August 30, 2008

Why Palin?

Some think that McCain is trying for a blowout win.

I disagree. While I wouldn't go as far as the Politico, IMO McCain realized he had made a fight of it but was still on track to lose. Therefore he took a risk. He increased his chance of winning at the price of increased risk.

My cognition coldly informs me that the Palin thing could fall flat or blow up. Nevertheless, it's been twenty years since I've felt enthusiastic about anything the Republicans have shown me.

This is not the best-known passage from 'The Man in the Arena', but it is a good one:
Well for these men if they succeed; well also, though not so well, if they fail, given only that they have nobly ventured, and have put forth all their heart and strength.
When John McCain introduces himself to Theodore Roosevelt on the Other Side (if there be an Other Side), he can look him in the eye.

August 29, 2008


I thought that Palin needed seasoning and that remains a concern--how will she do against Biden abetted by a vicious media?--, but I endorse the decision now that it's made. (The AP's "news report" is chuckle spitting venom: very auspicious sign.)

McCain knows he's running in a heavily Democratic year. He's made a race out of it instead of the Obama runaway that might be expected, but the odds still favor the Democrats. (And they continue to do so even after the Palin pick, but the Democrats' after-convention glow has been cut abruptly short.)

To make it to the Oval Office, McCain must continue to be bold--and he was. Not only have I been a Palin well-wisher, but my assessment of McCain's Presidential quality has climbed sharply.

The Republicans have let me down so often that I'm not going to get carried away, but this might be more than the lesser of two evils. This might be a ticket I can affirmatively support.

Brilliant choice!

Addendum. Charles Johnson reports that Palin is a creationist.

I didn't know that and it probably won't change my vote, but I need clarification before giving the 'affirmative support' mentioned above.

IMO for all his faults, Bill Clinton was trying to look toward the future. One of my many criticisms of Bush is that his America seems like a multiracial version of the 1950s. I've repeatedly posted that today's financial markets tell us that the country's future looks worse than it did when Bush took office.

Our opponents and enemies will progress technologically even if we choose not to.

There's a saying in some circles that 20th-century technology was driven by physics whereas this century's will be driven by biology. That's too glib to be correct, but it has elements of truth.

Sometimes it's correct to stand athwart history yelling Stop!...and sometimes it's not.

Addendum #2. The surge in energy on the right blogosphere is palpable. Instead of chanting their planned exegeses on the holy words of the Obamessiah, the left is diverted to attack Palin.

McCain was likely on track to lose narrowly--quite a feat under the circumstances--, but, per an LGF commenter, the VP pick could be a game-changer.

Even though he's a centrist, with one stroke McCain might be resurrecting the Reagan coalition.

Addendum #3. Apparently Palin favors teaching creationism in public schools. I'm with Althouse commenter Alan:
Why is it when the GOP puts forward a pro-life candidate he or she seems to always carry additional kook baggage?
This is probably a showstopper for me. I'll sleep on it, but I don't think I'll be able to vote for the McCain-Palin ticket.

If America wants to turn itself into a backwater--a nuclear-armed backwater, heaven help us--while the rest of the developed and emerging worlds moves into the 21st century, my conscience requires me to speak up but it does not demand more.

Update #4 (20080901). If Charles Johnson, who is at least as adamant against teaching creationism than I am, is mollified, so, for the moment, am I. See also a thread at Chicago Boyz.

August 26, 2008

The Good Ole Elastic Claws

The NYT reports:
A woman who worked as a part-time booker for the escort service that the authorities say was patronized by Eliot Spitzer pleaded guilty on Monday to a conspiracy charge.
A part-time booker for victimless crimes. From Tanya Hollander's confession: continuing to work for QAT Consulting in this capacity, through to approximately March 6, 2008, I caused to be used facilities in interstate commerce which facilitated the carrying on of an unlawful activity, namely a business enterprise involving prostitution offenses.
Let's repeat:
...I caused to be used facilities in interstate commerce which facilitated the carrying on of...prostitution offenses.
A regular Dillinger, this woman!

Hopefully the judge will have the common sense to give Hollander a slap on the wrist and let her go. Unfortunately, the American Gulag is always looking for bodies. Michael Farkas is Hollander's lawyer:
Mr. Farkas said after court that Ms. Hollander had also offered her assistance, but that prosecutors “did not see fit to offer her a cooperation agreement.”
And there are always prosecutors looking to pad their stats. Of course, it's possible that there is material prejudicial to Hollander that did not make it into the news reports; it's possible that the prosecution recommended a lesser penalty than jail time but the Times did not report it. Nevertheless:
...I caused to be used facilities in interstate commerce which facilitated the carrying on of...prostitution offenses.
Maybe the legislators who are busy manufacturing crimes should create an elastic offense called abuse of prosecutorial discretion (willful or negligent).

Update 20100927. As it happens, Holder did not go to jail. She was put on probation; the prosecution had requested a sentence of six months of home confinement.

Afaik such common sense from the bench and the prosecutors does not always happen.

August 24, 2008

Another Reason They're Called the Stupid Party?

For a party that is on track to get whacked in the Congressional election, trails slightly in national Presidential polls, and trails significantly in Presidential betting odds, the GOP seems awfully cocky.

I don't mean determined and upbeat. I mean cocky.

August 22, 2008

Another 'Successful Test' of Missile Defense

Chicagoboyz report and tsk-tsk Obama's opposition.

Twenty-five years after Reagan's speech, they finally discriminate between a warhead and a single penaid.
The Left has global warming. The Right has missile defense.

Concern about global warming might motivate development of geoengineering technologies that can cope with serious climate change if and when it occurs.

SDI was so easy to defeat that for the longest time I couldn't formulate a guess as to why it drove Soviet negotiators berserk. I suppose it's because a technological breakthrough, however unlikely it might seem, would completely tilt the strategic balance. Addendum: Maybe even back in the mid-1980s, the Soviets recognized, in effect if not in so many words, the emerging importance of Moore's Law.

Unfortunately, both global warming and missile defense are heavily influenced by special interests whose agendas are distinct from the ostensible issues.

August 21, 2008

Barry, Milt and Fred

Obama in Time:
...I was reading Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayak [sic: Time misspells the Nobel Laureate's name], and I was growing up when Ronald Reagan was ascendant. So the political culture of my formative years was much more conservative.

It partly explains why, if you look at not just my politics, but also I think who I am as a person—in some ways, I'm pretty culturally conservative. I was always suspicious of dogma, and the excesses of the left and the right. One of my greatest criticisms of the Republican Party over the last 20 years is that it's not particularly conservative. I can read conservatives from an earlier era—a George Will or a Peggy Noonan—and recognize wisdom, because it has much more to do with respect for tradition and the past and I think skepticism about being able to just take apart a society and put it back together. Because I do think that communities and nations and families aren't subject to that kind of mechanical approach to change. But when I look at Tom DeLay or some of the commentators on Fox these days, there's nothing particularly conservative about them.
Obama plays on libertarian/conservative dejection under the Bush/Rove/DeLay/Lott regime. "They've been playing you for suckers ever since Read-My-Lips Bush," he implies[1], presumably with voter suppression in mind. "Are you going to fall for it again?"

Obama about growing up overseas:
If anything, it has reinforced my belief in American exceptionalism. One of the things that happens when you live overseas is you realize how special America is— our values, our ideals, our Constitution, our rule of law, the idea of equality and opportunity. Those are things that we often take for granted, and it's only when you get out of the country that you see the majority of the world doesn't enjoy those same privileges.
It wasn't an accident that this guy beat the Clinton machine[2].

[1] I'm putting words in his mouth, not quoting.
[2] But I bet that Bill would have taken him.

August 12, 2008

Georgia on Their Minds

RealClearPolitics has collected Bush's, McCain's and Obama's statements about Georgia. RCP left out the White House correction of Bush's gaffe.

Of the three, McCain is the only one to attempt to present the crisis in terms of America's national interest.

McCain and Obama both support NATO membership for Georgia. That has also been Bush's policy.

If it's not in our interest to help Georgia when it's attacked, what were we thinking when we accepted their troops in Iraq? (IMO it's plausible that we have airlifted aid.)

August 10, 2008

Georgia on my Mind

In his own way, Zbigniew Brzezinski is as wacko as his former boss Jimmy Carter.

Dinocrat has a series of informative posts here, here, here and here.
Two rhetorical questions:

1. If we've known for years that Saakashvili is a loose cannon, why was George Bush trying to get Georgia into NATO?

2. As Putin leaves Beijing to direct the Russian onslaught against an American ally, why is George Bush letting himself be photographed with bikini-clad volleyball amazons?

Maybe he knows some tremendously good news of which the rest of us are not yet aware.

That's one possibility. There are others.
Even thuggish imperialists can have arguable pretexts. Consider how supportive the Enlightened Nations were of Kosovo's secession from Russian ally Serbia.

Cold comfort is better than no comfort. The Russians are paying lip service to the diplomatic process.

Addendum 20080811. Putin has compared Saakashvili to Saddam:
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Monday harshly criticized the United States for airlifting Georgian troops from Iraq back home.

Putin said the U.S. move would hamper efforts to solve Russia's conflict with Georgia over the breakaway province of South Ossetia.

"It's a pity that some of our partners, instead of helping, are in fact trying to get in the way," Putin said at a Cabinet meeting. "I mean among other things the United States airlifting Georgia's military contingent from Iraq effectively into the conflict zone."
"Of course, Saddam Hussein ought to have been hanged for destroying several Shiite villages," Putin said. "And the incumbent Georgian leaders who razed ten Ossetian villages at once, who ran elderly people and children with tanks, who burned civilian alive in their sheds — these leaders must be taken under protection."
There is still a threadbare reference to due process, but it sounds like Putin may intend to install a puppet government.

I have no problem with throwing Saakashvili to the wolves--to the bear, actually--if that's part of a deal that will prevent that outcome.

Second Addendum 20080811. Bush's recent statement is here. The White House site also has a video.

Wretchard offers his usual clear-eyed insight and, notwithstanding the armchair generalissimos among them, I found his commenters worthwhile. For example, one asks what the US intelligence community was doing during the Russian build-up, which begs the question of what that community is good for going forward.

This is pathetic (see also Bush's gaffe):
Rice spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov by telephone yesterday, one of several conversations the two have had since Friday on resolving the crisis, and Khalilzad referenced their exchange in an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council.
Lavrov, Khalilzad said, told Rice "that a democratically elected president of Georgia -- and I quote -- must go." And the U.S. ambassador challenged Russian envoy Vitaly Churkin, "Is your government's objective regime change in Georgia, the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Georgia?"

"Regime change is an American expression," Churkin countered. And he scolded Khalilzad for revealing the contents of a secret diplomatic discussion.
(Cf. also Bush's gaffe in the statement mentioned above.) It pains me to say this when my country is in a confrontation, but why the devil are our diplomats publicly quoting confidential discussions?! Protocol exists for a reason; some of it is silly and anachronistic, but some of it is important. (Hey, we're the good guys and we're for freedom and stuff. That's alright then. Nevermind.)

The WaPo piece I just linked quotes McCain as calling for revisiting the decision to withhold NATO membership with Georgia. I was unpersuaded because the degree of our national interest is not clear to me. Remarkably, McCain's full statement addresses the point. I'm still unpersuaded, but my opinion of McCain has risen. Even if I don't agree, I can support a President who demonstrates competence and policy coherence.


Glenn Reynolds links to a StrategyPage post about the Central African Republic:
August 9, 2008: The lights have gone out, literally. Over half a century of poor maintenance and neglect, the power grid of the Central African Republic has collapsed. The capital has gone dark. Two nearby hydroelectric power stations, which provide most of the nation's electricity, have failed from years of neglect. The government is calling on foreign aid donors to fly in generators for hospitals and other essential services. Generators that have been brought in previously have not been maintained, and wear out quickly. This is not an exceptional event, for colonial era infrastructure, from roads to power plants, are collapsing from decades of post-independence neglect. This causes more unrest, as factions battle for a dwindling supply of resources.
He cautions:
In the West, people take the smooth functioning of infrastructure for granted. But it's only through continuous hard work that things work well here. Slack on that, and they go down the tubes pretty fast. But politicians value shiny new things more than unglamorous maintenance here, too. Be warned.
Not only that, but I suspect that the Central African Republic got its independence in a burst of idealism that was shot through and undermined by incompetent opportunists (incompetent, that is, at everything but aggrandizing personal power). Therein lies cautionary note regarding blandishments concerning quality of life, conservation, and sustainable growth--blandishments spoken by idealists and incompetent opportunists (incompetent, that is, at everything but...).

The collapse of the C.A.R.'s physical infrastructure was made possible by its inadequate cognitive infrastructure.

IMO the Western cognitive infrastructure is deteriorating rapidly.

August 5, 2008

That Didn't Take Long #2

Rumor has it that Jindal will be the keynote speaker at the Republican convention.

Jindal for President



Intelligent Design.