Getting some perspective

Bruce Schneider responds to criticisms of technology like Google Earth.

Criminals have used telephones and mobile phones since they were invented. Drug smugglers use airplanes and boats, radios and satellite phones. Bank robbers have long used cars and motorcycles as getaway vehicles, and horses before then. I haven’t seen it talked about yet, but the Mumbai terrorists used boats as well. They also wore boots. They ate lunch at restaurants, drank bottled water, and breathed the air. Society survives all of this because the good uses of infrastructure far outweigh the bad uses, even though the good uses are – by and large – small and pedestrian and the bad uses are rare and spectacular. And while terrorism turns society’s very infrastructure against itself, we only harm ourselves by dismantling that infrastructure in response – just as we would if we banned cars because bank robbers used them too.

Precisely.  You don’t go banning things because some morons put them to good use.

Feeling blue

Are there only five red states left as Nate Silver would suggest?

That’s right: just five states, collectively containing about 2 percent of the American population, have statistically significant pluralities of adults identifying themselves as Republicans. These are the “Mormon Belt” states of Utah, Idaho and Wyoming, plus Nebraska, plus Alaska. By contrast, 35 states are plurality Democratic, and 10 states are too close to call.

Overstates the case somewhat, but by less than you’d expect.  How much of it is real and how much of it is the bitter aftertaste of Bush in one’s mouth?  Time will tell.

You be bi while we are partisan

The Congressional GOP is hopeless, utterly hopeless.  As you know, the stimulus package passed without a single Republican’t vote.

You’ve heard the old saying about being part of the problem or part of the solution? We know where the GOP falls along that spectrum.  I’m sure Rush’s criticism and hopes for failure ring loud and clear in the ears of those standing in employment lines.

Nate Silver:

Zero is sometimes a big number. If the stimulus bill had passed the House today with a handful of Republican votes — six or eight or twelve or twenty — the party would presumably have gotten its point across about the merit of the legislation. But the bill didn’t get a handful of Republican votes — it got none at all. You’d think there would be one Republican out of 178 who found his way to a yes vote based on the particular cadences of his political philosophy and the electoral politics of his district. But there was not.

The question is whether a result like this could have came about by accident — or whether it must have been engineered by the party leadership. I’m not sure that the answer to that is obvious. The House does not cast a secret ballot. It seems plausible that there were a dozen or so Republicans who were on the fence, waiting to see how their colleagues would vote — and when those votes started to come in unanimously against the bill, nobody wanted to be the ugly ducking.

Glen Greenwald:

Partisan disputes happen because people are very different and have very different views.  Partisanship is about advocating for your own beliefs and discrediting the beliefs that you reject and believe are harmful.  This doesn’t mean that these disagreements must or should break down along Republican/Democratic lines.  On so many critical, contentious issues, the leadership of the two parties are in perfect harmony. Many of the worst policies are embraced by the mainstream of both parties, and the real disagreements now break down on other lines, whether it be insider/outsider or diverging socioeconomic interests or rapidly-re-aligning ideological divisions.  But politics is and should be about defeating ideas — and people — that are discredited and destructive.

To see why that’s a good thing, not a bad thing, go watch the Dick Armey video or read the platform of the Texas GOP.  Or re-review what has happened over the last eight years.  The further away one is from that morass, the better; the closer one is to it, the worse off things will be.