Saturday, August 30, 2008


1. The Republicans seem to relish the comparison of Palin's inexperience to Obama's. But there is a huge distinction that no one seems to be talking about.

Aside from their tenure as elected officials, keep in mind that Obama announced his candidacy in January of 2007. he has spent more than 18 months under a microscope. And he convinced millions of voters nationwide that he was the best candidate. In short, he has the experience of earning the nomination.

Palin, in contrast has lived her whole life far from the klieg lights. And she now has the experience of having the brass ring handed to her.

2. The key here is indeed as others have noted, the appalling lack of judgement McCain has shown. Part of the reason VP candidates tend not to come as such a left-field surprise is that publicity tends to surface defects that can and should disqualify a candidate. Those defects may be old scandals, or they may be about a lack of grace in handling the pressure. But that process can save (and I'm sure has saved) nominees considerable embarassment.

None of that has happened here. When the dirt is exposed, and it will be, McCain's campaign will detonate. I think the reason Obama's campaign quickly backed off their criticism is that they know that Palin is a house of cards, and they won't need to do more than breathe to knock it over.

3. The Rebublicans will insist that Palin is Obama's mirror image. But I think Palin's democratic equivalent would be Gavin Newsom (or would if Palin were better known). San Francisco is actually slightly larger in population than the state of Alaska. Newsom is a hero to the left, just as Palin will be to the right. Neither has any national or foreign policy cred. And just as Newsom is tainted by minor scandal that mixes the official with the personal, so is Palin.

Think about how the talking heads would have reacted if Obama had picked Newsom.

Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain picks Palin as VP!

Well, at least we know his VP pick is, like McCain, a supporter of torture:

And long, long, LONG ago served with distinction:

And shares McCain's lofty intellectual standards:




Give McCain credit for being rather innovative in his choice of VP -- most Republicans would pick someone whose scandals were still under wraps, and who did not completely undermine the central theme of their campaign.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Just wow.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Where the hell is everybody?

When I saw this story, I assumed the leftosphere would go in to full-on outrage mode:

A voting system used in 34 states contains a critical programming error that can cause votes to be dropped while being electronically transferred from memory cards to a central tallying point, the manufacturer acknowledges.

The problem was identified after complaints from Ohio elections officials following the March primary there, but the logic error that is the root of the problem has been part of the software for 10 years, said Chris Riggall, a spokesman for Premier Election Solutions, formerly known as Diebold.

The flawed software is on both touch screen and optical scan voting machines made by Premier and the problem with vote counts is most likely to affect larger jurisdictions that feed many memory cards to a central counting database rapidly.
IOW, the tin foil hat brigade has now had its core premise validated by the worst presumed offender. IOW, the basic premise of our political system has been revealed to be a lie -- not by a wide-eyed conspiracy theorist, but by the key conspirator.

Yet with a few exceptions, the story seems to have sunk beneath the waves of convention and McMansion fervor.

Oh, and our election watchdogs tasked with preventing such outrages? They want to solve the manifold problems with these systems -- by lowering the bar electronic voting machines have to clear. And that would be the Democrats I am talking about.

I used to be amused. But now I'm just disgusted.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Aesop's Foibles

Perhaps you remember the fable of the ant and the grasshopper. (If not, you may remember the movie "A Bug's Life," loosely based thereon.)

The fable concerns a grasshopper who has spent the warm months singing away while the ant (or ants in some editions) worked to store up food for winter. After the winter has come, the grasshopper finds itself dying of hunger, and upon asking the ant for food is only rebuked for its idleness. The story is used to teach the virtues of hard work and saving, and the perils of improvidence. Some versions of the fable state a moral at the end, along the lines of:

Idleness brings want
To work today is to eat tomorrow
It is best to prepare for the days of necessity
In a rational world, this story would be inscribed in parchment and hand-delivered to the CEOs of GM, Ford and Chrysler in response to this:

Aug. 22 (Bloomberg) -- General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., Chrysler LLC and U.S. auto-parts makers are seeking $50 billion in government-backed loans, double their initial request, to develop and build more fuel-efficient vehicles.

The U.S. automakers and the suppliers want Congress to appropriate $3.75 billion needed to back $25 billion in U.S. loans approved in last year's energy bill and add $25 billion in new loans over subsequent years, according to people familiar with the strategy. The industry is also seeking fewer restrictions on how the funding is used, the people said today.

GM and Ford lost $24.1 billion in the second quarter as consumers, battered by record gasoline prices, abandoned the trucks that provide most of U.S. companies' profit and embraced cars that benefit overseas competitors such as Honda Motor Co. U.S. auto sales may drop to a 15-year low this year and fall even more in 2009, analysts have said.

I will feel tremendous sympathy for the line workers who get shafted when these titans of industry finally sink beneath the waves in the (near) future. But I have zero sympathy for the folks making decisions at the grasshopper factory.

It takes some serious chutzpah to ask for government help now. It is long past time to let them die the death they have worked so hard to bring about, and let the ants inherit the earth.


I could go on. But there is obviously nothing here that would convince a rational investor to put a damned cent into these companies, let alone tens of billions. The money these grasshoppers would fritter away yet again could do infinitely more good in the hands of a few enterprising ants.

Friday, August 22, 2008

I smell a meme building...


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

This week's nutshell moment

Everything that is wrong with the commentariat, and by extension the larger population, is on display in this pathetic column in the WaPo from Sally Quinn, It follows the Richard Cohen model of proudly admitting one's own disqualifying character flaws because the (un)penitent is so blind that s/he does not realize how pathetic the admission really is.

The details are all on display @ No More Mister Nice Blog. In short, Quinn reveals her own infantilized view of the role of our Daddy-in-Chief.

When I was little, I had a recurrent dream that there was a terrible earthquake. My father, his body a horse with wings, swooped down from the sky, kneeled so I could jump on his back and flew away just as the earth cracked open beneath me. It was my most comforting dream. I want to live in that world again. I want to live in John McCain's world.
It goes on and on like that.

This jaw-dropping piece raises two questions for me. First, do enough American voters operate from this kind of logic-free, magical world view to put John McCain in the White House? And I am increasingly afraid the answer will be yes.

The second question is whether this sad state of affairs is hardwired, or if the confluence of organized religion and dumb as dirt media have made it so (or at least worse). I don't know the answer there, but I am damned sure that those two factors ain't helping any.

I think Obama is running a good, though certainly not great campaign that appeals to our better angels. A month or two ago, I was confident that his personal gifts, combined with the perfect storm of a disastrous incumbent, would be enough to overcome the troglodyte contingent. Now I'm not so sure.

We may be fresh out of angels.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Georgia on My Mind

Frankly, the escalating conflict in the former (and future?) Soviet Union is far more important than any of the things I'm reading about in other blogs or seeing on my teevee. It has the potential to be a Cuban Missile Crisis-level event. Unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, where the right things to do at the outset was stunningly obvious, this one seems genuinely difficult. it is especially so because our options are limited by all of the Bush Adminstration's past screwups.

It is borderline silly to view our apparent abandonment of our real walk-the-walk ally in terms of domestic politics. But I was reminded of this from Dubya's greatest hits:
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (CNN) -- Almost four years ago, when U.S. President George W. Bush first met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Slovenia, it seemed he'd found a kindred spirit when it came to democratic values.

"I was able to get a sense of his soul, a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country," Bush declared after their 2001 visit.

And so he did. Putin is indeed a kindred soul, a monster just like our own Maximum Leader.

Should we risk WWIII by intervening now? I don't kow. But by the lights of realpolitik, we might never been in this position had we not (a) gotten ourselves so tied down thoroughly in Iraq and Afghanistan and (b) enthusiastically ceded the moral high ground by ginning up bullshit casus belli for the larger of those two quagmires.

From 2005:

"It is important that Russia make clear to the world that it is intent on strengthening the rule of law, strengthening the role of an independent judiciary, permitting a free and independent press to flourish," U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said this month.
There is indeed no daylight between Putin and Bush on those matters, to our everlasting shame and horror.

Update: Or not. This thing is a bit convoluted, and being steeped in domestic politics is not really good training for understanding it based on MSM reports.

But whether or not the Georgians turn out to be people we should be backing, Dubya's empty promises may well turn out to be echo of Daddy's exhortations for a democratic uprising in Iraq almost 20 years ago.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Et tu, Kruge

Maureen Dowd is as immature and petty a writer as we have on the national stage today. She has done incredible damage to our political discourse, and should have been put out to pasture long ago.

But there was that one moment, back in October 2005 when she shanked Judy Miller. That moment almost, but not quite, made up for her transgressions to that point (though she has committed many more sins since).

Paul Krugman has few sins to atone for, but he somehow got carte blanche to give another loathsome Times colleague or two the same well-deserved treatment. From his latest:

Why were the elite so hawkish? Well, I heard a number of people express privately the argument that some influential commentators made publicly — that the war was a good idea, not because Iraq posed a real threat, but because beating up someone in the Middle East, never mind who, would show Muslims that we mean business. In other words, even alleged wise men bought into the idea of macho posturing as policy.

Take that, Mr. Suck.On.This.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Deep thought for the day

While we are all hyperventilating about how a former candidate for President had an adulterous affair prior to launching his campaign and lied about it, perhaps we should remember the current candidate for President who had an adulterous affair prior to launching his campaign and lied about it.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

It isn't LIKE that...

Obama on the inflate-your-tires fuss:

Now two points, one, they know they're lying about what my energy plan is, but the other thing is they're making fun of a step that every expert says would absolutely reduce our oil consumption by 3 to 4 percent. It’s like these guys take pride in being ignorant.

It isn't like that -- it IS that. It is exactly that. Ignorance is a badge of honor.

There is a trend here -- a trend that has been building for more than a decade.

I first noticed it more than a decade ago in some of the magazines I used to read about, believe it or not, bicycles. (Yes, there are more than a handful.) One that I had a subscription to back in the early 90s was well-written and sought to truly understand the technology behind the products they reviewed. Another, which plainly targeted the younger mountain bike crowd, quoted manufacturers discussing their creations (some of which made sense, and some of which was rubbish), then effectively shrugged and said, "Duh... this technical stuff makes my brain hurt, but it sounds, like, totally rad, dude!" Expertise in the subject matter they were hired to write was not merely optional, it was actively disclaimed and mocked.

So, two magazines -- one smart and literate, one wearing its ignorance as a badge of honor. Guess which one went belly up almost a decade ago, and which one still has the largest circulation in the business?

Now the same glorification of ignorance is spreading to all facets of society. You could call it the Beavis & Buttheading of America. You saw it in the way the dead-tree crowd savaged Al Gore in 2000. You can see it in the way the meat puppets and "journalists" continue to avoid coming within a country mile of substantive coverage on any issue and stick resolutely to horse race nonsense. And you can see it in the way they deny that it is their job to debunk any of Bush's or McCain's absurdities.

Most of all, you can see it in the way the press gladly plays along with the Republican gambit of making the debate about arugula and elitism instead of Iraq and Afghanistan and energy and the economy.

Thus have we come to the main thrust of McCaine's campaign right now -- competence as epithet. Which, when you think about it, explains the love affair between McCain and his base -- both of them have many flaws, but in neither case is competence one of them.

I would love to believe that Obama's current approach -- intelligent ridicule -- will work. But I'm afraid the Beavises and Buttheads who dominate the national discourse will take just offense.

Update: Brad @ Sadly, No! echoes my point a day before I made it.

The logic of the 21st Century Democratic Party

Although the 43rd President of the United States has clearly committed too many impeachable offenses to count, we should not even initiate impeachment hearings because the 42nd President of the United States was impeached over damn near nothing at all, which means investigating the 43rd President of the United States would be seen as too political.

(Can you say it in a way that is less absurd?)

Friday, August 01, 2008

More parody-proof stupid

MoDo-ism sprouts at the WSJ:

Too Fit to Be President?

Facing an Overweight Electorate,
Barack Obama Might Find
Low Body Fat a Drawback


The candidate has been criticized by opponents for appearing elitist or out of touch with average Americans. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll conducted in July shows Sen. Obama still lags behind Republican John McCain among white men and suburban women who say they can't relate to his background or perceived values.

"He's too new ... and he needs to put some meat on his bones," says Diana Koenig, 42, a housewife in Corpus Christi, Texas, who says she voted for Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary.

"I won't vote for any beanpole guy," another Clinton supporter wrote last week on a Yahoo politics message board.

I am beginning to think that the aversion to substance among our media gods is more than just
an allergy. It is starting to look more like a full-blown phobia. "Don't for the guy because he's too skinny" -- I'm sorry, but my reservoir of ridicule has run just about dry. Anti-fitness identity politics -- who knew?

But it shouldn't stop there. Where are the articles quoting anonymous Alzheimer's people (unnamed because they don't remember them) who won't vote for anyone without major cognitive deficits? Melanoma survivors hostile to the melatonin-advantaged? And, most importantly, the Anti-Toastmasters of America, who would never vote for a guy who can deliver a speech. C'mon, guys ... there's lots more where this came from.

Update: Oh, this is rich. Turns out the basis for this journalistic malpractice is borderline sockpuppetry.

And while we are on the false flag subject...

Glennzilla provides the context utterly lacking from the MSM reporting on the recent developments in the anthrax case. In short, it seems near-conclusive that the poison sent out out with notes intended to appear to come from foreign muslims actually came from U.S. government employees.

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