Gotcha Politics

My theory of Obama as Bush III keeps getting more support. The latest was Obama’s criticism of McCain because a controversial comedian supports him. Apparently Obama forgot that Al Franken is running for Senate.

It’s not that Obama voted for rape jokes before voting against them. Rather, Obama didn’t think about the issue at all. He found a potential opening against McCain, didn’t consider what constitutes comedy, didn’t consider who his own prominent supporters were, and so attacked. Obama lept before he looked, in other words.

This sort of stuff makes me more comfortable with Obama. We as a country seem to do well when our politicians are relatively incompetent — when the difference in skill between corporate leadres and political leaders is most apparent, in other words. Hence we had a pretty good run under the legacy hire, George W. Bush. If Obama’s elected President for braving telling people not to celebrate too much for graduating the eight grade, there’s every sign Bush II will naturally transition to Bush III.

Obama’s “Bush III” habits also promise to protect us from his own bad ideas. If he really thinks that the Nazis convicted at Nuremberg had recourse to the federal district courts, then it’s not too likely he will look twice when his aides and advisers assure him whatever they suggest is in line with best practices.

Better behavior through chemistry

Imagine there are two men. Both experience an emotionally trauamatic situation. Both suffer the same emotional states as reaction to this trauama — confusion, anger, rager. Both experience the gut-wrenching pain that goes along with this, and both imagine inflicting violence in response to the trauma.

Now imagine one of these men is stentenced to twenty years in prison, where he experiences loss of freedom, rule by gangs, and perhaps rape. The other goes about his day.

Clearly this is injust, but this is how how legal system is set-up. We punish in response to someone’s behavior, which of course is systematic discrimination against those with poor behavioral control. Every day countless people of evil intention, evil hearts, and evil design go free because they happen to possess better behavioral control, while those who suffer the same temporary lapses as everyone else are imprisoned because of a lack of behavioral control.

Clearly, behavior matters to society. We don’t want people to be violent around us. So we create this institutional evil — the prisons — to avoid an even worse evil — anarchy.

In the coming years and decades, pharmacological gene therapy may save us from a lot of this evil. By giving more people an equal playing field — by allowing this who suffer from the illness of poor behavioral control to be cured — we may allow many prisoners to enjoy a normal life and allow more citizens to be secure from criminal violence.

Indeed, the benefits may not end there. We may be able to help those who suffer from thoughts that lead to this sort of trouble to escape from those thoughts, and those who suffer from sick desires to be free of those desires, in the way that those who suffer from other forms of sickness may also be cured.

Some of course will object. They will prefer a world where men are killed in bar fights, where children are sexually abused, and prisoners are raped, to one where people can be cured of illnesses. This may be because they view the technology of cure as morally suspect, through a pagan belief that some people have less virtue than others and thus deserve more punishment than others, through a belief that time in prison is not a loss, or some other reason.

But I believe in building a world with less suffering. I believe in a political philosophy based on love. So I welcome the coming of pharmacological gene therapy.

And as a realist, I am happy I don’t have to rely on such airy beliefs. There’s money to be made in better behavior through chemistry, just as there is inbetter thinking through chemistry.

Isn’t it great when money and love work for the same ends?

Electoral College Blowout

Besides sitting in the comfy Untied EconomyPlus seatshad a many hour layover at San Francisco yesterday. Made the best of it by hoping the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit system) from SFO to the Embarcadero, near the Ferry Building and the Bay Bridge

Neither Beijing nor South Dakota

It wasn’t a typical travel day, chilly, overcast, and a bit wet. But it actually felt great. Had breakfast sandwiches and coffee inside, while reading the San Francisco Chronicle. Briefly walked near the Bay to take some photos, but the ambiance is hard to capture in a moment.

The reason for the trip was not just to avoid living in the airport, but to add another state to my Electoral Vote total. Now that I’ve been in non-airport California, I get to add the Bear Flag Republic to my total. Additionally, Mother of tdaxp informed me that I stayed in both Tennessee and Alabama as an infant. This brings me up to 359 Electoral Votes — a blowout by any measure.

Map courtesy of

Was John McCain Right on Afghanistan, Too?

A request for information:

Recent posts by Soob and Stephen Pampinella have got me thinking about how well the Iraq War has been going in the past year, and how Afghanistan has steadily deteriorated.

It now appears that my criticism of our early Iraq War (have less troops, like in Afghanistan!) was dangerous misinformed. Indeed, one of the reasons I so admire John McCain is that he was right in arguing for mroe troops, and I was wrong in advocating less.

But was McCain right on Afghanistan as well? Did he argue for a “Surge” in Afghanistan similar to our “Surge” in Iraq?