Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

Catching up on political linkage (I am so behind)

Jacqueline Mackie Paisley Passey (who wants to be an economist) has a dream about sampling bias:

What a strange nightmare. I dreamed I was back in high school -- or was it junior high? [biographical note: I dropped out of high school two months into my sophmore year, and junior high was an unrelenting torture fest for me] -- and we had gotten a new teacher. In my dream she looked like my trigonometry professor from spring quarter, although in reality the trig professor was fine, I didn't have any problems with her. But I did have problems with her lookalike in my dream. In my dream I think I must have liked the old teacher, but something had happened to him/her and we'd gotten this replacement. It rapidly became obvious that she was not too bright and that she liked to arbitrarily order people around for the sake of asserting her authority. (Regular readers of this blog might recall that I don't take well to that.) So I began a loud running criticism of everything she did -- her teach! ing methods, her organizational habits, her decision calls, etc. At first she fought me but as things escalated she was near tears. She got an envelope out of her box of stuff that was full of nice notes and pictures that her prior students had drawn her [was this elementary school???] and was putting them on the door to "prove" what a great teacher she was. "If I'm such a bad teacher, why do I have all these?" she defended herself with. One of my classmates turned to me and said, "Look, she must be a good teacher, she has all those compliments". I shouted at her, "You're not showing us ALL your teaching evaluations! How about the bad ones? We call that sampling bias, bitch!" and then I woke up.

That was an e-mail from my father. I’m prefacing this post with it because it reminded me of how much confirmation bias we all do. Much though i try to educate myself about both Presidential candidates, i’ve been doing this for months now and i have certain ideas and i tend to lend more credence to the information that supports what i already believe.

My father writes:
One of the more interesting things I found in my research on "how would Kerry be different from Bush ...?" It's hard to know how much to make of it; the author is obviously favorable to Bush and wants these things to be important and successful. But the article does add an interesting complication to the conventional wisdom of "Kerry will be more multi-lateral."

David Adesnik:
LETTERMAN INTERVIEWS CLINTON: The interview was almost all softballs, with an occasional tough-sounding question thrown in, e.g. Did John Kerry have a lackluster record in the Senate, since his name wasn't on any major bills?

Needless to say, Clinton had no problem dealing with that one. What struck me, though, was that Clinton's praise for Kerry was somewhat lukewarm. More than once, he said Kerry would make a "good" President. Surely an inspirational speaker like Clinton could do better than that.

Clinton also insisted more than once that Kerry should be as specific as possible about what he would do as President, especially in Iraq. I'm wondering if Clinton really meant that. Kerry and Edwards' highly evasive acceptance speeches suggest that they recognize that st! raddling the fence on Iraq is a political imperative for the candidates of a divided party. And Clinton himself provided almost no specific recommendations of his own, although he did peddle the NATO-will-help-out-if-we-are-nicer-to-them proposal. Yeah right.

Also of note, Clinton rejected Dave Letterman's suggestion that yesterday's Orange Alert in NY and Washington was politically motivated. Clinton said straight that the Bush administration was doing its best to deal with a tough issue.

Finally, here are a couple of questions that I would've asked Clinton:
1. John Kerry constantly insists that his military experience makes him uniquely qualified to be commander-in-chief. Did your lack of military experience make you less effective as commander-in-chief?

2. As President, you insisted time and time again that promoting democracy is both a moral and strategic imperative for the United States. In contrast, John Kerry has studiously avoided saying that he will commit American resources to ensuring a democratic outcome in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Is he making a big mistake?

3. John Kerry says that President Bush misled this nation into invading Iraq. While you were President, you vociferiously stated that Saddam Hussein had massive WMD stockpiles and should be deposed. Were you misled? And was Sen. Kerry misled when he voted for the war in the fall of 2002?
Yeah, I know you don't get questions like that on the Late Show. But a blogger can dream, can't he?
The way i read this (and the way i suspect most people reading this will take it) is that the administration is generally incompetent, but i do think there’s merit in the idea that GWB has been too optimistic. My father wrote:
One of the knocks against Geroge W. Bush is that he is mean, vicious. That he's always going, "If you're not with us, you're against us." I think the problem may be the opposite, that he's too willing to believe that basically everyone is "with us."

Thus, the overly optimistic expectations in Iraq. He seems to have thought that once Saddam was overthrown, people would just come together and create a new open democratic society. There would be no resistance, little crime. The United States would basically be doing technical "brick and mortar" type of stuff. Interestingly, the guy who has been Iraqi president since the "handover of sovereignty" on June 29, Iyad Alawi, has taken a harder line, trying to spread the word that he's one mean mu____fu____.

Immediately after 9/11 Bush made it a point to appear at various mosques, proclaiming that "Islam is a religion of peace," even though that is not historically accurate. Of course, it would not be historically accurate to say that Christianity is a religion of peace, either.

And, as many people have pointed out, no one in the CIA, FBI, Department of Defense, anywhere in the federal government, has been fired or demoted because of 9/11. Bush's attitude seems to be, "hey, they're trying to do a good job." This seems to be part of his belief that "I'm a uniter, not a divider."

But sometimes you have to be willing to "kick ass and take names." Especially if you're the official head of a large government bureaucracy. It looks like there wasn't nearly enough toughness from the top here:


Two articles on the importance of decentralization:

This article doesn't really deliver on the promise of the headline, but if you were ever curious as to what all the major U.S. intelligence agencies are and what they do....

Of the famous quote at the end ("I do not rule Russia, 10,000 clerks do.") my father writes:
The real Czar was Nicholas I (ruled 1825-1855). Nicholas had at first thought that he would rule Russia like the head of a super-efficient army. He could give an order and it would simply get done. Yet later in life, when a visitor marvelled at what a vast empire he ruled, he gave the noted answer.
Interesting article on artistic collaboration

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