Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - Worst. Decade. Ever.

Making the rounds on the intertubes...

Well, maybe not worst ever, but it's up there.

Favorite quote: "The sad thing is, she might be smarter than Joe Biden."

In other news, there's still some time to vote on my "Worst Media Malpractice of 2009" web poll over on PAWatercooler.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Damn it, Janet!

Jonah's right, Janet Napolitano should start looking for new work. Sure, an underwear bomber* probably would have slipped through just about any airport screening, but her assertion that "the system worked" after the fact was absurd.

Add it to her other gaffes, including her assertion that the 9/11 attackers entered the US through the Canadian border, and her memo on the danger posed by disgruntled veterans who have fallen in with right-wingers, and her continued insistance that DHS is essentially a clean-up crew more than a preventive agency.

Janet Napolitano is a (wo)man caused disaster all her own, and she should be scuttled.

* (It has been suggested that the underwear bomber be called the "eunuch-bomber", a play on UNIBOMer. I support this designation, if only for the rhetorical demasculinization of individuals eager to see 72 virgins.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Nat'l GOP Barks up Wrong Tree With Carney

... PAGOP gets it right.

Sure, the report that Congressman Chris Carney (D-PA) was being courted by the national Republicans caught my eye. I didn't put a lot of stock in it, but then again, these are wild and crazy times.

But it didn't make sense. Carney was a true-blue Democrat. He wasn't on my list of High-ACU scoring Democrats. His district may be R+8, but that in and of itself isn't enough to switch a guy to the minority. Much to nobody's surprise, Carney says he's staying Dem.

Carney's ACU score is 24. That's not even close to being in Republican territory. A switch can't be made merely out of electoral fear, there needs to be an ideological component too.

It is rare that I complement the PAGOP for failing to take action, but in this case they had it right. If anybody in PA might be switched, it would be Tim Holden (bottom of my list, in an R+6 district), but even that's a pretty big stretch.

Did anybody in DC even bother to think about the ideological component, as I did in slightly more detail over at DPUD? Has anybody inside the beltway had a chit-chat with Congressmen Taylor, Boren, or Davis?

Anyone? Bueller?

Monday, December 21, 2009


The strategy seems clear enough -- pass something, anything, as a "starter home" with a "good foundation", and expand it later. Never mind the overwhelming public disapproval of the bill, such things are transient. The ratchet of statism seems to turn only one way.

This, Howard Dean does not understand. They are killing health care in order to "save" it. Dean's right, a bunch of mandates without any expanded competition mechanisms or realistic price controls is a recipe for disaster. Within a decade the public will be begging for socialized health insurance -- that's what Dean and Kos don't understand.

Kos thinks independent voters went for Obama and the Democrats in 2008 because they wanted health care reform (specifically the Dem version) and a wrap-up of Afghanistan. Kos is delusional. Base voters like himself may have voted that way, but swing voters were focused on the economy. There's this fantasy among Dem partisans that Hillarycare became an electoral disaster for them because it wasn't passed. No, it was a disaster because it was attempted.

Ben Nelson? Bought on the cheap. The "cornhusker kickback" deal will eventually vanish. Senator Conrad said as much on FNS when he said they could not bind future Congresses to such a deal.

Oh, and thank you, ABC News, or not even reporting the "kickback" on that the evening the deal was struck, and running with the abortion language compromise as the catalyst. Obviously it was necessary to report on the epic global warming snowfall that struck the east coast for an extra 40 seconds rather than report accurately on the most significant piece of legislation in a generation.

I'm oddly shocked and not shocked by this turn of events. I'm shocked that the Democrats would have such contempt for public opinion as to completely overrule it, with utter disregard to their 2010 and 2012 electoral prospects. And yet, it's always been the M.O. of the hard Left to force "progress" and wait for social re-normalization. Why am I surprised?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

NYGOP needs better than Lazio

In 2000, Rick Lazio ran one of the worst statewide campaigns ever. Sure, he got a late start because of Rudy, but I don't think the extra time would have mattered. He lost control of his image/message and ran lackluster ads. He was beaten 55% to 43% by Hillary Clinton, highly controversial and not even a New Yorker.

Now, he's polling below the unpopular Gov. Paterson. Cuomo eats Lazio for breakfast. Why would NY Republicans put this guy up for office again?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Quote of the Day: Beelzebub

From a political focus group:

One telling moment came after Hart asked each voter to write the name that comes to mind when they think of Congress. Bill, a 62-year-old retired automobile-industry executive and independent who backed Obama, wrote "Satan." When Hart asked why, Bill answered, "Because I wasn't sure of the correct spelling of 'Beelzebub.' " Now that's intensity.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Roundup: Rubio, Acorn Cookies, Nobel

(1) Rubio, say it ain't so! He would have taken the stimulus money.

(2) Obama's Nobel acceptance speech was one of the better ones he's given -- he even spoke a few truths I thought Democrats were incapable of uttering -- but (so-called) conservatives proclaiming it the bestest speech evar ought to slow down. It had its faults.

(3) Behold the arrogance of The Won -- ACORN cookies served at the White House:

(4) Cute dog. Shame that the state won't allow this:

(5) 'Tis the Season:

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Geekery - Filtering Twitter with Yahoo Pipes

I follow a few Twitter feeds that give me a lot of repetitive false positives. I still want to follow them, but needed to cut back the clutter.

(1) Create dummy twitter account (for example, "custom_stuff_for_me")
(2) Create a Yahoo Pipe that imports the RSS feeds of the twitter accounts you intend to follow/filter.
(3) Add a filter module to your Yahoo Pipe that blocks some of the false positives.
(4) Make your Yahoo Pipe public.
(5) Use a service like twitterfeed to suck the RSS from your Yahoo Pipe and push it into your dummy twitter account.
(6) Tweak the twitterfeed settings to push the maximum number of RSS items into your dummy twitter account.
(7) With your main twitter account, follow your dummy account (and un-follow the accounts you were trying to filter).

You're done. Adjust the filter on your Yahoo Pipe as needed.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Roundup: Economy/Porkulus edition

(1) By Jim Geraghty's reckoning, the Allentown slice of the porkulus spent over $11 million on various projects with no identifiable jobs created. "Hey, I think I spotted the problem with the economy! All of this money is being thrown around, but nobody's created any jobs with it!"

(2) The CEO of Emerson Electric Company is not liking what he's seeing coming out of Washington (emphasis added):
The federal government is "doing everything in [its] manpower [and] capability to destroy U.S. manufacturing," says David Farr, chairman and CEO of Emerson Electric Co., in a presentation at the Baird 2009 Industrial Conference in Chicago Ill., on Nov. 11. In comments reported by Bloomberg, Farr added that companies will continue adding jobs in China and India because they are "places where people want the products and where the governments welcome you to actually do something. I am not going to hire anybody in the United States. I'm moving. They are doing everything possible to destroy jobs."

Farr cites Cap-&-Trade, the expensive but non-targeted stimulus, the debt, the deficit, inflationary monetary policy, Obamacare, and general taxation and regulation.

Emerson is an S&P-500 component and has a market capitalization of over $30-bn.

(h/t to Eddie at Doubleplusundead)

(3) Maybe that's why a majority of Americans want to cut their losses on the stimulus. Calls for a second stimulus (or third, depending on your count) will fall on deaf ears. (I seem to recall a certain Senate candidate who feels the same way.)

(4) Even youngsters are souring on Obama's policies, though they have yet to bail out on Obama himself. It's a start. (Translation for candidates: attack the policies, not Obama.)

(5) The return of the Misery Index does not bode well for Democrats, especially now that deflation has been transitioning into inflation.


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

West Point Reaction

I was somehow under the impression this was supposed to be a strategy speech. There was an overt lack of specificity with respect to the military component, so I don't have sufficient information to assess whether this is more Counter-Intelligence or more Biden-esque Counter-Terrorism. Even the total force strength eluded us tonight because Obama is "confident" in an unspecified addition of further NATO strength. What convenient omissions.

As to what actually was in the speech, Obama once again displayed his lack of strategic comprehension. A key theme was an unwillingness to project commitment. "Our security is at stake", but by the way, we'll start pulling out in 18 months. He didn't even bother to hedge. And we wouldn't want to commit too much in the way of resources, because we've got domestic issues like healthcare to screw up. The economy's taken a back seat to Obama's other priorities, but apparently defeating Al Qaeda is below even that. In his obligatory Bush-blaming segment, he failed to see the link between the Afghan and Iraqi conflicts. Al Qaeda shifted its focus to Iraq, then shifted back again to Afghanistan as Iraq slipped from its grasp. This fundamental dynamic is lost on Obama.

Another failed strategic formulation was Obama's idea that there had been "no delay" and nothing held back during his extensive policy review period. So what? While Obama refused to articulate a commitment to the fight, and while the question started as whether there would be a troop surge, AQ stepped up its game. AQ was being strategic, trying to force us into losing our resolve. Go figure.

I could go on, but I have other stuff I need to do. I mostly felt the need to circle back on the previous Biden post.

(I'm still amused at his more-or-less native pronunciation of Pok-ee-stahn and Toll-ee-bahn, but his unmistakably American pronunciation of Afghanistan. Every language reserves the right to pronounce foreign names in its own way and with its own inflection, so why should American English be any different? But mix-and-match is just ridiculous.)

Monday, November 30, 2009

I smell Biden in this 30K figure

I haven't really laid into Obama for the whole "dithering" thing even though I've sometimes wanted to. Taking his time to make the right decision is better than quickly making the wrong decision, even though there is a palpable time decay factor that is literally killing our guys. Unfortunately, my perception (and I am not alone) is that the longer the decision is delayed, the more likely that Obama will try to tweak, compromise, and do the deployment on the cheap. An on-the-cheap deployment is problematic because it risks not getting the job done and broadcasts a lack of resolve necessary to win.

General McChrystal's figure of 40,000 additional troops was a nice fat round number. There's an implied margin of error in a figure like that. So while I thought Obama's leaked figure of 34,000 was a little too cute, hinting at political calculation more than military strategy, it was within what I guess to be McChrystal's margin of error, and leaving room for more NATO and native Afghan troops. Good enough, I'll take it.

But this newly leaked figure of 30,000 has me somewhat more disturbed. Sure, it's only 4,000 fewer than what was previously semi-announced. (Actually, I could have sworn I'd heard 36k, and started drafting this post with that figure...) But it's three-quarters of what McChrystal requested. What happened that 40k degraded to 34, then to 30? It's unclear who Obama satisfies with this figure. Not the hawks, and certainly not the anti-war left.

Which brings me to Joe Biden. I'm really bothered that Biden is around. The guy hasn't been right about anything. Ever. As disturbed as some people are about Sarah Palin, at least some Republicans acknowledge her flaws. No similar left-leaning acknowledgment is to be found regarding Mr. Biden. The man is a joke and nobody other than SNL is able to hint at it. Newsweek even put Biden on its cover recently, vainly and specifically arguing that Biden was not "a joke". If one had merely voted opposite from Biden on major national security issues for the last 30 years, one would have accumulated a fairly decent voting record. (Having been originally for, and later against Iraq, he has by definition been wrong on that at some point.)

I bring up Biden because this 30k business gives a Biden-like vibe. The Veep has been a major proponent of a colossally stupid plan for Afganistan, which would involve controlling the cities but taking our sweet time in the countryside, allowing the Taliban/AQ forces to continue to have fairly free reign. The plan commits most of the additional troops of a real counter-insurgency plan, but with very little of the actual killing of terrorists and achieving of our goals. It's the worst of both worlds in the name of compromise.

Some conservatives will be listening intently to the President's speech to determine how fixated he is on an "exit strategy". I have my problems with talk of "exit strategy", but I expect Obama to mention it, as it's become an integral part of the popular wisdom of waging war. Even if he really hammers the "exit strategy" rhetoric, his actions will speak louder than his words.

If Obama gives a Biden-like rationale for this reduced number, the Right will be all over him. If he says we're getting a NATO infusion and accelerating Afghan Army training (despite indications that the Afghan Army buildup is a no-go), I think he gets off a little easier. Of course, if he goes back to a 34k figure (and gives a reasonable rationale), we'll be delighted by a number with which we were so recently lukewarm.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Black Friday #FAIL

I got this Dell promotion in my Hotmail. Notice the "sent" date. I clicked on the link in the email just over an hour after it was sent, only to see an expired promotion page.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Reich drools over thoughts of authoritarian power

On ABC's This Week, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich could barely contain himself over the prospect of having Chinese-style control over the economy.

"But I want to go back to, George [Will], your point, because I think the big issue over the next 10 years and the big contest is going to be between authoritarian capitalism, a la China, and democratic capitalism, a la the United States. And it's not clear to me that authoritarian capitalism is not going to win. That is, it -- there is so much efficiency. The Chinese say, ‘We're going to build 10 new universities. We're going to build this. We're going to build this.' And, boom, it happens."

Astonishing. After Reich wipes the drool off his chin, he backpedals slightly:
"I am betting on Democratic capitalism," Reich added. "But I think that the -- authoritarian capitalism, we cannot understate the threat to the way we go about our -- our business, the way we think about the world."

Reich isn't the only one who thinks this way. Tom Friedman has expressed similar longings. I get the distinct impression this is a widespread sentiment among --dare I say it-- the self-professed elites. Our betters.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Half of GOP think ACORN stole the election?

Politicalwire reports:
A new Public Policy Polling survey finds that 52% of Republican voters nationally think that ACORN stole the Presidential election for Barack Obama last year, with only 27% granting that he won it legitimately.

Is that just delusional? Probably. But it now makes sense that Doug Hoffman is playing up the ACORN conspiracy theory in the NY-23 special election.

Ok, that's just sad. Not as sad as the continuing efforts to establish Obama's constitutional ineligibility for one reason or another (-and let me tell you, the conspiracy theories are still mutating and proliferating on the email chains), but still pretty sad.

Of course, I completely believe that ACORN fraud was attempted on a massive scale, and accomlished on a somewhat smaller scale, but it was in no way determinative for the election. ACORN as a civic organization has been --or at least should be, if it has not been-- completely deligitimized.

But the bastard won. Period.

Folks need to accept that a clear majority voted for Obama. If we want any chance of winning elections in the future we need to squelch the magical thinking that Obama will just go away. Such thinking only distracts from the real work and thought that needs to be done in order to start repairing conservatives' relationship with the electorate.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Quote of the Day: skkkkkkrk

@jimmiebjr on twitter:

Holder says Miranda won't be issue for KSM. To emphasize the point, he drew his thumb across his throat and made "skkkkkkrk" sound.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Quick Palin-Oprah Reaction

Some disjointed thoughts:

Palin as talk show host? Could be a good move. Her speech pattern is still quite choppy, which she could possibly improve upon through daily practice on a radio or TV show. It wouldn't be nearly as smooth a transition as Huckabee had, but it would give her a regular national audience apart from her Facebook page.

Palin as 2012 Prez candidate? I'm finding it hard to imagine a chain of circumstances that would make that a good idea.

Alternatively, what about Palin for Congress? Would Alaskans even elect her to the position after her resignation as Governor? If not, what chance would she ever have at a higher office? Assuming she gets elected and puts in a few good terms (n>=2) then maybe, maybe, think about higher office again.

As to who I believe more, the McCainers like Steve Schmidt and Nicolle Wallace versus Palin, I'm giving the nod to Sarah. The campaign's incompetence was on display for everyone to see, why should Sarah's accusations be the exceptions to the rule? Schmidt is asking us to believe that the McCain campaign was completely incompetent about virtually everything except the handling of Sarah Palin, which she alone botched. Uh, sure Steve.

Oh, and yes, Joe Biden got a complete pass from the media. I'm glad Sarah brought that up. The old white-haired dude who voted wrong on almost every military or foreign affairs issue for his entire career was just assumed to be capable. (By the way, how's Sheriff Joe doing on that stimulus? No so well, you say?)

The stuff about whether a woman can "have it all" was interesting. In a way, Palin is the strong example of family and feminism being complementary. She admits she couldn't have done it all without a supportive husband and strong extended family ties.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Intertubes Round-up: Facepalm edition

Ode to the Facepalm... Just imagine me facepalming after each bit.


(1) They're trying KSM in a civilian court. In New York. What could go wrong?

(2) So the US Commerce Secretary says, "Trade agreements are going to have to wait." For what, you ask? "Right now, the administration is focused on a very aggressive and very tight legislative agenda." That's right, trade (i.e. jobs, the economy, etc.) is taking a back seat to Obamacare.

(3) No wonder Obama hasn't decided about troop deployments to Afghanistan, he's still noncommittal on Hiroshima.

(4) A majority of Americans say it is not the government's responsibility to make sure all Americans have health insurance. Also, a majority of Americans are in favor of the "public option". In other news, a majority of Americans may in fact be imbeciles.

(5) Hey, let's dig all of those Bushies out of the civil service.

(cross posted)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Best Political Bio Ever

I don't know if Tom Ganley has what it takes to be a US Senator, but he has one heckuva story to tell:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"V" Reviewer Clueless

Jeff Jensen at Entertainment Weekly (after the second episode):
The Visitors–embodied by Morena Baccarin’s inscrutable Anna–continue to be a metaphor and mystery worthy of parsing and theorizing. My take: Anna is sincere about wanting to bring peace, love and universal health care to the world–but her advisors are conspiring against her.


Man, are you really going to be surprised! At best, Anna subscribes to the pampered cow theory of tasty snacks.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Return of the Flip-Flop

Well, it’s about 20 or 30 seconds too long and might give you a seizure, but the RNC is looking to bring back the classic “flip flop” ad (at least on the intertubes):

I wonder if it's really helpful to bring back the Kerry clip. Leaning "no" on that.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Obligatory 10.2% Post

Along with obligatory promise-vs-reality graph from the Innocent Bystanders blog:


Is the stimulus/economy is becoming to Obama what Iraq was to Bush, at least as far as conventional wisdom goes? Things are getting better, everything's to plan, and we expected this...

... more on that later.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

"V" Premiere

I’ve been spoiled by Battlestar Galactica. It seems the re-imagining of an old media property is not always head and shoulders better than the original. Tuesday night’s premiere of the new V certainly has a more contemporary aesthetic, and may prove to be a worthwhile show, but lost something in the translation.

Part of the appeal of the original is the slowness with which the population turned against the visitors, and the significant concessions of freedom that humanity made before many had noticed a problem. In the new V, the audience hears about protests against the visitors before we’re shown anything the visitors have done to harm the population, and we have a ready-made resistance group fighting a war already in progress. The honeymoon is over before it has begun.

Similarly, the new visitors have jumped the gun on how overtly they manipulate their media portrayal. Chad Decker, the visitors’ go-to media guy in the current series, is acutely aware that he is being played. He doesn’t yet know how badly, but he knows. In the original, reporter Kristine Walsh is completely oblivious to her exploitation until the follow-up miniseries, in Episode 1 of V: The Final Battle. A more apt media criticism would likewise show a blissfully ignorant and uninquisitive press, coddled and fed disinformation by the visitors.

Early criticism of the new V was that it was too political, too easily compared to Obama. That has some truth, but only in rather superficial ways that obscure deeper and more universal political truths that were better explored in the original. The reference to visitor-provided universal healthcare was rather ham-fisted, and is a clumsy analog to the current debate. The new series has also criticized overeager devotion before much actual devotion is portrayed. So far we’ve seen little more than natural curiosity and some horny teenagers anxious to get a piece of Morena Baccarin. (Where are the action figures and play-sets from the original?)

I seem to recall reading that the show had actually edited out some potentially inflammatory political content. The editing job seems rather poor from my perspective. I’m not against political content – in fact I often enjoy it. But I prefer such content to be handled in a thoughtful manner, not just thoughtlessly dropping a few grenades in the foxhole and casually walking away. That’s what the V premiere did. I’d be hard pressed to say whether that is more insulting to Obama (for making such a blunt comparison) or to his critics (for trivializing our criticism of Obama). If you're going to be political, be political.

Even the significance of the title has been changed for the worse. “V” in the current incarnation is short for “visitors”, referred to as Vs. “V” in the original was not explained until after freedoms had been significantly curtailed and hostility to the visitors was widespread. In the relevant scene from the original, some teens are defacing propaganda posters with spray paint when an elderly Holocaust survivor stops them, grabs the can of paint and paints a “V” over the poster, explaining “‘V’ for victory.” Thus, the series’ “V” logo, a freehand spray-painted V. Have the writers squandered this powerful symbolism?

Adding insult to injury, the writers failed to recall a Vatican release from 2008 that anticipates the potential existence of aliens and incorporates them into the Catholic perspective. Two priest characters in the V premiere seemed shocked at a similar Vatican response that aliens are part of God’s creation.

In V’s defense, there may be an upside to the show’s rushed start. Having witnessed the deaths of long-arc network shows Kings and Defying Gravity, it may be necessary for the audience to have an immediate sense that action is coming. If that’s what it takes to keep a show on the air, I’m willing to give it a shot. Though I am disappointed at how the premiere handled several tenets of the original series, there is the possibility that some of the apparent oversights can be rectified.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Media complies with liberal NY23 narrative

"Moderates need not apply" - That's the gist of the major media message about the mess in the New York special congressional election, straight from the White House. This idea is -- to use a technical term -- a giant load.

Dede Scozzafava was waaaay off the reservation. She's beyond "moderate". I noted on DPUD that she was Arlen Specter in drag, as confirmed by her subsequent endorsement of the Democrat.

Of course, however that election turns out, the wrong lessons are sure to be learned by all...

If Hoffman (Conserv.) squeaks out a victory, it will be "game on" for the grassroots, which is overstating the reality of their electoral abilities. Much as I identify myself with the grassroots on an ideological basis, the most vocal base supporters do not understand how to frame a message to save their lives. They will pound the word "conservative" without breaking down individual positions and explaining them. Given that swing voters are not overly ideological, waving the conservative flag in a general election is about as meaningful as saying a candidate prefers skim milk to whole.

If Owens (Dem.) wins, the self-styled realists in the GOP (-false realists, I say-) will blame the base for their misbehavior and backing a candidate who "can't win". Of course, this is to miss the point entirely that Scozzafava should not have been the endorsed candidate in the first place. And guess whose fault that is.

Hoffman may not have been the ideal candidate to run in that race, but had he been the endorsed candidate he should have been expected to win in an (narrowly) Republican district with the political momentum swinging away from Obama. Of course, Hoffman was not the endorsed candidate, and it has been one heckuva strange election, so he may lose. Either way, I don't think there's much to be learned about the national political environment from that race.

--Update-- ~11-pm
I actually laughed when I saw Charlie Gibson say this live.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Micheletti Caves in Honduras

Obama "wins". Fausta has the details.

Reconciliation government, November elections honored, a generation of Hondurans feel the weight of completely unnecessary American interference.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Weakest Caffeine Addiction Ever

Apparently pro-basketballer Caron Butler had a tough time giving up Mountain Dew:

Honestly, those first two weeks without The Dew [were] the roughest two weeks of my life. I'm talking headaches, sweats and everything. Before that I drank at least six 12-ounce Mountain Dews a day.

Dude? That is pathetic. Lemme do some math for you. One 12-oz serving of Dew has 54.5 mg of caffeine... times a six-pack and you have 327 mg of caffeine per day.

Wikipedia says drip coffee has (to take the middle of the given range) 145 mg caffeine per 7-oz serving. So your six pack of Dew is about two and a quarter cups of coffee. And honestly, who the heck drinks 7-oz cups of coffee?

Dude, you have the weakest caffeine "addiction" ever. Coffee drinkers drink your daily allotment with breakfast. Then they go to work and drink some more. And maybe a pick-me-up in the afternoon. A single Starbucks tall coffee has 240 mg. An Excedrin tablet has more caffeine than a can of Dew.

Well, slightly more "extreme" would be those two-liter bottles he used to drink during games. Approx 307 mg in the whole thing. So yes, he got a lift, but night sweats? Come on now.

Nobody give this man a beer, please. It could end his career.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lefty Pushback on Honduras

Interesting insinuations here from a TPM blogger who linked to me...

Apparently Forbes published a counter-argument to the CRS report arguing for the Micheletti government. A few things occur to me -

(1) The Honduran Constitution (and state of Constitutional jurisprudence) looks like a hot mess.
(2) The CRS report is not the only analysis reaching that assessment.
(3) The Honduran Supreme Court can strike down measures in the Constitution (Article 218, section 9 specifically)???
(4) If the striking of Article 218 Section 9 (granting the Congress the authority to interpret the Constitution) was legitimate, then the Court has amazingly broad authority to, well, pretty much do as it pleases.
(4a) If the striking of said provision was not legitimate, then the Congress retains that authority and could rightfully act upon it.
(5) The Court and the Congress were aligned on this, so whoever had the power to interpret and enforce the provisions of the Constitution, the relevant party was on board.
(6) The Honduran court cited US precedent? (Marbury v Madison) -to strike down a provision of the Constitution?? This is why conservatives don't like the introduction of foreign legal reasoning into US Constitutional jurisprudence.

But back to the TPM blogger, handle "neoboho":
The Report, CRS LL File No. 2009-002965, was requested by Republican Aaron Schock, one of the group of U.S. legislators who recently visited Honduras in order to undermine official Obama Administration policy on the Honduran coup d'etat. [...] The question lingers: do we have here a case of incompetence within the Law Library of Congress, or do we have a case of intentional disinformation, a species of propaganda?

"Undermine" Obama policy? Wow, there's a list of "undermining" efforts from the left as long as my arm.... Nancy Pelosi's trip to Syria for starters...

Incompetence or malice? No chance CRS could be right, eh? The Forbes bit is interesting, but not fully persuasive.

Back to the Forbes bit for the conclusion:
By embracing these weak rationalizations, the Law Library of Congress has rendered itself complicit in the illegal acts of an authoritarian and undemocratic regime.

And that's where they lose me. For all the aforementioned hot mess, you have two sides: One is a Chavez-ista unconstitutionally prepping the way for his lifetime Presidency, and the other side is just about literally everybody else, Congress, Court, military, who clearly made some mistakes (as just about anybody has acknowledged), but are holding elections in November which do not include interim President Micheletti.

As to who best represents "authoritarian and undemocratic", I'm looking at Zelaya, not the guys holding an election.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Koalas for Competition

Opponents of Obamacare need a mascot. Some sort of anthropomorphised critter with a funny accent. Say... a koala? Kangaroo maybe? Marsupials are pretty cute, maternal creatures, no? (Ok, maybe not all of them.)

MoveOn is running a celebri-tard ad promoting "competition" with the public option. Now, we don't believe for a second that it's really about competition, but if that's what they're going with, I think we need to meet them on that field of battle. Americans like competition. Competition is usually a GOP talking point, which the left has smartly coopted. They're using it because it works. Take it back from them.

Said spokes-creature should say something like, "Hey, you buy your car insurance from some lizard headquartered in Maryland, and he saves you money, right? If Congress wants more competition, why don't they allow competition across state lines? Then you'd have all sorts of people competing for your business. Like me. Or maybe that lizard fellow."

Interstate competition surely isn't the be-all/end-all of healthcare, but it's a potent rhetorical check against the bogus "competition" motivation for the public option.

Have the koala sell it. People will understand.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pen mightier than the keyboard

Apparently kids write better and faster with a pen than on a keyboard.

I discovered a long time ago that I write very differently on paper than on the computer. Some of the better stuff I've written was outlined and rough-drafted on paper and later pieced together and edited on the computer. Even if I've already started drafting on the computer, jotting a few notes down on paper has often proved useful.

Funny how the brain works.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Case Study in RINOism: The Chamber of Commerce

Ok, the Chamber isn't "Republican" and therefore is technically ineligible for a RINO designation, but who are we kidding?

The Chamber supported the $787-bil stimulus earlier this year. Now that the Chamber has found religion on "free enterprise" and is opposing Cap & Trade and Obamacare, the Chamber is finding it's old pal Barack Obama is less chummy.

Politico - White House plan: Neuter the Chamber

[Valerie] Jarrett said she requested a meeting with [Chamber President] Donohue when she first heard about the [Chamber's free enterprise] campaign months ago. At the meeting, she said, she brought up the Chamber’s support for the bailout of the financial system last fall and the $787 billion stimulus package passed earlier this year.

“How do ask for all that government assistance and then say you believe only in the free-market system,” Jarrett recalled asking Donohue. “And he really didn’t have an answer.”

The Chamber says that there’s no disconnect between its support of those economic rescue programs and its new campaign. Those programs, said Josten, were necessary to pull the country out of the deep recession.

“We in the rest of the business community put aside our normal free-market tendencies,” said Josten. “We stepped out of our box.”

What purpose does the Chamber serve at this point? They abandoned small/independent business long ago, capped off with their support for the stimulus, and Big Business is discovering that they can cozy up to His Magnificence, Barack H. Obama II without the intercession of the Chamber. Nike, Apple, and PG&E have left the Chamber. They lack a constituency and they lack a coherent message. Project "Neuter the Chamber" accomplished.

At what point did the Chamber think selling itself out on the stimulus would earn them any favor with the White House when it came to supporting business in this country?

How many companies pulled out of the Chamber over their support for the stimulus?

Attention NFIB, you have a great opportunity to eat some of the Chamber's lunch.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Quote of the Day: The Un-COLA

Rep. Jeff Flake on the proposed $250 bonus payment:
"If Congress doesn’t even have the political will to tell seniors that there will be no COLA this year because there was no inflation, what are the chances that we’re able to find hundreds of billions of dollars in Medicare cuts to pay for the healthcare bill?"

Many seniors may refer to their COLAs as a "raise", but the Cost Of Living Adjustment is merely a nominal adjustment for inflation. Seniors are actually better off without a COLA this year (accompanied by deflation) than had there been inflation plus an equivalent COLA increase.

The $250 is political redistribution at it's most crass.

And no, no serious person believes the reduction in Medicare will approach the order of magnitude promised by the administration.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Quote of the Day: Staffing Up

Russ at AoSHQ muses on Tim Pawlenty's recent hiring of numerous McCain-08 staffers:

You don't hear a lot of ESPN talking heads downplaying the Lakers' chances at making the playoffs this year due to their inability to sign any former Washington Generals starters, do you? Wouldn't this be somewhat of a similar situation?

Now, to be fair, not all of McCain's staffers were incompetent. But some of them certainly were. It's just not the roster I'd be examining if I were building a staff. And of course, Pawlenty's not the only Republican building on a base of people who just got their behinds handed to them. This is a very pervasive tendency in Republican hiring patterns -- and that's one of the things I worry about for 2010 and beyond.

Friday, October 09, 2009

In Da Nobel Club

Now that I've overcome most of my shock (and had a little fun at Obama's expense today regarding his Nobel Prize), I can't really fault Obama for the Nobel committee's ... uh... prematurity.

Everybody - everybody - was caught off guard by this, even Obama, who clearly had no speech prepared. Obama delayed his public remarks for about an hour and a half past when it was announced he was to begin. The President rightly acknowledged the rather speculative nature of the award in his speech. That was about all he could do.
Groucho Marx - "I don't want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member."
This is, of course, widely viewed as a slap at George W. Bush. Apparently that's enough for the Euroweenies. This is yet another demonstration of why conservatives don't put much currency in the opinions of the self-professed Euro-elite. We're not interested in their fickle approval, and we don't have a favorable view of any club that would make Obama a member for such petty reasons.

If it weren't so funny I'd be offended

DNC spox says, "The Republican Party has thrown in its lot with the terrorists - the Taliban and Hamas this morning - in criticizing the President for receiving the Nobel Peace prize."

Just to be clear...

Things that are treasonous or anti-American (or racist): criticizing the merit of Obama's Nobel Prize, criticizing Obamacare, criticizing Cap & Trade, criticizing the stimulus, attending a Tea Party, heck - just criticizing Obama generally.

Things that are not treasonous or anti-American (or racist): Wanting to pull out of one or more wars before they are won, being a "human shield" for a dictatorial regime, saying the opposition wants Americans to die, suggesting the government was complicit in 9/11 (Van Jones, Rev. Wright, many, many others), calling Colin Powell a "house nigger".

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Maggie cuts to the crux of the matter

Back when it was ok to call a socialist a socialist...

Monday, October 05, 2009

Govt is the biggest cash hoarder

Part of the theory behind the stimulus was to rectify the "paradox of thrift" by spending when others are supposedly hoarding cash. But the government itself has ironically become a mega-hoarder of cash. They borrowed the funds --taking that money out of the economy-- and have been doling the dollars out slowly.

The stimulus has exacerbated the situation it was supposedly intended to rectify.

This is almost certainly not an original idea on my part, but I haven't seen it elsewhere.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

What's on Joe's DVR

Fringe has been excellent, and is probably the best show I'm watching right now. They did a great job picking up the intensity from last season's mind-blower revelation. Fringe is probably better than The X-Files was when The X-Files was still a good show. They even worked in a reference to "the X designation". Nice job.

Dollhouse is not working as well. The show really found its stride at the end of the first season, but didn't pick up on the intensity of last season like Fringe did. Some long-arc seeds have been planted, but Joss faces a conundrum -- If they're going to tease this bit about Echo "waking up" for the entire season it's going to get boring. If they actually have Echo "awaken", they're going to run out of show material by the end of the season. Given that the second season is probably the last season, I'd rather see it go out with a bang.

I haven't seen Flash Forward, but I hear good things. Should probably check that out.

The premier of the new NCIS spinoff didn't work for me. Not worth getting involved with. Probably has something to do with the fact that I don't like Chris O'Donnell. Generally speaking I'm not into cop/detective shows, but there was something about the original NCIS cast that clicked.

The Stargate Universe premiere was passable. The campiness was kept to a low roar, mostly the Richard Dean Anderson cameo scene, which was actually pretty appropriate. After the success of Battlestar Galactica it's pretty clear they're going for a grittier feel to the Stargate franchise. Could work. Sure there were plot holes big enough to drive a truck through, but it's just Sci-Fi SyFy Channel schlock -- what are we to expect, Masterpiece Theatre? I have to think this is the last incarnation of the show though -- they've pulled the old "let's turn it up to eleven" trick with the gate twice now.

Friday, October 02, 2009

About the Stimulus

Today's as good a time as any to muse about the stimulus. A few weeks ago, VP Joe Biden was saying the stimulus was working better than he could have imagined. With today's disappointing employment figures I heard several media-types asking if we need yet another stimulus. Yowza.

Conservatives are split as to whether the stimulus is completely awful and unable to promote even short term growth, or whether government stimulus can give a short term boost at longer term expense. I find myself torn between these two ideas.

What I'm more sure of is that, at the margin, the degree of "badness" of the stimulus has to do with whether the government is spending the money on things that are of real economic value, or whether the funds are being blown on multiple upgrades of the recovery-dot-gov website, dog parks, homeless projects for cities without significant homeless problems, upgrading airports for nobody, and other generally porky projects.

But assuming that stimulus can "work" (at later, greater expense), in order to stop unemployment quickly it must be spent swiftly and profligately. This is in direct conflict with the idea that it be spent smartly, which would take some time and careful planning.

The Obama stimulus is in many respects the worst of both worlds. It was jammed down with little to no planning, assuring maximal waste. But it was also designed to spend out relatively slowly in such a way that the short term boost (that may or may not be theoretically possible) would not materialize.

Thus, I criticize the stimulus both for being spent too slowly and also too wastefully, yet accomplishing the goals of neither model.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Carla Bruni Sings

For the benefit of those who wouldn't be caught dead reading Ace:

Monday, September 28, 2009

Defense Roundup

Obama's dithering on Afghanistan is simultaneously a potential national security tragedy and the potential long-term undoing of any Democratic party credibiility on national security issues for maybe a decade or so. The war in Afghanistan may not poll well right now, but Obama's handling of it will poll much, much worse in the event of either a pull-out or --perhaps worse yet-- a limited engagement even more reminiscent of Vietnam than is presently the case.

(1) Obama has apparently only spoken with General McChrystal once since taking office. Good job, Barry.

(2) I've been holding back on criticism of Secretary Gates, but I frankly do not believe him when he said this to George Stephanopoulos (bold added):

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, as you said, you hope to have this done in a few weeks and you want to avoid failure, as well. But the president has not made any -- any decision at all on resources?

Has he -- has he ruled it out?

GATES: No, I haven't even given him General McChrystal's request for resources. I have the -- I -- I'm receiving the -- the report. I'm going to sit on it until I think -- or the president thinks -- it's appropriate to bring that into the discussion of the national security principles.

Really? That's not part of the conversation already? If I believed Gates I'd ask what the hold-up was, but I don't.

This malarkey about tactics vs strategy is just as ridiculous as the last time we had a tactics-vs-strategy debate. COIN is the only way to go.

My current assessment of Secretary Gates is that he's a very politically attuned creature who will say and do what he thinks he needs to in order to avoid what he perceives as worst case scenarios for the military. I think we have seen this in the arguments about missile defense (there is still a scaled-back program) and on defense appropriations generally. I think he genuinely has the military's best interest at heart, but will make any compromise necessary to further it. He's a man who will take what he can get and be happy with it. (In retrospect, this assessment was probably equally true of Gates under Bush.)

(3) It's a good thing the military is no longer being politicized... oh wait... "Obama told Petraeus and McChrystal to "scrub" assessments". My bad.

(4) We will take care of our veterans... unless they happen to be WWII era Alaska Territorial Guard. Screw them. Those 26 guys were really breaking the bank...

(5) Oh, and about that scaled back missile defense. Bad move.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Misappropriating Reagan

Reagan's most pie-in-the-sky idea was getting rid of all nuclear weapons. Sounds great. Not particularly realistic, but in a world of bi-polar power, it was at least conceivable.

Obama approvingly quoted Reagan in a recent speech to the UN:
"A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. And no matter how great the obstacles may seem, we must never stop our efforts to reduce the weapons of war. We must never stop until all -- we must never stop at all until we see the day when nuclear arms have been banished from the face of the Earth."

Well, we live in a different world now. It is most certainly possible to win a nuclear war against virtually any nation on the planet, just not Russia, and probably not a good idea to pick a fight with China. Disarmament only works when other parties reciprocate. I don't see North Korea (or China, for that matter) disarming, nor Iran stopping its nuclear program.

The structure of the nuclear game has changed, and not all of the players are rational actors. Quoting Reagan in this context is naive and dishonest.

ABC pulling a "Kings" with "Defying Gravity"?

With only four episodes remaining in the first season, ABC has unexpectedly and inexplicably stopped airing the show. While there is some glimmer hope that they will air the last four episodes at some point in the future (like NBC did with "Kings"), the writing appears to be on the wall.

Another excellent show falls to inept marketing.

At least when I watch the schlock on SyFy I know they're going to finish the season. If SyFy can finish a season of the horrendous "Flash Gordon", ABC can finish the season of the much more captivating "Defying Gravity". Why do the major nets even bother exploring this stuff if they aren't going to get behind it?

Give me liberty a full season or give me death some crappy reality show!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Quote of the Day: Carter

Newt on our Honduras policy:
"... This is waging war against Democracy. I mean, this is worse than anything I can remember Carter doing."

White House searching CRS Honduras Report

[UPDATED -- State Department also searching on Gutierrez. See below]

Norma C. Gutierrez may wish to brush up her resume, as somebody in the White House noticed the Congressional Research Service report and is searching for the string, "crs norma c. gutierrez".

White House search hit

Ms. Gutierrez wrote the following, which was quoted in a recent Wall Street Journal piece:
"Available sources indicate that the judicial and legislative branches applied constitutional and statutory law in the case against President Zelaya in a manner that was judged by the Honduran authorities from both branches of the government to be in accordance with the Honduran legal system."

Given that I don't even seem to appear in the first hundred google hits for that string, the Executive Office of the President seems to be digging quite deeply on this.

Ignorance can no longer be an excuse for this tragically mistaken policy. Obama needs to man up and fire some people at State. Possibly the Secretary.

If instead we find that Ms. Gutierrez suddenly finds herself out of a job, we will know who to blame.

***** Update *****
Department of State is also suddenly curious about Ms. Gutierrez:

State Dept hit

Monday, September 21, 2009

Intertubes Round-up

Stories I've been following...

WSJ: The Congressional Research Service confirms what a lot of us have believed for some time:
Now a report filed at the Library of Congress by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides what the administration has not offered, a serious legal review of the facts. "Available sources indicate that the judicial and legislative branches applied constitutional and statutory law in the case against President Zelaya in a manner that was judged by the Honduran authorities from both branches of the government to be in accordance with the Honduran legal system," writes CRS senior foreign law specialist Norma C. Gutierrez in her report.

Our Honduran policy is by far the most mysterious policy the Obama administration had taken, foreign or domestic. There is no rational reason to behave the way they are behaving. There are no foreign policy goals to be achieved by taking this path. It defines idiocy.

(2) Are unpaid internships illegal? Short answer, it appears so.

(3) As Gibbs said, there's no quid pro quo with the missile defense deal. Indeed. The technical merits of the missile defense change are debatable, but you'd think Obama could at least have chosen a day other than the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland to screw the Poles and the Czechs. That's "Smart Power" for you.

(4) Separate but equal?

(5) Pethokoukis asks, "Did Romney flip-flop on TARP?" -- Looks that way to me. (Just for the record, I was for a bank bailout. It probably could have been done better initially, and managed better subsequently, but letting the global banking system collapse was not a real option from where I sit.)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

TIME's drive-by on Beck

Let me preface this by saying I'm not exactly a big Glenn Beck fan. I used to watch him some on Headline News, but since he's gone over to Fox I don't care for his new style.

That said, TIME magazine's cover story, "Mad Man", explores Beck in a typical "drive-by media" fashion. ("Drive-by media" being a useful Limbaugh-ism)

Take this for example:
Some days "they" are the network of leftist community organizers known as ACORN — and his indictment of the group is looking stronger every day. But he also spins yarns of less substance. He tells his viewers that Obama's volunteerism efforts are really an attempt to create a "civilian national-security force that is just as strong, just as powerful as the military."

Gee, I wonder where Beck got that from?

TIME could at least do its homework. Take-downs are much more effective that way. It's not like Beck pulled it out of thin air, and it took me all of 60 seconds to find that on YouTube.

Then there's this:
Both left- and right-wing not-for-profit groups operate as self-anointed media watchdogs, and one of the largest of these — the liberal group Media Matters for America — has a multimillion-dollar budget. Staff members monitor Beck's every public utterance, poised to cherry-pick the most inflammatory sentences. (Conservative outfits do the same for the likes of MSNBC's Keith Olbermann.) These nuggets are used in turn to rev up donations to political parties and drive ratings for the endless rounds of talking-head shows.

Yes, but I have yet to see TIME magazine do a cover story, "Mad Man: Is Keith Olbermann Bad for America?" Of course, Olby doesn't draw the same numbers Beck does.

A liberal group called Color of Change has organized an advertiser boycott of Beck's TV show — great publicity for the group and a boon to Beck's ratings.

No mention that recent Beck subject and now-ex-czar Van Jones was a co-founder of Color of Change.

No need to wonder why people distrust the drive-by media.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Quote of the Day : Promise

Charles Krauthammer, quoting Greg Mankiw:
"Translation: I promise to fix the problem. And if I do not fix the problem now, I will fix it later, or some future president will, after I am long gone. I promise he will. Absolutely, positively, I am committed to that future president fixing the problem. You can count on it. Would I lie to you?"

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It's bad when Frum lays into Obama

David Frum managed to stop making inane complaints about Republicans being too conservative long enough to notice that Obama is screwing up his foreign policy Big Time, pretty much all over the globe.

When Frum, known as a moderate squish, is this harsh on Obama, it's pretty bad.

It's not a faultless column -- it is Frum after all. He once again perpetuates the myth of brainy Obama being too smart to believe his own rhetoric: "It remains hard to believe that the sophisticated Obama can have much personal sympathy for trade protection."

Gee, I dunno. With a very small number of exceptions like prisoner rendition and indefinite detention, Obama's pretty much done exactly what he said he was going to do on all fronts. Posed as "trade protection", a few neurons in Barack's brahman brain might object, but rephrase it as environmental protection or human rights protection and it'll all go out the window.

But for Frum, this is pretty good.

Quote of the Day: Macho Man

Bryan Curtis' story on Linda McMahon's Senate candidacy in the Daily Beast:
Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, and “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart could not be reached at press time.

Monday, September 14, 2009

In The Year 2000: Embarrassing YouTube Vids

Far into the future, in the year 2000...


... instead of showing embarrassing childhood photographs to their sons' girlfriends, parents will show embarrassing YouTube videos:

Quote of the Day: Friedman on bailouts

Kevin D. Williamson in the September 21 National Review ("Blame Milton Friedman"):
Those who endorsed National Review’s line on TARP may be pleased to know that I have been rethinking my position. There are those conservatives who ask themselves, “What would Jesus do?” There are those who ask, “What would Ronald Reagan do?” There are even a few who ask, “What would Russell Kirk do, other than pour himself a scotch and shake his head sadly before writing another 1,000 pages?” I ask myself, “What would Milton Friedman do?”

Milton Friedman would have supported a bank bailout.

Or it seems he would have, given that a bank bailout is more or less what he prescribed for the last great financial crisis, the one leading up to the Great Depression, which he dwells upon at some length in his Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960.

I love reading Williamson in NR and on Bloomberg. This has been my positional all along, though I've been wavering lately having seen where it has led.

More on the Fed:
Along with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and other institutions of that kidney, the Fed’s existence is an implicit judgment that bankruptcy law and normal market processes are insufficient in the case of banks. That may be a faulty judgment, but it is a very longstanding one, and it is owed some consideration.
Williamson isn't saying he loves TARP, just that it might have been the lesser evil.

Williamson concludes:
Likewise, those who supported the bailout must surely believe that we ought to live in a country in which the damage it is going to do will be minimized, in which it is temporary, and in which we will act with all deliberate speed to undo those federal incursions into the economy — a world in which the ratchet of statism turns both ways. Good luck with that.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Racism charges getting old

Frankly, the racism angle is reaching a laughable level of ridiculousness. Are so many people in denial about the genuine outrage against the Obama-Pelosi-Reid triumvirate?

There's this from CNN...


... and there's Maureen Dowd totally losing her shit about Joe Wilson. While I can't say that Wilson's outburst was conduct becoming of a member of Congress, it's hard to say he was exactly wrong when they subsequently meet to change the language of the legislation. How racist of Joe Wilson to speak truth to power! (And as if that were the only fib Obama told that evening, or even the biggest.)

And then there's this classic from a couple of weeks ago where MSNBC purposely edited out the fact that this particular gun-toting protester...

... was in fact black:

I guess that didn't fit the narrative of racist protesters who can't stand being governed by the black man.

Say what you will about "Faux News", there's zero credibility on the other side either.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Software FAIL

Saw an interesting new free stats tool, SOFA, which appears to be mostly a GUI binding for a bunch of other python-language stats tools. Looks like it produces nice tables (better than any other free software I've seen) so I thought I'd give it a go.

Hovering the mouse over the "import data" button shows this message: "Import data e.g. a spreadsheet, csv, or SPSS sav file."

So, I try to import a SAV file...


(Click for full-size screen cap, or just take my word for it.)

The error message reads: "Files with the file name extension '.sav' are not supported"

Go figure.

I tried renaming it to have no file extension, but it gave me a similar error.

Pawlenty standing his ground on Obamacare

This morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe, potential Presidential candidate Gov. Tim Pawlenty stood his ground against Stockholm Joe Scarborough's attacks on the attacks on Obamacare:

Pawlenty has done what few Republicans have been able to do -- calmly address the concerns behind the "death panel" claims without buying into the language, but without entirely dismissing it either. He took a very loaded question and got his message across without appearing abrasive. In a world of Obama Derangement Syndrome, that's a huge plus.

I'm liking Pawlenty more and more. I'm still unclear as to what Pawlenty's overarching philosophy might be -- the "Sam's Club Republicans" concept needs fleshed out a bit -- but he's performing well so far. I certainly prefer him to Huckabee, and probably to Romney. Whereas Pawlenty may (may) turn out to be squishy in a few areas, Romney has been all over the map. I'll take consistency over rhetoric any day.

On the subject of Obama's address to Congress, when even the Associated Press is doing fact checks and calling the math "iffy", there's a problem. Matt Welch at wrote a response that is so good and complete I wish I'd written it myself. (Reason is libertarian, not conservative.)

Monday, September 07, 2009


On a basic question of who controlled the levers of power in Congress in 2008, Republicans and Men answered correctly about 2/3 of the time. Democrats and Women were about as good as a coin flip - Independents weren't much better.

[ANES 2008 data]

Universe = people who self-reported that they voted for President in 2008

Question 1:"Do you happen to know which party had the most members in the House of Representatives in Washington BEFORE the election (this/last) month?

Question 2:"Do you happen to know which party had the most members in the U.S. Senate BEFORE the election (this/last)month?"

The results are dismal no matter how you look at it, but on these basic questions Republicans and Men were less poorly informed than Democrats and Women.

By Party IDDems Control HouseGOP Control House\\Dems Control SenateGOP Control Senate

By GenderDems Control HouseGOP Control House\\ Dems Control SenateGOP Control Senate
Male 66.3%33.7%\\65.9%34.1%

Though I'm glad Republicans outperformed, this is hardly chest-thumping data. How the hell did the party run a major election without conveying this basic information? This is a colossal failure of GOP campaign management.

Jon Lovitz re: Scientology

Lovitz on Conan:

Sunday, September 06, 2009

In the middle of the night

Good time for a beleaguered administration official to resign? Midnight Saturday on a three-day weekend.

Adios, Van Jones. Too bad you're only the symptom and not the disease.

Thursday, September 03, 2009


Yeah, Van Jones needs to go.

"Why?", you might ask. "Who's Van Jones?"

Blame the media for your ignorance. It wasn't on the ABC news tonight, probably not the other nets either.

It's only been all over the internet all day. They couldn't have possibly put anything together by 6:30pm...

Edit - 9/4/09 -
Nexis hits for "Van Jones controversy" on major networks and papers? Zero.

Because what's the big deal about a truther communist free-Mumia type advising the POTUS?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Ahead of the Curve

Time to toot my own horn here...

Case #1, Honduras motivations

Me, July 21st:
Maybe they feel they can score a "win". In doing so, they risk further alienation of friendly Latin American nations.

Mary O'Grady in the Wall Street Journal, August 30th:
This administration needs a win. Or more accurately, it can't bear another loss right now. Most especially it can't afford to be defeated by the government of a puny Central American country that doesn't seem to know its place in the world and dares to defy the imperial orders of Uncle Sam.

Case #2 - Stimulus Payback

Me, August 7th:
Let's cut the "stimulus" in half and pocket the rest of the money for debt reduction. We're gonna need it.

House Republican Whip Eric Cantor in USA Today, September 1:
Over $400 billion committed toward 'stimulus' will not be spent this year. Let's redirect that money to reduce the deficit and start to get our financial house in order.

Ok, so I'm not the first person to suggest cutting our losses on the badly implemented stimulus. But I was there weeks ahead of Cantor. And I'm pretty sure I was on the leading edge with that Honduran "win" analysis.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Minimal Wellstone-ing

Most of the "Wellstone" political martyr talk wasn't done by the Dem party or the Kennedy family, but by the media. Almost every news and quasi-news show reporting Ted's death mentioned health care within ninety seconds of mentioning his death. The service (from what I gather, I didn't watch it) was mostly tactful.

Except for this (via HotAir):

Let us pray for Obamacare... At the least, this is pretty tacky. But ya can't attack little kids, can you?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Wright wrong on Evolution Compromise

Author and commentator Robert Wright recently wrote a New York Times piece in which he singlehandedly attempts to arbitrate the boundaries between science and religion - “A Grand Bargain Over Evolution”. Oddly, I find Wright is generally doing more harm to the materialists, though I think he’s asking too much of both sides. It’s only a “grand bargain” if both sides agree.

I say Wright does more violence to the atheist point of view in part because religious apologists have been beaten so ferociously by others already. Since at least as early as the publication of A Brief History of Time in 1988, science has confined God’s role to the moment of the Big Bang. Wright too, seems to banish interventionism past the birth of the universe, or at least past the beginning of natural selection.

In his efforts to purge interventionism, Wright attempts to put some flesh on the bones of materialist morality. Materialists certainly have a respectable account of the development of moral sentiments, which Wright describes. I think most serious apologists would acknowledge this, though Wright unfairly confines apologists to the insufficient thinking of C.S. Lewis. The conceptual groundwork for the evolution of morality was around as early as the mid 1970s (see Mary Midgely’s 1978 book Beast and Man), and the mathematics had mostly caught up by the mid 1980s (Robert Axelrod’s The Evolution of Cooperation in 1984, and Michael Taylor’s The Possibility of Cooperation in 1987). I find it hard to believe that serious contemporary apologists are two or three decades behind in the literature.

Wright then goes on to posit an external morality independent from any concept of God. I find myself much less compatibilist than Wright on this issue. This is a topic deserving of much more attention than I’m giving it here, but Wright’s attempt to reconcile this problem with an analogy to sensory perception falls flat. There’s simply no reason to go beyond Nietzsche when discussing a materialist morality.

Where Wright really falls off the rails though, is his talk of a “higher purpose” to evolution. The introduction of teleology to evolution is a gross mistake in the understanding of evolutionary theory. The sooner one banishes teleological thinking from evolution the better one understands it. Wright talks about the “purpose” of an organ or organism without acknowledging the problematic thought process this sort of language promotes. What Wright calls the creative power of evolution is little more than a quirk of thermodynamics; Earth’s surface has experienced a localized decrease in entropy due to the energy provided by the sun and the core of the earth.

Tacking back to the religious, Wright then suggests that the teleological ends of evolution might be a peaceful global society. “Clearly, this evolutionary narrative could fit into a theology with some classic elements: a divinely imparted purpose that involves a struggle toward the good, a struggle that even leads to a kind of climax of history.” (I would suggest Wright’s own left-of-center politics has crept in to this grand historical vision.) This is juxtaposed against a materialistic “meta-natural-selection” in a multi-universal context. Some compromise!

Wright’s fundamental mistake is in telling each party that they must accept or acknowledge the intellectual kludges of the other party. His messages are largely cris-crossed to the wrong audiences. Deists may believe in a teleological evolution in order to stomach most of the science, but atheists need not accept this compromise. Atheists may imagine a set of quasi-Platonic moral facts in order to shield themselves from nihilism, but believers need not accept this.

In the opening paragraph, Wright observes, “Most scientists and most religious believers refuse to be drafted into the fight. Whether out of a live-and-let-live philosophy, or a belief that religion and science are actually compatible, or a heartfelt indifference to the question, they’re choosing to sit this one out.” In trying to sort out the vocal fight between the brash partisans on each side, Wright is needlessly stirring up philosophical hornets’ nests. If most people have reached a modus vivendi, then there’s no reason for Wright to butcher the philosophies of both sides.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Kanjorski: Rebuild Faith in Government

Congressman Kanjorski was on CNBC this morning when he left this gem pass his lips:

We have to take the time, now, to start rebuilding faith in government. I mean, after all, if we start thinking about it, the government and the people are one and the same in the American system. So, if you're going to condemn the success of government, you're condemning the success of the people.

Few words are more abrasive and offensive to conservative sensibility. As our political system drifts further away from the prescribed Constitutional order, Kanjo's statement becomes increasingly scary.

The whole video is just under 9 minutes. Skip ahead to about 6:50 to hear the question and response.

Exit questions: How many times did Kanjo use the word "exacerbate", and how many times did he use it correctly?

(Cross posted at PAWatercooler and DPUD)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Shocker: Medicare not that efficient

The Heritage Foundation notes that "administrative costs" as a percent of total costs is a grossly misleading calculation given Medicare's skew to the older, care-intensive population. Figuring administrative costs on a per person basis, Medicare has greater costs than private insurance.

Is "per person" the correct metric? Maybe not, but it sure ain't percentage of total costs.

More analysis and linkage (including some back and forth between Paul Krugman and Heritage) via Nate Benefield at the Commonwealth Foundation.

Can we now dispense with this "Medicare for all" nonsense?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Less DC-Centric Health Plan

I don't agree with 100% of this piece from The Atlantic, but it does a fine job of analyzing why our health care system is so screwy. This guy's proposals are light years ahead of anything floating around Capitol Hill this year.

It's fairly long, so allot some time.

In other health care related news, I'm giving up on co-ops. Not that they couldn't be helpful if done properly, but the potential existence of "good" co-ops wouldn't change my opinion on HR-3200 or anything that remotely looks like it, and the heated argument between conservatives over co-ops obscures the fact that HR-3200 stinks to high heaven.

Ted "Wellstone" Kennedy

All indications are that the Democrats are going to try to turn Ted Kennedy's death into a rallying cry for Obamacare. Let's hope that turns out about as well as when they exploited Paul Wellstone's memorial.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

District 9

I saw several kids under 13 at a showing of District 9. It’s not for kids. It’s rated R for a reason (and no, it hasn’t any pirates). The film has zero nudity and very little other sexually suggestive content. Given the American tolerance for violence and language, it takes a lot of both to get an R-rating without sex. Don’t take your kids to see this film. Just don’t.

I’m certainly not revealing anything new to say that District 9 has strong racial overtones. For Pete’s sake, they set it in Johannesburg. But race is an imperfect analogy for the movie, and one that the movie doesn’t force down the viewer’s throat. If you’re worried about a ham-fisted race lecture, don’t be. Look to Alien Nation for your racial commentary. Instead, worry about more mundane distractions, like character and plot.

Plausibility in science fiction is a tricky subject. Sure, the aliens have interstellar travel, impossibly powerful ray-guns, and tractor beams, but we’ve come to expect that sort of thing. On the other hand, District 9 shows us these technologies as having been developed by a race of barbarous insectoids with no notable social structure. Amidst this barbarism, exploitation by (black) African gangs*, and policing by defense contractors Multinational United (MNU), two “prawns” are able to conceal a secret, sizable both in its importance and physicality, for nigh three decades.

* - (By the way, how did we get Nigerian gangs in South Africa? Did the writers forget to look at a map, or did I miss something in the movie? edit - apparently Nigerian gangs are a real problem in S.A.)

The whole eviction notice process is likewise implausible (-perhaps even comical), but at least it gives a welcome swipe at bureaucracy and the ways people use legalism to justify deplorable actions.

It’s to the movie’s credit that one gets quite a ways in to it before it becomes apparent who the “good guy(s)” is/are, or if any were to appear. Even after that, an impulsive betrayal is,... let’s just say not very well thought-through, but keeps the audience clear that our protagonist has not become morally perfect.

All in all though, I wouldn’t say it was a particularly bad movie, but it wasn’t great either. Most of the elements are derivative of other science fiction, but they’re put together in a relatively fresh way. Sort of, “This park bench made from your recycled plastic bags.”

Final grade: B-plus.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Tenth Dimension

Visualizing ten dimensions:

(via boingboing --> Ritholz)