Monthly Archives: October 2012

David Brin Says Republicans Don’t Know How Run Wars … But Democrats Do (They Just Can’t Market It)

David Brin, the science fiction writer and part-time sociologist, likes to annoy people, preferably everyone at once. He may have outdone himself in CONTRARY BRIN: How Democrats and Republicans Wage War.

A taste:

The contrast between Democratic and Republican styles of war could not be more stark. Beginning with the degree that they show deference to the United States Senior Officer Corps.

Do you know any generals or admirals? Ask them about this. Odds are, you’ll get no answer at all, due to their punctilious respect for civilian authority and resolve not to meddle in politics. But you may get hints. Anyway, continue searching and ask retired generals or admirals! And bear in mind these folks constitute the third best-educated clade in American life, after scientists and medical doctors.

One of these retired flag officers told me: “Democrats admit they don’t know anything about military matters. They consult. They ask questions. They listen.”

He added: “Republican presidents all assume they’re some mix of John Wayne and Patton. Plans are for nerds. Caution is for wimps.”

And this:

Republican administrations like war to look and feel like war! Tank armies and massed divisions… with politicians giving direct orders and over-ruling the professionals. And in the process, they pretty much destroyed the old-fashioned tools that they used.

When he entered office as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen was asked what he considered to be his most desperate concern. “The Army,” he said. Saving it from what had been done to it.

Now chew on this fact: When Bill Clinton left office, every U.S. Army and Marine Corps brigade was rated fully combat ready to defend the lives and interests of Americans. When George W. Bush left office, not one U.S. brigade was so rated. We went from all to none. And the GOP has a reputation for defense?

The Army that rolled over Saddam’s Republican Guard divisions in 92 and 03 does not exist anymore. What has replaced it is in some ways better, more agile, more professional, if also tired and badly in need of rest. It had to adapt and become agile, having been worn down to the bone. Things are better now, but it will take time. And meanwhile, we must confront deadly foes across a murky battlefield of terror and sabotage that spans the globe. So, whose doctrines are appropriate?

Posted in 2012 Election, National Security | Leave a comment

A Messaging Mystery (Updated)

This new Obama web add is vaguely funny.

But I cannot figure out how it fits into any sensible over-all Obama messaging strategy or why it was worth whatever it cost to make it.

Is the strategy to get some marginal anti-tax pro-Romney voter to stay home? If so, this seems inadequate to the task. Or is the strategy to just throw things up and hope they go viral? Surely they can do better than that?

Update: In contrast, I totally get what’s going on in this Obama closer commercial which I gather is going to be on TV in swing states:

Meanwhile, the Romney campaign has its closer ad up, one that even the in-the-tank Washington Post fact checker called A ‘greatest hits’ of misleading Romney claims.

Lying seems to work, though: it’s a close election.

Posted in 2012 Election | 1 Comment

Long Wait Times at the Polls

Wait times at some South Florida polling stations exceed five hours this afternoon of the first day of early voting. IMHO this is somewhere on a continuum that runs from mismanagement to voter suppression.

You can see the Miami-Dade County Elections deptartment’s own estimates at this printout I made of the Miami-Dade County – Elections – Early Voting Wait Times page just before 4pm today.

Wait times are FIVE AND HALF HOURS at Coral Reef Library. And FIVE HOURS at North Dade Regional Library. Four other locations have wait times of three to five hours. Twelve more are one to three hours. Only two — West Flager Branch Library and Lemon City Library — are under one hour.

I was at the Coral Gables library this morning to return some library books, when the app was showing a two hour wait. The people at the front door of the library — who I would guess were still a good half hour at least from a polling machine — told me that they had been waiting two and half hours to get that far. The line went all the way around the corner and past the long side of the building. It was much too big for me to get a decent photo with my cell phone. The people working the polls told me the line started at 5:30am for the 7:00am opening.

By the time I got there, about mid-day, it was hot.

Indeed, someone collapsed while I was there and the paramedics had to be called out. I hope it wasn’t serious. Or deadly.

I blame Governor Scott and the GOP for cutting early voting days and hours and putting us through this. And I blame the GOP-controlled legislature for our absurdly long ballot.

Meanwhile, all you can do is be prepared: figure out how to vote before you get there so you don’t hold up the line. (I have a downballot cheat sheet if you want one.)

Posted in 2012 Election, Miami | 7 Comments

Early Voting Starts Tomorrow (10/27)

About a million people have already voted absentee in Florida, and the number is sure to grow. But if you are worried about your signature not being recognized then starting tomorrow you can vote early at any of a host of locations.

There are fewer days for early voting than there were four years ago. In 2008 there were 120 hours of early voting spread over 14 days. This year there are only eight (longer) days of early voting, adding up to 96 hours. Plus, the ballot is much longer, so wait time may be an issue. (Plan ahead! See my 2012 Voting Guide.)

How nice therefore to find this handy dandy tool online: Miami-Dade County – Elections – Early Voting Wait Times which promises some information about how long you may need to wait at the local early voting location.

Note that they do warn that “The wait times listed below are approximate and may vary based on time of arrival.” Plus, I see that even though voting doesn’t begin until tomorrow there’s already a five minute wait time listed for the North Dade Regional Library. Everywhere else currently shows zero.

Posted in 2012 Election, Miami | Leave a comment


I’ve been hearing about this billboard, which is apparently very visible on I-95.

The billboard is paid for by, the crazy people who also endorse Alan West. I suspect, though, that fear-mongering like this works, at least some. More about Obama’s Jewish support in Florida from the Palm Beach Post.

Personally, I think “kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve” the Middle East Romney will be bad for Israel. Anything that emboldens Bibi to be worse than he already is cannot end well. There likely will be another war. And many many casualties on both sides.

Sometimes a true friend is the one who keeps you from doing something rash.

Posted in 2012 Election | 8 Comments

The Fourth Amendment at Sea

Via PogoWasRight a link to Coast Guard Boardings and Your Fourth Amendment Rights, Part 1. According to the author, the 4th Amendment has no traction at sea: the Coast Guard can board US flag ships at will, whether on the seas, on rivers, or in port, without the least suspicion.

Sorry, but when it comes to Coast Guard boardings, you don’t have any rights.

I’m surprised how many boaters don’t know this. The US Coast Guard can board your boat any time they want, and look anywhere they want, without probable cause or a warrant. They can do this on the open sea, or while you’re asleep aboard in your marina at midnight. They can look through your bedsheets, in your lockers, in your bilges, in your jewelry box, or in your pockets. They can do it carrying just their sidearms, or they can do it carrying assault rifles. They can be polite about it or they can be rude, but mostly they’re polite.

The article does not say, but I presume this even applies to houseboats?

Posted in Civil Liberties, Law: Constitutional Law | 1 Comment

Florida Files 11 Ethics Charges Against Rep. David Rivera

The state of Florida “has filed 11 separate ethics counts against U.S. Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami — all stemming from actions he took while he was a member of the state Legislature.”

Given that Rivera left the state legislature about two years ago, and many of the facts were reported in newspapers a long time ago, you might wonder what exactly took Florida so long to file the charges.

Meanwhile, you now have eleven more reasons to vote for Joe Garcia to replace David Rivera in Congress.

(Wow – Wikipedia has a whole section on Rivera’s peccadillos. Lots there besides the subject of this ethics complaint.)

Posted in Politics: The Party of Sleaze | Leave a comment