Friday, December 14, 2007

Bob Wright on Software Design

Some good stuff from a non-software developer.

Software Design is Harder than House Design

Software Design is almost a Moral Challenge

Obama: the Democrats' Goldwater?

The Wyoming Democratic Party chairman says Wyoming voters dislike Hillary Clinton. He goes on...

If Barack Obama is the democratic presidential nominee, we will be the party of new ideas that understands that a united America will be much better able to address the serious problems facing our country than a divided America. If Hillary Clinton is our party’s nominee, every democratic candidate in Wyoming will be painted with that same liberal, big government brush.

I detect a certain naivety in Obama's policy formulation, particularly when it comes to foreign policy. But it's clear his values and principles are broadly shared. It's equally clear that many people admire his style and approach to politics.

I'm not old enough to remember Goldwater, but I see some parallels. Goldwater rose to prominence through local politics and then the U.S. Senate. His views found great sympathy among (for the time) radical members of his political party. He championed civil rights.

Obama has also risen through local politics and the U.S. Senate. He has a lot of support among the Democratic base. He's taken a fairly hard line against corruption in general and earmarks in particular.

Of course, Goldwater got creamed by Johnson. I don't think Obama would necessarily lose, let alone lose in a landslide. But win or lose, I wonder what impact Obama will have long-term on the Democratic party.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Al Gore in the Land of the Green People

Kevin Drum links an LA Times piece on Al Gore at the Bali Climate Conference. Excerpts:
Nobel laureate Al Gore accused the United States today of blocking progress at the U.N. climate conference, and European nations threatened to boycott U.S.-led climate talks next month unless Washington compromises on emissions reductions.

The former U.S. vice president urged delegates to take urgent action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, and told them that the next U.S. president will likely be more supportive of international caps on polluting gases.

...The United States, Japan and several other governments are refusing to accept language in a draft document suggesting that industrialized nations consider cutting emissions by 25 percent to 40 percent by 2020, saying specific targets would limit the scope of future talks.
...Gore urged delegates to reach agreement even without the backing of the United States, saying President Bush's successor, who will take office in January 2009, would likely be more supportive of binding cuts.
The Vice President seems to be negotiating on behalf of a presumed future President. Is he in danger of violating the proscription against private diplomacy? Seems he could have just criticized the current Administration and left it at that.

On a broader point, why does anyone care if the U.S. signs on to another Kyoto-like treaty? The real decision to curb emissions will be made in Congress, largely independent of international diplomacy. Shouldn't Gore be talking to Reid and Pelosi, instead of the converted in Bali?

Disparate Polling Methods

Via Kaus, Mark Blumenthal at has as much data as he can get on the disparate polling methodologies in use in Iowa. His conclusion...
...the differences in the way pollsters measure "likely caucus goers" in Iowa are huge, not just in how narrowly they define the electorate but in the kinds of voters pollsters select as "likely caucus goers." But these issues are not unique to Iowa. In 2004, 21 states held Democratic primary elections with single digit turnouts (as a percentage of adults), and only New Hampshire had a turnout that topped 20%. Over the next year months, results from hundreds of polls will be released, polls that will set expectations and drive media coverage, and yet those of us that consume the data will know very little about how tightly the pollsters screen and the kinds of voters they select. If we want to be educated poll consumers, we are going to need to do something to change that. We need to push toward greater routine disclosure of methodological details.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Jake Tapper of ABC News reports...
In 2004 McCastlain heard that Huckabee was considering commuting the sentence of former Air Force Sgt. Glen Green, who in 1974 confessed to kidnapping Helen Lynette Spencer at the Little Rock Air Force base, beating her with nunchucks, raping her in a secluded area, running over her with his car, stuffing her body into his trunk and dumping her body in a bayou. A witness tied him with the horrific crime and Green confessed.

The Rev. Johnny Jackson, a pastor at Bethel Baptist Church in Jacksonville, began advocating for Green's release, and when McCastlain heard she began to worry, given Huckabee's forgiving nature. "I was concerned," she said. "I could foresee that commutation might happen because it had happened before."

She prepared documentation to keep the brutal killer in prison. "The governor came from a religious background, so I tried to appeal to him in the way that I thought he looked at clemency," she said. She attacked the sincerity of Green's repentance.

It worked. Huckabee did not commute Green's sentence; he remains in prison.

She had to appeal to his religion to get him to make a good decision. Without that angle, prosecutors and victims were unable to dissuade Huckabee from releasing other murderers and rapists, some of whom went on to repeat their crimes.

Sounds like an Establishment Clause violation to me. Might be tough to prove, but a good lawyer might be able to make something of it to get Green released.

This is not someone I want running the White House.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Why I Might Vote For Mitt Romney

Strike one: He's got a consistency problem. You can't go from saying "I'm not an enemy of Roe" to "I think Roe should be overturned." I know there's room to make the jump, but it's just not working for me. It looks calculated.

The point is underlined by his Massachusetts health plan. It's got a lot of Clinton-care about it.

Upside: He's a Governor. And a businessman. He has excellent administrative skills.

AND: While he clearly believes being a Mormon shouldn't stop him from being President, he also clearly doesn't believe that being a Mormon qualifies him to be President.

Why I Won't Be Voting For Mike Huckabee

Strikes one, two, and three: He thinks being a Baptist minister qualifies him to be President. It's his number one talking point. He's spent his entire career leveraging his evangelical credentials into political influence. IMO he's a televangelist who skipped the TV program to go straight into politics.

Why I Might Vote For Fred Thompson

Strike one: He's not leading man material.

Strike two: It's hard to take him seriously. He's not pushing any big-ticket initiatives.

Which is also a good thing. He seems to genuinely believe in small-government conservatism, up to and including a robust Federalism. I like that. But I have this gut feeling that no President can actually function with that philosophy.

Update: Whups, forgot about...

Strike three: He's a former Senator.

Guess I won't be voting for him after all.

Why I Won't Be Voting For Rudy Giuliani

Strike one: Hate to say it, but his personal life undercuts his public character. He can't control what his wife says about him, but he can control what he says about her.

Strike two: He's associated with some shady people, e.g. Bernard Kerik.

Strike three: Being mayor of NYC does not make you a foreign policy expert, contrary claims notwithstanding.

Why I won't be voting for John McCain

Strike one: He's a Senator, in office since 1987.
Strike two: He'll be 71 years old in Jan 2009.
Strike three: While I agree with much of his politics, he's wrong about campaign finance reform. And he's really wrong about immigration.