Posted by: New Class Traitor | November 11, 2012

The beached whale ORCA: a campaign consultant con job?

I am a firm believer in Hanlon’s Rule (actually Heinlein’s Rule): “Never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by stupidity/incompetence”, but at times that faith gets shaken. Such as by the ORCA fiasco (see AceBusinessInsiderWaPo , CNETComputerWorldPolitico, and Breitbart) which may very well have cost Romney the election. RedState (via Althouse) now has more on how the campaign acquired this turkey. Go read it all and weep: it is a horrifying story of nest-feathering by consultants, arrogance, and campaign decisions based on bogus statistics and poll numbers from the turkey’s droppings.

The result of all of these false numbers and inaccurate ground reports is simple: Mitt Romney was ill-prepared for the actual numbers on election day and his false sense of confidence directly translated into how the campaign operated in the closing weeks. In the words of one source, it was a con job. As David Mamet famously said, “If you’re in the con game and you don’t know who the mark is … you’re the mark.” Mitt Romney had no idea what was coming.

And thanks to the greed and hubris of a few we are now stuck with four more years of the worst administration in living memory. Thanks for worse than nothing.

UPDATE: More here from Bethany Mandel. And more on the company: seems to consist of a bunch of execs and marketers and… two coders, one of which actually used to work for Al Gore. I might have been able to overlook the latter, but on principle I avoid IT companies that are “all hat and no cattle” (or all jacket and no bomber) like the plague.

Posted by: New Class Traitor | November 10, 2012

Saturday music therapy: Marillion, “Easter”

Marillion are a “neo-prog” band that rose to mainstream prominence in the 1980 (even scoring an international hit with “Kayleigh”) then continued as a cult band with a rabid fan following.

This (quite melodic) song is about “The troubles” in Ireland. At 2:30, floating on lush keyboards, an elegiac, meltingly beautiful guitar solo sets in that takes you to another realm for 90 seconds until the sun breaks through (as it were). Because of this solo, the song is reportedly a fan highlight of every Marillion concert; I’ve had this song on repeat quite a few times in the last, very difficult, week.

Posted by: New Class Traitor | November 10, 2012

Orson Scott Card goes nuclear on the EneMedia

Posted by: New Class Traitor | November 9, 2012

The prodigious multiplication of voters

0bama truly is a lightworker. Not content with minor feats such as feeding a multitude with five loaves and two fishes, he has managed to do the impossible and reach 135% voter turnout in some Boston districts:

STATE ELECTION BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS NOVEMBER 6, 2012 UNOFFICIAL RESULTS (dc: Picked this up in Ace’s comments – I’m sorry, I can’t remember who to hat tip for it. Check out these numbers.)

% Turnout

Ward 1, Precinct 1 135.22%

Ward 1, Precinct 2 127.96%

Ward 1, Precinct 3 119.21%

So is this how Fauxcahontas Lieawatha got elected? Of course I do not think the POTUS outcome got affected by Boston (Massachusetts being a hopelessly ‘blue’ state) but… who says it was only Boston?!?  “littleoldlady” drew my attention to something interesting:

There is a rather interesting statistical correlation between the degree of voter ID verification and the percentage of States carried by Romney.
Yes, I know, correlation is not causation, and red states are generally more open to passing voter ID laws, but… Do I trust the Chicago combine even one nanometer further than I can throw them?
Then again, it appears that the electoral catastrophe was a truly bipartisan affair, as the Romney campaign shot itself in the foot big time with putting all its GOTV efforts in the basket of  a half-baked, poorly stress-tested custom IT system called ORCA (see here and here). Whoever is responsible for this debacle has an awful lot to answer for.
Massive voter fraud by the opponent, accidental massive vote suppression by his own side: it is a miracle that Romney came within a hairbreadth of unseating the Campaigner-In-Chief.
The Republic is starring in a new Neal Stephenson novel called REAMED.
UPDATE:
Cleveland too?! (site new to me, caveat lector)
UPDATE 2: More on the ORCA beached whale from ComputerWorld, CNET,  Politico, and Ace. Even if your politics are the opposite of mine — if you’re an IT manager or customer relations manager there’s a must-read cautionary tale there.
Posted by: New Class Traitor | November 9, 2012

Religion as a “containment vessel” for irrationality

“buzzsawmonkey” at @corrcomm quotes his father, a scientist, on the irrational (see comment #16):

When I was young, I thought—we all thought—that science and rationality would triumphantly replace religion.  We were wrong, because man, while capable of rationality in certain areas, is not a rational animal.

There is no removing the non-rational from human beings—and if you try to do this, all you get is bad science, because the non-rational impulse will invade and corrupt the ability to think rationally.  It is the lack of a place and a control for non-rational thinking that creates false science like the hysteria over cancer from cell phones or power lines, or over global warming.

Human non-rationality is like a universal solvent, which dissolves whatever it touches.  The problem with a universal solvent is to find a vessel to contain and control it so it cannot do any harm. The only vessel that has proven itself capable of containing non-rationality over any period of time, and making it possible to control it so that it is not harmful, and even to harness it for useful ends, is religion.  Religion is not a perfect vessel; there are spills and breakages. But it is the only vessel which has been able to contain non-rationality and harness it for good.

Nail, meet hammer. I now see where buzz’s way with words comes from.

Posted by: New Class Traitor | November 9, 2012

Now what? The long game and the short game

Like many of us, I was heartsick over the election. Not because “our team” lost, but because what is without doubt the worst president in living memory, after a term in office that reads like a litany of disasters and miserable failures, managed to secure reelection despite at least two major scandals that would have brought down any Republican president — who, of course, would not benefit from a gleichgeschaltete press.

I’ve read plenty of “we are doomed” articles over the last few days, and certainly understand the despair speaking through them. John Hinderaker struck a backhanded positive note: namely, that the person dealing with the damage wrought by the first 0bama term will be none other than Barack Hussein 0bama. (Clementine Churchill “Winston, this may be a blessing in disguise.” Winston Churchill: “At this moment it seems quite effectively disguised.”)

I am not sure we’re lost or doomed, but I think we have to play two games at once: a short game (on economics) and a long game (on social/moral issues). Forgive me the “stream of consciousness draft” nature of what follows.

A number of pundits have struck a “two tribes” or “one nation divided” theme: America nearly equally split into two nations. Actually, I’d go even further: two nations that don’t even speak each other’s language. I don’t agree with, say, Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum on many issues but I share enough of a reference framework with them that I understand what makes them tick. Your average MTV-head (or, for that matter, the indie rock-fan bashing “eMpTyV”) won’t even get where Romney or Santorum come from — and they tend to be so low-information on anything not immediately relevant to their daily lives that they are easy targets for media manipulation.
It’s like — as happened to me the other day — somebody walks in on you listening in obvious bliss to music on headphones, and just hearing cymbal noise and what sounds like vocal shouting because nothing else leaks from the headphones. The person coming in thinks you like crap noise, while you are actually hearing Deep Purple’s “In Rock” album in all its sonic glory.
To some kid that’s been brainwashed by entertainment TV on “hookups”, consequence-free s3x, and glorification of non-heterosexual s3x, somebody like Romney is never going to be able to explain his position (ahem) on marriage, let alone on abortion. (I’m not even thinking of Santorum’s, and don’t get me started on Todd Akin, an embarrassment that managed to blow a shoo-in Senate seat). Even when the kid might be open to the idea that a foetus is not just some clump of tissues that can be flushed at will until right before birth (and even when born alive after a botched abortion, according to some extremists such as a certain former Illinois state senator), they are vulnerable to all the “back-alley abortions” “steal your lady parts” etc. propaganda of the other side. And here’s the clincher — women from the more so-con side, even when personally atheist or agnostic (like Dr. Helen Smith, a.k.a. “Instawife”) won’t even get why the women from the other side aren’t turned off by this obviously simplistic, manipulative, and patronizing propaganda.
It used to be that positions, liberal or conservative, might have been taught in school in a relatively dispassionate fashion, leaving people (comparatively) free to make up their own minds. What happens now is that kids get little or no actual information in school (and whatever they do get is thin on information and heavy on propaganda), and nothing but propaganda (glorifying one perspective and demonizing another) through the popular culture. As Sarah Hoyt pointed out, outliers can exist in the latter, but only after they have already become established and feared in some niche — Brad Thor, for example, can be an outspoken conservative, or some Justin Bieber-type singer can be an evangelical, or Bob Dylan can be a quasi-Orthodox Jew [though even he has to at least be seen as genuflecting to the hipster orthodoxy once in a while].
Therefore, on social and cultural issues, only the long game can be played. I am not even talking about persuading people, simply of convincing them that there is another perspective at least as valid as the therapeutic left-liberal one they take for granted. It is high time to make the culture celebrate “diversity” beyond the skin-deep kind of race and ethnicity, but this is a slow game that (Bill Whittle makes this point masterfully) requires essentially the patient building-up of a competing popular media infrastructure.
So much for the long game. On economic issues, however, the short game can and should be played, if only because we are so close to the economic abyss that the daily consequences will hit very soon and very hard, way beyond the extent that they are already hitting many people. At some point very soon “other people’s money” will run out, and the “blue model” discussed at great length by Walter Russell Mead will crash. If 0bama weren’t such an economic innumerate, he’d (quietly, so as not to upset environmental extremists) push for maximum development of US oil resources to have an export commodity available for “the day after” Arab oil runs out — because nanny statism of the type he envisages can only be financed (while it lasts) if you’re literally sitting on a gold mine with the whole world lining up to buy.
In other words: the only message that the GOP can, in the short term, preach outside the choir is the economic one of “we have no more money and better do something about it before it all comes crashing down”. This message should be stated clearly, forcefully, and insistently. This will not fall on kind ears — as the hysterical reactions to the ‘Ryan plan’ illustrate — and entrenched interests will do all they can to demonize the GOP here too. But here the GOP has been able to score at least tactical victories at the local or regional level (note Scott Walker in WI), and in the short-to-medium term, their best ally are “the cold equations”: either the GOP will be ignored in the short term and then gain new respect as “the gods of the copybook headings with [financial] terror and slaughter return”, or they will be hearkened to and in the process become stronger, or adult leadership will come back to the D party and it will adopt modified forms of GOP solutions and then claim their ownership, justifying itself to its base by explaining how much worse the medicine would taste if the GOP did it. (The latter outcome may take the wind out of the GOP’s sails in the short run but may actually benefit it in the long run — as it will be seen as a responsible partner by supporting effectively GOP-lite policies from the opposition benches.)
In both long and short game — as the late lamented Andrew Breitbart understood better than anybody else — the legacy media is Enemy Number One and this should be kept in mind at all times. Covering for D presidents may not be something new (think of FDR and JFK), but the blatancy, near-universality, and shamelessness of today is something unprecedented. Insty has referred to them over and over as “DNC operatives with bylines” — if they aren’t actual operatives, they have become functionally equivalents thereof. As veterans of the Chicago Machine, the 0bama consiglieres will know how to reward their friends: I am willing to bet nearly my bottom dollar on an overt or covert bailout or subsidy of the legacy media “in the public interest”. Treating them as ‘the enemy’ does not always mean being confrontational or aggressive: Breitbart was at his most devastating to them when playing mental jujitsu games with them.
Us obsessive newsbloggers/newsblog readers are making the mistake of targeting high-information voters. A president (and his followers) behaving like middle schoolers just won re-election — because that is the level of information and maturity of half the electorate! Therefore, we must target our message simultaneously to all levels of information and attention span, and in such a way that the consumer can choose their level without feeling patronized.
You may call me a dreamer, but I can’t believe I’m the only one.
On a final note: there is one subject notably absent from the above, immigration. With the economy in the current doldrums, the wave of illegal immigration from South of the border appears to be petering out as even menial work “that Americans won’t do” is no longer abundantly available. As much as the stories described by Victor Davis Hanson make my blood boil, nothing will put a more effective end to these than (for lack of any fiscal alternative) severely curtailing transfer payments to the ‘documented’ and ‘undocumented’ alike. For good reason, Milton Friedman was an advocate of both minimum-government and  open borders: one can easily (and only) afford the latter if one has the former.
UPDATE: Megan McArdle (one of the very few redeeming features of the execrable Daily Beast) had predicted an 0bama win, but in the short-to-medium term foresees a fracturing of the ‘permanent’ D coalition  as the money runs out and it will be impossible to continue paying off all interest groups at the same time, forcing difficult choices between them. She uses the term ‘Hobbesian war of all against all’: I might have chosen the term Ragnarok.
Posted by: New Class Traitor | November 8, 2012

Why wordsmith (pseudo)intellectuals tend to favor 0bama and big government

Neo-neocon attempts to answer this question. She argues that wordsmiths (that is, people who earn a living by pushing words around, suc as journalists, lawyers, most bureaucrats… all New Class professions) often tend to fall prey to the delusion that only words are real, and that anybody who speaks and writes well will be a good thinker or policy maker. In other words, wordsmiths tend to confuse articulateness and intelligence.

Those of us in the hard sciences know (or should know) better. I know scientists that speak like truck drivers and need major editorial help to turn their papers into something publishable — but that have stratospheric numerical and visuospatial IQs and have had very successful careers in academia or industrial research.

Conversely, I know all too many “wordsmiths” (especially journalists) that may be very articulate (and thus presumably have verbal IQs in the gifted, or at least the upper bright normal range) but that are shockingly innumerate and/or lack the visuospatial skills to understand simple scientific or technical problems even when broken down devoid of jargon. Often these people think of themselves and each other as “the best and the brightest”, when in fact their general IQ (averaged over verbal, numerical, and visuospatial) may be in the bright-normal (IQ 115-129) range at best.

These are also the people that go on and on about how ‘stupid’ Bush 43 was; yes, Bush had major articulacy problems, but somebody who was a skilled pilot on a pretty unforgiving jet fighter plane as well as tutored his fellow pilots on math problems cannot possibly be a moron. (In fact, analysis of his SAT and Air Force Officer Qualification Test scores suggests an IQ of about 125 — in the upper tier of bright-normal.) But, of course, his mental profile would be the exact inverse of the average wordsmith: average verbally, bright normal to gifted otherwise.

Robert Nozick wondered earlier if there is a reason why so many ‘intellectuals’ favor big-government solutions to scoietal problems, and ascribes it to their fallacious beliefs that the same factors that garnered them praise in the classroom should be the ones that determine material prosperity and prestige in the wider world. “OMG! He was hopeless in class and now sells cardboard boxes — yet got filthy rich and is even running for Congress. IT. IS. NOT. FAIR.”

One of my rabbis — who grew up in a Muslim country — used to say that the tragedy of the Arab world was its language being so beautiful that people get intoxicated on words and lose sight of more concrete matters, thus ending up going nowhere, and being envious of those who do succeed (like their ‘cousins’). The mind wonders if this explains the strange, and counterintuitive, tolerance so much of our ‘liberal’ intelligentsia has for the ultra-reactionary ideologies of Islamism.

Posted by: New Class Traitor | November 7, 2012

Kagi’s lament: ineffable sadness in music

ברוך אתה ה’ אלוקינו מלך העולם, דיין האמת (Blessed art Thou L-rd, Ruler of the Universe, the True Judge — traditional blessing upon learning of a calamity.]

I have no words that suffice to express my grief for the Republic. So music will have to do.

 

Posted by: New Class Traitor | November 7, 2012

Waiting, phase one

Poll closing times map, via Ace:

Porcupine Tree, “Waiting, phase 1″, studio and live versions.

While waiting, here are two useful web apps (OK, make that three):

Posted by: New Class Traitor | November 6, 2012

Today is the day

“Work like it all depends on you, for it does.

Pray like it all depends on G-d, for it does.”

(variously attributed to Augustine, Ignacio de Loyola, Carlo Borromeo, and John Wesley)

Let freedom ring!

Posted by: New Class Traitor | November 5, 2012

Michael Barone’s prognosis: Romney by 315

Michael Barone (he of the Almanac of American Politics), possibly the biggest election wonk in the USA, reviews the chances of 0bama and Romney in the battleground states:

Which candidate will get the electoral votes of the target states? I’ll go out on a limb and predict them, in ascending order of 2008 Obama percentages — fully aware that I’m likely to get some wrong.

Indiana (11 electoral votes). Uncontested. Romney.

North Carolina (15 electoral votes). Obama has abandoned this target. Romney.

Florida (29). The biggest target state has trended Romney since the Denver debate. I don’t see any segment of the electorate favoring Obama more than in 2008, and I see some (South Florida Jews) favoring him less. Romney.

Ohio (18). The anti-Romney auto bailout ads have Obama running well enough among blue-collar voters for him to lead most polls. But many polls anticipate a more Democratic electorate than in 2008. Early voting tells another story, and so does the registration decline in Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County. In 2004, intensity among rural, small -town and evangelical voters, undetected by political reporters who don’t mix in such circles, produced a narrow Bush victory. I see that happening again. Romney.

Virginia (13). Post-debate polling mildly favors Romney, and early voting is way down in heavily Democratic Arlington, Alexandria, Richmond and Norfolk. Northern Virginia Asians may trend Romney. Romney.

Colorado (9). Unlike 2008, registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats, and more Republicans than Democrats have voted early. The Republican trend in 2010 was squandered by weak candidates for governor and senator. Not this time. Romney.

Iowa (6). The unexpected Romney endorsements by the Des Moines Register and three other newspapers gave voice to buyer’s remorse in a state Obama carried by 10 points. Democrats’ traditional margin in early voting has declined. Romney.

Minnesota (10). A surprise last-minute media buy for the Romney campaign. But probably a bridge too far. Obama.

New Hampshire (4). Polls are very tight here. I think superior Republican intensity will prevail. Romney.

Pennsylvania (20). Everyone would have picked Obama two weeks ago. I think higher turnout in pro-coal Western Pennsylvania and higher Republican percentages in the Philadelphia suburbs could produce a surprise. The Romney team evidently thinks so too. Their investment in TV time is too expensive to be a mere feint, and, as this is written, Romney is planning a Sunday event in Bucks County outside Philly. Wobbling on my limb, Romney.

Nevada (6). Democratic early-voting turnout is down from 2008 in Las Vegas’ Clark County, 70 percent of the state. But the casino unions’ turnout machine on Election Day re-elected an unpopular Harry Reid in 2010, and I think they’ll get enough Latinos and Filipinos out this time. Obama.

Wisconsin (10). Recent polling is discouraging for Republicans. But Gov. Scott Walker handily survived the recall effort in June with a great organizational push. Democrats depend heavily on margins in inner-city Milwaukee (population down) and the Madison university community. But early voting is down in university towns in other states. The Obama campaign is prepared to turn out a big student vote, but you don’t see many Obama signs on campuses. Romney.

Oregon (7), New Mexico (5), New Jersey (14). Uncontested. Obama.

Michigan (16). Romney chose Pennsylvania, where there’s no auto bailout issue. Obama.

Bottom line: Romney 315, Obama 223. That sounds high for Romney. But he could drop Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and still win the election. Fundamentals.

From Mr. Barone’s mouth to G-d’s ears. Here is the interactive electoral map of his prediction. Tomorrow is the day to make it happen. Vote like the Republic depends on it, for it does.

It seems that either the campaign is desperate or they have lulled themselves into thinking that the only two demographics that matter are “grievance studies” and “hipster D-bags”. (That’s what echo chambers will do to you.)

In any case, at a campaign appearance in Springfield, OH (not the namesake in IL), 0bama urged voters to “take revenge” on election day. The Romney campaign wasted no time in pouncing on this, asking voters “”Are you voting for Revenge Or Love Of Country?”

 

Seriously, 0bama and his campaign are increasingly making middle-schoolers look poised and mature in comparison.

Or they are plain desperate. Just gleaning from my twitter feed:

As Insty put it memorably: “Don’t forget to change your clocks tonight, and your president on Tuesday”.

Posted by: New Class Traitor | November 4, 2012

Healthcare — free, top-quality, available, pick any two

In response to a commenter here I wrote the following:

Healthcare — free, top-quality, available, pick any two. I have lived under multiple healthcare systems. If the price for “free” and “available” is involuntary euthanasia of the elderly, I’ll pass. If “free” and “available” means “7th-rate”, so will I. If “free” means “whoever has the best connections gets the best quality care”, it’s just “inequality” in a different way. (Except, of course, that the “deserving” New Class of bureaucrats, academia, and “helping” professions think they will get first dibs in a system run by them.)

Israel comes the closest to a workable socialized medicine system (thanks to an unusually healthy age pyramid) and even their system is increasingly becoming two-tier: gold-plated for those able to afford private care and bare-bones for everybody else.

Old Maggie had it dead to rights: “The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” It was 0bama’s misfortune (but also his innumeracy — a common characteristic of “wordsmith intellectuals”, in my experience) to try and implement more socialist schemes just as the state ship was reaching the shoals of bankruptcy. [I couldn't resist the Monty Python reference :-)]

Ann Althouse notes that, most unlike McCain in 2008, Romney is currently leading 0bama in newspaper endorsements by a sizeable margin — and that no less than 28 papers switched from 0bama to Romney this election cycle. Via the comments, here is a detailed list of endorsements., from which we learn that only six papers made the reverse switch.

Does this mean that the “preference cascade” has now spread to a quintessential bulwark of the New Class, the legacy media? (To be sure, the Pravda-on-the-Hudson and the Izvestia-on-the=Potomac are still endorsing the Naked Emperor, the NYT orgasmically so, the WaPo less enthusiastically.)

The winner in the “don’t hold back, tell us how you really feel” category must surely be the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “Benghazi blunder: Obama unworthy commander-in-chief“. These lines deserve being shouted out to the world:

This administration is an embarrassment on foreign policy and incompetent at best on the economy – though a more careful analysis shows what can only be a perverse and willful attempt to destroy our prosperity. [...]

[Mr. Obama's] behaviors go far beyond “spin.” They amount to a pack of lies. To return to office a narcissistic amateur who seeks to ride this nation’s economy and international esteem to oblivion, like Slim Pickens riding the nuclear bomb to its target at the end of the movie “Dr. Strangelove,” would be disastrous.

Candidate Obama said if he couldn’t fix the economy in four years, his would be a one-term presidency.

Mitt Romney is [a] moral, capable and responsible man. Just this once, it’s time to hold Barack Obama to his word. Maybe we can all do something about that, come Tuesday.

Indeed.

Posted by: New Class Traitor | November 2, 2012

WaPo reports on… the 0bama defectors

OK, there must be something to this preference cascade, because (via Elizabeth Price Foley @ instapundit) the WaPo, of all places, has an article on the 0bama “defectors”. This graph is probably the most interesting part of the piece:

Image

The standout statistic is of course the very top entry: 13% of all 2008 0bama voters are planning to vote for Romney. 13% of 52% is 6.8%: if 0bama really only will poll about 45% this time then it will be at least a mini-landslide. Assuming that even half of those eventually stay home rather than vote for the other guy, 0bama will still be toast.

If the poll is to be believed, liberal democrats and blacks still stick to Zero like glue. Equally unsurprisingly, over half of the 2008 “Republicans for 0bama” are going for Romney this time. But gee, I really have no idea why 19% of white Catholic 0bama voters, or 21% of working class whites, have developed buyer’s remorse? ;-) Or why nearly one-third of his white evangelical voters have decided to turn their back on him? Governing like a Chicago ward heeler, and campaigning like only the “hipster douchebag” demographic decides elections, have consequences.

But perhaps even more important is that, among white college grads (a suppsedly reliably liberal demographic), 17% of men and 12% of women are crossing the aisle. This is not a phenomenon of just one or two special interest groups.

Let us hope that the top statistic line is correct, and that the 0bama regime will soon be just a bad memory. “Y’all can keep the change.”

Like all of us who have dealt with managers and/or work(ed) in management ourselves, I have witnessed on numerous occasions two defense mechanisms of incompetent and/or out-of-their-depth managers. Both of these are on ample display in the political environment today.

The two mechanisms are seemingly opposite but in fact closely related — both are misdirection/displacement/”red herring” tactics.
The first is: faced with large and seemingly unsurmountable problems, the outclassed manager instead focuses on some detail problem that (s)he judges manageable and declares this THE top priority, so that (s)he can “solve” it and declare victory. For example, the pathetic joke of a president suddenly declaring that not the $16T and swelling federal deficit, not the crash-and-burn of an Islamo-appeaser foreign policy, not an on-paper employment of 8% (out of an ever shrinking labor force), but… bullying or homosexual ‘marriage’ are the most important issue of the day.
The second mechanism takes an opposite tack: it instead redirects attention to some super-issue in comparison to which all other problems become trivial — so why waste time on them? For example, in Israeli politics, the agenda of the day is understandably dominated by the issue of ‘hamatzav’ (the [security] situation) — and any politician who wants public attention without the thankless hard work of writing and passing legislation that deals with mundane things like roads, crime, still pervasive oligopolies,… can instead pontificate about ‘the situation’/’the peace process’/… (Another such ‘super-issue’ there, albeit a distant second to ‘hamatzav’, are synagogue-state relations.)
Similarly, the pathetic joke of a New York mayor, rather than deal with the bed bug epidemic, a city that isn’t as safe as it was under his predecessor, or the vulnerability of the city’s infrastructure to man-made or (most recently) natural disasters — starts pontificating about ‘global warming’, and declares that we have to re-elect the Worst President In Living Memory because he has the ‘correct’ position on global warming.
I’ve dealt with incompetent managers who applied either tactic: more commonly they engage in both, like Bloomberg who also finds it necessary to regulate the size of sodas. They may be people that never belonged in any managerial role of any kind but wormed their way into one based on superficial, glib manipulation skills — like our president whom we at last have a chance to fire come next Tuesday.
Or they may actually be people who, based on their success at one managerial task, get appointed to one where they are manifestly out of their depths: Bloomberg’s manifest success in creating and building his financial news company clearly did not translate to anything resembling success in the unrelated field of running the municipal services of a metropolis. Here we actually see Peter’s Principle in action: people competent at lower-level managerial jobs (or those merely able to pass as such) eventually get promoted to their level of absolute incompetence.
But in private business, when a manager is clearly not delivering, (s)he gets sent packing. And Clint Eastwood was quite right in pointing out that it doesn’t matter that (s)he is a nice person or has a desirable social profile: “when somebody does not do the job, we got to let them go.”On Tuesday we have an opportunity to let go a chief executive whose main ‘achievement’ has been to stop the hapless Jimmy Carter from being the worst president in living memory. And #dontgetcocky, but… the polls suggest we have a very real chance of doing so — if we show up in numbers to do it. Let us do so in great numbers and send the fallen-upward empty chair back to the shady Chicago furniture store where he belongs.UPDATE: Walter Russell Mead:

Admittedly, getting public support and finding the money for flood protection would be hard, but it is exactly that kind of hard job that governments are supposed to do. Leadership is getting the important things done, not looking busy on secondary tasks while the real needs of the city go quietly unmet.

The problem with nanny state governance isn’t just that it’s intrusive. It isn’t just that it stifles business with over-regulation, and it isn’t just that it empowers busybodies and costs money. It’s that it distracts government from the really big jobs that it ought to be doing.

Mayor Bloomberg has done an admirable job under great pressure as the city reels from Sandy’s attack. But an ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure. The city needed flood protection for its subways and electricity grid—and it didn’t get it. If the Mayor had spent less time and less of his political capital focusing on minutiae, this storm could have played out very differently.

Posted by: New Class Traitor | October 23, 2012

Electoral College 2012: It’s down to Buckeyes again

This morning Rasmussen had Romney leading the Whiner-in-Chief by 4 points (and in fact by 5 points in the swing states). But that’s of course the popular vote: let’s look at Rasmussen’s electoral college scoreboard.
 
 Rasmussen defines “safe” as a 20+ point lead, “likely” as a 10+ point lead, and “lean” as a 5+ point lead. By these criteria, Romney has 167 safe, 21 likely, and 47 leaners for a total of 235, while BHOzo has 172 safe, 38 likely, and 27 leaning seats for a total of 236.

Seven states remain tossups for a total of 66 seats:

Ohio: 18 seats (0 barely leads 49-48)
Virginia: 13 seats (Romney leads 50-47)
Wisconsin: 10 seats (0bama leads 50-48)
Colorady: 9 seats(Romney leads 50-46)
Iowa: 6 seats (dead heat 48-48)
Nevada: 6 seats (0bama leads 50-47)
New Hampshire: 4 seats (0bama barely leads 50-49)
 
If we place the 3% or more leads in each candidate’s column, Romney gets VA and CO, putting him at 257, while 0bama gets NV, putting him at 242. If we assume he also gets the 10 seats of WI (despite Paul Ryan being from WI), this puts BHOzo at 252, leaving 28 seats in the “super tossups” OH (18), IA (6), and NH (4).
 
This means, unless any upsets occur above… whoever gets OHIO wins. And Ann Althouse has Video: Romney wins CBS Focus Group in Ohio. She snarks: “The silent sadness of the CBS newswoman’s face at 0:29… hilarious. So funny that these newsfolk don’t activate actorly skills to project the appearance of professionalism and neutrality.”
 
We’re in the home stretch now. A preference cascade may be underway (see Insty’s USA Today column on the subject) even in one of the D’s most loyal voting blocs. But… Let’s not get cocky. Keep our eyes on the ball, get out the vote, and end the rule of Chicago-On-The-Potomac!
 
Posted by: New Class Traitor | October 7, 2012

Has a ‘preference cascade’ away from 0bama started in the MSM?

[While I primarily tweet nowdays due to acute time shortage, this phenomenon is interesting enough to, at least just once, awaken this blog from hibernation.]

Following 0bama’s disastrous performance at the 1st presidential debate with Mitt Romney, he has not just (expectedly and deservedly) been dogpiled on by conservatives, but all of a sudden one sees biting criticism from what until recently were basically unpaid 0bama campaign operatives in the MSM. Nothing illustrates this better than the New Yorker cover:

More examples:

It is blatantly obvious, at least to me, that the DeMSM have been running interference for President Empty Chair not just because of leftist conviction, but because they see him as one “of our own kind, dear”, namely a fellow member of the New Class. I have also predicted repeatedly on Twitter (and can’t believe I’m the only one) that the DeMSM would keep trumpeting this feckless amateur until he became plainly indefensible even to partisans — at which point they would drop him like a stone.

Insty and others, however, bring up two phenomena in mass psychology known as “preference falsification” and “preference cascades”. These terms were popularized by Turkish-born economist Timur Kuran in his book “Private truths, public lies“.

Basically , preference falsification occurs as follows (quoting from Wikipedia): “in articulating preferences, individuals frequently tailor their choices to what appears socially acceptable. In other words, they convey preferences that differ from what they genuinely want.” This is a very strong mechanism for ‘keeping people in line’ with an outright dictatorship or for creating an artificial consensus about an issue. For example, after the Vietnam war, people in certain neighborhoods of a liberal bent might still wish to display American flags, but would refrain from doing so (or hang out the death rune that somehow became a ‘peace’ symbol) since ‘everybody thinks the US flag now stands for patriotism or militarism or for support of  the Vietnam war’. Once such a choice has been made, people start trying to rationalize it by selective facts, half-truth, and believing convenient propaganda lies. In truth, only a small minority of very loudmouthed people may genuinely consider a flag display offensive, but they manage to, essentially, emotionally bully the whole community into going along with them.

The way many dictatorships and autocracies stay in power is precisely this: creating an illusion that ‘everybody is with the program [except, of course, for a few despicable Goldsteins/poltroons of capitalism/Volksfeinde/...]‘. Media censorship (or coerced self-censorship), flooding the media landscape with pro-regime propaganda [perhaps with a few cartoonishly lunatic strawman opponents to create an illusion of freedom of expression], and brutal repression of any genuine opposition groups are essential to this tactic. A softer version of the same tactic is the demonization of any fundamental deviation from the liberal-left (manufactured) consensus as ‘racist’, ‘sexist’, ‘homophobic’, either by wild extrapolation, through guilt by association, or bare assertion.

Now what happens if Joe Q. Public goes along with the program ‘because everybody else does except for a couple of nutcases’ — and then discovers that people in his own circle have the guts to speak up against it? If Joe is one of the small minority of ‘true believers’, then nothing much (if anything, he may harden); otherwise, he may feel heartened to speak up too. And other people who know Joe suddenly realize ‘hey, it’s OK to have a different opinion’, who in turn,… and voila, you have a ‘preference cascade‘ . The fable of ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes‘ essentially describes a ‘preference cascade’ started by one boy who, defying social convention, dared say that the emperor was buck-naked.

‘Preference cascades’ explain, for example, why seemingly stable dictatorial regimes may collapse very suddenly, taking even seasoned observers by surprise. And often such cascades are started over what, compared to the other flaws of the regime, are comparatively trivial issues — but that, for whatever reason, get enough people to speak out that they start a firestorm of criticism.

A more mundane example of preference cascades may be the sudden decline of certain popular fads.

Now coming back to the 2012 election: In this case, there is no preference cascade among small-government conservatives, national security hawks, and the like, because they were never on board to begin with. (The few who voted 0bama more out of disgust with McCain’s candidacy than anything else, quickly developed buyer’s remorse.) Likewise, the True Believers are not going to be swayed. But many liberals or centrists must have seen that, well, their messiah figure just didn’t deliver — but were afraid to express such criticism for fear of being called ‘racists’ (specious accusations of which are the last refuge of the intellectually and morally bankrupt), for being accused of giving aid and comfort to the ‘enemy’ (defined in a partisan sense), or simply for failing to live up to what the media incessantly tell you ‘the smart people’ believe. 0bama’s critics from the LEFT, on the other hand, felt freer to lambast him for not closing Club Gitmo, for continuing and in fact stepping up the drone strikes program, etc. — and in the process acted as ‘beards’ for 0bama when the latter found himself accused of radicalism.

Now, it appears, for a fairly trivial reason — a shabby debate performance — the house of cards is finally buckling. (The fact that so much of the 0bama media myth rests on his supposed oratorical qualities of course doesn’t help him.) To me — compared to the fiscal black hole, the collapse of foreign policy, the Chicago-style crony-gangster government, the abuse of executive power by Holder, Sibelius, and 0bama himself, an economy that seems headed for Euro-style long-term recession, and the creeping encroachment on our lives by unelected healthcare and ‘environmental’ bureaucrats — 0bama’s dismal performance in one debate is a trivial event. But. perhaps, it is one that is finally  causing longtime stalwart defenders of an indefensible president to ask difficult questions — and in the process making it clear that people who have misgivings are not alone.

Via today’s online edition of the Yediot Achronot, I learned that the Simon Wiesenthal Center announced its acquisition of a unique document in the history of the Shoah: a 4-page typewritten letter dated September 16, 1919 by Adolf Hitler (y”sh),  then a lance corporal (Obergefreiter) in the German army, on his views about the Jewish people. Genesis of the letter:

Hitler returned from a military hospital to Munich in early 1919. There he underwent a Reichswehr sponsored course of systematic political education for demobilizing soldiers that featured Pan­German nationalism, antisemitism, and anti­socialism. These same themes were prominent in Bavarian politics following the repression of the Munich revolution of 1918­19. Because antisemitism had not played a notable part in Bavarian politics prior to the revolutionary disturbances, a Herr Adolf Gemlich was prompted to send an inquiry about the importance of the “Jewish question” to Captain Karl Mayr, the officer in charge of the Reichswehr News and Enlightenment Department in Munich. Mayr referred him to Hitler, who had distinguished himself in the above­mentioned course by the vehemence of his radical nationalist and antisemitic views, and by his oratorical talents. Hitler was already feeling his way toward a political career; four days before responding to Gemlich in the letter translated below, he had paid his first visit to the German Workers’ Party (eventually renamed, the National Socialist Workers’ Party) as a confidential agent of the Reichswehr.

The full original text (in German, errors in spelling and grammar deliberately reproduced) can be read here, while the Jewish Virtual Library offers an English translation by Richard Levy. Hitler (y”sh) is at pains to project himself as a “rational”, “thinking” antisemite rather than a mere judeophobic demagogue. The moneygraf of the letter is this (I will quote both the German original and Levy’s translation):

Und daraus ergibt sich folgendes: Der Antisemitismus aus rein gefühlsmäßigen Gründen wird seinen letzten Ausdruck finden in der Form von Progromen. Der Antisemitismus der Vernunft jedoch muss führen zur planmässigen gesetzlichen Bekämpfung und Beseitigung der Vorrechte des Juden die er zum Unterschied der anderen zwischen uns lebenden Fremden besitzt. (Fremdengesetzgebung). Sein letztes Ziel aber muss unverrückbar die Entfernung der Juden überhaupt sein.

[Translation:] The deduction from all this is the following: an antisemitism based on purely emotional grounds will find its ultimate expression in the form of the pogrom.[1] An antisemitism based on reason, however, must lead to systematic legal combating and elimination of the privileges of the Jews, that which distinguishes the Jews from the other aliens who live among us (an Aliens Law). The ultimate objective [of such legislation] must, however, be the irrevocable removal of the Jews in general.

The key term is “Entfernung”, which literally can be taken to mean “removal” or “dislodgement”, but for which the premier online German dictionary Leo also lists the following meanings: “excision, ablation [medical]“, “ejection”, “elimination”. (The Dutch cognate of “Entfernung”, “verwijdering”, has the same multiple meanings.) It is argued here (presumably quoting Eberhard Jäckel), as well as by Christopher Browning, that in context, the term was probably still referring to segregation or expulsion rather than genocide. But it is hardly a stretch to argue that precisely that was indeed meant as the ultimate goal, and hardly a coincidence that this quote is prominently displayed at the Wannsee Conference House (presently a Holocaust museum and memorial site).

In any case, “functionalist” and “intentionalist” historians will each see confirmation of their preconceived views. I myself side with the late lamented dean of Shoah historians, Raul Hilberg:”I have never begun by asking the big questions, because I was always afraid that I would come up with small answers.”

Addendum: I forgot to mention (as explained in the NYT article on the SWC website) that the letter’s signature was declared genuine by the same handwriting expert who unmasked the forged “Hitler diaries”.

Posted by: New Class Traitor | May 21, 2011

Bibi gives 0bama a Mideast history lesson (video)

Must-see (via Gateway Pundit):

On the other hand, Walter Russell Mead analyzes the non-Israel parts of 0bama’s speech, and says he’s (however reluctantly) embracing the Bush doctrine. (Here is a roundup of more reactions.)

Just minutes ago I got an Email from a Washington acquaintance (and Jewish 0bama supporter) who appears to be even more confused than I am. Is 0bama really throwing Israel under the bus, or did he seriously think he could bully Netanyahu (no slouch at dirty politics himself) into doing his bidding? Or do both sides know that a return to 1967 borders (read: pre-Six Day War borders, since I assume for Israel to reoccupy the Sinai is not the idea ;-)) is not realistic, but staged the disagreement just for show?

In any case, Netanyahu, whatever my misgivings about him as an actual leader are, has always been an impressive spokesman for his people, and together put in possibly the best performance of his career. Without benefit of teleprompters, may I add.

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