Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Obama as Messiah? 

O.K., this is beginning to creep me out. Here's what Louis Farrakhan said about Obama:

“This young man is the hope of the entire world that America will change and be made better,” he said. “This young man is capturing audiences of black and brown and red and yellow. If you look at Barack Obama’s audiences and look at the effect of his words, those people are being transformed.”

Farrakhan compared Obama to the religion’s founder, Fard Muhammad, who also had a white mother and black father.
“A black man with a white mother became a savior to us,” he told the crowd of mostly followers. “A black man with a white mother could turn out to be one who can lift America from her fall.”

Now, Farrakhan is infamous as the former leader of the Black Muslim group Nation of Islam, and as such is not within what most people consider the mainstream of political thought. But how about this piece that appeared on Slate over a year ago? Timothy Noah obviously noticed something. Want something more recent? How about NYT columnist Paul Krugman just 2 weeks ago: "I’m not the first to point out that the Obama campaign seems dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality."

Dozens of commentators have remarked about Obama's formidable oratorical skills, his personal charm, and his popular following. Women have fainted at his campaign events, like teens used to for Elvis or the Beatles.

Many other analysts have remarked about how Mr. Obama spellbinds his audiences despite the lack of substance in his campaign promises--the glittering generalities, the populist message of "something for everyone" (except, of course, those evil corporations and rich people). The message of "change we can believe in"--without any indication of where that change will lead.

I'm no end times freak, and I am certainly not implying anything supernatural about Mr. Obama, nor do I suggest that Mr. Obama is evil, but stepping back and looking at all this, it seems to me that these characteristics exhibited by the Senator are more closely associated with the idea of the Antichrist than with the Messiah.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

NYT Hits Bottom, Digs 

When I heard about the Times' article that rehashes eight year old rumors about Sen. McCain and a female lobbyist and insinuates (without revealing sources) that McCain's relationship with the woman was less than above-board, I turned to my wife and said, "I wonder how long they've been sitting on that story." My next thought, upon hearing that the story is largely based on anonymous sources, was, "The Times is turning into the Globe, or maybe a new version of the Weekly World News."

Now that I've read the article, IMHO it is nothing more or less than a political hit piece evidently intended to raise doubts about McCain's fitness for the Presidency and make him seem at best a hypocrite about ethics. Not only does the piece bring up events of almost a decade ago in a way that makes it seem that they were much more recent, it rehashes McCain's involvement in the so-called Keating Five scandal of twenty years ago. By way of background, don't ya know. It's artfully done--the lead sentence refers to Mr. McCain't presidential campaign of eight years ago, but then goes on to mix current and dated statements in a way that gives the impression of immediacy. In fact the piece adds nothing new about McCain, it just rakes up old stuff to roil the waters.

As to the subject matter itself, the piece tries mightily to make a mountain over what appears to me to be the most trivial sort of molehill. But guess what--whether it's true or not, I don't care!

As Perry Mason would say, the whole piece is "irrelevant, incompetent and immaterial." It is irrelevant to a much greater extent than Mr. Clinton's dalliances with "that woman, Ms. Lewinski," which, as any Democrat will tell you (and the NYT probably editorialized) had no bearing on Mr. Clinton's abilities to carry out his Presidential duties. It is incompetent because it is so largely based on anonymous sources, who being unnamed cannot be assessed with respect to their knowledge, recall or any other factor relating to their dependability and truthfulness. It is immaterial because it relates to events that happened in the distant past which shrink to insignificance when compared to Mr. McCain's public record.

I lived in NYC during the late 1950s, and I recall the differences between the New York Times and the New York Post as they then were. Looking at the two papers today, one might form the opinion that ever so slowly they are evolving in a way that will result in their changing places.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Weather and Climate 

It rained this morning in North San Diego County. Not a big deal, although after several very dry years the rain is welcome. But looking in today's San Diego Union-Tribune, the forecast was for "Areas of low clouds along the coast in the morning; otherwise, mostly sunny today." No mention of rain. Now, I don't know when that forecast was compiled, but it must certainly have been within the last 24 hours, and if there were any greater than minimal probability of rain, I would have expected to see it in the forecast.

My point is that sophisticated and well-equipped meteorologists were not able to accurately predict the weather 24 hours in advance. It seems to me that day-to-day weather prediction is, or at least should be, a much better developed science than global climate prediction. The variables are better understood, the data are more comprehensive, more available and more accurate, and the system is much less complex in the former instance than in the latter.

For the life of me, I have great difficulty understanding why we should place much stock in the predictions of global warming alarmists who want us to spend billions, if not trillions of dollars "fixing" the supposedly anthropogenic damage to our climate, based on computer models that purport to be able to predict climate one or two centuries in the future, when we can't even get tomorrow's forecast right.

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Crippled Satellite To Be Shot Down 

This story suggests to me that the US government thinks significant secret parts of the subject spy satellite, which failed immediately and was never under control from the ground, would not only survive re-entry but would probably land someplace where they could be recovered by people who are not our friends. Not being a rocket scientist, I don't know what's involved in analyzing the satellite's orbit or the decay of the orbit, but I suspect our experts are smart enough to figure probabilities notwithstanding the imprecision with which some pertinent variables are known/knowable and that those probabilities in this case are not favorable to the US.

It follows that the US Government is willing to demonstrate an antisatellite capability that has not heretofore been discussed much, in order to prevent sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands. Such a demonstration might also be educational for anyone who believes the US has been ignoring the implications of other entities having their own spy satellites.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Stream of Consciousness on Presidential Politics 

Neither of the two leading Republican candidates get my pulse rate up, but at my age (62) perhaps it’d be impossible for any candidate to do so. (Too much experience – the Who’s “Don’t Get Fooled Again,” etc.) That said, I think I could live with either one in the White House. I think both of the Democrat candidates would be bad for the country for policy reasons, and in particular electing Clinton would be a disaster because I think the Clintons don’t care about anything but themselves.

Both men are flawed from my point of view. Romney seems to be a chameleon and leans whichever way the wind is blowing. He was liberalish as governor of Mass. and now is campaigning as the true conservative in the race. McCain has the McCain-Feingold albatross (which I believe violates the First Amendment right of free speech, notwithstanding the Supreme Court), plus his too-accepting attitude towards illegal immigration. That said, I believe neither is a crook who’ll sell White House access for contributions as Slick Willie did, and that both of them are patriots in the sense that they really believe that as President they can do things that are beneficial for the Nation. Both bring positives to the table. Romney is a proven executive who can get things done in environments that are not necessarily friendly to his views, both in the private and public sectors. He also seems to have a much better handle on economics and finance. McCain is pro-defense and anti-pork. Of the two, I think McCain is more likely to win in November because the Nation’s electorate, by which I mean the swing voters in the middle, are a little bit left of center socially and McCain fits better with their way of thinking.

On the democrat side, I think electing Billary will be downright dangerous for the country, because of their self-centeredness and apparent willingness to do anything to advance their own interests. Moreover, I think electing the Clintons would violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution (the term limit one). I have no idea what Hillary would actually do as President, except with regard to judicial appointments. She would appoint judges who think of themselves as super-legislators with a mission to correct the mistakes that Congress and the states have made, as they see it. As for the rest of her “record” the only constant is that she has always done what she perceives to be best for Billary. I don’t even know if we would have a reprise of the Bill Clinton era, because I’m not at all sure that Hillary, once she’s elected in her own right, wouldn’t throw Bill over the side. Unlike the Republicans (and probably Obama) I think the Clintons are not in politics because they think the country would benefit from their policies. Rather, I think they’re in it strictly for power and personal aggrandizement.

I think one of the biggest disservices Bill Clinton did for (or is it to?) the country was to get the public used to seeing the President as Entertainer-in-Chief. (I was making that point to my daughter a couple weeks ago and that same evening Laura Ingraham used the same term on the O’Reilly Factor. I won’t claim originality, but I sure didn’t steal it from her.) I think his antics seriously diminished the office of the Presidency and as a result a large part of the public doesn’t regard Presidential elections with the sense of gravity that they deserve. Instead, too many people regard the elections as a popularity contest, similar to a referendum on who would replace Jay Leno or David Letterman as a late-night TV host. In a way it’s a pity that his presidency didn’t confront any serious challenges – the Cold War was over and the terrorist threat was still far away, and the economy was going great guns, after the Republicans took Congress. If there had been some sort of crisis during his term, I think the public perception of Clinton would be very different, for better or worse.

Obama is, as far as I can see, a relatively uncorrupt politician with a conventionally liberal/progressive track record, as far as it goes. I don’t think he’s ready for prime time, but as between him and Billary, I’ll take Obama. For all his lack of experience and track record, I think Obama is smart enough to surround himself with serious thinkers, even though they might be of the far left persuasion, and I don’t think he’s in the race merely for his own power and glory. As I have said before, he might very well be Presidential timber, but he definitely needs more seasoning. I think it’s a disadvantage for a politician seeking high office never to have experienced failure, because such a person has an inflated sense of his own abilities.

I registered as “no pref” a year or so ago, because I had become disgusted at the stupidity being demonstrated by the Republicans in Congress, and no longer considered them worthy of my loyalty. Living in California, as a “no pref” I am not eligible to vote in the Republican primary next week, but I am eligible to vote in the Dem primary. So, I plan to do just that, and vote for Obama because I feel I must do what I can to prevent the Clintons from going back to the White House.

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