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Yet another bad idea

One of the problems with spending an evening in the pub is that I get ideas. Some of them are viable and useful—the core of "Glasshouse" more or less congealed around three pints of Deuchars IPA in The Standing Order in Edinburgh one rainy Tuesday afternoon in early 2003—but others should be tagged "back away from the keyboard, put down the mouse, and nobody needs to get hurt".

Last night's was one of the latter. And so instead of hunting for a collaborator and then trying to pitch and/or write the sucker, I'm going to exorcise it right here on my blog (so that I lose any urge to pursue it further).

There is a niche for high-concept satirical fiction that comes out in an election year. Alas, this niche only works in those countries that have set election cycles—until very recently this ruled out the UK (where an election could be held at 10 weeks' notice at virtually any time), but meant that it was a runner in the USA.

Less commonly, there's a niche for high-concept satirical alternate history SF that comes out in an election year. Or just plain surreal SF, like John Barnes' unjustly-overlooked-for-a-Hugo-award novel Raise the Gipper from 2012.

Now, it occurs to me that the Republican Party over in the USA have a bit of a problem coming up in 2016, namely who to run against Barack Obama's successor. Whoever they are. (Hilary is looking a little old and Al's cardboard has mildew.) But the RNC isn't in good shape. They don't have anybody out front with the charisma of the Gipper (dead or alive), or the good ole' boy appeal of George W. Bush: just a bunch of old white guys in dark suits who're obsessed with the size of their wallets and the contents of every woman's uterus, or vice versa. Guys who make Karl Rove look like Johnny Depp.

And so it occurred to me (after my fifth pint of IPA) to spin my speculative political satire around the fact that there is only one man on the global political scene today who has what it takes to be a plausible Republican candidate for President Of The United States at the next presidential election.

This man:

Vladimir Vladimirovitch Putin.

Let me enumerate the ways in which this man makes sense as a candidate. He's only 62 years old—not as youthful as Barack Obama, but still well within the age range for POTUS. He has proven experience of leading an aggressive, declining, former military superpower bristling with nuclear weapons and suffering from eating disorders and a tendency to binge on breakaway republics when nobody is looking. As a former KGB Colonel he understands the needs of the security state like no US president before him, except possibly George H. W. Bush (a former Director of the CIA); he's exactly the right man to be in charge of the NSA, post-Snowden. As a Russian he clearly likes his tea, so he'll go down well with that wing of the party. Nobody can accuse him of being soft on terrorism, or communism, or gay rights. Nobody can question his virile, macho manhood either, not with his state-run press agency circulating photographs of him bareback-riding a bear. He's an instinctive authoritarian, a daddy figure, totally in love with god, guts, and guns—and if anyone says otherwise he'll put powdered Polonium in their soup.

There is just one problem: the part of the US Constitution which bangs on so tiresomely about how the POTUS must be a natural-born American citizen. But that's easily soluble. I'm sure Chief Justice Scalia will figure out a reason why Leningrad in 1952 was actually part of the United States, probably by means of a retroactive amendment to the Alaska Purchase adding a couple of blocks of Downtown St Petersburg to Anchorage. (In his current capacity, Mr Putin should be able to handle the Russian Imperial paperwork side of things.)

Of course, certain people are going to be slightly concerned about any tampering with the constitutional status of Alaska. In particular, Alaska's most famous political export and vice-presidential candidate is bound to take a renewed interest in the sight of Putin rising over the horizon:

Now, here's the fictional angle: what if Vladimir Putin were to woo and wed Sarah Palin?

Sex sells. Sex sells particularly well to people who aren't getting any, and who are deep in denial; it's no coincidence that the Bible Belt states have the highest per-capita consumption of online porn in the US. Given what is known to go on at Republican party conventions, it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that Vladimir Putin's manly buns are a thing of fascination to Republican womanhood (and not a little Republican manhood, either), while Sarah Palin positively oozes a lizard-eyed soccer mom sex appeal that makes a particular demographic stand to attention—or at least at parade rest, for the eighty seconds which is all they can manage in late middle age without the assistance of little blue pills.

Would that not be the ultimate Republican two-headed presidential ticket? It would add a new depth and emotional je ne sais quoi (that's Foreign for "fuck me, I'm outa here") to the whole affair. For the first time we'd see a president and vice president who see eye to eye on everything, except when they're doing it doggie-style. (And now you won't be able to get rid of that mental image: share and enjoy!) And it's tantalizingly close to coming true, or just plain coming. Mr Putin is currently newly single after a couple of decades of marriage; I'm sure that if, on meeting, the ultimate Republican political power couple saw magic in each other's eyes, Todd would do the decent thing and remove himself from the picture via an uncontested divorce (if necessary with a little help from the KGB).

Unfortunately my crystal ball cracked asunder at this point in the narrative. Or maybe my beer glass suffered a divide by zero error. Either way, the future became hazy with a low overcast and mushroom clouds in the middle distance, to the tune of "we'll meet again":

Either that or the horror of imagining a political wedding choreographed by Karl Rove, with Rush Limbaugh giving away the blushing bride (clutching her bouquet of M-67s) to a stern-faced presidential candidate in the dress uniform of a KGB Colonel finally burned out my creative glands. I can continue with this idea no further—at least on my own.

So. My question for you is, what are the bullet points of the campaign platform for Putin/Palin '16?

87 Comments

1:

Do you want the bullet points to be satirical or serious? :)

Though, "Putin's Plan" would probably fit into both, as it was sold as serious over here, despite nobody, ever finding out what the hell it was.

2:

Ironically, the current favourite for the Republican nomination, after Christie's self explosion, is a Mr J Bush of Florida.

3:

I am somewhat tempted to very tentatively suggest that this might indeed happen, as one of the side-effects of the US response to CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN.

My reasoning behind this is simple. The US equivalent to the Laundry does not use human intelligences as its primary operatives. The intelligences it does use are 100% loyal and bound to service, but at best are only using a crude model of human intelligence as a basis for action. This could be likened to us trying to see the world from the perspective of dogs, whilst mostly discounting what influence smell has to dogs.

From the point of view of such intelligences, Putin for US President makes a very great deal of sense. A strong, charismatic leader is needed, together with a pair bond to another strong mother-figure. Easy enough to set that up, plus we have two useful candidates.

Humans seem to be very good at overlooking anomalies, and will believe almost anything; surely a class-II glamour at best is all that is needed to gloss over any minor problems the monkeys might have with the candidates? Better yet, this enables the US and Russian forces to work together smoothly, and as the Russian forces were instrumental in forcing the Sleeper in the Pyramid to remain asleep in the first place, this move would be strategically good.

In other words, this makes a very great deal of strategic sense, and as crude psychological models seem to support the hypothesis, it should at least be attempted.

4:

I intended to approach this from the point of view: what are the concerns of the Russian-American community? (For not very good reasons). Then I got to the Wikipedia page, saw the portraits of prominent Russian-Americans and started adding them to the wedding guest list. Michael Bloomberg, Sergey Brin, Leonardo DiCaprio*, Pamela Anderson and Milla Jovovich.

(Also the map has a large concentration of Russian-Americans in North Dakota, home of Minot Air Force Base, a major part of the US nuclear forces. Coincidence?)

* A fine Russian name there for Leo

5:

In the movie "Demolition Man", they posited a Constitutional amendment, which resulted in Arnold Schwarzenegger becoming President.

Putin as a candidate is less unbelievable than Palin, though. She pretty much killed her fan base when she resigned as governor of Alaska.

6:

A view of Russia from every front porch.

7:

Make Jerry Pournelle happy: put the CoDominium back on the menu.

8:

Oh, and swap out "The Star Spangled Banner" for the Soviet March from Command & Conquer - but get the Red Army Choir to do the vocal track properly.

9:

Bullet points for the campaign:

  • War on Drugs

  • War on Terror

  • Peace in the Middle East

  • Less illegal immigration and strengthening of the border patrols etc.

  • A return to American values.

  • These are coded policy statements of course. But with Putin's influence via the KGB and American influence if they can't stabilise the Middle East for a few years rather than inflaming the situation they're doing something wrong. The War on Drugs and the War on Terror let them shift their targets to make sure that the BRIC countries and whatever the next wave of countries threatening to become big economic powers don't threaten the Russian-American superpower. There might well be a smacking of North Korea and if Vladimir is feeling really brave, China.

    I think the "tougher border policies" and so on plays well to the Republican electorate. Given Putin's recent tactics, Canada and Mexico, most of the Caribbean islands and so on, maybe Japan and other places (even the UK, Germany and other places with US military bases) might suddenly start to be very afraid as thoughts of Crimea-style annexation start to enter contingency planning. But Mexico and Canada should be very, very afraid.

    "American values" lets Putin try to side-step the fact that he's Russian Orthodox (which surprises me, I'd have guessed atheist as a good son of the Communist party). But at least he's a Christian. It's suitably vague and will let thoughts of racism, sexism, anti-Gay legislation and so on spring to mind in the hearts of the looney-right without promising anything. Given I've got him going to war with China, I think we'd see a rather different set of American values - conscription. Whether we'd see the anti-war movement re-arise I don't know, but that's not for a bullet-point policy list suggestion post.

    10:

    I think the story would actually sell quite well in the US. I've heard people say that Putin is the candidate that the GOP desires. :)

    It is still far out from the election, but right now the leading candidate appears to be Rand Paul. Go back 10 years and most people would have thought that it was political satire if you told them that Ron Paul's son would be the leading contender for the GOP nomination in 2016...

    11:

    What the hell is Scotland putting in it's beer and can we get some over here?

    12:

    I cannot help but snerk at the thought of Putin “bareback[ing] a bear”. C’mon, Vlad. Haven’t you heard of safer sex?

    13:

    IN PUTIN'S RUSSIA, BEAR BAREBACKS YOU!!

    (I'm still sniggering over all the double entendres I crammed in there ...)

    14:

    "I'm Vladimir Putin, and this message approves you."

    15:

    Alcohol. Also Science Fiction writers.

    16:

    | "(which surprises me, I'd have guessed atheist as a good son of the Communist party)"|

    Interesting tidbit:

    "My mother baptized me in secret from my father, who was a member of the Communist Party and a loyal and uncompromising man"

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXhHqfMFLCI

    17:

    First of all, this:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frAEmhqdLFs

    As for the platform:
    * Oil and gas lines over the Bering Straits. Jobs in the construction, money for Gazprom, revenue for Alaska, drying Europe of their energy (and Ukraine of their money), and never mind that it's not really economically viable.
    * Better privacy for customers on banks. If money is speech, your bank account is your correspondence, and the Gubm'nt shouldn't be allowed to put their hands on your "metadata".
    * Free-for-all drilling in the arctic.
    * Plans to accelerate global warming, so large swaths of Siberia become hospitable, marketable real estate.

    Other than that, it should be a fairly straight-forward GOP program.

    18:

    From what I've heard, religion has made a comeback in Russia. And whether or not he believes, Machiavelli notes that a prince should appear pious to the people.

    19:

    It also occurs to me; this thread contains the perfect answer to any argument that you diagree with except this one - "Your argument is invalid; Vladimir Putin is riding a bear bareback".

    20:

    For me, coming up with the bullet points requires a step back: What's Putin's angle here? Why's he interested in doing this? Is this a mad quest for personal power? That seems lazy? Is he just smitten beyond reason with the bespectacled harpy (I like the idea that he loves her for her mind because she's the only person who claims to have read his books because we all know what a prolific reader she is, or at least claims to be)? Does he owe the Russian mob? Or, is he a secret proponent of One World Government and liberal utopianism and this is just the next move in his Master Plan?

    Now, to the question at hand! Let's go with:

    * Re-privatization of all industry: "Re-privatization" means "nationalization followed by distribution to Putin's mob friends." Putin's Russia is, after all, a free market utopia, which means it devolved into crime and cronyism faster than you could measure with an egg timer.

    * The forced merger of church and state. At gunpoint. The way God intended. As to which will be superior, the campaign will be a little vague on that point.

    * Increasing global warming: Global warming is real, and God wants it to happen. This become a major plot point as "semi-professional snow mobile racer" Todd Palin becomes an anti-global warming crusader when the impact of warming has on his sport becomes obvious.

    * A fine ol' solution (apologies to Early Cuyler) to the immigration problem, which wins tremendous support until people realize that people who do not own land are going to be re-classified as immigrants.

    Ok, I left the rails a while back, so I'll leave it here.
    *

    21:

    Native Americans came from Siberia, Siberia belongs to Russia, ergo the Americans are properly Russian.

    22:

    P.S. I think this is one of those ideas that separates good writers from bad. I don't think this is a bad idea; I think it's an idea that's so good that there are too many ways to run with it. It would take real skill and discipline to pare it down enough to make a real story out of it. Skill and discipline that I do not come close to possessing.

    23:

    I didn't need to read beyond the pic of Volodya.

    Flipper-limbed halfwits in this benighted nation have a major stiffie for a strong leader. But keep in mind, Zombie Reagan can be suckled back to vitality by bare-chested Putin. And so, we only need an electro-papilla stimulator, and a breast pump for Morning In America, Again!

    24:

    And only one man can stop him.

    Dick Cheney.

    25:

    I think John Stewart's The Daily Show got to a similar place months ago (link). His tagline (if you don't like the US, go to Russia) still rings true, especially since the Republicans are now the Red Staters. Hate the US, Mr. Red-stater? Go to Russia. They like your kind there.

    Point of contention: Al Gore's not running. He said (in The Future) "I am a recovering politician and the chances of a relapse have been diminishing for long enough to increase my confidence that I will not succumb to that temptation again." That's the kind of cardboard response we'd expect from him, of course.

    Oh well, with climate change, the bad news is that the red states will probably be disproportionally pummeled by bad weather. This will, of course, make most of them even more financially desperate, more unsure of their future, and thereby drive them to embrace any church and/or demagogue who offers them an over-simplified vision of a better future and someone to blame for their misfortune. It's not a good combination. What the area really needs is some missionary progressives to move in and convert them to thinking for themselves, thereby lowering their RWA score and increasing their options for getting out of an increasingly dire situation. That's definitely a martyr's mission, but it would alleviate their suffering.

    26:

    Totally off topic, but there are a couple of websites out there that claim to check whether a website is vulnerable to the heartbleed bug.

    These are http://lastpass.com/heartbleed/ and

    http://filippo.io/Heartbleed/

    Just for amusement's sake, I typed in www.antipope.org at the lastpass site, and got the following reply:

    "Unable to get HTTP headers for www.antipope.org, is this a valid host that is accessible? Aborting"

    Nice to know this place doesn't exist. I feel much safer now.

    27:

    The Putin/Palin sex tape just has to be called Drill, Baby, Drill.

    28:

    And if you want even more excitement and scandal, one notes that Mr. Todd Palin is an extremely good shot and somewhat involved in the Independent Alaska movement, which would receive even more impetus from such a personal loss.

    This could be more fun than the flaming affair between Jeanie Kirkpatrick and Bill the Cat (as chronicled in the toon BLOOM COUNTY).

    29:

    You owe me a keyboard, sir!

    30:

    Be careful Mr. Stross. The last time a SF author had a horrible idea and posted it on the public Internet to be laughed at, he set forces in motion which made "Oh John Ringo no!" a meme. Ringo had already written out a draft of his horrible idea which should never see day, so that made it harder for him to dig in his heels ...

    31:

    All I know for sure is, the wedding reception would have to take place at the hotel at 1150 22nd Street NW in Washington DC.

    32:

    Possibly because heartbleed is only an issue for https, and this is a http site.

    33:

    Simply fantastic! I agree that it makes a bad plan for a Stross book; timing isn't right.

    But the thought process of how a party would do the apologia to accept Putin as candidate seems like great fun!

    34:

    Bullet points? At least .50 caliber, I would think.


    • Nuclear Disarmament: Weapons of Mass Destruction to be disposed at sites to be designated in Iran and North Korea. Other sites as appropriate depending on reaction to first disposals.

    • Full Employment: All unemployed Russian and American citizens to be given enlistment in the New Imperial Army with the rank of Cannon Fodder First Class.

    • Return to the Old-Time Religion: Are those tentacles behind the Patriarch?

    35:

    Yeah, we put alcohol in our beers too (in Ireland) and generally this sort of bear-riding hallucination is not the outcome...

    36:

    I thought they'd already made that, but it seems it wasn't called Drill Baby Drill, but Who's Nalin' Palin...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who's_Nailin'_Paylin%3F

    38:

    Worst porn ever.

    39:

    I think a much more plausible solution to the "natural born resident" problem is unearthing the CIA files showing his parents were actually deep undercover US spies, that he was born in the US, and having found out about it relatively late in life it took him several years to come around to adopting his true heritage. This can even be a pretty awesome opening scene for the book (or the movie?) where some high-ranking State Department officials provide him with the documentation. And you can leave it up to the reader to decide whether those documents were real or forged, if you will.

    And on another topic, the bullet points should cover everything from 5.56mm NATO standard issue, through 9mm, 0.45, 0.5 and all the way up to 60mm, 81mm, 120mm mortars and 155mm, 175mm and 406mm artillery.

    40:

    Yeah. Probably best you took this one out back and dealt with it. I don't think you went nearly far enough to avoid running afoul of Poe's Law.

    41:

    You missed 5.45mm.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AK74

    42:

    After Putin is elected, the USA and Russia join to form the United States of Russian America (USRA) becoming the first Uber Power and (forcibly) takes over every other power that disagrees with it (ie. everyone).

    43:

    @sergeantgiggles the 74 is for pussies. And for poor, former-eastern-bloc nations that can't afford anything better.

    44:

    mrmaigo, that's a great idea, but let's change the name a little and make it the United Russian States of America, or URSA...

    45:

    Can we start a rumor that Putin was born in Hawaii and can't be elected Czar of Russia?

    Frank.

    46:

    Charlie,

    John G Roberts, Jr is Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, not Anton Scalia. Which might make it a little harder to annex part of Leningrad to the U.S. Now, if the US had an embassy in Leningrad, and Putin were born there, it might be a done deal.

    Enjoy!

    Frank.

    47:

    Dude, you missed the joke.

    48:

    Sadly it appears that the US Consulate in St Petersberg didn't open until 1972. Because there's a possible comic prologue involving a heavily pregnant Maria Ivanova Putina visiting the embassy and desperately wanting to leave rather than have her child born on foreign soil, and equally the US officials not wanting to that either.

    The Marine Gunnery Sergeant would end up being the midwife (unless there's a political figure that would fit better).

    49:

    That won't fly, since it's an ill-kept secret that Putin was born on St. Lawrence Island while his parents, disguised as a pair of Danish bird watchers, were spying on the
    Northeast Cape Air Force Station.

    50:

    The Constitutional hurdle would be easy to fix in a fictional story. If the Republicans were to win the Senate in November, they'd have both houses of Congress, and they would push through a Constitutional Amendment making it legal so fast our heads would spin. There are so many Republican legislatures that would approve it right now, that it makes the whole concept scary.

    51:

    No, a Constitutional Amendment is not that easy. Simply having a majority in both houses won't do it. And there are not enough Republican-controlled legislatures in the states to approve one by themselves.

    52:

    There's been a suggestion that, lacking any better ideas, the Republicans should go full full Libertarian with an Alaska-Kentucky axis of Sarah Palin for Prez and Rand Paul for Veep.

    Which would lead to the slogan:

    Palin and Paul and Fuck 'em All!

    53:

    Sarah looked so spectacular as she strode in to the campaign fundraiser, the only sounds to break the sudden hush were Janet yellin' and Vladimir pootin'.

    54:

    Au contraire, the -74 is for Americans who want to target shoot with cheap, cheap ammo after (Sandy Hook, or whatever the latest shooting is)

    55:

    I remember ... an old SciFi story, with a similar idea, with Marilyn Monroe and Lennie Bresznev. Seems in one of the last interviews with Marilyn, she was considering politics. Difference between Marilyn and Sarah is Marilyn had at least minimal talent (I still like "Some Like It Hot").
    I live in KY, in the US, and our esteemed Senator McConnell is running in a primary election against a dead-eyed disassociative bellmaker named Bevin. Bevin has come out in favor of Cockfighting, as a privilege of States rights. I am waiting for his position on Bullfighting and Bear Baiting. Traditional family entertainment.
    McConnell claims to be an example of Strong Leadership. So Putinism is a tenable position.

    56:

    You'd need two-thrid majority in both chambers just to propose an amendment(so they would have to pick up at least 21 senate seats and 57 congressional seats). Then there's the state-ratification by at least three-fourths (38)...

    57:

    Annexing Alaska alone would suffice (no pesky blue states or Constitutional re-writes).

    58:

    Charlie, you might find this interesting background reading: http://buchanan.org/blog/putin-one-us-6071

    59:

    @sergeantgiggles I think we're saying the exact same thing...

    60:

    The only problem with this idea is that you've been beaten to it by actual Republicans. I was seeing comments all over the politics sites I follow during the first few days of protests in Ukraine, wishing for this very thing.

    61:

    El
    No
    You should not be suprised at all ... I'd have guessed atheist as a good son of the Communist party All he did was switch-religion or even just sect ...
    Communism is a classic religion, after all, isn't it?

    62:

    Fortunately, I had finished my tea when I read that .....

    63:

    You should probably read this:

    http://barthsnotes.com/2014/04/06/cliff-kincaid-sees-aleister-crowley-link-in-russian-politics/

    Putin or at least some of his mates certainly like the idea of portraying themselves as a global reactionary power, like 19th century Russia, and this seems to speak to some conservatives like Peter Hitchens, but the link will show the problems with this rather well.

    64:

    > Native Americans came from Siberia, Siberia
    > belongs to Russia, ergo the Americans are
    > properly Russian.

    At one time the Tsars claimed western North America from the polar regions to around Sacramento; Alaska, western Canada, Washington state, Oregon, and northern California. The only claim they managed to defend in any meaningful way was Alaska, before they sold it to the United States.

    I once worked up a detailed timeline based on the failure of the Alaska Purchase. Following most-likely paths, nothing much would have been different until 1950 or so, when things would have abruptly turned very ugly. The balance of power would have been extremely one-sided with Soviet nuclear weapons based out of Alaska.

    Every time I tried to plot a path that would let the West balance the scales, it ran slam into the madness of Joseph McCarthy and HUAC, and it didn't take long before my imaginary USA became the kind of place that make Stalin's USSR look cheerful and friendly.

    65:

    Methinks four Deuchars might be a good place to stop. Still, that's some entertaining silliness.

    66:

    Did the U.S.A. actually pay the full amount of the Alaska Purchase Price because if even one penny was not paid, then Alaska is still part of Russia. (Who's got the paperwork, cancelled checks, etc.?)

    Tag-lines for the campaign ...

    Russia is the new heart of capitalism:
    - out-produced the U.S.A. in self-made billionaires in the past 20 years
    - allows more free enterprise and more free-speech than any other geo-polity in the modern online world (i.e., SPAM, phishing, etc.)
    - what you earn (steal/hide), you keep
    - we know how to deal with 'foreign' religions/cultures (we've kept our tanks)

    We believe in freedom especially for plutocrats, the people who've created Russian prosperity. This is because we sincerely believe that money must be 'free' - free of taxes, pesky government audits, concerns with moral/social consequences, etc. Ditto for oil/natural gas resources and pipelines: we believe it is our God-given right to abuse (I mean use) the environment.

    Lastly, since we've haven't sold our souls to China, anytime you (or Walmart) wants to renege on any contracts with China, reach out to us - we'll back you up (with tanks, MIGs, etc).

    67:

    FYI - as per Forbes: "The majority of new fortunes from emerging Europe, which are mostly from Russia and Turkey, are first generation. ... One outstanding example of a new billionaire who made his fortune independently is Russia’s Arkady Volozh, founder of search engine Yandex, Russia’s Google."

    68:

    "Sex sells," quoth Charlie.

    To which I say: Incomplete, at best. A generous examiner would give partial credit.

    As an advertising monkey, I'd amend that to: Sex as an act sells itself, and requires no help. Sex as a concept makes most folks uncomfortable, and requires a great deal of finesse to deploy.

    69:

    The US ICANN hand-over is not going to help things States-side either ...

    70:

    > all the way up to 60mm, 81mm, 120mm mortars and 155mm, 175mm and 406mm artillery.

    Not to be guilty of complicity in topic diversion, but I cannot in good conscience let the awesome nuclear-capable 240 mm 2S4 Tyulpan mortar go unmentioned. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2S4_Tyulpan)

    I'm sure Putin has asked the MoD to let him fire one.

    71:

    I see your heavy mortar and raise you the TOS-1 Buratino Heavy Flamethrower System.

    It's what the Katyusha grew up to be. 220mm missiles with thermobaric warheads, mounted on a T-72 chassis instead of a truck.

    Vlad probably uses one of them to hunt jackalopes.

    72:

    well, Bashar al-Assad used them at Homs...

    that reminds me, under Putin-Palin, Bashar will be our kinda guy in the Mid-East - he should hammer out peace [of a kind] in no time...;-D

    73:

    No Greg, it isn't, any more than any other political ideology.

    74:


    He has proven experience of leading an aggressive, declining, former military superpower bristling with nuclear weapons and suffering from eating disorders and a tendency to binge on breakaway republics when nobody is looking.

    Wait, I thought you were talking about him applying for ruler of the US, not the UK? And in any case Scotland has not declared independence yet, nor decided whether it will remain a monarchy or not, so it cannot be deemed a "breakaway republic"...

    75:

    The UK doesn't have enough nuclear weapons for "bristling" -- "clutching like a fig-leaf" maybe. Indeed, the more we learn about the UK nuclear weapons program, the more it looks like an elaborate Monty Python sketch that got out of hand.

    The sad fact is, for the past 48 years British foreign policy has been to try and be the Mini-Me to the USA's Dr. Evil.

    76:

    Has anyone calculated what the U.K. vs. U.S. per-capita costs to rebuild post-WW2 were? All things considered, the U.K. has spent a considerable proportion of its budget on the military. Do you really think the U.S. would want anyone, including their best-buds, to have the same arsenals (destructive capability) as they? Perhaps the Mini-Me was the only workable compromise...

    77:

    What we need is to identify/create a non-US-born front running Democrat candidate to make it a plausible bi-partisan amendment. [A clever satirist would find a way to mock birthers AND Obama at once for their own faults. Also maybe a swipe at Swarzenegger - perhaps the stalking horse for the amendment? Sadly I am not that clever satirist]

    78:

    All I know is that the U.S. was still recovering from the Great Depression when it got involved in the war effort in 1941. Then suddenly had $350 billion (deficit spending) for the war. There always seems to be plenty of money for making war, but never enough for social advancement. Everything else must be sequestered.

    The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will end up costing as much as $6 trillion. Where did that money come from?

    Anyway, I'm sold on Putin/Palin '16. Bartender, I'll have what Charlie's having.

    79:

    So old-fashioned, in the Citizen's United era, to assume that POTUS is the person, rather than the money behind the person. So the Constitution is already not a barrier to this plot line. You only need Putin's Money to be elected president, not Putin himself. Sarah Palin is an ideal candidate to be Putin's Money, (and honey, of course).

    80:

    I'm sure I also missed the joke.

    Antonin Scalia as the Chief Justice in 2016 is implausible. Justices do not automatically become Chief Justices upon the former CJ's retirement or death, instead, someone (justice or not) needs to be nominated for the post by the incumbent president and confirmed by the senate, which is what happened when CJ Roberts got the job after Rehnquist died (the then-senior Justice Stevens did not automatically get the job; Roberts was not even in the Court). Given that you're looking to replace Barack Obama in this scenario, the POTUS is not likely to nominate Scalia.

    It's also irrelevant. The CJ is a post of administrative power and prestige, not of judicial power beyond that granted to any Justice. Any merits question in this matter would eventually be submitted to the full Court, in which it takes five votes to create an outcome. The CJ does not have to be in the majority. So it might as well be Justice Scalia who writes the opinion for the court; he does not have to be Chief.

    81:

    We've had this discussion before ...
    [ And one has to be careful how one expresses it, otherwise Charlie will - quite rightly - get all exited. ]
    Sorry, but communism fulfils most of the tests for "a religion".
    Most notably ...
    It has a perfect recipe for the future, with predictions, which are already proven wrong .....
    Humanity will be perfect if you just follow these (impossible) conditions. { And you are evil & sinful if you don't or can't }
    It persecutes all the competing religons.
    And it has sects & schisms & heresies, which also persecute each other.
    There's more, but that'll do for now.
    Oh - & although I thought of this for myself, as is so often the case, someone else had thought of it first ...
    Bertrand Russell, in this instance (!)

    And, of course, anyone with "communist" leanings will immediately explode & deny it, in the same way that other religious believers explode & deny it, when I point out that their "path" (whichever one it is) is just blackmail ....

    82:

    But every political ideology on the planet fulfils those rather broadly defined and very contingent on the language used, thoughts of yours.

    83:

    Please don't talk (or write) more utter tosh than you can help, okay?

    NO - because.
    Religions tend to try to exclude & persecute ( & torture & kill ) their opponents.
    Political parties & leaders (normal ones at any rate) do none of these things.
    There are other major differences, that anyone without such lazy inapplicable generalisations could note, as well.

    84:
    Religions tend to try to exclude & persecute ( & torture & kill ) their opponents. Political parties & leaders (normal ones at any rate) do none of these things.

    Actually, this distinction of "normal" politics is something of the "true scotsman" argument; problem is, violence is hardly confined to religions:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proscription#Proscription_of_82_BC

    As for communism being a religion, amen to that, though it seems like this is not that uncommon for economy, err, "science".

    85:

    " Religions tend to try to exclude & persecute ( & torture & kill ) their opponents.
    Political parties & leaders (normal ones at any rate) do none of these things. "

    Really? It depends on what you mean by 'normal ones ' but hows about New Labour as the New Normal?


    " Zoe Williams wants us to get nostalgic about Blairism. But in her attempt to defend Tony Blair's record she badly misjudges the significance of the Iraq war. By any standards, Iraq was a catastrophe. The most recent study suggests nearly half a million people were killed as a result of a western military operation that tore up the fabric of a modern society and divided its people. By rights, no politician intimately responsible for such a cataclysm should survive with any kind of reputation intact. A criminal process is entirely appropriate.

    But the Iraq war was more than a disaster in itself. It was a signifier of new and disturbing times. It wasn't an isolated blunder; it marked the moment when the wider population became fully aware of a new foreign policy posture, developed in Washington, enabled and encouraged by Blair himself. The parody of Blair as US poodle diminishes his role in history. "

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/14/blairism-britain-iraq-war-tony-blair


    Anyway ..OF COURSE Political Parties ' exclude & persecute ' Its how they are founded and then develop and evolve. The whole Blairism phenomena wouldn't have been possible without the vicious infighting and factional feuding that preceeded the formation of 'new ' Labour.

    "Hope for a revival in Labour's fortunes came from Welsh MP Neil Kinnock, who replaced Michael Foot as leader in 1983. Kinnock first sought to sideline the extreme left within the party, such as the group Militant, and then to restore Labour's image with the general public. His speech to the 1985 Party Conference, where he attacked Militant from the platform, was seen as a sign of the new Labour leader's courage and commitment to change. This was followed by changes to Labour's image, headed by a new Campaigns and Communications directorate under Peter Mandelson."

    https://www.labour.org.uk/historyofthelabourparty3

    86:

    And by the standards of a lot of those on the left IDS has done a fair number on those on benefits, particularly those with large families, those living in London, those with disabilities and the like.

    The right-wing of the Conservative hate "benefits scroungers" with a passion. How they define that is up for grabs of course. But under the guise of 'rational reform of the benefits system' the people worst affected are pretty easy to pick out.

    The latest proposal - you will have to pay for the right to appeal any decision made by the benefits office - sounds a lot like persecution. I don't doubt there are malicious litigants, but making the people on benefits pay an amount you know they can't afford to challenge your decisions? That's just cruel.

    87:

    If you like satirical speculative fiction, and as I know you like all things Lovecraft-related, then I'm sure you'll love this other speculation about Republicans :

    http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2013/12/a-christmas-speculation.html

    (Yes, it's Greer again, what can I do, he's starting to become a reference to me...)

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