Sarah Palin as VP

So McCain picked Sarah Palin as his VP nominee. See her bio here. Another relevant fact is she's in a mini-scandal now for apparently firing some guy because he wouldn't fire her sister's ex-husband, a state Trooper.

The big issue is that she has absolutely no experience in national politics and has only been governor of Alaska for a year and a half. Basically McCain used his VP pick as a political stunt designed to steal coverage of Obama's acceptance speech. This is possibly the most short-sighted VP pick in history and in my view a colossal blunder by McCain. And since Eddie liked my line about how one should view Palin's "experience" in the executive branch in Alaska, I'll repeat it here:
Governing Alaska is like governing Sim City with the free money cheat. It’s easy to repeal taxes and fund infrastructure at the same time when you have a money spigot.

Change? Experience? Character?

I started this post three weeks ago and then got lazy. I figured with the convention this week it'd be a good time to do a political post though.

This election it seems that the themes each campaign has chosen correspond to their own weaknesses. John McCain is running on "experience" despite the fact that he's never held any executive or managerial position in his life. McCain's also running on character and "putting America first," despite his temper tantrums and slime-slinging campaign ads, and the fact that his chief of staff was recently a paid agent of a foreign government.

Barack Obama is running on change, and in the primary most of the positions he laid out clearly were a break from the status quo. However since then he's bought in to three major establishment ideas: immunity for telecom companies that aided the government in illegal domestic intelligence collection; the prioritizing of Israel's short-term security over that of the Middle East as a whole; and the selection of Joe Biden as his VP pick (not a bad pick, but not exactly about "change"). His staff selection also is filled with experienced Washington people - and while you definitely need some experience so you can figure out how the place works, filling your Senate staff with Dick Gephardt and Tom Daschle staffers doesn't exactly signal that you want to transform American politics.

John McCain's primary argument is that he's experienced and Obama's a novice who will mess everything up. A look at their campaigns suggests otherwise. Obama's been called "Machiavellian" due to his ruthlessly efficient campaign. Disputes within his office (and I'm assuming they exist) do not end up on the front page of the Washington Post or New York Times the way they do in McCain's campaign and the way they did in Hillary Clinton's. He has raised money hand over fist. His ground operations were by all accounts much better than those of his rivals. He's laying the groundwork for his reelection campaign in 2012 even before he's elected.

Contrast that to McCain's campaign, which is so disorganized he doesn't even know his own positions on key issues like birth control or climate change. He cycles through different cliques of advisers - does he want to be "the original maverick"? Or does he want Karl Rove's proteges to bring him evangelical votes? The answer changes every few months. After a series of attack ads against Obama, defenders of McCain were arguing that McCain was such an 'honorable' guy that his campaign would only put those ads out if McCain wasn't totally in control. It takes a special kind of campaign to reduce the candidate's five years in a torture cell to a farce.

McCain's character and integrity has been a sacred cow in the national press corps - despite reversing practically all of his political positions to win the Republican nomination, cheating on his first wife, his involvement in a corruption scandal, his repeated attempts to portray Obama as un-American, and various other failings of character.

Perhaps some campaigns decide to attack other candidates along certain lines in order to take the focus off their own failings. By attacking the other candidate's character or change credentials, maybe they hope they won't have to defend their own. I can't figure the exact reasoning but it definitely makes for a surreal campaign.

As an addendum, all this talking head crap on TV about a divided Democratic party is stupid. The Democratic party is divided over personalities, which can be much more easily mended than being divided over substance. The GOP on the other hand is divided over substance and the entire direction of party, which threatens to split the entire party in a national realignment.

English Premier League kicks off

Chelsea won in style, and Manchester United couldn't beat Newcastle at home. Looks to be a fine season! Video beneath the cut.

CIFA is no more

Counterintelligence Field Activity, which I've written about a few times here, has been eliminated. Its functions are now folded in to the Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center (DCHC) inside the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), which makes a lot of sense. There is a lot of cynicism about the folding of CIFA, saying that it will just reappear under a different name, but here I'll outline why I think this is a good move.

First off, the law enforcement portions of CIFA have not transfered to the DCHC. This is good because we already have one semi-functional national agency trying to enforce our laws, we don't need the Defense Department clumsily stepping in. Having a secretive DoD agency have lawn enforcement powers over Americans just made me queasy.

Second, according to the memo, the DCHC integrates all DoD-wide counterintelligence with all DoD-wide human intelligence:
The DCHC shall centrally manage the DoD-wide CI and human intelligence (HMINT) enterprises, develop programs that support DoD Component CI and HUMINT functions, and execute assigned CI and HUMINT activities worldwide.
Counterintelligence (CI), simply put, is the art of degrading your opponents intelligence. The best way to do this is by penetrating your opponents' organizations to figure out what they know, etc. While you can do this via technical means (tapping phone, reading email), the best way to do it is by having a human source inside. That's why from an organizational standpoint it's logical to have your CI people and your people working with human sources all working together. Also this way it gives your CI people information to work with, so they don't sit in dark rooms brooding over an imaginary Master Plan or spying on Quakers.

Offshore oil drilling

From Pat Lang:

Larry Kudlow, the financial whiz, was on the Joe Scarborough show on MSNBC today. He repeated his unending mantra of "drill, drill, drill," as a way out of the current wilderness of high priced crude.
"Approval of drilling will frighten the futures traders out of the market and the price will go a long way down." "They are already leaving the oil futures market" he went on. "This will push them out even faster."

So basically the logic behind expanding offshore drilling is that speculation is a big reason for high oil prices, and that drilling will frighten speculators into thinking that the price will go down in the future, thus they will get out of the market and the price will go down right away. But if you think that the price of oil is high because of expanding demand and future shrinking supply, then offshore drilling would do absolutely nothing to oil prices, because it would contribute less than 1% to world oil supply:

Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.
Also, check out this interesting article Flanders sent me on speculators, The Speculator as Hero:
The miracle is that in taking care of ourselves, we speculators somehow ensure that producers all over the world will provide the right quantity and quality of goods at the proper time, without undue waste, and that this meshes with what people want and the money they have available.

Revs win the Superliga

The Revs won the 2008 Superliga last night, beating Houston in the eighth round of penalty kicks after overtime ended 2-2. See the video here. It was a fantastic, wide-open and attacking game played by two teams who clearly respected each other - all this action despite the fact that the teams had agreed to split the prize money evenly between them no matter who won due to a dispute between MLS management and the players union. The Revs knocked off three Mexican teams 1-0 and tied Chivas USA to make it to the final.

This is only the first of four titles the Revs can win this season....