June 30, 2012

Saturday Learning Series - Cheating

Saturday Learning Series has been focusing on lecture series from Yale professor Ben Polak covering the various aspects of game theory. Continuing from last time, we now look at some considerations that come with repeated games: cheating, punishment, and outsourcing.

June 29, 2012

Legal Insurrection calls it perfectly

Do we want this?...
What he said... Stop the self-delusion;
Some well-meaning people are peddling the notion that today’s Obamacare decision was a long term victory, that we lost the battle but won the war, that there was some master plan by Chief Justice Roberts to gut the expansion of Commerce Clause power under the fig leaf of a majority ruling upholding the mandate under Congress’s taxing power.

To paraphrase Joe Biden, I have just four words for you:


If this were some other more narrow law, if this was not a monumental takeover of the most private aspects of our lives, if this monstrosity would not cause such long term damage to our health care system, if this law was not Obamacare ….

I might be inclined to agree with you.

But it is Obamacare, it is the takeover of a substantial portion of our economy which empowers the federal government to write tens of thousands of pages of regulations telling us how to live and how to die.

This was the hill to fight on for any conservative Justice of the Supreme Court.
Or this?
Amen and Amen.  The only words I would change are "well-meaning".  Instead I would use perhaps "obsequious" or "timid", or "oblivious".  But other than that, I cannot and should not quibble with blogging brilliance.  William ends the post as strongly as he opens it;
This is now, and today we should have been rid of this monstrosity.

We live to fight another day, but don’t tell me we won because someday possibly in the future in some other case with some other set of Justices we maybe might achieve some doctrinal benefit from the Commerce Clause ruling.

So please don’t delude yourselves. Today was a bitter loss because it was one we should have won.
Indeed.  Yes, it will fire up the base for the election, but that's small consolation in the big picture.

June 28, 2012

A sampling of reasons why SCOTUS was wrong

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Here are a few other places on the Internet that agree with my opinion, the Supreme Court made the wrong call on Obamacare.

Via Joel Pollak at Big Government;
For conservatives, it will be difficult not to see the Court a political institution whose rules and culture are hostile. It is now customary for Republican appointees to become more left-wing over time; the reverse almost never happens. The answer cannot be to win more elections. A bigger shift, in the legal academy perhaps, will be necessary to restore what conservatives consider the Framers' constitutional vision. And that could take generations.

The Supreme Court has made a wrong decision, for the wrong reasons, in defense of a wrong policy. If citizens do not rush to the polls to undo what has happened--and after today, I am not certain that they will--our health care system will be ruined, our Treasury bankrupted, and our Republic endangered.

Bad Day for Liberty

Fear rules the day, not liberty.
Oh my God.

The Supreme Court today made a decision that will reverberate for a century. I'm not overstating it when I say that this was a fundamentally bad decision, a terrible precedent and a truly shameful day in American history. Before I delve into the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, let me add a glimmer of good that may come out of this decision to uphold the constitutionality of Obamacare (PPACA). There are two ways to look at this; the glass is half empty and the glass is half full.

Glass half full: This should really motivate the conservative base. Get out and vote for Senators and Congressmen and even Romney. It may also help ensure that there are more conservative justices on the Supreme Court, since even thoughs deemed dependable, are clearly not. Getting out the conservative vote has taken on new importance.

Obamacare Countdown

Apparently at 10 a.m. the Supreme Court is going to release it's decision on Obamacare.  I'm going to be in a meeting at work and I'll be unable to find out what happened until after 11 a.m.  However, I haven't divulged what I think the decision is going to be.  I'd like to get on record before the fact with my best guess. My instinct is in line with InTrade that the individual mandate will be overturned.  I'm much less certain but still hopeful that the mandate on businesses will be overturned as well, but if that happens the whole severability issue gets brought into the mix and the entire Act may get thrown out.  It's not likely but possible.

The mandate therefore in my best guess, is all that gets tossed and then chaos will ensue.  It might lead Obama to double down on Single Payer as an election issue, which is probably going to be the plan under any scenario other than the law being upheld entirely.

June 25, 2012

Will a Supreme Court decision decide the election?

This week is shaping up to be a pivotal week in the Obama presidency vis-a-vis his chances to be re-elected in November.  The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is expected this week to hand down its ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act a.k.a. Obamacare.  While the November election seemed to be on a slow but predictable path to a specific outcome, the ruling by the SCOTUS could very well be a game changer.  What happens after the ruling will depend on what the ruling is.

June 22, 2012

Numbers Stations

Some Friday creepiness for you.

What is a numbers station, and how does it relate to conservative politics?  According to Wikipedia,
A numbers station (or number station) is a type of shortwave radio station characterized by their unusual broadcasts, which consist of spoken words, but mostly numbers, often created by artificially generated voices reading streams of numbers, words, letters, tunes or Morse code. They are transmitted in a wide variety of languages and the voices are usually female, although sometimes men's or children's voices are used...

It has been reported that the United States uses numbers stations to communicate encoded information to persons in other countries. The State Department operated several stations, such as KKN50, that broadcast similar "numbers" messages.
Here's a news item from a few years back discussing numbers stations.  From Cuba, to the CIA to Israel, Sweden and the Lincolnshire Poacher (an English numbers station), these things are still out there.

So what does this have to do with conservative politics? Not much really, unless of course president Obama wins re-election and short wave radio becomes the only way to communicate for the last of the true freedom fighters in America. Some on the fringe right seem to think this sort of outcome is not as far fetched as you'd think. But it is far fetched. And if it really isn't, well fringe guys, you're welcome for the idea on how to communicate under the new overlords.  But really, I just thought it would be cool to share a video or two on an odd subject.

Still interested?  Here's a lecture at Delft University in the Netherlands on Numbers Stations (in English).

June 20, 2012

Eric Holder's indefensible actions defended by...Pelosi.

For those who don't yet know, U.S. Attorney General is being held in contempt of Congress.

Eric Holder needn't worry, Nancy Pelosi has got his back. [Insert Laugh Track here].

June 16, 2012

Today's Tidbits

Some interesting stuff from around the web today(ish).  Without further preamble, let me launch right into it.

Quote of the week: William Teach at RWN summarizes the president's latest 'policy' speech succinctly  as more of the same old Obama pattern:
This was simply part of the Obama presidency pattern: When the going gets tough, Obama gives a speech. Which assigns Blame to everybody and anything but Obama. Throws a few well worn ideas that have already been shown to be losers out on the table telling Someone Else to actually do the hard work in implementing them while he runs off to yet another fundraiser.
 Solutions it would seem, are still above Obama's pay grade.

Henrick Kemp at the Enterprise Blog has an Electoral College pseudo-prediction (I'm not sure how convinced he is by his own numbers) of Romney 338 - Obama 200.  Wouldn't it be nice?

King Shamus addresses his reluctant embrace of RINOs everywhere in a great read.
It’s time the conservative movement does the same thing. Let us come to grips with Romney’s faults, then figure out ways to ameliorate them after November. No matter how much we squint our eyes, read Ayn Rand novels and make wistful wishes on our Dick Cheney action figures, Mitt will never be Ronald Reagan. But if we politely and constantly encourage him to avoid candy ass moderation, he might be able to pull America out of the Euro-squish death spiral.
I agree whole-heartedly.  With Romney in the White House and a solid GOP majority in Congress and hopefully the Senate, Tea Party protests will not be ignored as they are by the current administration.  Romney, as he has demonstrated, is a sail - he's led by the prevailing wind.

Pajamas Media on the loss of wealth under Obama:

An Ol' Broad is going through some stuff that is keeping her from posting with which I can completely identify. Yet she still weighs in with some pithy commentary on everything from Eric Holder to China to Syria to Michelle Obama's dresses.

Over at Left Coast Rebel, where I post (not enough of late, admittedly), Right Klik is all over the media being all over a reporter who DARED to question the president's immigration policy.

A Cop's Watch also notices the media's attempt to resuscitate the president's chances of re-election by his attempt to woo back Latino voters.  He also notes he doesn't expect the trial balloon to fly.

The Last Tradition takes fellow Latinos to task for possibly falling for the Obama ruse of suddenly at this late day being all interested in the immigration issue again.
Obama wasn’t thinking about you or the Dream Act. He and the Democrats takes the Latino vote for granted figuring that you will always be there when they come around, around election type and either pull the race card or announce a TEMPOARY amnesty plan for some illegals. This is supposed to motivate the Latino community to jump up and say, “Look what Obama did for us!” They think that you’re stupid and not paying attention. If you want to support Obama then that’s your business. My only question to my fellow Latinos,

Where is your pride?
Finally, Capitalist Preservation has a funny poll about which actors should portray Obama and Biden in a movie.  Go vote for a laugh.

Saturday Learning Series - Repeated Interaction

Saturday Learning Series recent focus on game theory continues as professor Ben Polak's Yale lecture looks at repeated interaction versus the end of the game.

June 15, 2012

Conservative Culture

One of the things I find frustrating as a conservative is the lack of a conservative cultural icons in America.  When George Clooney hosts an event for President Obama, it doesn't phase me.  George Clooney has about as much geo-political and economic insight as an oak cabinet.  His 'insight' is not really all that valuable, he's not going to change my mind. Nevertheless, as part of a barrage of liberal entertainment media, he does have an impact on some impressionable voters.  

The problem is conservatism isn't viewed as cool.  Steady and successful doesn't compete well with flashy - all steak doesn't always beat all sizzle.  Conservatism can use some sizzle.  I've always maintained that conservatism needs to expend some effort on the coolness factor.  The good news is that despite having a long way to go, those efforts are at least underway.  Conservative artists, conservative media icons and conservative efforts at comedy, youtube videos, and twitter discussion are not inconsequential - they are starting to matter.

Recently I came across RightPosters and I thought it served as a great example of a way for people to proclaim their conservatism in a culturally relevant way.  Whether it's taking a liberal icon and turning the image on it's head or simply putting some coolness into a conservative idea, the posters work.  It's one more example of  conservatives trying to make a cultural  impact in a pro-capitalism way.  There are some really cool posters there and they are a way to express your conservatism to those around you and help make a difference in the culture war that conservatives have always fought from a defensive position.  Perhaps we have only taken baby steps so far, but they are steps nonetheless.  This sort of effort should be supported and encouraged, and engaged on a personal level.

June 13, 2012

For real?

I've waited the last almost four years for the 2012 election.  My blog started back in 2008 as a reaction to the Obama election, even though I've been a political junkie much longer - in fact most of my life.  What's been a source of frustration of late is that getting closer to the pivotal moment, and into the home stretch on the four year cycle, I've had a full plate at work, a full plate in my personal life, and some issues with my Internet Service Provider (ISP) that have conspired to prevent me from engaging in the consistent level of blogging that I've been able to do in the past.

I can't wait for things to get back on the rails, but if they don't I'm going to borrow a page from Obama and blame my inability to get things done on George Bush.


Well if I can't get away with it, how the heck does the president?  Is he really planning on running on a blame Bush or a blame Congress message? For real?

If you want to take credit for the successes on your watch, you have to be prepared to accept blame for the failures.  I think the president would actually win some voters back by accepting that he has not done a good job on the economy.  He's score some integrity and some credibility points with voters.  Whether it would help him or not is a moot point since the administration is either incapable of recognizing that there is a problem, or incapable of admitting it.

In my case, if I don't post enough over the next 6 months I'll have no one to blame but myself.  Reasons be damned - if I don't do it, if I don't take advantage of the political 'high season' - I will be the one responsible, and the one to have missed out.

I'm just saying.

June 10, 2012

Saturday Learning Series - Theory and Wars of Attrition

A belated Saturday Learning Series post this weekend, professor Ben Polak continues his Yale lectures on game theory. In this lecture (a continuation in the series), the lecture delves into decision making in wars of attrition.

June 7, 2012

Wet Blanket? Obama leading in Wisconsin, Virginia.

Basking in the glow of a Scott Walker Republican win in the Wisconsin special recall election, it's hard to imagine that Wisconsin wouldn't be in play come the November presidential election.  Michael Barone did an excellent job of dissecting the exit polling there that said voters still preferred Obama to Romney .  The lesson - exit polling is still a flawed tool.  But today there is a new poll out by We Ask America that shows Obama is still leading in the state according to The Hill..

President Obama has a 5-point lead over Mitt Romney in Wisconsin, according to a We Ask America poll released Thursday.
Obama leads Romney 48 percent to 43 in the first survey to be conducted in Wisconsin since Gov. Scott Walker (R) won his recall election on Tuesday.
That margin is unchanged from the Real Clear Politics average of polls from before the election, when Obama held a 49 percent to 44 lead over Romney. However, some recent polls showed
Obama with a considerably larger lead. The president led by 12 in a Marquette University poll released last week, and by 10 in a Reason-Rupe survey...

Is that a wet blanket for the GOP?  It might be.  We Ask America used likely voters, not registered voters.  Likely voter models like Rasmussen typically skew more towards Republicans than Democrats which means that bit of inherent Democratic advantage seen in many polls is already discounted.  The good news for Romney is that he leads among independents in Wisconsin in this poll.  Barely, but he leads.  The other good news is that 9% of voters and 18% o0f independents remain undecided.

The raw numbers don't seem to be available, but the Republican/Democrat/Independent split may have an unreasonable skew towards Democrats as polls quite often do.  So it might be a wet blanket but not necessarily.  Time will tell as more post-Walker win polling gets done.  And the Wisconsin poll did not happen in isolation today.

According to the fairly reliable Quinnipiac polling, there's also an Obama 5 point lead in the state of Virginia:

President Obama has a 5-point lead over Mitt Romney in the critical battleground state of Virginia, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.
Obama leads 47-42, down from 50-42 in the same poll from March.
Not comforting, but the caveats do bode better for Romney than the headline in this case.  The poll is among registered voters, not likely voters - that should indicate the race in Virginia will be tighter than Quinnipiac is reporting. I was unable to see the partisan split between Republicans, Democrats and Independents but curiously, independents were breaking in the state for Obama 45% to 37% with only 7% responding they were undecided (Don't Know).  The other noticeable skew was women breaking heavily for Obama.  The poll is more of a wet blanket for me than the We Ask America poll, or the good news coming out of Michigan today.

Overall, polling or no, I'd rather be in Mitt Romney's shoes today than president Obama's.  The tailwinds right now are very clearly heading in one direction.

June 6, 2012

Walker, Wisconsin Ranger

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker has survived his recall election in style, with a significant cushion in his lead versus his original election.  The governor's gutsy refusal to back down in the face of over-the-top protests from the pro-union crowd has vindicated him, and elevated his stature in the conservative pantheon.  It may have put Wisconsin in play for the general election.  It certainly has helped the GOP with it's ground game in Wisconsin this fall, and probably puts the Obama campaign in a position to have to spend some time and treasure in a state it didn't think it would need to do so, come fall. 

It may also represent an inflection point with respect to government unions beyond just Wisconsin.  It certainly represents a win from a Tea Party perspective and strikes a blow for fiscal sanity.

The positives just keep compounding.  Kudos to Walker for sticking to in Chuck Norris fashion.

June 5, 2012

Bill Clinton, saboteur

I've long suspected Bill Clinton is secretly torpedoing Obama's chances to win re-election in 2012.  I was even planning last week on doing a game-theory-based post on Hillary Clinton staying or leaving the State Department versus an Obama win/loss in November with an eye towards a Hillary Clinton run in 2016.  There's a lot of reason to believe Bill Clinton doesn't want Obama to win and he's working on behalf of a Hillary Clinton run in 2016.  As it turns out, there isn't a great deal of need for me to theorize on it since Dick Morris makes the point that Bill Clinton is being a saboteur on the Obama re-election.  Clearly it's no longer all that subtle or all that secret.

Is Obama playing possum?

Roadkill or just a clever trap?
No donors. Momentum has become Nomentum. Every piece of news is seemingly going against the president of late. The Wisconsin recall election is likely to break for Walker and that bodes poorly for the president too. Is the Obama campaign really this bad? Are they really this far off the rails? Quite possibly yes. Or is it possible they are playing just possum? Yeah, that also is possible.

The president won in 2008 as an underdog. His improbable defeat of Hilary Clinton in the Democratic primary practically ensured he had enough momentum to defeat senator McCain in the fall. The conventional wisdom is that while 2012 is not 2008, the president needs to recapture the spirit of 2008 with his base in order to win. The conventional wisdom is that he can't do that with his own incumbency staring in the face of his outsider/underdog/agent of change motif.

June 4, 2012

Romney's Secret Weapon: Obama's Attacks

Before getting into what Mitt Romney might be like as CEO of America, it's worth considering whether he can actually win. He actually stands a pretty good chance. In fact, Mitt Romney may actually be the perfect candidate to defeat president Obama this year. Forget for a second how he might govern, I'm talking here about his potential for electability. I've chastised Romney supports here in the past for supporting the candidate whom I viewed as the least electable of the GOP field. He may have been the least electable but I must admit I may have been wrong.
My view of him as an unelectable candidate centered on his flip flops and his disposition to go out of his way to attract centrist voters but in the process further alienate conservatives in the Republican base who would at best hold their noses and vote for him. But that view of him being unelectable was too narrow a focus.

Romney benefits from what Bill Clinton classified as a "sterling business career" in a way that I would consider an intangible in the race. That very business career is an asset in voters' minds with regards to getting America out of its current economic mess. But bigger still is the way Romney's resume snookers Obama's ability to attack him.

June 1, 2012

Globalization is Good

Globalization is a tough sell.  Even a lot of conservatives bristle at the idea of letting some Vietnamese worker make shoes at a labor cost of $0.22/hour to be sold in America at $110 per pair.  It seems like both a ripoff of the labor effort and a rip off of the American consumer.  Not to mention the fact that it enables a lot of offshoring of manufacturing jobs in America, thus eroding America's industrial base.

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