30 September 2008

Hey, Bailing!

I am sure you have all been breathless with anticipation concerning my view of the financial system bailout. I would say that, based on what I have read, I would have voted for the bill that was defeated on Monday. However, I certainly understand why many of the GOP did not. Some people think it was immaturity, but I think that Speaker Pelosi’s speech was just the final straw of a long campaign of abuse, blame shifting, and sleazy political maneuvering. The last was the complete lack of effort by Pelosi to get votes from her fellow party members, particularly the committee chairs. If I were a GOP Representative watching the committee chairs vote “no”, I would likely cease to view the effort as a serious one in any way and be very tempted to bow out.

That said, the GOP lived up to its “Stupid Party” reputation by citing Pelosi’ speech as the cause, instead of the whole chain of abuse. Listing them and say stating they would vote for the measure once Pelosi got her own people to do so might have shifted the public perception more toward the GOP. On the other hand, all I have are reports from Old Media, so who knows what the GOP spokesmen actually said.

As noted, I understand the more fundamental objections to the bail out, and how it’s grindingly depressing to have to continually clean up other people’s messes while getting blamed for it. But sometimes that’s what you have to do when you’re responsible (i.e., not a member of the current Democratic Party leadership). The GOP has to take some blame for not making a principled case in the past to lean on in this crisis, with President Bush taking point on that. The Democratic Party may be completely dysfunctional, but the GOP looks good only by comparison.

On the other hand, mindless boosterism of “any deal is OK as long as we get credit” style seems a bit counter productive, leaving one wondering what the point of governing is if you spend your time passing your opponent’s legislation to increase their political power. That would seem to have a bit of a limited run.

26 September 2008

The next frontier

An interesting experiment in Hawaii involving beaming power via microwaves. This is one of the key technologies for building orbital solar power systems. This leads back to a question Skipper asked a while back

Similarly, solar system tourism might be plausible, but solar system colonization, never. What possible point could there be? (Unnamed resources don’t count).

I do not think I have ever claimed unamed resources, but here is one named — energy. Once OSP systems are in place, other things will happen as a natural result. For instance, high value industrial processes that need energy and vacuum. Those are not feasible now, but once an OSP is in place, it’s a very different story. I expect the majority of manufacturing to move off planet over the next couple of centuries, lead by the expansion of OSP. After manufacturing comes the search for raw materials, available more cheaply on the Moon or from the planetoid belt. Lots of workers will tend to mean lots of families as well, until there is a population that is simply used to living in artificial space habits. They may well come to regard Earth the way we think of vacationing naked in deepest Africa, as place where “necessary” conveniences are missing and things are completely uncontrolled.

It may also be that space habitats will take over as the lodestone of the achieving class, as Earth increasingly becomes a politically correct statist backwater. That’s not as clear cut as the general pattern of development described above, but hardly implausible. Even without that, solar space will become a place where people can get rich, and that’s all the draw you really need.

Pessimists Club

Put me down as official pessimistic. I just don’t see how the McCain Crew is going to pull out a win from the current environment. I was actually of this view even before the latest financial “crisis”, but it’s nicely illustrative of why I think McCain is doomed.

While people called former President Reagan “teflon coated”, he had nothing on the modern day Democratic Party. To have Congressman Barney Frank and Chris Dodd going on talk shows while blaming President Bush and McCain for the problems caused by the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack is surreal. Yet they do it successfully. The “Paulson Plan” to deal with the crisis gets larded up with hand outs to shady Democratic Party allies and when the GOP Congressmen object to that, it’s the GOP that’s the problem. That the Democratic Party majority means a bill could be passed without any GOP support is never brought up as revelant. Jim Treacher has a post on the slanderous video attacks on Governor Palin which may have been sponsored by the Obama Organization. Treachers notes a defense of “they couldn’t be that stupid” but points out that it’s not stupid, just arrogant, if they can depend (as it seems to have worked out) on the story to left ot die on the vine.

In contrast, we have Palin who I felt very sorry for while watching part of her interview with Katie Couric. It was obvious to me that Palin’s primary problem is that she realizes she’s not in an interview, but the prize in a big game hunting contest among Old Media, that the purpose is not to explore her views but to generate a gaffe which can become the lead story for a week or two. Senator Biden can slam his Presidential candidates polices multiple times with just a minor note, but if Palin breaks with McCain that will be lead news.

There’s the Alcee Hasting’s quote which would destroy a GOP candidate.

Unfortunately, while the number of citizens who have realized how actively biased and willing to distort facts for a political agenda Old Media is, I think Old Media’s propaganda capabilities are still large enough to tip the election. I expect the result to be the second term of Carter, except with a lot more hating, more corruption than the Clintons, and more abuse of federal power than Nixon.

P.S. It’s not the polling that has me thinking this way, as I suspect that much of that is done not out of ideological bias but in order to generate an apparently close race. Note how it’s not just that Obama is ahead and gaining. Instead it’s a see-saw, teetering back and forth.

25 September 2008

Running up the score

U.S. federal agents say they have enough evidence to indict Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich for fraud and conspiracy, WBBM-TV, Chicago, reported Thursday. [ via , via ]

Yow! That would put Illinois at four governors sent to the slammer. So burn, all you Arizona folk, with your measly two governor inmates. Louisianna? New Jersey? Not even in the running.

Hey. Senator Obama is right out of that school, isn’t he. Dare I hope that Illinois could provide the first President to be sent up the river? California and Arkansas came close, but they’re no Illinois.

Once a thug, always a thug

So the Obama campaign is threatening the licenses of TV stations that air NRA sponsored anti-Obama advertisements. Not surprising for the candidate who tried to shut down talk radio shows when they interviewed the author of an anti-Obama book or asked the Department of Justice to help take down a political advertisement. It’s of a piece with silencing Governor Palin in preference to protesting Iranian President Ahmadinejad. And let’s keep an eye on this developing story abut the Obama Organization actively recruiting law enforcement officials to prosecute people making “false claims” about Senator Obama.

But why should we expect different? Obama was politically schooled in Chicago and that’s how the game is played there. Obama is, after all, a big supporter of ACORN, well known for its involvement in numerous voter fraud cases. Obama is the candidate who never won a fair election but instead used various legal and semi-legal means to kick his opponents off the ballot before the voters could render a decision. I wonder how much of the flack being thrown at Governor Palin is for the same reason, an attempt to get a “two for one” because booting Palin would de facto doom Senator McCain’s campaign. ‘Remember Sekhmet?’ has an interesting insight about that —

I think the Left cuts loose on Sarah Palin because they can’t generate hate [on the American Street] for McCain. […] It’s hard to lie about a guy who’s been a public figure for longer than I have been alive (and I’m no spring chicken). His dad and granddad were also public figures whose lives are known quantities. It’s hard to say that McCain bombed an abortion clinic, or advocated that rape victims pay for their own rape kit at the ER—-if he did, we’d have known that back when mullets were in fashion and bell-bottoms were out of fashion. […] So I think anybody McCain picked to join him on the ticket was going to get the Two Minutes’ Hate treatment.

I think that’s basically correct, with Obama focussing on Palin because a disqualification effort (despite the “McCain not a citizen lead balloon”) against McCain just wasn’t going to work.

I am brought back to this post from Brothers Judd with the quote

The debate, then, isn’t about arrogance, or Greek gods, or hubris. It’s about whether Obama can lay claim to an architecture, and a culture, that is perceived as both our collective inheritance, yet is also deeply coded as European and white.

Close, but not quite. What we see in the previous text is Obama clearly rejecting two of the foundation stones of our culture, self governance and free speech. So the question is not whether Obama can lay claim, but whether he wants to lay claim to the Anglosphere culture that undergirds the USA.

UPDATE: A good round up of links from Instapundit.

UPDATE: Apparently the “Obama Truth Squad” in Missouri, mentioned above, has panned out to the extent that the Governor of Missouri felt compelled to condemn it in rather harsh terms —

St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch, St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyer, and Obama and the leader of his Missouri campaign Senator Claire McCaskill have attached the stench of police state tactics to the Obama-Biden campaign.

“What Senator Obama and his helpers are doing is scandalous beyond words, the party that claims to be the party of Thomas Jefferson is abusing the justice system and offices of public trust to silence political criticism with threats of prosecution and criminal punishment.

After this warm up, the Governor gets rough. Is there any explanation of why Old Media is completely uninterested in this kind of thing other than the political preferences of those involved? Even our own Mr. Eagar responds with politics ain’t beanbag as if this kind of threat of using the power of the state to intimidate political opponents is unobjectionable.

Will there be any political price paid for this kind of thing? Unlikely. That’s a big part of my pessimism these days.

UPDATE: Yet another link from Instapundit on this subject. What I found interesting in writing the original post is that frequently when I followed a link to verify a reference, I found yet another instance to add to the list. It’s all over, easily verified, but again of no interest to Old Media. Perhaps it’s just my bias, but I can’t believe that such a trail of thugginess on the part of the McCain campaign or GOP elected officials or allies would go so unnoted.

Not always age appropriate

While I like to rant about the “cooperative society” replacing good, solid competition, with children’s activities being restructured to avoid any determination of winners and losers, I think that sometimes such complaints can go too far.

For example, there is this post by Joanne Jacobs about how British youth soccer (known as “football”) for seven- and eight-year-olds has banned coaches from publicizing which team has the best record in the league. This set off some dudgeon, but I don’t see the problem.

First, these are 7 and 8 year old kids. While competition is a good and healthy thing, so are other things that we don’t let 7 and 8 years olds do. Having had my own children in soccer (including one who is playing soccer as a 7 year old right now), I think that competition can be introduced gradually.

Second, the league wasn’t forbidding winning and losing, only publicizing the overall season record. The leagues here do the same thing, although more I suspect from a lack of organization than any mental health plan1. The kids who care know what the score is, and if it helps the others to not have it rubbed in at that tender age, I think that’s fine.

Call me a curmudgeon, but I like the innocence of games with little kids who don’t much track the score. Of course they grow out of it, and that’s fine too, but I think avoiding a rush in to adult habits is not always a bad idea.

1 There’s no real “league” to start with, just a bunch of soccer programs that set up games in a haphazard way. For instance, one time two teams had their opponent teams not show up. So the two that did show played each other. More than a few times one of my son’s team’s opponent didn’t have enough players and our team loaned them players. I am not sure one could even generate league scores that made sense. But the kids sure as heck know which team won each game.

24 September 2008

Quotidian Nits, Part 1

I was looking through the Yellow Pages of the local phone book today and noticed the following —

  • Number of pages devoted to the category “Attorney” : 46
  • Number of pages devoted to the category “Automobile” : 12
  • Number of pages devoted to the category “Restaurant” : 27

I can’t really view that as a good sign.

22 September 2008

The death of liberal democracy has started

How can we hope for fair elections here when this kind of thing is striking next door in Australia?

Just a few tiny exceptions, really

I really like to hit on MALists about their lack of introspection, their inability to picture a given situation applying to them instead of someone else. But while they are particularly gifted at it, it’s not a monopoly. Here we have the same sort thing from the McCain Crew

Let me first say we are First Amendment absolutists on this campaign. The press and anybody who wishes to cover this race from a blogosphere perspective or from a media perspective is of course constitutionally protected with regard to writing whatever they want to write.

Wait, wait, let me fix that for you

[…] writing whatever they want to write unless it violates the arcane rules of McCain-Feingold campaign finance “reform”.

There. Accuracy restored.

Yeah, yeah, I know the FOOL would be worse, but we shouldn’t view their behavior as the floor of acceptable.

Sadring away

Ooh, are we seeing the start of a walk back about Al Sadr from Orrin Judd? It’s the first hint of any possibility that Al Sadr doesn’t have basically the same viewpoint as Judd. Personally, I think Al Sadr will end up the Joe Biden of Iraq.

19 September 2008

Drop of sunlight

I took this in Las Vegas last week, while on a business trip. It’s from the Bellagio, part of their water exhibit.

Am I the one with the beard?

What’s puzzling and a bit disturbing to me is the inversion of reality I have been seeing across the current political divide. Some examples —

• A cousin of SWIPIAW is a big fan of Senator Obama, and wrote mockingly of watching the Republican National Convention on her kid log. The chants of “USA! USA!” bothered her the most because they were so selfish. I was gobsmacked. I could see jingoistic, xenophobic, war-mongering, mindless boosterism. But selfish? I didn’t ask for clarification because that way lies pain without gain.

• I touched down at Bag News Notes to see what the free association moonbats were going on about (opposition research) and ran in to this quote —

Fact is, [Alaska Governor] Palin, unlike [Senator] Clinton or so many regular working woman, has not had to get to where she is by working hard, having to demonstrate under brutal criticism, her intellectual skills and having to rename over and over again her accomplishments that so many wish to bury. Unlike Palin every woman who wishes to succeed by her own merits must go through the gauntlet of male scrutiny and approval

Another WTH moment for me. One can argue about Palin’s accomplishments, but seeing them as a gift from the “old patriarchy in the Republican party”? That’s just bizarre.

• We see the same thing echoed in the article cited in my previous post about the hysterical women in New York City, as if Palin had literally been a hockey mom until the moment she spoke at the RNC.

It’s like graduate school all over again, my long nighmare of trying to survive in a world that made no sense at all to me.

No fault incivility

Allahpundit writes

It’s not that they hate her, or even how much they hate her, that’s shocking. It’s how open they are about it.

I am not surprised. Fundamentally, Modern American Leftism is founded on envy and condenscension, connected with a very rigid caste system. This kind of reaction naturally follows from that. You can see it in articles like this (via Sister Toldjah) which describes “intense reactions from some New Yorkers, who report being driven to fits of rage and even all-consuming panic” about Governor Palin. Now, I had my anger about former President Clinton and later his wife as a Senator, but it was just a sort of grating annoyance that didn’t have much impact on my life beyond venting with other political junkies, in person or on a weblog. But as Allahpundit noted, it’s not so much that there exist people this unhinged, but how open they are about it.

My view is that it’s become so open because there’s no negative feedback for member of of the MAL for this kind of open vitriol and emotion. For instance, the recent scandal at That Atlantic or Congressman Rangel’s quote linked above — what price will be paid for such remarks? None. In fact, the speakers are likely to be rewarded. It’s hardly surprising that we see no end to it.

P.S. More thoughts on this at Random Jottings.

15 September 2008

When far more is not enough

I have been reading about the Obama campaign having fund raising issues but if the campaign has $77M cash on hand at the end of August, what’s the problem? That’s nearly what the McCain campaign can spend, so why not just coast, figure on picking up $8M with some low key effort and focus on the campaign? Why the presumption that matching isn’t nearly enough for Senator Obama, that he has to massively outspend Senator McCain? What does that say about his real level of support and / or his executive skills?

Parallel arguments

I would like to see an intellectually coherent argument for both

  1. Dropping the economic embargo against Cuba
  2. Opposing the free trade agreement with Columbia

I can’t think of any argument against #2 that doesn’t apply as well to #1. Interestingly, the flip side (pro-embargo, pro-FT/Columbia) can be made intellectually coherent.

Putting the punch line in between the applause

Orrin Judd writes

Reporters, pundits, and politics inside the Beltway think that the Senator has successfully put the Reverend Wright issue behind him and explained his membership in a black nationalist church to people’s satisfaction […] When the videos resurface it will be a matter of first impression for a huge chunk of the electorate and he’ll have to explain himself to the country, not just his party.

You know, I am no fan of Senator McCain or his political astuteness, but he does seem to be leading a team that’s firing on all cylinders since the Republican National Convention. If that’s so, then he’ll hold back on the Wright / Ayers / Annenberg axis until the Palindemonium dies down, just like a comic drops his punch line in to a gap in the crowd noise. On the other hand, if Governor Palin stays hot until the election, I don’t see why the McCain campaign would have to do anything else.

14 September 2008

Bonfire of the securities

As I read stories like this one about the impending collapse of various trading houses, what strikes me is the thought that many of these were founded long before I was born, but failing during a relatively short period of my life. I am sure some might claim that it’s because of deregulation in the last few decades, but these firms existed before the Great Depression and survived the “lawlessness” of pre-FDR banking. What’s special about modern times that is bringing them down? The softness of having had it too easy for too long? The enervating effects of depending on regulations rather than their own accumem? A general lost of a sense of responsibility? All of the above? It’s a bit of a mystery to me.

Deliberate evil requires introspection

Here’s a quote about the incident with The Atlantic Magazine, Senator McCain, and photographer Jill Greenberg

The important thing here is not that Greenberg took and altered the pictures. The import thing is that she felt comfortable bragging about what she did! She expected to receive accolades and approval from the Left for her dirty trick. This tells us a lot about what kind of ethics Greenberg believes the Left approves of. Given her immersion in the upper class, urban, articulate intellectual culture of the far Left, her assessment is probably correct.

The far Left has long since adopted the world view of the radical Marxist in which political utility equals truth. Incapable of believing themselves capable of intellectual error or moral failing, they see themselves obligated to acquire power by any means necessary. They view democracy as only a means of acquiring the legitimacy to use that power. If they must do so under false pretenses, then they will. They believe that the enormous benefits of their enlightened rule outweigh any consequences of the dishonest acts that bring about that rule.

I just thought about some of Senator Obama’s gaffes, both in public speaking and advertisements. I tend to think that Obama isn’t being deliberately insulting because, in my view, this is precisely his attitude. It simply doesn’t occur to him that anything he could say could be insulting or a smear, not only because he’s intrinsically correct, but because his heart and motives are pure.

This is one reason I think an outraged response to anything Obama puts out is the wrong approach. A dismissive mocking response works much better, the archetype being former President Reagan’s “there you go again”. The attitude of an indulgent parent to a naughty child (who can’t really understand why what he’s doing is wrong) seems a far more appropriate and politically successful response. Not to mention the most emotionally devastating for targets like this.

Job share journalism

Via Instapundit, Jeff Jarvis writes

New Jersey’s Star-Ledger today put out an entire edition without anything from the Associated Press within. The sharp-eyed reader will notice lots of local news by staff plus articles from other papers–Washington Post, LA Times, McClatchy, the Glouceseter County Times–and content from online services such as Sportsticker. It’s one more nail in the heart of the AP as other papers cancel their contracts and more threaten to.

It’s another aspect of disintermediation. I am reminded, because I am an old geek, of the evolution of e-mail addresses. There may be a few of you who remember how it it used to be that you would have to effectively route your email by hand by explicitly specifying the set of machines to take the message from your machine to the destination machine. Now, however, since any Internet connected machine can communicate directly with any other, routing becomes trivial and you need only specify the final destination.

AP occupies a similar niche, in that it has been cheaper to have a centralized repository of stories because the costs of direct communication (both bandwidth and transactional) was high. But not so much any more. One could even envision a point where a descendant of RSS feeds lets newspaper A grab for a fee content from newspaper B and republish it. The business model to be in there would be as a broker / locator with lots of clever software to enable your clients to rapidly find a source for the kind of story they wanted (e.g. the Craig’s List or E-Bay work). Theoretically the AP could do this, but I suspect they are institutionally incapable of it.

But this brings me to another related topic,which is the question of what might replace Old Media. One of the mistakes the “we need Old Media” proponents make is presuming that a replacement has to be structurally similar. But let us consider the case of Charles Martin. He started out as just another commentor at Just One Minute. He became interested in Old Media’s willingness to publish any rumour about Governor Palin, no matter how bizarre or unsourced. He collected them, along with debunkings (and occasional confirmations). He has now parleyed that in to mentions on the subject and television appearances. I would think that is exactly the kind of a thing a “real” journalist would do, but it was left to the amateur Martin.

What is the point? That a replacement for Old Media doesn’t need full time reporters or investigators. The job that a current journalist is supposd to do can be distributed across multiple people and multiple times. Moreover, each of those people can be a domain expert with far more knowledge than any generic journalist and can treat it as a one time project, rather than having to commit to it as a career. With the sort of emerging direct exchange vs. centralized press cooperatives, it becomes ever easier for such amateurs to be remunerated for their efforts. I would certainly expect that there will continue to be full time journalists who generate content in such a system, but they will become the exception rather than the rule. Perhaps such a change will bring back a little more pride of quality in our collective news gathering.

P.S. This is something to note as well — the increasingly strong advice and justification for duplicating the efforts of Old Media, such as taping your own interview. As one commentor notes if you need to do all that to prevent misrepresentation, why bother with Old Media at all?

03 September 2008

Code spiral

I know that stuff on Governor Palin is hard to find, and you’re desperate for some more, but I think I’ll write about something geeky that’s been percolating for a while.

For those with memories longer than a social activist, there was a time when people thought that web browsers would take over from the operating system as the primary interface for computer users. This was driven mainly by despite for the Dark Empire and was never, in my view, to be taken very seriously.

In computer science, there’s a saying “to solve a problem, add a level of indirection”. The term “indirection” means to not refer to a thing directly, but to indirectly refer something else that refers to the thing. So, if you have something that works with the number ‘7’, but you’d like it to work with ‘12’ also, you don’t change ‘7’ to ‘12’, instead you store an address of a memory location which can have ‘7’ or ‘12’ as needed. You’ve added a layer of indirection to solve a problem. This can go on a long way and achieve some really amazing levels of indirection.

We are now seeing this principle applied to the issue I mentioned in the previous paragraph. The web browser is a level of indirection on an operating system. It provides the same sort of stuff as an operating system, but indirected through HTML. But web browsers were originally built back in the days when displaying anything was considered an achievement and they are showing this legacy, just like operating systems did when web browsers were first built. The solution? More indirection! First there were Java engines, to live in web browsers. Then Javascript and other languages. Then Flash Player and now Silverlight, which is the Dark Empire deciding that instead of fixing Internet Explorer, they’ll start over and embed a working browser in the existing browser’s framework. I would mock the Dark Empire for that, but as noted they’re far from the first to do that. Don’t ask where it will all end, there is no end. Just hop on the slide and spiral on down …

Replacement therapy

Have we not all wondered what the MAL would do once they no longer had Chimpy McBushHitler to kick around? Well, now we know.

I think I will resist the urge to post all Palin all week, and just update here.

Isn’t the talk of an Senator Eagleton repeat very interesting? That is, after all, how Senator Obama has won the elections he has. The one time he went up against a real opponent, he was crushed. After that, he was careful to “Eagleton” all of his serious opponents before the voting.

One of the big wories about McCain is that he just didn’t understand how pervasively biased and hostile to the GOP Old Media is. There have been lots of wistful expressions that maybe, once Old Media started its grind on McCain, he’d figure that out. But think about this — McCain’s got a military background. Old Media is now shooting at his squad mate, his buddy. That’s far more likely to piss him off than a direct attack.

Is it sexism to pick someone not because you care that she’s a woman, but you think other people do in a way that will be to your benefit? Further, isn’t the best way to defeat a meme to cynically exploit it at every opportunity until people have burned so many times they change their opinion?

I suspect the MAL doesn’t get that Palin isn’t someone’s puppet because they are unable to distinguish between brash / obnoxious and self confident. Palin, in her manner, reminds me a lot of SWIPIAW — — soft spoken, polite, but do not get between her and her goal. But the MAL can’t seem to grasp being that kind of strong without lots of hysteria, screaming, and profanity.

Via Instapundit, this photo of Senator McCain greeting Levi Johnston is not the picture of a man about to cut loose a liability. That’s a man who is doubling down. One is left wondering just how Machievellian McCain is.

Did he anticipate this? Did he investigate Governor Palin and decide that her “scandals” were features, not bugs? After all, although some of them are a bit dicey none are serious in the way that, say, sweet heart land deals with a Chicago land fixer is. On the upside, this frenzy by Old Media and the MAL is lighting the fire of a thousand suns of anger in the conservative base, a base that a month ago didn’t much care. A base that’s now saying “of course you realize, this means war”. If so, McCain’s extra clever to have waited until basically the last possible moment to get that fired up, because such anger and drive doesn’t last forever among rational people, but it’s very likely to last 9 weeks.

02 September 2008

Protestors and Circuses

Check out this picture (via Just One Minute). It’s a lone policeman, knocked to the ground by a group of thugs at the Republican National Convention with lots of media in the circle. Just count the cameras. How many of them do you think would intervene if the thugs started beating the cop bloody? Any? How many do you think would carefully capture any (however justified) retaliation by the cop or his buddies?