Sunday, November 16, 2008

Isn't it frustrating when the scientific facts don't support the political agenda?

One might reflexively assume that this article is a snipe at the right, but in fact they would be wrong. Interesting news about the terrible global warming we've been experiencing lately. We've been told lately that this last year was the hottest on record; that the situation is crucial. Turns out, the bureaucracy that came up with those numbers is wrong. Interestingly, that bureaucracy is headed by Al Gore's friend.

I've written about the global warming situation before; specifically, I gave ten reasons why I don't care. I guess we can file this latest news under point 6 in my diatribe. Actually, I think the more interesting thing is the recent decline in sun spots that will correspond with decreases in solar output. Historically, such decreases in activity were followed by ice ages. Wouldn't it be ironic if man-made global warming was staving off a new ice age?

I've always thought that Al Gore was a bit of a self-serving fraud. Its hard not to be suspicious of someone who speaks so strongly of knowing the truth about something as unpredictable as climatology. As I've pointed out in the past: weathermen cannot accurately predict the weather 48 hours in advance. And we are to believe they know what will happen ten, one hundred years from now?

Let me clarify. It is not foolish to think that massive production of greenhouse gases by humans would cause increased temperatures (it would be absurd to believe otherwise; to deny thermodynamics). And, it may be prudent to limit pollution as much as reasonably possible. What is foolish, however, is to believe with such conviction that immediate catastrophe will result if we don't stop global warming now.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thanks, Sarah

The US Secret Service blames Sarah Palin for a dramatic increase in death threats against Obama. The increase coincided exactly when Palin started her nastiest line of attack in the 2008 Campaign. She would question Obama's patriotism, or say "we don't know who the real Barack Obama is". A subtle suggestion that he is somehow evil, or a traitor.

We saw her say these things, and her crowd would whip up into a hateful frenzied mob. We heard shouts of "hes a terrorist" and "kill him", and we saw her say nothing. We saw no condemnation of these events from the right. No repudiation of such hate from Palin's base, the evangelicals and "values voters" (Jesus apparently hates liberals). The silence was, and continues to be, deafening.

Ironic that I'm writing this on the seventieth anniversary of the Kristallnacht. That was another time in history when hateful people on the fringes of a movement said and did things while their more moderate colleagues watched in silence. When "good" men and women did nothing, said nothing.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

To drive this point home

Appalachia, the stronghold of Hillary Clinton in the Democrat primaries:

Meanwhile, the Daily Kos reports that only 22% of the counties in the nation voted *more* Republican.

Next election, I won't bother with reading about the candidates. I'll just look to see who the people in Appalachia are supporting, and do the opposite.

The future of the GOP

Win back the youth vote:

"This picture from Andrew Gelman is striking. It suggests that the real difference between the past two elections and this one was the youth vote. In this election, the young left the Republican party in droves.

Why? I am not enough of a political scientist to be sure, but conversations I have had with some Harvard undergrads recently have led me to a conjecture: It was largely noneconomic issues. These particular students told me they preferred the lower tax, more limited government, freer trade views of McCain, but they were voting for Obama on the basis of foreign policy and especially social issues like abortion. The choice of a social conservative like Palin as veep really turned them off McCain.

So what does the Republican Party need to do to get the youth vote back? If the Harvard students are typical (and perhaps they are not, as Harvard students are hardly a random sample), the party needs to scale back its social conservatism. Put simply, it needs to become a party for moderate and mainstream libertarians. The actual Libertarian Party is far too extreme in its views to attract these students. And it is too much of a strange fringe group. These students are, after all, part of the establishment. But a reformed Republican Party could, I think, win them back.

Can the Republican Party move move in this direction without losing much of its base? I have no idea, but that seems to be the challenge ahead.

What is soft power?

THIS is soft power. From President Elect Obama's victory speech:

To those who would tear the world down, we will defeat you.

To those who seek peace and security, we support you.

And to all of those who have wondered if Americas beacon still burns as bright. Tonight we have proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms, or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

Many of us are still rightly concerned about the "war on terror". The more observant of us might have noticed a few things about the war in Afghanistan. We cannot win that conflict with only military power. It cannot be won even with military power coupled with economic power.

The war in Afghanistan, and the wider war on terror, is a war of ideas. What side can best persuade the people of the world to join their cause? This is what George Bush always failed to understand. It is what General Petraeus, the architect of the surge in Iraq, always did understand. You have to get the people on your side. The policies of George Bush: preemptive war, unilateralism, arrogance, belligerence, and torture, only yielded short term gain at a long-term loss.

Obama is a much needed clean break from the policies of Bush: unity. He preaches it. He acts it. He literally embodies it. He is a descendant of both Christian and Muslim, black and white. The soft power of the United States has literally gone up by orders of magnitude just now.

It, of course, remains to be seen if Obama is indeed crafty enough to capitalize on this resurgence of American soft power. To bring the war in Iraq to a swift and stable close. To bring some peace to Afghanistan. Resolve Darfur, strengthen international institutions. The world is desperate for physical and moral leadership right now, and only the United States can fill that role today. President Obama will make it happen.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

McCain's concession speech

Thats the McCain I know. I always knew he was still down there. If only he had defeated George Bush in 2000. I look forward to seeing him on the Daily Show again soon =).

Independents in Indiana

Supporting Obama over McCain by almost 20%.

This is striking when you stop to consider McCain's prominence was largely based on his appeal to moderates and independents like myself.

John McCain betrayed independents when he picked Sarah Palin as his VP, and they will bury him for it.

I still don't get it. McCain secures the GOP nomination and THEN moves to the right. It makes no sense. He ceded the entire middle of the political spectrum to Obama. Did he deliberately throw this election?