Thursday, 31 July 2008


Why John McCain is “stupid”

Daniel Henninger gropes for an explanation:

On Sunday, [John McCain] said on national television that to solve Social Security “everything’s on the table,” which of course means raising payroll taxes. On July 7 in Denver he said: “Senator Obama will raise your taxes. I won’t.”

This isn't a flip-flop. It's a sex-change operation...

The one thing -- arguably the only thing -- the McCain candidacy has going for it is a sense among voters that they don't know what Barack Obama stands for or believes. Why then would Mr. McCain give voters reason to wonder the same thing about himself?
Henninger is amazed that McCain called Nancy Pelosi (who “heads a House with a 9% approval”) an “inspiration to millions of Americans.” And, says Henninger, “Sen. McCain saying off-handedly that it [Al Gore’s “preposterous free-of-oil-in-10-years whopper”] is ‘doable’ is, in a word, thoughtless.”[1]

How could anyone with the least amount of political sense allow himself to make such “loopy” unforced errors?  Henninger says it’s because of McCain’s “famously undisciplined” political style, and the Senatorial culture of “compulsive compromise.”  Maybe so, but I believe it goes deeper.

Put someone in an unstructured situation, and the real person is revealed. Anyone who has interviewed job candidates knows that it’s the off-the-wall, out-of-nowhere question that drags the candidate out from behind his resumé.  And trial lawyers know that the truth comes out once you get the witness off balance.  What of McCain?  Are his gaffes just gaffes, or do they reveal something more?

Get Obama off his talking points, and he’s an empty suit who says things that would have embarrassed Dan Quayle.[2]  There’s no “there” there.

But when McCain gets away from his prepared script, he reveals a man who I really don’t like very much.  He exhibits all the faults of our entrenched political class: He doesn’t respect average citizens, having no problem stealing their money in the name of the greater good, or their liberties in the name of political expediency.  He doesn’t trust their judgment: He says he “learned a lesson” from citizen opposion to immigration amnesty, while repeatedly signalling that he hasn’t really changed his mind.[3]

The people he does trust are– other politicians!  Could anyone outside of the beltway call Nancy Pelosi as an “inspiration” while keeping a straight face?  Would anyone (except an entrenched U.S. Senator) want to share billing with the odious Ted Kennedy?

And McCain sees his role as ruler, not as representative. Which explains a lot of his record: Everything from McCain-Feingold to the Gang of 14 is informed by an underlying “John McCain knows better than you.”

Henninger says that if McCain wants to win he must get serious about monitoring himself and run a more disciplined (more Machiavellian, if you will) campaign:  Specifically, he must weigh his words, concentrate on consistency, and, most of all, stop creating obvious openings for the Democrats to beat him over the head.

But suppose McCain is already doing this?  Suppose that his whole campaign so far has been a tight-lipped effort to stop the real McCain from getting out?  Then what?

In any election we can expect a certain amount of pandering and evasiveness.  But “tailoring your message to suit your audience” is still different from “saying whatever it takes to get elected.”  The difference comes when the candidate has principles (beyond “I should be in charge because I’m better than everyone else”) and is not trying to fool the public about what they are.

We should have taken warning back a year ago, when a large part of the debate on the Republican side was over whether we could actually believe what the candidates were saying.  Quoting Henninger: “...the American people... believe most senators, adept at compulsive compromise, have no political compass and will sell them out.”  In McCain’s case, the “American people” are right.


This morning Glenn Reynolds linked a Roger Kimball essay “Can Britain Survive multiculturalism?” with the comment
British multiculturalism is symptomatic of a governing class that doesn't really believe in the nation it governs.
Seems to me we’re seeing the same thing here, with a  political class that views the process as corrupt, the government as semi-legitimate, and the electorate as a body to be bullied, bribed, or bamboozled into giving them power.

Daily Pundit:  John McCain: The list of infamy
Matthew Yglesias:  McCain the sellout
Real Clear Politics:  McCain Talks Energy

[1] Fair’s fair: McCain did backpedal, when asked about specifics.  From the Chronicle article:
John McCain in his own words

On former Vice President Al Gore's contention that America can be energy independent in 10 years: “I don’t think it’s doable without nuclear power.  I do believe we can become energy independent, but I think it will (involve) nuclear power, wind, solar. ... It requires all those things, including offshore drilling.”

[2] Which are, of course, ignored by our in-the-tank press corps.

[3] Dave Kopel, in the Rocky Mountain News:
The shot [in a McCain campaign commercial] is what's known as a “dog whistle” - a political term of art first used in the 1990s in Australia. It means using a phrase (or a picture) that may have little significance to the general audience, but which appeals to a select group which knows the special meaning...

...McCain is dog- whistling pro-illegal alien supporters, who believe [former candidate Tom] Tancredo is the devil incarnate.  McCain does not use words to tell the broader audience about his long record of opposition to cracking down on illegal immigration; rather he quietly conveys that position via the Tancredo dog whistle.

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Wednesday, 30 July 2008


Random Linkage - July 30, 2008

(Because sometimes there’s not time for a complete post!)

Little Windmills department

The song of the seagull is different these days
    Its cry has turned into a sneer
But no one has noticed the change in the air
    Since all of those turbines came here...
C.G. Hill notes a disadvantage of “renewable energy”

It’s Only a Bailout When You’ve Got a Bucket department

We’re All Gonna Die! department

Al-ee-gators! Read My Lips! department

Canoeists find 3-foot alligator in White River (via Shomes)
(Fortunately it was in Anderson, not Indianapolis.)

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Tuesday, 29 July 2008


D’ya remember those Republicans...?

...the ones who

...threatened to block nearly all other bills pending before the August recess if Democrats refuse to vote with them on expanding offshore drilling.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said bills that do not pertain to energy can wait until after the August recess, with gas prices now surpassing $4 per gallon. McConnell and top Republicans indicated Wednesday they would oppose any procedural votes to take up other legislation, which require 60 votes to succeed. - The Hill

Well, THAT lasted a whole two days:
Congress approved mortgage relief for 400,000 struggling homeowners the Fannie Mae-Freddie Mac bailout bill Saturday as part of an election-year housing plan... - AP Report at [“correction” mine - O.G.]

The Wall Street Journal thinks it has an explanation:
PAC campaign contributions of over $800,000 to date, including:
• House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - $10,000
• Republican House whip Roy Blunt - $10,000
• House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer - $8,500
• House Minority Leader John Boehner - $7,500
• Nearly half of [all] Senators... [with] almost all of the money... directed to incumbents.
The best government money can buy.  Bought with our money.

Previously:  No Expectations

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Monday, 28 July 2008


Not just smoke...

The Schumer letter may have precipitated the death of IndyMac, but even before he wrote it, things weren’t going well in the bank.

Howard found another piece of the puzzle.

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BlogMoot report

Another pleasant afternoon, this one on the porch at Hoghead’s BBQ (Broad Ripple). Afraid I pigged out in the food department: Fried Biscuits with apple butter, Build-your-Own Salad (A Meal In Itself), and Sliced Beef sandwich, washed down with Barley Island Sheet Metal Blonde. Yum. (Not to mention the sweet corn to take home, courtesy of Frank James, who showed up with what looked like a quarter-pickup-bed load.)

Lots of good talk: Insider stuff about the tech world and the gun biz, some previews of things to come (Frank, I meant it about that trilogy. Shermlock, DO do the stadium post.), great stories (The disadvantages of shooting raccoons in your kitchen.  How a woman may suffer great disappointment if her father breaks with tradition, giving her with perfume– instead of the usual gun– for her 16th birthday.). And it turns out that Roberta is a steam rail buff. Yay!

Attendance a bit less than last time, but still a good crowd for a midsummer afternoon. (A couple of folks apparently didn’t relish the prospect of dealing with the race crowd, but with the late start meant no excess congestion in the Ripple, and, reportedly, not a lot on the incoming i-states, either. Well, now we know.)

Thanks again to Roberta X for putting things together (and for giving me the idea for this post title). See everyone in August!

Elsewhere (so far):

21/2 Baker Street: Back From the July Indy Blogmeet
View From The Porch: Indy Blog Meet Report... (tomorrow)
The Adventures of Roberta X: BlogMeet: Successful

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I love browser anomalies

Why does this

...for two ‘cycles.’”
<br>If you don’t understand that, don’t be surprised.)</span>
<br><div style="margin-left: 40px; font-size: 0.83em;
line-height: 1.3em;">
<a title="Old Grouch, June 16, 2007: “Victorian-ized technology”"
Victorian-ized technology</a>.
<br><a title="Old Grouch, May 19, 2008: “Finishing up
the telco toolbox”"
the_telco_toolbox">Finishing up the telco toolbox</a>.
render differently from this
...swallows keys to tunes</a></div>
<br><div style="margin-left: 40px; font-size: 0.83em;
line-height: 1.3em;">
<a title="Old Grouch, August 13, 2007: “Welcome to the brave
new world of ‘unproperty’”"
Welcome to the brave new world of “unproperty”</a>
<br><a title="Old Grouch, November 8, 2007: “More
ripping off buyers via DRM”"
More ripping off buyers via DRM</a>



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Shiny! Shiny!

Somehow or another I’d missed linking this one.

(In the comments, Turk notes that it’s “an iambic keyer, which means that if both paddles are held down simultaneously it will produce a series of ‘dah-dit.’ So for example, you could send the letter ‘C’ by simply holding down both paddles for two ‘cycles.’”
If you don’t understand that, don’t be surprised.)


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Sunday, 27 July 2008

Dear Diary...

In search of ancient technology (1)

(Road trip, Part 3)

On Sunday we went looking for a lift bridge.

When I was checking the web for road information before my departure, I ran across a web page for a project to preserve and restore a historic vertical lift bridge on the St.Croix river, just east of St. Paul. As it was already getting late, I just glanced at it, and made a mental note. And because I had several states’ pages open in different tabs, I got confused and believed that I was looking at a Wisconsin-hosted site.

So anyway, jump to Saturday. “Anything special you want to do tomorrow?” Well, unless there’s something else on offer, what about taking a drive out east to look at that bridge?


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Saturday, 26 July 2008


Some Cat Tales

Too busy to write right now- so how about some links?

“Just becuz,” a couple of old favorites:

And finally, some Kitty zen

(Sorta) related (in an Edward-Learish way):

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Friday, 25 July 2008

In Passing

Poof! No more music!

Dog days of Summer, must be time for another DRM system to go titsup:

Yahoo e-mailed its Yahoo! Music Store customers yesterday, telling them it will be closing for good—and the company will take its DRM license key servers offline on September 30, 2008...

If you think this sounds familiar, it's because this happened earlier this year with MSN Music, although Microsoft has since relented and will keep the DRM authorization servers up and running through 2011.

Once the Yahoo store goes down and the key servers go offline, existing tracks cannot be authorized to play on new computers...

Is there anyone left out there who doesn’t understand that buying DRM-restricted content means you’re betting your collection on the continued success of somebody’s business model?



Posted by: Old Grouch in In Passing at 17:02:40 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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