30 May 2008

Finally comes acceptance

27 May 2008

Why not, if it's free?

Via Hot Air I found the story of how Congress neglected to send the entire Farm Bill to the President. Well, mistakes happen, but it’s amusing and frightening at the same time to read of the House Majority Leader (a member of the Democratic Party) explaining how it was a non-issue, that there’s no need for the President to actually see the legislation that he might sign or veto. It’s like a bad situation comedy plot, where the victim could easily escape the web of disaster if he’d just fess up and admit to a mistake. But no, that would be wrong. Far better to just embrace the concept of secret legislation.

But then again, why not? Hot Air seems to think that there will be a political price to pay, but I found that doubtful at best. The Democratic Party and their Old Media allies are defining deviancy down with an express elevator and I just don’t see any limit to how blatantly they can wave away political traditions and protections without penalty. Some may think there’s no way it could get worse, but I see no evidence of a bottom.

16 May 2008

Do it yourself politics

This post at Instapundit made me think about the longer term implications of this election, in particular the strong shift toward Socialism. Rather than a somewhat conservative candidate against a pretending to be conservative candidate, we have a moderate Democratic Party candidate vs. a socialist and a Marxist. I understand why we should vote for the (unofficial) Democratic Party candidate, but isn’t it a bit worrying that that’s the most conservative option available?

It’s also a bit odd, given how at a Congressional level the actual Democratic Party is having success with conservative candidates, as we can see from the last three special elections. Why is conservatism attractive locally but not nationally?

That does lead me on to another point from another Instapundit post about how people at an NRA conference were mostly upbeat, despite this political climate. Most of that seems to be that even the Democratic Party feels the need to run pro-gun (or at least actively not anti-gun) candidates to get elected. So, from the NRA point of view, things are going great. Now, this has happened with at best tepid support from the Bush administration if not opposition (e.g. the Heller case). The lesson would seem to be it doesn’t much matter who is President, it’s grass roots political action that works, so why bother supporting the GOP candidate for President? I think this is an overlooked aspect of Bush’s lack of leadership in damaging the GOP party apparatus. The last four years have been a lesson for conservative over and over, that depending on a President is the wrong thing to do if you want to achieve your policy goals. Lack of support for the current candidate is a natural response, and one McCain doesn’t seem to mind much, given his spasmodic yet desultory efforts at motivating the conservatives.

12 May 2008

Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies

Via Brothers Judd we have a story about Israel considering a truce offering from Hamas. Given that all the previous truces have effectively been

  • Israel stops attacking.
  • The Palestinian leadership announces a truce, while actual attacks continue, although sometimes at a reduced rate.

But, hey, it’s truce, written on paper. That’s gotta be worth something, right?

Declaring victory and going home

Sadr victory watch


Hasty truce with Moqtada al-Sadr tests his sway in Baghdad stronghold: A cease-fire deal between Mr. Sadr’s representatives in the Iraqi government and members of the leading Shiite bloc aims to end weeks of fierce battles in Sadr City (Howard Lafranchi, 5/12/08, The Christian Science Monitor)

The truce was hastily reached as Mr. Maliki’s government announced a new offensive in Mosul against forces affiliated with Al Qaeda in Iraq. Maliki has said since January that he would take the fight against Al Qaeda to the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, believed to be the group’s last urban stronghold in Iraq. Some Iraqi government officials have suggested that Maliki wanted the battle with Shiite militias quieted before the Mosul offensive.

The Sadr City agreement does not call for the disarming or disbanding of the Mahdi Army, which was Maliki’s demand that touched off fighting between his forces and the militia in late March.

That’s some heavy duty spin. Here’s my comment, before it gets disappeared.

Let’s dig in for some more juicy quotes from this article —

The agreement allows government security forces to enter any part of Sadr City to arrest anyone with heavy weapons such as mortars and rocket launchers. […] All explosives planted in the streets of Sadr City are to be removed and the launching of rockets and mortars from the area […] is to stop.

Doesn’t this make the more appropriate headline “Gonna fight the defeated or the still resisting?”

On top of that, I am still trying to figure out what Sadr won. Maliki got de facto and de jure control of the Mehdi Army’s territory, confiscation of all of their heavy weapons, and public acknowledgment of the superiority of his government. Sadr got … a few more months of being alive? If this is a victory for Sadr, why didn’t he “win” this way by surrendering a year ago instead of fighting all this time?

P.S. I think the real bottom line here is that any setbacks for Maliki (and there will be setbacks) will be attributed to Sadr’s clever planning and victory, regardless of the overall direction of the tides of power. It’s a nice non-falsifiable set up.

Better, but still only worth being free

Instapundit has been praising OpenOffice. Well, it’s OK. I use as my primary document editing application, but I have used MS Word 2003 and it’s not clear to me that OpenOffice is better. I think that if Word were half the price it is, I’d probably by it and use it instead. Although Word has the annoying “I know what you meant” features, in real life I end up fighting with Open Office formatting more than I did Word, particularly with embedded pictures. I recently tried to do a simple 2 column layout for a new letter for a Cub Scout pack. I wanted to put some pictures in it, with very simple layout — A paragraph of text, a picture, another paragraph of text, a picture, etc., with no complex text flow. But every time I would edit any of the text, the pictures would literally jump around like hyperactive toddlers, frequently ending up on top of each other. I would have to patiently straighten them back out and put them in the right place again. Very frustrating.

Oh, and Word crashed less often than Open Office. I crash the latter on a regular basis. If it didn’t have the auto save / recover, it would be unusable for that reason.

11 May 2008

Context, context

Why do people who oppose free trade also think that sanctions are an effective punishment? Isn’t opposing treaties such as the recent free trade agreement with Columbia effectively imposing sanctions on the USA?

08 May 2008

It doesn't become men either

I normally find John McWhorter reasonable, but I have to single out this quote from a recent article of his, which seems to show a lack of his normally acute sociological insight —

“She’ll stop at nothing to get power” — okay, but is that so unusual in a politician? Power-seeking is what alpha males do. I sometimes wonder whether one thing that gets people’s knickers in such a twist about Mrs. Clinton is that she displays alpha male behavior as a woman.

My first thought was “what men who’ll stop at nothing to get power are admired?”. After all, even former President Richard Nixon stopped at something (vs. Kennedy, and vs. impeachment) yet he’s reviled for his excessive power lust. Many of the people who revile Hillary Clinton for her power lust think she’s less restrained than Nixon1, so it doesn’t strike me as much of a gender based view.

But there’s another, more subtle issue about women display alpha male power lust, and that is in the Anglosphere, a man is expected to also follow some sort of honor code, even if it’s honored mostly in the breach. Women don’t have (or aren’t expected to have) any parallel code, which makes an arguable case for viewing female power lust as more dangerous to bystanders. I.e., “stop at nothing” means something different depending on the gender of the person being discussed2.

1 Of which I am one.

2 This comes around to OJ’s view of th GOP being the Daddy party and the Democratic Party the Mommy party, where politicians of the latter stripe are simply expected to be far less restrained in their pursuit of power.

Flow over content

Via Instapundit is this comment —

The way the Japanese could tell they were losing WWII was that the great victories reported by their media were getting closer and closer to home. Our media problem is like a fun-house mirror version of this - the way we can tell we are winning is that our crushing defeats are happening less often and to different enemies.

I think it’s simpler than that. Don’t look at the content, just the volume. Old Media is just implementing the “no news is good news” cliche and anything you used to read about but don’t anymore almost always means the situation has improved for the USA.

It also reminded me of listening to some BBC broadcaster go on about increased violence in Iraq or Afghanistan (I wasn’t paying enough attention to notice). But I wondered, how is it that all the reports are always of increases? I can’t recall any “violence decreases” stories, which is a more specific case of the above rule. If you hear reports, violence is increasing. If violence decreases, there will be no reports.

07 May 2008

Let's look at another Chicago politician

If Obama wins, he’ll never last more than one term. He’s incompetent and doesn’t even have the talent to delegate to those who might now what they are doing.


I see this thought frequently, and my response is “Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich”. Dumb, ineffective, and corrupt, even for an Illinois Governor, yet re-elected 50-40% (10% went Green).

05 May 2008

Not their style

What with Al Franken in political trouble for tax evasion, if the GOP weren’t the Stupid Party, they’d revive Leona Helmsey for advertisements on the “paying taxes is for the little people” theme.

04 May 2008

Why we're a world power, and they're not.

Via Brothers Judd we have this review of a book about the 1948 war in the Middle East. It has this quote

And then there were the Palestinians, who had watched in horror over the past 75 years as these aliens first trickled, then poured, into their homeland. Were he an Arab leader, David Ben-Gurion once confessed to the Zionist official Nahum Goldmann, he, too, would wage perpetual war with Israel. “Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them?” he asked. “There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: We have come here and stolen their country.”

Well, the Arabs could have welcomed the Jews, with their money, their industry, and the prosperity they created all around them. It would be fascinating, I think, to compare the number of Arabs in what is now Israel from say 1890 to 1948 and see just how much “horror” at the arrival of the Jews there really was.

P.S. Isn’t Judd’s comment endorsing exterminationism, something he lambastes Darwinism for creating?

02 May 2008

Someone who knows when it's time to stop talking

Gosh, where have all the Mehdi Army victorious! posts gone over at Brothers Judd? Did he finally run out of dodgy sources to cite, because even the most blinkered couldn’t support that meme anymore? Discuss!

Self referential

I had been thinking about OLED technology and the future of personal attire because I bought this WiFi detecting T-shirt for SWIPIAW recently. It’s cool, but in a decade or so OLED technology will be good enough to have VGA (or better) quality displays that you can build in to a shirt like that. The naturally thought was, would people put their Facebook page on the front of their shirt, so they can be present physically and virtually at the same time? I can’t wait!

It's the bitterness and clinging

A bit of an interesting discussion about Senator Obama and his lapel pin problems. What I think is that Obama created this problem because he just could not help being condescending and mean, if not bitter. He couldn’t just explain his own action, he felt it necessary to defame others who were different. Had he just said “different people express their patriotism in different ways, some with lapel pins, others by … “. OK, I start see the problem. But, ignoring the issue of coming up with an example of Obama demonstrating patriotism, I think this is a classic of how so much of the MAL is, at a basic level, highly intolerant of difference. It’s exactly the same philosophical defect that led to the “bitter clinging to God and guns” comment. People can’t just be different, they must be wrong. And, of course, punished for it.

Yet people still bitterly cling to happy thoughts about Obama. I couldn’t believe the positive reaction among nominal Obama detractors to his interview on Fox. Does not the possibility that he was faking in order to pander to his presumed audience not occur to people? It’s not a matter of different emphasis (which is quite legitimate) but outright contradiction to his previous (as little as they were) policies and actions. When he tells the same thing to his billionaire friends, then I will be willing to consider the possibility that he means it.

But that’s not just among the conservatives — much of the Obama phenomenon is people not just suspending but launching in to orbit their disbelief. I ran in to this one today, by someone who’s normally clueful for a progressive. The basic thesis is “Sure, Obama’s an ambitious politician, but I’ll still take just his word over any evidence”. And the root of that is that Obama wants us to “talk”. Well, yes, that’s true. But I agree with those who think the he wants us to “talk” the way a cult leader does, in self criticism and abject agreement. One need merely observe any instance in which Obama is confronted with strong, principled dissent from his party line to see what he really thinks of what normal people call “talking”. Or one could quote any number of Michelle Obama statements. Heck, Obama apparently couldn’t even have one good, down to earth talk to his much admired, spiritually advising pastor in 20 years! The author even notes

The kind of insane beliefs that Wright espouses wouldn’t stand up to an honest discussion in the light of day

yet doesn’t twig to Obama never managing such an honest discussion.

The more standard socialist blindness bit is discussing Obama’s sordid past —

[.…] what I want is a politician like Tom L Johnson - who is idealistic at core, but willing to get his hands dirty in the back and forth of the reality of politics.

I can see that, but Obama has the no omelets problem. What, exactly, did he accomplish while getting his hands dirty? Besides the mansion, the $4.2M last year, and the $300K/year job for his wife.

01 May 2008

Not encouraging

I saw this article on ‘21 ways to shoot better photographs’ but frankly, I didn’t much like any of their examples. If that’s what I would get by following their techniques, I think I’ll just keep on as I am. It may be that I am just permanently crippled by a flawed aesthetic sense and cannot appreciate real photographic art.

That's not us, it's someone else!

I got a call today asking for money for the RNC. I expressed my displeasure with the GOP abandoning its conservatism and the GOP Congressional delegation in particular. The caller was quick to point out “we’re not the Republican National Congressional Committee or the Senatorial Committee!”. Sounds like some desperate times, but not desperate enough to actually reform.

It's a very foggy area

I saw this declaration of support for Senator Obama via Instapundit and I had to read the whole thing and consider the context before I could decide if it was a parody or not. Currently, I think it’s not, only because of the author and that it appears on the Puffington Host. It does seem appropriate, though, that it was published on May Day.

Money quote:

The difference between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party is that you are always welcome in the Democratic Party.

Yeah, the same way a cult welcomes new members. Just don’t ever contradict or even dissent from the One True Path.