History's End

History will end only when Man does

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  • Thursday, October 27, 2005

    I Was Right

    Miers never had a chance.

    I wonder who Bush and co. will pick now...


    Tuesday, October 25, 2005

    Rosa Parks, RIP

    Rosa Parks is dead. For those who were born after the 1960s, that may not mean much at all. But for those born before then she is an important figure in an important movement. While perhaps her role has been played up by the media, what she did was still can act of courage, supported though it may have been by the NAACP and others.


    Friday, October 21, 2005

    Has Gas Gotten Cheaper?

    Or is it just me? It seems in the past month it has dropped 10 cents. I don't know how long the trend will go, but I hope it lasts.


    Thursday, October 20, 2005

    The UN Confirms...

    ...what we already knew.


    So Much for a Kosher Senate...

    Senate Rejects Coburn Amendment

    The GOP isn't doing itself any favors with these actions. Deficit and Fiscal Hawks have been upset for a while now, and actions like this won't help out any. Fortunately for them, only 1 Democrat broke ranks to support the bill, as compared to 12 Republicans. That Democrat being Russ Feingold, who just might run in '08. If he runs as a deficit hawk with strong social liberal values he just might pull it off.


    Wednesday, October 19, 2005

    On an IM Conversation Gone Bad, Part 2

    In the first part of my analysis of a conversation between Dean Esmay and Bill Ardolino, I examined the issue of Satisficement. Now I turn my attention to voter coalitions. Here is the part of the conversation which deals with coalitions. I put it here, rather than relying on you having to go to Dean's site, to make it easier to follow my lines of thinking.

    [20:41] INDCBill: another example would be abortion. what is the proper way for pro-lifers to achieve ends in the face of such majority position against theirs? I think it's incremental
    [20:41] INDCBill: and whole hog is counterproductive
    [20:41] INDCBill: but good luck finding a prolifer that agrees with that
    [20:41] EsmayDean: The difference being the right these days usually HAS a coherent philosphy.
    [20:41] INDCBill: thats true
    [20:41] INDCBill: the left is f'ing scattered
    [20:43] EsmayDean: But you're right about the prolifers. The unyielding unbending ones seem not to realize they will never get their way.
    [20:43] INDCBill: they talk past their practically intended audience
    [20:44] EsmayDean: Some of them do good work, running shelters and medical programs and such.
    [20:44] EsmayDean: Honestly I think the worst thing that could happen to the pro-life movement is to have Roe v. Wade overturned.
    [20:44] INDCBill: hmmm
    [20:44] INDCBill: maybe
    [20:44] INDCBill: be a hell of a fight
    [20:44] INDCBill: in various localities
    [20:44] EsmayDean: Yeah but then they'd be face to face with the fact that the vast majority of people in America, men and women, are perfectly comfortable with restrictions on abortion but will not support an absolute ban.
    [20:45] INDCBill: yeah
    [20:45] EsmayDean: It's why, in my view, Roe must go. I'm pro-choice, but it's been distorting our politics for 30 years. There's no other country in the West where this is a big issue, and the reason is the democratic process finds compromises that most people can live with.
    [20:46] INDCBill: well you may soon get your wish
    [20:46] EsmayDean: I hope so.
    [20:46] INDCBill: within 2 years, I'd say
    [20:46] EsmayDean: Mind you, it'll mean the Republican coalition collapses within 5 years.
    [20:46] INDCBill: possibly
    [20:46] EsmayDean: Millions of pro-life voters will be able to vote Democrat again.
    [20:47] INDCBill: do you think its possible to have a third way?
    [20:47] EsmayDean: Third way on abortion? Or you mean in general?
    [20:47] INDCBill: poltically
    [20:47] INDCBill: a third part
    [20:47] INDCBill: "classical liberal"
    [20:48] EsmayDean: Oh. Yeah. Sure.
    [20:48] EsmayDean: In retrospect, Clinton was much better at this than I realized at the time.
    [20:48] EsmayDean: Bush would have been the same but the war's been a distraction.
    [20:48] INDCBill: triangulation, yeah
    [20:48] EsmayDean: There's another way of putting that.
    [20:48] EsmayDean: What is it I'm trying to remember... oh yeah:
    [20:48] INDCBill: compromise
    [20:49] EsmayDean: 1) Thesis, 2) antithesis, 3) synthesis.
    [20:49] EsmayDean: Bush's entire effort to bring private accounts to Social Security is pure Third Wave stuff. But he's got a Democratic bloc so against it and willing to fight so hard against it it won't happen.
    [20:49] EsmayDean: It's probably going to take a Democrat to get that done.
    [20:50] INDCBill: yeah
    [20:50] EsmayDean: Just like it's going to be a Democrat who finally does away with race-based affirmative action.
    [20:50] INDCBill: faster, please
    [20:50] EsmayDean: Too bad I feel scared sh*tless to let these people in charge of national security.
    [20:51] INDCBill: yep
    [20:51] EsmayDean: A Democratic Party headed by Howard Dean is one I can't possibly support.
    [20:51] INDCBill: too many howard deans in the fringes of the party

    Roe v. Wade played an important, perhaps even crucial, role in setting up the modern party coalitions that we know today. Before I go into that however, I have to critique Bill's use of the word "third way." This concept has appeared in politics, and I don't like it. Its inaccurate and way too simple. It implies that the political system as we know it is a 1D spectrum, going from left to right. And that it is somehow possible to "branch off." This isn't the case. The political "spectrum" is in reality a 2d field, with the shape of a diamond. The four points represent the four major political orientations, Populist, Libertarian, Conservative and Liberal. Populists are socially conservative, fiscally liberal. Libertarians are socially liberal (in a hands off kind of way), and fiscally conservative. Conservatives are both fiscally and socially conservative, while Liberals are both fiscally and socially liberal. I should note that there are some ideas floating around involving a cube shape for political beliefs, but they haven't caught on yet.

    For a long time the way the party system worked is this:

    Democrats: Liberals, Populists

    Republicans: Conservatives, Libertarians

    For a long while both parties were motivated more by financial and fiscal concerns than they were by social issues. This started to change during the 60's, and became most notable once Roe v. Wade occurred. Now social issues came to the front, and we started to see some party re-alignment. Populists started to vote for Republicans, especially for President. The bastion of the Populists was the south, where for a long time Conservative Democrats were the norm, and Republicans were rare. Libertarians were split. Some started to vote Democrat, but not many. They were still motivated primarily by fiscal issues. I

    Increasingly social issues started to dominant party politics. Now while this is true of both parties, it is more so for the Democrats than the Republicans, despite the fact that people tend to think of the GOP when it comes to "morality voters." This is partially because the new core of money and support within the Democratic Party comes from social issue activists, with pro-choice advocates being one example. As labor has weakened over the decades, the social activists and advocates, whether the issue be race, abortion, LGBT issues, etc. have replaced them as the heart and soul of the party. Labor is still a factor, but not like it once was. In a way the social activists are now the gatekeepers of the party. You can't get the nomination if you don't placate them. Can anyone see the Democratic Party nominating a Pro-Life candidate? I can't, even if they fit the identification as a liberal in every other way. This leads to the question then, can anyone see the GOP nominating a pro-choice candidate? I see that too as unlikely. But not as much. Within the GOP the main source of funds for the primaries and pre-convention work are still corporations, business' (large and small), business people. The religious right has numbers more than it has money. I see it as difficult, but not impossible, for the GOP to nominate a candidate who doesn't fit the "pro-life" bill.

    This does lead to what Dean mentioned:
    Millions of pro-life voters will be able to vote Democrat again.
    Will this truly be the case? There are social issues now other than abortion which attract populists to the GOP. Same Sex Marriage being one of the more prominent such issues. That one will likely not be settled anytime soon, even if Roe somehow is. What would the Democrats have to offer that the Populists would find attractive? Security Issues? Populists tend to be the most patriotic part of the diamond, if I remember history right. They certainly wouldn't want to associate with the Kosites. I happen to think that the Populists, if Roe were overturned, really would have no choice but to stick with the GOP at the national level. We might see some return in the number of conservative Democrats in the House and Senate, and in state government, but I doubt it would be significant.

    Third-wayism just means a trend away from Liberalism v. Conservatism towards either Populism or Libertarianism. Such a trend means that either one party or the other is starting to lean towards one of those two positions. This has happened before, and likely will happen again. The GOP was originally more libertarian than conservative, just as the Democrats used to be more populist than liberal. What we might see from an overturning of Roe is a party re-alignment, but if it happens sooner rather than later I think that some specific circumstances, namely the prominence of security issues, would reduce its impact.


    Tuesday, October 18, 2005

    The Almighty Smites Ossama?

    Here is a story from tabloid-esque Fox News about rumors circulating about the earthquake in Pakistan and how it might have killed OBL. It would be ironic indeed if all the effort by the US failed to accomplish what a little shaking of the Earth managed.

    Of course, if it does somehow turn out to be true, you can expect conspiracy stories to sprout up that the US created the Earthquake in order to kill Ossama, and the civilian deaths were simply "collateral damage."

    Who am I kidding? Even if he didn't die, or even if he was nowhere near there, conspiracy nuts will accuse the US of just that.


    Here we go again...

    Another Hurricane, Wilma, is set to hit the South yet again. This just isn't a good year for them.

    Update: It is now apparently a Cat 5. Man can never be as merciless as nature it seems.


    On an IM Conversation Gone Bad...

    Edit: Thanks for the link Bill!

    Dean Esmay and Bill Ardolino recently had a chat using an IM service. It can be found here.

    Some very interesting and important points were brought up during this e-conversation, which I think are worthy of a post on my part.

    [20:34] INDCBill: let me give you an example I thought of, a bit less grandiose, yet practical
    [20:34] INDCBill: that "crescent of embrace" brouhaha
    [20:34] INDCBill: while I thought it was a nice design, and found the right wing reaction overblown and in [a few] cases, racist
    [20:35] INDCBill: i also thought that the best course of action was for the architect to change any direct allusions to islam ("cresecent" etc)
    [20:35] INDCBill: just in case the symbolism was legitimately inappropriate
    [20:35] INDCBill: but this "reasonable" opinion that I had
    [20:35] INDCBill: this nuance, was lost in the furor
    [20:36] INDCBill: which was arguably more repellent and ridiculous to me than the original offense they were complaining about
    [20:36] INDCBill: but after it was all over
    [20:36] INDCBill: and it achived results (the brouhaha)
    [20:37] INDCBill: which basically achieved the practical efefct of changing the memorial just enough to avoid uncomfortable allusions
    [20:37] INDCBill: I realized that maybe they challenged just enough to be efficacious
    [20:37] INDCBill: bending the scenario without breaking
    [20:37] INDCBill: (breaking meaning turning people off so much with their outsized reaction that it was politically ineffective)
    [20:38] INDCBill: thus the change in the political "system" was managed successfully
    [20:38] EsmayDean: Yeah. What you seem to be alluding to is the fact that hyperbolic rhetoric is often effective, even if it turns a lot of us off.
    [20:38] INDCBill: yeah - the question is - to what degree?
    [20:38] INDCBill: where is the cut off? and in what cases do emotionalism and rhetoric trump reason as a practical method
    [20:38] INDCBill: and vice versa
    [20:38] EsmayDean: It's the "act shrill enough and you'll get what you want." The thing is, if you're going to do that, you'd better realize that you do run a risk.
    [20:39] INDCBill: exactly
    [20:39] EsmayDean: Any time you go that route, you turn some people off.
    [20:39] EsmayDean: It's a calculation: if you turn off more people than you rally, you lose.
    [20:39] INDCBill: thats why politics is such an exqusititely diffuicult game
    [20:39] INDCBill: and why it turns off intellectuals
    [20:39] INDCBill: and f*cking sane, honest people
    [20:39] EsmayDean: Yeah.
    [20:39] EsmayDean: The Kosites will keep losing until they understand that.

    This brings up the issue of Satisficement. Here is one definition of Satisficing. In Economics, and Politics, most people want everything, but will settle for enough. In the case mentioned involving the incident over a crescent shaped memorial, what people found satisficing was a change that removed any kind of possibility of an allusion to something they found distasteful. A complete, radical change wasn't necessary, rather just a change sufficient for the minds of those who objected. Rationally, in politics, this is the standard process. There it takes the form of compromise. When we can't have everything, we will generally accept something we consider to be a sufficient amount of what we want. What that level is varies per person. The System is thus generally stable. However, when you get a group of people, the Kosites are mentioned in this, where satisficement only comes when they get everything you want, you run into problems. Usually what happens in such a situation is that your (I use that particular address without any actual person or persons in mind who might be reading this) inflexibility will backfire, causing some of those who might have sympathized with you in the past to turn against you, because they see YOU as the obstacle in the way from them getting their satisficement.

    This is readily visible in the case of Ralph Nader. Nader had a fair amount of support up to the 2000 election from Democrats and Liberals. Some of them sympathized with his notion to try and force the Democrats to turn left with his Green Party run. Many would have perhaps preferred voting for him over Al Gore. But where they may have wanted Nader, they found Gore satisficing. He didn't offer all of what they wanted, but enough for them to be content. So when Nader turned enough of the vote in Florida against Gore, giving Bush the victory in that State, those Democrats and liberals who were denied satisficement turned against Nader. His stock is rather low now, and I don't see it rising anytime soon.

    What the Kosites and many radicals on the left, and more than a few on the right as well, fail to fully understand, or fully appreciate, is that the American Constitution is designed for satisficement. Some call it an inherently conservative document, and says that its creation and implementation represent a kind of "conservative revolution." This isn't really accurate. What the Constitution does is limit the amount of change that is possible within any "revolution" of the system, by revolution I compare the body-system politic to either the solar system or perhaps a cyclical engine. However, those same features which force compromise also make it possible so that the minority view is still heard and important, and is still able to achieve to some degree satisficement. A minority can, if it is patient and persistent, still impact the system to a great degree. Thus, in a way, the Federal Constitution has created a true "perpetual Revolution"; not one frozen in time but one moving back and forth, side-stepping and alternating to fit the public mood. Unlike other revolutions, however, ours is one with rules, rules that most understand and obey without realizing.

    I will address a later part of their conversation in a second post sometime soon.

    Update: Part 2 is up.


    Monday, October 17, 2005

    There is Stupid...

    and then there is Stupid.

    Hat Tip: The Corner


    Saturday, October 15, 2005

    Referendum in Iraq

    Chester is live-blogging the referendum that is ongoing right now in Iraq over the proposed Constitution.

    Update: All appears to have gone well.


    Thursday, October 13, 2005

    Making Sense of the Senseless

    I have been attempting to understand why the Bush Administration has nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. It goes against what my understanding, and that of many others was, about what the Administration would do. I assumed that the first candidate would be something of a moderate, to make it harder for the Dems to oppose him/her. This seemed to be the case for Roberts. What I expected afterwards, however, was for Bush to nominate a true blue conservative, in the Scalia mold. This would have been because having already put one candidate in the court, putting a second in would be easier, mostly because the Dems would have a harder time resisting a second time around. So why then Miers? I can think of only a single, logical reason: Bush chose as his nominee the only person on their short list who wanted to suffer the ordeal, and who was considered to be 100% Pro-Life. That is the only logical conclusion I have come to. The talk of how Miers goes to a strong Evangelical church only cemented this in my mind. Miers and Bush would have had some close personal contact in the past, and I suspect this lead Bush to be convinced that she was against Roe. Not wanting to have another O'Connor who appeared to be against Roe but wasn't when it came down to it, Bush nominated the person he was sure was pro-life, rather than taking a gamble on someone else. Its possible other social issues may factor in as well, but Roe is the big one. And I expect the Dems to pick up on it should the GOP somehow support Bush on this one in the Senate.


    An Observation

    Is it just me, or does it seem that the Coalition, more specifically, the US and Britain, have designated whom to focus their attention on? It seems that the UK is focusing its diplomatic efforts on Iran lately, while the US has been focusing on Syria. This may signify something, I am just not sure what.



    Tigerhawk once again displays his usual brilliance, this time by tackling Al Gore's latest idiocy. It is truly a work of art. A small sample:

    We have not invaded a country that attacked us in any meaningful sense since 1812, when we invaded Canada no less than three times. We always invade countries that haven't attacked us. There is no more time-honored tradition in American foreign policy, and I, for one, am glad of it.
    Go and read it all.


    The Media Just Can't Contain Itself...

    Check out the headline at CNN at the moment.

    Tight security aims to prevent pre-vote bloodbath

    Just a little bloodthirsty?

    Edit: as of 5:20 EST it has been changed to something a little less bloodthirsty: "Wave of Insurgent Attacks Expected"

    Edit 2: Here is the original, by the way:


    Wednesday, October 12, 2005

    So much for Gore '08

    Nevermind his saying he won't run for Prez, this statement surely would eliminate him as a candidate:
    "We would not be trying to control and intimidate the news media. We would not be routinely torturing people," Gore said. "We would be a different country."
    Hillary is smiling already.


    The Letter

    Marc Schulman over at American Future has done an analysis of Zawahiri's letter, and has links to those who have done analysis of their own. Go check it out.


    Dead Men Tell No Tales

    Syria "plugs" some of its potential leaks.


    Tuesday, October 11, 2005

    Suckers and Suckatash

    Scientists have finally captured photos of live giant squids. For years the tentacled terrors swam the ocean depths with only their bodies to prove their existence. No longer.

    Next up: capturing one alive, then raising more to supply the Calamari needs of the world.


    More on Miers

    It should be noted that perhaps the biggest issue concerning the Miers nomination is the rift that has appeared between members of the GOP. While there have been disagreements in the past, especially over financial issues (which shouldn't be downplayed), this is an area where there should be no disagreement in the GOP. Rather, the opposition should come from the Democrats in the Senate. The fact that the GOP is arguing over the issue is indicative of several things:

    1) The unity of the GOP has been weakening for several years, with the rising deficit perhaps the single biggest cause. Small government conservatives have become increasingly alienated.

    2) The White House apparently thought that the GOP would support whoever it nominated without question, and so devoted itself to nominating a candidate the Dems couldn't oppose effectively. This seems to me to be a major lapse of communication here, indicating the those responsible for the nomination didn't check with major GOP figures, and that they don't fully realize the growing rift within the GOP.

    3) Like with the Democrats, the GOP primaries in 2008 will be significant. They will be over the heart and soul of the Republican Party. I don't think we will see a front runner like Bush was in 2000. What I do expect is at least 3 major candidates, maybe four, for the nomination. The biggest issues will probably be the federal budget and the war on terror. I think that the former, rather than the latter, will be the more divisive. Expect the small government conservatives to put up quite a fight.


    Monday, October 10, 2005

    Prediction on Miers:


    Too many conservatives are upset or confused over the choice. Bush has chosen quite poorly here, I have to wonder why. Perhaps she is a red herring, perhaps a trial run for someone else, or more likely, a mistake somebody made. My bet is someone picked a candidate that the Dems couldn't kill, and failed to test the reaction among Republicans on the nominee. Oops. I think that she will try and quietly withdraw in a week or two, perhaps citing health reasons.


    The Saviors of Europe

    TigerHawk has a must-read post.



    Sorry for the lack of posting in a long time. Unfortunately, I lost my login information a while back, and only now found where I had put it down on hard copy. I have missed a lot since then, too much to cover in detail. Hopefully I will be able to blog more frequently now that several projects have been taken care of.

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