The Clumsy Politics of Personal Destruction

James Dobson,” Clean Cut Kid, 2 May 2005,

I’ve written before on the proper use of the politics of personal destruction (4GPS1 Node Takedown). It serves the same purpose that assassinations do in 4GWS1: harm the enemy network by removing important members while building up renown.

Given that, what to make of CCK’s stab at personal destruction

Sometimes I don’t know why I even bother with these ridiculous organizations — this one in particular is Focus on the Family, run by James Dobson — that are funded and managed by extremist zealots. But it comes down to my faith. I am sick and tired of these groups taking my religion and distorting it to an unrecognizable pile of crap. I am tired of groups like Focus on the Family and people like James Dobson and Jerry Falwell using Christianity to forward a political agenda that is in so many ways un-Christian. I drive me so crazy that these people think they have a monopoly on Christian behavior when often their own behavior can easily be viewed as just the opposite.

James Dobson believes in the use of beatings as discipline on children as young as 18 months. Dobson has used the discipline he used with his dog to illustrate the “correct” way to discipline a child.

Clumsy, clumsy, clumsy.

What is CCK trying to accomplish? Clearly its not reporting the truth, as his post is full of distortions. If it’s node takedown, then he fatally dilutes the effort by criticizing the entire bureaucracy (the point is to alienate the node from his subnet, not glue them together). Maybe it’s just to scare fellow liberals into line, but that’s 2G politics and foolish besides: there are more Republicans than Democrats in South Dakota, so attackign the GOP through nonideological massess plays to the Republicans’ strengths.

My guess: CCK doesn’t know what he is doing.


Network Politics, Part 4, 2GW/4GW: Social Security

Note: This is a selection from Network Politics, a tdaxp series.


John Thune Wants to Steal Your Social Security Money,” by Chad Shuldt, Clean Cut Kid, 29 April2005,

The Greediest Generation,” by Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, 1 May 2005,

Bush’s Social Security gamble puts pressure on Democrats,” USA Today, 1 May 2005, (from Stanley Kurtz on The Corner).

In Praise of Bush’s Honesty (Honest),” by Michael Kinsley, Washington Post, 1 May 2005,

The Challenge to Democrats,” Washington Post, 1 May 2005,

Programs for the poor always turn into poor programs,” by DavidNYC, Daily Kos, 1 May 2005,

Or, perhaps make it mandatory,” by Michael Forbush, Dr. Forbush Thinks, 2 May 2005,

Welfare for Old People?,” by Kevin Drum, Political Animal, 2 May 2005,

Until very recently the Social Security debate looked like this

Key: Blue, rejectionists; Red, reformers; solid lines, mutual support; arrow lines, mutual opposition

On the right you have a fourth generation political movement. The debate for personal accounts is part of the decades-old Conservative insurgency. The movement is basically horizontal, with no clear leader. Instead, it is driven by an ideological agenda…

On the left you have a second generation movement. A type of movement defined by media and mass mobilization, the 2GP had one message: “No!” Some are older liberals, some are anti-Conservatives, some are just worried about innovations.

Note that the left (2GP) network is more symetrical and “better” organized. The simplicity of its message allows it to focus on “better” organization, because individual members do not have to be indoctrinated or kept in some ideology. In contrast, the strength of the right (4GP) network is its ideology, so chain-of-communication is abandoned in favor of an immersive environment.

because for any new thing, all who would be harmed by it oppose it fully, and those who would be helped support it only half-heartedly, the rejectionist camp was much larger than the innovators. In a fair fight, the No!’s would quickly fun and the idea of social security personal accounts would go away.

Unfortunately for them, fourth generation movements do not fight “fair.”

Fourth generation movements are governed by ideology. Almost every proposal is just a means of furthering that ideology. With very few exceptions, for 4G movements direction matters more than speed. Unlike the rejectionists, who are married to a specific proposal (“No!”), the 4G ideologues can modify their proposals to break part the enemy network, so long as the direction of the proposal furthers their ideology. This can also be a weapon of politics, where network collapse becomes an operational objective.

In his Thursday press conference, Bush did exactly that. He heavily modified his original proposal to increase the payments for SS higher earners by only inflation, but SS lower earners by wages. Over the decades, this means there will eventually be only a flat SS payment for everybody.

What’s the effect?

Clean Cut Kid

There is one proposal out there that is based around “progressive” indexing, and it’s likely to be presented to Congress since “everything is on the table” (other than keeping Social Security as close to possible in its current state). But make no mistake about it, progressive indexing is just another scheme to rob working people of the money they have already paid into the system through taxation on every dollar they worked to earn.

This is highway robbery, and it’s just plain wrong. Some would say it is not very Christian.

Kevin Drum

Hear hear. In fact, when his aides presented him with their initial Social Security proposals 70 years ago, FDR balked: “No dole,” he said, “mustn’t have a dole” — because he knew instinctively that welfare programs are both fundamentally unpopular as well as corrosive to the human spirit. Conservatives understand this better than liberals, and know perfectly well that the best way to kill something is to convince the public that it’s actually a welfare program.

Michael Forbush

Since George W Bush actually wants to destroy social security he has proposed a two step process. First, get people to put their money in the stock market instead of a social security insurance plan. Then tell the people that it is stupid for the government to take your money and invest it for you, hence you should be free to invest it yourself. In fact, George’s new details recently explained at the press conference show that he is trying to erode political support for the program by means testing. This will result in turning the Social Security program into another welfare program and make it even easier to destroy in the future.

daily Kos

This so-called “Pozen plan” is a real Bush two-fer: Sock it to the middle classes now, while setting up a long-range plan to truly hose the poor later. Given how badly Bushco stumbled in trying to destroy Social Security with private accounts, I wouldn’t be surprised if means-testing has become the new avenue of attack because it polled better.

And oh, it’s a wily plan, alright – if Democrats oppose it, we can rely on our whore media to paint us as benefactors of the wealthiest. (The GOP will get a good chortle out of that.) Not means-testing Social Security has been one of the main reasons it’s endured so popularly for 70 years. Private accounts would eviscerate Social Security quickly; means-testing is a slower death, but I am sure a patient GOP would be content with that.

but also this

New York Times

In coming years, we’ll hear appeals for better nursing homes, for more Alzheimer’s research and for more wheelchair-accessible office buildings, and those are good causes. But remember that American children are almost twice as likely as the elderly to live in poverty, and that you get much more bang for the buck vaccinating a child than paying for open-heart surgery.

The solution is not to force the elderly to get by on cat food again. But we boomers need to resist the narcissistic impulse to ladle out more resources for ourselves. Our top domestic priorities should be to ensure that all children get health care and to get our fiscal house in order.

USA Today

Simply ignoring the problem, which is driven primarily by increasing life expectancy, is not a solution. Nor is touting private accounts as the answer. A good-faith, bipartisan effort to spread the pain as equitably as possible is the only viable option. Ultimately, the solution will have to involve some mixture of tax increases, benefit cuts and, perhaps, private accounts.

Bush’s willingness to begin addressing that unpleasant reality puts pressure on Democrats to do the same. They have refused to negotiate until Bush gives up on private accounts, but eventually they’ll have to do more than complain.

They don’t want Bush’s dessert course because it’s politically unpalatable. And they don’t want the spinach because the taste is too bitter. So what do they want? What dish do they intend to contribute to this political potluck?

Washington Post

For thepast three months Democrats have declined to engage in a debate over Social Security. President Bush proposed a way of giving workers the option, but not the obligation, of saving some of their Social Security money in personal accounts. While he was crisscrossing the country in an attempt to prepare voters for unsettling change, Democrats offered no proposals of their own, saying that Mr. Bush should first come forward with a plan to plug Social Security’s long-term deficit. In his news conference on Thursday, Mr. Bush took a first step toward offering such a plan. It is time for Democrats to reciprocate.

Washington Post (Again)

Above all, Bush was honest and even courageous about Social Security. Social Security is entirely about writing checks: Money goes in, money goes out. As Bush has discovered in the past few months, there are no shadows to hide in while you fiddle with it. The problem is fewer and fewer workers supporting more and more retirees, and there are only two possible solutions: Someone has to pay more in, and/or someone has to take less out.

Bush didn’t go from explicitly denying this to explicitly admitting it. But he went from implicitly suggesting that his privatization scheme is a pain-free solution to implicitly endorsing a plan for serious benefit cuts. For a politician, that’s an admirable difference.

Even more to Bush’s credit, the plan he’s backing is highly progressive. Benefits for low-income workers would keep rising with average wages, as now, but benefits for middle- and high-income people would be geared more toward merely keeping up with inflation. This allows Bush to say that no one’s benefits will be cut, although some people will be getting as much as 40 percent less than they are currently promised. But in the swamp of Social Security politics, that is really minimal protection from the alligators.

What has happened? Answer: fourth generation insurgents have disrupted and partially disintegrated a second generation network. Further, the conservative agents have turned part of the “Democrat” network against itself, simultaneously radicalizing and weakening their enemy while growing in strength themselves.


Key: Blue, rejectionists; Red, reformers; Orange, rejectionists ready to deal; Dark Blue, extreme rejectionists; solid lines, mutual support; arrow lines, mutual opposition

The Reformists have flanked the front-lines of the “No” camp, converting Statusquo leaders into fellow travelers for the reformers. More than just strengthening the reformist camp, this demoralizes and radicalizes some remaining rejectionists. They feel abandoned by their leadership, who are now making common cause with the enemy network. While the converted reformist leaders see themselves as “bridging the divide,” rejectionist true believers see them as traitors.


Key: Blue, rejectionists; Red, reformers; Orange, “weak-kneed” rejectionists; solid lines, mutual support; arrow lines, mutual opposition

This is exactly the same network as the last one, but seem from the radicalized rejectionists perspective. The only blue friendlies are those actively opposing the reformist agenda. The converted leadership are seen as full-fledged members of the opposition. And the remaining leadership that is not fighting the enemy network are seen as potential quislings — when Democrat netroots talk about “Washington Democrats,” they mean the loyal leadership that is willing to compromise with those who have compromised. Note also that extremists do not distinguish between extremists and moderates, but only between “fellow-fighters” and others.

What does this all mean?

George Bush is leading the social security reformers to victory. He is splitting the network of doubt that is opposing him into a divided and weak opposition. He is converting those who he can. And he is winning.

Update: Blogs for Bush notes that now the New York Times is ready to deal

Democrats like to portray Mr. Bush as King George or Marie Antoinette. But on Thursday night, when he promised to improve benefits for the poor while limiting them for everyone else, he sounded more like Robin Hood, especially when he rhapsodized about poor people getting a chance to build up assets that they could pass along to their children.

It was the kind of talk you might expect to hear from a Democrat, except that Democrats don’t talk about much these days except the glories of the New Deal. They know that Social Security doesn’t even have the money to sustain a program that leaves millions of elderly people in poverty. But it’s their system, and they’re sticking to it.

Update 2: Chirol at Coming Anarchy notes what is another type of network fragmentation and radicalization in the face of a net-attack.

Network Politics, a tdaxp series
Introduction: Net-Attacks and Counter-Attacks
Part 1, 0GW / 4GW: Iraqi Sunnis
Part 2, 0GW / 4GW: Christian Conservatives
Part 3, 1GW / 4GW: George Soros
Part 4, 2GW / 4GW: Social Security
Part 5, 4GW / 4GW: John Kerry

Pat Robertson Right, dKos Wrong, on Vertical and Horizontal Perturbations

New Rules for a New Crisis,” by Thomas Barnett Deleted Scenes, 2004,

Reviewing Deleted Scenes Part III,” by Mark Safranski, Zen Pundit, 23 October 2004,

crazy Pat: Judges worse than 9-11
,” by kos, Daily Kos, 2 May 2005,

Boy, the dude is off his rockers.

Federal judges are a more serious threat to America than Al Qaeda and the Sept. 11 terrorists, the Rev. Pat Robertson claimed yesterday.

“Over 100 years, I think the gradual erosion of the consensus that’s held our country together is probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings,” Robertson said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

“I think we have controlled Al Qaeda,” the 700 Club host said, but warned of “erosion at home” and said judges were creating a “tyranny of oligarchy.”

Confronted by Stephanopoulos on his claims that an out-of-control liberal judiciary is the worst threat America has faced in 400 years – worse than Nazi Germany, Japan and the Civil War – Robertson didn’t
back down

“Yes, I really believe that,” he said. “I think they are destroying the fabric that holds our nation together.”

It used to be that “9-11 changed everything”, but apparently that pales in comparison to the horrors of 7 filibustered judges and the whole of the Republican-dominated judiciary.


Robert’s an easy target, but he is right here. Given that Pat Robertson naturally believes the judges issues is very important, the issue comes down to what is more important: horizontal scenarios or vertical scenarios . That is, what are more harmful to American society: “bolts from the blue” or “long, drawn-out attacks”?

Robertson’s views are not extreme. The esteemed Mark Safranski calls the consequences overrestrictive visa policies potentially worse than 9/11 economically

When budding scientists and mathematicians from India, China, South Korea, Russia- many of whom after studying in American universities decide to stay here permanently and contribute to our economic and technological preeminence – decide a U.S. visa isn’t worth the security restrictions hassle, we are shooting ourselves in the foot. Somehow I think we can take precautions to screen out young Islamist males belonging to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaida without targeting 180 I.Q. Asian physicists and genetic engineers. Long term this trend represents an economic disaster far worse than 9/11 – we depend on foreigners to fill about half of our annual hard science Ph.d slots – there are no ” substitute goods ” for these kinds of brains. If they aren’t here, they’re not here and critical opportunities simply get lost.

While Grand Strategist Thomas PM Barnett says that horizontal scenarios harm horizontal systems (like American society) more than vertical scenarios:

Rule #6: Vertical scenarios harm vertical systems more, while horizontal scenarios harm horizontal systems more. This rule simply says that Rule #5 is basically wrong, despite what people in both systems tend to believe. In reality, vertical strikes can do little damage to truly distributed systems. If someone wipes out the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court one afternoon, nothing would really change in our country in terms of our ability to maintain rule. Yes, it would be a huge shock, but it would not be hard to replace all those leaders rather quickly. I could find you 535 ex-senators and representatives living within a ten-mile radius of the Capitol itself who could easily step back into rule, tell me how hard it would be to find nine lawyers in Washington who think they are smart enough to sit on the Supreme Court! But even beyond those facile examples lies the reality that we have 50 “farm teams” around the country, each complete with their own set of executives, supreme courts, and legislative branches. You if you wipe out our national leadership you do not really kill our capacity for leadership, because we have got more political leaders than we can count! What really stresses out horizontal systems like the U.S. are the horizontal scenarios that never seem to end, like a Great Depression, which really only ended when the vertical shock of Pearl Harbor put the country on another pathway. In contrast, vertical systems like Saddam Hussein’s regime can really be dismembered quite profoundly simply by taking out the leadership. Remember the “most wanted” deck of cards? That said we really needed to nail only about 50 bad actors in Iraq and we would have eliminated the bulk of the Baath party rule.

One may agree or disagree with Mr. Robertson’s concern about activist judges. But it is not extreme to say a “boring” long-running trend may be much worse than 9/11.

Update: America Blog, Dada Head, Escaton, Supreme Irony miss the point

Update 2: Larwyn wrote to say that Ed at Captain’s Quarters picked up the story. He’s wrong too. At least Riehl World gets it.

Ku Klux Klan in South Dakota History

Can We Hide From Our KKK History?,” by Bernie Hunhoff, South Dakota Magazine,
25 April 2005,

The Rapid City Journal fine tunes the Klan outfit controversy,” by Ken Blanchard, South Dakota Politics, 1 May 2005,

To correct some minor points on the fantastic blog SDP and the local paper Rapid City Journal

The Rapid City Journal fine tunes the Klan outfit controversy.

The Rapid City Journal fine tunes the Klan outfit controversy.

Some South Dakotans understandably are upset by a Ku Klux Klan outfit in a new display at the state Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. For others, the robe and hood offer a skewed view of South Dakota history – a powerful image overshadowing accomplishments and events involving African Americans.The real issue with the display, though, is its location – right in the middle of such things as the FFA.

The RCJ agrees that the Clan outfit was a reasonable part of the exhibit [Changing Times: South Dakota in the 20th Century], but questions is particular location.

But here’s the part that fascinates me:

The robe comes from a Rapid City couple, who found 60 of them in their home in 1971 and turned them over to police. Sixty Klan uniforms is significant – even if the overall impact of the white supremacist group wasn’t that great in South Dakota.No one wants to overemphasize the influence of the organization. But we need to recognize it as part of our history.

Okay. Did the robes suddenly appear out of nowhere, or was there some enormous closet in the guest bedroom that no one bothered to look in? I mean one or two Klan Robes, is one thing, but 60 of them? I wonder how much more South Dakota History is hidden in our closets. Some South Dakotans understandably are upset by a Ku Klux Klan outfit in a new display at the state Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. For others, the robe and hood offer a skewed view of South Dakota history – a powerful image overshadowing accomplishments and events involving African Americans. The real issue with the display, though, is its location – right in the middle of such things as the FFA.

The KKK was not white supremacist organization in South Dakota. It was a WASP [White Anglo-Saxon Protestant] support group

There were 3,000 KKK members in S.D. in the 1920s, with chapters (klaverns) across the state. It wasn’t the violent, terrorizing klan of the post-war South. Historians think it gained a foothold here and in other rural areas because it offered a social group in young and unorganized towns …, “a way for the good old boys to gather, gossip and drink a sip of moonshine,” wrote Stoel and Collins.

Like Sadrists today, they attacked “vice”

Klansmen in Rapid City tried to chase a brothel owner out of town. When she laughed at them, the Grand Dragon arranged for her kidnapping. They took her to Farmingdale, where they forced her to kiss a bible and swear to leave town. She mocked them, so they stripped her naked, tarred and feathered her, and left her in her front yard. She left by train the next day.

and Germans, Catholics, and other minorities

Few Jews or blacks lived here at the time. In some communities, Catholics felt they were the targets. At Sturgis, local klansmen lit crosses up to 25 feet tall with oil-soaked gunny sacks, on a hill within view of St. Martin’s Academy.

Of course, sometimes the victims fought back

The Catholics responded by burning a circle on an opposing hill, inspired by the Klan’s name, derived from the Greek world “klukos,” meaning circle.

Asian Geopolitical Review

Korean Appeasement, Chinese Energy, Taiwanese Politics, Nepalese Democracy, Canadian Demographics, and more!

Korea: Josh at OFK notes the ruling Appeasement Uri Party lost big in the bi-elections. But as the government could not have changed, was it just a protest vote?

Curzon at CA argues we should nuke Pyongyang. That might make their South Korean allies angry.

Maybe it would be better just to tell other countries we are mad at the Norks? That’s the Japanese plan.

China: Danwei has more of the Nationalist Party of China-Chinese Communist Party meeting. Meanwhile, China snags a pipeline from Russia, meaning Beijing gets oil before Tokyo. Not quite as geogreen as earlier Chinese energy decisions, but sprining from the same needs. Maybe Peking’s new Russophiles should read the new blog that Zen Pundit discovered today?

Taiwan: On my computer, the website for the pro-Taiwan Independence Democratic Progressive Party says “Democratic Progressive Party”… in English. Geolocation? Or do the Taiwanese just like the look of our words? They certainly don’t like the look of pro-Chinese politicians. In “one-country two-systems” news, the Communists deny delay direct elections for Hong Kong yet again.

Nepal: Bill at Dawn’s Early Light seems more good news from Nepal. Things in the mountain kingdom have been looking up.

Canada (?!?): Will British Columbia’s Asian population make it closer to Seoul and Beijing than Ottawa?

Blogosphere: Simon has new Daily Linklets.