Friday, November 09, 2012

Post-Election Roundup: The Road Ahead

While I am relieved to have the U.S. election behind us, I'll be disengaging from politics in stages. As a contrarian gadfly, I'm expected to toss some unusual, off-angle suggestions at both winners and losers.

But first... a mere tad of gloating, plus some riffs about libertarians, marijuana, gay marriage, science and etcetera!

1) Yes yes, the real winner was Nate Silver -- our new national demigod. What I don't get is how he compensated for pollsters' obsolete definitions of "likely voter."  The Obama ground game changed the meaning of that term. They found ways to shame both former slackers and fresh first-timers to the polls. Expect those methods to be used with a vengeance in the 2014 by-elections.

This will be doubly effective if the democrats (and or their allies) first concentrate on early recruitment of fresh candidates. Hint: go after retired Army colonels and navy captains, vet them to pick the super-educated, level-headed kind - I know the type! - and hurl them into the 2014 primaries, all over the map. Primaries are now the navel of American politics, especially in red counties. This invites innovative thinking, especially in gerrymandered districts, finding ways to promote moderate, science-friendly pragmatists. Find fresh ways to contest them all!

2) Congratulations to all our LGBT friends. You've taken major strides and this time victory was helped by a calming decorum. Both the method and the outcome bode well for you. As inevitable as the final goal is, the road must still be taken step by step into a headwind.

Some of that wind will break in new directions! Expressing despair, a couple of my redder pals talk of emigrating! Alas, Canada ("bluer than New York") just won't do, so they're looking farther afield. Ah, but to quote an amusing tweet that's gone viral:

@RedRefugee: you say "if Obama wins I'm off to Australia" but our PM is a single atheist woman & we have universal health care & mandatory voting. 

3) Speaking of schadenfreude, pity poor Karl Rove. Not only was he trampled underfoot by his own people at Fox, but his Crossroads operation spent nearly $300 million against President Obama and other Democrats. Separately, Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate, spent similar amounts all by himself, backing loser after loser. Astonishingly, somehow, the dems always drew enough small donations to keep up! Almost as if the oligarchic putsch was drawing a popular immune response, a reaction worthy of heirs of the original American Revolution.

Which raises the question: what good is unlimited money if you can't buy a country?

4) Science, the central enemy of Culture War, stood up for itself in several ways, during the election.  Shawn Otto's forced both campaigns to answer piercing questionnaires and Scientific American scrupulously examined the answers.  Now see the post-election editorial at Popular Science handing a stiff set of firm requests for the re-elected president, above all that he stand up for the one trait most responsible for our flourishing across the last 70 years -- the innovation and constant re-evaluation that arises out of curiosity.

5) Mark Newman has resized the electoral map (top image on right) to adjust for population: popular votes (middle), electoral votes (bottom). Read the article in Science News.

6) Above all,  this election result means that Dick Cheney's gang - who surrounded Romney - won't get their hands on the US military again, any time soon. Cheney's crew did more harm to America, and our military, than anyone else in a human lifetime, including the Soviets and Viet Cong. Our brave men and women deserve to rest and rebuild -- while taking on occasional daring tasks with stunning courage and skill -- without being plunged into any more draining, multi-trillion dollar, futile quagmires. Perhaps, with another four years in exile, the GOP will finally purge itself of Cheney's loony "brain trust" and bring in adults to represent their side of the conversation.

== Maddow appeals to conservatives: use facts and we'll listen ==

Is Rachel Maddow gloating over the election results? Well, sure. But I still hope earnest conservatives will grit their teeth and watch this cogent appeal directed at them. Asking them to rejoin the conversation. To compete with liberals in the realm of reality, and not the fantasy land concocted by Fox delusion merchants. Those cynical hypnotists have had a long run, peddling narratives that -- though truth-free -- make the viewer nod and feel good, blissfully sure that their foes are orcs or trolls or commie-satanists or... democrats.  Only now it's time to put away childish things.

There will still be plenty to argue about, after all the birther-climate-denier-black-helicopter silliness is put aside -- really interesting competition over testable theories about governance and practical problem solving. Those reality tests will sometimes rule in favor of grownup conservatism! Maddow appeals for a restoration of fact-friendly, science-loving conservatism not because she will then agree with it, but because we'll all be better off if there are two sane sides bringing reasoned, testable ideas to the table.

Look, I don't agree with all Maddow rants. Sometimes she brings out my latent Buckley! But this time? She is spot-on.

Restoring conservatism to its roots won't be easy. Hannity and Limbaugh are more fun - in their indignant lie-extravaganzas - than nerdy Bill Buckley ever was, arguing calmly with every bright opponent he could find. But Hannity, Limbaugh and Murdoch are crazy men who avoid ever facing questions or accountability. They'll lead conservatism to rigidity, demographic irrelevance, hallucination and extinction. Take a hint from the election. We'll all be richer and better if bright conservatives pass this test of courage.

== Libertarians, Marijuana and Cheetos ==

 While my main goal was to avoid a calamitous Bush III return of Dick Cheney's gang of 1000 gremlins -- and thank heavens that doom was evaded -- I did divide my support a bit, by also sending money to Gary Johnson,then going online to urge that both Hawaiians and Alaskans turn out their votes for him!

I hoped Johnson would make his 5% goal and that real momentum would (1) give his moderate wing real clout in the libertarian movement, helping draw down the fevered infection of Rand-Rothbard cultism, and (2) that smart, sincere, socially relaxed fiscal conservatives who despair of the GOP's present madness would then have a place to which they might flee. A party to call their own. A new base from which to rejoin the conversation.

Well, there was bad news and good news.  Falling well short of 5%, Johnson did sharply better than any other LP candidate, with nearly 1.3 million votes nationwide, representing about 1.2 percent of the total popular presidential vote in the 48 states where he ran. Real incremental improvement...

... only now it seems that libertarianism is moving forward, not via candidates, but ballot initiatives!  The Drug War was dealt a heavy blow in Washington and Colorado, where citizens approved measures legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana. Across America 50% poll ready for this change. And now President Obama has the cover he needs in order to take a step forward, nationwide.

Instead of pushing to legalize marijuana at a national level, he could declare an "experimental moratorium" on enforcement of federal pot possession laws in those two states, while still helping Colorado and Washington crack down on illegal importation.  This would seem a measured step, in keeping with the principle of states' rights that Republicans could hardly object-to! Well, we can hope.  He does owe the young people of those two states. Big time.

Next? Move to adjust the "schedules" of types of drugs and penalties to staunch the flow of mere-users into our overloaded and unfair prison systems. Talk about a place to seek savings! And to stop wasting lives.

Only now... let me take one of my patented contrarian veers! While I am hugely in favor of experiments to escape the infinity-damned Drug War and to emphaisize personal responsibility, I'm also aware of certain drawbacks.  For example:

1) THC remains detectable in your blood for days after all symptoms of use are gone. To establish DUI rules you can't simply adopt the alcohol standards. We'll need research, patience and innovation.

2) Those who call marijuana "completely harmless" are liars and they know it.  The thing every honest person admits? It is an ambition-wrecking drug. In many, though not all users, pot fosters torpidity and mellow harmlessness. Unless you include the "harm" of many users failing to get up off their giggling-cynical-mellow asses!  I predict we'll drift toward a new approach to such quasi addictive drugs, allowing personal choice... but with an expanded right of families to intervene and even impose guardianship, if the user can't hold a job or want more than the next bag of Cheetos. **

That will satisfy no one.  But it may soften opposition just enough to make this a national movement away from a prohibition insanity that spanned all of our lifetimes.

== Puerto Rican Statehood? ==

Wow, another sea change that I'll weigh in on, some time.  One member of my blogmunity said:

"My concerns about Puerto Rico: There is a large part of the population that does not want to be a U.S. State. Do you want to start with a Quebec-like situation? Also, their existing political parties are not associated with the mainstream parties, though they could align themselves quickly, I guess. There could be accusations of U.S. imperialism -- or other poor small countries across the world might decide to apply to join in turn..."

Yep. Plenty of parameters to consider. Such as how the Republicans can oppose this new state -- with its inevitable Democratic majority -- and not thereby offend U.S. hispanics even more. Then there's another matter far more important... how do you sort 51 stars on the flag? Let's see: 3 x 7 and 3 x 10... too rectangular!  3x8 + 3x9  same problem! I suppose 3x7 and 5x6... Um... Hey South Carolina.  Wanna secede again? Maybe this time we won't put up such a fuss.

As you might expect, my own worry about Puerto Rican Statehood is unique and original (though I just offered a hint.) Remind me in a few months and I'll explain. 

Interesting times. Onward for now... 

** Oh, and any letters about marijuana should be sent not to me but to Stephen Colbert.  He can use the material -- and samples.  Tell him David - friend of the show - Brin sent you. 


gwern said...

> 1) Yes yes, the real winner was Nate Silver -- our new national demigod. What I don't get is how he compensated for pollsters' obsolete definitions of "likely voter." The Obama ground game changed the meaning of that term. They found ways to shame both former slackers and fresh first-timers to the polls. Expect those methods to be used with a vengeance in the 2014 by-elections.

Silver is now world-famous, yes, but the other forecasters did very well and in some cases, better than him:


Acacia H. said...

Huffypost actually had an article on reasons why Puerto Rico wouldn't become the 51st U.S. State (at least, not at this time) - it seems that while the State initiative won the most votes... only 46 percent of people voted in favor of it. A number of people left it blank.

Thus they may require a second ballot initiative asking JUST if they want to become the 51st State in the Union. The twin questions may have confused the issue, admittedly.

Rob H.

Alex Tolley said...

Yes, Nate Silver is now the poster child for quantitative analysis vs opinion punditry. Interestingly, the pundits are now showing their true colors and saying that their role is to shape public opinion for their side. All the more reason to cultivate an immune response!

One thing to watch will be attempts to bring about a fall of the quantitative method. We've seen how quants on Wall Street rise and fall. Mr. Silver is now the target and any wrong step will be met with glee.

Jumper said...

Is Puerto Rico going underwater and storm-wrecked with global warming?

Acacia H. said...

Here's another odd thought to toss out. If Obama states a moratorium on enforcing marijuana drug laws in those two states... could you see one or two less violent drug cartels coming forward and requesting to legitimately import marijuana to those two states... and agree to be taxed on these imports?

Or even more interestingly... the Mexican government itself offering to do this with some of the drug seizures it performs. All at once, Mexico has an economic reason to seize marijuana (and even allow for legitimate farming of it!) and then resell it to U.S. states which will examine it, ensure it isn't poisoned or the like... and then tax it and sell it to its citizens!

I can also see frequent stops along the borders by state police from OTHER states... ensuring people aren't sneaking across the border and loading up on legal marijuana to bring home for their own person use! Undoubtedly we'll see seizures of property (cars) involved with this as well... meaning that the other states might grouse, but won't be too negative about these two states choosing this path.

Rob H.

atomsmith said...

The best 51-star flag I've seen...

Paul451 said...

Re: US Flag.

I think 3x9, 3x8 is the accepted solution for 51 stars. (Designed by the US Army Institute of Heraldry, I'm told. They also did 4x7, 4x6 for 52. 4x8, 3x7 for 53....)

I think people would stop noticing the change almost immediately.

As for "Too rectangular", don't forget, the 48 was one of the longest used flags, and was just 6x8. Dullsville, USA.

Paul451 said...

I also just found the circle variant for the 51, but Atomsmith beat me to the punch.

Looks cool, but I suspect people are now too used to even rows.

[As, I think, Jon Stewart said, "American Tradition" is whatever American baby-boomers grew up with.]

bobsandiego said...

I think that the youth turnout may be here to stay. In the past there never was a powerful peer presure for voting, but that may have changed.
This election cycle I saw a lot of presure directed to engage and vote by way of facebook, if that keeps up then the younglings may continue to show up.
If that happen the current Gods Own Party form of conservatism is baked.

ERic said...

Haven't read through the 'why PR won't be a state'... but ignoring that, I find it interesting that no-one seems to have considered the upending that would happen in the House and Senate if that happened.

Redistricting required nationally before the standard post-Census. Wouldn't that be fun?

Anonymous said...

It might take a number of years for a statehood application to get processes. Dragging it out would give them time to see if they are truly serious and committed to what follows next. It's not like they are an empty territory that can adopt new rules with little pain. They have culture and would seriously notice the arrival of statehood.

With climate chaos looming, though, I think they'd be nuts not to join.

Alfred Differ said...

Sorry. That anon was me.

I like the circle star flag, but I suspect the rectangular one would be more popular. Maybe I'll change my FB image and see who notices. 8)

rewinn said...

@Alfred Differ:
"They have culture and would seriously notice the arrival of statehood."
There is precedent. PR did a lot of legal restructuring when we Americans took over from the Spanish. Its Colegio de Abogados de Puerto Rico is the oldest bar association in the Western Hemisphere, dating back to 1840 (and reportedly tracing its roots back to 16th century organizations of lawyers). The relatively young United States might learn some things.

sociotard said...

CIA Director David Petraeus resigns. It turns out he's been sending an occupying force into a theater not related to his command, if you know what I mean. Nudge. Wink.

The fun part will be bringing this up next time David demands an Obama version of his oft demanded Clinton statistic: "Name for me one Clinton era official who was convicted of malfeasance of office. Malfeasance of office of any kind."

David Brin said...

Need to upgrade my creaky powerPC G5. Anyone keeping up with Apple rumors? I hear they plan to replace-upgrade the MacPro tower? It hasn't been changed in how long? Given how much time I'll have to invest in adapting and shifting and all that, I'd like to do this only once every six or seven years...

nerfhammer said...

To be fair re: Nate Silver, the regional electoral map has become increasingly predictable.

You could predict with 96% accuracy this election just guessing the same states as the last election. The electoral map has become increasing static election-over-election over the past 20 years.

Anonymous said...

MacPro, according to Tim Cook, should get a major upgrade 2013. No word on when that I've heard. Last major update it had was 2008 or 2009, and it got a very minor spec bump last summer.

Tim H. said...

Wouldn't be surprised if the next MacPro has a new case design, because if they were just going to add USB3 and thunderbolt, they could've had it by now. Also wouldn't be surprised if Foxconn builds it.

Carl M. said...

Mmmmm. What are the United States' most dominant exports? In what fields do much of the pundits of the world complain about the U.S. the same way we complain about China and used to complain about Japan?

Hint: what industries employ the most pot heads?

Answer: movies and popular music.

We should make pot smoking mandatory in order to remedy the trade deficit.


And in response to Puerto Rico, check out Democrat Pete Stark's opinion of the University of Puerto Rico.

David Brin said...

Aw rats. I just learned there is a totally Turn-key download that lets me bring the Classic emulator with Word perfect of Mac 3.5e built in! Runs on Lountain Lion. I am ready to go... and now you tell me the Mc Pro is about to be upgraded. Rats. My old G5 is creaky and driving me crazy. And I know for most of you that's too much information! ;-(

Rob Perkins said...

David, if you have an emulator that works with ML and runs your tool, just go spend $1300 on the little (little! heh...) iMac that's about to ship.

Plenty of power, and it'll last you six years for word processing, guaranteed. Unless you're gonna make a bazillion movies with FinalCut Pro, it'll be plenty.

Paul451 said...

"and now you tell me the Mc Pro is about to be upgraded."

That way lies madness. There's always another upgrade on the horizon. You buy the one that's available when you're ready to buy, or you'll never buy.

David Brin said...

Paul & Rob you are generally right. But if the line has been static for 3+ years with minor tweaks, and is about to have its big big transformation, then either it'll be a cool get that's stable for years... or else the current model will go for a song.

I know an iMac should be enough. But I have spent about $2300 for every Apple I have purchased since 1980. Almost exactly the same price every time. (Every main work machine, not the ephemeral laptops). Funny about that.

Anyway I have room for the tower and it's comforting knowing it'll be adaptable etc. Otoh, that 27" iMac... wow. 27inches.

What I'd love to get is a tilt 90 degrees TALL monitor. You used to be able to buy them so they could rotate. Great for a writer.

Rob Perkins said...

27 inches at a foot and a half is the same as 60 from five feet. Maybe even more.

You aren't gonna get a Pro for $2300, and you aren't gonna get a *good* older model Pro for that, either, because all the older ones are gonna be 6 years old!

And I think they're build to order, aren't they? Most really expensive Xeon machines are...

All the rotating models are 21 or 22 inch panels, that I can see, but the truth is that any smart video card (most are) can take any external panel and orient the display portrait. And any VESA monitor mount will hold any compliant monitor, which most are.

So, how about a Mac Mini, and your own huuuuge monitor oriented vertically on a VESA or wall mount?

You'd be saving energy...

Ian said...

I wrote this for another foum but thought I'd share it here:

It might also be amusing for people to post their predictions for what the World and the US will look like in 2016. That way we can dig this out in four years time and embarass the heck out of each other.

I'll start this with a couple of points:

1. Per Realclearpolitics, Obama's job approval has hit 50%. Rassmusen actually has him on 52% approval. I think it'll move up for a week or two and then stabilise - people love a winner.

2. I expect one of the first issues Obama addresses internationally will be Syria. I don't expect an air war much less a ground campaign. I do expect increased assistance to the rebels; assistance to Turkey and Jordan in setting up so-called "safe zones" inside Syria; support for Turkish proposals (unveiled within hours of the US election results being announced) to establish a no-fly zone in northern Syria enforced by ground-to air-missile batteries loaned from NATO and a concerted attemtpt to force Assad to negotiate a political transition.

3. NASA apparently has detailed plans for a manned lunar mission as part of a broader program aimed at a manned Mars mission. They didn't announce this before the election for fear that it didn't fit with Romney's budget plans and could be seen as politcizing the agency.

4. I strongly suspect that Fidel Castro will die before 2016, allowing a possible restoration of diplomatic ties and and end to the embargo.

5. Before the election Obama was hinting that, if re-elected, he'd seek changes to US drug policy. It wouldn't surprise me if, for example, he issued an executive order effectively ending enforcement of federal anti-marijuana laws in Washington and Colorado. (Sorry, "prioritizing enforcement in other states.") Yes, I'm aware of his support for the DEA in his first term.

6. I expect the Dream Act to pass in some form. If the Mexican economy continues to outperform the American economy, I can see many more illegal immigrants choosing to go back home and illegal immigration becoming a much less important issue in US politics.

7. I see little to no hope of substantive progress on an international agreement to limit GHG emissions. I do however expect to see a lot more of the piecemeal, sectoral programs seen in Obama's first term, leading me to hope that the US economy can grow without a significant increase in GHG emissions.

A snap-shot of 2016

Unemployment 5-6%
Economic growth: 3-4%
Budget Deficit: $800 billion.

Yes, I'm a crazy wild-eyed optimist. I left out the bit about his farewell world tour where million-strong crowds in newly-democratic Syria and Iran turn out to greet him and he finishes up with dual speeches in the Israeli capital of Jerusalem and the Palestinian capital of East Jerusalem.

Dwight Williams said...

We can make helpful use of a few hundred million additional "crazy, wild-eyed" optimists, Ian.

Other notes...

For the flag redesign, should Puerto Rico follow through on the statehood initiative: I like the "oval" proposal. Purely an aesthetic issue with me.

Phrasing the next referendum's Big Question will be key. The United States could use its own version of Canada's Clarity Act to deal with not only future secession attempts, but with would-be new members of the Union trying to get in as well.

(For that matter, we ought to consider an amendment to the Clarity Act. Turks and Caicos has been sending applications for membership in Confederation off and on for a century, after all.)

Tacitus said...

The timing and public nature of the Petreaus resignation disturbs me. Just a couple of weeks ago it was being said that Petreaus was tacitly criticizing the Benghazi mess by not stepping up to take the fall.

And lo, right after the election the FBI finds out he is having an affair.

And lo, once more, the press is instantly unified in their shock and in their assurance that this is a really bad thing because he is CIA director, not some Congresscritter.

Does this just smell fishy to conservatives? For all the talk of secret dog whistles only we can here I wonder if y'all have some kind of anosmia that precludes your smelling the stench of corruption.

Look, if he were having an affair with a foreign national that would be another matter. And I do not applaud infidelity on any level. But people are human, not automatons even when they wear soldier suits.

This seems to me to be the political equivalent of a public execution, with the nightly news providing the show trial.

Maybe anything involving the CIA will spawn conspiracy talk, but it is so close to the sleazy "unsealing of records" that torpedoed Obama's political rivals "back in the day"

Reassure me....does this worry you a little?


Tacitus said...

To go on at further length.

If this was indeed a cause for Petreaus to step down, which is a fair question to discuss, there is a humane way to do it.

In the next couple of months various cabinet members will be leaving. Always happens at the beginning of a second term. He could simply have been advised that he would be one of the pack.

But no, we get public shaming and a wink, wink mention of who he had an affair with.

This is the politics of the brute, directed against someone whose merits far out weigh his flaws, and whose great offense was not quickly leaping to the political defense of his boss.

The irony of being thusly abused for in effect, leaving a perimeter undefended for a critical span of time....

I think Obama is not a very nice man.


Ian said...

"And lo, once more, the press is instantly unified in their shock and in their assurance that this is a really bad thing because he is CIA director, not some Congresscritter."

No, he's resigning because he allowed the woman with whom he was having an affair access to classified information for the book she was writing abotu him.

Does Petraeus, who I stil admire greatly, strike you as the type of man who'd go quietly if he felt he was beig railroaded?

Larry C. Lyons said...

Dr. Brin,

You wrote:
"Expressing despair, a couple of my redder pals talk of emigrating! "

Nicholas Kristof the New York Times columnist, had a great suggestion where disappointed conservatives can go where conservatism has been applied with great success:

It has among the lowest tax burdens of any major country: fewer than 2 percent of the people pay any taxes. Government is limited, so that burdensome regulations never kill jobs. This society embraces traditional religious values and a conservative sensibility. Nobody minds school prayer, same-sex marriage isn’t imaginable, and criminals are never coddled. The budget priority is a strong military, the nation’s most respected institution. When generals decide on a policy for, say, Afghanistan, politicians defer to them. Citizens are deeply patriotic, and nobody burns flags. So what is this Republican Eden, this Utopia? Why, it’s Pakistan.

LarryHart said...


Reassure me....does this worry you a little?

Yes, it does. Not for all the same reasons you mention, but I thought we were past the time when a sexual affair was enough to end a career. I was glad President Clinoton survived the Lewinski thing, and I don't just apply that thinking to Democrats.

It would be different if (as you say) he was involved with an individual who was in a position to corrupt CIA activities. I would also feel more schaudenfreude if the person revealed as having an affair was making a political career out of pillorying others for sexual misconduct. But as far as I can tell, neither applies here.

LarryHart said...


"And lo, once more, the press is instantly unified in their shock and in their assurance that this is a really bad thing because he is CIA director, not some Congresscritter."

No, he's resigning because he allowed the woman with whom he was having an affair access to classified information for the book she was writing abotu him.

Ok, I hadn't heard that part.

If that is the case, then yes, the man should lose his position.

I'm still not in favor of it being a public specatacle of titilation over the fact of the affair. Likewise, I'm not in favor of the practice of humiliating "perp walks" of suspects who have not yet been convicted of anything.

Larry C. Lyons said...

As for the MacPro, I'm going to go out on a limb here. If you're using the computer just for word processing etc., in that case I'm going to suggest getting a 15 inch MacBook Pro with the Retina display. I've had one for a month now and have been very impressed. The display is gorgeous to say the least and it can drive the monitors you want. Its also a real kick butt machine. As a researcher and computer programmer, I run a couple of different database servers, a web server, a J2EE application server and 3 or 4 virtual machines, along with my usual suite of 7 or 8 different programs. This thing just laps it all up and asks for more. Moreover I can take it to the local coffee shop and code there all day. Try that with your MacPro.

Seriously though unless you need the PCI card slots or an outrageous amount of RAM, (128gig for instance), a MacBookPro works great.

rwc said...

I predict he will force the House Republicans to play chicken on the budget, get a fix, and then spend most of his time seeking their replacement in the 2014 midterm election. If he can turn the House, then you will see a policy agenda (cap and trade, etc.) reassert itself.

LarryHart said...

Paul Krugman channels Dr Brin today:

The truth is that the modern GOP is deeply anti-intellectual, and has as its fundamental goal not just a rollback of the welfare state but a rollback of the Enlightenment.

Here's the larger context from the blog post:

A lot of 1-percent Romney supporters believed that only the unwashed masses could actually believe that Obama was making more sense on economic policy. And so on.

What’s so strange about this is that everything — everything — that has happened for the past decade has demonstrated the opposite. Modern Republicans are devotees of faith-based analysis on every front. On economics, in particular, they are devoted to supply-side fantasies that keep being refuted by evidence — and their reaction is to try to suppress the evidence. They’ve spent pretty much the whole past four years issuing dire warnings about inflation and soaring interest rates that keep not coming true; they cling to the belief that if only a Republican were in office we’d have a 1982-style recovery even though economists who actually studied past financial crises predicted the slow recovery in advance.

And don’t even get me started on climate change.

The truth is that the modern GOP is deeply anti-intellectual, and has as its fundamental goal not just a rollback of the welfare state but a rollback of the Enlightenment. Yet there are some wannabe intellectuals who delude themselves into believing that they have aligned themselves with the party of objective (as opposed to Objectivist) analysis.

You might think that the election debacle would force some reconsideration. But I doubt it; if the financial crisis didn’t do it, nothing will.

Acacia H. said...

And yet my Republican friend, who actually admitted Republicans were horrible, insists that Democrats are worse. Admittedly, part of this lies with the fact he lives in southeastern Massachusetts... and Republicans are so endangered in that region that Democrats have taken to tranquilizing them and setting them up in enclaves for breeding purposes. The problem is they've been unable to find any female Republicans (who are too smart to get tranquilized) and thus they have a all-male camp for mating purposes. Democrats have been waiting patiently for one of the Republican males to turn female as has been known to happen to some species of fish, but it just hasn't come about.

Rob H.

Paul451 said...

David (and Larry)
As near as I can tell, your $2300 budget-of-tradition rules out Larry's suggestion of a Macbook Pro with Retina display, as well as even the cheapest Mac Pro (and never buy the cheapest.)

That leaves you with the most powerful iMac 27". Or a Mac Mini with an Apple 27-inch (2560-by-1440) display, or a specced out Mini with any other companies' vastly cheaper 27x2560x1440 display.

As for not buying just before they upgrade the line, looking at the dates, wasn't your G5 the last in the line before they switched to Intel? It's not worth comparing with systems you aren't buying, as I said that way lies madness (and I speak from experience. I do that with anything I buy, every single frakking time. Seriously, you should see me in a supermarket...)

Petreaus clearly crossed the line, and probably should be facing charges. The timing is almost certainly political, to bury it in the post-election noise, to protect Obama from being smeared with it during the campaign.

But no, this is not evidence that "Obama is not a very nice man", for that you need to look at the firing of Ag Dept official, Shirley Sherrod, who lost her position because of a Fox faux-controversy over a fairly noble speech she made. What's worse, it wasn't just "not very nice", it was stupid, the faux-controversy should have been a gift for Obama to recapture his election mojo. The magical fairy-tale prince Obama that people vote for in 2008 would have done a televised address where he started with, at least what would appear to be, the usual political distancing, "Now I want to make it clear that she was not speaking for this Administration", etc, then flipped it around with, "But I would have been honoured if she was, let me show you why," and then read out her speech with all the rhetorical skill that he put into his campaign speeches in 2008. Every Liberal in the US would have had a simultaneous orgasm. And I suspect he would have won respect from an awful lot of moderate conservatives. Instead he did what Dems always seem to do, let Fox News set the agenda, trying to appease people who care only about ruining them.

[The Ag.Sec later apologised for the firing, after the backlash. Which, of course, looked even weaker.]

David Brin said...

Tacitus, I see nothing about the Petraeus affair that was legitimate grist for politics. No illegitimate policy decisions, favors, or squelching of proper procedures. So exactly what would Romney have said? Can you come up with a scenario in which Romney would have said ANYTHING much about DP, who was the fair-haired boy of the GOP much longer than he was of Obama? That he should never have been appointed? That his appointment (confirmed with lavish praise from the GOP) was a sign of poor judgement?

Yes, it was kept out of the election and his excuse was "not to provide a distraction circus"... so? in this case, that version is exactly correct. Unless you can offer an election-relevant meaning to this tawdry little human failing.

Look, in any other job, I'd even say "let's see how the wife reacts. If she's okay, then see if an apology flies." That is why the women of America forgave Bill CLinton and forgave Bush for his past indiscretions, but nailed Gingrich and Edwards. The Wife Forgiveness effect has not been discussed in the press but I observe it as being totally crucial.

look. Everyone knows that men in power are subject to temptations that the human male is not well-equipped to resist. Obama and Romney are straight arrows and that's the way things must head in future. (Michelle could break him in half, anyway, and Anne Romney could cast a hex!) So much for us being descended from the harems of powerful men.

But Petraeus is an exception because he is in one of a few jobs where even a hint of the possibility of blackmail is of staggering importance. He was apparently caught by an internal blackmail audit and that makes me VERY happy, to see that they are taking such things seriously again, after laxity in the Bush years!

I would normally let the wife decide. But not in this case. He will have important job offers.


Larry I HAVE a macbookPro. I need screens. Biiiig screens. Two of em. Lots of room.

Robert, you are a hoot! You get post of the day! And it's not even noon out here, yet.

sociotard said...

My screen at work can rotate 90 degrees. If you're having trouble finding one with that feature I can tell you the brand on monday.

Ormazd said...

I do not want to start any kind of the known flame wars, but why keep in the apple ecosystem? Is it a practical necessity? or could the same job be performed by a windows or Linux system? Or is it just a matter of personal preference?

Rob Perkins said...

David, I'll send you a photo of my setup if you want to see it. For less than $2300, you could soup up the MBP with an immense Apple display, or buy a different 1080p display and mount it vertically at your desk.

Go here, for example, for a good domestic company that made the monitor mount I use.

Neil Miller said...

The new iMac supports dual-external monitors for a total of three large monitors:

The New MacBook Pros with Thunderbolt are supposed to be able to support dual-external monitors too, though you need to have a Thunderbolt device in between the two monitors... That setup will be a lot louder than the iMac or the MacPro (the laptop's fans will likely be going full tilt to keep the graphics card cool).

David Brin said...

Personal preference. I also use PCs and compare them all the time. The MS world is no longer like having my body covered in imps with pick axes trying hard to prevent productivity. It now feels like two very heavy and slovenly imps weighing down my shoulders and occasionally driving ice picks into my eardrums. An improvement! But I have limited lifespan and I want a system I don't have to think about very much.


See what five of the Awakened Ostrich conservatives have to say about the election. They go deeper than Maddow. They are more motivated top diagnose. They are spot on.

Tacitus said...

I will have to catch up on the Petraeus story. I have been working all day running my annual combat robotics tournament for middle schoolers.

You might be pleased, or perhaps disquieted, to hear that in the final matches the students gleefully adopted the traditional "final round" rules....

Two Bots Enter...One Bot Leaves.

Yours with the Black Flag of No Quarter unfurled...

Detritus of Empire

Rob Perkins said...

I think the takeaway from that Morning Joe segment is to "find the conservatives who want to legislate," rather than "those who want to blow up the process."

Mike Frank said...

I have used the 30" Dell UltraSharp U3011 monitor. Its resolution is 2560 x 1600 and is nice on the eyes. At $1399 it is a bit pricey but I can say that I found it to be one of the nicest screens I have ever worked with. As mentioned previously, it can be detached from its stand and mounted on something else so it can be seen in portrait mode, rather than the default landscape.

Anonymous said...

If we get up to 53 states we will then indeed be... one nation... indivisible...

Jumper said...

Mike, will it play true interlaced video (rereshing a field every 60th sec) or does it combine fields and play a max 30fps? I have been looking for a monitor that will give me interlaced the way god intended it to be seen (best temporal res for what you've got) and am seeing that even the big TVs some of them anyway, are combining fields of interlaced into single frames and running them the standard 30fps.

Jumper said...

I found this sobering:
2002: U.S. Consulate In Karachi, Pakistan, Attacked 10 Killed, 51 Injured
2004: U.S. Embassy Bombed In Uzbekistan 2 Killed, 9 Injured
2004: Gunmen Stormed U.S. Consulate In Saudi Arabia 8 Killed
2006: Armed Men Attacked U.S. Embassy In Syria 1 Killed, Several Injured
2007: Grenade Launched Into U.S. Embassy In Athens
2008: Rioters Set Fire To U.S. Embassy In Serbia
2008: Ten People Killed In Bombings At U.S. Embassy In Yemen
2012 US Embassy in Benghazi, Libya attacked 4 Killed
Republicans become outraged and suddenly concerned with the safety and security of Americans abroad. NOW they demand investigations.

rewinn said...

Meanwhile, in the world of sousveillance:

"Drone camera captures Argentina's #8N protests"
would not be a surprising headline, EXCEPT the drone was controlled not by the government, but by journalists seeking to show the truth by evading government suppression of information!

Ian said...

My understanding of the Petraeus story:

1.Broadwell sent e-mails to a woman who regaded them as threatening or harassing.

2. The women made a complaint to the FBI (presumably becasue the messages were sent froma different state).

3. The FBI obtained a warrant to access Broadwell's e-mail account and so scan her e-maisl for all occurences of particular words or phrases.

4. They found e-mails between Broadwell and Petraeus which revealed both the affair and that Peatraeus had disclosed classified information to her (which could be as relatively innoci=uous as his detaield travel plans for a trip to Afghansitan or Iraq.)

5. Petraeus was informed of the evidence against him and the investigation was ongoing.

6. Accordig to fox News, Obama only found out about the allegations when Petraeus visited him last Thursday, told him what had happened and of his intention to resign. So the timing of the General's resignation immediately after the election was his choice not Obama's.

That's my fairly hazy understanding anyway.

There's currently another US General facing criminal charges for rape and assault and there have been several other unrelated incidents of Generals either disciplined or resigning. The more extreme elements of the far right are putting all these together and are convinced Obama is purging the senior ranks of the military in prepation for a coup.

David Brin said...

Silliness never ends. I hope this is just a sting... Petreaus going underground so traitors will approach him with offers of leadership roles...