27 November 2008

We Were There First

Just wanted to point everyone to the new blog Secular Right, which features entirely different people having all our same old arguments. You'll all be glad to see that we do it better.

Happy Thanksgiving

It's nice to have one day a year in which we notice all of our blessings: family, friends, complete strangers we meet on the Internet, freedom from hunger, from want, from tyranny and from oppression.

Tomorrow is soon enough to complain about how the world is going to Hell and no one has ever had it as bad as we do.

Finally, thanks to all of you for doing that voodoo that you do so well.

As Brit reminds me, we should all remember to give thanks for the greatest blog thread ever.

25 November 2008

The Two Basic Questions Of Organization Science

1. Why do organizations look so similar?

2. Why do organizations look so different?

24 November 2008

But, Seriously ...

What exactly is the justification for making Hillary Secretary of State? All the commentary I've read has been about the domestic politics of it all, but what exactly is Obama going to say to justify turning State over to Hillary? Does she have any relevant experience? Was he not paying attention during the whole Bullets in Bosnia fiasco? Remember when she went to the UN conference on the year of the woman and, um, er, did ... something, maybe?

Where Sarcasm Goes To Die

Swear to God, I think that this is not satire:

11 November 2008

A Proof Of The Existence Of God

1. The concept "God" exists.
2. "Perfection" is an inseparable part of the conception of "God."
3. "Perfection" is that state of being that cannot be bettered.
4. A God that exists is better than a God that does not exist.

Therefore, God must exist.

(This is, of course, St. Anselm's ontological proof of the existence of God. All complaints should be directed to him.)

10 November 2008

Six Degrees Of Me

1. I used to comment at BrothersJuddblog so obsessively that OJ asked me to blog.

2. While blogging at BrothersJudd, I "met" Brit, who commented at BrothersJudd. Ultimately, Brit and I, throwing caution and commonsense to the wind, actually met in real life over drinks at a pub.

3. Brit introduced me to Bryan Appleyard's blog, which I read for a while but stopped reading when it became clear that it was a hotbed of anti-American propaganda. Brit commented so obsessively that Bryan asked him to substitute blogging while Bryan was away. While substitute blogging, Brit bemoaned the death of lunchtime drinking.

4. Andrew Sullivan linked to Brit's post, and did some moaning of his own.

5. Ann Althouse made fun of Andrew for being nostalgic for rampant alcoholism.

6. I often read Ann Althouse's blog, saw her post, linked through to Andrew Sullivan and saw his link to Brit.

Clearly, I invented the Internet.

Substance Over Form

07 November 2008

He's Just Crazy Enough To Do It.

Palin calls attacks 'cruel' and 'cowardly' (CNN, 11/07/08)
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin called former aides of Sen. John McCain "jerks" for circulating unflattering stories about her since the Republican ticket lost its bid for the White House Tuesday.
The McCain aides spreading stories about Gov. Palin apparently missed this point of this scene from Blazing Saddles. How can anything bad they say about the Gov. not reflect worse on Senator McCain, who was, after all, singly responsible for choosing her as his running mate?


One of the things about the Obama campaign that really struck me was the extent to which his supporters assumed that he was lying. On a series of issues, people supported him even though his professed position on important policy matters didn't jibe with theirs. "Well," they would say patronizingly when called on this, "you don't understand. He has to say that to get elected." This is a really fascinating way to deal with cognitive dissonance.

The best example of this, because it is the example on which Obama wavered least, is gay marriage. Obama does not support gay marriage because, as a Christian, he believes that God mandated that marriage be between a man and a woman.
"I'm a Christian, and so although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman," Obama said.
Nonetheless, liberals and the left assume that he can't really believe this but is only saying it to avoid alienating voters.

Well, I don't know what anyone "really" believes. I only know what they say and what presidential candidates say makes a difference. Obama won California and so did Proposition 8, and the two things probably aren't unconnected. According to exit polls, blacks and Latinos were 28% of the electorate and both voted for Proposition 8, blacks by better than two to one (70% yes, 30% no). The census bureau estimated that blacks were only 6.7% of the California population in 2006 while Hispanics are 36%. Clearly Proposition 8 wouldn't have passed without black and Latino votes.

06 November 2008

It's Great To Be An American

Filled up the tank this afternoon at $1.95 a gallon. For our unfortunate non-American readers (but I'm redundant) that's 78 cents/50p/.60 Euros per liter. They told me that if Obama were elected my dearest dreams would come true, and they were right.

Time To Kiss The Nurse

For reasons both creditable and less creditable, conservatives are reluctant to admit that we've won the war on terror. The time to declare victory has come. There have been no deaths due to hostile fire in Iraq since October 24; Al Qaeda is in disarray and all that's left to us, for the time being, is mopping up operations. It's true that the mopping up will go on for years and around the globe, but we have destroyed Al Qaeda as an effective fighting force. (By "we," I mean George Bush, but that's another blog post.)

This week's election makes clear that Americans have moved past the war. Even the anti-war left has given up complaining about the war. Iraq was supposed to be the big issue that would propel Obama to victory. As it happened, Iraq was barely mentioned and an entirely different big issue propelled Obama to victory.

The obvious rejoinder to this is that this isn't victory; this is a return to September 10. I have some sympathy for that position, but I really don't think that we're about to be attacked. Even if Al Qaeda, or whomever, had the ability to mount another 9/11 attack, I assume they recognize why that's a bad idea. On the other hand, I think we have returned to August 6, 1998. Attacks on our allies, our ships and our embassies will be treated as unfortunate crimes, not acts of war (and blamed on George Bush, but that's another blog post). Ultimately, that might convince whoever hates us at the time that now we can be attacked at home with impunity, but that, I trust, is a couple of decades down the road.

04 November 2008

Betting on Too Big To Fail

As I've said before, one problem with the politicization of the recent fun and games on Wall Street has been that no one's interested in answering the really interesting and important question, "How come the market seems to have been systematically underpricing risk for years?"

Tom Maguire, who's almost as good on this question as he was on Plame, points us to a partial answer on the part of one big player.

Obama Is (Probably) My President

For reasons that, I have to admit, mystify me, we're about to elect Barack Obama president. He wouldn't be my first choice; neither would John McCain, but he's much closer to the top of the list. But if Obama is elected, I wish him all the best: may he have a peaceful and prosperous presidency. If he is elected, he will be my president (although the idea of a personal president is also somewhat baffling). If he is elected, I won't drive around with a bumper sticker that says, "1/20/12," although I might be tempted by a bumper sticker that says, "Don't Blame Me, I Voted For Sarah."

If, like me, you believe that the United States is exceptional and if you agree with Chancellor Bismarck that God has a special providence for the United States, then we have to assume that electing Obama president is exceptional and not inconsistent with God's special providence until it is proven otherwise. We've prospered under Presidents much less intelligent and more wrong-headed than Senator Obama.

Finally, if, like me, you think that slavery is our original sin and the only distinctly American failing, then electing Senator Obama president has to be seen as a hopeful sign. Whatever hold socialism and political correctness have achieved in the United States they've achieved through the wounds opened by slavery. If electing Senator Obama president can help us close those wounds, then I cannot wholly regret his election.

I voted for John McCain and I hope he wins. I think a McCain presidency will be better for the nation than an Obama presidency. But I am not a leftist; I don't mistake my personal whims for universal truth and I accept that there are other explanations for history not walking my preferred path than the evil conspiracies of those who disagree with me.

We often say that the glory of the United States -- the heart of American exceptionalism -- is that ours is a nation built on an idea rather than on blood or conquest. The test of that idea is whether we can accept others as part of our nation based solely on whether they share our ideals, without regard to skin color or religion or country of origin. If we can't bring ourselves to include anyone as one of "us" if he believes what we believe and chooses to join us, then the American idea has failed.

Senator Obama is an American and, if he is elected, he will be an American president.

MORE: Well, there it is. Obama is my president-elect. In 2004, I really cared that George Bush beat John Kerry. I had a sick feeling in my stomach until finally Ohio was called for W. Tonight, no sick feeling. I'm disappointed but not emotionally invested. Is that because it's been clear for a while that McCain would lose, or is it that McCain was just good enough, or is it that President Obama does have its compensations? I'm not sure. How 'bout y'all? How sick does this make you?