Thursday, November 30, 2006

Acephalous: Measuring The Speed of Meme: An Experiment in which You Will Participate, Or Else...

Acephalous: Measuring The Speed of Meme: An Experiment in which You Will Participate, Or Else...

So, this guy wants to prove . . . what? I forget. Something about how high traffic blogs convey ideas, and low traffic blogs . . . I don't know what they do, either.

Well, I got this link from Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly, which is definitely a high-traffic blog, and this has got to be one of the lowest of low-traffic blogs, so I hope this post helps the experiment.

I participated in a 'moment' a while back, where my formulation of a forming meme got a lot of attention, and it was all a matter of blog comments, being picked up, by Kos among others. If I were an academic, I think I would focus on the role of blog commenters -- I am a commenter, really, not a blogger, the present blog not being 'real', because I don't seek people to read it, I just use it like notepaper.

The other thing I would note is that some so-called "memes" are archetypal -- I think blog triumphalism is itself such an archetype, a pre-existing narrative, into which we fit the facts of the present moment, to satisfy our needs and allay our anxieties. They don't really spread; they just emerge from a pre-existing type-space. The concept of a "coming perfect storm" is such an archetype, a rhetorical trope waiting for its moment, if you will.

Anyway, I have done my bit, for the experimenter. Back to regularly scheduled programming.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Yes, Things Can Get Worse . . .

Kevin Drum:
"Conventional wisdom tacitly assumes that the worst that can happen in Iraq is a continuation of the current low-level civil war, resulting in the loss of thousands of Iraqi lives and dozens of U.S. soldiers each month. But as bad as that is, it's worth keeping in mind that the American occupation has actually made the Iraqi situation worse every single year since it began, and will probably continue to make things worse as long as we're there. And the worse the violence, the worse the Iraqi theocracy that eventually takes root in its wake is likely to be.

But that's not all. The dynamics of violence are nonlinear in the extreme, and the odds of an Archduke Ferdinand moment continue to rise inexorably as our occupation continues to make things ever worse and ever more unstable. "

The mid-term election result is really just part of the setup -- a semi-hopeful part -- of the Coming Perfect Storm. The Storm, itself, is yet to hit us, believe it or not.

Bush has been a catastrophically bad President. His policies will have disastrous consequences. The only question considered on this blog is whether the disastrous consequences of those policies will soon form the kind of political theatre, the political drama, which results in "regime change".

Bush and the Republican Right are desperately trying to find some way to blame the outcome of the Iraq War on Democrats. That's the political theatre, which the Republican Right is trying to create.

Meanwhile, events in Iraq, continue to progress, with little interference from Bush or the U.S., because Bush is too big a moron to even realize that controlling the evolution of Iraq and the Middle East is what U.S. policy should be about, not just controlling the media narrative on Fox News and the editorial page of the Washington Post.

Bush has no policy in Iraq, beyond staying, and no goal other than to escape blame.

Unfortunately, for the U.S., others have deeper interests, and the conflicts over those interests are outside the control of the U.S. The chances that Bush is going to be able to simply muddle thru 2 additional years of accomplishing nothing in Iraq has become vanishingly small. And, the chances that events in Iraq will drive a rising political storm in the U.S. are increasing from possible toward probable.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Daily Kos: The Bombs Play On

Daily Kos: The Bombs Play On: "If you are a small minnow or a medium sized fish with knowledge of the corruption past and present regarding any event pertaining to Iraq, your best bet is to consult a lawyer about coming forward. And you need to think about doing it quickly, because the big fish are almost certainly scheming and shredding and setting up to save their scaly hides by blaming the smaller marine denizens: like you."

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Cut and Run?

Handover to Iraqi Army 'set for the end of next year' - World - Times Online:
"American and Iraqi officials have set a date for giving Iraq’s forces responsibility for security across the country.

Under a plan to be presented to the UN Security Council next month, the Iraqi Government would assume authority from coalition troops by the end of next year."

I wonder if this is going to be a lot like Vietnam, with helicopters lifting the last of our guys out of Green Zone just ahead of a revolutionary army?

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Uh Oh!

Polls indicate that Republicans may be rebounding a bit. Prof. Franklin has the very ugly charts.

Billmon explains about The Idiocracy Vote:
what needs to be kept in mind is that at this late stage the remaining independent undecided or soft leaners generally constitute the least informed, least involved and, in many cases, least intelligent segment of the electorate. Or, to be perfectly blunt about it: Many of them are completely . . . clueless, which means they tend to be the most easily manipulated by the kind of limbic, cesspool politics the Rovian machine now specializes in.

I think it's also true that for a stubbornly high percentage of the voters, the default position is still conservative and Republican. Scandals and/or disappointments, such as the Mark Foley case or the Iraq quagmire, may knock them off that position, but there's a built-in tendency for them to drift back. The Reagan coalition may be old and fraying, but it remains the dominant structure in American politics.

That being the case, it wouldn't be surprising to see a very late swing back towards the Republicans -- just as we have in the last two elections.

The key question, of course, is how many of these soft-headed soft leaners will actually turn out on Tuesday.

We live in hope. This is an off-year election. A lot rides on who actually shows up, in what will be the highest turnout off-year election in a long, long time. And, of course, whose votes actually get counted.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall November 4, 2006 10:38 AM

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall November 4, 2006 10:38 AM:
"'But first this Breaking News, Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death today in Iraq.'

That is how the Sunday talk shows will begin tomorrow, two days before the U.S. elections."

Will the Corporate News Media follow the Republican script? Will events?

Karl Rove may have miscalculated, in scheduling this little drama right before the election. A wave of violence across Iraq may shout more loudly a message less to Rove's liking, and the American voter may have sufficient GWOT fatigue to be immune to "stay the course" b.s.

Friday, November 3, 2006

Oh, my!

From Professor Franklin via DemFromCT at Kos

Professor Franklin gives the full cautionary warning: "The generic ballot is, of course, only a rough indicator of election outcomes. I also think the current upturn is a political equivalent of 'irrational exuberance' in the sense that the run up in the polls seems likely to seriously overstate the actual vote margin. The current 17 point Democratic margin would be enormous, and even applying the 'Charlie Cook Correction' of subtracting 5 points would still imply a 56-44 Democratic triumph. It may happen, but the generic ballot has virtually always overstated the Democratic lead, and this overstatement seems to get worst as the polling margin increases."

That said, oh my.

Record Numbers Casting Absentee Ballots in Va. -

Record Numbers Casting Absentee Ballots in Va. -
"Voters across Virginia are casting absentee ballots in record numbers this year, signaling not only the growing popularity of early voting in busy lives but also the likelihood of heavy turnout Tuesday, state and local election officials said yesterday."

Oh yeah, and in case you are slow on the uptake:

"The trend is pronounced in Northern Virginia jurisdictions. In Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties and in Alexandria, the number of absentee voters is on track to more than double over 2002, local election officials said.

"In populous, Democrat-leaning Northern Virginia, where a heavy turnout could determine the outcome statewide in the tight U.S. Senate race, the absentee numbers could be good news for Democrat James Webb, who is trying to unseat Republican Sen. George Allen."

Whiskey Bar: The Next Wave

Whiskey Bar: The Next Wave: "With four days left until the election, the political wave is nearing the shore. And at this point it looks like a Republican killer. "

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Rats leaving sinking ship

Bechtel pulling out: "Bechtel Corp. went to Iraq three years ago to help rebuild a nation torn by war. Since then, 52 of its people have been killed and much of its work sabotaged as Iraq dissolved into insurgency and sectarian violence.

Now Bechtel is leaving."

Kroll pulls security team out of Iraq: "Manhattan security company Kroll has withdrawn its bodyguard teams from Iraq and Afghanistan after it lost four workers in Iraq, its parent company said Wednesday.

Michael Cherkasky, president and chief executive of Kroll owner Marsh & McLennan Cos., told The Associated Press that the business in the two countries wasn't worth risking the lives of their employees.

In its third-quarter earnings statement issued Wednesday, Marsh & McLennan said that “results for the security group reflected the orderly exit from high-risk international assignments that had limited profitability and no longer fit Kroll's business strategy.”"