Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Debate observations

The GOP Presidential candidates had yet another Reagan centered debate at the Gipper's Presidential Library. Unfortunately I missed the first part of the debate, but I'll mention some things I saw in the back nine...

McCain ignored the question about his ability to lead the economy and instead gave his standard speech about military leadership. What's more, neither the moderators nor Romney called him out on it. Both are at fault for failing to do so.

Secondly, Huckabee was asked about his demagogic line regarding "the guy who laid you off". Oh so conveniently, there was no time for Romney to respond to the blatant class warfare being waged by Huck... or McCain for that matter.

On the spat about whether Romney was for a secret timetable for withdrawal... I think maybe he was. His statement was certainly ambiguous. It was, however, just that - ambiguous. It wasn't nearly what McCain is making of it, and McCain's "buzzword" argument is terribly weak.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dems - the Party of Identity Politics

Much noise was made recently about Huckabee's "identity" politicking among his Evangelical brethren. Huck's pandering pales in comparison to what went down in South Carolina yesterday.

There's no denying Obama his victory; he had a clear majority in a three-way race. But he didn't win white voters. Edwards did. And white women voted Clinton. So it seems that every Dem candidate had their greatest success among people who look like them. Even looking back to the Nevada caucus, Hispanic voters voted against Obama and for Clinton, displaying an apparent racial animus.

Bill Clinton likened Obama's SC victory to Jesse Jackson's victories in years past, drawing a completely unfair parallel to the naked racial demagoguing of the prior generation of black leaders. Obama's demagoguing is no different from Hillary's - based on class and income. On the "Sunday shows" today it was almost universally acknowledged that Bill's recent statements and actions were insulting to black voters, and certainly counterproductive.

This is what has become of the Democratic party. The only real differences among them are superficial appeals to identity politics and, to a lesser extent, the personal power struggles within the permanent machinery of Democratic political class. Voters tired quickly from "change vs. experience" nonsense, and policy differences are minimal. The contest has come down to slicing and dicing the electorate.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fredheads: Mourn, Move on

Yes, we Fred Thompson supporters mourn his departure.

And as we recover from the loss of Fred, some of us will be moving on to support other candidates. Like Romney.

Six months ago I would not have considered supporting Romney. His political conversions were to swift, too convenient, and unbelievably complete to seem genuine. But at least he's singing the right songs for the most part. If he'd give up on health mandates that would really vault him far ahead in my book.

But, as the National Review endorsement made clear, Romney is the best "full-spectrum conservative" who has a chance to win.

Romney knows the Fredheads are looking for a place to go.

And so, Romney inherits my support.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Offtopic - Experimenting with Virutal Machines

I'm typing this post from inside a virtual computer, a Linux installation that is running inside my Windows XP computer. Why? I'll tell you.

For several years I have kept around a older computer for experimenting with Linux. Unfortunately this machine's age is getting the better of it - it sports an AMD K6-2 processor running at a mere 500mhz. It was originally a Windows 98 machine. Recently I wanted to try out a piece of software made only for posix systems, so I blew the dust off the junker and fired it up. After several hours of updating the system so I could actually run the software I wanted, it ran unacceptably slow. I am not about to try learning new software with a five second delay on any input.

I'm reluctant to install Linux on my laptop (either exclusively or dual-boot) for reasons of hard drive space and questionable wireless support. This led me to research virtual machines. This would be an optimal solution if I could install the virtual machine on my external hard drive and have it run acceptably.

And so I have done it. I settled on VirtualBox as my emulator, which has a polished professional product that is free for individual use. The type of virtualization used by VirtualBox is not the most efficient, but it is easy. I wasn't looking for optimal performance, just passable.

The whole rig is something like this: A cheapo Dell laptop with a Celeron-M @1.4Ghz, 512 Meg RAM, and a USB external hard drive. Software on the virtual machine is Debian "testing" (Lenny). More RAM would probably make this run a whole lot smoother, but it's already running much faster than the old junker, so I say it's just fine with me. This is my second startup, and on each startup I got an error message from VirtualBox that I was out of memory, though I suspect this was just linux probing the available RAM.

The biggest unforeseen issue was the FAT32 file size limitation on the external HDD. One cannot create files larger than 4GB on a FAT32 file system, so the virtual disk size is limited to 4GB if your external HDD is formated FAT as most are. If I had been thinking straight I would have created separate virtual disks for the swap and home partitions, but so far so good - I'm not planning on creating a lot of data in Linux, mostly analyzing small amounts of existing data.

Assuming that I will get a new computer at some point in the future I will definitely be using virtualization of some kind. Maybe Linux in Windows, maybe Windows in Linux. It will depend on my needs at that time, and I'll be sure to do it with enough available resources to get it done right.

The Role of Unions

Republicans have complained for a long time about the overly political nature of "labor" unions in our nation. However, Bill Clinton now claims to have seen the heavy hand of the union boss while campaigning for his wife in Nevada. Bill and Chelsea walked through casinos approaching casino workers and encouraging them to break with their union over the endorsement of Obama. According to WJC, a union official followed the pair of Clintons through the casino telling their union members that if they intended to vote for Hillary that the union would make sure their work schedule didn't allow them to vote.

Here we have a first hand account by a former Democratic president of union goons disenfranchising their own members.

Why are unions so heavily involved in politics anyway? Aren't they supposed to represent their members for collective bargaining against "management"? What possible labor policy differences could exist between HRClinton and Obama? Doesn't this bolster the Right-to-Work argument that workers' dues are being stolen from them for political purposes, particularly purposes unrelated to the well-being of the union or its membership?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Constitutional Right to Restroom Sex

The ACLU thinks Senator Larry Craig's constitutional right of privacy means he couldn't have been trying to have sex in a public place since restroom stalls are private places.

Seriously. I mean he probably has the right to perform an abortion in a restroom stall while smoking peyote (for religious purposes only).

Vote Republican. Get conservative judges who won't listen to this crap.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Huck = Sanjaya

Huck = Sanjaya. Nuff said.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

HRC on MTP - The veneer peels back

The most striking thing about Hillary Clinton's most recent appearance on Meet the Press was not the string of lies she told about her record or campaign, but her open hostility to Tim Russert. If she can't at least be civil with the liberal press then I don't know how she can credibly negotiate as President with opponents foreign or domestic. And the cackles reemerged after Russert asked about her "vast right wing conspiracy" quote from the period of her husband's administration. Fingernails on a chalkboard...

But back to the lies for a moment.

Of course, there is "not one shred of truth" to accusations that her campaign has employed racially abrasive tactics against Obama. Never mind that string of hard facts mentioned in the NYTimes article Russert quoted. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Which of course brings me to the second most bizarre occurrence during the show - the shift away from discussions of substance and policy to which players in the civil rights movement deserve what proportional amount of credit for their efforts. Has the Democratic party become so removed from reality that battles over LBJ and MLK-Jr are the most pressing topics?

But back to the lies for a moment.

Clinton blatantly dissembled about her remarks comparing Obama to demagogues like Huey Long.

When the interview finally turned to Iraq and the now obvious success of the Petraeus surge, Hillary brazenly committed -over a year in advance- to begin pulling out the troops within 60 days of her inauguration. She would do this in the face of any contrary advice that might be given to her by her generals. (Talk about an "arrogant bunker mentality"!) She commits to this strategy over a year in advance despite dramatic changes on the ground that have occurred in the past year.

On the economy, she falsely embraced Alan Greenspan on the subject of the mortgage credit crisis while she promoted exactly the sort of policy Greenspan warned against. Greenspan is in favor of basically bailing people out with free money but otherwise leaving price mechanisms in place to do their jobs. To interfere with the price mechanisms would prolong the pain of the credit crisis. Clinton apparently ignores all of this and proposes freezing interest rates on certain mortgages for five years, interfering dramatically with the interest rate prices.

More broadly on the economic front, Clinton talked loosely about some sort of stimulus package. Of course, by 2009 when the next president takes office we will probably be done with the worst of any slowdown that is currently occurring, and any clumsy stimulus will be worthless at best and counterproductive at worst. Politicians just can't help but to interfere in economic matters of which they have virtually no understanding.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Appeal to Ronulans - Look at Fred

Dear Ron Paul supporters:

Your candidate is a fruitcake.

Sorry, but he has a negligible chance of winning, and not a single one of his proposals have a chance in heck of being implemented if he were to be elected. Some of his ideas start with a kernel of truth - smaller government, lower taxes, judicious military use - but then go on to basically no government, a sadly mistaken gold-standard monetary policy (for which he blames everything), and an isolationist close-the-drawbridge foreign policy.

Some of you Ronulans are reasonable. Not the Stormfront-types, but those who don't quite believe that those people are in the Ron Paul camp. [The racist anti-Semitic Ru-Paulians can feel free to stick with Paul.]

So to the reasonable Ronulans, I ask you to look at the only other candidate who has any respect for the Constitution - Fred Thompson. He's for securing the border and employer level enforcement, he's for real Federalism, he's for lower taxes, and he's for sticking a capitalist wedge into the Social Security's Ponzi socialist scheme. Regarding his only major sin - campaign finance regulation - he's headed back towards the Constitutionalist fold.

Now, some of you might be supporting Paul because he was against the war. I ask of you, do you really want to pull out now? Are you really for losing, especially when an honorable end is in sight?

Who are the other heavy hitters in the GOP field? McCain - captain finance regulation and amnesty. Huckabee - a compassionate heroic conservative who will raise your taxes if he feels he can spend the money to do what he feels is good. Romney - philosophically amorphous with a penchant for HillaryCare2.0-style government mandates for health insurance. Giuliani - maybe Roe-v-Wade is good, maybe it isn't.

Then we have Fred Thompson, who has been a champion of conservative constitutionalist principles throughout the campaign.

So maybe you Ronulans aren't in love with Fred. Be a little strategic and throw your weight behind a mainstream candidate who agrees with more of your positions than anybody else. Rather than fall on your gold-plated swords for a fringe candidate, please summon the boldness to make a real difference in the Republican primary.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

GOP Debate

The general format of tonight's NH debate allowed the candidates to go beyond some of the loaded and stupid questions asked by the moderator. So more debates like this please.

Huck thinks oil companies "dictate" price. And he said this after several other candidates had discussed the generally accepted "supply and demand" model, essentially handing him the right answer. Huck also wants to give prizes for innovation in energy design. I have news for Huck, they're called "patents", and you can earn a lot more from a patent than you ever could from some government prize.

Fred had some very excellent moments, most notably calling out Romney's love of mandates.

Ron Paul displayed his idiocy by using a discussion of health-related inflation to discuss monetary inflation, which even if you buy into Ron "Goldfinger" Paul's stone-aged hard money policy, is completely irrelevant in that health inflation has far surpassed general inflation. Hard money does not solve healthcare inflation.