative, I'm not sure what the meaning would be. It could be that there is something systematic about Americans who continue to go into science rather than finance or banking, as many students with scientific aptitude have done in recent years.

When we are examining the workings of reality, physical, emotional, political and so on, it is very important that the conclusions we make are as rigorous as possible. I can understand how one's frustration with the progress, or lack there of, recently can become very upsetting. In those situations, even in the lab, it's of the utmost importance to stay calm and rational so as to make the best decisions possible.

I hope your aspirations for next few years of national science come to fruition, not only to quell your frustrations, but also to preserve my passion.
I'll not deny that a few (very few) of the right-wing bugaboos... like the Teachers Unions... actually have a fair amount to answer for. Their guild protection racket needs to be broken...

...just like the guild protection racket concocted by the top 1,000 moguls of the financial industry, manipulating our economy in order to rip us off for half a trillion dollars. You tell me which is worse.

But here's the crux. Liberals have been willing to negotiate about past positions. They are now friendlier to nuclear power. They did Welfare Reform. The negotiated tort reform and malpractice reform. And now many democrats avow a need to fire bad teachers.

NO such revision is shown by conservatives, over their adamant refusal to consider anything that might affect the oligarchs.
David,

before you conclude that neo-cons have made no compromises, you have to consider their stated political goals.

No abortions, a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, closed mosques, warrant-less wiretapping.

During the Bush years when the Repubs held both houses, that's what we heard, and yet, almost none of it happened. During the last session of Congress the Repubs were especially hostile toward compromise because they could be. Their votes meant nothing and there was nothing they could do about credit card reform, health care legislation or much of the other bills Congress passed passed by a Democrat majority

From 2002 to 2006, the Dems were in the same spot painting the Repubs as closed-minded bigots who wanted to strip Americans of their rights and freedoms...and it worked because despite having control of both houses, the Repubs didn't go after those very conservative laws. They could have, but they didn't.

Why? Compromise.

I share much of your dismay concerning the propensity of political opposition to overlook what I may consider obvious. But we have to be rigorous in our conclusions, yet again.
2002 to 2006, the GOP held every lever of power and used them effectively to:

* In all ways benefit the oligarchy
* In all ways benefit a certain middle-eastern royal family
* embroil the US is a repeat of vietnam, debiliting-draining-divisive land wars of attrition in Asia.

All other GOP agenda items were ignored. Almost no hearings were held, almost no bills introduced or committee meetings held. The laziest Congress in 100 years.
Thank you! More Americans need to see through this neocon agenda of dumbing down out country. Teaching to the test certainly fits that agenda.

Boldness, confidence, creativity, and unabashed willingness to question.

This is exactly what we need to cultivate to fight off the plague of neocon gasbags, before it's too late.