Thursday, February 21, 2008


Before this campaign I knew nothing of this concept. Now I know a moderate amount, and don't think much of it. Roy Zimmerman has spared me having to describe why as he does such a great job of it himself (via GrrlScientist):

A Cheap Shot and Some Class

Here's the cheap shot (which you could call good interview technique, I suppose, though I find myself repelled by the regular bullying approach):

and here is a class act.

I especially like the final lines

But most of all, he has the record to prove that all of this is possible. It’s something no one should forget.

. . . Even though I did.

. . . On national television.

(Via Instapundit, for the cheap shot, and Allahpundit, for the class act.)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Brad DeLong on Hillary

I finally did the search that uncovered the post he made - he was in the Treasury department under Bill Clinton. He has changed his views a little but here is what they once were.

My two cents' worth--and I think it is the two cents' worth of everybody who worked for the Clinton Administration health care reform effort of 1993-1994--is that Hillary Rodham Clinton needs to be kept very far away from the White House for the rest of her life. Heading up health-care reform was the only major administrative job she has ever tried to do. And she was a complete flop at it. She had neither the grasp of policy substance, the managerial skills, nor the political smarts to do the job she was then given. And she wasn't smart enough to realize that she was in over her head and had to get out of the Health Care Czar role quickly.

So when senior members of the economic team said that key senators like Daniel Patrick Moynihan would have this-and-that objection, she told them they were disloyal. When junior members of the economic team told her that the Congressional Budget Office would say such-and-such, she told them (wrongly) that her conversations with CBO head Robert Reischauer had already fixed that. When long-time senior hill staffers told her that she was making a dreadful mistake by fighting with rather than reaching out to John Breaux and Jim Cooper, she told them that they did not understand the wave of popular political support the bill would generate. And when substantive objections were raised to the plan by analysts calculating the moral hazard and adverse selection pressures it would put on the nation's health-care system...

Hillary Rodham Clinton has already flopped as a senior administrative official in the executive branch--the equivalent of an Undersecretary. Perhaps she will make a good senator. But there is no reason to think that she would be anything but an abysmal president.

I am still myself open to supporting Clinton, though thankfully US voting rules do not put me in that position in a concrete way. But I am the guy who thought Stephane Dion was a good choice as Liberal leader. Don't listen to me, I would say!

Abiola Lapite Gives me a Large Giggle

The interviewer here is expecting to back this lad into a corner, but he (the lad) keeps proving he is a lot smarter than the reporter. It is a scream to watch and Lapite's characterization of the interview is spot on.

This interviewer no doubt had the same images at the back of his mind when he approached the young Obama supporter, expecting to quickly reveal a shallow young ignoramus caught up in a mere intoxication with empty rhetoric; I'm sure it would have been even better for his purposes if the young man could have been goaded into transforming into the equally ignorant, aggressively militant, hypersensitive "Angry Black Man"™ who is the staple of "reality tv" [sic] and the stuff of American nightmares.

The finish of the interview turned my constant rolling giggle into a belly laugh.

My World Keeps Shrinking - Roy Scheider

I recall vividly seeing 'The French Connection' when it came out, and being more taken by Scheider than by Gene Hackman (he showed me what he could do later in The Conversation).

The Times has a nice obituary, and a picture that includes Robert Shaw, whom I have long missed as well.

Boil All the Hope out of Him

It is so much fun watching Barack Obama speak.. Generally the speeches have no content, but they have no less that those of Hillary Clinton, whose delivery is painfully leaden, and suggests a sense of entitlement, the notion that you MUST take her seriously. Obama entertains.

The subject line is one of his retorts to the claim that he has not spent enough time in Washington, and he is ironically suggesting that the consequence of that time would be negative.

Meanwhile also let me speak about McCain - I did not like his behavior in the California Reagan Library debate but there are things I do like. He campaigned in Iowa and was publicly opposed to corn subsidies. He campaigned in Florida and was against the rest of the country carrying the risk in catastrophe insurance for Floridians. He sticks to his immigration position. He worked with Feingold to produce some legislation. No doubt he is capable of sleaze too but these positions are worthy of note.

Morning mirth from the perpetual clown

The CBC is credulously reporting Chavez's threats of cutting off oil exports to the US. Chavez seems to be missing a couple of points - 1) that oil is pretty much fungible, and 2) Venezuela's oil is NOT so fungible, as this article points out.

Here's the problem for Venezuela: The country has no alternative market to the US for much of its crude. One useful measure in this regard is a refinery's complexity index . Refineries that are able to run heavier, more-sour feedstocks are said to be more complex than refineries that can only run light, sweet crude.

No doubt Chavez' main goal is to whip up some support internally.

The sad thing is that people do vote for clowns. (Heaven knows, I have.)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Is the Love Affair Fading?

How to become a hero - call George Bush 'Satan' in a large public setting. You will certainly become a hero in a large part of the West, with a reflexive leftism no longer informed by the great principles of the Enlightenment, as my leftism certainly was and still is.

But if your hero is a clown - when do you start to recognize it and actually speak honestly? This is hard to do, and has been particularly so for the Western left, sections of which apologized for the Communist states behind the Iron Curtain for decades, and now romantically lean to an affection for Islamic totalitarianism, and also, an odd ally in a way, Hugo Chavez, the clown, but who probably inspires romantic notions of Castro.

But now even the New York Times (not far left, but quite prone to the apologetics described above) has a correspondent starting to see the red nose and funny hair on Chavez.

The report is funny, in that one sees exactly what anyone would have predicted.

The contrast between revolutionary language and the consumption of imported luxury items by a new elite aligned with Mr. Chávez’s government, known as the “Bolivarian bourgeoisie,” has led to questioning of the priorities of his political movement.

For instance, Mr. Chávez warned Monday that he would nationalize large food distributors caught hoarding groceries.

The shortages are an entirely predictable consequence of the stupid price-setting policies for essentials. The irony is that the shortages are for things that ARE essentials.

It has been an interesting few months for Venezuela, with Chavez picking fights with Colombia, and endorsing FARC. Nobody in his right mind can endorse such an endorsement. Though I bet we have a bunch of lefties who still reflexively do.

Creative Destruction Strikes Again

The Amateur Economist links to news that Polaroid is leaving the instant photography business, now closing the plants that made film packets (and even better, he includes a nice picture of James Garner and, particularly, Mariette Hartley).

I am old enough to recall what a miracle it was to have photographs almost immediately available. And to recall some of the amazingly complicated initial cameras that did this job. I owned several such cameras in my life.

I confess to feeling sentimental about this, and sad, but it does not make a lot of sense; I certainly don't plan ever to buy Polaroid film packs ever again, and regard the current digital situation as an enormous improvement over what we had. In the end, I can only hope that the people behind the great advance that was Polaroid technology managed to get a significant reward from all of us who benefited so much from what they did.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Rowan Williams Steps in It Again

While there seems an awfully intense and mad response to the Archbishop of Canterbury's rather mild proposals, I have found more insightful this simple editorial from the Economist, and two posts by Eugene Volokh, the latter mischievously titled "Sharia Law Enforced in Texas".

To quote his first:

And at the very least the harsh condemnation of the Archbishop -- who seems to be endorsing a system much like that which is already available as a matter of course to those Americans who choose it -- strikes me as excessive given the relative modesty and good sense of his proposal. And I say this as someone who has criticized the Archbishop on other matters in the past.

The Economist rightly points to the one key point:

The entitlement of sub-cultures to exist can easily become inimical to freedom if vulnerable individuals (such as women and children) are in effect trapped inside them because of massive pressure not to “betray” the community. The Archbishop would have drawn a much less hostile reaction if he had remembered to make that point more firmly.

The Virtue of Simple Follow-Up

I don't know what the answers are but I am glad tgirsch followed up.

Arbour Backs Down

Lousie Arbour, after a lot of help from people who apparently actually read the documents she is responsible for, almost reverses course.

“In the space of about 72 hours this week, the one-time poster girl of Canada’s legal establishment -- former war crimes prosecutor, and Supreme Court Justice -- had first endorsed, then backed away from endorsing (sort of) the Arab Charter on Human Rights,” wrote George Jonas, a columnist with Canada’s National Post. “Within three days, our fearless crusader for human rights -- oops, wrong word, sorry -- lapsed back into a sort of, well, shall we say, benign Canadian neutrality about a ‘regional’ charter, or ‘human rights’ as seen by a culture that has been known to greet mass murder with celebratory ululation. We don't endorse it holus-bolus, you know; we endorse it only up to a point. Not the bad bits, just the other ones.”

Makes me feel a bit ashamed to be a Canadian at times watching her in action. It's telling that the Arab states prefer not to simply refer to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and an even sadder reflection, though hardly surprising, that the UN is serving as a sort of accomplice.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Wicked Parentheticals

Oliver Kamm is on about something substantial here (the claims of serious historians), but, wonderfully, he cannot resist one of the best parenthetical asides I recall seeing:

other than perhaps to Media Lens supporters


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Which of These are Your Favorites?

This post is wonderful (h/t Dennis Mangan)- and I would include not just the great chart, which I will reproduce here, but also the fine commentary from Virgil Griffith. It's a great world in which people like him have this time on their hands! My major reaction is to the solid central position of 'The Da Vinci Code'


Fly to the Right City

This is a brilliant little game! (H/T Rand Simberg.)

Make sure you have very good control of your mouse before you start. There is time pressure and thinking needed too!

Thanks, Lufthansa!

(UPDATE: Stupid link above does not seem to work in Firefox - you can go here.)

Not Again!

On return from my trip last week to California, I was relieved to see that most of the snow that had fallen in my absence had melted or been washed away by subsequent rain. And then yesterday happened! This looks even worse than in November, and it is somewhat heavier snow - the poor old spirea bush is mightily oppressed!

Once again, the neighbors along my block have been fulfilling the city's requirement that we clear our sidewalks in a timely manner.

I am amazed at how much snow my spindly apple tree can carry:


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Brad DeLong hits Home Run Number 2

In California last week, I was exposed to debates among the primary candidates. I am always fascinated by US politics and this year has been a true treasure.

McCain and Romney produced a debate I wish I had never seen; any sympathy or willingness to support McCain vanished in the course of his challenges to Romney, which seemed at best ungentlemanly. Romney seems a nice enough fellow but he did not do much to sell me either.

The next day the Democrats debated and made none of the same mistakes.

Since then I have been thinking about what I would do had I a vote in the US primaries. It turns out that would I would have done is precisely what Brad DeLong did, and he explains my reasons excellently, never having consulted with me on the subject! I do not know how he does it. (Those who have read him for a while will know that the linked post represents a large change in his position on HRC, and one he explains in terms of evidence.)

Brad DeLong hits Home Run Number One

In an earlier post I mentioned the view I was enjoying from my aunt's living room. Brad DeLong has a nice view too from his office. But my aunt's living room has a better one! (And I do not feel obliged to work there; in fact I barely can as it is one of the few WiFi-free zones I have spent any time in recently.)

Bucolic Berkeley Hills

I am back home from ten days away in Northern California, some of it in the Berkeley hills with my aunt and cousins. One day as I was looking out at the Golden Gate Bridge (another post later) I was told to look down at the front lawn and this is what I saw:

Monday, February 04, 2008

Composed Upon the Bay Bridge, February 4, 2007

What a privilege to live a life that required me to be crossing San Francisco Bay this morning! And as I sat in the various traffic bottlenecks that allowed me to withhold full attention from the need to drive, I found myself looking around, and being moved by the sheer beauty of all that lay around me as the sun rose over the East Bay.

There is not a single small piece of the Wordsworth that does not apply:

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

This is the poem that tells me Wordsworth was not a romantic moron. Such moronic folk still live today, especially in the Bay Area.

(And yes, the poem comes to mind to me today as well when I walk along the Thames.)

And yes, I know there is no river in the San Francisco context, but there is a heck of a lot of water!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Mr. In-Between

Well, in between Doc and rondi.