mm123: Classical music II — one more time, with wood

August 31, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Danger! Western Cultural

Treasures Content!

Run Away!

So, I was cruising the blogs at BlogExplosion.com and I found this one, courtesy of YouTube, via Subbie.

When I’m all by myself, I seldom LOL. This video, I did laugh out loud.


YouTube – Rachmaninov had big Hands

So, last post, somehow I left Rachmaninov off (no, I’m not stuttering) of my desert island list. Inexplicable. What a genius.

The music, by the way, his Prelude, Op.3 No.2 In C Sharp Minor. Here’s a great recording performed by the incomparable Vladimir Ashkenazy.

Anyway, this video made my day. Pretty good for a couple minutes, huh?

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

Non-commercial Note!: the link to Amazon.com used above is for the convenience of faithful reader and represents no commercial relationship whatsoever. Left-Handed Complement should be so fortunate as to ever collect remuneration of any kind for this endeavor. I can link, so I link. It’s technology. It’s cool. Deal with it.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,


mm122: Simone Dinnerstein plays the Goldberg Variations. – By Evan Eisenberg – Slate Magazine

August 30, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Danger! Western Cultural

Treasures Content!

Run Away!

Did you ever read a novel, a newspaper or magazine article, a blog posting and say: “Wow, I wish I could write like that!”?

I had one of those WIWICWLT! moments the other day, when I encountered this outstanding music review in Slate. And, I don’t usually read music reviews, in Slate, or anywhere else.

Evan Eisenberg absolutely made me want to get out there and buy the music CD described. And believe MUDGE when he tells you that purchasing a classical music CD is probably the least likely act he might have been tempted to commit in these budget constrained times before reading this story.

Move over Glenn Gould, here’s Simone Dinnerstein.

By Evan Eisenberg
Posted Monday, Aug. 27, 2007, at 3:54 PM ET

Goldberg Variations

slate

The year was 1955. Three things happened: Albert Einstein died, and Glenn Gould recorded the Goldberg Variations.

It is difficult to describe the impact of the second event, in part because I was a fetus at the time. (The third event, of course, was my birth.) But I will try. For those of us—beatniks, philistines, fetuses—who thought of classical music as something powdered and periwigged, that slab of vinyl struck with the force of a meteor. The stegosaurs who played Bach as if he were Lawrence Welk sniffed the heady, pomade-purged air and keeled, metaphorically, over. The Cretaceous Age of Music had ended. The Age of Gould had begun.

We hear a lot about meteoric careers, but Gould’s—his concert career—really was. In 1964, at the height and breadth of his fame, he renounced the stage to devote himself to making records. Two years later he set forth the method to his madness in an essay in High Fidelity titled “The Prospects of Recording.” In prose of a puckish fustiness as distinctive as his playing, he made three predictions: One: that recording would supplant live performance. Two: that much of the real action, musically speaking, would take place in the studio. Three: that, as technologies of sound manipulation got better and cheaper, the line between artist and audience would be smudged and maybe even—in a distant, Gouldtopian future—erased.

During the course of the lengthy read (well worth it) there are several illuminating recorded samples (I just love the the linking capabilities of the web! But you know that about me — you haven’t forgotten about the sequitur already, have you?).

Please read and enjoy.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Simone Dinnerstein plays the Goldberg Variations. – By Evan Eisenberg – Slate Magazine

My current Pandora.com addiction notwithstanding (and, I do mean an addiction — it was on all day at work, and on now as I write this; find out more here and here and even here), I am, have been, and always will be a classical music person (listener — not performer!).

Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and Mahler: my desert island fare. And, Glenn Gould was a god.

Everything else is commentary.

Sounds like the topic for a future blog post or 60.

Anyway, open up your mind and listen. Soon as post this I’m heading over to Amazon to buy the reviewed Simone Dinnerstein recording of the Goldberg Variations.

And isn’t Evan Eisenberg one hell of a writer?

Another thing: One feels that Dinnerstein was, from the start, playing for someone—unlike Gould, who played for himself and maybe, if he was in a sociable mood, Bach. Gould was one of the first classical musicians to master the mode of phonography I’ve called “cool”: Rather than reach out to the listener, he lets the listener come to him. Dinnerstein’s performance is anything but cool; it glows with a warmth that I will, with difficulty, restrain myself from calling maternal. Yet it has its own profound inwardness. Dinnerstein sheds some light on this: “When you’re pregnant, you’re aware of having somebody else there, but it’s also very much you. In a way, the most playing for yourself you could possibly do is playing with a baby inside.”

WIWICWLT!

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

Note!: the link to Amazon.com used above is for the convenience of faithful reader and represents no commercial relationship whatsoever. Left-Handed Complement should be so fortunate as to ever collect remuneration of any kind for this endeavor. I can link, so I link. It’s technology. It’s cool. Deal with it.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,


mm121: We’re fighting at least three wars in Iraq. Do you want to end them all? – By Christopher Hitchens – Slate Magazine

August 29, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Christopher Hitchens is that guy you love to hate. His best seller, God is Not Great is currently No. 5 on the New York Times list (since one needs an account to access the list, I thought I’d just show you the pix):

hitchensbestseller

This is not some retiring violet — the man does like to pick a fight.

But yet. He does have a way of making sense.

Here he is in Slate yesterday, making sense:

slate

We’re fighting at least three of them.

By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, Aug. 27, 2007, at 4:56 PM ET

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Click image to expand.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki

When people say that they want to end the war in Iraq, I always want to ask them which war they mean. There are currently at least three wars, along with several subconflicts, being fought on Iraqi soil. The first, tragically, is the battle for mastery between Sunni and Shiite. The second is the campaign to isolate and defeat al-Qaida in Mesopotamia. The third is the struggle of Iraq’s Kurdish minority to defend and consolidate its regional government in the north.

The balance of the article is quite concise for Mr. Hitchens. Take a look.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

We’re fighting at least three wars in Iraq. Do you want to end them all? – By Christopher Hitchens – Slate Magazine

So, no wonder the Bush administration is so confounded by Iraq. I’m sure that they have no idea that they’re fighting three different wars there!

And our prospective leaders may have the same trouble:

The ability to distinguish among these different definitions of the “war” is what ought to define the difference between a serious politician and a political opportunist, both in Iraq and in America….

Meanwhile, it is all very well for Sens. Clinton and Levin to denounce the Maliki government and to say that he and his Dawa Party colleagues are not worth fighting for. But what do they say about the other two wars?

Attention, candidates! Please learn already that the USA’s position in the world cannot be summarized in a 20-second sound byte.

What are your substantive thoughts (i.e., body text, not headlines) about the panoply of messes (some we’ve inherited, some we’ve created, some we’re just bemusedly observing) in the world?

Show us your brains, candidates! (And that goes for you putative non-candidates — Michael Bloomberg I mean you!)

Start by telling us what you think of this Christopher Hitchens analysis (I know, you wouldn’t touch his atheistic whatever with a 10-foot whatever so leave his name out of it if you must), but acknowledge that our world is more complex than ABC123.

Wouldn’t it be a wondrous achievement if we elect a president for her/his brains, not his superficialities as showcased through the expenditure of $billions in manipulative advertising and nefarious “swift boaters”?

Will I live that long?

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


WcW006: Quiet before the storm

August 29, 2007

wcw1_thumb1

Web Conferencing Week

Late summer doldrums here at the Heart of Corporate America (HCA, not my employer’s real name).

One might hope that the lull in formal activities would provide some time for reflection, and so in fact it has.

As I’ve explained before (here and here and here, for example), as do most people in corporate surroundings, I wear a multitude of hats:

  • member of the IT technical team supporting collaborative tools (email, instant messaging, web conferencing);
  • teacher of our instant messaging and web conferencing tools to our internal business clients (more than 3,500 served in five years, thank you very much!);
  • “manager of the end-user experience” as defined by our vendor’s on-site support manager — while not in the direct flow of help desk activities (at least not yet), the canniest of my 3,500 students, and their underlings and bosses, know me well enough to contact me if they have issues, and since no one on the team, or in the support arena in general has anywhere the amount of experience with our tools as have I (over six hundred classes, all conducted using web conferences, plus countless mission-critical meetings facilitated throughout the enterprise), the answer to my correspondents’ questions is probably at the ready.

As teacher, I’m always running 8-10 classes per month, although during the summer average attendance is way down.

As end-user experience manager (an honorific provided by a suck-up vendor: remember, grunt that MUDGE is, he’s manager of no one) the phone just isn’t ringing very often, as people wrap up their summers before Labor Day provides the symbolic halt to all things sunscreen.

As member of the technical team, decisions are pending and work is progressing.

HCA uses for its instant messaging and web conferencing requirements IBM Lotus Sametime.

HCA has long been a Lotus shop: Its Lotus Notes product has long been handling enterprise email and its rapid application environment supports thousands of database applications and has done so here for more than 15 years. So the choice of Sametime was not a surprise in that light.

And, indeed, Sametime is a common choice for collaboration among large corporations, seeking the rock-solid enterprise grade solution similar and related to the rock-solid technology that so well supports the earlier applications: email and databases.

The best web conferencing and instant messaging choice today?

An excellent question that is not yet on the table.

Like many issues in corporate technology, the problems faced are multi-dimensional: hardware, software, the quantity of personnel applied to the task (fortunately, personnel quality is not an issue, among the talented administrators and architects that I am fortunate to work among).

Instant messaging and web conferencing at HCA exists not as the result of an organized deployment campaign, but rather more like viral marketing. It grew out of a pilot (when I joined the company, about 5½ years ago in a related but not directly connected IT position, there were nominally 800 accounts).

And the pilot became an “extended pilot” which gradually became a production system, without ever really becoming a true, bullet proof enterprise-grade product, at least as implemented here at HCA.

Insufficient servers (both in capability and in numbers), and insufficient personnel (as above, just the numbers are insufficient — the people are champions [and they won’t read this, so trust me, I’m not sucking up!]) to keep order in an operation that has grown to more than 26,000 accounts.

This number represents less than half of the available client base, because no one knows how to handle the establishment of the necessary 30,000 new accounts efficiently, much less want to confront the reality of insufficient hardware and personnel to handle the existing organically grown client base.

And, finally, the software. HCA upgraded (quite tardily) to Sametime version 6.5 about 21 months ago, and our team has been working on upgrading to the current standard version 7.5 for nearly that long (remember the tardy part).

HCA never never never never wants to be the early adopter of anyone’s hardware or software. The 100th adopter, maybe, so we delay, by time-honored policy, both IT and fiscal, until (hopefully most of) the bugs are out.

But we really need to move on this upgrade (the 2005 upgrade from long-used version 3.1 to version 6.5 was a marketing nomenclature upgrade — to the end users it looks and acts as if it’s version 3.2!), and the delay has not been HCA’s sole doing. And version 7.5 has many new and attractive and desirable features; it would be a true upgrade.

But we’re not there yet.

And therein lies an interesting story.

But this long story will need to be continued next time, because…

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm120: Study: US preparing ‘massive’ military attack against Iran | The Raw Story

August 28, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Today was collection day here at L-HC. Accumulated enough story ideas for a week at least; of course, if they’re news based, the fish get stale quickly.

Found this courtesy of reddit.com, out-digging Digg once again, and it caused me to toss the fish back, perhaps to catch another day.

This one is too important not to share.

rawstoryinvestigates

iranattack

Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane
Published: Tuesday August 28, 2007

The United States has the capacity for and may be prepared to launch without warning a massive assault on Iranian uranium enrichment facilities, as well as government buildings and infrastructure, using long-range bombers and missiles, according to a new analysis.

The paper, “Considering a war with Iran: A discussion paper on WMD in the Middle East” – written by well-respected British scholar and arms expert Dr. Dan Plesch, Director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, and Martin Butcher, a former Director of the British American Security Information Council (BASIC) and former adviser to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament – was exclusively provided to RAW STORY late Friday under embargo.

Well, okay, we know that military strategists are always war-gaming, right?

The study concludes that the US has made military preparations to destroy Iran’s WMD, nuclear energy, regime, armed forces, state apparatus and economic infrastructure within days if not hours of President George W. Bush giving the order. The US is not publicising the scale of these preparations to deter Iran, tending to make confrontation more likely. The US retains the option of avoiding war, but using its forces as part of an overall strategy of shaping Iran’s actions.

Sounds a bit more further advanced than a theoretical game, huh?

It’s lengthy, but now take a look at the original story.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

The Raw Story | Study: US preparing ‘massive’ military attack against Iran

Anyone the least bit concerned about this?

Even-handedly, near the end, the report includes some push-back:

“The report seems to accept without question that US air force and navy bombers could effectively destroy Iran and they seem to ignore the fact that US use of air power in Iraq has failed to destroy all major military, political, economic and transport capabilities,” said Johnson late Monday after the embargo on the study had been lifted.

“But at least in their conclusions they still acknowledge that Iran, if attacked, would be able to retaliate. Yet they are vague in terms of detailing the extent of the damage that the Iran is capable of inflicting on the US and fairly assessing what those risks are.”

Back to the paper:

We should not underestimate the Bush administration’s ability to convince itself that an “Iran of the regions” will emerge from a post-rubble Iran. So, do not be in the least surprised if the United States attacks Iran. Timing is an open question, but it is hard to find convincing arguments that war will be avoided, or at least ones that are convincing in Washington.

Constant reader may already know this about MUDGE: I am not a knee-jerk pacifist peace-nik make love not war child of the sixties.

Like so many of my generation, I artfully dodged the Vietnam draft, in the interests of self-preservation rather than some lofty anti-war principles, I freely, if somewhat shamefacedly admit.

But, carefully reflected upon, carefully conducted war has its place.

My father and father-in-law, both members of the Greatest Generation and now deceased, did their duty, honorably in an honorable cause.

My son, and new daughter-in-law both served multiple tours aboard Naval vessels in the Arabian Gulf enforcing the U.N. sanctions of Iraq in the ’90’s and targeting cruise missiles against the enemy in Afghanistan.

So, it’s not knee-jerk pacifist peace-nik make love not war that is making me feel nauseous as I write this.

Forest fires, after all, are Mother Nature’s way of taking old-growth forests and starting over. Sometimes this same principle may be operative where wrong-headed nations are concerned. Turns out that Smokey the Bear and his fellow peace-loving comrades were both utterly wrong.

Unfortunately, the Muslim states have made no secret of their aim to obliterate Israel, and it’s in reaction to that virulent hatred, and that alone, that causes this observer to think: “Hmm, remove Iran’s capabilities to destroy Tel Aviv and generally make destructive mischief throughout the region? Maybe sooner than later.”

So, I’m concerned. Not because punishing Iran is a bad idea per se. To protect our interests, which include Israel’s right to exist, some punishment may be necessary.

But the gang that can’t shoot straight scares me.

If there’s a way to conduct a preemptive strike against Iran, no matter how good the reasons, we cannot trust George III and his ne’er-do-well minions to correctly consider the geopolitical ramifications, nor direct the military campaign effectively.

So I’m thinking, “Stand down, Pentagon.”

And, all you macho presidential candidates out there (and Hillary, I meant you most of all!), Iran is not the issue with which to flex your warlike muscles. The stakes are way too high for posturing, either by the Bush mis-administration, or by any of you.

This is one initiative that, unless dire reality intrudes, should get put on the shelf until, say, 21-January-2009, the earliest.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm119: Creating the sequitur

August 27, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Had this thought yesterday.

Any of you regular reader of this nanocorner of the blogosphere are aware that MUDGE often is slightly link-crazy.

I believe I learned this style best from one of my most regular reads, Slate.com, and good teachers they’ve been.

What linking does for yours truly, and here comes that flash of insight –drum-roll please — linking sequiturizes.

We all think we know what a non sequitur is. My new toy WordWeb says that it’s “A reply that has no relevance to what preceded it.”

So, when MUDGE pops out a comment, like this one from a recent posting…

An ambitious plan, to be executed of course by the lowest bidder.

… you don’t have to be in the dark about what I might mean by that.

Because I’ve provided a handy hyperlink to let you know exactly what I had in mind.

Wikipedia’s article goes a bit into the history of the hyperlink:

The term “hyperlink” was coined in 1965 (or possibly 1964) by Ted Nelson at the start of Project Xanadu. Nelson had been inspired by “As We May Think,” a popular essay by Vannevar Bush. In the essay, Bush described a microfilm-based machine (the Memex) in which one could link any two pages of information into a “trail” of related information, and then scroll back and forth among pages in a trail as if they were on a single microfilm reel. The closest contemporary analogy would be to build a list of bookmarks to topically related Web pages and then allow the user to scroll forward and backward through the list.

Ted Nelson was a genius — I remember reading him in the fondly remembered Byte Magazine (I was a near-charter subscriber, of course), and thinking “this man is a way out futurist.”

So, the non sequiturs will keep on coming, gang, sequiturized (must be the process of negating a non sequitur, right), by Ted Nelson’s (and of course Tim Berners-Lee‘s) marvelous hyperlinks.

New motto for this nanocorner:

proudhome

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm118: Overhaul of Air Traffic System Nears Key Step – washingtonpost.com

August 27, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Those of us victimized by the airlines, airport management, the TSA, too many too small aircraft in the skies (per Patrick Smith, most recently quoted here and here) can find a glimmer of hope in this report:

washingtonpost

Satellite Network Projected to Cut Flight Delays but May Take Years to Complete

By Del Quentin Wilber

Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 27, 2007; Page A01

The federal government is expected this week to award a contract worth more than $1 billion to build the key components of its next-generation air traffic control system — a high-tech network that officials say will alleviate chronic flight delays.

The system comes at a critical time, officials say, with flight delays at record levels and commercial aviation expected to continue growing steadily. The network will rely on satellites, rather than radar, to guide aircraft, and it is expected to allow planes to fly closer together and take more direct routes, saving fuel and time while reducing pollution. Government officials say it will also improve safety by giving controllers and pilots more precise information about planes.

An ambitious plan, to be executed of course by the lowest bidder.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Overhaul of Air Traffic System Nears Key Step – washingtonpost.com

And, of course the ADS-B system is controversial in the U.S. (happily adopted in lots of the rest of the world, but what do those gals and guys know about technology, anyway?) — everybody who wants this system in the U.S. wants someone else to pay for it.

And I can’t help but feel, the way the story is written, that the air traffic controllers union feels that should the national system be improved it will come at the expense of employment of controllers. Hey, guys, traffic’s expanding! Jobs for everyone! (Of course, if it’s just a matter of talking on a two-way satellite radio, and looking at a screen, the everyones might be working out of their homes in Bengaluru, or Shanghai, but that’s details.)

Of course, this writer will probably be more concerned about a different variety of wings by the year 2020 (if alive, I’ll only be 18 years away from retirement!), but we can all dream, can’t we?

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


mm117: The cure for the Electoral College that is worse than what ails us. – By Jamin Raskin – Slate Magazine

August 27, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

It’s back to the Electoral College. Summer’s over people, time to get serious again about the 2008 presidential election.

In case you’re a completist as is yours truly, previous stories on the subject can be found here and here and here.

slate The cure for the Electoral College that is worse than what ails us.

By Jamin Raskin
Posted Friday, Aug. 24, 2007, at 5:32 PM ET

Illustration by Rob Donnelly. Click image to expand.

It’s hardly news at this point that, as it works today, the Electoral College undermines American democracy. It does so in three fundamental ways:  First, it betrays the principle of majority rule, threatening every four years to deliver the White House to the popular-vote loser. Second, it reduces the general election contest to a matter of what happens in Ohio, Florida, and a handful of other swing states, leaving most Americans (who live in forsaken “red” and “blue” states) on the sidelines. This in turn depresses turnout and helps give us one of the worst rates of voter participation on earth. Third, because of its proven pliability, the Electoral College invites partisan operatives, legislators, secretaries of state and even Supreme Court justices to engage in constant strategic mischief and manipulation at the state level.

This last problem is about to make things much worse, as strategic actors try to exploit spreading discontent with the system by pushing “reform” proposals for purely partisan advantage. Thus, in California, top Republican strategists are now proposing a ballot initiative that would “reform” the system by awarding the state’s electoral votes by congressional district. Its real purpose is to break up the state’s 55 electors, which typically go to the Democrats in a bloc as inevitably as Texas, Georgia, and Oklahoma give their 56 combined electors to the Republicans. Following the proposed division of California’s well-gerrymandered blue and red congressional districts, it is likely that the 2008 GOP nominee under this plan would carry away about 20 electors. In one fell swoop, this would ruin the Democrats’ chances for winning the presidency.

This is very plainly not reform. It is tactical gamesmanship.

I guess I not surprised that the Governator’s party might be trying to game the system… What’s next? The native-born clause?

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

The cure for the Electoral College that is worse than what ails us. – By Jamin Raskin – Slate Magazine

Are you as disturbed about this as I am?

And, now you don’t have to be more than slightly daffy about Michael Bloomberg to be frightened of a repeat of the supreme debacle of 2000, or worse.

High time to get behind National Popular Vote blogroll2 in your state, especially if your state is California, in the light of the above mischief.

This bears repeating:

Thomas Jefferson famously said: “We are all republicans, we are all federalists.” Today, at least for the purposes of creating a national election for president in which every vote counts equally, we should all be Republicans and Democrats, Independents and Greens and Libertarians. Why not put aside political party just for a moment to see if we can still work together to create a more perfect union?

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm116: Lies, Lies, and More Lies, in History-Illiterate America – The Smirking Chimp

August 26, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

There have been a number of refutations of George III’s infamous Iraq/Vietnam comparison statement of this week. Here’s an excellent one:

smirkingchimp

by Larry Beinhart | Aug 25 2007 – 7:44pm |

George Bush — and other Iraq War supporters — have argued that if we withdraw from Iraq the result will be like the slaughters — the killing fields -in Cambodia.

Here are the facts:

  • The killing fields were real. The genocide against their own people was committed by the Khmer Rouge.
  • The Vietnamese — the Communist Vietnamese — were the people who went in and put a stop to it.
  • The United States then supported the Khmer Rouge.

MUDGE isn’t doctrinaire about history. He won’t trot out George Santayana (yeah, okay, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it”).

On the other hand, the world isn’t some Magic Slate, wiped clean every night, starting afresh every day, sparkling and new.

Some middle ground is preferred between codgerdom (we who remember everything, just before we start to forget everything) and Gen Y, who seemingly haven’t bothered to learn anything outside the narrow confines of MySpace and YouTube.

So take a look at the rest of this cogent posting:

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Lies, Lies, and More Lies, in History-Illiterate America – The Smirking Chimp

The old analogy of ships of state is an apt one. The USA sails through history, accumulating barnacles which slow it down and inertia and ponderousness cause it to stay on a course way longer than necessary or advisable.

And, the generals are fighting the last war (albeit as we heard again from the White House this week with very selective memories).

The result, as we all can see, is that change comes rarely, if at all. War is still prosecuted for the same (often obscure or selfish) reasons; the face of the enemy changes, but that’s a detail.

What the generals have not yet worked out is a successful solution to the conundrum of asymmetric warfare.

Mentioned this in a comment over at Monte Asbury’s Blog (a new regular read, courtesy of A View from the Bridge at ClapSotronics): all of our accumulated $trillions of military spending did not protect us from 19 guys with airline tickets. The $trillions don’t protect Iraqi civilians nor our courageous but under-protected troops from Saudis with a clunker and some plastic explosive.

Vietnam was one of the first indicators that asymmetric warfare was a tougher challenge than the generals and their political masters had ever before faced.

Our vaunted economic might, capable of purchasing the most advanced technology and putting it and manpower in overwhelming numbers into the field, a formula that worked so well in the period roughly corresponding to the Industrial Revolution in North America (i.e., 1830-1950, Mexican Wars through WWII), didn’t protect us from a determined enemy in pajamas (albeit with powerful friends — of course, think of France’s role in our own Revolutionary War).

Have the generals and admirals and the politicians learned from this? Not well enough.

And of course the incredible irony is, that the White House finally agrees with the Cindy Sheehan and the kneejerk peaceniks: Iraq = Vietnam.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm115: Barack Obama’s Republican edge

August 25, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Startling! Take a look:

salon

Barack Obama’s Republican edge

If he can win the Democratic primary, will his fans from the opposing party help take him all the way to the White House?

By Michael Scherer

Aug. 24, 2007 | It was sort of like finding a Christmas tree in a cornfield. In late July and early August, Iowa Republican voters were asked to name their choice for president in a University of Iowa poll. Mitt Romney, who leads most Iowa surveys, got 22 percent of the total. Rudy Giuliani came in second with 10 percent. But third place went to a Democrat, Barack Obama, who got nearly 7 percent — more than Mike Huckabee, John McCain and Sam Brownback combined.

Not to worry: The Obama campaign isn’t likely to join the Grand Old Party, and pollsters are convinced that Obama has exactly zero chance of winning the Republican caucus in Iowa. But something is going on. “I don’t want to make too much of it,” says David Redlawsk, the professor who commissioned the poll. “But I do think that the message Obama is putting out right now is the most likely to reach across party lines.”

There are other signs of Obama’s crossover appeal. Over the last several months, Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster, has been holding focus groups for various media organizations like Fox News to find out what the public thinks of the presidential candidates. “I would ask Republicans, ‘Which Democratic candidate would you accept? Who would you consider to vote for?'” Luntz says. “Obama would get more than everybody else combined. Hillary [Clinton] and [John] Edwards have no crossover voters.”

A recent poll by the Washington Post and ABC News revealed a third data point in Obama’s favor: When asked in July which Democratic candidate has the best chance to defeat a Republican in a general election, Republicans and independents were more likely than Democrats to pick Obama over Clinton. In fact, among Democrats, only 22 percent said Obama was the best general election candidate, while 54 percent flagged Clinton as the best in the general election. But among Republicans, 33 percent said Obama was the best candidate, and 37 percent said Hillary. In other words, Republicans were about 11 points more likely than Democrats to see Obama as the best shot for a Democratic White House.

Any political expert will tell you that polls don’t mean much five months before the first caucus. But a pattern may be emerging. In part because of Clinton’s high negatives among Republicans, it appears Obama is gaining momentum as a fresh candidate with a less divisive approach, by constantly appealing beyond the partisan lines of the last decade. His first television ad buy in Iowa included testimony from a Republican state lawmaker from Illinois talking up Obama and his ability to reach across party lines. As Obama reiterated in an appearance in Iowa last week, “The country is hungry for change. It wants something new. We want to chart a new direction for our nation.”

I find this story confounding, confusing, counterintuitive, and any other “c” word that’s appropriate.

Go ahead and take a look at the rest:

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Salon.com News | Barack Obama’s Republican edge

If I hadn’t seen this story in Salon, I might suspect it’s part of a Republican dirty tricks campaign.

It’s a paramount tactic among the Roves of the world to do all that’s necessary to see that the other party nominates the candidate easiest to defeat in the general election. This explains John Kerry.

Because I have to tell you, gals and guys, it is my firmly held belief that what people say to pollsters and what they do in the privacy of the voting booth can differ astonishingly. This explains Harry Truman’s win in 1948.

I think that it’s understood that people tend to tell pollsters an idealized version of their beliefs, or a varnished version, or an aspirational version, and then they go ahead and reelect the (mainly) guys who are, deep down, the most like themselves in all the important ways (i.e., white, male, Christian).

And, I’m ready at all times to be thrilled and impressed with the maturity and intelligence of the U.S. voting public, but I can’t help but be overwhelmed by my curMUDGEonly insistence that the electorate of 2008 will not elect a black man president, nor, to be sure, the particular woman in question.

I’m disappointed with that situation, but here’s the other problem. Whatever those Iowans say, the only chance the Republicans have of having any of their motley crew of candidates win in November 2008 is if the Democrats, whose victory in Congress seems to have led to only (bloody and bloody-minded) business as usual, nominate a candidate sure to galvanize the demoralized Republican troops into the polls in (modern) record numbers.

Call me cynical, but the prospect of staying home and letting a black man, or that woman swear the oath of office on 20-January-2009 might cause even the most dispirited Republican voters to get out and vote for Rudy or Old Man McCain.

And in my opinion, the Democratic center, for all of its brave conversation, has not yet evolved so much further than their Republican counterparts.

Whatever they all say to the pollsters, in the utter privacy of the voting booth, I just can’t see the average citizen doing the right thing.

Finally, none of the candidates have much of a record of executive accomplishment. The more months go by, Rudy’s supposed turnaround of NYC is going to tarnish. Obama and Clinton and many of the rest are lawyers, managers only of assistants and paralegals. A couple of governors might have executive experience, but of small states with tiny local challenges. And Fred Thompson, you’re no Ronald Reagan!

Michael Bloomberg, we’re ready for you!

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

BTW, Patrick Smith of Salon has a new Ask the Pilot column this weekend. Patrick, I don’t want to incur any further fiscal obligations to you and Salon.com, so I won’t excerpt it or comment further here, except to recommend that my fearless reader get over and check it out. Terrific as always.

–MUDGE

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,