Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Laugh Out Loud, Soulless Hacks Edition

Ryan Cooper writes (The Week) that Democrats need fewer soulless hacks and more true believers:
The narrowness of Hillary Clinton's stunning loss to Donald Trump — especially given the fact that she actually won the popular vote by 2.5 million and rising — has led many liberals to conclude that the Democratic Party only needs a slight adjustment to win future presidential elections. A better candidate, a more competent campaign, or a more credible message on economic issues — any one of them might have kept the presidency in Democratic hands.
There are many things the party must do to rebuild. Here's one more to add to the growing list: The Democrats need a better breed of operative. 
He goes on to describe how Rahm Emanuel and David Brock have abandoned liberal principles in favor of soulless political partisanship. True enough, but then goes on to say this about Terry McAuliffe, Governor of Virginia and close Clinton confidante:
This is a guy so obsessed with party politics that he once left his wife and hours-old infant in the car while he dropped in on a fundraiser. (He's also got a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease.) Yet as governor, he has worked diligently to get ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion in his state, and more importantly, used his pardon power to restore voting rights to 13,000 ex-felons...[H]e is one of only a handful of the Democratic old guard who seems to grasp that sometimes doing the morally right thing (on the advice of left-wing activists, no less) is also smart tactics. Re-enfranchising felons not only guarantees Democrats several thousand votes come election time, it also lends the party extra credibility among black voters (Virginia is 20 percent black) on the most pressing racial justice issue of the day, and among white liberals in the D.C. suburbs. 
Hang on: leaving your family for a fundraiser makes you a true liberal? And enfranchising felons so they'll vote Democrat, that's a liberal principle too? And McAuliffe, a bought and paid for Clinton partisan, is supposed to be a true believer? In what?!

Remember when liberals cared more about people than politics? Yeah, me neither.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Progressivism Indicted

Two interesting indictments of the progressive movement. First Mark Lilla, a historian at Columnia, with an op-ed in the New York Times:

It is a truism that America has become a more diverse country. It is also a beautiful thing to watch. Visitors from other countries, particularly those having trouble incorporating different ethnic groups and faiths, are amazed that we manage to pull it off. Not perfectly, of course, but certainly better than any European or Asian nation today. It’s an extraordinary success story.
But how should this diversity shape our politics? The standard liberal answer for nearly a generation now has been that we should become aware of and “celebrate” our differences. Which is a splendid principle of moral pedagogy — but disastrous as a foundation for democratic politics in our ideological age. In recent years American liberalism has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism’s message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing.

He concludes:
Some years ago I was invited to a union convention in Florida to speak on a panel about Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous Four Freedoms speech of 1941. The hall was full of representatives from local chapters — men, women, blacks, whites, Latinos. We began by singing the national anthem, and then sat down to listen to a recording of Roosevelt’s speech. As I looked out into the crowd, and saw the array of different faces, I was struck by how focused they were on what they shared. And listening to Roosevelt’s stirring voice as he invoked the freedom of speech, the freedom of worship, the freedom from want and the freedom from fear — freedoms that Roosevelt demanded for “everyone in the world” — I was reminded of what the real foundations of modern American liberalism are. 
Pretty strong stuff, to accuse progressives of abandoning FDR's principles.

John Tierney levels the second indictment in The Real War on Science - The Left has done far more than the Right to set back progress (City Journal). He notes that conservatives don't have much impact on science on way or the other, and finds the Left presents two "huge threats" to science.
The first threat is confirmation bias, the well-documented tendency of people to seek out and accept information that confirms their beliefs and prejudices. In a classic study of peer review, 75 psychologists were asked to referee a paper about the mental health of left-wing student activists. Some referees saw a version of the paper showing that the student activists’ mental health was above normal; others saw different data, showing it to be below normal. Sure enough, the more liberal referees were more likely to recommend publishing the paper favorable to the left-wing activists. When the conclusion went the other way, they quickly found problems with its methodology.
He includes a long list of examples where groupthink and dogma have set back both social and physical science. And that leads "to the second great threat from the Left...":
...its long tradition of mixing science and politics. To conservatives, the fundamental problem with the Left is what Friedrich Hayek called the fatal conceit: the delusion that experts are wise enough to redesign society. Conservatives distrust central planners, preferring to rely on traditional institutions that protect individuals’ “natural rights” against the power of the state. Leftists have much more confidence in experts and the state. Engels argued for “scientific socialism,” a redesign of society supposedly based on the scientific method. Communist intellectuals planned to mold the New Soviet Man. Progressives yearned for a society guided by impartial agencies unconstrained by old-fashioned politics and religion. Herbert Croly, founder of the New Republic and a leading light of progressivism, predicted that a “better future would derive from the beneficent activities of expert social engineers who would bring to the service of social ideals all the technical resources which research could discover.”
This was all very flattering to scientists, one reason that so many of them leaned left. The Right cited scientific work when useful, but it didn’t enlist science to remake society—it still preferred guidance from traditional moralists and clerics. The Left saw scientists as the new high priests, offering them prestige, money, and power. The power too often corrupted. Over and over, scientists yielded to the temptation to exaggerate their expertise and moral authority, sometimes for horrendous purposes.
Those "horrendous purposes" include, but are not limited to: eugenics, insecticide hysteria, bad health science on salt and fat, and last but not least climate change.

Tierney concludes:
To preserve their integrity, scientists should avoid politics and embrace the skeptical rigor that their profession requires. They need to start welcoming conservatives and others who will spot their biases and violate their taboos. Making these changes won’t be easy, but the first step is simple: stop pretending that the threats to science are coming from the Right. Look in the other direction—or in the mirror.
I would suggest that it cuts both ways. Politicians should stop proclaiming themselves scientific experts. And voters need to be more skeptical of politicians' appeals to science, as well as their appeals to morality, religion, and tradition.
 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

None of the Above

Just wanted to go on record: I oppose both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for President. Neither is offering to solve any of the problems facing the nation. Neither is offering to square foreign policy with American values and goals.

And no, I don't believe Trump will nominate conservatives to the Supreme Court. He supports gun control and abortion. He believes the Federal government should be stronger, and should control more of Americans' lives. Why would he nominate a conservative?

Besides the corruption, dishonesty, and cronyism, Clinton is every bit as dangerous as Trump. She has been wrong on every foreign policy decision that she's participated in. She has no sense of judgment, and will overreact to perceived threats and under-react to real dangers.

But Trump and Clinton aren't the problem. The real problem is us. Americans continue to demand lower taxes but refuse to cut entitlements. They insist on the best doctors, hospitals, and medicines, and scream over the cost, but largely avoid serving in the health industry themselves. They continue to re-elect their Senators and Representatives, even though Congress doesn't have a budget, acquiesces to every loss of freedom, and approves every foreign adventure.

It's clear to me that Trump/Clinton is exactly what Americans want. And they're about to get it, good and hard.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

I miss Pres. Bush

I find this American Interest summary deeply troubling. How can the President ignore so much evidence of bad faith?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

President Obama Reaching Out

According to Time, the President called several candidates last night to offer congratulations or condolences, including Senator Scott of South Carolina and Senator-elect Capito of West Virginia, along with other Republicans and Democrats.

I don't know if the list is exhaustive, but I wonder if he called Congresswoman-elect Mia Love? She's the first black Republican woman in Congress. Kind of a milestone. If he hasn't already, I hope the President takes the time to reach out to her.

Added: has he reached out to Elise Stefanik, the youngest woman to serve in Congress?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Early voting and exit polls

For many years news outlets have chosen to not report exit polls until after polls have closed. They don't want to influence late voting turnout. The theory is that voters will stay home if exit poll results show a significant lead for one candidate, even though exit polls are unreliable. The last time the major TV networks used exit polling to call a race was in 2000, when several networks announced Gore had won Florida even though polls would remain open in the western panhandle for eleven more minutes (and of course, Gore would go on to famously lose Florida). The "panhandle problem" caused more than one conservative pundit to accuse the networks of potentially damaging Bush's chances in Florida, since even slightly lower turnout in the Republican-heavy panhandle would have hurt Bush more than Gore. The networks seem to agree with those pundits, and have since held their exit poll reports until after all polls in the state have closed.

In recent years early voting has grown more popular. In Colorado especially voters have been taking advantage of new mail-in voting.

Interestingly, news outlets are not at all reticent when it comes to reporting early results. These early results aren't from exit polls, and they don't show how people actually voted, but they do show the party affiliation (or independence) of all early voters. So for example today AP reports a big lead for Republicans in Colorado's early voting. It seems to me that early voting results have as much potential to undercut turnout as exit poll results, even if early voting results only show party affiliation. Only half of expected Colorado votes have thus far been received. How many voters will forgo voting, believing Republicans have already won?

Early voting reports are too much like exit poll results, there's too much chance of undercutting turnout. As early voting becomes more popular, the problem will get worse. News outlets need to stop reporting them. If they continue, the states need to stop publishing the party affiliation numbers.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How to retrieve an LDAP server's public cert

It's easy with openssl...
openssl s_client -connect <server>:636
...then copy everything between
-----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----
and
-----END CERTIFICATE-----
(including the delimiters) and paste into a text file.