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.