There Is No Plan

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Archive for August 2012

Romney Badly Needs Debate Zingers He’s Probably Not Going To Get

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The word on the streets is that Romney’s speech was okay. Sadly, for the GOP okay is not nearly good enough. Generating excitement in all the right places was what he needed to do and he did not get the job done.

The speech was ultimately a failure for a myriad of reasons.

  • It wasn’t unified by a single message.
  • It didn’t provide any substance.
  • It relied far too much on a mild attack on a personally popular incumbent.
  • Its appeals to key demographics were poorly focused. 
  • Clint Eastwood preceded it. 
The plan seemed to be this. Ryan did the wonk stuff, Romney delivered the vision thing. But the big picture part required a far strong rhetorical basis, and Romney’s delivery was lackluster and rushed. It wasn’t a bad show. It just wasn’t good enough.
On the final night of the DNC in Charlotte, President Obama will deliver a top quality speech that will be viewed by many millions of people. It will make the right appeals, with the right rhetorical beats and it will be effective.
What little bump Romney gets from last night will easily be overwhelmed by the DNC battering ram. 
And where will that leave Romney? 
The answer is simple. He’ll be relying on the debates to deliver hit-home zingers on the ice-man. Last time, Obama, a first-term senator with little national experience ate John veteran McCain’s lunch on both nights. This time, Barack Obama is a confident one-term President. He is not going to make any mistakes, and Mitt Romney is going to look real bad trying to get him to make them.
It’s possible that Obama can be derailed, but his 1-3 point leads in key swing states, while slim, are ironically solid. Those last points are the hardest for Romney to turn, and he’ll need a home run to get those swings. 
TINP doesn’t see it happening. 

Written by coolrebel

August 31, 2012 at 8:09 pm

Isaac, Isaac and more Isaac.

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The GOP have stepped in it, the President is reveling in it, and the media is drowning us in it because they’ve got bubkis else to tell us that we don’t already know. Everyone has a good use for a non-hurricane that’s basically a glorified rainstorm with a little attitude. And yet Isaac keeps on giving, and will do for at least another day or two, leading NPR news hour after hour after hour.

This is the media cycle of an election year. Merciless wringing of non-stories and dead-ends that we feed into the Social media mill for more discussion and reinterpretation and comment on the thin, boring vapor. We’re farting up a storm here.

Meanwhile, substantive discussion on the future of this great country gets lost in the fetid mist. We are all hopeless.

Written by coolrebel

August 29, 2012 at 6:07 am

Let’s Face It, Lincoln Got It Wrong.

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The Union at all costs. 

Today is the 150th anniversary of the Second Battle of Bull Run, which was close to being a repeat of the Union rout at the First Bull Run more than a year earlier. Thousands more Union soldiers died that day and in the remaining days of encounter, all sacrificing their lives for the Union.

A century and a half later, it is rarely suggested that they died for a misbegotten cause. But in the somber opinion of There Is No Plan, they died for nought that day.

There is no doubt of the genius of Abraham Lincoln. He was and remains the most erudite, decisive, intelligent, and compassionate President America has ever known. His singular belief was in the glory of the Union, despite the evidence that was clear even then that the Slave States were a dead weight dragging the nation down. He stopped at nothing to restore that Union. When they seceded one by one in late 1860 and early 1861, led by South Carolina, the North regarded the secession of the Southern States as outrageous effrontery borne of their slavery-steeped “peculiarities”. But actually they were doing us a big favor.

As George Templeton Strong commented at the time,

If disunion becomes an established fact, we have one consolation. The self-amputated members were diseased beyond immediate cure, and their virus will infect our system no longer. 

He was right then, and he remains right now.

Had Lincoln allowed the South to secede, as outrageous as that sounds, he would indeed have changed the course of American History in a myriad of ways that could only have been beneficial for the American Experiment. It’s a bizarre what if that says more about the world today, than the world as it was one hundred and fifty years ago. Imagine that Twilight Zone for a moment.

Hundreds of thousands of lives would have been saved.

An independent South would quickly have been a client state of the North, and would, within fifty years, have become an international pariah state if it didn’t itself dispense with slavery. Over time the plantation owners, unable to cope with real-world economics, would probably have given ground to the yeomen and the sharecropper, the rising power of border states, and the more enlightened Southerners who had long waited for their opportunity to have their voices heard. The South would eventually have transformed itself, relying on its own flinty optimism, rather than lackadaisically leaning on the largess of the North. It might have built great industries financed perhaps by the Union, or more likely by its own entrepreneurs. It might have had the capacity to rise out of itself, rather than languishing in its sorry, regressive history. And most importantly, it might, begrudgingly at first, and then with more determination as the price of modernity, have moved along a path of real racial transformation.

The North, in all certainty, would never have had to pander to the persistently racist South for its votes, nor federalize its poverty ( without grace and thanks from the South ) as it has been forced to do for over a century and a half. The remaining Union would have been a far more progressive, Social Democratic, and just nation. It would have been richer, less debt-laden, more egalitarian. No failed Reconstruction, no Jim Crow Laws, no need for Civil Rights Legislation in the North, no “Southern Strategy”.

Lincoln had a profound belief in the sanctity of the Union. But it was, and in many respects remains, an unholy federation. Are we better off for the fight to bring the Secession slave states back into the Union?

To this student of history at least, the answer is a reluctant and somewhat sad no.

Written by coolrebel

August 28, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Akin Trainwreck Points to Bigger Problems for GOP Among Women

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Todd Akin’s comments have been a disaster for the GOP and they signpost a much deeper issue for Mitt Romney. The absolute cratering of Akin’s support in Missouri – recent polls show McCaskill up by as much as ten points after Akin was up by 5% – suggest that women are prepared to dump the GOP in droves over this sideshow.

The “War on Women” is a great Democratic line, and certainly there are marginal voices in the GOP who want to turn back the clock, but women’s issues could be seen as a major distraction from what was thought to be the number one issue of this election – the economy, and even the new issue du jour, Medicare and Medicaid. Appeals to the Christian Right keen to strip down already thinning Abortion rights, along with absurd attacks on contraception by people like Rick Santorum (the trigger to the “War on Women”) have already done serious damage to the GOP brand among the single most important demographic there is in this election.


The majority of voters, female were already leaning moderate and more predisposed to supporting Obama for a variety of reasons, and they don’t see the “War on Women” as a sideshow. They see it as an attack on their ‘group’ albeit a group that’s the majority of the American population. In an election that’s essentially devoid of substantial policy discussion, except among the twitterati silo, it’s issues like Akin’s harebrained remarks that hit home.

The depth of the reaction against Akin’s remarks has been so huge that it looks very possible that it could not only significantly damage the GOP’s chances of a crucial Senate majority, but could also impact some very tight races for Mitt Romney, if the Dems play the card as well as they have to date.

We’ve reached the point where Gotcha politics is defining our discourse. It’s pathetic, but at least our side may the one that benefits.

Written by coolrebel

August 26, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Posted in Washington

Random Gun Violence Is Here To Stay. Forever.

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This morning, not far from the Empire State Building in Manhattan, news reports suggest a man let go by a store in the area about a year ago, came back, pulled a gun and shot the manager in the face, killing him.

Cue more worthy, concerned posts, tweets, and updates on how terrible this is, how we need new gun laws, how we need to do something to stop an out-of-control epidemic of gun violence that destroys so many lives. 
Not going to happen.
Because the out-of-control epidemic of random gun violence that destroys so many lives and makes a mockery out of this country is here to stay. Forever. 
There are around 270 million guns in America’s cars, closets, safes, sideboards, in America’s woodsheds, and under America’s mattresses. That’s nine guns for every ten people in this great country of ours. 
They are here to stay.
More and more guns are coming on stream every day. You can buy a gun for a few bucks. You can buy one at a gun show or a store with a simple background check. You can buy one from the back of someone’s car. They are freely available. 
And they are here to stay.
Many, probably most, people who own guns are stable, law abiding citizens. But by the law of averages alone that also means that many are not. Many people who own guns have genuine grievances, have mortgage or family problems, have lost their jobs. Many people who own guns feel helpless, in start contrast to the power that they hold in their hands when they go to the range. Guns are hypnotic. 
And they are here to stay. 
The NRA is absolutely right. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. And they use guns to do it. People usually don’t have to go far to find them.

There are no solutions to this sorry state of affairs. It is now a permanent fact of American life. Guns have always been part of our culture, but the metastasis of a historical fact into a national social disgrace arose out of greed, out of amorality, out of delusion, out of corruption, and out of the creeping exploitation of our one-way-traffic political process. It arose out of human weakness.

And it is here to stay.

Written by coolrebel

August 24, 2012 at 8:21 am

France Wants No Fly Zone Over Syria. Good Luck.

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As the brutal Civil War rages on, France signals that it would like to see a no-fly zone over Syria. It’s very unlikely to materialize any time soon, for a number of reasons.

A no-fly zone over #syria  is a way different ball of wax than the cake walk over Libya. Gaddafi’s air defense systems were older, fewer, and spread out over a vast country. Syria boasts one of the strongest SAM networks in the region with coverage that blankets the relatively small country. A one-off attack could be planned and carried out. A 24/7 no fly zone without air superiority? A different matter. And who would be providing that air superiority? Aircraft going mano-y-mano with laser bombs and missiles against the SAMs.

Putting Assad’s air defenses out of business will cost hardware and probably lives. Without USAF AWACs it’s a tough call. ECM is an absolute requirement and only America can provide that on any scale. Do the French want to pay that price alone? I doubt it. Because Obama’s sure as eggs not going to be pitching in until after the first Tuesday in November. 

Written by coolrebel

August 23, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Posted in France, No-fly zone

So Much For Live Strong: Lance Armstrong Accepts Defeat

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An innocent man never concedes defeat.

Welcome to the Untouchables, Mr. Armstrong. It turns out that triumphing over cancer wasn’t enough heroism for you. You had to take us all for a ride too.

Lance Armstrong gives up fight against USADA charges says the LA Times among others. It looks likely that the many times winner of the Tour de France will be stripped of his titles. He’ll continue to protest his innocence of course, but the damage will have been done. He will have been exposed, and along with that humiliation will come another, not for Mr. Armstrong, but for us, the slavish world that embraced this man despite a feeling that everything he did was a sham.

We are the willing victims. We are the sheep who are prepared to believe. We are the cultish wearers of his silly yellow bracelets, and consumers of his inspirational advertisements and sponsored aphorisms, dedicated to his greater glory.

Will we learn not to listen and unthinkingly worship yet more cults built on flimsy but well crafted public relations facades? Will we stop being worshippers and begin instead to question and think critically about our actions?

Probably not all at once. But incrementally, very incrementally, it’s moments like these that teach us not to trust a liar and a cheat.

That is a good thing.

Written by coolrebel

August 23, 2012 at 7:06 pm

API No Go. Twitter Makes The Right Move.

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Third Party Apps Be Gone.

LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram are likely to be the first of many to be cut off from some aspects of Twitter’s API. There will be more, and contrary to what many are saying it’s a good thing too.

Twitter has decided that in order to become financially more responsible it has to stop being part a wider social media ecosystem and forge a path as a distinct ecosystem in itself.

This may be the beginning of a wider trend. After a few years of open streams and cross platform sharing we may be entering a phase where each platform has its own distinct group of users. You can be a part of as many as you want, but they’ll no longer be connected to all via one.

This is what is generally known as competition. And in the media marketplace, competition is good – unless you’re a third-party app developer looking to cash in on free content that’s no longer going to be quite so free.

When the platforms established ground rules for colonizing the internet, they formed what essentially became a cartel enabling each to connect to the others so that could more successfully colonize every known web page in the universe. Those days are over. The job is done. Every page has share buttons for every platform, which leaves the platforms in a bind. What makes one distinct from the other other than a few key quirks ( like the 140 character rule), branding elements and UX gizmos.

The answer is how they make money.

Facebook has been the most efficient of the colonizers. It’s “like” functionality feeds right into its money-making potential by making its advertising that much more efficient. Google is catching up fast with “+1” which feeds right into their search and advertising dominance. The irony is that Facebook and Twitter can live on the same planet when it comes to colonizing the Internet.  But there’s one player that can’t.

Twitter. Twitter is different. Twitter is an anomaly.

What does tweeting a page link do for them? Nothing at all. It just clogs up the stream so people leave Twitter and don’t click on sponsored tweets or other money-making ventures. If you’re Twitter, this is not good, so you need to make sure you can separate and define yourself, to make people stay on your platform and click on your crap. Which accounts for the new-found muscularity of the company as it makes its play for more control.

One can understand how upset developers are that Twitter is putting up walls after so cleverly leaving them down for so long to attract users. Just about every aspect of the company’s success was created by users, from the hashtag to the retweet downwards. And how does the company reward its users.

By making them use Twitter’s own free functionality to Tweet. Not a big deal.

It’s a little nefarious, but nowhere near as seedy as any of Facebook’s shenanigans, and in order for Twitter to survive, and maybe even thrive, it has to move down this line. The truth is, that social media companies have to sucker us into helping them grow. They have to rely on our narcissistic, competitive urges to make money. And the developers who have earned a pretty penny working on third-party apps shouldn’t feel too bad. After all, this is just another form of creative destruction, and they’re sure to be in favor of that.

Written by coolrebel

August 23, 2012 at 2:08 pm