Sunday, February 5, 2012

Evaluating The Republican Field

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In company with many Tea Party conservatives, I am not particularly sanguine about the current field of Republican candidates.  But my choice at this point is not a difficult one to make.  Simple elimination leaves me supporting only Rick Santorum.  A year ago I would not have thought it possible, but things change.  The candidates currently in the early lead are not, in my view, core conservatives.  If either makes the nomination cut, I will vote for him in the general election.  With all the enthusiasm I felt for John McCain; maybe a tad more...

The big talking-point issue with establishment Republicans in general (and other wobbly conservatives) is "electability".  A combination of hubris and elitism causes too many to think it is a knowable trait.  Makes them confident they know what the electorate will decide in November.  A conceit of known and would-be pundits everywhere.  I think more in terms of principle than what is believed to be the most likely outcome.  Let me explain.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Human Nature

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Human nature is imperfect, and it is unchangeable.  The failure of the naive to acknowledge and accept those two simple, yet elemental facts leads inevitably to grief.

But grief does not discourage idealists; when their schemes fail they see only error in planning and execution, never questioning the possibility of -- nor their own faith in -- achieving a perfect end-state.
Utopian Dreams
The belief that men are capable of creating a perfect society is an old one, attested in Biblical writings and in Plato's vision, articulated in his Republic.
That vision echoed through the Middle Ages and persisted, with growing momentum, into the current era.  Along the way it found expression in Thomas Moore's Utopia (most famously), in the writings of Rousseau and in the early codification of communist socialism by Marx and Engels in reaction to the Industrial Revolution and the rise of capitalism. [1]

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Voting: Principle vs Praxis

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One finds no shortage of persons who will tell you with great confidence who is and who is not electable.  Certainly one can analyze what he knows -- or believes he knows -- about American voters, their political and policy opinions, their "mood" and their likely preferences and form an opinion as to how any election will fall out.  In fact, polling data, in experienced hands most often yield high probabilities of electoral outcomes.  But surprise!  Human behavior is not always predictable.  Black Swans -- perhaps far more common than the name suggests -- have ways to make laughable statistical models that very often assume a stability in kinetic systems that does not exist.  The models are correct often enough to create the illusion of predictability, but as, for example, the recent collapse of the derivatives market has shown, our confidence may be misplaced.  Said more directly, the laws of probability are not the laws of physics; they do not compel outcomes.  And it is always possible that there are variables that we do not recognize, anticipate or even imagine.