David Kirkpatrick

February 1, 2010

The party of “no” is hard at work

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:19 pm

Hard at work doing nothing productive in the midst this extremely challenging economic climate. These tactics might (yes, might — there’s no given that this electoral cycle will favor the GOP) work in November, but real long-term damage is still being done to the Republican brand. Going with all tactics of negativity with no strategy or vision for the future aside from attempting to harm Democratic plans will not lead to electoral success.

From the link:

I got this note from someone with many decades’ experience in national politics, about a discussion between two Congressmen over details of the stimulus bill:

“GOP member: ‘I’d like this in the bill.’

“Dem member response: ‘If we put it in, will you vote for the bill?’

“GOP member:  ‘You know I can’t vote for the bill.’

“Dem member:  ‘Then why should we put it in the bill?’

“I witnessed this myself.”

I wrote back saying, “Great story!” and got the response I quote below and after the jump. It is worth reading because its argument has the valuable quality of being obvious — once it is pointed out. The emphasis is mine rather than in the original; it is to highlight a basic structural reality that has escaped most recent analysis of the “bipartisanship” challenge.


As I have pointed out a time or two or a thousand, the structural failures of American government are the country’s main problem right now. In this installment, we see that the US now has the drawbacks of a parliamentary system — absolute party-line voting by the opposition, for instance — without any of the advantages, from comparable solidarity among the governing party to the principle of “majority rules.” If Democrats could find a way to talk about structural issues — if everyone can find a way to talk about them — that would be at least a step. And the Dems could talk about the simple impossibility of governing when the opposition is committed to “No” as a bloc.

October 11, 2008

Onging finanacial crisis, global and domestic

Probably the biggest news about this financial crisis toward the end of the week — aside from the Dow Jones Industrials historic drop — is how it is affecting the rest of the world. Iceland is concerned about being bankrupted and has already asked Russia for a bailout.

Globalization in all its greatness and weakness can be blamed for this result.

Here’s Thomas P.M. Barnett on that subject:

Arguably, this is the first great, system-perturbing crisis of globalization, because it truly captures all the main players in a way that previous ones did not.

(Thanks to the Daily Dish for posting that link and quote)

Of course here in the United States we’re grappling with a truly confusing set of conditions because: one, we just haven’t faced something like this since the Depression; and two, banking at the investment level has become unintelligible to even the “experts” who follow, and engage in, the industry.

There’s a lot of uncertainty out there and markets really , really hate uncertainty.

And then there’s stories like this from James Fallows. This really hits home on what is going on during this crisis.

From the link:

Three weeks ago, I mentionedthat DayJet, the pioneering air-taxi company, was shutting down not (it claimed) because of overt business problems but because of the impossibility of getting short-term finance. At the time, the credit squeeze might have seemed an excuse for the inevitable diceyness of the air travel business.

But just in the last few days, I’ve heard separately from three friends who run objectively “viable” businesses that they are on the verge of closing permanently, or laying off much of their staff, because they can’t get short-term working capital. One said he was on the verge of having to close a manufacturing facility in the Midwest that, as he put it, “realistically will never open again.” And this is from a group of friends that is heavy on writers, political people, academics, etc rather than a lot of business owners. I have never heard stories like this before. When I was living in northern California during the tech crash early this decade, the story was about the relatively slow deflation of (mostly) unrealistic plans rather than the widespread destruction of enterprises with a future.

My minor point: mainly because they’re so precise and fast-moving, financial-market measures crowd out attention from what we really need to worry about, the imminent destruction of businesses and jobs that “should” survive.

August 9, 2008

Beijing Olympiad begins

Filed under: Media, Politics, Sports — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:21 am

One great resource away from the big media encamped in China and the usual sports reporting for Olympic Games is Atlantic.com blogger James Fallows.

He’s been living in, and reporting on, China for quite some time and I expect will be providing some insight into the games and the politics surrounding the games that you won’t find anywhere else.

Here’s part of Fallows’ post on the opening ceremonies:

Update: Four hours into the opening ceremony, it is waytoo long. But it’s worth tuning in, starting about time 3:45 from the beginning, to see the wrapup and torch lighting. Parade of Countries takes at least two hours on its own. (Sure are a lot of countries! Cook Islands??? Sure are a lot of non-athletic looking people marching in with the teams — coaches and big-shots, I assume, plus for the Canadian team, a foreign celebrity on Chinese TVknown as “Da Shan.”) GW and Laura Bush appear on screen only once, for about ten seconds, waving at the US team. Putin and Sarkozy shown much more often. Coincidence? Punishment? One of many Mysteries Of The Games.

April 17, 2008

James Fallows on air taxis

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:05 am

Just got around to reading a good chunk of the print May Atlantic magazine. James Fallows has a great article on “air taxis” covering what is happening right now in the US Southeast and the overall feasibility of the concept.

Very cool stuff and an interesting article. Overall it looks like a promising way to get around at a reasonable price for consumers.

From the link:

How could a brand-new company in the chronically troubled aviation business have come so quickly to the point where its main challenge is growing too fast? And this through a period when security concerns of all sorts have risen, fuel prices have soared, environmental doubts about aviation have intensified, and airports and airways have become more congested by the day—and the economy of the company’s home area, in southern Florida, has been through a real-estate crash?

The answer involves an odd assemblage of talents and disciplines that includes American computer scientists who call their specialty “ant farming”; Russian mathe­matical prodigies who made their way from Minsk and Moscow to Florida, via Jerusalem; Internet-business pioneers; and, yes, pilots and maintenance experts and dispatchers, including many refugees or retirees from the troubled airlines. Plus Bruce Holmes himself, who joined the company a year ago, after NASA radically cut back its airplane-related activities to shift its resources to space exploration.

DayJet’s success to date has also depended on the confluence of several technologies that all matured at once. Indeed, the most startling aspect of its story is the insistence from top to bottom that at heart, it is not an aviation company at all. “You could think of us as really a software company,” Jim Herriott, one of the ant farmers, told me. What he meant was that the Internet has become an unimaginably refined and powerful tool for routing packets of data from place to place. “We are about developing an Internet for stuff”—the stuff in this case being passengers in seats.

February 24, 2008

Nader’s latest folly from the inside

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 9:45 pm

James Fallows blogs at theAtlantic.com, and has a background working under Ralph Nader. His take on the presidential run announcement is it’s a farce. And it saddens him.

From the linked post:

I will always like and respect Ralph Nader and will always admire the wonderful things he has done. But I wish to God that he had not made this decision, or will reverse it soon. (And, I am sorry that saying this will make me an enemy in his eyes.)

James, I hate to break the news, but any attention whore who’s so thin-skinned they would turn a friend into an enemy for speaking the truth is not worthy of respect or admiration. Nader is a pompous fraud.