Tuesday, February 26, 2008

You Can't Line A Birdcage With A Blog...

...and that's too bad. Unlike newspapers, I can make pronouncements and opinions here that, should anyone have the remotest interest in reading them, will still be wasting electrons for years after they've been proved wrong. And while I've made my own predictions they won't matter in a few weeks time. The nominees for each party will be chosen in a matter of months and by this time next year we will have a new sitting president.

The wisdom of the moment says Hillary is finished, and she may well be. But the barrage of nonstop, absolutist media pronouncements have been especially strident (and amusing) this election cycle. Like the scientific and medical communities who, on issues like good/bad foods or child care offer "definitive" judgments that flip 180 degrees every 5 years, the media is now telling us that Obama is as much of a "sure thing" as they proclaimed Hillary to be 3 months ago.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Wisdom of President Nader

With his second term drawing to a close, president Nader held a press conference today to reflect on the achievements of the past eight years and reiterate his commitment to the principles that have shaped his presidency. "My administration is no lame duck. We have proactively dealt with the unenlightened and will continue to do so until our final day in office", Nader said. "We have boldly abandoned the failed policies of previous administrations and followed an uncompromising vision for a better, safer America - a vision that could only have been imagined under my leadership."

He then turned to what many consider the watershed moment of his tenure: his response the the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. "9-11 was, in every sense of the word, a wake-up call for America. It was a message sent not from Muslim extremists but from Nature herself, telling us that America had strayed from its core principles. And, unlike the career politicians who saw only a petty clash of cultures, I immediately grasped not only the severity of the problem but the stakes involved. From that day forward, I resolved that we would no longer live in a country where steel buildings caught fire and planes simply vaporized upon contact with fixed objects. My response, then as now, has been swift and certain and will soon bear fruit in the creation of the first flameproof skyscraper in history. The World Nader Center has passed most regulatory hurdles. Groundbreaking ceremonies for this testament to my unique vision, rising from the ashes of its deeply flawed predecessor will be held shortly before I leave office at the end of this year. In addition, my executive mandates for crumple zones and airbags on all domestic jets will come into full force next year, despite the vigorous lobbying efforts of myopic corporate interests and pro-business physicists who have attempted to deprive each and every American of their basic human rights."

President Nader then spent the remainder of his address savaging his critics in the private and public sector that had failed to understand his unique and intrinsically superior vision for the future of America. "Much progress has been made, but key pieces of legislation, such as my 'No Child Left Unencased In A Layer Of Protective Foam' and 'Domestic Surveillance of Those Who Would Question My Greatness' still languish at the hands of a gutless and unenlightened Congress. History will no doubt harshly judge these so-called 'legislators'".

In a widely expected move the Democratic/Republican Response, which was to be given by Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.), was declared "rhetorically unsound" in an emergency move by the Department of Safety and subsequently failed to air.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Scriptorium Gets It Right Again

There is an archetype seen most often in the history of science of the great or near-great man whose enjoys a period of renown, but whose stature diminishes over time as his ideas become outdated, unfashionable or obsolete. Consider Cuvier and his promotion of geological catastrophism , Joseph Priestley and his defense of phlogiston theory, or Louis Agassiz, whose legacy as the foremost American scientist of his day was tarnished by his ideas about racial inequality. I always chuckle at the story (alas, probably apocryphal) about Agassiz' symbolic "fall from grace" at Stanford during the San Francisco earthquake:

During the 1906 temblor, the stone shelf supporting a marble statue of Swiss naturalist and geologist Louis Agassiz ... failed, causing the statue to plunge into the ground below. There are several accounts of the outcome. One student wrote, “A big marble statue of Agassiz was toppled off his perch on the outside of the quad and fell foremost into the ground (right through a cement walk) up to his shoulders, and still sticks there, legs in the air and his hand held out gracefully. People came running from the quad with such sober faces, but when they saw him they couldn’t help laughing, and one fellow went up and shook hands with him"... President David Starr Jordan wrote, “Somebody—Dr. Angell, perhaps—remarked that ‘Agassiz was great in the abstract but not in the concrete.’”

In the realm of politics ideas rise and fall in more subjective ways based on public perceptions, marketability and the like. Right now the man of the hour is of course Barack Obama. But my friend John Mark Reynolds (who has been blogging the campaign heavily and well at Scriptorium) presciently points out that it Obama's moment in the sun is destined to be short-lived. John Mark has been blogging thick and fast during this current election cycle and deserves yet another plug (I think once a year is not too excessive).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

She's not Dead Yet

The Short Attention Span Theater that is the Mainstream Media are once again "guiding" the American public, this time to the realization that Obama will win the Democratic nomination. While that is an outcome I would welcome, I think it is still far from a foregone conclusion. And while I'd like to entertain a scenario where the infamous Hillary turns out on closer inspection to be just another pitiable, not-so-inevitable politician, I don't think that her bag of tricks has been emptied yet. The question is will she decide on some drastic nuclear option her strategists have held in reserve until now? I think so. Of course Hillary really is having some trouble but in this land of ours, where perception is reality, anything big and dramatic done to win hearts and minds can perhaps backfire. Even so, I bet there are probably a couple of banks of computers managed by Team Cinton in some dark basement running models of possible anti-Obama scenarios even as I write this.

Friday, February 8, 2008

If you need a glimpse into what an America dominated by progressives would look like

Look no further than the once-mighty Great Britain

A Class Act

Even though as a teetotaler he can not join me, I raise a glass to Mitt Romney. While I never fully embraced his candidacy (he was my third choice) I admire his character. It takes a big man to lose as gracefully as he did.

Now it's Huckabee's turn to rise to the occasion. I think it is sad but telling that this "evangelical" candidate has not only not stepped up like Mitt but has so willingly played the spoiler.

John McCain faces an uphill battle. He will need all our support - not just faint praise - to overcome the Democratic juggernaut. The blogosphere is abuzz with calls to put aside difference and to remember that an aging Supreme Court and the continuing war in Iraq could present huge social and geopolitical turning points for our nation, and they are right.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Well, there will be a lot of hand-wringing and commentary the next few days as the media, having to find something to talk about for the next year, present Much Ado About Inevitability. The reality is that while Huckabee has thrust his rusty Bowie knife a little farther into the solar plexus of Mitt Romney than was anticipated and Hillary is going to have to up the ante even further to destroy Obama, there were no real surprises today. Rush, in what could only be described as an ill-timed and atypical miscalculation on his part, has formally joined the Anybody But McCain crowd and endorsed Romney. And in related news, Ann Coulter and Pat Buchanan's remarks about supporting Hilary should McCain win the nomination will hopefully continue to marginalize their appeal as conservative media figures, although Buchanan manages to be wrong about most everything without losing any prestige. I was also reminded today of the fact that McCain is almost as embarrassing a public speaker as George Bush, alternating between a child-like, hushed tone that sounds calculated to calm fears about his legendary temper and a shrill, mock-forceful tone used for more aggressive rhetoric. You know, maybe I'm getting old and paranoid but it really does seem like the MSM's touting of McCain as the best hope against a vulnerable Clinton or Obama is just sandbagging to make a Democratic White House even more inevitable in 2008.

Now don't get me wrong: I will be supporting McCain if, as is likely, he becomes the Republican nominee. And maybe, just maybe, the mystical appeal that has carried him this far will continue past the nomination, translate into crossover votes and culminate in victory in November. It could happen. Just be on the lookout for these guys:

I'm here all night, folks. And remember, there's a two drink minimum.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Masses are thinking, Whence comes the thought of the World!

I don't know if it's ironic or a case of schadenfreude or maybe a little of both, but we seem to be at a time in national politics where the idealogues of both parties find themselves frustrated and shut out by the majority of voters. The dyed-in-the-wool conservatives' call for "anybody but McCain" and the progressive/MoveOn.org support of Obama seem to have fallen on deaf ears. While it's true that Romney and/or Obama in the general would make for a much more engaging race (as both are in my opinion possessed of a sense of decency that their more favored opponents lack), that appears to be a very remote possibility. And while I'm not gonna go the Pauline Kael route and wonder who is actually voting for McCain, I do wonder what his appeal is beyond

A) feelings akin to "he's waited long enough - let's give him a shot",
B) vague appeals to patriotism pertaining to his Vietnam service,
C) confusion of political expediency with bipartisanship, or
D) dubious polling data.

Hillary on the other hand, has (aided by the media) produced a sort of nationalized Stockholm Syndrome, with everyone primed to love their captor and dutifully submit to her inevitable yoke.

I think the outcome is already a done deal (see below), but neither of the front runners inspires. And that's really the saddest thing, because this election cycle saw a unique opportunity for change, and a slate of contenders with real character and substance running for both parties' nomination.