Monthly Archives: June 2008

Enough with Ayn Rand

In this poll, Ayn Rand’s works appear second only to the Bible as people’s most “life changing” books.

Now granted, the computer geeks tend to be of the personalty type that believes that if only everyone realized how intelligent they were they would be the next messiah and get all those chicks that don’t like them. Therefore, the for the masturbatory Ayn Rand novels is a perfect fit.

But I can’t understand this one bit. As a teenager, I briefly fell under the spell of libertarianism. Most people are led there by Rand. Rand is who chased me away. After a few chapters of one of her books (don’t remember which one it was) I realized what was really going on here: social Darwinism.

Only in such a self-centered, self-aggrandizing era can this be the case. (Telling every kid they too cna be an astronaut or president in school is probably not helpful here.) Our era has contempt for all things public. Who wants to be around all of those betas, anyway, right?

The Bible being number one can be looked at two ways. It could negate my hypothesis here–people take the message of Jesus and/or Torah seriously, or it could just be seen as an instruction manual for personal salvation and personal spirituality.

Chances are, it’s the latter.

If I was on global TV and had one chance to make one argument against Christianty, just one polemic, I would focus on the fact that it is a personal religion. Your acts. Your thoughts. Your grace. Your eternal soul. Even the more racist forms of Judaism see it as about the chosen people–but the more liberal streams see it as a faith of life, people, and repairing the world.

Something tells me that that’s a miniscule fraction of those Bible readers and that the ones that somehow can harmonize Deuteronomy and the sermon on the mount with Ayn Rand are in the majority.

Sign of the times.

Lingle?

If McCain really wants to be a maverick and tell conservatives to fuck off, I’ve got his VP: Linda Lingle, the two term governor of Hawaii. A (allegedly, yeah right) lesbian Jewish liberal probably would not be too welcomed by the GOP. Then again, it could really bring in some of those Hillary voters.

I’m not holding my breath, but it’s an interesting dark horse idea.

The Increase in Grid Energy Reduces Demand for Oil Fallacy

Since energy will be the defining issue of the 2010s it is important to get a few basics straight. The number one elemental aspect of energy that all ideological sides of our polity get wrong is the assumption of a profound symbiotic relationship between the grid energy that powers our homes and businesses, and the crude oil that powers our vehicles. While the two are related, this relationship is tangential enough that it renders the notion that an increase of grid energy will reduce the need for crude to be false in any practical sense. The oft spoken claim that an increase in nuclear or renewable (wind, solar, biomass, etc.) generation will reduce our reliance on foreign oil does not pass the laugh test.

A modicum of critical thinking problematizes the increase in grid energy = decrease in fuel energy maxim. It is currently impossible for the overwhelming majority of Americans to use grid electricity to propel their automobiles. A different version of the same oil that feeds your car does produce a little bit of grid energy in New England and does provide heat for about 8.1 million homes, mostly in the Northeast, but a wholesale magic wand replacement of this oil grid energy with any other source would not reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil in any meaningful way. While both grid energy and fuel energy are “energy” they perform tasks that are almost independent of one another.

The connection between grid energy and fuel energy is strongest with Natural Gas. Natural Gas, largely but by no means completely, comes from the same places and even the same wells as crude oil. The geography and extraction is similar enough that the price of natural gas is correlated with the price of crude oil. Natural Gas makes up enough of the USA grid energy market, that the price of a megawatt of any generation is correlated with the price of Natural Gas. In this tertiary sense grid energy is correlated to crude oil. Creating enough grid energy from a source other than Natural Gas to both decommission existing natural gas generation and meet load growth would help shield the grid energy market from price increases associated by the cost of oil, but it would do nothing to end American dependence on oil. Nuclear and renewables, even couple with a heroic conservation effort, are unlikely to pull off this trick any time soon for reasons that will be discussed in a future post.

Grid energy can reduce American dependence of foreign oil when grid energy can be used as a replacement for the oil used to propel our automobiles. Luckily, this is already possible. For $100,000 a Tesla Roadster will go 220 miles per charge — thereby obviating Bush Patsy McSame’s ridiculous gambit of offering 300 million dollars for anyone that will produce a technology that already exists. Two hundred and twenty miles is enough for even the most outrageous commute. Combining a Tesla battery with some gas or biodiesel capability for rare long trips would go a tremendous way towards reducing America’s dependence on foreign crude oil, while maintaining cars capable of doing the same tasks that they do now. The limiting factors are cost and availability of grid energy “Fill Up” stations. These are the sort of problems that can be addressed with subsidies, a gas guzzler buy back program, tax incentives, and, most of all, a massive, government-led if need be, effort to develop plentiful grid energy Fill Up stations.

Of course, once automobiles become a major consumer of grid electricity they will increase the need for additional grid energy supply, which could create new problems, or a different version of the old reliance on foreign oil if this new supply is largely met by Natural Gas. Similar problems arise when solar, wind, and other intermittent renewables become more than a bit player on the grid.

A creative, intertwined solution to these problems is to come.

Floods

So, apparently there is some flooding in some third world country called Illinoise, along the same river as third world country Minneapolis where bridges randomly collapse and third world country Na’awlinz where the whole fucking city was underwater.

Of course the problem in places like that is that they have corrupt dictators that are always too busy fighting stupid wars with their neighbors to do anything at home.

Veeptstakes – Murray?

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) has been circulating around the blogosphere as a possible Obama Veep.

This makes sense on many levels. Murray was a Clintonette, but her support was never as loud as Ted Strickland’s or as a race baity as Ed Rendell’s. She immediately switched her support to Obama once Clinton dropped out. Better yet, unlike most if not all other Clintonians being floated for Veep, Murray was one of the 22 Senators to vote against AUMF. Her reasoning was prescient:

“Mr. President, if we do take action in Iraq, there is no doubt that our armed forces will prevail. We will win a war with Iraq decisively, and, God willing, we will win it quickly. But what happens after the war? That will have as big an impact on our future peace and security. Will we be obligated to rebuild Iraq? If so, how? Our economy is reeling, our budget is in deficit, and we have no estimate of the cost of rebuilding.”

Part of Murray’s lore is that she started her career in politics when, working as a community organizer (sound familiar?), she was told that she was “just a mom in tennis shoes” who could not make a difference. She decided to run for Senate in 1992 in response to stories that the incumbent Democrat, Brock Adams, had sexually assaulted several women; Adams dropped out and she won by a large margin. In 1994 Murray was sexually harassed by the ancient racist creep Strom “Inappropriate Touching” Thurmond, but managed to handle the fiasco with aplomb (She demanded and received an apology, but never made a public statement). She has gone on to win two convincing re-election victories.

These anecdotes are important because they appear to provide an ideal salve to the Clntonettes who feel that HRC was denied the nomination through inchoate societal misogyny. VP Murray would also immediately elevate another woman to national prominence, providing hope to those that felt that HRC was a once in a lifetime opportunity for a woman to become President. Agree or disagree, these opinions are real and a Democrat cannot win without the women that hold them.

Because there are now substantially more Democrats than Republicans, all that Obama needs to do to secure victory is to win the same percentage of Democrats, Republicans and Independents that Kerry won in 2004. I do not know if Senator Murray has the right style for a national campaign and she doesn’t quite cover Obama’s “national security” flank (although she does serve on the Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security Committees), but her experience, her story, and her gusty vote to be on the right side of history regarding AUMF make her an intriguing choice to cement the necessary support from Democrats to elect Obama in 2008.

The Uprising and Precious Oil

I have not read David Sirota’s new book, “Uprising,” but I did see him give a power point presentation that was half an “inform” and half call to action the other evening at a local bookstore. Sirota’s thesis is that America is at a time similar to the late 70s and early 80s when a lack of faith in government, an energy crisis, problematic Middle East entanglements, percolating racism, and economic dislocation were the basis of a populist uprising against establishment politics. The Right was able to channel this uprising into the Reagan Revolution and create the elemental political moment that is still pre-dominant. Sirota argues that the 2008 election will be a chance to create a Progressive “Uprising”, but that it is up to Progressives themselves to use the Dems/Obama as a means rather than an ends by advocating for Progressive policies through a bevy of grassroots organizations and in state legislatures. The price of a failure, such as Jimmy Carter’s in the late 70s, will be a Conservatron populist akin to Reagan or worse rising in 2012 and appropriating the Uprising.

The Conservatrons succeeded in grabbing the last Uprising through some duplicitous insider shenanigans. Though we may never know the truth, there is strong circumstantial evidence, as displayed in Kevin Phillips’ book “American Dynasty,” that Bush the Elder used his CIA backchannels and familial connections to Middle East oil royalty to maintain the Iranian Hostage Crisis through Carter’s term. The fact that it ended precisely as Reagan was inaugurated feels a bit too good to be true, now don’t it? Similarly, the Middle East eventually reopened the oil spigot thereby ending the artificial – as in caused by politics rather than economics or geology – Energy Crisis.

It is unlikely that Team Obama has an underground secret to end the Bush junta’s Iraq debacle, but a path towards disengagement will be feasible if politically and militarily difficult. It is not yet possible to tell if today’s oil crisis is caused by the arrival of peak oil or rising global demand. Richard Heinberg’s must read book of the Bush era, “The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies” makes a compelling argument that it is the former; indeed, Bushite foreign policy does not make sense outside of a coming peak oil context. Either way, onerous oil prices are “real” and are not going away. Ten dollar per gallon oil can be mitigated, but not without a fundamental alteration of the life that the vast majority of Americans, of all ideological stripes, are accustomed to living.

If Obama is victorious in 2008 his ability to channel the Uprising into a long-term Progressive direction will hinge on his ability to shape the elemental lifestyle change that Precious Oil will require. Precious Oil will mostly mean a loss of individual mobility, distance, and privacy. Obama must make this forced communality a source of broad commonwealth rather than a struggle for groups to own most of what’s left.

The Conservatrons’ reaction is predictable: they will tribalize and divide; subjugate and hate. They will foster layers of inferiority and keep people just above each layer being afraid and superior to those in layers below, and resentful towards anyone advocating unity for the common good. All the while Charlatan McSame will make occasional hollow strokes of comity to offer relief that the Dystopia is not too viscous.

I have argued before that Obama is a once in a generation Persuasive leader. He has the charisma to create the space for the rest of us to realize a better future with brio… for a while. Sirota is correct: a successful Progressive Uprising is dependent on the local actions of Progressives.

It's not important wasn't important.

Here’s the full quote from John McCain:

Q: If it’s working, senator, do you now have a better estimate of when American forces can come home from Iraq?

McCAIN: No, but that’s not too important. What’s important is the casualties in Iraq. Americans are in South Korea. Americans are in Japan. American troops are in Germany. That’s all fine.

Now, remember this one?

Last month, at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire, a crowd member asked McCain about a Bush statement that troops could stay in Iraq for 50 years.

“Maybe 100,” McCain replied. “As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed, it’s fine with me and I hope it would be fine with you if we maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world where al Qaeda is training, recruiting, equipping and motivating people every single day.”

The significance here is not so much that McCain is saying that it’s “not important” when the troops come home, it’s his continued pattern of defining the mission in Iraq as permanent in parallel with Korea and Germany. That is the genesis of the “100 years” comment and the “not important” comment.

What he is saying is that the US will pacify Iraq and then use it as some kind of strategic reward ops center in the region. What I can’t quite get is why we would need more forces in the Middle East than we already have bases for in Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait. With strong allies Turkey and Israel right there as well, I’m unclear on what we need bases in Iraq for.

South Korea is a different situation, because there never has been a peace treaty. There still technically is a war, and there is one strongly defined nation and region that is our ally (unlike Viet Nam or Iraq…) Germany unconditionally surrendered and became the front line in the cold war. They’ve grown accustomed to our mostly benign presence and in some aspects rely on the integrated NATO command for defense. However, we have begun to move many of our operations out of Germany, the UK, and old NATO countries into new NATO countries to assist them with anti-Russian security.

The biggest stupid mistake that the US has made in all of its post WWII military operations is to pretend that each war would be a re-run of WWII. It wasn’t in Korea; it wasn’t in Viet Nam; and even if it looked that way in Gulf I, we settled for less in the end. And it’s not in Iraq.

We will never be able to clean up enough friendly turf, or get some huge sect (maybe–maybe the Kurds if they don’t think we’ve fucked them over enough) in order to maintain stable bases. And anything more than de facto Kurdish sovereignty would compromise our relationship with Turkey and provoke Iran.

It’s not just that McCain is some crusty mean war hawk who wants to kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out. He’s an ignoramus that thinks every war is a broken-record repeat of WWII no matter what the conditions are. He thinks that we can just go around the world overthrowing tinpot dictators and creating new democracies that are bolstered by our troop presence. (This is presumably the case in Afghanistan as well…)

It’s wrong. It’s demonstrably wrong. Cuba resisted us for decades. The Philipines did too, until the Japanese came. The Vietnamese kicked us out. These were all imperial wars, not wars like WWII.

If our mission in Iraq was to prevent WMD creation and remove Saddam, we acheived that years ago. It’s time to let what will happen in Iraq happen.

The Cult of JFK & RFK

Look, I hate to piss all over… no I don’t. Look, I’m going to piss all over the Boomer mythos here, but it has to be done.

The Kennedys are remembered as they are largely because of the simple fact that they were assassinated. JFK conducted himself well during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but his foreign policy record was mixed. Was it his Civil Rights bill or Johnson’s? We’ll never know if it would have passed without the support that came with JFK’s assassination.

And why am I supposed to believe that JFK would have ended Vietnam? It was all of his people that kept it going, not just Johnson. The Gulf of Tonkin incident might have been a Johnsonian trick, but it’s not something the Kennedys were incapable of.

And then there’s RFK, the red-baiting, Democratic version of Roy Cohn. Is that harsh? Maybe, maybe too harsh. But Jack and Bobby were both carefully crafted media creations of their family in a way not too different from the Bushes or Rockefellers or, perhaps, the Clintons. (Bribery for Pulitzer prizes, anyone?)

RFK didn’t even enter the race until Gene McCarthy showed that LBJ was vulnerable. And RFK may have won, but the country was in the incipient stages of a rightward turn. I’m not sure that could have been averted, even by a superhuman president.

Those Boomers who think that things would have been “different” if these men hadn’t been shot are correct. But how they would be different is unknowable–that there would be some kind of utopia is the kind of pining for the Good Ole’ Days that created 20th century conservatism.

The spirit of the 60s wasn’t killed by two or three assassinations. It was killed by a society that had grown wealthy by social welfare programs and community sacrifice that didn’t want to share it’s gains anymore. When people went from “get” mode to “keep” mode in the 60s, after the New Deal built the middle class, that is what killed the 60s. Millions and millions of New Deal middle class folks who had risen up started taking all the credit for themselves, and stopped seeing the need for helping those less forunate.

Nixon, Reagan, Gingrch, and Bush II were the result. And it wasn’t three bullets. It was a million little sparks of spite aimed at minorities and the poor and the ethos of a generation that, even worse, took those gains their parents had become to feel entitled to after hard work for granted with or without work. I don’t think either of the Kennedys could have done much about that.

VP Short List

This is the short list:

Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards, Evan Bayh, Kathleen Sebelius, Ted Strickland, Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, Jim Webb, Bill Nelson, Jack Reed, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Tom Daschle, and Sam Nunn.

Strickland and Edwards said no. John Kerry?? nfw.
On this list, I prefer the people I dislike the most. Bayh might land Indiana. Webb might land Virginia.
Flirting with Sebelius is good politically, but she’s almost as much of a lightweight experience wise as Obama. Not good enough.
He needs someone who was always against Iraq, too — otherwise, what’s the point? That’s Webb. Bayh voted Yes; Nelson voted Yes; Kerry voted Yes; Edwards voted Yes; Dodd voted Yes; Clinton, of course, voted Yes; Biden voted yes; Daschle is a puss and voted yes (and can’t deliver SD’s mere 3 votes).
I don’t know what Warner, Kaine, Nunn, or Sebelius said about the war.

Evolution in the lab

Clearly, God just did this to test the scientists.

My sense is that a majority of anti-evolution folks have more of a problem with what evolution means than the actual truth of it. In other words, they think if they admit evolution, then every anti-theological, pro-materialistic assertion of modern society must be true.

One common counterpoint is that creation could have just as likely occurred on the sub-atomic and universe-wide scale and that life is in the cosmic plan.

But even if that’s not the case, it does not follow that evolution=materialism=lack of morals

Microsoft Signed Its Own Death Warrant

Licensing Exchange to Apple not just for iPhone, but for the Mac as well?

Obviously they agree that Exchange is their most viable long-term product. But if that’s the case, why would they undercut WindowsMobile and Vista’s one advantage that Mac can’t directly reproduce: Exchange.

I suppose Macs can just run parallels, but then ostensibly Microsoft gets another Vista license. But they probably just permanently killed WindowsMobile (which is terrible anyway).

If OpenOffice, which is free, opens and edits Word documents, and Mac Mail which is free supports Exchange, why use Windows on the Desktop?

Is Microsoft making a move to the back office away from the desktop?

Gallup: Obama 48, McCain 42

What that means EV wise?

Well, for one thing, it could mean Texas goes to Obama based on recent polls, and would likely mean Florida goes. Based on 2004 differentials (offset by national) results, it would make Florida a dead heat, and would push Iowa, Ohio, and New Mexico into the Obama side.

It’s hard to translate the 6% national into a EV result, but it would probably be a sizable EV margin.

POW Wives For Truth About John McCain

UPDATE: How the hell did I miss this Daily Mail story or this rec’d diary? My bad.

John McCain, the de facto GOP nominee for President, has no family values. He dismissed his first wife, who waited for him for almost six years while he was a POW in Viet Nam in favor of a much younger and richer girl. John McCain dishonored and disrespected the patriotic wives of all POWs who kept the faith while they waited for any word, and news, about their husbands. And this man will dare to lecture us on family values?

John S. McCain III married one Carol Shepp, a model from Philadelphia and adopted her two sons on July 3, 1965. Shortly thereafter, John and Carol had a third child, this time together. It was a daughter, and they named her Sidney. [1]

Approximately two years later, on October 26, 1967, McCain was shot down during his twenty-third bombing run over North Viet Nam. [2] After over five years, McCain was released on March 14, 1973, as the war was winding down [3]. He returned to his wife, Carol, who had been crippled in a car accident in December 1969. [4]

Carol waited for John for almost six years. Her three children waited as well.

McCain, the allegedly patriotic and loyal soldier, repaid the loyalty and patience of his wife and family six years after his return by chasing skirts. [5]

In 1979, McCain, then aged 43 and still married to the disabled Carol, met a blond former cheerleader named Cindy Hensley in Hawaii. She was 25. [6] He claims he fell in love with her the first night they met, when he was still married to Carol. [7] McCain even went so far as to ask Cindy to marry him before he was divorced. [8] By McCain’s own admission:

“my marriage’s collapse was attributable to my own selfishness and immaturity more than it was to Vietnam, and I cannot escape blame by pointing a finger at the war. The blame was entirely mine.” [9]

After casting off Carol, McCain was soon elected to Congress, largely with the help of Cindy’s beer fortune. [10]

As the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth reminded us, many POW wives waited faithfully:

Mary Jane McManus: Three months after we were married, my husband was shot down over Hanoi.

Phyllis Galanti: Paul and I were married in 1963. Two years later he was shot down over North Vietnam.

McManus: All of the prisoners of war in North Vietnam were tortured in order to obtain confessions of atrocities. [11]

Many of these POW wives went through hell, as documented in the 1972 film Limbo. As explained by the film’s producer, “[y]ou may think he’s a hero, but a lot of other people don’t. And you waste your life. You wait. What are you faithful to, yourself or some social ideal about marriage?” [12] Despite this kind of feeling, POW wives organized campaigns on behalf of their husbands. [13] They even endured smears by the military, accusing them of faithlessness. [14] Many wives who were told their husbands were dead refused to believe it. [15]

What a sharp contrast to John McCain, who apparently lost his faith and went on some kind of post-traumatic hedonistic rampage. Was Carol unattractive after her accident? (Apparently so: “But friends say privately he was ‘appalled’ by the change in her appearance. At first, though, he was kind, assuring her: ‘I don’t look so good myself. It’s fine.’”[Daily Mail]) Was her love making not good enough? (Probably: her pelvis was shattered in the accident) Did she look too old after six years of anxiety and worry waiting for him?

Or consider this story:

Captain Smith’s wife, Jean, also suffered. “We were married only six months when he went to Vietnam,” Jean explained. “Once he was captured, it was likeliving in a fish bowl watching everyone else’s life come and go while yours was just passing you by. Of course, I resented that. The best years of my life and youth were fading. Years that we should have been growing together, living our lives like everyone else.”

The hardest aspect for Jean was not knowing whether Wayne was dead or alive. For Jean, and many other POW wives, that is the way it was. Most of them were unable to find out anything until late 1970 when the National League of Families was created. Soon after, a released prisoner was able to provide the government with a list of additional prisoner’s names. Captain Smith’s name was on that list. How did these women of honor survive, emotionally, while waiting for their husbands to return? Jean waited for over seven years.

“I didn’t consider any other option. I just did not ‘feel’ he was dead. For a long while I endured alone. Finally, we women banded together. After that, I spent a lot of time in Washington lobbying the government to take the necessary action to get our men released. “That time was the most difficult for me as I am not a political person. There were many who treated me with disdain. It was also difficult to comprehend the apathy of the American people toward our POWs.”

Jean persisted but many POW wives surrendered, seeking divorce from their POW husbands. As selfish and dishonorable as this may appear, it was the not knowing that was most difficult to endure. These women feared giving up the best years of their lives only to discover that their spouse had long since been killed in action.

“Giving up on the relationship wasn’t an option for me,” said Jean. “I was in love with Wayne from the instant I met him. The waiting was very difficult, but for me there was no other way. I knew that I had to give this relationship a chance. It was my own sense of honor, I guess. I could not have lived with myself had I not lived up to my own code of conduct.” Wayne was released and returned home on the night of their seventh wedding anniversary. [16]

Some people have what it takes to keep the faith and remain loyal. John McCain repays those people by dumping them for good looks and money.

America cannot rely on a man who repays the faith of Americans for his own selfish needs. We know John McCain will do anything to become president, including warming up to the man who smeared his own children, but I want to hear from POW wives out there, and I want to see them on TV, asking how we can have a president who would do this kind of thing.

Family values indeed.

Sources:

[1] http://www.desmoinesregister.com/…
[2] ibid.
[3] http://www.azcentral.com/…
[4] http://www.desmoinesregister.com/…
[5] http://www.azcentral.com/…
[6] ibid.
[7] ibid.
[8] ibid.
[9] ibid.
[10] ibid.
[11] http://www.worldnetdaily.com/…
[12] Suid, Lawrence H., Guts and Glory p. 318, University of Kentucky Press: 2002.
[13] ibid.
[14] ibid.
[15] ibid.
[16] Cater, Jaine; and, Cater, James D., “A POW’s Successful Marriage”, Scripps Howard News Service Jan. 3, 2002.

Yes She Did

Superlative speech by Hillary.  Obama could not have hoped for anything more.  

She made a great case for herself as VP, but I’ve always been somewhat lukewarm on that idea.  I’m not sure it adds what it needs to add.  I think Jim Webb is probably inevitable.

Being Right Versus Winning

This is a classic demonstration of a liberal being glad she was right, rather than glad she won.

I’m not saying it was possible to stop the war in Iraq. Maybe it wasn’t. (Though I doubt that.) The point is, most liberals were more focused on being in the “reality-based community” instead of getting their hands dirty with the kinds of dishonorable tasks that it takes to win.

I guess by some standards we can say that we survived this administration. But at what point does a disaster become a disaster worth preventing at any cost? My sense of human behavior, especially of political humans, is that preventing disasters is almost without reward. Leading people to rebuild is what gets you canonized. Therefore, there’s little motivation for people to lay everything on the line to prevent something like the Iraq war.

But there will come a time when something could have been prevented and those who didn’t act against will be just as demonized as those who acted to bring about the disaster. Global warming is one thing that might fit the bill.

As long as the bad guys only care about winning, and the good guys only care about being right and wagging fingers after the fact, we will only see the good guys come to power long enough to repair the damage (Carter, just long enough to get the taste of Nixon out of our mouths; Clinton, just long enough to fix the economy) and never long enough to do anything to actually move the ball (health care, etc.).

An Evolutionary Psychology of Obama vs. Clinton

According to Patrick McNamara and David Trumbull’s “An Evolutionary Psychology of Leader Follower Relations” (EPLFR) a Leader organizes a group towards cooperative goals while punishing free riders that would profit from the cooperation without contributing to it. Leaders come in two flavors. There are “Persuasive” leaders who provide a vision and/or personal story that is so compelling that it inspires followers; and there are “Dominant” leaders who motivate followers through either military triumph and/or a “political” mastery of group relationships and dynamics. The authors took this evolutionary psychological theory of leadership and applied it to the Greek (living in Rome in “Roman” times) historian Plutarch’s “Lives,” which were biographies of Classical leaders. They found that the greatest leaders were able to exhibit both the Persuasive and Dominance strategies. By their analysis Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar were the best leaders of Classical times, with Caesar being slightly better than Alexander.

Obama versus Clinton was an archetypical competition between Obama, the Persuasive Leader, and Clinton the Dominant Leader. I posit that Obama won because at a few crucial times he was able to employ Dominance tactics while Clinton never made a convincing Persuasive case.

There is more to Persuasion, in the circumstance of a Presidential election, than just policy proposals. EPLFR posits that relevance, the ability to convey information in a way that it is useful to the listener, is a crucial leadership skill. During the Dominant Clinton’s summer of inevitability she did not demonstrate a compelling vision for her candidacy that would make it more than the sum of her policies. Meanwhile, Obama found his Persuasive voice, took Iowa, excited a legion of followers, and the race was on.

Obama first used a Dominance tactic at the debate prior to the South Carolina primary when, Hillary having ceded South Carolina to Bill, he snapped that he could not tell which Clinton he was running against. This diminished Hillary’s Dominance by making her appear aped by Bill and unable to be her own candidate. Obama won South Carolina in a rout.

Obama had another important advantage as the marathon continued. EPLFR posits that there is a statistically significant correlation between the Myers-Briggs ENTP (Extroverted-Intuitive-Thinking-Perceiver) personality type and being a successful leader. Obama’s ability to take historical trends and braid them into relevant rhetoric is a hallmark or Intuitive-Persuasive thinking, whereas Clinton was a classic ESTJ (Extroverted-Sensing-Thinking-Judger) with her seven point plans and commissions for everything. Obama intuited that the race would go on beyond Super Tuesday; that caucuses and proportional delegate allotments could keep him even through Super Tuesday; that there were thousands of young voters waiting to be enthused; that the Internet could obviate “fat cats”; and that Change would be the touchstone of the election. Clinton stuck to her meticulous plan based on the information in front of her, and only altered it when the available information proved it was not working. Her campaign was broke in February and Obama won the 11 consecutive contests that gave him an insurmountable delegate lead. {Full disclosure, I have no doubt that my own INTP personality was a factor in my favoring Obama and finding ESTJ Clinton to be ever more annoying as the campaign wore on.}

Clinton still had the core of top-to-bottom establishment support in most states worthy of a Dominant leader. In a truly masterful display of the Dominant style she used her sudden underdog status, and a healthy pinch of race baiting, to transform her millionaire-self into the champion of beleaguered working class whites. Her perceived hectoring was twisted into a catharsis for the sexism faced by white Boomer women, even as she strong-armed the MSM into going negative on Obama. Along with institutional Latino support she kept her candidacy alive in Texas and Ohio.

By then the Obamathon had faded and Reverend Wright’s goof city bloviating threatened to take away the most Persuasive part of Obama’s story. Again, Obama fell back on his ENTP skills and spun the most relevant and Persuasive speech of the campaign. By the standards of EPLFR his discourse on race was a moment of maximum leadership. {Anecdotal evidence: walking around my condo complex that week, it seemed that every unit, including those of apolitical people, was streaming the race speech on the Internet.}

Still Clinton’s Dominance tactics cemented the constituencies of both candidates and the demographics of most of the upcoming states favored her. Obama undercut his own Persuasiveness with bittergate.

In the weeks before North Carolina and Indiana Clinton had Dominated her way towards another opportunity to make a compelling Persuasive argument. Again, she failed. The silly “Gas Tax Holiday” scheme, and the contradictory contempt for all expert opinion on it from the “experienced” candidate, was a naked, irrelevant pander {Anecdotal evidence: My Hoosier brother-in-law turned to Obama in response to Clinton’s gas tax holiday proposal}. Obama made a Persuasive pivot in arguing against it and effectively ended the competitive primary with his blowout in North Carolina and close loss in Indiana.

Obama Dominated the rest of the primary by ignoring the states where the demographics were not in his favor, fixating himself and the MSM on the general election, securing blowouts in demographically friendly states, and quietly scotching any revote in Michigan and Florida. By the time the Rules Committee met on Michigan and Florida he had the Dominant influence to secure a counting of those delegates that did no material harm to his candidacy. Clinton sharpened her constituencies through additional race baiting, resentment-mongering, and sheer hard work, but all of the accompanying vitriol diminished her Persuasive ability by the day.

Clinton proved herself a master of the Dominance style. Against most candidates this would have secured a win. Obama’s Persuasiveness was equal to her Dominance, and he managed to selectively use the Dominance strategy where she never managed to Persuade. Obama was victorious because he was the better Leader.

Obama Should Have Taken A Swing

It’s about time somebody called out Joementum on his bullshit. Obama did not endear himself to me by failing to line up behind Democratic Party Nominee Ned Lamont in 2006. And this is how Liebermann repays that loyalty?

I think Obama said, Joe, seriously, I’m going to win this election, we’re going to build a huge majority, and you are going to be OUT of the caucus, and you won’t have seniority in the GOP.

Am I really this much of a follower or has Obama really started kicking ass since he won the nomination?

Fuck Liebermann.

Electoral College Over/Under

Barack Obama over/under 299.5.

I’ll take the over. Kerry -NH, +IA, +CO, +NM, +OH, +MO.

That’s my “close” scenario.

My blowout scenario is:

Kerry +IA, +CO, +NM, +OH, +MO, +VA, +ND, +MT, +MO, +NV, +FL for 355.

Let’s spend a little time in Texas, too. We won’t win there, but putting it in play would break the McCain campaign’s financial back and might get Noriega in the Senate.

Grown ups

As I write this, I am waiting for election returns in my own race. I was unable to afford any campaigning except a few e-mails and some Internet work. I’m not sure of the dynamics of this election, either, but as of right now I’m losing pretty handily.

Part of me wants to put each and every person ahead of me on some kind of enemies list and get a nice cold revenge somehow. But I know that what those people and I have similar goals, and I shouldn’t let me ego get in the way. I should congratulate them and offer to help.

So, I can relate in a picayune kind of way, I guess, to how the Clinton and Obama camps must feel about each other right now. Obama won after running an excellent race, and Clinton did a wonderful job as well, recovering time after time to stay alive. At some point, these two need to decide whether their egos are more important than their goals.

In my limited campaign I have gathered enough anecdotal evidence to know that Obama has tons of solid support but has embittered some folks, especially first-generation feminist women, a solid and important Democratic block.

If what Obama needs to do to shore up the base and unify the party is to pick Hillary, then he should be a grown up and do it. And the same goes for her. If nominating her for VP adds nothing to the ticket, she should bow out.

This is not a usual election year. There wasn’t a run away delegate wise. Obama does need to respect the people who voted for Clinton–they were almost as many as those that voted for him. If that respect means offering her the VP slot, then that’s what it means.

Personally, I think that nominating Hillary (who could game the VP nomination probably anyway) would be great for June, but I’m not so sure about November. I’m not sure she won’t help, I just plain don’t know.

But they need to deal with it anyway.

I guess I need to go write a concession. #*(%^$%&(^

Dude! Bush Patsy McCain!

Lose the creepy chuckle and the angry crowd man. Yikes.

[Update by Rick: The media was chuckling over just how awful McCain's speech was, an Obama's was one of his best yet. I thought Clinton's speech was well written, but it was devoid of content. Obama will mop the floor with McCain]