30 March 2007

Military straining

Via Instapundit is the claim that the Taliban have sustained another major battle field defeat during their spring offensive. Interesting, isn’t it, how the terrible threat of the Taliban is built up every spring and then gets just a little bit of coverage once it turns in to yet another rout?

I expect that despite the death toll, these spring offensives could go on for a long time. I continue to be persuaded to Mr. Hergeden’s view that ss long as there’s excess population in Pakistan to dispose of and glory attaches to the survivors, these attacks will continue.

Briar Patch politics

I keep seeing all these alarmist articles about the ChiCom’s military build up. But wasn’t it the case that a large part of the collapse of the USSR was it’s military spending? The key point is that, because the USA has much more liberty and rule of law, it is not only a wealthier society but able to build state of the art military hardware more cheaply. This turns in to a double hit for any competitor state that is a repressive society, such as the PRC. Should we not rejoice, then, at our enemy’s mistake?

Moreover, American foreign policy could reap follow on benefits from the PRC build up and intimidation, which is to convince allies and potential allies in the region that the PRC is a serious problem which requires effort and cooperation by other nations.

This is another aspect of the End of History, that regimes such as the PRC are caught in a no-win situation because their form of government is fundamentally flawed. Our increasing efficient and demanding technological civilization will no longer tolerate such defects and trying to cover them up only makes it worse.

That's the advantage of having the facts on your side

Back in the day I spent time railing about “international law” and how it was no such thing. I could not have designed a better demonstration of this than the current issue with the Iranian capture of British soldiers. As Belmont Club notes,

As currently interpreted the Geneva Conventions only apply to individuals bent on destroying America. […] They and they alone enjoy the protections of the Geneva Convention.

One thing I do appear to have been wrong about, however, is that such blatant disregard for law would discredit the very concept of “international law”. That doesn’t appear to be happening. I wonder if that’s because people fall in to three categories, none of which would have an opinion changed by additional evidence of this kind of double standard.

  1. People who have already figured out what a substanceless concept IL is.
  2. Anti-(American/Anglosphere) types for whom IL has always just been a cover story.
  3. True believers who have never concerned themselves with facts outside their own psyche.

I also get the impression that for most people, the very idea that IL could or even should apply to anyone except the USA (and possibly the Anglosphere) is beyond their mental horizon. Oddest of all is that many of those same people are the ones who view the USA as the most dangerous rogue nation on the planet.

Overwork makes me giddy

I was checking the junk filter traps over on another weblog to see what tricks the junkers were up to these days (I used to check once or twice a day, now it’s about once a week because there just isn’t any innovation in the junk). What did I find but a junk trackback with the text “Value source for duckyporn”. I thought, “Gosh, the Daily Duck must be extending the product line”. I did a netsearch and got 14K hits for “duckyporn”, so apparently it’s much less of a niche than “daily duck”, which yielded 2K hits. Interestingly, many of the hits for “duckyporn” were in those piles of keywords you see from the search leech websites which means that the proprietors of those websites expect people to search for that term. Now, with this post, I too will participate in that traffic windfall.

27 March 2007

What I do for fun

While writing a post on another weblog, I discovered a new (to me) homograph: “console”. That makes it a good day.

You have to want it first

Orrin Judd is going on about how, if the Irish can work out a peace deal, so can the Arabs. I find that a rather dubious proposition. There are at least two key differences that break the analogy —

  • The Irish value their future. The Irish government has, in many ways, demonstrated that it and its citizens are willing to work at building a better future. I have yet to see any evidence of this on a mass scale in Arabia, the culture of which seems mired in a negative sum view that destroying others, even when it hurts one’s own, is a good thing.
  • The Irish value western civilization. To fully enjoy that, one needs peace. One does not, however, need peace to enjoy classical Arabian civilization.

As long as Arabia has its current set of cultural priorities, any peace other than that of the grave is impossible.

What’s extra funny is that Judd, in an earlier post, quotes this as an essential truth

In a democracy you cannot have a political party that is attached to a paramilitary organization.

But as usual, such “essential truths” are essential for one post only.

16 March 2007

He's in a much warmer place now

I have to go to Texas for a week to visit family. Hopefully, I shall return.

14 March 2007

Using a bigger shovel

Every time you think “gosh, the Caliphascists couldn’t get any strategically dumber”, they manage to exceed expectations. Via Brothers Judd I see that Caliphascist forces in Pakistan are now attacking other parts of Pakistan with splodey-dopes1. Clearly, it’s not enough to be fighting Afghan and NATO forces to the west, one must also be trying to start a local civil war against a military dictatorship that has, de facto, let you set up your own little autonomous region.

One might argue that what leaders there are among the Caliphascists didn’t plan that, it’s just an uncontrollable outcome of the ideology and weapons they use. But such choices are also part of strategy and picking ones that will inevitable lead to this sort of blowback is still bad strategy. Of course, if they were smart enough to be strategic they’d be in a different line of work.


1 “splodey-dope” is a term that’s come up in our little circle. The earlier mention I can find of the term is here at Little Green Footballs back on 19 May 2002, but it is used without explanation, creating a reasonable presumption that this is not the true first use.

Re-mix

I see (via Hot Air) that Viacom is suing YouTube for $1B for willful copyright infringement. It’s another Iran / Iraq war as far as I can see. You go, guys!

But what’s interesting to me is a little tidbit at the end of the post —

I’ve wondered for months why the cable news networks haven’t done that with their news shows. Put your best clips online as soon as they air, in embeddable format, with a 10-second ad right up front. We’ll post ‘em; they’d make my job a hell of a lot easier, quite frankly. The downsides of doing it that way instead of letting consumers upload them are (a) we’d probably have to wait several hours until the shows had aired on the west coast before the network made them available, and (b) the clips wouldn’t be edited to emphasize the part we want our readers to see.

Isn’t it fascinating that if you take this activity out of the hands of private citizens and put it back in the hands of people who are paid to do it, the latency increases?

The author goes on with

eventually, an additional widget would be built in to the embeddable player that would let you “edit” inside the window to show only the segment you wanted to show.

This is an idea that’s gone around a few times already. The problem (from the content providers point of view) is that if you can edit the time frames, what stops you from editing out the initial advertisement that funds the distribution? Perhaps it would just be presumed that most people wouldn’t bother, if the advertisements are short and non-obnoxious enough.

It reminds me very strongly of this incident of people selling editing DVDs. This author is proposing effectively the same thing, the only difference being that the edits are applied in real time, on demand, rather than being pre-applied. I know that at one point there was in fact a serious suggestion to be able to do that for DVDs, so that people could publish modified movies without having to distribute physical media or violate copyrights. I can guarantee that if this kind of embeddable, editable clip shows up, the primary use will be restructure of content for amusement.

However, given the death grip the big content providers have on their content (as exemplified by the Clean Flicks post above), I doubt we’ll see anything like that unless there is a complete lack of foresight by the corporate executives.

Slanted ice


Slanted ice

This is an odd formation I spotted the other day while all the snow and ice were melting. I have frequently seen slanted sheet ice in ditches, it cracks in the middle and then falls down. But I don’t see how this formed, unless there was snow underneath that melted without the ice on top melting.

P.S. Testing posting pictures from Flickr. Annoyingly, their template doesn’t have tags for the image width and height, which seems a rather bizarre omission.

All God's Creatures, Fresh Off the Grill

Via Brothers Judd is this quote

Eating a plant-based diet is an easy, cheap way to end animal cruelty and clean up the environment. Why, then, are so many progressives still clinging to their chicken nuggets?

It just reminds me that I have always wanted to market a T-shirt with the logo “Because I have opposable thumbs, that’s why”.

13 March 2007

Frog boiling politics

I have been meaning to comment on this article about possible gasoline rationing in Iran (via Brothers Judd). It is always amazing to me how people can dig themselves in to such holes and then decide that, instead of a ladder, the solution requires a bigger shovel.

In this case, I understand why an unsteady regime wouldn’t want to be perceived as responsible for a massive increase in gas prices.

BUT it seems that there are several other approaches that would work better than rationing, which seems likely to cause almost as much anger as high prices. I will further presume that the real solution, economic liberty and the rule of law, is just right out.

  • What about a slow but inexorably set of increases? A cent or two a gallon per week (or the equivalent in dinar / liter).
  • What about the American approach, big increases followed by almost but not quite as big decreases? This has the effect of wearing out the anger button while providing subjects with a false senses of being important while being an excellent distraction from other economic problems. In the long term, it has the same properties as option 1.
  • Cheap, rationed gas along with expensive unrationed gas. Pitch it as a paen to the common man, that he can get the gas he needs at a reasonable price but the “rich” get soaked.

I hope none of the mullahs read this.

Don't make me choose this!

Austin Bay writes (via Brothers Judd) about the situation in Iraq —

Al-Qaida’s now-deceased emir in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, understood the stakes. In a message to al-Qaida (intercepted by the Coalition in February 2004), Zarqawi wrote that after Iraqis run their own government, U.S. troops will remain, “but the sons of this land will be the authority. … This is the democracy. We will have no pretexts.” Iraq’s new army and police will link with the people “by lineage, blood and appearance.”

The terrorists and tyrants understand. It’s a shame America’s chatterers don’t.

Ah, but I think they do and that acounts for the hysteria. It’s not so much that the chatterati don’t like what we’re fighting for (although there’s some of that), but more in the it shouldn’t be so hard school of thought. If the stakes are made clear, then real choices have to be made and that is what is to be avoided.

Via Silent Running is this review of the movie 300 by David Edelstein. The money quote for me is Edelstein saying

the movie is meant to enable, and inspire, and to infuse its couch potato audience with a lust for Persian blood

The “enoble” bit is immediately dropped like the hot potato it is and Edelstein dwells on the blood lust, something he openly states he liked in Sin City. But, of course, he also notes that he liked that movie precisely because it had nothing at stake, it was just pulp. Clearly, then, the problem with 300 isn’t that blood lust but the enobling, and having something at stake. So I think the chatterati know, at some level, enough about the stakes to want to avoid having them.

Peak Warming Watch

This article in the NY Times is getting cited everywhere now. It basically dings Al Gore for being an alarmist about AGW. What makes it of interest is that it is in the NY Times, which has been a big backer of Gore and his AGW fund raising show. I suppose it’s another example of how this weblog gets results.

I suspect that, like most human phenomenons, there will be a lot of sloshing as the waves of chatterati opinion go back and forth. But I do think that the AGW fanatics’ attempt to stifle debate was symptomatic of weakness, not strength, as is usually the case.

12 March 2007

Fighting realism

Because I am a pedant, I must correct several errors committed by jd watson over at Brothers Judd when discussing quantum mechanics, as these errors seem to be common ones. Watson writes —

The “collapse of the waveform” must be the result of an observation, hence the necessity for an observer, continuously creating reality.

The error here is in taking “observer” to mean much more than it really does. In quantum mechanics, an “observation” is a measurement of some property of a quantum object, which is represented in the theory as the application of an operator to a wave function (math types can think of it as multiplication, progammers as a function call)1. This can arise through any physical interaction and does not require any sort of intelligence or self awareness.

For instance, in the classic double slit experiment, the observer isn’t the scientist doing the experiment, but the screen behind the slits. It works just as well in a lifeless universe as in ours.

Moreover, as far as quantum mechanics is concerned, reality is just as real before the collapse of the wave function as it is afterwards. Reality is not “created” by the collapse, it is simply changed from one state to another (or, more accurately, changed from a mixed state to a single state). There is no reason why any wave function ever has to collapse for reality to exist. In fact, the entire field of quantum computation depends on avoiding wave function collapse for extended periods of time. Taking our macroscopic, collapsed wave function view as being the “real” reality is just realism in action, propagated by realists unable to accept divergent wave functions.

Watson also has this —

QM (Quantum Mechanics) returns to the Pythagorean error and does so in a self contradictory way. Assuming everything, including time, is quantized, it then uses continuous variables to represent the wave function and partial differential operators, which assume continuity to be valid, to derive the observables from the wave function.

There are multiple errors here. The first is that I am unware that QM assumes the quantization of time. There are variants that do, but it’s not a fundamental assumption of the theory. The second is a misunderstanding of quantization. The Pythagorean error was presuming a single quantization, that there is some universal fundamental quantum of, say, length. QM does not assume that. Any particular action is quantized, but there is no necessary relationship between the quantum for action A and action B. That is why continuous functions are appropriate for QM despite the quantization. Moreover, wave functions can evolve continuously, it is only during collapse that quanta matter.

That said, there is this

Finally, there is the metaphysical sin of confusing our knowledge of reality, represented by measured properties and equations or models, with reality itself.

That was actually a key theme in my doctoral thesis, for which I used QM as an example. QM is a breathtaking achievement of mathematics. It provides a functional description of reality that has a precision almost impossible to describe to those not versed in the theory. However, that is, as Watson notes, not the same as being an accurate description of how reality is actually structured. I think it reasonable to, given the precision, take QM by default as being such a description, but that doesn’t make it true.


1 The application of the operator results in a new “collapsed” wave function. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is simply the common description of the fact that the operators are non-commutative. I.e., it matters which order the operators are applied to a wave function. So applying the “location” operator and then the “momentum” operator to a wave function can yield a different result than applying the “momentum” and then the “location” operators. This is an archetypical example of the elegance that so attracts people to the theory.

As long as you tell me what you did

Transterrestrial Musings comments on some new technology from Adobe that is claimed to help prevent what is now known as “fauxtography”. However, I think this is quite wrong —

Interestingly, Adobe is sort of in an arms race with itself, simultaneously coming up with better image manipulation software while at the same time developing means of defeating it

Adobe isn’t trying to defeat image manipulation, they are trying to defeat unacknowledged image manipulation. That is precisely the difference between photography and fauxtography. I do a bit of amatuer photography and the people I read who use Photoshop are very open about it and generally love to discuss intimate details of exactly what was done to the picture. As usual, it’s not so much the thing as the coverup.

I do wonder, though, how much this impacts the next generation’s view of privacy. If we constantly broadcast the message “it’s not the crime, it’s the coverup” at what point does that become so deeply imbedded that privacy is considered just another form of coverup?

08 March 2007

Hard core cirriculum

This one’s for you, PB

All Harvard College freshmen received the e-mail below yesterday, and a fair number thought it must be a prank.

It isn’t, as it happens. And this must be the first time a Harvard dean has used the dubious term “sexxxxxy” in a mass e-mail to his wards.

***SPECIAL EVENT***

Hooking Up: Hot Hints For Making Your Harvard (or Future) Sex Life Great
Thursday, March 1
7:00 PM
Ticknor Lounge

Want to know more about how to access pleasure, how to communicate your desires and how to make sure that you’re getting what you want and need from your partner? Do you have questions about sex or sexuality that you’ve never had answered? You won’t want to miss this!

Join us for a scintillating and sexy talk with Amber Madison, author of the recently released book “Hooking Up: An All-Out Guide to Sex and Sexuality,” before her appearance on the Today show the following day! Amber will share helpful advice and crucial information about having a gratifying sexual life now, or later! You’ll also have the opportunity to submit a question anonymously to have answered during the session.

In addition to sexxxxxy suggestions, come enjoy chocolate covered strawberries and HOT chocolate. Other snacks and opportunities to win prizes (including Amber’s book), as well as other great “stuff’ will be included.

ALL students of every gender are welcome!

After some students complained about the event, they received a response from Susan Marine, the Director of the Harvard College Women’s Center, who said she was writing on behalf of the Dean of the College and the Dean of Freshmen. She wrote:

Our role as educators is to enable all students who wish to learn about their own development to have access to accurate, meaningful information.
“Meaningful,” huh?

This tells me that if I want to hire people with fully self actualized sex lives, get some Harvard graduates. For actual job skills, elsewhere seems like a better choice.

The yellow peril — yawn

Daimnation! is engaging in a bit of alarmism about China. The money quote is

What would it mean for the United States — and, indeed, the world — if 20 or 30 years from now a much richer and more powerful China proved to be every bit as authoritarian a state as it is today?

Answer: not much.Sure, even if the ChiComs don’t loosen up, China could well be richer and more powerful in 20 or 30 years than it is now. But so will the USA. And, unless the ChiComs do loosen up, the USA will get more richer and powerful than China will, so they will be less of a concern. It doesn’t bother me to think that the China of 2050 will be richer and more powerful than the USA of today. If someone told you that today’s China could kick 1950s America’s butt, would you care even if you believed them? I think it’s likely that 2050 America will be further ahead of today than we are of 1950s America in terms of economic and military power. It’s also not clear at all that China as we know it will be around in 20 or 30 years. A collection of states is less threatening, even if the aggregate military and economic power is greater (which is likely if China breaks up). You can have authorianism, or you can have a competitive economy. Both is no longer an option in a technological society.

The new motherhood and apple pie

Via Best of the Web is a report that Senators Clinton and Edwards are cat fighting about which one is the most womanly. I agree with BotW’s view with is that the whole thing is rather pathetic. Real candidates have platforms, not biologies, as a motivation for voting. But, in our times, it does seem a non-dangerous way to try to connect without having to take an actual position on anything It’s the naughties version of “mom and applie pie”, but at least that spoke about an actual shared culture rather than the completely post-modern (i.e., a meaning constructed entirely in each individual voter’s mind) version.

We don't have to learn, we're elected

Apparently one of the sponsors of the Sarabanes-Oxley corporate governance law has realized it was a bad idea (via Professor Bainbridge). Just a wee bit late, me thinks. We have had some discussions here lately about whether people learn from past mistakes. Clearly Congress doesn’t, as I hear stories like this on a regular basis, where Congress rushes in to do something stupid because it’s time to act and then the primary sponsors / backers realize, long after the legislation is passed, “gosh, that was a dump thing to do”. Yet, no behavior modification goes on. I suppose it’s job security — after all, who else can clean up after them?

P.S. Is it wrong to hope they don’t fix this too soon, as a significant chunk of the market for my product are firms targeted by Sarbanes-Oxley. Repeal wouldn’t be a killer, as there are good reasons to use it anyway, it just won’t be as urgent.

07 March 2007

Noting the good with the bad

I would be remiss if I didn’t echo posts about the Secular Islam Summit. I wrote earlier about the problems the ummah was causing for itself in the future and how it was far more their responsiblity than ours to avoid. This summit seems to me to be an excellent way to try to get started on avoiding the catastrophic outcome that seems (to me) otherwise inevitable. Pajamas Media has a big round up on the summit. That these people are afraid of other Muslims far more than non-Muslims reinforces my point that there’s little we, outside of the religion, can do except to be honest and clear, acknowledging progress (like this) as well as problems.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention this quote (via Jihad Watch)

The first Secular Islam Summit was a success if for no other reason than it intimidated the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the PR machine of militant Islam.

Few organizations in the USA have done more to harm the public image of Muslims than CAIR. Anything that makes them unhappy is very likely to be a good thing.

Squeezing the eggs out of the golden goose

It seems that the recording industry is trying to stamp out all but the largest internet music broadcasters by raising the royalty rates. I understand why this is considered a Bad Thing by those who like music, but I am of the “it will have to get worse before it gets better” school in this regard, not to mention that whatever one may think of modern copy right law, this music is in fact the property of the music companies. It seems to me that a better solution than fighting the companies is to convince the real content producers to not make their content the property of those companies. This is already a trend and I suspect that this kind of move will only accelerate it.

Maybe that’s something Pajamas Media could investigate. The primary purpose served by music companies was aggregation. That’s become somewhat less important with the Internet, but I think more significantly the cost of aggregation has gone down so that small firms can perform the work, take a much smaller slice, and still be quite profitable.

Peak Warming

I commented somewhere, last in the vast Internet Wilds, that it seems to me that the AGW craziness is hitting its peak. It reminds me of the standard stock market advice — “when your mother calls you with a hot stock tip, it’s time to get out”. The reasoning is that a runup beyond the fundamentals require some sort of pyramid scheme to work. Eventually, of course, all available contributors are tapped out and then there is a collapse. “Everyone” being excited about something is a general sign that the supply of inductees is about to run out.

I have been seeing a lot more skepticism about AGW lately and stories like this (via Samizdata) about big names bailing out seems a classic symptom. If anyone would know that the tide is about to recede, it would be someone like that and the smart ones will start distancing themselves before that’s the hot new thing, so they look leaders instead of suckers.

05 March 2007

Living on past glories

Instapundit has declared that the cool thing is to go back to March, 2003, and see what your archives look like in hindsight. I think it reads quite well, although I was a bit too hopeful about Iran. I did like the mention of forcing Syria out of Lebanon as a follow on to the invasion of Iraq. I would say that my biggest error was greatly underestimating the willing of Iraqis (particularly Sunni Iraqis) to support the Caliphascists against their own interests, although it was something I was concerned about at the time.

Some boys don't grow up, they just move to bigger woodlands

Best of the Web has a reference to another data point on the “the MAL is proud of causing the defeat of South Vietnam” thesis, via this article

“There will be resolution after resolution, amendment after amendment . . . just like in the days of Vietnam,” [Senator Charles] Schumer said. “The pressure will mount, the president will find he has no strategy, he will have to change his strategy and the vast majority of our troops will be taken out of harm’s way and come home.”

As noted, why would anyone want to do this and more notably publically proclaim that he wanted to do this unless one was proud of having done so? Note also the isolationist basis — there’s no concern about Iraq or Iraqis, or American foreign policy, only with the current risks for the troops.

The statement also has the air of a little boy torturing small woodland creatures. Rather than forcing the issue straight up and legislating a surrender in Iraq, Schumer and his ilk want to drag it out, “slow bleed” the executive branch’s effort. It would also seem to be a strong indication of what Schumer et. al. think of the view of the American Street that they still dare not come out blantantly against the occupation.

04 March 2007

The map of me and the world

Best of the Web had an interesting bit about Tom Vilsack dropping out of the Presidential race.

Somehow the news got out early. An Associated Press dispatch filed just before noon Eastern Time said:
Vilsack was scheduled to make a formal announcement later in the day. The official spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity to avoid pre-empting the Democrat’s statement. [emphasis added]

The Associated Press issued a modification of this later in the day to make it not quite so obvious how they were betraying the trust of the staffer betraying the trust of Vilsack. I am left to wonder two things.

The first is, since this kind of thing happens on regular basis, why staffers continue to leak this way to the press. I presume it’s because the staffer values his own sense of self importance more than any loyalty to the candidate. In this particular case, his job probably isn’t foremost in his mind since the campaign is shutting down, but it is still a bit unseemly to me.

The other thought is whether the AP writer even realized that he was betraying trust. As time goes on, I lean more and more toward the view that the problem isn’t that most Old Media staffers are dishonest, calculating, politically motivated operatives for their (Socialist) ideology, but rather people who are totally lacking in the ability to ratinally introspect and realize how things they do relate to things they say or write.

Sometimes I think it’s the lack of ability to contextualize, but that’s not quite right. It’s not a total lack of introspection, because there seems to be the ability to introspect about feelings. It’s as if it is a form of mental reverse tunnel vision, where the most narrow and most broad contexts are visible, but the middle ground is missing. The closest analogy I can think of isone of those “maps of New York” which magnifiy New York to that it dominates everything else, but still contains the whole world. What’s lost is the middle ground, which is compressed into a nearly invisible thin layer.

So it seems to be with the minions of Old Media — they and their close friends loom large, and the big picture (“war bad”, “environment good”) is always in view, but everything in between is just a tiny, mostly irrelevant detail. Without that, placing your own actions in that context becomes impossible as well.

Epithet addiction claims another word

The BBC has been treating the story of tribal membership of former slaves in the Cherokee Nation as major news but today it finally tipped over in to being interesting.

The Cherokee Nation had a vote on the matter and overwhemingly rejected tribal membership for the freedmen. Of course “Opponents said the amendment was racist”.

Well duh! The entire basis for a tribe is a being part of the tribe, i.e. being of the right blood / line of descent, the right race. Native American nations don’t have any territorial component, so they’re not even “blood and soil” but only blood. What could be more racist than that?

What we see here is the continuing devolution of a term (“racist”) from a specific, emotionally charged epithet in to generic verbal noise because of its too frequent use as a trump card. It’s another variety of the “tragedy of the commons”, people draining the meaning of a word through its use for any petty problem of the moment.

03 March 2007

My chum, Jefferson

Orrin Judd rightly mocks House Speaker Pelosi for trying to appoint Representative William “$90,000 cold cash” Jefferson to a Homeland Security committee. Yet one is left wondering where his vaunted preference for politics over purity has gone — did Jefferson not get re-elected? Is it not the Juddian view that winning elections must take precedence over ideology? How, then, can he honestly mock Pelosi?

Beyond that petty jibe, I am left with a bit of sympathy for Pelosi. She’s not the one who voted Jefferson back in to office, nor the Speaker of a Congress that let him slide for literally years on the issue without any substantive punishment. There is also the Congressional Black Caucus, which strongly supports Jefferson1. Whatever one may think of that crew, their support is critical for a Democratic leader in the House. Pelosi is playing a losing hand, although surely it must have occurred to her that she could make an example of Jefferson at this particular juncture —

  • What is the CBC going to do, turn over the House to the GOP?
  • Jefferson’s transgression is not a subtle one and presumably would look bad even for the CBC.
  • Given the inability of the GOP leadership to engage in any serious anti-corruption efforts, it would be an excellent way to steal the public relations sente from the GOP with little real cost, even providing good cover to get the rest of the corruption hidden behind the smoke from the media storm.

But that would take actual leadership, which seems to have departed Congress for elsewhere in the last decade or two.


1 I originally wrote “despite his cash froze issues” but I decided that it’s more likely that the CBC doesn’t care about it.