31 October 2006

Dividing the electorate in to the smart ones and the ones who vote for me

I got a campaign mailing from Naomi Jakobsson, who is my state representative. She normally comes off as a mild moonbat, which is expected because of the local population which consists to a large extent of academics and their economic dependents. However, this mailing was a bit out there even for her and so ripe for fisking that I couldn’t resist posting about it.

One side of the mailing consists of a big picture of an AK-47 with the following text —

Some things are just obvious, like the need for common sense gun laws.

[picture of AK-47, completely unidentified]

WARNING: This military assault weapon is capable of firing a rapid succession of ammunition at any target, moving or stationary and should be considered extremely dangerous. Use of this weapon may result in sudden loss of life to yourself or others. Although Republicans in Congress and President Bush disagree, this weapon is intended solely for military purposes and is not suitable for a civilian environment. All persons, regardless of age, sex, race, ethnicity, income, religion, party affiliation or political persuasion should avoid coming in contact with this weapon.

With a picture of a big gun like that, the urge for target practice overwhelms me. Let’s get shooting.

military assault weapon — why, yes it is. Apparently she has no idea which one it is, but gosh it sure is scary looking so how could it be anything else?

capable of firing a rapid succession of ammunition — Really? What a surprising design feature in a military assault weapon. I would never have suspected.

at any target, moving or stationary — It doesn’t turn off when I point it at a moving target? What kind of fancy technology will they think of next! Have you alerted our National Guard about this? Maybe they should get some.

extremely dangerous — “There are no dangerous weapons, only dangerous people”.

Use of this weapon may result in sudden loss of life — What barbaric times we live in, when even simple military assault weapons can kill people. How have we strayed so far from the wisdom of our predecessors?

to yourself — OK, I take it back, maybe the National Guard shouldn’t get any.

Although Republicans in Congress and President Bush disagree this weapon is intended solely for military purposes and is not suitable for a civilian environment — Ah, finally she gets to the outright lieing. I was wondering how long a member of the Democratic Party could go without doing that. An automatic weapon as described in the previous text is very illegal requires explicit permission from local law enforcement to possess, has been for a long time, and neither the GOP Congressional delegation nor President Bush has made any effort to change that.

All persons […] should avoid coming in contact with this weapon — Why yes, clearly something like this is far too dangerous even for our military personal to touch (sorry I even suggested that we endanger our National Guard by giving them such fast tickets to suicide). I definitely think Jakobsson should take this message over to the Middle East, maybe Iraq, and explain it to the people there. I sure a big impact would be made.

Of course, on the other side is some blather about the “assualt weapons ban” which had nothing whatsoever to do with anything on the first side. She wants to pass one statewide, to “get dangerous guns off our streets”. Obviously she’s been impressed by the incredible success of such bans in places like Washington D.C.

I mentioned this to SWIPIAW and she responded “the set of people who will vote for her and can identify that gun are disjoint”. Most likely correct and around here, the first set is much larger than the second.

It's not the moonbat, it's the cheering flock

One thing that I haven’t seen emphasized in the Senator Kerry troop insult imbroglio is that point that the audience thought it was a great line as delivered. Regardless of whether Kerry’s highly dubious claim of a mistatement is true, that has no effect on the audience. Nothing Kerry can say or apologize will change that.

30 October 2006

Finally, one of the important issues

Bond vs. Centripetal force — discuss. Before viewing, however, read the attached warning:

Warning: this comic occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors).

P.S. I found this via SWIPIWA, who sent me this one. You have to be a real computer security geek to get that.

Factual bypass

I was thinking about conspiracy theories and ad hominem arguments this morning. These are obviously related, because a conspiracy theory is effectively an ad homimem argument against various policies. Can’t argue directly against some aspect of US foreign policy? Create a conspiracy theory and argue against the policy because it’s part of a conspiracy. That solves any difficulty with policy analysis by discarding the actual benefits and costs of the policy as irrelevant. My view is that conspiracies are not just wrong, but irrelevant. If the policy is bad, then you can argue against it directly. If it’s not bad, who cares if it’s conspiracy based?

I used to think that conspiracy theories were popular because ultimately they were symbols of hope. If such a theory were true, then one could “solve” the problem by exposing and breaking the conspiracy, something much simpler (and more dramatic) than developing and implementing an alternative strategy. But lately I wonder if the ad hominem feature isn’t the bigger draw.

27 October 2006

I expect they'll require actual time travel next

As a former and current stock holder in Cisco Systems I received a letter today about a class action lawsuit having to do with stock prices. I looked through it to figure out how to opt out and discovered that I could send a written request for exemption to an address, as long as I accompanied it with full details about all of my Cisco stock transactions for the given time period. The neat part was that it had to arrive by 31 Oct. Think of that and then check the date on this post. Just to add insult to injury, it’s over a weekend. No faxing it in, either. What amazes me about our modern judicial system is how blatant scams like this are nevertheless approved. Have judges no shame, no decency at all?

Google eyed donkeys

What the heck, it’s kind of silly, but Right Wing News is da Google bomb.

Senate

Connecticut: Ned Lamont
Maryland: Ben Cardin
Maryland: Ben Cardin

Missouri: Claire McCaskill
Missouri: Claire McCaskill
Michigan: Debbie Stabenow
Montana: Jon Tester
Ohio: Sherrod Brown

Pennsylvania: Bob Casey
Tennessee: Harold Ford
Tennessee: Harold Ford
New Jersey: Bob Menendez
Virginia: James Webb

House

(AZ-5): Harry Mitchell
(AZ-08): Gabrielle Giffords
(CO-07): Ed Perlmutter
(CT-04): Diane Farrell

(CT-05): Chris Murphy
(FL-16): Tim Mahoney
(GA-03): Jim Marshall
(GA-12): John Barrow
(IA-01): Bruce Braley

(IL-06): Tammy Duckworth
(IL-17): Phil Hare
(IN-08): Brad Ellsworth
(IN-09): Baron Hill
(NC-13): Brad Miller

(NH-02): Paul Hodes
(NM-01): Patricia Madrid
(NY-20): Kirsten Gillibrand
(NY-24): Michael Arcuri
(NY-29): Eric Massa

(OH-15): Mary Jo Kilroy
(OH-18): Zack Space
(PA-07): Joe Sestak
(PA-10): Chris Carney
(PA-08): Patrick Murphy

(PA-12): John Murtha
(VA-02): Phil Kellam
(WA-8): Darcy Burner
(WI-08): Steve Kagen

25 October 2006

The fix is out!

Looks like Blogspot is having some difficulties. I am getting a “500: Internal Server Error” from a number of such weblogs, like Think of England and Deep Black. As a result, I have to go out walking the dog with SWIPIAW in order to avoid work.

P.S. All better now!

P.P.S. You can now refer to Deep Black from here just by writing “DeepBlack” (sans quotes, of course).

24 October 2006

Nothing costs more, eh?

According to Business Week, former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling has spent $70 million on his legal defense. I cannot imagine how even a top flight law firm could have spent that much money. Perhaps Skilling’s plan was to spend every dime he had on lawyers, because he figured the feds and other lawyers who aren’t his friends were going to get anything he had left over.

Confusing pricing with markets

Another interesting tidbit from Brothers Judd today is a polemic from Stanley Fish, who is some sort of professor of something somewhere. I know I have read things by him before and been less than impressed, a feat he manages once again with this article. The place where I stopped reading was here —

But it is one thing to take religion as an object of study and another to take religion seriously. To take religion seriously would be to regard it not as a phenomenon to be analyzed at arm’s length, but as a candidate for the truth. In liberal theory, however, the category of truth has been reserved for hypotheses that take their chances in the “marketplace of ideas.”

Religious establishments will typically resist the demand that basic tenets of doctrine be submitted to the test of deliberative reason.

Perhaps the religious establishment does that, but Fish has done a bait and switch here, substituting “test of deliberative reason” for “marketplace of ideas”. These are, of course, not at all the same thing. It’s certainly not in the general societal sense and it’s even more laughably false in the esteemed halls of academia, where deliberative reason seems to be a rapidly fading hang over of a previous era.

The “market place of ideas” is simply the societal conversation about ideas. The “test of deliberative reason” is a pricing mechanism for evaluating the worth of those ideas, but it is not the market and neither is it the only pricing mechanism. Fish’s writing doesn’t even pass the test it wants to use on others.

Selling at the peak?

Via Brothers Judd is this story about farmers in the Punjab selling land to buy farms in Canada. What struck me was the idea that land in Punjab is that valuable. The article cites values up to $220K / acre. That’s almost double what the Chicago Tribune claims land goes for in Chicago suburbs. I understand India is a bit more crowded than the Chicago suburbs, but that’s still a bit hard to believe. Who is paying for the land? Or is it that very few farmers are selling, so the marginal costs are extremely exaggerated? It is especially puzzling given the reasons the farmer in the story is selling —

We have endless power cuts. If we have to depend on generators it’s too expensive. Diesel costs are rising all the time. […] There is also no sense of security for people like us, those who have a bit of land. […] There is no sense of law and order here.

Those are normally all signs of cratering land prices, not rapidly rising ones. As usual when I read something in Old Media, I seem to know less than before I started.

That's why I write instead of talk

I just got off the phone with US Representative Timothy Johnson, who apparently is making political cold calls personally. I must say, as cynical as I am, I was positively influenced by that. It turns out that he used to live in my neighborhood and knows where my house is. Embarassingly, I was at a bit of a loss to harangue him properly, as I had been deep in my C++ coding and my primary memory was loaded with irritation that type_of isn’t a standard operator1 instead of the relevant political issues. I did manage to hit my two big peeves, excessive spending by the GOP and not abandoning Iraq. He handed back the true but weak “a Democratic Party controlled Congress would be worse”, although he did also agree that the GOP wasn’t living up to its principles on the matter. We discussed the ear mark transparency legislation, which he voted for. I consciously decided to not go in to the Foley / Jefferson mess as that required a bit more nuance than I felt capable of generating in my distracted state.

Oddly, I realized as I talked with Rep. Johnson, that my primary concerns with the federal government beyond spending and Iraq, have to do with my conflicted opinions about President Bush much more than Congress. I understand Orrin Judd’s point that Bush is in fact pushing through some very revolutionary ideas, both domestically and in foreign policy, with which I agree, yet he seems remarkably unwilling to use the bully pulpit to promote them, or hold his political opponents to account for their actions. It’s as if he’s some AV club geek libertarian who thinks the sublime rightness of his views suffice for them to prevail.


1 Dang, that was stupid oversight! I can’t believe it hasn’t been fixed, especially with the heavy use of templates. Just think how nice it would be when you have an instance of a heavily templated container type to be able to declare iterators via

type_of(container)::iterator spot(container.begin()), limit(container.end());

Yargh! I like using C++ over other languages the way I like to vote for the GOP over the Democratic Party.

22 October 2006

Faster than the famine reports

I can’t believe it — NPR had a story on the French intifada. It even brought up some of the car and police injuries statistics. If you’ve lost NPR, you’ve lost the TranZis.

19 October 2006

No wonder, if you can't even get clichés correct

Via Tim Blair is this little tidbit concerning the potential sale of the Fairfax media properties in Australia —

The special nature of newspapers such as The Age, which has evolved along with its generations of readers, can never be undervalued. [emphasis added]

So, no matter how low my valuation of the “special nature” of those newspapers is, it’s still too high? Wow, and I thought I was harsh! This ranks right up there with “I could care less” as a malphorism. Perhaps the potential purchaser should wave this around during the price negotiations.

As long as it doesn't splash on our hands

Woo hoo, quoted by Natalie Solent!. That’s when all the groveling and fan boy efforts pay off! But, I suppose I should attach some actual writing to make the ego stroking less obvious …

I had been thinking about Korea at the time, and in particular the desire of a realist faction in South Korean politics to prop up North Korea on the theory that it’s better for the North Koreans to suffer than South Koreans. The worry, as many have noted, is the damage to the South Korean economy from the flood of refugees from the North and the massive amount of aid that would be needed to prevent the continuation of the current civil crisis. As long as the North Korean regime endures, that crisis is not the responsiblity of the South.

Yet this seems to me a false hope. The crisis is not going away. Propping up the North Korean regime is to store up the cost for later (if the artillery threat to Seoul was bad, what of a nuclear threat?). If one is a cynical politician somewhat near retirement, that might well be a valid option. But for South Korea as a whole it is a way of ignoring reality. I think it better to brace and confront the problem at a time of one’s choosing, rather than waiting to be taken by surprise by a massive problem for which one is completely unprepared.

And this brings us around to Ms. Solent. I think of the Iraq invasion and occupation the same way as I do the problem of North Korea for the South. The invasion may have been the catalyst for the violence and destruction now raging, but it wasn’t the cause. I also believe what we’re seeing now was inevitable, the only question being when and how much other suffering would go on before the deluge. One need only look at the shameful events of 1991, where former President G.H.W. Bush (on the advice of then Secretary of State Colin Powell) turned away from dealing with the problem. Hundreds of thousands died then, and in the intervening years, without any resolution of the fundamentals. President G. W. Bush, for all his faults in managing the event, did grasp the core of the issue — that doing nothing was simply storing up that trouble for the future at a significant present cost. Bush picked what (IMHO) was roughly the right time and place to start draining the swamp. If it as turned out to be harder than we thought, I see that as part of the risk taken, not something we could have mostly avoided had we acted differently. As so many of the anti-invasion factions have said in the past, “if not now, when?”.

P.S. Here’s a good post on North Korea that covers two similar themes —

  • that a war not ended is a war with a price still to be paid
  • the crisis that may engulf the South when the Northern regime collapses and how it could not follow the East German pattern.
Fueled by seed corn

As the recent Lancet study with an inflated death count for Iraq gets debunked in ever stronger ways, I thought my usual big thought.

The net result of this latest effort at discrediting the USA is likely to do far more damage to the credibility of the Lancet, which was already rocky from the previous debunked effort. This seems to fit a pattern where intellectual assets, acquired after decades of patient efforts in subversion, are burned for a momentary hit against BushCo and his Evil Minions. It doesn’t speak well for a faction’s long term viability if it has to burn such assets just to keep in the game.

I liked Beta-Max too

Winds of Change is switching from Movable Type to WordPress as their weblogging software. It seems they were done in by junk trackback floods. I recommended some of my tools (like AutoBan and Trackback By Name) but not being part of the in crowd they were not adopted. Oh well. I can hardly think too ill of WoC because SixApart, the MT company, has shown no interest in my junk defense technology either. I wonder how long it will be before MT is used only on internal corporate networks where there is no need for anything except trivial anti-junk protection. I, personally, am stuck for a while because I have too many plugins that I depend on that don’t work in anything else. I can only hope that if I hold out for another couple years, the Zend Engine will rescue Perl as a viable web application language by supporting the robust embedding of the interpreter in the web server, which is currently the main advantage of PHP over Perl.

17 October 2006

Simple solution – don't do that

NPR was on the other day and they had a segment on the southern border fence. NPR was of course against it and gave air time to a number of opponents of various sorts. One of these was the standard “if you build the fence, the illegal immigrants will do more dangerous things”. Am I uniquely callous or does this strike anyone else as very reminiscent of the scene from Blazing Saddles where the sheriff takes himself hostage? “Don’t build enforce the law or the criminals will hurt themselves!”. One can make good arguments for increased immigration or against building the fence, but that’s not one of them.

Where's my check, Karl?

The folks at Hot Air are whining about the occupation of Iraq not going well.

Yes, it’s not going well. That’s the risk you take when engaging in countering large scale threats. Nothing I have read recently changes my view on the subject, because I considered this kind of outcome from the beginning and decided the effort was worth the risk.

Could the Bush Adminstration done better? Certainly. Not only possibly1 but practically2. Yet, I cannot but think that in the long view of history, the occupation will be lost in the middling ground of not great, but not terrible.

On the other hand, I think that the overall situation has achieved most3 of the original objectives.

  • The Iraqi Ba’ath are no longer capable of developing WMD.
  • The Iraqi sanctions are no more.
  • We are fighting the Caliphascists in their territory, not ours.
  • Liberal democracy in Arabia is no longer a forlorn hope.
  • The Caliphascists are suffering from an even worse public relations disaster than the USA.
  • The anti-Western chatterati are being driven to such extremes that they are discrediting themselves (see the Lancet study blowback for an example).

Overall, then, I see the makings of a significant strategic victory.

I suppose one major difference is that I place the blame for all of the killing in Iraq on the people doing the killing, not those trying to prevent it. The USA has spent, bled, and died to minimize the deaths. I feel no shame on behalf of my nation because others are mass murdering scum and so I do not regret my support for the invasion at all.


1 It’s trivial to think of ways, post facto, in which a complex undertaking could have been done better if the directors had infinite attention to spend on every detail with perfectly obedient underlings. In real life, however, one must account for the finite attention span of humans, the limited knowledge under which they operate, and the fallibility of the other humans in the enterprise. This always leads to situations where it’s not a question of whether to prevent a fiasco, but which fiasco to allow. I certainly have made deliberate decisions to allow a fiasco to occur so that I could focus my time and energy on preventing even bigger fiascos elsewhere. Anyone who doesn’t give a knowing nod at that is someone who’s never managed a complex project. This is the difference between possible fiasco prevention and plausible prevention.

2 The three biggest for me were

  • Not shooting looters on sight during the first few weeks. That would not only have helped immediately but would have set a tone that would have paid benefits for a long time afterwards.
  • Paul Bremer.
  • Abandoning the journalist embedding effort.

3 Anyone who thinks there exist major projects that achieve all of their goals is living in a fantasy world unpolluted with real world facts.

13 October 2006

Maybe they just need a little help from the experts on purges

Via Brothers Judd we have this report

Federal prosecutors in Arizona have opened a preliminary investigation into a camping trip that an Arizona lawmaker took with two former pages and others [including his sister] in 1996, according to a law enforcement official.

Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., took the former pages as well as staff members and National Park Service officials on a Fourth of July rafting trip in the Grand Canyon in 1996, his spokeswoman Korenna Cline said Friday.

An allegation related to the trip was given to the U.S. attorney’s office in Phoenix, but it was not immediately clear whether it concerned any contention of improper activity by Kolbe.

I thought Foley was a creep and well deserved to be booted, but there was still the question of what he did that was illegal or even (by MAL standards) inappropriate.

But with Kolbe, what exactly could the FBI be investigating? There’s no hint that the pages were under age, so even if Koble was having an orgy with them every single night, the FBI should be involved because …? Doesn’t the FBI need at least an alledged illegal act? Yet none is mentioned in the article and I can’t think of any plausible ones. Everyone interviewed for the article claims nothing at all inappropriate or sexual happened or could even possibly have happened (note that “others” included “then-deputy park superintendent and two rangers”).

The deeper issue is, are we seeing the engineering of a purge of all homosexuals from the GOP? Has the MAL decided that there’s no hope of winning votes on the issues so fear and polarization are the only options left for their continued political viability? Is the new Democratic Party motto “All your gay are belong to us?”.

P.S. Via Little Green Footballs we have the Kossack loonies making it hard for my sarcasm to keep up.

Priority: caring

This post at the Daily Duck about the NCAA’s rabid enforcement against “offensive” logos reminds me of an incident that was formative for me back in my college days.

One of the second tier protestors of the fad at the time (anti-apartheid, I think, but doesn’t really matter) was a friend of a friend and so I exchanged views with her now and then. I thought even at the time that the protests were silly and their stated policies more likely than not to be counter-productive to their stated aims. I pursued that subject and eventually ended up with the following scenario as a litmus test:

There is a village and the people in it are starving. You can carry in food yourself and distribute it, saving 10 people from starving. Or, you can have a robot carry the food in and it, being stronger, would transport enough food to save 100 people. What do you do?

To both of this this required no thought but for different answers. As you may guess, I was for the robot. The FOAF was for carrying it herself, because other it wouldn’t be evident that you cared. It took me a while to really come to grips with the concept that ordinary, non-deranged people thought that way but it has come to symbolize for me the essential narcissism of the MAL and provide a powerful analytical tool. It is frequently the case that if you presume that the protestors of this ilk are driven primarily by concerns about their own image (internal and external), apparently inexplicable behaviors become obvious.

In this case, it’s not about the feathers, or the Native Americans, but about the enforcers looking like crusaders for the oppressed. As with my college associate, actual benefits to the oppressed are at best secondary. To quote the letter from the targeted college,

Meanwhile, across the country, in the face of massive academic underperformance, embarrassing misbehaviors on and off the field, and grotesque commercialization of intercollegiate athletics, the NCAA has proven hapless, or worse. It is galling that a university with such a consistent and compelling record of doing things the right way is threatened with punishment by an organization whose house, simply put, is not in order.

Well, yeah. Cracking down on those other things will upset a lot more people and is far more difficult that finding something offensive about a logo. That’s not to mention that, as it turns out here, the target is far more likely to bow down on something like this than something that impacts the competiveness of its sports teams (which tells you something of alumni priorities, but that’s not the point of discussion here).

Perhaps I am not one to comment, as I would dump the entire sports program rather than change my logo, but let me openly mock the NCAA for its self absorbption that puts its appearance of political correctness above the interests of Native Americans and the athletes it is putatively supposed to protect. But hey, that would be work and not a way to find fufillment for their enormous talent at flourescent idiocy.

12 October 2006

Version 1.0 comes to television

Orrin Judd makes an interesting comment on the subject of new TV shows getting praise but not viewers

One of the effects of DVDs is that we viewers don’t have to be suckers and watch the first few episodes of a soon to be cancelled series. If they make it through a season we can watch the whole thing on DVD at our leisure.

It’s interesting to see the “version 1.0 effect” come to media content. This is the general warning to not buy any software that’s version “1.0” or (for Dark Empire products, any version that ends in “.0”). Savvy and / or non-desperate customers wait a point release or two for the inevitable bug fixes and improvements, or the judgement of the early adopters that it’s not worth buying at all.

It may seem that it’s just the propagation of sloppy code slinger habits to media content, but I think something deeper is occuring and that is the emergence of a much higher level of customer feedback in the production process.

In software, later versions are (in general) better because of specific feedback from early customers. For broadcast media, feedback was always a difficult thing, various ratings systems being unrealiable at best and media critics for the most part disconnected from the mass viewers.

Now, feedback is voluminous and direct, with news groups / weblogs / interest groups etc. It is, however, an open question of whether this data is really more useful than what went before. Such feedback is very similar to primaries for political parties in picking candidates — the ones that are successful with the fanatics may not do so well in the broader arena. Having been around the track myself, one can do a lot of improvement by looking at such feedback but taking it with large quantities of salt. It’s much more like ore than gold, but there are frequently good nuggets buried in the dross.

On the other hand, it may just not be possible anymore to build real broadcast content because there is so much content to chose from. It’s one thing to put up with mediocre content when laser disc players cost $10,000. It’s another when they’re $100 and Netflix is available. One is left wondering what the business model is when you may need to run a show for a year or two before you know if it’s going to be successful in the aftermarket. It could be yet another nail in the coffing of Old Media.

P.S. One possible positive effect would be series that went on longer before all of the cast members became “stars” and excessively narcissistic.

We can work it out

Via Little Green Footballs is this update on the taxicab restrictive covenant issue —

Airport officials gave up Tuesday on a proposal to meant to ensure that travelers carrying liquor don’t get stranded at the curb by Muslim cabbies who refuse to transport alcohol.

[…]

The Metropolitan Airports Commission had been working with the Muslim American Society and taxi companies on a pilot program under which drivers who won’t take riders carrying alcohol would put a different top light on their cabs. That would have allowed airport employees to direct these travelers to willing drivers.

But the Metropolitan Airports Commission said the public response was overwhelmingly negative, and some taxi companies feared that people opposed to the system would switch to other forms of ground transport instead of cabs.

Ah, market pressure! Who could have predicted that as a governor on this kind of thing? A real libertarian would argue that the root of the problem is government ownership of the airport. Beyond that, even a libertarian could argue that the airport is entitled to demand contractual obligations (such non-discrimination of passengers) on the part of the taxicabs to pick up passengers at the airport.

What really bugged me about the reaction to this was the “shari’a law being imposed!” hysteria. It was sad to see people who normally champion personal liberty and making your own religious choices freak out over the cab drivers doing exactly that.I have confidence that if we don’t let the government interfere, the citizenry will work things out to a tolerable compromise. It’s getting the law involved to dictate the precise compromise that sets up even bigger problems in the future.

11 October 2006

Two magic words

This note from Right Wing News made me chuckle —

Claire McCaskill is running against Jim Talent for a Senate seat in Missouri. Check out what she had to say about the Big Dog [former President Clinton] on Meet The Press:

MR. RUSSERT: You’re having Bill Clinton come in to raise money for you. Do you think Bill Clinton was a great president?

MS. McCASKILL: I do. I think—I have a lot of problems with some of his, his, his personal issues. I said at…

MR. RUSSERT: But do you…

MS. McCASKILL: I said at the time, “I think he’s been a great leader, but I don’t want my daughter near him.?

Yes, it seems that Clinton has certainly created a powerful legacy when even people who want to use his name and reputation feel the need to defend themselves in this way.

But, as bad as Clinton was, it only takes two magic words to put his terms in proper perspective and realize that Clinton was just a mediocre to poor President. Those words?

“Jimmy Carter”

06 October 2006

If you don't care who gets hurt, you can make yourself good omelets

Power and Control notes that Hamas is arming up in Gaza in order to replicate the “success” of the recent Hizb’allah war with Israel. The question asked is

I wonder what the armed factions hope to accomplish other than the further reduction of Gaza infrastructure?

I don’t wonder about that at all. It was instantly obvious to me that Hamas would view the situation as a no-lose proposition.

The Palestinian economy and government are effectively completely dependent on external financial aid. It is not even remotely possible to sustain the population there with local economic activity. This has several implications for Hamas, none of which are counter to doing to Gaza what Hizb’allah did to southern Lebanon —

  1. Since Gaza doesn’t depend on local economic activity, even utter destruction of its infrastructure will not make things much worse.
  2. If Israel doesn’t strike back, then Hamas gets a political victory, helping to quell local dissatisfcation and encouraging support from the Islamic sphere.
  3. Hamas has no concern about the welfare of the Palestinians, so anything that makes the humanitarian crisis worse in Gaza that Hamas can blame on someone else is good, as it increases the likelihood of Hamas getting what it really cares about, OPM.
  4. Widespread destruction might well help above and beyond any crisis that occurs to encourage the inflow of OPM.

I honestly don’t see the downside for Hamas, so such a re-arming and launching of attacks doesn’t strike me as irrational at all.

P.S. I have to note this AFP story (Via Little Green Footballs) —

Since the second Palestinian uprising broke out six years ago, the situation for Palestinians has grown ever more bleak. In the occupied West Bank, the number of Israeli checkpoints has mushroomed and the vast separation barrier, slammed by Palestinians as an apartheid wall, has separated loved ones, landowners from land and necessitated long detours.

Travel restrictions, daily humiliations and a nosediving economy are, for many in this West Bank political capital, the only fruits of a peace process that kicked off with the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994. [emphasis added]

So, things have been going down hill since the start of the second Intifadah six years ago while clearly being the result of a peace process that started twelve years ago? Is that why Hamas is trying to go back to 1948 by trying an actual invasion of Israel?

04 October 2006

Eminence Front

Instpundit has two posts which seem to me to be obviously related, but as he doesn’t have time to connect the dots, it is left to me.

First is this

And that’s one difference between now and 1994: The incumbents in Congress have made themselves vulnerable through corruption and ineptitude. But this time the opposition party doesn’t stand for anything in particular beyond the desire for power itself.

A fine point. The next post makes this observation —

As with Phil Bredesen, this willingness to engage people rather than coming across as condescending has paid big dividends. Other Democrats might want to take note.

Ah, but the first post is exactly why so few leaders of the Demcratic Party are willing to engage people instead of being condescending (an attitude that slops over in to their online supporters). Even worse than being condescending is to be shown to be suffering from severe reality dysfunction and ideological emptiness. You can only engage with the ideas you have, not the ones you would like to have.

Sometimes correlation is causation

Speaking of Brothers Judd, I found this article about jazz videos on YouTube interesting for one bit of cluelessness —

By posting this list of links, I have, in effect, created a Web-based fine-arts video-on-demand site. The irony is that I did so just as network TV was getting out of the culture business.

Is it not possible that broadband networks are getting out of the business precisely because so many amatuers (such as the author) are getting in to it?

This abdication of cultural responsibility has created an opening for entrepreneurs who grasp the new media’s unrivaled capacity for niche marketing.

What cultural responsiblity? That seems an odd remark from a Wall Street Journal type. I also doubt that such abdication had anything to do with creating the “opening for entrepreneurs” which is dependent purely on the technology and infrastructure, not on the lack of “cultural” content on broadband. As even the author notes, many of the videos he is so enthused about were never shown on broadband in the first place or haven’t been seen since the 1960s and, as he writes, “lingered in limbo”. So much for the idea that PBS was acting on a cultural responsibility it has since abdicated.

Curmudgeonry

I am getting old and cranky. I dropped some weblogs off my reading list because they were just too tiring to read due to the cognitive overhead either (1) trying to make sense of their view point and / or (2) filtering out all the ad hominem attacks and delusions. Am I gettting jaded and cocooned, or is the level of coherence in the MAL based blogosphere really dropping? Brothers Judd is about the only leftist weblog I can still read.

03 October 2006

So says the Judd

I think I need to start a series of quotes of the truly bizarre conceptual traps Orrin Judd sets for himself. It’s one of those things that starts small but over time builds in to a monument. To what, I am not sure, but sometimes you just need to go with the flow.

Today’s quote

And why no grownup believes in thermodynamics.

So much for the entire engineering and scientific population. I am stunned that OJ is willing to ride around on transportation designed and built by non-grownups. One of the tribulations of modern life, I suppose.

02 October 2006

It's my cab … don't you forget

Apparently the refusal to openly carry alcohol by taxicabs in Minneapolis is getting a lot of blogospheric commentary. I have to go against the mainstream and say I don’t see the problem. The complaint seems to be that the Somalis are imposing their own cultural instead of adopting the local culture. But isn’t owning your own property and setting your own rules for it part of our culture? I haven’t seen anything that indicates the Somali cab drivers are doing anything other than setting the rules for their own businesses on the business premises. What is more American than that?

01 October 2006

Destroying the mystery

Jeff Guinn dropped by this afternoon to check out the Thought Mesh Pontification Production Facility. He was able to meet She Who Is Perfect In All Ways and the three little annoying guys (Boy One, Boy Two, and Girl Three). We noted that when he mentioned to Brit that he would be in Cambridge, Brit fled to distant lands. I was unable to disappear so appositely happy to have Jeff drop by and we had a pleasant, if short, visit. Inexplicably Jeff thought his family might be less than fully supportive of him spending all day here instead of there.