Sunday, January 31, 2010

KSM trial moving

Finally, folks are starting to realize that there is some real tension between "our ideals" (as defined by President Obama) and our security.  KSM will almost certainly not be tried in New York.  At this point I don't think a Gitmo trial is out of the question. 

But I keep seeing the administration justifying the civilian trial process by looking back at seemingly successful Bush-era civilian trials. 

(1) Just because Bush did something doesn't make it right, or a good idea.
(2) Just because Bush did something doesn't mean you can do it more aggressively and still blame Bush.
(3) It's KSM, for Pete's sake!  Obama/Holder have it backwards, try the high-ups in tribunals, and if you want to put some low level schmucks in civilian court go ahead.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

State of the Union (Part 1) - Defiant

Stubborn even. 

Obama's State of the Union address gave no indication of so much as a course correction aside from a partial freeze on spending increases.  Health Care -- game on.  Economic meddling for "jobs" -- game on.  While Obama is not the only person who failed to learn any lessons from the Scott Brown election, he is surely the most consequential.  Foreshadowed by his quasi-populist anti-bank rhetoric of late, Obama has made a conscious decision to shun the centrist path.  At times in the speech he projected this arrogance with a snarky, sarcastic tone.  And they say George Bush was hubristic!  This will be his political undoing.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Obama Seems Confused (pre-SOTU)

 ... particularly on his economic message.

The bank tax and the mini-Glass-Steagall are less than impressive policies.  While some sort of FDIC-like counter-cyclical bailout insurance kitty funded by the financial sector cannot be categorically dismissed, the timing and the rhetoric of these announcements were unwelcome.  With respect to the timing, Obama seems to have forgotten that there was a reason TARP was passed --  several major banks were failing, and if one or two had fallen they all probably would have.  With the Federal Reserve still officially worried about deflation, knee-capping the major mechanism for stabilizing the money supply seems ill-informed.  Specifics of the implementation aside, the bank tax should have been rolled out at least a year from now rather than, conveniently, as a distraction from the Democrats' loss of the Massachusetts Senate seat.  Regarding the mini-Glass-Steagall, the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the UK (which is for the moment still held by Labour) thinks Obama's proposals would not have prevented the crisis had they been in place (and would therefore not preclude future crises), and undermine the effort at a global regulatory consensus.  That's Smart Power for ya.

Rhetorically, Obama chose to go Lefty rather than centrist when rolling out the bank tax.  There's actually a reasonable, calm, centrist justification for some sort of insurance fund for too-big-to-fail institutions.  Obama didn't go there.  Instead, he railed about getting our money back from the bankers.  However, the banks he's taxing are mostly ones that have already paid back the TARP money --with interest.  Remember that extra "profit" from TARP that Uncle Sam made?  The money the Congress was looking to turn into their own personal "Main Street" slush fund for "jobs"?  The banks that paid back that money, some of whom didn't want bailed out in the first place, are the ones Obama chose to target with his left-populism.  When are we going to get our money back from General Motors and Chrysler, the corporate hosts for the parasitic UAW?  About a quarter 'til never, that's when.

The optical justification for this seems to be twofold - (1) Make the Republicans defend the unpopular banks, and (2) appear angry.  Appearing angry is important insofar as David Plouffe et al think anger qua anger is the essential catalyst that propelled Scott Brown to victory, no matter the object of that anger.  Besides being a substantive policy error, I don't even think this was a smart political move.  Obama is an increasingly polarizing figure who could use a little centrist mojo.  Mr. Calm-and-Cerebral was the man who made Christopher Buckley's and David Brooks' nether regions tingle, not Mr. Angry-Retributive-Bank-Basher.

Grasping at straws, Obama leaked a plan to freeze non-Defense discretionary spending. Check that, "non-Security" discretionary spending.  (Recall that Obama mocked such freezes in a 2008 debate.  Despite his flaws, McCain looks better and better all the time.)  While this is a much larger rhetorical concession than a substantive one, this policy reveals a fundamental confusion about the official economic religion, Keynesianism, or at the very least, a willingness to commit Keynesian heresy for electoral purposes.  The last thing a Keynesian should do in a recession is trim government spending, and the Left has gone apoplectic.  Maddow continues to bark about Herbert Hoover with unintended irony.

[I didn't know political appointees received bonuses.  For what reason?  How would such a bonus be calculated, or on what performance basis would one be awarded?]

I expect to hear more muddle about a new-found sense of fiscal responsibility tonight.  But I also expect to hear about more poorly informed interventionism to "create jobs" that will have the opposite effect.  (Why is it a good idea to subsidize those who "choose public service", i.e. bureaucrats?  Government already employs more than the manufacturing sector.)  Even the Schumer-Hatch payroll tax compromise is not without its perverse incentives to fire current employees and hire the unemployed (making sure to have a net increase in employees). 

There's too much confusion - I can't get no relief.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Open Thread

For any comments on Mass, Twitter, the price of tea in China...

My grandfather died earlier today, so my commentary will probably be light for a few days.

Update 1/21

Here's the obit in the local paper.  The link should be good for at least a couple of months.

I'm guessing this picture is about two years old.  It would have been nice if somebody had combed his hair before they snapped the shot, but it's an accurate reflection of his state of self-awareness at the time.

It's amazing what can go wrong even with a pre-planned mortuary service.  I'll just leave it at that.  And the pastor was incommunicado for two days, which held up the publishing of the obituary since we couldn't officially confirm the use of the church until last evening.

--Matt, I'll never forget the "praying pants".

Monday, January 18, 2010

Andy Harris is back in the saddle in MD-1 Congressional Poll

2008 was a year of tragic betrayal for Republicans in Maryland's 1st Congressional District. Andy Harris, a conservative backed by the Club for Growth, won his primary election against incumbent Republican Wayne Gilchrest. 

Naturally the party backed Gilchrest despite his eroding conservatism.  Gilchrest's Lifetime ACU rating was 57, which as I've argued, is a generally tolerable score for a moderate Republican in a swing district.  Problem being, Gilchrest's 2007 and 2008 ACU scores were 36 and 18 respectively -- not a good trend -- and the district is not a swing district, it's a solid R+13 district.

Upon losing, Gilchrest and his lackeys endorsed the Democrat in the race, who ended up winning.  (Hey, I thought it was the Club for Growth knuckleheads who were tearing the party apart!)

So I took great pleasure in reading how Harris is beating the pants off the Democratic incumbent in re-match polling, and the district is ranked #5 most likely to switch parties by the Washington Post.

Congratulations to State Sen. Harris, and keep up the good work.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tucker Carlson slaps the tea bag out of Katrina's mouth

Tucker Carlson did the world a favor and politely asked Katrina Vanden Heuvel to stop using the expression "tea bagger" after she had done so about three times on ABC's This Week.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if every time a liberal media member used that disgusting term on television somebody would ask him or her not to?

Indeed it would.  It's juvenile in the extreme that this expression finds life outside the dark recesses of lefty blogs.

Good on Tucker.  Tucker Carlson is now relevant again because he has launched a website, the Daily Caller.  This is the only reason I violated my self-imposed policy against watching any program featuring Katrina Vanden Heuvel. In the future, Mr. Carlson's precence will be insufficient reason to violate this policy.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Blogger Template Update

Some settling of contents may occur.  Product packaged by weight, not volume.  May cause irreversible damage to the kidneys and liver.  Your mileage may vary.

If anything is seriously FUBR'd after a day or so leave me a comment.


Ok, I think it's more or less done/ok.  I needed a wider template (as I was frequently posting embedded videos larger than my posting area), I wanted three-columns in order to jam more stuff "above the fold", and I needed a newer template that worked better with the blogger gadgets stuff. Now I should have more flexibility to add and remove components like a normal human being instead of fudging around in the template HTML.

Might need a little color, though not sure about the best way to do that.  Might bring back the logo in some form.  But for now, it's pretty much done.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Coakley: No Catholics in the ER

Coakley quoted on a radio program (Red Mass Group, via Gabe at AoSHQ):
Ken Pittman: Right, if you are a Catholic, and believe what the Pope teaches that any form of birth control is a sin. ah you don't want to do that.

Martha Coakley: No we have a seperation of church and state Ken, lets be clear.

Ken Pittman: In the emergency room you still have your religious freedom.

Martha Coakley: (...stammering) The law says that people are allowed to have that. You can have religious freedom but you probably shouldn't work in the emergency room.

Coakley's polling numbers continue to degrade as it becomes increasingly obvious what Obamacare entails.

Two things are happening here -

(1) A person's negative right to keep the government from interfering in one's seeking of emergency contraception (or other controversial procedure or drug) is magically morphing into a positive right to have that service provided by somebody else, who would then have a corresponding duty to provide it;

(2) When managing the health of Americans is a paramount concern of the state, every aspect of life is subject to government control -- religion, income, occupation, sexuality, food, habits, hobbies, etc.... Everything that makes your life yours becomes a potential object of political discussion.

Wikipedia says about 44% of Massachusetts residents are Catholic. While surely not all of them agree with Rome's teachings on birth control (or other subjects in Humanae Vitae), I doubt many would be willing to force their fellow Catholics to perform an act against their conscience.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Quote of the Day: Faith

Actor Adam Baldwin (of "Chuck", "Firefly"):

I find secularism's faith in men disturbing.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Battlestar Galactica: The Plan

The belatedly aired "Battlestar Galactica: The Plan" promised to reveal the Cylon side of the saga and shake the audience's perception of the entire series.


Well, the "plan" was to kill all humans in a nuclear holocaust. That didn't work, so the oft-repeated premise of "... and they have a plan" is pretty much blown out of the water. It was kind of a let-down, though anybody who had watched the entire series had pretty much figured out that "the plan", whatever it was, was poorly defined and subject to change.

"The Plan" expands upon the idea that John/#1 is the chief orchestrator of the Cylon shenanigans. We're shown glimpses of the Original/"Final" five as John/#1 tests and tortures them. They come out in a fairly positive light, as the audience had pretty much figured out by virtue of watching the entire series. We're given a half-hearted insinuation that Baltar slipped Adama the note from the beginning of the series revealing that there were only twelve Cylon models, but frankly this was too weakly suggested to give it much credence, and it really wouldn't make sense in the context of the rest of the series.

The only real, hard revelation was the idea that certain Cylons developed reservations about destroying humanity, and were more controlled by John than had previously been suggested. Manipulation aside, the moral struggle of the Cylons is pretty weak tea. After all, they do continue to hunt humanity towards extinction until the New Caprica colony is discovered, and for some time after humanity's escape.

So, the plan is that there is no plan -- just a bunch of audibles called by #1 -- and cylons #2 through 12 really aren't all that bad. What a disappointment.

Friday, January 08, 2010

New Domino's, New Coke

Ok, nobody's going to confuse a Domino's pizza with something pulled out of a brick oven in Brooklyn, let alone anything genuinely Italian. But the pizza was ok, it was fairly consistent, it showed up at your door in a reasonable amount of time, and it didn't break the bank. Domino's built a half-billion dollar company on that pizza.

Hey, let's totally change it!

Um, how about, "no"? Sounds a little "New Coke" to me. Focus groups tell you all sorts of things... and then sometimes people go out and engage in completely different behavior in the real world.

If that was the new pizza that I ate on Dec 24th, then count me in the "Domino's classic" crowd. It sucked big time. The only thing I can say good about it is that the Pizza Hut pizza I had recently sucked more. (Has the Hut recently changed their formula too?)

Monday, January 04, 2010

Media Malpractice Award for 2009

The votes are in, and "Climategate" had the strongest showing for "Worst Media Malpractice of 2009" with 33% of the vote. Andrew Breitbart's Big Government blog agrees, it's the number one most under-reported story of 2009.

As Lisa pointed out in the Watercooler comment section, "[T]he MSM is still full speed ahead with their green agenda as if the email leak never happened at all. For my money, the under or non-factual reporting of Climategate has the most far-reaching consequences for the world."

Indeed, some seem more interested in finding out who the hacker/leaker/whistleblower was than in what was revealed. Perhaps the media folks bought the whole "science is settled" thing, or just lacked the technical skills to understand the manipulation problem. Also under-appreciated is the damage done to "peer review". Manipulations of the peer review process undermine the credibility that the process is supposed to bestow. "Peer reviewed" is no longer a magic bludgeon in the politics of climatology.

The climate issue, even apart from the email leak, is a chronically mis/under-reported issue. The green agenda has several potential points of failure...

  • Is the earth really warming? [-- Probably.]
  • Is the warming historically unprecedented? [-- Not really.]
  • Is the warming caused primarily or substantially by human carbon dioxide emissions? [-- Good question.]
  • Would the projected warming cause catastrophic damage to humanity? [-- For some locales, certainly yes. Others could benefit. It may be a net plus to humanity. More people die from cold than from heat each year.]
  • Would any of the proposed treaties or legislative fixes meaningfully mitigate the anticipated effects of climate change? [-- Not on your life, not by a mile.]

Of course, answering any of the above questions in a politically incorrect manner makes one a "denier" because doubt about any of those points seriously undermines the green agenda. I answer that the real deniers are those who overlook the "watermelon" (i.e. Red-green) nature of the global warming alarmists, whose "tax the West" solution is remarkably similar to recommendations socialists have been making for decades before climate change was an issue, back when folks were more concerned about the "legacy of colonialism" or some such thing. Hammer..., nails...,[some assembly required].

And what are the potential consequences for failing to report this story? Something between a massive economy-neutering tax on the United States and transferring of wealth to two-bit third world dictatorships (on the modest end), to a virtual repeal of the Industrial Age civilization (on the extreme, AlGore-ish end). -- No biggie... oh look, something shiny!


Sunday, January 03, 2010

Thoughts on the Underwear Bomber

We're told there was no "smoking gun" on the panty bomber case. That is, unless you count his dad turning him in, and the irregularities causing the UK to deny him entry, and his cash-bought ticket to the US, where he was taking no luggage. But other than that there were no smoking guns...

I maintain that Janet Napolitano's performance as DHS secretary has been wanting, but as others have pointed out, the undie-bomber case is as much a bungle of the State Department as anybody for failing to revoke his visa. But that would turn peoples' eyes toward Hillary Clinton, who maintains a Biden-esque undeserved aura of competency that is unlikely to be challenged. Few will point the figure at State when there is such a convenient scapegoat in the more obviously incompetent Napolitano. Realistically however, it was a bureaucratic failure that could have happened just as easily under Powell or Rice. State has been "rogue" for decades now, and is in need of some serious clean-up.

... And now State is closing up shop in Yemen. Strikes me as a bad move, but I could be wrong about that.

I don't begrudge Obama his vacation. (Let the man golf.) But did ABC have to dutifully report that he was leaving early because he had so much to do in DC? ABC World News under Diane Sawyer has morphed into something worse than the mere neglect and group-think it suffered under Gibson. Obviously BO and his handlers noticed the public didn't react well to Obama's nonchalant initial response and changed their tune quickly. Yeah, he's leaving early... over a week after the attempted bombing. Media FAIL.

As a footnote, this initial downplaying of possible Al Qaeda/panty-bomber ties reminds me of an abuse of language that occurred with the Hasan/Ft. Hood incident. With Hasan, people asked if it was "terrorism". Of course it was "terrorism" -- the better question is whether it was "international terrorism" or "organized terrorism" such as AQ. (Maybe "War on terrorism" isn't especially accurate, but it's a heck of a lot clearer than "man-caused disasters" and overseas contingency operations or whatever the O-bots are calling it these days.)