Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Um, yikes. I certainly hope this idea of a diffused nano-balloon-mirror weather machine is as thermodynamically impractical as it sounds, because otherwise, civilization is pretty thoroughly screwed. That would be the mother of all hydraulic tyrannies, "the devil's excrement" crossed with a truly ubiquitous Sword-of-Damocles scenario.

H/T Dr. Reynolds.

Monday, December 22, 2008

So, what did I find upon returning from Florida for a week with the folks? More than a ton of ice mounded up in front of the steps leading up to my front door. Apparently the new guy they had clearing the lots at the funeral home got confused about where he was supposed to put the snow-pile and decided to sock me in. Took hours & a proper set of heavy iron ice-chipping tools to clear a path to my door. Ah, global warming, how I love your paradoxical nonsensicality! See how you bewitch dimwitted neighbors into inconveniencing me?

I'm sure it's Al Gore's fault, somehow. He's called down the gods of anthropogenic ecological malice to curse my existence for doubting his prophecy, like Elisha's disrespecting by a mob of boys was avenged by the Almighty via a pair of bears, sent to devour his small and impertinent mockers.

Friday, December 19, 2008

This article on a paper claiming that reforestation resulting from depopulation of the New World after the post-Columbian pandemics was a trigger for the Little Ice Age was interesting, if fantastical. IIRC, they still can't agree on something as simple as whether the early voyagers brought back syphilis in the late 15th Century. Building an anthropogenic cause for the Little Ice Age on this sort of rickety foundation seems so amazingly Rube Goldbergish as to be practically impossible to prove. It's the very essence of "Just So" explication.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I thought I had written something about Charlie Stross in the past, but a quick google-check doesn't reveal anything. I find him a very frustrating, hit-or-miss sort of writer. His politics are typical muddle-headed hedonist-leftist twaddle - he's the sort of reflexive-instinctive 'libertarian' whose ideals could only exist in the comforting bosom of Mother Government. But he occasionally has a bright spark of lively plot and prose - most especially in the cubicle satire/spy novel/Lovecraftian pastiche The Atrocity Archives and the first volume of his Zelazny-Princes in Amber pastiche, the Family Trade. Come to think of it, the books of his which I've tolerated or liked have, by and large, been piggyback science-fictional rides upon the fantasy giants of the past. He's better known for his singularity-themed novels, but I took a strong disliking to the single example of that particular flavor of Stross, so pfft on that.

Anyways, I finally got around to reading the fourth volume of his "Merchant Princes" series, the Merchants' War, after skipping the hardback edition on the strength, or lack thereof, of the third volume, the Clan Corporate, which left me irritated and and a little bored with Stross's increasingly inept and sympathetic protagonist. The fourth volume picks up some steam by broadening the viewpoint of the narrative wildly, with less than a fifth of the book told from heroine Miriam/Helge's dull, pointless point of view. There's lots of action in the fourth book, almost all of it occurring where Miriam ain't, which makes this installment a great improvement over the third book. So, yay on that front.

Sadly, Stross's ability to maintain an American 'voice' seems like it's slipping badly with the Merchants' War. While I've been known to indulge heavily in anglicianisms like extraneous 'u's in words like 'colour', I do accept that there are distinctions between the standard American 'voice' and the British 'voice', and the Scottish Stross doesn't do too well in this volume, repeatedly having American characters pick up 'torches' or talk about being 'in hospital' and so forth. Since there's only one viewpoint character who could conceivably be pictured as "British", with every other major or secondary character either being Americans or native speakers of a teutonicized alternative-world feudal language, this kept yanking me out of the story and into an unwanted textual-analysis mode which I don't generally relish.

Also, the story doesn't so much end on a cliff-hanger as just *thwapt!* slaps up against the back cover, as if the last thirty pages just weren't bound with the rest of the manuscript. And what in previous books was a laudable refusal to inject his repulsive personal political views into an otherwise-contemporary hot-button narrative has broken down with this volume, as he wastes fifteen or twenty pages on a pointless, off-message, graceless insinuation that someone in the Reagan administration had apparently intended to blow up Boston in a fake-terrorist attack in the late Eighties, and he later has a sinister sock-puppet government spook spout stupid Truther claims about bin Laden having been a rogue agent of the American government, and salivating about the prospect of a terrorist nuke going off, again, in Boston. Bah.

Anyways, the series as a whole isn't a total waste of time, but the aspects which most attracted in the early volumes have faded or been left to the wayside, and the books are largely carrying themselves on the strength of plot, action, intrigue, and good old pulpy forward momentum. YMMV.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Sen. Casey's office auto-emailer replied to that message about the Detroit bailout proposals. With some wallpaper about FDIC and TARP, didn't even mention GM or Detroit. Guess the auto-reply emailer classified me as a financial/banking crank instead of someone pissed at the American carmakers.
This comment is the most reassuring thing I've heard out of Washington since the election. Cabinet-level nominations are fairly small ball in my eyes - the tone and attitude of an administration is set a) in the Oval Office and b) in the sub-Cabinet nominations and appointments.

One of the things that scared me the most about Obama was his Carter-like earnestness and apparent lack of spontaneous humor. He seemed to have no goofiness to him. That gag about Richardson's beard sounds spontaneous and unscripted - either Obama's speechwriters are really, really good at scripting ad libs, or he actually made a Joke. A real one, the sort of stupid, doofus gag I'd expect from Bush the Younger in the days before the office ground him down into a grey stolid paste.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hey folks, want to see the urban heat island effect in action? Check this 'un out. Once they moved that station next to a *BARBECUE*, the station records show an obvious and distinct upward bias which "continues to this day".

NOAA's response to this sort of cheap mockery? Hiding the evidence.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Woo-hoo! Let's hear it for the Indian Navy's INS Tabar, which did what the rest of the swarm of warships patrolling the Gulf of Aden *should* be doing - blow a Somali pirate 'mothership' right out of the water!

Whenever I get particularly down and Mark-Steynish about the future of humanity, I remember that while Brazil is the country of the future (and always will be!), India *is* that future. And I remember that alongside that leftist-socialist fatalistic failure which is the Gandhian nightmare, walks the ghost of Rudyard Kipling's India, pugnacious, imperial, forth-right and British in a fashion that the pygmies inhabiting the United Kingdom have not pretended to since the Suez Crisis.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Amazing. I just got an email from GM trying to get me to pester my senators and congressman to bail their improvident, incompetent, inept corporation out with my tax money. I don't remember giving them my email address when I bought my Aveo, but apparently I did.

I'm thinking "no". I'm thinking of pestering Specter to *not* give them a thin red cent, since NPR was gassing on about him being friendly to the idea. In fact, I just sent this to Specter and Casey:

I am contacting you as a citizen of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and as a voter to vehemently and emphatically demand that you *NOT* support or vote for any scheme which extends one more dime's worth of public credit underwritten by our hard-earned taxes to those incompetent, improvident, hopelessly inept clowns who run the Detroit automakers.

I cannot think of a greater waste of public resources and a more shameless appeal to the squalid self-interest of a pack of over-paid, over-compensated, over-indulged UAW retirees and "employees" than these repeated and utterly futile 'bailouts' of a company which is not so much dedicated to the production of quality automobiles, as to the ongoing support and subsidy of bloated union pensioners and their dependents.

What justice is there in the extraction of payroll taxes from unpensioned, impoverished convenience store clerks, grocery-store stockboys, shoe salesmen, and other losers in life's lottery - all of them either going without health care or scrambling and scrimping and saving to afford sky-high premiums - in order to subsidize the obscene "Cadillac" health plans and bloated, underfunded pensions of these Princes of the Union?

Let GM die. Let the monster go bankrupt, and complete the process of capital-destruction which has brought that once-great company to the brink upon which it now totters. Do not throw good money after bad, do not piss away the public's wealth in an attempt to salvage long-lost private wealth.

The pensioners of the UAW can rely on Social Security and Medicare and their own personal savings like the rest of retired America. They were paid and over-paid throughout their working lifetimes. If the end result of all those wages is nothing but empty bank-accounts and the broken promises of a defaulted pension - well, those self-same excessive wages, fairly bargained by an over-enthusiastic pack of union jackals in defiance of the interests of now-destroyed investor capital, came with their own eventual price-tag, did they not?
Wow. I seem to be to the left of The Artist Currently Known As Prince on gay marriage. What a strange world - and it's getting stranger by the day.
An interesting and rather infuriating reminder that ideas have consequences, and that there are vandals at large in academia. An important explanation for that link: Mark Grimsley is a leftist whom I am almost positive is an enthusiastic Obama supporter, and with whose contemporary politics I almost certainly will have massive disagreements on any number of questions. But he is an honest historian, and his description of Royster and Stout's Gramscian assault upon the necessary political myths which underpin American democratic consensus is pretty vein-popping.

Look, if you spend time explaining how vital a particular intellectual tradition is in making modern politics operational, and then proceed to plant rhetorical dynamite under that tradition and start waving a lit taper around the fuse, I can't help but think that you don't mean your country well.
Welcome to the New Misogyny. I believe a quote from A Man For All Seasons seems apropos:

More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you - where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast - man's laws, not God's - and if you cut them down - and you're just the man to do it - d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake.

Tradition may be unfair, and confining, and absolutely Not Fun. Cultural norms may be arbitrary and unpleasant and unobliging to your own person sense of necessities and right conduct. But both are grown by the organic operation of societies in motion, laid down by the steady beat of ancestral heels, such that those paths which eroded away were abandoned, and those paths which cut impassable bogs were let to go to wrack and weed. Culture and tradition tends to keep to the passable routes, and proper tradition-drawn law then laid down down macadam over those least worst social by-ways.

When our uncles and aunts threw down all the fences and hedge-rows and went counter-culturally off-roading, they left a trackless maze of muddy ripped-up lawns, ruined fields, eroded hill-sides. The current generation is getting ready to lay down gravel on some of those wayward new folk-ways, and the feminist press is whinging about just how roundabout, unpleasant, and ill-directed a New Social Road-Map their cartographers are being presented by the gravellers.

Well congratulations, sunshine. The old roads were hard, coarse, and indirect, but at least they got where we were going: marriage, family, children, continuity. I'll be damned if I know where these new roads are going, but it certainly looks like no-where I want to be.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Yeah, Steve Schmidt is scum, and McCain's advisers were apparently a pack of complete and total defeatists. McCain's at fault for having hired the lot of them, but really, discussing whether to concede the election during preparations for the final debate is just absolutely worthless. Every single one of them should never have another job in politics or anything to do with government. The ground-level people were doing their best to keep up morale while these cheese-eating surrender monkeys were apparently mentally updating their resumes during strategy meetings.

And the Obama people apparently believe their own bullcrap about criticism being hate speech, to judge from the cowflops in that article indirectly blaming Palin for death threats.

As far as this Houdini stuff is concerned, if they were actually using this magic new system, they weren't bothering with it in my local area that I've seen or heard of. The other side's pollwatchers were taking records longhand, and drifting in and out of my precinct, not even pretending to really care about whether their people were making it to the polls. Admittedly, Bellefonte West trends somewhat conservative...
Wow. I've never really paid much attention to Rahm Emanuel before. The son of an Irgun member and namesake of a member of the Stern Gang, known for violent outbursts and a savage temper, as Obama's Chief of Staff? The anti-Semites will have a collective aneurysm.

Maybe Israel will survive the next four years after all.
While I'm on the subject of hopes for the mirror: Social Security.

Please, please, please raise the retirement-age kick-in threshold. Do it now so that the boomers don't blow out the budget. Social Security was supposed to support the incapacitated elderly, not a horde of physically-fit aging gentlefolk-of-leisure.

Sorry, Mom, Dad. I appreciate all the money you lavished on my raising and education, and I don't begrudge the last five years or so in which you were able to spend your time playing golf and gardening in central Florida, but if only on grounds of social utility, the economy could have used your labor and productivity.

It always was a lie that Social Security was any sort of retirement plan, and it's becoming increasingly clear that most legacy pension plans are likewise funded with air and bureaucratic bullcrap.

Mirror, mirror, please don't let McDermott kill the 401k system & force everyone into a parallel government-regulated and partially-operated "savings" system. In the short term, that would shatter the stock market, and in the long term, it would impoverish the working classes, pauperizing them and accustoming them to null or negative real interest-rate returns on investment, like the Japanese and their postal savings incubus. Please, prove me a liar when I campaigned on the dark suggestion that you'd let the McDermotts in Congress do something that disastrous.

I want to be wrong.
Well, looks like we might be going back to the old Sixties-style New Frontier Big Science pork buffets. Expect lots and lots of resources poured down dry holes. Meanwhile, of the two institutions which actually produced significant technological advances, Bell Labs is gone, gone, gone with the wind, and I fear DARPA is about to get six inches of bodkin through the thorax.

Prove me wrong, mirrorball man.

Huh. If Obama picks Holbrooke, that's a definite upside. McCain certainly wouldn't have had the leverage to name a complete and utter bastard like Richard Holbrooke as Secretary of State. I happen to approve of complete and utter bastards when it comes to diplomacy. "Softly-softly" is excessively overrated in a diplomat, and Foggy Bottom could use a cleaning-out with bactine and a blow-torch.

And the cannibals are already gathering in the clearings, scenting weakness. The more pugnacity a prospective Obama administration shows towards our national enemies, the better the chances we'll survive Biden's Global Test with limbs and dignity intact.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Well, life goes on.

Friday, October 31, 2008

OK, folks. I'll be out campaigning from now until the close of polls on Tuesday. This is me getting ready to go radio-silent. I'll be making calls during reasonable hours, and then working as a 'striker' in my local polling place during Election Day.

I do this because I believe that Obama is a danger, that he is a demagogue, and an idoloter of the state, and is fundamentally hostile to civil society and free enterprise. I believe he would cripple the American economy and the American military with his inexperience, his executive incapacity, and his demonstrated disregard for constitutional norms. His campaign has been an extended demonstration of the Orwellian Newthink principle, in which welfare is called 'tax cuts', government taxation is equated to a test of patriotism, it's selfish to object to the taxation of others, and to be one's brother's keeper is to fling him onto the public dole & into the care of strangers.

Now, I'm not going to tell you that our campaign will win. The polls still look unfavorable, and while any one poll can be wrong, if the aggregate stays against you as long as they have this season, your chances are pretty bleak. It would be easy to give up hope and go crawl into a corner.

Don't do what's easy. Don't put down burdens before their time. Don't give up before you're done.

Do what's right.

Even if it doesn't matter. Even if it's futile. Even if all your effort work slips quiet into the dark water and, leaving no ripples behind, disappears from sight un-remarked. Do what's right because it's right, and not for any other reason, not success, not victory, not even peace of mind.

Because we cannot perform miracles. We can only do every last thing that is in our power consistent with honor. It is only when we have done every last thing within our power and consistent with our honor that we can dare to ask for miracles.
There's nothing sharper and more ferocious than a convert: three ways the tanked media will try to depress Republican/Hillcrat turnout.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I've got to track down something by this guy after the election. The idea of a male, African-American enka singer is just mind-bogglingly goofy-cool. I'm only afraid that mere reality can't possibly live up to the imagined potentials.

A masterpiece of truthiness.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

So, I ended up working the Palin rally last night. The call centre was shut down to concentrate attention on the event, so it wasn't as if I had anything better to do. It was my first political rally, well, ever. Unless you count walking past the Bush and Gov. Brown rallies on Old Main Lawn on the way to classes in '92, which I don't, since I didn't really care that much at the time.

I hadn't gotten around to getting a ticket for the event last weekend, so I just walked up to the waiting line to see if there was anything I could do. Ran into the guys running the county campaign operations, and Anthony gave me a volunteer badge & recruited me to go help with line control.

While we waited for the volunteers to be let into Rec Hall, I spotted some performance-artist protesters with the usual ugly signs. I went over to talk to them, to see what they thought they were accomplishing. Got into a minor debate with a clown-Palin-impersonator, and was a little intemperate. Not terribly, but a little. She kept chirping about her opinions... wish I had remembered the line about "opinions are prejudices with a college education". I said something about being sorry about what their politicians will do to them if their hopes come true, and then I think I turned off the Palin-pierrot by being sincere. She was looking for validation, not pity. Especially after I told her little group that I was technically pro-choice, and compared what they were doing to the pro-life protesters with the screaming-horror posters, back in the old days of the abortion clinic in the HFL Building. That kind of intrigued her less flamboyant friend, and we chatted a bit about my beliefs and priorities, until Anthony gave me a poke and I saw that they were letting the volunteers into the building.

Inside, I was tasked to play human traffic cone, and keep the folks moving into the bleachers and around the room until we filled things up. This took more energy than you'd think, if not an awful lot of mental acuity. Somebody had told one of the reporters following the Palin campaign about me, and I spent a good chunk of my time as a human traffic cone being interviewed by one Eli Saslow, or being photographed in action by a staff photographer.

I hope I wasn't too impolitic, but I tried to be as honest and forthright as I could be about what it is I do for the campaign here at the grass-roots, and what I expect and hope and fear for in the election. I said I was "half enthusiastic and half fey", and talked about why I "went all in", and what that means in terms of a volunteering commitment. I also talked about how many Democratic volunteers there are with the campaign in Centre County, and pointed him at Anthony Biviano, the door-to-door guy who basically canvassed the better part of College Township by his lonesome.

After about two-and-a-half hours of this, the Centre County staffers told the volunteers to go find the reserved section, and I went on up to take a seat. By that time I was both hoarse and tired, so I was glad for the rest. It looked like somebody had been deliberately sending the folks with Obama shirts and stickers to the volunteer section, presumably to keep things under control if there was any acting up. In the event, everyone was well-behaved and perfectly civil, so there wasn't any disruptions or unpleasantness. I had missed the Benninghoff and Thompson speeches while I was still playing traffic cone, but got into the stands in time for the Hank Williams, Jr. set.

I've never been a big fan of modern country, but I have a CD of Hank Williams, Sr., and I can appreciate the younger Williams' material for what it is. He was playing up the hillbilly angle pretty fiercely, and was a little un-PC at times, but in general it was a pretty good performance. He's written a campaign song for the trail, called 'McCain-Palin Tradition'; as campaign songs go, it wasn't half-bad. He played some of 'I Walk the Line', and that was cool.

They got the crowd pretty riled up for Gov. Palin, and then a small woman came out on stage, but it was just an aide coming out with the Governor's speech, then a procession of other aides cleared off Williams' equipment, and I amused myself by reading parts of the Governor's prepared speech over the shoulders of the operators of the teleprompter. Eventually, the Governor came out, and gave a pretty good stump speech, partially from the version on the teleprompter, and partially improvised. She's clearly given versions of this speech often enough to barely glance at the teleprompter, and to wander on and off the script as the situation and circumstances warrant. It was a good, solid, beautifully-delivered stump speech, hitting all the necessary elements of the address I'd expect from a Republican running for national office. I've heard parts of it from the convention speech, and parts of it from the vice-presidential debate, and others I've read in campaign coverage. I yelled myself a little more hoarse along with the rest of the crowd.

She really is an excellent, excellent politician. It was a beautiful performance; I can't imagine any of the vice-presidential candidates of the last forty years doing a better job; there may have been VP candidates with better policy chops - Jack Kemp comes to mind, and there may have been VP candidates with better experience and gravitas - Admiral Stockdale leaps immediately to mind. But Jack Kemp had the personal charisma and presence of an asthmatic beagle, and the press & a bad vice-presidential debate shattered the Admiral and made all of his heroism and sacrifice invisible, blotted out by the black shadow of a bad SNL skit.

There was about a hundred and fifty O-bots making noise and waving pictures of their Dear Leader at the rally attendees as we left the building. Some of the O-bots had ginned up a giant "Obamaville" banner on an oversized sheet strung between two two-by-fours. I couldn't believe they'd deliberately evoke Hoovervilles by associating the concept of shanty-towns strung together by the evicted homeless victims of a prior Great Depression - with *THEIR HERO*! I said as much to a journalism student, and we chatted a bit about my concerns about Obama supporters and their cult-of-personality habits and inclinations, pointing out their fondness for blown-up photos and images of their idol. I suppose you could call it my second interview of the evening, or possibly my third, if you count the protest-pierrots at the beginning of the evening.

I'd guess that there was at least five thousand in Rec Hall, and probably northwards of 6500 - there officially is seating capacity for 7200, but they had a section across the top of the auditorium blocked off by a big "Country First" sign. It was pretty much a full house, and we had kids with Obama shirts sitting in the stairs & folks leaning on the upper wall around the running-track during the speech proper, and the hundreds standing on the floor between the press stands at mid-court and the stage. Northwards of 6500 seems exceedingly likely, I would think.

Update: CDT says 7500, H/T rightwingprof @ Right Wing Nation.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Al Gore must be in town.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I did the numbers on the McCain health care proposal for the folks at my company, based off the new health insurance plan they're rolling out next month. Looks like it's a slam-dunk for me, personally - my total-cost-to-company is less than the $5000 credit, let alone the after-tax cost which would be incurred under the McCain plan. The full-coverage all-family plan is about three times more expensive, but it's still far and away neutral & the marginal tax increase caused by making the plan & employee contributions after-tax would be more than covered by the $5000 credit. In fact, the plan cost would have to be increased radically to incur an actual net tax increase.

Mind you, my company plan isn't particularly stingy. It's a good plan, from what the folks with families and kids say. Personally, I barely consume health care myself, and what I do is minor stuff out of pocket.
Me, I think this means that the Obama people are trying to cut Fast Eddie and his people out of the slop-line, and Rendell was shrieking because his boys weren't going to get their taste. After all, who needs ward heelers when you've got an army of fanatical 'community organizers' to replace the old bulls and sleaze merchants?

This could be a very good sign, by the way. City machines run on experience and weaselly little rat-[expletive]s who know where the cracks are in a neighborhood, where the votes hide and who's movable by which levers. College kids and out-of-towners can't replace that kind of experience and guile, that was the lesson of the Howard Dean campaign. It might mean that Philadelphia's vaunted get-out-the-voter-fraud engine might be short a few functioning spark-plugs come the contest.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I will be so blackly amused if the Obama Youth get their wish & their mirrorball messiah turns around and drafts their slacker asses. What the heck did you *think* all that palaver about "saving our souls" and "national service" was *about*, you young schmucks? Obama and Biden need a big, dumb army of raw recruits if they're going to go running around intervening in Darfur and provoking Pakistan. The current smart, professional, small army isn't big enough and crude enough to be the sort of blunt club clumsy fools can swing without cutting their own achilles tendons.

Although to be honest, I suspect the new draft will be for Bellamy-esque "industrial armies", set to work "organizing" society and replacing the institutions of civil society, replacing legitimate businesses where-ever possible, and so forth. They'll probably start by setting the little fools to patching asphalt. Expect tons of 'public works projects', putting up 'improvements' which will begin to crumble before they're even finished.
And here I thought we might have a calmer, less violent election season than 2004's...

Friday, October 17, 2008


I was kind of wishfully thinking last night that one possible upside was the half-remembered false memory that Obama might be in favor of raising the Social Security retirement age to fix *that* coming disaster, and with a catastrophic Democratic congressional majority, he might be in a position to push painful entitlement changes.

Yeah, yeah, I know, and we'll fuel our flex-fuel hybrid vehicles with reprocessed unicorn farts. Bear with me, I was looking for the upside to a possible electoral disaster.

But no, he's selling a rise in taxes to cover the coming funding gaps. No neo-liberal hard choices for the Lightbringer! Everything can be papered over by screwing the rich! Won't that be fun! Grilled unicorn on a stick for everyone!
On a lighter note, in some quarters they're apparently slamming the Toledo native for not going by his first name. I should probably introduce y'all to myself, seeing as I've been lying to y'all all these years: my first name's actually Charles.

Like "Joe", I go by a nickname based on my middle name. I don't know - or care! - why Joe does this, but I do it because I come from a fairly long line of Charles Hagmaiers, and my parents didn't care to go searching for a new diminutive, so they just went with the middle name instead. I was just as glad, to be honest - I could have groaned under an unfortunate nickname like my paternal grandfather Chick. I can't imagine what my school-life might have been with that hanging around my neck.

So it's a conspiracy! We evil conservative plants are sneaking around behind your back, pretending and faking behind false names. Just like "Sam" Grant, "Cump" Sherman, and all of those examples the Minuteman pulled out in that link.

And Obama the Fair rubbed his face, and mused in front of his courtiers, "will no-one rid me of this turbulent plumber?"

Oh, God. Uncle Ron, how could you? Let your vicious young turks seize upon a home-town boy, rip his life apart before the crowd, and fling the bloody shreds to the hungry cannibal press? You *know* this will destroy him, no matter how good of a man he might have been.

Is there a reason you're not off destroying the life of, oh, say Obama's campaign treasurer, Uncle Ron?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

So McCain put out his economic plan of the week, to follow up on Obama's plan-of-the-week. It had some sort of capital gains component to it. Obama responded, by mocking the idea of capital gains, sniggering that nobody's going to be enjoying capital gains anytime soon.

Think about that one, Obamaheads. Either Mr. Man can't think more than three months ahead of the game, or he doesn't care if anyone makes capital gains for the foreseeable future. No, he's too busy making plans to tax you so that he can turn around and give you a check. He's too busy planning on making *your* income the *government's* income, to be redistributed to you, and your neighbor, and *his* insolvent, drug-dealing neighbor who runs a meth lab out of her nominally-foreclosed too-expensive-for-her-means bubble-McMansion.

Obama just signaled with a big ol' three-story-tall signal-flag that he doesn't care to encourage business. That he isn't interested in the traditional liberal-New Democrat vision of business as a herd of sheep to be kept healthy, well-sheared, and growing wool for the new season. No, that's not Barack Obama's vision of private business.

To Barack Obama, private business is a vast buffalo herd, uncontrollable, unownable, a resource for his enemies, an obstacle for the socialist future, an obstruction to the iron rails he intends to lay across our national landscape. The Treasury Department in an Obama Administration will be a mercenary band handed buffalo guns, sent out like "Buffalo Bill" Cody to slaughter private business and leave the corpses to rot in heaping hills scattered across the landscape.

Friends, you and I are the Lakota.

Enjoy the Rez when they pen you in.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

OK, I talked to the woman who runs the Centre County Board of Elections. She claimed the reason that most of the absentee voters in the county haven't gotten their ballots was because of a lawsuit filed to keep Bob Barr off the ballot. I looked this up later, it was filed by an idiot Republican down in Cumberland County, the Libertarians were rightfully incensed. She claimed that it was an all-state issue, but when I confronted her about how I had made hundreds of calls to some of the Northern Tier counties and Clearfield & they were sending their absentee ballots out in a timely manner, she claimed to have the voters' best interests at heart and held up the prospect of those out-county-issued ballots being ruled invalid, and went on again about the Barr lawsuit.

When I came in to the office an hour later, I found that this lawsuit, while inadvisable and foolish, still had been dismissed on September 15th. The Centre County Board of Elections is holding up the absentee ballot mailings over a dismissed lawsuit.

Now, although there *is* another idiot lawsuit being filed in Philadelphia trying to kick *Barrack Obama* off the ballot for allegedly not being born in the United States (again, idiocy!), no rational individual would have the ballots of an entire state invalidated or held up over the chances that the nominee of the sodding Democratic Party might be kicked off the ballot!

My read is that the Board is A) lying to callers and visitors to their office as to why they're holding up the in-country absentee ballots (mind you, abroad and military absentee ballots have already been delivered from Centre County, showing that my interviewee's concern for the votes of her fellow Pennsylvanians doesn't extend to members of the military, expatriates and those journeying abroad) B) holding up the absentee ballots for this county for a therefore-unstated reason and C) they are thus disadvantaging the absentee voters of Centre County against their fellows in neighboring counties and those of us who normally vote in our local precincts' polling places.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Um, dude: the Rezko corruption case may be bringing down a mobbed-up bank operator/State Treasurer named Giannoulis. Obama was the main force behind Giannoulis's run for State Treasurer and this guy's bank is apparently the money-tree for Rezko's operations and was the bank which got Obama his sweetheart mortgage. The article goes into detail on what "the Chicago Way" means these days, but the short story is that the Outfit still exists, it's one of the mainsprings for how business and politics gets done there, and Obama and Blagojevich's 'fixer', Tony Rezko, is talking to the feds and Patrck Fitzgerald now that he's been convicted and looking for clemency.

Hey, it's "Fitzmas" after all. And if you fools elect the big O, you'll get to enjoy at least a year of the President-elect getting grilled by a federal prosecutor about his ties to actual, living, breathing Chicago gangsters. Won't that be fun?

That's assuming he doesn't fire the Justice Department on January 20th as a preventive measure.

I'm getting concerned about absentee ballots in Centre County. The out-counties - Clearfield, Cameron, McKean, Potter - are doing great in terms of getting the ballots to the voters who requested them. Centre is... not doing so well. And I've been hearing some wild rumors from Centre County voters in terms of what the Board of Elections in the Willowbank Building has been telling them on the phone when they call to ask about their ballots, stuff that doesn't square from what I'm seeing online. I'm going to have to go down there tomorrow & see what they're up to if I don't hear otherwise tonight.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Huh. It's well-known that Barrack Obama accepted endorsements from the popular front New Party in the mid-Nineties. For those of you who don't follow politics closely, the New Party was a left-socialist-progressive third-party fusionist attempt to combat the Democratic Leadership Council/Clintonista trend in Democratic party organizations. They endorsed leftist candidates against more left-central candidates, and generally acted as a pressure group for the more socialist, wilder elements which are always circling about in Democratic groups, trying to take over the party apparatus & convert the party into a Party. Some folks have found evidence here and there that Obama was not just an endorsee of the New Party, but was claimed as an actual party member in New Party publications.

Now, I don't think this is necessarily proof positive - it requires that we take the half-scrubbed publicity claims of socialist propaganda-hacks as gospel truth, and I wouldn't put it past these blowhards to occasionally claim sympathetic non-members as card-carrying party members in order to prove just how great a job the New Party was doing for its investors with their donations. But given just how much crap we've caught over much, much less on the subject of the Palins and the Alaska Independence Party, Obama & his minions deserve every tomato tossed their way on this subject.

Because Obama definitely started out as *some* kind of popular-front socialist "no enemies to the left" politician.

Just ask Bill Ayers.
I went into the campaign office with a pretty heavy heart from all the post-debate gloom. But I was asked to call a traditionally heavily-Republican precinct, and by God, they're equally heavy for McCain-Palin. It was a real kick in the pants, and I started really getting into it. Put in the best night so far this season, half again more calls than usual, and far more *good* calls - actual, amiable contacts rather than lines which never pick up or the vast sea of disconnected phones, wrong numbers, fax machines and work addresses which some precincts are prone to present.

Folks, if you're in a battleground state and you care about the direction this country is going and you can spare an hour or two to help, come on down to your local campaign office and help get out the vote. Every hand counts, every vote counts.

They plan on holding a parade. Let's give them a fight.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

So Obama's decades-long working relationship with a bombmaking, unrepentant communist terrorist is now being compared to McCain's having been on the board of an anti-communist organization which was accused of having anti-Semitic members? An organization whose founder and chairman worked together with those who made the accusations to remove the individuals who were the subject of the complaints? And then said anti-Semite-persecuting villain was later involved in the Iran-Contra conspiracy to arm anti-communist insurgents in a communist country?

Oh, Martha, get the smelling salts. McCain's a Republican! He's associated with known conservatives! Next thing you know, they'll be accusing him of associating with malefactors like Bud Day!

OK, that last one was fun, but I'm afraid that some folk who might come by here unexpected might not get that I'm being sarcastic. Bud Day's an American hero. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something pretty toxic.

Monday, October 06, 2008

From such small acorns do great harms grow.

A nifty graphic of the tangled roots of a debacle, although I'm not crazy about what I've read of the material behind it - looks like an unorganized linkfarm of blog posts at first glance. But the graphic is fine - and I will believe in the disinterested, objective media again when I see anything resembling it in the weeklies or a major paper.
Oooh. That's gotta sting. And I say that as someone who doesn't donate as much as I ought.
Yikes. Tether sounds like a natural for a quick bear-hug endorsement by the McCain campaign.

A bureaucrat being hounded for holding contractors accountable for failures! [vizzini]Inconceivable![/vizzini]
A relative forwarded me an email supposedly from Bill Cosby which contained, among other things, an appeal for a radical protectionist program. The following was my response:

Sigh. Good thing he isn't an actual politician. 100% import tariffs. Just what we need on the cusp of a new great depression - our very own Smoot-Hawley Tariff - on steroids!

People claim that Hoover got us into the Depression by lax government oversight - 'laissez-faire'. This is a myth - a lie invented by FDR partisans & promulgated through partisan historical wallpapering. Herbert Hoover was a technocrat and a 'corporatist' - someone who believed in a co-operative alliance between government and big business. In Italy, corporatists were called fascists. In the US, we called them 'progressives'. Hoover worsened the banking crisis in 1930 by letting Congress pass the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, which was a punitive slate of heavy taxes on tariffs. The Republican Party up through the middle of the last century was a protectionist party, and high tariffs was party orthodoxy. It was also the very worst thing they could have done in the midst of an economic depression. It helped turn a sharp, deep economic downturn into a total catastrophe.

The other big things that Hoover did, which were totally his fault, was the institution of a series of aggressive, over-the-top public works programs designed to soak up unemployed workers, and to stimulate the economy. Hoover Dam was the biggest fruit of this ill-considered exercise in unifying government excess, but there was a lot of other stuff, most of it a lot more make-work than hydroelectric dams. The real problem here was that these public work programs were *expensive*, and Hoover pushed a serious income-tax increase to balance the budget. Income taxes were mostly on the rich and wealthy in those days, and the sad fact is that those with a lot of income and a lot of capital are *most* sensitive to signals from the the taxing authority - by which I mean to say, if Johnny Rich-bags has enough to keep his mansions in maintenance and his family in food, he doesn't have a burning need to make *more* money, if the marginal cost of the tax burden has increased such that for every new dollar he makes, X additional percentage is taken in taxes. The poor and middle-class have less margin above the necessities, so they tend to be less responsive to this sort of tax "signals". When the wealthy get over-taxed, they shut down & shift their capital or time into activities which are less likely to result in wasted effort for not enough gain - US treasury bonds for the capital, and off playing golf or tennis for their time.

So, Hoover provided the massive tax increase, Congress provided the idiotic protectionist tariffs, and the Federal Reserve provided the completely mis-managed financial crisis. Voila! Hoover-era Depression.

But it wasn't a "Great" Depression until FDR got his hands on the situation. He campaigned on a tax-cut - sound familiar? FDR promised to shrink the organs of government, which had greatly bloated over the two previous presidential terms - Hoover had been Coolidge's Secretary of Commerce, and had spent a lot of his time as Secretary building an enormous office complex for the Department of Commerce, and filling it with officious busy-bodies.

FDR *did* get the Smoot-Hawley Tariff replaced, which fixed *that* particular horror, but he made up for that by fiddling disastrously with the price of gold, and wasting three more years before getting us off the gold standard which was *generating* the financial crisis underpinning the world-wide Depression. Bernanke himself wrote a book endorsing the orthodox view that the world-wide depression was generated by the gold-standard financial crisis, btw, and did a lot with regression analysis showing that the sooner a country got itself off the standard, the faster the depression ended in that country.

Anyways, FDR looked at all the money-wasting that Hoover had done in public-works, and asked if this amp went to 11. Made Hoover look like a piker, and introduced the well-known galaxy of three-letter acronyms to seize control of the economy from the rich so-and-sos and put it in the hands of their well-educated college-professor neighbors and children and well-connected competitors. *That* went well. They managed to pour enough fiat money into the economy in 1936 to cause the economy to kick like a dead frog with an electrode stuck into its ganglia, and the unemployment rate dropped down to a balmy 13%-14%, just long enough to get the Democrats re-elected. Then the juice stopped flowing, the dead frog stopped kicking, and we were back in the 20% unemployment range again. Only the destruction by fire of the rest of the world's industrialized economies and the direct stimulation of a war command economy really ended the Great Depression in the United States.

Really, let's not do that one again. It couldn't have been fun the first time around, although I'm sure the NRA 'blue eagle' rallies must have been stirring.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Huh. So AIDS originated during the Belgian colonial apocalypse of the Edwardian era? From that account, it may very well have been brought into the colonial capital by one of those dying natives conscripted to build the Congo railroad, so memorably described in the opening pages of Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness". There's some sort of horrible irony in that - AIDS *is* a Western legacy, but it isn't the CIA/Cold War plot of which KGB-planted press libels convinced so many leftist conspiracy-fanatics. It's an ugly, terrible, blind echo of the criminally careless Belgian occupation of central Africa, of the very apocalyptic worst of European colonialism.

This morning on "Five Minutes of NPR is Five More Than I Can Take", it was chihuahuas. When I turned on the radio, it was all about how the poor little beasts are emasculated, and mocked by popular culture, about how all the coddling and accessorizing was diminishing a creature which heretofore was not aware that it was the punchline of the animal world.

Then they started in on the Los Angeles bulimics and closet homosexuals nattering on about all the designer crap they decorate their little bone-rattlers with. Way to undercut the narrative, NPR story editor! Are you pea-brains *trying* to drive every male member of middle America out of your audience? Because I now have the distinct urge to go buy a truck and drink some beer.

I *HATE* beer.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

NPR: Bums are early-voting in Ohio. [Subtext: think your vote counts? Ha! One 'homeless' trucked from precinct to precinct by ACORN wardheelers will cancel out *your* vote, your *relatives'* votes, and the votes of half the people you *know*. Why bother voting at all, breeder?]

NPR: Deaths in automobile accidents increase on presidential election day. [Subtext: don't go out to vote next November! You'll be killed in traffic!]

I'd say something about in-kind contributions to the Obama campaign, but somehow I suspect this will be more of an 'own goal'. After all, the NPR listening audience is overwhelmingly Obama-voting-friendly. It rather sounds like they managed to put out a voter-suppression message today to their own audience. Good job, National Democratic Radio!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

This is a heck of a hammer. A primer on the garbage social engineering and rotten regulatory horseplay which helped create the current economic crisis. It may not be there when you click through, though. Apparently Obama's corporate backers have started playing whack-a-mole on copies of this, on account of some copyrighted music used in the background. Someone's working on replacing the copyrighted stuff with public domain music.

I just had the opportunity to organize my thoughts on the bailout failure & the Pelosi speech, which I'm basically cutting-and-pasting from a comment over at Jason's blog.

Think of it this way: the Republican congressional fence-sitters were being asked to do something which violated their principles & their own understanding of their constituents' opinions. Then they were told by the individuals on the other side who were soliciting this marginal betrayal of their principles and their constituents "oh, yes, and by the way? we're going to use your aid as a club to beat you over the head with in the press."

Speaker Pelosi stood up & told the Republican waverers that there was *no* cover for them in voting for the bill. It was a violation of their principles, against the reported will of their constituents, and on top of that, the Democratic leadership was promising to use their aye votes against them in the coming campaign.

She changed the equation from '(claimed national interest + bipartisan cover) - (principles + constituent opinion) = 0' to 'claimed national interest - (principles + constituent opinion + partisan PR shitstorm)= LOSE' with that speech.

Hell, now that I've laid it out myself, I would have changed my vote, too. I wager the only reason Peterson voted 'aye' was that he's retiring, and he doesn't need to give a damn. The equation works out for him - his expected successor G.T. is running around yelling his opposition to the bailout as loud as his lungs will allow.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Oh, and by the way? True Blood is a mess of an adaptation. Very disappointing. Tonally all over the place, and way too strident & shrill for the source material. Part of the charm of the Southern Vampire books was the dry, underplayed country humor & setting. The books are very much flyover country material. The HBO adaptation's tone is closer to "Anita Blake" cut with a Hollywood-style condescension towards Southern Gothics. Oversexed with an emphasis on trailer-freakery. It's like a trash-off between the unsympathetic, predatory, amoral supporting cast and the incidental vampires that just kill people and feed off the bodies.
Took a break off from politics last weekend, and went down to Lancaster County to spend some time with old roommates & celebrate Big Dave's birthday. I lasted until Saturday morning before I went out for a 'walk' to find the closest thing to a morning paper & see how the debate went.

Back to the phones tonight.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Gurren Lagann is the best thing Gainax has ever done, bar none. It's like FLCL without all the emo and motormouth, Abenobashi without the self-indulgent genre-parody, Evangelion without the clinical depressive at the helm. It's almost uniformly gorgeous (excepting of course the infamous fourth episode, which really was just a bad-art episode, all things being equal), endlessly enthusiastic, *serious-minded*, smart, quick-footed, well-structured, and just flat-out fun. It is an almost-perfect mecha anime.

Now if market gotterdammerungs were only susceptible to deus ex Spiral Power...

Thursday, September 18, 2008


The Glorious Mirrorball, folks. He and his staff will be here for the next four years and change, if you so wish it.

Of course, Palin's people managed to start their message off with a bad typo, so YMMV.
Well, it's been a quiet week in Puddle Soonbegone, on the edge of karst country. I got a call on my answering machine when I got home last night, from my opposite number asking me to vote for the Glorious Mirrorball. Interesting presentation, a good deal more tribal & demanding than our approach, which emphasizes the merit of our candidates over any direct request for the recipient's vote. I'm divided over whether their approach is tactically more effective. The professionals say that you do need to actually straight-out ask for the voter's vote, explicitly. We tend to talk about "support" rather than baldly laying out the v-word.

It's not a happy thing, calling and interrupting private lives for tiny fragments, which put together into the whole, might possibly add up into some sort of transient public advantage - if everybody down the line has done the right thing, maybe. I suppose it's simpler if you hold some sort of corporatist or collectivist ideal: that it's the duty of the vanguard to lead the proletariat, or something about the masses uniting to throw of the shackles of etcetera, or the soul of the nation uniting to throw off the chains of international capitalism. Fascists are, after all, ideologically better suited to harassing the common man into dropping his private concerns and concentrating on the wider arena. To the individualist, what they were doing before you called them *is* the proper and right use of what little time they have. Any possible cause to which you might direct their precious time and attention will be, at best, of secondary importance.

This is why these campaign seasons should be sharp, furious, and above all, short. It's just a shame that it takes so long to get a GOTV operation up to speed. There's no such thing as a running start.

I tried listening to the AM station in town. AM radio is so low-tech, and kind of hard to listen to. There's all that atmospheric buzz, and the ads are mostly schmuckbait for goldbugs, far as I can tell.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Argh. I was arguing with a retired instructor in international law on Friday about Palin's knowledge or lack thereof of the subject, but it seems we were both arguing from false premises. ABC chopped the hell out of that interview. Naked bias. Every afternoon I drive into State College to make campaign calls, listening to NPR news is like listening to the opposition's summation of the day's events. They're barely pretending any more.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ye gods. It's the Obama Nation's very own fish symbol! How very, very - wait a minute, is this a Republican dirty trick? Doesn't look like it at first blush. No hits on Snopes yet, though.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Useful list of Palin rumors & some attempts at explanation.

Link stolen from the Instapundit, as has some others recently. Hey, it's getting to be busy around here.
Michael Yon article on the Kajaki engineering convoy mission last week, with impressive photographs from a combat photographer who was with 3 Para during the fighting that cleared the Taliban positions along and around the convoy route.

Friday, September 05, 2008

John Judis thinks that Obama a) implicitly rejected the community organizer approach to problem-solving in the late Eighties as he left Chicago for law school and b) did so because he thought that Alinsky-style "self-interest against entrenched power" led directly to squalid, irrational, racist identity politics. I think it's a brilliant attempt to project Judis' own analysis of Alinsky's anti-politics onto the perfect ideological mirror which is Barrack Obama, but I can't say I'm convinced. All the actual quotes from Obama are oblique and abstract, which could easily be re-intrepreted by an unsympathetic auditor as an orthodox left-political argument in the traditional manner of old-school Fabian socialism, instead of the almost neo-conservative critique which Judis wants Obama to have embraced.

But the stuff about Alinskian community organizations like SON/SOC degenerating into blatant white-flight race-baiting is interesting and new information, at least to me.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Well, I'm here at work waiting on a DNS propagation issue for a botched server switch, and contemplating my 8 AM customer support shift starting later this morning, and wondering if I should just skip going home whenever we actually get some action on the DNS thing.

Caffeine. I need caffeine.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

This is the very definition of cool. But it's also a nasty sign of just how out-of-control southern Afghanistan is. We've almost won in Iraq, but Afghanistan is a nasty, unpalatable mess. One of the worst problems is that we can't put that much more in-country more than what's already there, for fear of collapsing the various extremely tenuous supply conduits into the country. The Russians have just shut down the northern supply route, and the one through Pakistan is going through the heart of what's shaping up to be a really ferocious tribal war. I'd say civil war, but there's precious little central government in the NWFP for anybody to rebel against. Right now, it looks like the militias of one tribe or coalition of clans against the Taliban and the militias of the other tribe or coalition of clans. (I don't understand the cultural structure of the NWFP enough to tell if the two "tribes" I've seen mentioned are exhaustive, or just the particular combatants in the dogfight.)
Check out the blackshirt brigade. This is the world you made: faceless goons spraying poison in the face of octogenarians as a form of political expression.

The modern freikorps at play in the streets of St. Paul.
So the Republican campaign office in State College is a cramped set of rooms above a child-friendly toy store on Allen Street. Down Allen a half-block is the Obama regional headquarters. When the press reported this fact, I had assumed that the Obama people had snapped up that storefront that the Bush-Cheney people used back in 2004, right on the street, friendly open full-length windows - used to be a video shop that specialized in anime rentals back in the day. Surprisingly, this is not the case. The landowners have leveled the old building - a fifties semi-classic hugging the line between charming chrome-tailfin and concrete brutalist monstrostity - and are in the process of putting up a brand new two-story monstrosity in its place.

No, the Obama people went and rented the old AT&T building, a frowning, severe, two-story monument in dark brown brick and smoked glass. It's as inviting as a bunker, an impression which they're trying to off-set with a cheery explosion of posters and hand-written notices plastered all over the front door, which looks like it could hold off Summer Glau for at least a minute or two.

But they're definitely burning the midnight oil in there. Lights were on after 8 PM on Labor Day.
Dude. Palin's a hacktivist. Well, OK, not really. But she's got sharp knuckles and doesn't pull punches. Given yesterday's news about her precocious engaged-and-knocked-up seventeen-year-old daughter and this, I'm going to upgrade the "Heinlein juvenile heroine" to "mid-career Heinlein protagonist". Let's just stay away from the Number of the Beast, though, OK? That'd be going a bit too far.

Via the usual.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sen. Ken Salazar (CO-Idiot) was just kvetching that Palin was somebody "nobody's heard of".

Firstly, as I said, I was talking up Palin to my father in April. People who pay a lot of attention are criminally myopic if they've never heard of Palin. It's like never having heard of Sibelius or Napolitino.

Secondly, people who *don't* pay attention to politics aren't likely to hear of *any* second-tier VP-class politician. I asked my great-aunt the morning after the Biden pick if she'd ever heard of him. No, no she hadn't. Generally speaking, you're lucky if Joe Sixpack or Janet Housecoat knows 1) the current president and vice president 2) the speaker of the house 3) their own governor 4) their own senators.
McCain-Palin '08.

Huh. I believe I was telling my folks back in April that I thought she'd be the best choice McCain could make. I think I can live with that.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I went over to the Thompson campaign office on Allegheny Street yesterday afternoon for a campaign kick-off open house. There was an unfamiliar Mini Cooper with a Hillary sticker outside the office. It was there hours later, when I walked by coming back from the grocery store. It must have belonged to one of the campaign workers. That's taking Operation Chaos a bit far, don't you think? I didn't even keep a Bush/Cheney 2004 sticker on my car after the election - I had intentionally gotten a magnetic so that it could be easily removed afterwords.

Cars festooned with bumper stickers is a leftist affection. Campaign advertising is for the campaign season.

Speaking of which, when is that McCain running mate announcement going to happen? Can't put out campaign materials without the blipping running mate.

Oh, btw: Thompson's good with faces. He remembered me from the Bush campaign office in 2004.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I followed a link from the Corner to a Daily Kos post by Keith Obermann throwing Dana Milbank under his own personal bus, and noted in passing the comment count. 1019 comments.


Who could read that many comments, or even care to try? That's nuts!

Of course, taking an egotistical over-promoted ex-sportscaster as your own personal political redeemer is nuts in the first place, but good Zod people! Who has that kind of time?

Monday, July 28, 2008

So it's vice-presidential vetting season, and rumor has it that McCain will be announcing a running mate in the next week or so. I'm not sure if Obama's ready yet - from the number of people bounced off of his vetting committee for various subprime lending malfeances, I'm not even sure if he has a vetting committee in action, or whether they've decided to just run his ego for vice-president & moved on to planning the inevitable transition instead of worrying over minor details like VP candidates. Is "hack to be named later" a valid choice?

Anyways, everybody's thinking about McCain's best choices, which leaves me wondering about worst choices. What politicians or personalities would be guaranteed to cause their ticket to crash and burn in the most picturesque manner possible? For McCain, the bad choices are almost endless, although time and fickle fame have undermined some of the best jokes - does anybody even remember who Zell Miller or Trent Lott is these days? 2004 was such a long time ago... Ah. But it will take a true spirit of perversity to properly torpedo Obama in the second compartment. Whose baggage is heavy enough to fatally over-balance the UNS Audacity?

The most timely of bad choices would be, of course, John Edwards. "Ma, Ma, where's my pa?" I'd say something about the Obama people missing the scandal because of their reliance on the determinedly blind mainstream media, but of course, lefties just pretend to not read the tabloids. They'll know. Politicians may be too high in the instep to buy their own groceries, but their aides will have seen the National Enquirer covers the next time they pick up the boss's skim milk. But really, Edwards is kind of boring, even for a worst vice presidential pick, even with the two-time loser aspect of the choice.

Who's flashier? Bill Ayers, of course, but that's more of a dream-candidate for those of us who follow the wingnut commentariat, and anyways, he's not actually a politician, unless you consider terrorism to be politics by other means. Michelle Obama, for that trifeca of misguided "feminism means riding on a husband's coat-tails" pandering, sullen anti-Americanism, and complete and total political inexperience. But it's hard to picture Michelle Obama as a sort of Eva Peron/Cristina Fernandez figure. Harder than it was the she-Nixon, at any rate.

With the Countrywide thing having blown up so comprehensively, I think we'll be spared the prospect of a Dodd vice-presidency, which will make for a less sleep-inducing VP debate, if nothing else. Whom among the other Democratic presidential '08 candidates would be crazed enough to keep us awake? Kucinich is almost plausible, if you honestly believe that the nutroots are pissed enough by the gestures towards the rightward tack since HC bowed out. Utterly and totally nuts, but plausable. And hey - Ohio! Favorite son! Remember when they used to put favorite sons in the VP slot, and it actually worked? When was the last time that happened? 1996, I guess.

But you know, few really plausable VP presidential choices for Obama are hole-beneath-the-water-line disasters. Sibelius, or Napolitano have few serious down-sides that I'm aware of, and although Bill Richardson supposedly has some dreadful portrait-of-Dorian-Gray in the attic that pundits like Mickey Kaus love to drop horrid hints about, I can't imagine it was that bad without it having come out during the Obama-HC hatefest in the spring. There are *tons* of female Democratic governors to choose from, and none of them are likely to blow up the campaign. Some are even red-state figures. Although really, I don't think Napolitano's Arizona is in play this year, any more than Palin's Alaska is.

I started out planning on making fun of McCain-Lieberman (speaking of two-time losers) or McCain-Helms (nothing like a dead racist to make a live Republican look progressive in comparison) or even McCain-Ventura (Why pretend to be Republican any more? Parties are dead!). But I realize now that the only choice McCain could surprise me with is McCain-Romney. Because really, anything would be an improvement on the expected choice.

But why listen to me? What do I know? I loved the idea of Kemp in 1996.

Jack's probably still available for another run.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Wow. Dark Knight is a hell of a ride. Some pretty ugly philosophy and politics coiling in its bitter heart, but then we always knew that there was a fascist core to the Batman mythos, didn't we?

Weird thing? Batman himself almost disappears from the movie. The focus is so tight on all the secondary characters and villains that the nominal protagonist disappears over the event horizon. By the end of the movie, Bruce Wayne and his alter ego are like a black hole, disappearing within the abyssal requirements of the story. Batman becomes the abyss. I like that.

I'm impressed with how they used Harvey Dent. It works much better than what I was afraid they'd do with the character.

I'm a little worried about how much there is to the movie. I left the theatre thinking about how we have to drive up the intensity of everything any more - how what was very simple becomes with time either more and more baroque, or in the case of Dark Knight, condensed and concentrated. There's just so much story compressed into the film, that it feels like the material for three Seventies-era movies. But the story isn't rushed, or cluttered, or spackled-together like last year's Spiderman 3. The script & editing are a clockwork marvel of syncronization and economy.

Watchmen's trailer looks impressive. Actuallly, it looks a lot better than the actual comic, which honestly wasn't all that polished or artistically distinguished. Watchmen's virtues lay in the writing, and in layout itself. Now that I think about it, the Watchmen trailer looks like the version of the comic which might have been produced if the art had been given to one of the Nineties gold-foil crowd instead of Dave Gibbons.

Monday, July 07, 2008

No blood for uranium!

Now if the greentards would just let us build some pebblebed reactors to put the booty to use...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Congratulations, Supreme Court! You've put yourself in a position where reputable and otherwise-rational members of the public are approvingly quoting Andrew Jackson on the subject of respecting your decisions. It takes some work to put modern-day PC-sensitized responsible adults in the same camp with the architect of the Trail of Tears.

I can't express just how stupid this is. In 2000? The Court pissed off the die-hard Democratic partisans. In 2008? Anyone who actually gives a damn about the military and foreign policy (as opposed to those who think of foreign policy as an extension of their moral self-regard). What are you going to do in 2012? Well, some of you won't be doing anything other than obeying the second law of thermodynamics, because the probabilities approach unity that one of you senile old wrecks will kick the bucket before then, but God only knows what monstrous idiocy the collective Court will be capable of if the Obamanation has the appointing of your successors, un-restrained by a Republican majority in the Senate.

And if you think there's a Republican majority in the cards for either house in the next four years, I've got a house in Mogadishu for sale. I'm sure it'll appreciate in value once the war's over, right?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Well, the Seventies are making a comeback. They're talking about stagflation, and the guys at work who live in Toftrees are trying to make a carpool work. I don't have to 'pool, because I walk to work. It'd be nice to walk up with other folk, but nobody from town seems into it.

Oh, and I'm never buying milk from Dollar General again. This is the second or third time that a half-gallon's gone sour on me before it was more than three-fifths used. Waste of money....

Monday, June 09, 2008

Obama's channeling Preston Brooks now? Makes sense, given that he's a Democratic descendant of slave-owning border ruffians.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Cicadas all over the sidewalks down in town. Ugly little things, look more like a cross between coachroaches and hornets than your usual flat-black cicada model. Yech.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

So, I promised a discussion of Franceschi and Weider's the Wars Against Napoleon. I greatly regretted this promise, because it required I actually finish the book, a task which I would have just as well let drop uncompleted. Even if I did pay hardback prices for the thrice-blasted thing.

The book is being sold as a revisionist work arguing the diplomatic case of Napoleon I's innocence and genuinely peaceable nature. This would be a substantial burden for the most scholarly and clever of authors, as Napoleon has become a by-word in the English-speaking world as an aggressor, a tyrant, and a degenerate. Franceschi and Weider are neither clever, nor do they demonstrate any scholarly characteristics, I must report.

First of all, diplomatic history is a long-winded and detailing sort of affair. I should have been well-warned to note that this work of diplomatic history was barely more than two hundred pages long. What detail is contained within its few pages tends more towards the military, than the diplomatic. Perhaps the authors were confused by the word "Wars" in their title, and concluded that they were obliged to include great swathes of text about the operational and tactical events of Napoleon's many, many campaigns. Nevertheless, in a book proporting to tear the diplomatic mask from the warlike visage of the Bonaparte family's wicked royalist enemies, the material on diplomacy and politics is sparse, spotty, and underwhelming. We get barely three pages on Tilsit, two or three pages scattered here and there on Amiens, and maybe a page and a half on Luneville. A few paragraphs here and there about Campoformio, etc. Meanwhile, the maneuvering behind the establishment of the myriad Bonapartist puppet-states justifying what still looks to me like Napoleon's many aggressions and invasions are airly dismissed with bald nonsense which the North Korean's propagandists would blush to commit to print.

For instance, this on the enthroning of a Bonaparte brother over the Netherlands:
On the institutional plane, the Dutch threw themselves into the arms of Revolutionary France to escape the stadholders (governors of the country.) At the time, the Netherlands had a republican regime presided by the "Grand Pensioner" Schimmelpenninck. In 1806 the Batavian authorities took advantage of their leader's illness to request of Napoleon that he give them his brother Joseph as king. Joseph had earned their respect the previous year while commanding a Franco-Dutch corps. The proclamation was issued on June 5.

Thus was one of the oldest republics in Europe placed under a monarchy by the banner-carriers of the revolutionary Rights of Man!

Kindly note, the lack of citation in the above quote. There is none. In the entire book. Apparently the authors received their enlightenment on the subject via divine revelation, because there is no worldly credit given anywhere outside the obsequious acknowledgments contained within the brief preface. Not even quotes from correspondence and contemporary works are properly cited such that a reader not inclined to take the authors at their word might consult the originals.

This book is an act of contrascholasticism. The authors appear actively contemptuous of the notion of active readership, of the idea that their book might act as any sort of gateway for a journey deeper into the subject. Their word is, apparently final.

They also seem disinclined to persuade or convince an uncertain or open-minded audience. The text is littered with rhetorical, unearned daggers flung at the enemies of Napoleon, often out of context. Bernadotte, the general who turned against Napoleon once he became Crown Prince of Sweden, never appears in the text without an accompanying shriek of rage against his eventual betrayal of the peaceable emperor. Every other personage of note who did not stand with Napoleon until Saint Helena are likewise pummelled about their unworthy heads and shoulders.

Look, I was willing to entertain the idea that the monarchs of Europe were perfidious and brought Napoleon's catastrophes upon their own heads. Hell, I bought the book, didn't I? But once you wade through two hundred pages of:
In foreign affairs, the domain more relevant to our subject, Napoleon's first concern was to reassure the European monarchies. He attempted to disarm their hysterical hostility by informing them that he accepted the Treaty of Paris, thereby indicating that he renounced any claim to reconquer the frontiers of 1792 and instead engaged to respect those of 1789.

it becomes difficult to maintain equanimity and balance. Oh, and please note - the above was a description of the diplomatic maneuvers during "Hundred Days", and Napoleon fought the whole of that spring's campaign in Belgium, which is decidedly on the wrong side of the 1789 borders.

Really, this book is naked apologetic. They write to defend their hero, against every insult ever essayed by an opponent. Check this out - this is their defense of the then-Consul's slaughter of prisoners in Jaffa during the Egyptian campaign:
Confronted with a fait accompli, Bonaparte found himself in a nightmarish issue of conscience. Already suffering from a shortage of provisions for his soldiers, he was unable to feed this additional mass of humanity under any circumstances. Nor could he spare sufficient soldiers to guard them, being cruelly undermanned as a result of operations. Simply to abandon these men to their fate would be to condemn them to a slow and horrible death in the desert. Finally, in the rigid oriental mindset, any measure of clemency would be perceived as a weakeness of will tha would probably encourage even more ferocious resistence in future combats. It was thus that Bonaparte was obliged to resolve his moral crisis by taking the terrible decision to exterminate the prisoners under indescribable conditions.

What a prince.

In short, this book leaves me more ignorant of the subject than I was when I first opened its leaves. What few new facts one might glean from the authors' presentation are so compromised by their unrelenting partisanship, refusal to cite sources, and blatant bias that I find myself unable to accept any of it as true. Their endorsement of interpretations I've encountered previously have undermined the legitimacy of said interpretations by that very endorsement.

In short, I regret that I ever encountered this horrid little volume of pestiferous Bonapartist propaganda.

Friday, May 02, 2008


Oh, and btw? The Wars Against Napoleon is shaping up to be a ripe piece of unaddorned sophistry, a bare-bones apologia for tyranny. I'm regretting having bought it. I'll have to track back to see who talked me into it - it was either someone on the Corner or Dimitri, I think.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Huh. Iron Man's playing at the Garman tonight. Sounds like a plan.
So it's National History Day season, and the Valentine Hill Road was echoing this fine morning with the outraged bellows of yours truly, reading his way through the senior papers. Vietnam War papers. [shudder]

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

So I've been watching fansubs of the first season of Space Battleship Yamato. It's more fun than I had expected, but lord, the science! The continuity errors! The enemy race changes *skin color* ten episodes into the show! With no in-story explanation why the Gamilons were a healthy pink until the Pluto base was destroyed! Well, except for that subordinate of Desslar's - he was always a sickly purple. There's no women on board the Yamato, except for one episode, where they're all over the place, then after that, it's just Yuki again. The travel-times make my head ache, and the galactic geography makes the original Battlestar Galactica seem reasonable and rational in comparison.

But on the other hand, you've got mad Seventies futuristic designs, great music, those trippy Matsumoto characters, and Captain Okita. Gotta love Captain Okita. And Sanada, grinning suicidally as he blows up the Gamilon-trap-of-the week with bombs in his own prosthetic limbs. He rocks.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Fred: Obama will say any pin-headed thing he feels like on foreign affairs, so long as it doesn't require him to actually follow through with any of it. I'm not president or running for president; if I say "invade Pakistan!", it'd just be some fool saying something stupid on the internet. Obama, on the other hand, had somebody mis-brief him & blurted out, stupidly, some idiocy about invading a nominal allied state during the campaign season.

The reason that Pakistan is such a hellacious problem is that they're nominally our allies. (Same with the Saudis, but the Royal Family isn't a nuclear power. Yet.) Without causus belli, we can't out-right invade the technically sovereign state of Pakistan. The CIA crawls all over that county with the half-hearted connivance of the Pakistanis - there was one heck of a wild-west show in the Kyber Agency recently. We conduct quiet cross-border attacks all the time. But I *don't* think we should declare open war on the Frontier Agencies. It's not the delicate or nuanced way to go about things.

But more importantly, Afghanistan isn't a cultural or political priority. Afghanistan is a proxy to a proxy, at least two removes from the strategic pivot. All we can do in Afghanistan is kill jihadis. More importantly, we can *lose* in Afghanistan, but we can't win there. It's an attritional fight, and the modern United States isn't a power which can win on attritional terms. It only works if we change our terms, our definitions. Afghanistan is far enough out of the Islamic heartland that it'll never register as anything other than "an affair of posts". You can win hearts and minds locally in Afghanistan proper, but what you do in that country won't swing the Islamic public regionally or internationally one way or the other.

Iraq is the emotional heartland of the modern Islamic world, or at least as close as we can get without waging war on a nominal sovereign allied state. And last year the Salafis wrecked themselves in front of the Muslim world, right in the heart of the old caliphate. They butchered and they slaughtered and they demonstrated their ideals before the cameras.

Iraq was where we could show the Islamic world a choice of definitions: does "Muslim" mean takfirism, salafism? Or are the Takfiri devil-worshipers, nihilistic, solipistic, savages, criminals - safely *not Muslim*?

I'm sanguine about Iraq because it looks like Iraq broke the Sunni regional threat. Since last summer, it's been a worry about whether there would be a count-rout and regional civil war between the resurgent Shia trends - the "Shia Crescent" - and a beaten Sunni cultural trend. The unexpected "Iranian subversion" mini-civil war seems to have put paid to the threat of the "Shia Crescent", though.

On a related note, I'm having difficulty figuring out what the heck happened last month in Basra and Sadr City, but there are a couple of alternate interpretations.

1) The various Iranian-suborned groups in the Iraqi Shia community had a falling-out-between-thieves, and the Iranians tried to salvage the situation by throwing the Sadrists to the wolves.
2) al Maliki had a sudden surge of patriotic feeling, and decided to assert national control over Basra.
3) Sadr failed to impress anyone in Teheran with his ability to mobilize the masses, and the fighting was *started* by Iranian intervention, against Sadr.
4) al Maliki and SIIC finally gave in to American badgering, and decided to reconcile with the Sunni Awakening folks by waging their own little demonstrative war-against-terrrorists-and-takfiri. Sadr, being the least politically apt and by far the youngest and dumbest of Shia powerbrokers, got chosen as the judas goat for this demonstration. The governmental Shia factions, having fought and won a much more conventional war against their own head-choppers and lunatics, are now exploiting an opportunity to meet on common terms with the newly-sympathetic Sunni Awakening community leaders.

I like #4 much more than the other explanations of what's going on. It explains what happened to the abortive "Shia Awakening" movement from last winter. If the Shias in government let that go on for too long, they would have failed to protect their phoney-baloney jobs. In order to avoid another bottom-up counter-insurgency, they and the Iranians are colluding to make the pacification of the south a top-down national project. It *sounds* like the Iranians may have out-maneuvered themselves, though. And there was always a chance that the Iranians would shoot themselves in the foot like this. Whenever you try to buy everybody in a factional snake-pit, you end up buying nobody; because all the factions are bought off equally, none of them feel beholden for the money and support delivered. Aid becomes tribute when it is expected, and leverage depends upon uncertainty.
Huh, long weekends.

I'm feeling kind of optimistic about the war this morning, but then, I haven't read the news sites yet this morning. I'm going to put a placer down and say that I believe that we're winning in Iraq today, and that it'll finally settle down into a low-level series of terroristic outbursts and border flareups with Iran. I'm not as sanguine about the prospect of war with Iran, and the ongoing deterioration of Afghanistan. We've ceded a certain amount of control in Afghanistan to NATO, so to one degree or another that situation is kind of out of control, and that's always worrisome. One of the things I'll be looking for in a future administration is a healthy re-engagement with Afghanistan, and the proxy-war with Pakistan's demons which "Afghanistan" represents.

I spent part of this last weekend talking with a once-estranged friend who's going to be deploying to Iraq by the end of the year with one of the new Stryker brigades. He seems pretty optimistic, but then, he hasn't been actively deployed since the second year of the Bosnia deployment. I didn't hear anything I haven't been hearing elsewhere in my own little personal echo-chamber, so take that as you will.

But Fred, I can't imagine that it's a good idea to use adjectives like "savage" when talking about Muslims, Shia or Sunni. Words have meaning, and I like to reserve such explosive and loaded terms for actual savages, like the takfiri and the terrorists and the criminals hired by both.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Huh. The Clearfield wallah beat my-neighbor-the-carpetbagger. Guess I'll definitely be voting Republican in the generals, unless this Thompson fellow turns out to be a sheep-molester or something like that. And, since they seem to have done well enough in shaking the trees & emptying the closets of skeletons - Walker, sucks to be you, dude - I'm guessing that possibility is pretty slight.

But it's not good when the Democrats roll out more primary votes than the Republicans in such a traditionally Republican, rural district, especially when the Republican congressional race is that heavily-contested. About 69.5k to more than 71k? Not good, folks. Pennsyltucky is starting to go blue in the face.

And yes, the Shrew made her numbers. It's gonna go to a second ballot at the least. Woo-hoo! Contested convention!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Can we lock the gates behind them?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

You often hear it said, of some political or other opportunist, that he would sell his own grandmother if it would suit his interests. But you seldom, if ever, see this notorious transaction actually being performed, which is why I am slightly surprised that Obama got away with it so easily.

Hitchens, of course. Who would know from knifing beloved, sainted figures like grandmothers and Mother Teresa. In Hitchens' defense, of course, is the fact that the sacred cows he gores are ours, not his.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

There's a competitive race for the Fifth Congressional District of Pennsylvania for the first time in twelve years. It's a heck of a mess over on the Red side of the aisle with nine contenders. Luckily, I got pissed off in the spring of 2003 & re-registered as an ass, er, I mean Democrat. This means that I only have to care about the *Democratic* primaries, and have no say in the other contest, and thus, justifiably, no reason to care until after the primaries are over. I've only got a choice between three candidates. They are as follows:

Mark B. McCracken. The only thing I know about him is what I've read in the CDT, namely, he's a county commissioner from Clearfield, and has an ill-thought-out "bring 'em home now" position on Iraq. I don't think so.

Rick Vilello, the mayor of Lock Haven. Again, never heard of him before now. And frankly? Mayors in Central Pennsylvania are nonentities. I couldn't tell you *Bellefonte*'s mayor without resorting to Google. (I checked, far as I can tell, it's still Stanley Goldman.) The point here, is that it isn't really a serious stepping stone. His position on Iraq is worse than McCracken's - glib, stupid, and dangerous.

Finally, there's Bill Cahir, my carpetbagging Iraq-war veteran neighbor. As expected, his position is solid and uncontroversial - like Hillary Clinton on a very good day, or a typical moderate-Republican office-holder on a terse day. See it through, political goalposts, training, don't leave chaos behind us, etc. Exactly what you'd expect from someone from the O'Hanlon side of the Party.

Oh, would you look at that - somebody's put up wiki pages on the candidates. Here's McCracken's. Hmm. Lots of stupid talk about fiscal responsibility. As if a freshman from the sticks would get on the Appropriations Committee. I mean, Peterson is, but he's been around for a good long while. They don't make you a cardinal during your first term, Mr. Commissioner! And frankly? A Clearfield politician pushing for *ethanol* is just a purblind fool. He should be stumping for coal-to-gasoline if he had his constituents actual interests at heart. Plonk.

Rick Vilello doesn't have a wiki entry, but he does have his own, awful-looking campaign site. He seems to think that lumber is an alternate fuel source. I'm not sure if that means methanol or woodburners. His issues page sounds like bad Obama - all cheap parallel rhetoric and airy assertion. The bottom-most part of the page actually *rolls off the template*. I'm still not sure what exactly he proposes for "Economic Development and Rural Development", except by that construction he considers them distinct and separate items...

Here's Cahir's wiki. Igh, he worked for both Ted Kennedy and Harris Wofford. That's not a good sign. Iraq proposals in detail... what's "Operation Homeward Bound"? That sounds fraught. Google brings up something which I don't think is the same thing, given the internal details. Economically speaking, he seems to be a big "government partnership" guy, which isn't good. I'd hope that we'd all learned better during the Nineties, but I guess statism and borderline corporatism is an occupational hazard among Beltway denizens, and one of Cahir's biggest weaknesses is that he is a Beltway denizen, first as a Senate aide, then as a reporter on the congressional beat. His big-brain interventionist healthcare proposals require serious tax increases, so that's a big "no". But at least there's some details here.

At first pass, looks like I'll be voting for my carpetbagger neighbor in the primaries, but I'd have to be offered a pretty repulsive or lunatic alternative to vote for him in November. He's too statist on taxation & government intervention for me to be happy with him given what I'm seeing, but he seems better than the other Democratic alternatives.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Now that's how you do a sex scandal. That's sin on a monumental scale. That's hypocrisy and chutzpah worthy of respect.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Oh, what would we do without the spinal-reflexive perversity and contrariness of Slate? Surprisingly, they found somebody other than Christopher Hitchens to write this week's poison obituary.
The moonbat nest on the other side of Trinity Methodist, next to the Presbyterian Church's little parking lot, has been decorated by a massive poster or tapestry of the Dear Leader in the front window. Big BHO himself, four times as large as life and staring out at the passers-by on Spring Street, like a poster of one of the "Four Beards" in some drear Orwellian square. What makes nominal Americans indulge in such cult-of-personality antics? Is the the instinctive need of the weak reed for the safety of a snug, well-bundled fasces?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Monday, February 11, 2008

I read Under the Banner of Heaven this weekend, after running into a lot of recent references to it in online discussions of Mormon polygamy. What a disappointment! I don't believe I've ever encountered an allegedly mainstream book of nonfiction wherein the author thought it appropriate to accuse the founder of a religion of being a practitioner of "necromancy". Furthermore, the book is totally lacking in footnotes, and suffers heavily from "stuff some pissed-off ex-polygamists told me which I will now regurgitate".

Don't get me wrong, I suspect the premise of the book - that polygamy, and specifically patriarchal religious polygyny, is inherently destructive of societies, families, and individuals - is basically true. I'd like to read a balanced, well-researched examination of the thesis in the Mormon context. Instead I got a shrieking exemplar of "moral panic" journalism.