Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley, 1925-2008.

He was the twentieth century's Conservator of the American Idea. In a century with precious few public intellectuals whose ideas shall endure, WFB was its flower. R.I.P.
Why Hillary Clinton is Floundering.

Because she is not a strong persuasive candidate. Next question?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Still No Substance.

E.J. Dionne writes in the Post about McCain's allegedy malfeasance with lobbyists (after discarding the Iseman story):

...But McCain's denials didn't stop at sex, and the story didn't, either. The same day the Times ran its account, The Post ran a story that stayed away from the "romantic" angle but reported (as the Times also had) that McCain had written two letters to the Federal Communications Commission, urging that it vote on the sale of a Pittsburgh television station to Paxson Communications, one of Iseman's clients.

The Post wrote: "At the time he sent the first letter, McCain had flown on Paxson's corporate jet four times to appear at campaign events and had received $20,000 in campaign donations from Paxson and its law firm. The second letter came on Dec. 10, a day after the company's jet ferried him to a
Florida fundraiser that was held aboard a yacht in West Palm Beach."

In denouncing the Times story, McCain's campaign denied that he had met with
Lowell "Bud" Paxson, president of the firm. But Paxson later told The Post that he had met with McCain. More telling, Newsweek reported this weekend that McCain himself acknowledged in a 2002 deposition that he had met with Paxson.

As Newsweek
wrote, "With his typically blunt, almost cheery way of admitting the sinfulness of man, including his own weaknesses, he acknowledged in the deposition that his relationship with Paxson . . . would 'absolutely' look corrupt to the ordinary voter."

And on Friday, The Post
reported that while McCain may relish attacking lobbyists, many top officials of his campaign -- including Rick Davis, his campaign manager, and Charlie Black, his chief political adviser -- are themselves well-known lobbyists with long client lists...

Can we please be grown ups about lobbyists and lobbying? Fact: everybody lobbies - corporations, environmental, education, civil rights, and arts interest groups as well. It's a constitutional right to petition the government for the redress of grievances. Fact: lobbyists are politically active people and all three major candidates have lobbyists working on their campaigns. Many, many, many interest groups give money to candidates, for example George Soros' support of Barack Obama. The essential question is: have these public officials exchanged political, monetary, or other favors for delivery of favorable legislation, regulation, etc.? In the case of McCain, the answer is, no matter how the media attempts to slice their baloney, is no. McCain wrote letters to the FCC asking for a ruling on a rule after an excessively long waiting period, but did not ask for a particular ruling. Also, have these public officials violated ethics rules or guidelines in their interaction with advocacy groups? The Times' original story indicates McCain did violate such a rule when a representative, but repaired the error when it was pointed out.

Dionne is asking for an appearance of purity well beyond the requirement that burdened Caesar's wife, and such a requirement will bring government to a screeching halt.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

This Is Getting Creepy.

We mean it - no kidding.
The Moon on a Shoestring.

Google has teamed with the X-Prize Foundation to form "The Google Lunar X Prize" whose goal is the first NGO lunar exploration: "...[an] international competition to safely land a robot on the surface of the Moon, travel 500 meters over the lunar surface, and send images and data back to the Earth". The prize: $30,000,000, about 4% of the cost of a single Shuttle launch. It's an interesting question: how much space, electronics, control, and computing technology is now generic and cheap enough to assemble into a Moon probe?

Meanwhile, NASA's Orion/Ares program continues a good pace.
A Prince of Earmark.

Michigan's very own Senator Carl Levin...Yowzers!
Presidential Pork Politics.

The Seattle Times reviews the candidates on earmarks: McCain against, Clinton for, Obama for and against.