29 November 2004

Posted by aog at 16:11 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

But he was so gauche!

I heard yet another story about General Pinochet this morning on NPR and saw it over at Brothers Judd as well. I am still floored by the difference between the effort expended in going after Pinochet while people like Castro and Arafat are fetéd around the world. Pinochet at least left his country in better shape than when he took over, with a return to democracy and a vibrant economy. What will be the legacy of Castro? The destruction of one of the leading economies in the Americas along with far more death and torture than Pinochet ever even considered? I suppose Pinochet’s real crime is that he didn’t verbally genuflect toward the chatterati, as Castro and Arafat have done so well, because it’s clearly not any oppression of the citizenry that arises the ire of the EUlite and chattering class of the West.

25 November 2004

Posted by aog at 10:01 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Iranian nukes

The Iranians are already preparing to backtrack on their agreement to stop enriching uranium. I find that quite odd, myself. My view of the recent “breakthrough” in negotiations was that with the re-election of President Bush, the Iranians decided that, as fun as it was, open defiance of the West was a bad choice. Instead, I figured they’d go with the North Korean approach — sign whatever agreements the West demands and then secretly ignore them while reaping the benefits of having signed them. With this announcement, it seems that Iran will continue with the French style — sign agreements and then openly flout them while making lame excuses. Perhaps the recent setbacks for the reformist movement have tipped the scales back internally.

Posted by aog at 09:57 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

The face of true evil

While pondering the case of a school banning the teaching of the Declaration of Independence, I realized that schools don’t seem to have a problem teaching other unpleasant facts about the Founders. In fact there seems to be a positive effort to do so. So one naturally wonders why teaching that the Founders were for the most part religious men would be forbidden. Is it because it an evil so deep, so traumatic that not even captive school children can be subjected to it? Is open religious feeling the one remaining taboo of modern public education?

24 November 2004

Posted by aog at 11:38 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

As long as I'm OK, you're just news

Via The Moderate Voice and Dean’s World, I read an article that basically argues that the Western public is not getting the “full” story from WWIV because there are no reporters embedded with the caliphascists. Now, I don’t remember calls for embedding reporters with enemy forces during previous wars nor complaints about how this lead to unbalanced coverage. However, there are a few interesting points that come up.

Does the Guardian not regard the caliphascists as the enemy?

Perhaps this isn’t such an odd proposition from the point of view of the European chattering classes because they don’t regard the USA and the Coalition as “friendly” nor the caliphascists as the “enemy”. That’s a choice they can make, but it should mean that we should treat them as neutrals or allies of our enemies if so. The language in the article is very suggestive in this regard:

but it’s not appropriate to use words like “enemy” or even “terrorist” and “we” instead of “they” in reference to the military.

That certainly changes once the reporter wants the protection of “their” military, though.

Why does the Guardian expect to be able to embed with the caliphascists?

This is a more interesting question to me. The Coalition forces support embedding because of a general respect for the press and civilized norms. This means that Coalition forces will tolerate embedded reporters even if the reporting is harmful to their cause. The caliphascists don’t adhere to any such restrictions. Why, then, would they (or do, in some cases) allow embeds? It can only be because they view Western reporters as either allies or useful idiots. I’d love to ask the original author which he is.

Now, the author does appear to realize this at some level:

Many viewers appear to think the media still have some kind of conferred neutrality. That the press badge can still act a bit like the Red Crescent. That Ken Bigley’s appalling death could surely not happen to western journalists. Well, those days have well and truly gone.

However, he still thinks that reporters should be embedded with the caliphascists and implies that producing more favorable reporting for their side might enable this. He writes:

Perhaps the men in the masks might change tack. You do not set up elaborate websites to showcase your latest suicide attack complete with graphics and musical effects if you don’t care about PR. Bin Laden’s video diaries are careful constructs. So will al-Qaida in Iraq and indeed the wider resistance tumble to that most potent of Pentagon weapons?

As if most Western media wasn’t anti-Western already! Some one should impact the author with a clue-by-four about how the bin Laden and the other caliphascists have been playing Western media like a lute. And of course, the author doesn’t seem to have a problem with supporting this suicide attack / hostage decapitation PR strategy as long as the reporters aren’t the victims.

Still the question remains — is there yet some lower level to which leading European newspaper can sink? I suspect so and that the clever staff at the Guardian will work out the details.

20 November 2004

Posted by aog at 12:42 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Open a vein

Dean’s World writes about the “purge” at the CIA. I think it’s high time that something was done. I understand the concern about whistle blowers, but is there no option for such people except to leak politically charged information at strategic times during election campaigns? Couldn’t they, you know, talk to a Congressmen? Someone on, say, the Intelligence Committee? I have no sympathy for the leakers. It’s not their job to decide what the appropriate use or correct foreign policy is for the USA. If they have serious (as opposed to the purely political ones motivating the recent leaks) then they should be talking to someone who is directly accountable to the American citizenry who is therefore at least partial empowered to make such decisions. If Congress is so united behind the President that that’s not possible, I’d say the proper conclusion is that the leaker is wrong.

Posted by aog at 12:15 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Only Americans are smart enough to lie

I try to read some Left leaning weblogs, just to avoid the echo chamber, but it’s very difficult to find ones that aren’t almost intolerably loony. Let me illustrate the problem with a post at Bagnews Notes.

This post discusses the impact of the alledgedly wounded jihadi who was killed on camera by a Marine. Let me state up front that I back the Marine, who was doing a tough job in a very hostile environment. I put any blame for the incident on the caliphascists who have been booby trapping bodies while faking surrender and death to strike at Coalition troops. The caliphascists chose to flagrantly violate the Western rules of war, now they can reap the result without a single regret on my part. I pointed out in the comments that, in my view, the primary implication of this event was “if you don’t want to get shot in a mosque, don’t fight in one”.

The rely I got was

I have no argument with the fact that insurgents use mosques as staging grounds, storage depots of places of refuge. From what I understand, mosques do not have a more functional/less sacred designation than Christian churches do. That being said, I find it highly telling that the mosque has evolved into the central symbolic target of the war. What this represents, I believe, is the perpetuation of a Christian-Muslim culture war — a direct extension of Bush’s rigid interpretation of his religious faith. [emphasis added]

This is from someone who claims to be able to penetrate and deconstruct propaganda. Apparently that only applies to Western propaganda, as he accepts uncritically even the most transparent of ploys by the caliphascists.

I agree that mosques have become a central icon in the war. The immediate cause are the assaults on them by Coalition forces. But the assaults themselves aren’t media events or propaganda. If one bothers to look at the causal chain between the assaults and the iconic status of them, one sees the following factors:

  • The deliberate use of mosques as military bases by the caliphascists
  • The crocodile tears shed when Coalition forces attack these bases
  • The completely uncritical acceptance and re-broadcast of this propaganda by Western media, such as Bagnews Notes.

Not one of these involves any decision making or the religious faith of President Bush. Yet somehow, someway, Bush’s faith is to blame. No explanation of this is offered, presumably because it’s an article of BNN’s faith. Does he think that the mosques are being assaulted because Bush ordered it, rather than because they are full of arms and men that attack and kill our troops? Has it been Bush that has harped on the sacredness of mosques and the insult of infidels tramping through them? No, but facts are of little use against faith as rigid as that of an anti-Bush partisan.

The mosques were used as bases for two interelated reasons. One is precisely the one detailed above — causing the taking of such bases to exact a heavy public opinion cost. The other was to have effectively invulnerable redoubts protected by the willingness of Coalition forces to accomodate the rigid faith of the local population. One can easily see (if one is willing to look) at how completely cynical this is. If mosques were really so sacred then one would expect at outcry at the arming of the mosques. Yet there is none. The only reasonable conclusion to draw is that the sacredness of a mosque is a matter of convenience and tactics, a simple propaganda ploy that is readily accepted by the useful idiots of the Western media.

I don’t expect BNN to see the light and suddenly switch over to supporting the effort in Iraq or treating Bush fairly. I would like to see him apply the same level of scepticism and analysis to the pronouncements of the caliphascists as he does to anything to do with the Bush administration.

19 November 2004

Posted by aog at 12:36 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Why bother with used ammunition?

Dean’s World has been pushing the Firefox browser for a while, and now The Brothers Judd have joined in.

I use Firefox, IE and Opera. I prefer Opera myself. It’s much like Firefox but with additional features I find very useful, such as being able to re-order the tabs. That’s very nice when one is doing web work (such as building plugin modules for Movable Type).

What is interesting is the puzzlement of many about why IE is a dead end product and the false schadenfruede at IE losing market share. As one Dean’s World commentor said,

Microsoft needs to lose majority marketshare in this field, so that they don’t ever create a monster like IE ever again.

I just don’t get that. Why in the world would Microsoft care one bit about the market share of IE? Nobody pays for it — it’s a free product. It doesn’t add one penny to Microsoft revenues, despite the view of another commentor

Microsoft needs to be hit hard where it hurts - in their revenues, because they need to stop their irresponsible, stagnant approach to security.

If every single person on the planet dropped IE and used Firefox Microsoft wouldn’t even notice as far as revenue is concerned. Microsoft stopped work on IE because it achieved the strategic purposes for which it was built and further work on it would just be throwing away money. IE was deliberately left to die on the vine and for all those people snickering at how awful it must be for IE to fade away, let me give you a clue-by-four - Bill Gates doesn’t care. He’s laughing all the way to the bank. Netscape is dead, the web browser didn’t replace the Microsoft desktop and Microsoft hedged its bets in case it did. On top of all that, Microsoft is now offloading maintenance and improvement of web browsing for its customers on to third parties for free. It doesn’t get sweeter than that.

Posted by aog at 08:44 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

DeLays, DeLays

[Via Brothers Judd] While I quite enjoy the new assertiveness of the Republican Party on Capital Hill, I don’t think keeping Senator DeLay on as a leader despite his criminal indictment is a good way to demonstrate who’s in charge. DeLay should have taken one for the team so as to avoid providing stereotype-fueling fodder for the Democratic Party propaganda machine. It’s precisely the kind of arrogance instead of accomplishment that in the long term ruined the Democratic Party. How does changing this rule advance the causes of the Republican Party or the nation? It doesn’t, it just serves to gratify the ego of a particular Senator.

18 November 2004

Posted by aog at 22:37 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Fighting the better with the perfect

Harry’s Place has another whine about President Bush’s ” hypocrisy about promoting democractic change”. The basis is the standard “better to curse the darkness than light a single candle” argument, i.e. if Bush doesn’t push democracy everywhere then it’s pointless, fake or cynical. It couldn’t possibly be making the best of limited means. Clearly the intent isn’t to make a fair analysis of whether Bush is overall contributing advancing civilization, but a means of raising the bar so that no matter what Bush does, he’s doing wrong.

for all of Bush’s soaring rhetoric, he sees democracy mainly as a club to wield over unfriendly or uncooperative regimes. It’s not that the people living under these regimes don’t deserve demoracy — of course they do. But are those whose rulers currently please us any less deserving?

This just illustrates the search for failure. Isn’t it better to use democracy as a club on unfriendly or uncooperative regimes than none at all? And what does the fact that others are as deserving of democracy as others? Should I stop donating to charities because I can’t donate to every one that is deserving? Or should I help the ones I can, selecting them on the basis of personal preference or alignment with my beliefs?

If objectors like this were truly concerned about the spread of liberal democracy, first off they’d fight the European Union. But beyond that, perhaps they should encourage the rhetoric so any succeeding USA President would find it much harder to not continue the effort. Or, they can just carp and moan to demonstrate that no matter what is done, it won’t be enough.

17 November 2004

Posted by aog at 18:32 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Let's hear it for the King

Via Brothers Judd we have a report about the failure of Communism in Vietnam.

Of course, Communism resulting in misery and failure is hardly news. What’s interesting about this is that many of the Communists have realized this. That alone makes them far more perceptive and far less dogmatic than many American academics. As one commentor noted, it would be great fun to have these reformed Communists debate some of our local Communist sympathizers.

Most interestingly to me is that the story is basically a press release put out by the “Vietnamese Constituational Monarchist League”. While straight monarchy has its problems, I find constitutional monarchy quite a bit more palatable. A monarch with limited powers can provide a good “reset swtich” for a representative government. There are two key things that are required to have it be a net positive instead of a negative:

  • The monarch can only stop / reset actions. The monarch can never initiate government action. So, for instance, the monarch could dissolve Parliment but not appoint anyone to it, nor introduce legislation.
  • The monarch actions must be big, so that they can’t be used frequently nor “under the radar”. Non-format monarchial duties should never be required in the normal running of the government. This will not only discourage frivilous use of monarchial powers but add gravitas to any such use.

Constitutional monarchies may actually be well suited for emerging democracies, where things can get wedged more easily. It is an option that should be taken seriously in such cases.

15 November 2004

Posted by aog at 16:04 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Enhanced reality

Random Jottings has a post about some new technology which is helping out troops in Iraq. This consists of a heads up display so that vehicle commanders can watch the physical terrain and electronic battle data at the same time.

This fits in nicely with something I’ve been wanting to write about for a long time but haven’t had the time to develop it properly. That is that I think that “enhanced reality” will be a bigger deal than “virtual reality”.

What is enhanced reality? It’s reality plus. In the example cited above, one plus is abstract battle data, such as the location of friendly units and possible enemy units. This is really just “dual monitor” sort of thing, where the commander can look at physical reality or abstract reality but has to switch between them. The driver system sounds more like what I expect longer term, which is look at the same reality both phyiscally and abstractly. For instance, there’s no fundamental reason that the commanders helmet couldn’t know where it is and which direction the commander is looking and drawing indicators against the image of the physical terrain that indicate units. The closest thing most people have experienced is a video game where objects in the game go around decorated with additional information (such as friend / foe). We’re seeing the first versions of that now.

This isn’t useful only for military situations, however. Imagine going to an amusement park and being able to look around to the park with the current location of your children / spouse highlighted for you. Or guidance arrows for you car in a huge parking lot. None of that requires any fundamental break throughs, just cheaper and better hardware along with ubiquitous wireless connectivity. There are many interesting side effects that perhaps I’ll try to explore in future posts (for instance, would keys disappear? Why use those, instead of sending encrypted messages to your car to lock / unlock, or just having it change state depending on how close you are? Would people start looking like wizards, using their hands to issue commands like “open door”?).

12 November 2004

Posted by aog at 12:05 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Sobering up

I read these hagiographic eulogies for Yassir Arafat and complaints about how President Bush doesn’t care about the Palestinians, presumably because he snubbed Arafat.

I find that viewpoint bizarre, because no one (and I mean no one) did more damage to the Palestinians than Arafat. His entire career consisting of selling out the Palestinians for his own benefit, generally to either Arab dictators or the chattering classes in Europe and elsewhere. I cannot think of one thing Arafat ever did that benefitted his subjects. Arafat didn’t advance the cause of Palestinian statehood, he strangled it in its crib. But Arafat didn’t limit his depredations to the Palestinians, he didn’t just slaughter Israelis indistriminately, he also coarsened and degraded the social fabric of the entire world. People are upset about the attack on a school in Beslan, but that was a tactic introduced to modern history by — Yassir Arafat. For this he’s considered an admirable figure?

This is why Bush’s snub of Arafat demonstrates more real concern for the fate of the Palestinians that I’ve seen from any other world leader. If you have a wino, you don’t improve his condition by getting him a better vintage. You take the bottle away. Arafat was the tasty but poisonous drink keeping the Palestinians bleeding in the gutter. Every award, every prestigious meeting with him was just putting a better label on the same old bottle of rotgut. I suspect much of it was moral cowardice, because the besotted get surly if you take away the sauce. Only Bush had the courage to say “that’s enough - get sober”.

10 November 2004

Posted by aog at 14:21 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

And now, idiots

An associate of mine refered me to this article by David Coursey about the recent theft of source code from Cisco Systems. For someone who alledgedly understands the industry, he doesn’t seem to understand that programmers find it very difficult to write and update software without actually having access to that software. Coursey writes

As for securing Cisco itself, I won’t try to tell the company how to stop losing its source code. It just has to be done and if Cisco won’t do it, the government will eventually step in and impose its brand of secrecy in order to protect the Internet as a piece of our country’s—even the world’s-critical infrastructure.

He doesn’t know how to do it, but it “just has to be done” and if Cisco is too stupid to figure it out (as he admits he is), then the wise and prudent government will explain it. Yeah, that same government that can’t even do secure voting correctly.

The sad reality is that with the proliferation of CD-ROM burners and USB memory cards, walking out of work with proprietary data is easier than ever. The restrictions necessary to get even a modicum of security would destroy Cisco’s ability to develop its software. Just as a for instance, debugging would be a nightmare without basically full acccess to the system source code. And in today’s computing environment, if you have access you can copy it. What surprises me is that more copies haven’t leaked out, which speaks highly for how employees view Cisco.

It’s not just a problem with Cisco. If I had wanted a copy of the source code to Windows NT 3.5 or 4.0, I could have had it for the price of some blank CDs. One of the stronger arguments for open source is that anyone who thinks source code can be secured at a medium to large company is simply delusional. Coursey actually has a few non-stupid things to say about that, despite his appalling ignorance on this particular point.

Posted by aog at 10:47 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

We all have our idols

I have to say that I’m really at a loss to comprehend the attitude of the EUlite in some situations. In particular, the reaction to the ritual slaying of Van Gogh in Amsterdam is astonishing.

MPs have strongly criticised Deputy Prime Minister Gerrit Zalm for his declaration of war against Islamic extremism last week.

Green-left GroenLinks leader Femke Halsema said she was “extremely unhappy” about the statement, claiming that Zalm had suggested “everything was possible”, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.

What, exactly, is the motivation of a political class to overlooking this attack? Is it the view that there is an acceptable level of violence and as long as the local population cowers sufficiently the violence will remain at the level? (I can’t help but think again of the movie Brazil)

Perhaps it’s simply short sightedness combined with arrogance. I’m sure Halsema believes that she will never do anything to bring down a ritual kiler on her, so why can’t other people just get in line? After all, the Caliphascists are not asking anything more of the population than the Green Left, just with Mohammed and the Koran instead of Malthus and the environment.

09 November 2004

Posted by aog at 16:29 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Pulling the trigger

I’ve been thinking about President Bush’s relationship with Congress and how he has reined in Senators Specter and Dodd and put down (soon to be former) Senator Daschle. It’s quite like the Axis of Evil approach. If you have a number of enemies, any one of which you can defeat but who, in total, are too much to take simultaneously, you can get improved behavior through the old technique of an example for the encouragement of others. If you name the worst target, then take it out, you tend to encourage competition among the remainder to not be at the top of the list.

This is what Libya did when it turned over its WMD. It’s not that Libya suddenly decided to be a fine, upstanding nation. All Qaddaffi really wanted was the assurance that he wasn’t at the top of the USA’s enemies list. It’s the bear in the woods joke — a state doesn’t have to cooperate with the USA, it just has to be less uncooperative than other states. While it would be nice for such former rogue states to suddenly turn fully toward the light, that’s just not going to happen. Raising the bar of tolerate behaviour is nevertheless good progress.

I just find the emerging pattern in the Senate very familiar in this light. Now that Daschle’s had his ticket punched, we will hopefully see a shift from Senators seeing who can be the most obstructionist to trying to not be the most obstructionist. It’s all about hitting high payoff targets first — just like invading Iraq.

Posted by aog at 14:20 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Take every advantage

As our troops enter Fallujah we are seeing the devasting results of the military’s urban warfare capabilties.

One that struck me as I read these reports is that the enemy can’t have fixed defenses. It ust doesn’t work. If a Marine squad runs in to a fortified building, or a road block, or a bunker that can’t be easily taken out with local weapons, they just make a call and in a few minutes an orbiting aircraft drops a weapon that eliminates the defense.

Even worse for the enemy, our forces don’t need to take any particular place. The Coalition troops can attack where ever is best for the attacker, leaving enemy strong points to either wither or be dealt with from the air. In fact, it may well be that territorial acquisition is slowed down because the real goal is to chewing up enemy forces, not conquering Fallujah. The latter is simply the means to the former.

Posted by aog at 12:53 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Terrorism as price of oppression, not poverty

No Illusions notes a study from the JFK School of Government that indicates that terrorism stems from lack of liberty rather than lack of money. Of course, those of us who have been paying attention aren’t surprised by this result. It’s one of the big reasons to have voted for President Bush in the last election, because he (at some level) understands this as well.

I’ll note in passing that it’s kind of sad that the faction that thinks terrorism is caused by poverty have a strong tendency to suggest foreign aid and socialism as solutions, even though those at best are useless and at worst can actively promote poverty. So even in their own terms, such policies are failures. In real life it’s even worse because such efforts have a strong negative effect on liberty, thereby promoting terrorism.

NI makes a special note of the study result that

This result suggests that, as experienced recently in Iraq and previously in Spain and Russia, transitions from an authoritarian regime to a democracy may be accompanied by temporary increases in terrorism.

I find that quite plausible. In truly oppresive regimes, local terrorism can be suppressed through very coarse methods (Syria and Hama, or Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood) or forced to be exported (the Saudi Entity).

However, I wonder if this is really true. It may simply be that the terrorism becomes part of the state apparatus rather than “free lance”. It is not as if the Iraqi people didn’t suffer more heavily under the Ba’ath than they are now, it’s just that Old Media in the West is now willing to publicize it. It would be interesting to see if movement toward liberty, despite the rise in what is officially labeled terrorism, has a linear inverse correlation with violence against civilians. I.e. what looks like a rise in transitional states is really just a change from state sponsored to non-state sponsored violence, even as the overall violence decreases.

08 November 2004

Posted by aog at 23:17 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Doctor, it hurts when I do this

In comment threads like this one finds a number of comments about secession, where the littoral types want to leave the USA to get away from the rednecks/fundamentalists/lobotomized minions of Karl Rove. What makes it funny is the complaint that those heartland types are living off the tax money of the littorals. This is hilarious on two levels.

The first is the issue of why there’s all that tax money being extracted from the Lefty states. Of course, it is because the Democratic Party supports high taxes. It seems to be an article of faith that high taxes are good. Yet I have never seen it occur to one of the whiners to agitate for lower taxes so they don’t get (as they see it) “ripped off”.

The second is the strong parallel to the welfare debate. It’s the welfare queen story, just with a slightly different gloss. It might do such commentors good to think about why they are so upset about the federal government handing out their money to other people, and how that might just push people towards the Republican Party, which advocates doing less of that.

Nah. The idea that someone might have an actual reason for voting for President Bush beyond homophobia and Bible thumping would probably even further damage their mental machinery.

Posted by aog at 18:39 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Double down

I’ve been amused by the calls for President Bush to “slow down” or “hold back” in order to solidify his legacy as a President. I can’t help but wonder if people who write that have a startling lack of clue or are clutching at straws in a deeply cynical way.

Bush has already cast his lot with glory or disgrace. At this point, Bush’s legacy will be either a badly failed Presidency or a transformative one. There’s not really a way for him to land in the middle ground.

In fact, if Bush was to be viewed well by history, pushing full steam ahead is his best bet. If we pull out of Iraq or Bush fails to get any significant legislation through during his next term, then he’ll almost certainly end up on the “didn’t matter much” pile of Presidencies, as his father will. On the other hand, if he succeeds in those two things then he’ll be a top teir figure in the line of Presidents. Now, given Bush’s past behaviour, what exactly would an astute observer expect of him?

I suspect that Bush will get quite a bit of his agenda done and will go down as the capstone of the Goldwater/Reagan/Bush sequence. Goldwater was the nadir of the modern Republican party in terms of electoral success, but he set the tone and the big ideas that would power the subsequent rise of the party. Reagan established the beachhead on the shores of power. It is really with Reagan that the modern Republican party achieved rough parity with the Democratic Party. Bush, if successful, will be noted as having broken the Democratic Party by striking out from Reagan’s success. He will probably also be noted for overturning the Westphalian order and fundamentally changing the nature of the relationships among nation-states.

A President who bets on that kind of legacy or bust does not strike me as someone who’s going to proceed catiously in to his second term.

Posted by aog at 16:30 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Mandate is as mandate does

As many others have, I find the repeated calls from the political losers of the recent election for President Bush to “reach out” laugable. Winning means … well, winning. Getting your own way. And Bush clearly won.

The “mandate” talk is equally hilarious. A politician has a mandate if that politician has the political power to get his policies implented. The literal results of the election are important only in so far as they create or destroy that power. If Bush gets his way, then he had the mandate and if he doesn’t, then he didn’t.

Discussing whether Bush has a mandate seems remarkably similar to the pointless discussions about UN approval for waging war. It seems to matter a great deal to the chattering classes but in the real world it’s all about what a nation chooses to do, not what the UN thinks about it. I suspect that the base motivation is the same — to create, via fast talking, a restraint and a level of control that didn’t exist before that is held by the chattering classes.

This is one place where post-modernism is correct. The restraint of a mandate (or lack of one) exists if and only if Bush and his supporters believe that it does. It is an excellent example of a purely social construct. What the chattering classes really fear about Bush is that he may well realize this.

07 November 2004

Posted by aog at 22:50 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Check the ventilation - there's an oxygen shortage

Via Brothers Judds, we have an article in the NY Times about how Senator Kerry should step up after the election.

Still reeling from his loss to President Bush on Tuesday, Senator John Kerry is being urged by top advisers and friends to take a high-profile role as the Democratic Party grapples with issues like selecting its next chairman and shaping its identity and course.

Yeah, while Senator Kerry is pondering the nuances of that approach, the Democratic Senators have already decided on their leaders, without apparently requiring the slightest bit of input from Kerry. Which is hardly odd, given how they never needed it in the past.

Unlike Al Gore, who made a tortured exit from the public stage after his loss to Mr. Bush four years ago, Mr. Kerry has a Senate seat to return to and is under no pressure to disappear from view for the sake of national unity and the legitimacy of the presidency, his advisers say. They argue that his continuing presence in the Senate gives him a natural role in determining how Democrats deal with the White House.

The natural role, of course, is as the “bad example”. Actually, though, the Democratic Party would probably be better off if they did use Kerry as a bad example. In fact, I expect they’ll do what they’ve done in the past — fail to realize that he exists.

“If President Bush indeed wants to earn the support of people who supported Kerry, then he’ll probably have to deal with Kerry,” said Mike McCurry, a senior adviser to the Kerry campaign.

Now why, exactly, would Bush want that? The very essence of Kerry’s campaign was “I am not George Bush”. It seems that there’s a bit of a problem more fundamental than Bush’s political relationship to Kerry as a Senator.

“The question for Kerry is in some ways the same as for Bush: Does the president want to lead by establishing some bipartisan consensus in the center, or does he want to govern from the ideological right?”

Call me a moonbat, but I’m going to go with “ideological right” on that question. In ten years that ideological right will be the center.

“Kerry would be the person that could help him accomplish that, but if not, there will be a hunger for someone to stand up to Bush.”

I think the hunger will be for some one who can successfully stand up to Bush. Or, perhaps Soros and his billionare cabal will be happy to spend another big wad o’ cash on another unsuccessful fight.

04 November 2004

Posted by aog at 09:15 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Technohazardous tools

I’ve been continuing to think about the issues of a technohazardous lab. While there are strong analogies to biohzardous labs, I ran in to one big difference the other day on the subject of sterilization. For biohazards, the tools uses to manipulate the materials are made of fundamentally different things than the materials. This makes sterilization easier, since one needs to find a procedure that’s destructive to the biohazards but not to the tools (such as intense heat).

For technohazards, though, the tools and the technohazards are in effect made of the same stuff. There’s no significant difference between a text editor and a virus in terms of their constituent parts. It’s as if all of the tools in a biohazard lab were themselve active biologicals, saying living plants. Put them through an autoclave would sterilize and destroy them at the same time.

In one sense this isn’t so bad, since it’s extremely cheap to duplicate the tools, but what of trying to move accumulated data out of the lab?

I can’t think of any procedure that’s guaranteed to destroy technohazards that won’t also destroy data. This comes up as an issue when one wants to move data out of the lab. What process can be guaranteed to destroy any potential technohazards without destroying the data? All current virus scanners, for instance, rely on prior knowledge of the target virii. If one is dealing with a new strain, then the scanners will not be sufficiently thorough. Live connections are obviously out — it’d be like having running water flowing out of a biohazard lab (just think of the hazards of any sort of wireless connections). Hand copying may be required until better procedures can be created.

Posted by aog at 08:52 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Losing patience

One thing I wonder about is what happened to the long term patience of the Left. The Left captured much of the intellectual high ground of modern societies through a very gradually colonization of academia and public service organizations. It took a long time but it has paid off very well. I doubt that the Left would be more than a footnote today without that kind of structural support.

But now we see (in the homosexual marriage issue and the recent elections) a kind of furious lashing out that considers anything more than a few years distant to be irrelevant. It could be part of the 70 year cycle, where the grandchildren are born to power and so have no real feel for how or why that power exists. I suspect that this will cause the modern American Left to continue to be furious with frustration for at least another four years.

Posted by aog at 08:33 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

No sympathy

Apparently the Defense of Marriage Acts (DOMAs) have passed in 11 out of 11 states where they were on the ballot. While my views on the subject are mixed, I certainly think that this is a classic example of the tragedy of hubris.

Given the overall trends in American society, it seems very likely that homosexual marriage or something equivalent would have become prevalent through normal political mechanisms within a few decades. But this was unacceptable to a faction of the Left who had become used to making decisions for everyone else and then enforcing those decisions via a compliant court system. No need for politics or persuasion, no need to have a national debate, just engage the court system to hammer down the opposition. Clearly no lesson was learned from the abortion issue. Or even from slavery, which (to me) is a far clearer issue. Yet that took the bloodiest war in American history to resolve.

I suspect that it’s just another variant of utopianism, whereby it seems that if one just does this one thing, then paradise will emerge on Earth. As it turns out, however, things on Earth are always messy and conflicted and so the best solution (not the perfect solution) is comprehensive, slow and hard work. But I doubt that lesson has sunk in much in the modern American Left.

03 November 2004

Posted by aog at 15:14 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

To everything there is a season

When is it too early to start speculating about who in the current Bush administration will be bailing out before his second term starts? Before the election, it would look disloyal. Now, however, the door is open. I expect it to be used.

Posted by aog at 14:52 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Credit where credit is due

Senator Kerry has conceded the Presidential race. I think his timing was very reasonable and I want to express my appreciation for his properly handling the election results. Whatever else may be said, Kerry was forced to do this, he chose to.

Posted by aog at 10:21 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

It's still going to be a long fight

There’s been a lot of talk of how Old Media has discredited itself by being so partisan during this recent Presidential election. I just don’t see that. I believe that the only reason this election was close was because Old Media went so overboard for Senator Kerry. But the key point is that the election was still close, which means that Old Media was still very effective right up to the end. Why that would suddenly change with a victory for President Bush is very unclear. If fact, if you read some of the comments at the Leftist weblogs, you’ll see quite a number of commentors stating (without contradiction) that a big part of Kerry’s problem was his inability to get his message out via Old Media.

I think that there will continue to be a gradual erosion of Old Media’s power but I don’t think that the election results will make much of a difference. If you were willing to vote for Kerry, it’s hard to see how you would come to the conclusion that Old Media was biased or disreputable. Any discrepancies between the Old Media view and reality will be written off to

  • Cheating, election stealing Republicans
  • Stupid, ignorant voters
  • The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy in one of its many avatars (Halliburton, neo-cons, Zionists, etc.)
  • The evil magic of Karl Rove

Like everything else, there’s no magic resolution after the big battle, just a long, painful mopping up.

Posted by aog at 05:24 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

More barrel scrapings

Gene at Harry’s Place comments on the desire of some people to vote for President Bush just to annoy some of his opponents. Let me say that beyond my basic support for Bush, the thought of just how painful his re-election will be for a certain crowd was part of the thrill of voting for him.

But this brings up an interesting point. I’m not all that old, yet I can remember when most of the nationally known annoying people were on the conservative / Republican side, the Swaggarts and the Buchanans. Now, however, it seems that almost all of the big name cretins are on the Left — the Michael Moores, the EUlite posers, Hollywood liberals, etc.

I suspect that this is a side effect of the long term political shift rightward in the USA. Shedding the human dross costs in the short term but pays off in the long term. Oddly, it’s usually the dominant party that feels that it can afford to do that. The minority party tends to cling to whatever support it can muster even if it’s unsavory. As the country has trended conservative, the Left (as embodied in the Democratic Party) has increasingly turned to who ever can get votes, regardless. Al Sharpton, Michael Moore, George Soros — these are the type of people who call the shots on the modern American Left.

It’s unfortunately like a drug addiction, where each hit requires a little bit more while the body is increasingly enervated so that the drug is ever more important. The Democratic Party has the problem that if Bush pulls of a re-election then what depths can the party plumb that aren’t net vote losers?

I thought at the time that President Clinton would be, in hindsight, considered a pivotal President. I’m ever more convinced of it, that future historians will mark his terms as the high point of the Democratic Party.

Posted by aog at 00:21 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Showing proper appreciation

If President Bush wins, we should all send “thank you” letters to the Guardian for helping out in Ohio.

02 November 2004

Posted by aog at 23:56 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Pajamahadeen

Yes, I’m wearing pajamas. Very nice ones given to me by She Who Is Perfect In All Ways, with little rocket ships, moons and stars on them.

Posted by aog at 22:03 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Staff carrots

Porphyrogenitus asks why can’t US Presidential candidates pick a shadow cabinet before the election, as is done in the UK? Well, there are two strong reasons.

The first is that shadow cabinets are more useful in the UK where election timing is somewhat unpredictable. Theoretically, a government could fall on any vote and therefore there’s prudence in having a the opposition party ready to step in.

But the real reason is that cabinet positions are one of the primary rewards dangled in front of high level staff during the campaign. If the choices are pre-announced (which, I agree, would be helpful for voters) it would greatly diminish the ability of campaigns not just to attract talent but to motivate as well. The staffers can’t possibly not be aware that not all of them will get the good positions. The presumption is that performance during the campaign will have a strong influence on who gets what position.

I’m not sure that’s so bad. Again, in the UK system the shadow cabinet consists of members of Parliment, i.e. people who not only have won recent elections but are active in government daily and therefore demonstrating something about their ability to function. The only equivalent for most of a US Presidential cabinet is, in fact, the campaign.

So I don’t expect a change in this anytime soon.

Posted by aog at 13:13 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Voting time

I’ll be heading out to vote for George W. Bush for President in a little bit. As I’ve noted before, I’m unhappy with a number of his policies but in every case I find Senator Kerry’s position as bad or worse, so it wasn’t a difficult decision for me to make.

I’d like to note, though, that if I were judging Bush in isolation (rather than against Kerry), I’d still give him an overall “average” to “good” rating, so I won’t be just voting against Kerry.

The two big pluses for Bush are that he takes WWIV seriously and his free trade credentials. I mark him as good on these.

The invasion of Iraq has had its problems and mistakes, but welcome to reality. It’s hard to give a grade for this, because it is the long term results that will be the true judge of the effort. So far, however, based on historical norms it is going quite well. I’ve always considered it a high stakes gamble, justified only by the true horror of the alternatives. The carping on this subject is either ahistorical perfectionist or part of the standard Kerry campaign line of noting how bad things are without discussing how much worse other options would have been.

The big negatives I have for Bush, the reasons I’m not willing to give him a clear “good” mark are basically

  • Campaign finance reform
  • Massive government expansion and bribing of the voters

The first is currently the singlest greatest threat to our system of government. Even if the anti-Ashcroft claims were true, they still wouldn’t be as even close to as dangerous. However, I have no doubt Kerry would have signed it, so it’s no advantage here.

The big spending pattern of Bush has been discussed much around the blogosphere. Still, despite Bush’s elaborate prospective bribes of the voters, Kerry managed to top him so this one comes out advantage Bush.

Add it all up and you get a small but clear net positive and a very clear “better than”.

01 November 2004

Posted by aog at 12:39 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks: View (0)Ping URL

Action limiters

Now that we have the putatively video from Osama bin Laden, we’re hearing much whining from the Left about how it is President Bush’ fault he’s still running around and dangerous. I find that sadly amusing.

The first issue is that OBL doesn’t seem very dangerous anymore. His organization has been smashed and his nation-state base of support occupied. While it would certainly be nice to have something very nasty happen to OBL, we shouldn’t let our emotions get in the way of working toward victory. In this kind of game, we must play to win, not to indulge our feelings.

But I suspect that the truly cynical in the modern American Left aren’t confused on this point, but instead see it as a way to both demagogue the issue and limit the set of actions required. If OBL is defined as the problem, then once he’s toast victory can be declared and we can go back to implementing a socialist utopia in the USA.

I’m somewhat surpised that the Kerry campaign didn’t use this same strategy for Iraq — Saddam Hussein was the problem, we got him, let’s go home. Perhaps Senator Kerry is just waiting until he’s President to do it.