Archive for February 2008

Intellectual Forebears

One of mine died today.
Thanks Mr. Buckley.

McCain Vs. Obama

GOP presidential candidate John McCain mocked Democrat Barack Obama today for saying he’d take action as president “if al-Qaida is forming a base in Iraq.”

McCain told a crowd in Tyler, Texas “I have some news. Al-Qaida is in Iraq. It’s called ‘al-Qaida in Iraq.’”

Link.

Recognition of Kosovo Independence a Bad Idea

Whose idea was it to recognize Kosovo’s independence?

By doing this we have…
1. Undermined the legitimacy of multi-ethnic states. What happens if/when the Serbian-dominated bits of Kosova decide to breakaway to join Serbia? Or when the Albanian bits of those bits decide to break away from the breakaway regions and join Kosovo? Or when the Serbian neighborhoods present there decide to go their own way – except for the small cluster of Albanian houses that is stuck in the neighborhood?
2. Pushed Serbia further into Russian orbit. Consider that Serbia has been shedding its past and westernizing. However by this simple action we have emboldened hard-core nationalists, and undercut the westernizers who must now play the nationalism card in order to survive.
3. Gained nothing from the Islamic world. Even Islamic nations haven’t recognized Kosova for fear of stoking their own separatist movements.
4. Strengthened Russia’s hand in Europe. Putin now has an opening through Serbia to exercise his Soviet-era policies vis-a-vis the West.
5. Gained us nothing – anywhere. By recognizing Kosovo we don’t get squat.

This stinks of the Euroweenie-run State Department following the lead of the EU. In the end I don’t see any good and a whole heap of trouble coming out of this. This has to be one of the biggest bonehead moves of State since Madeline Albright tied one in Pyongyang with Kim Jong-il.
Madeline and Jong-il party like it's 1999.

Deadbeat Homeowners and Sloppy Banks

Bloomberg has an interesting article “Banks Lose to Deadbeat Homeowners as Loans Sold in Bonds Vanish.” The crux of the article is that banks and other mortgage institutions have bought and sold individual mortgages so many times that they often lose the note – the proof that they need to show the courts that they actually own a given property. And when they do, the courts usually don’t support their attempts to foreclose on the property.

U.S. District Judge David D. Dowd Jr. in Ohio’s northern district chastised Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. and Argent Mortgage Securities Inc. in October for what he called their ``cavalier approach’’ and ``take my word for it’’ attitude toward proving ownership of the mortgage note in a foreclosure case.

Producing the actual mortgage note is a``It’s a gigantic waste of time,’’ (Jeffrey Naimon, a partner in the Washington office of Buckley Kolar LLP) said. ``The mortgage may have transferred five, six, eight times. It’s possible that you don’t have all the pieces of paper, but it was enough to convince the next guy in the chain. There’s no true controversy over whether the owner owns the loan.’’

Uhm. Well I suppose it’s not controversial if your a bank and you hire Mr. Naimon. However I’d bet that if you were a homeowner fighting foreclosure and you hired Mr. Naimon to defend you he’d think otherwise.

I’m no fan of the banks. At heart I believe that corporations are not synonymous with Capitalism, and that all in all, capitalism would be much better without them (or at least by having the death penalty for corporations – the threat of dissolution). But I know where my mortgage note is, and when I sell my home I expect to produce that note. Ditto with my car titles. Nuisance or not, mortgage notes are legal documents that should expect to be produced when an owner attempts legal action. After all, the owner is seeking redress from the state in the form of authorized force to remove a person from his/her home.

On the other hand, the example the article gives for a deadbeat homeowner, is perfect…

Joe Lents hasn’t made a payment on his $1.5 million mortgage since 2002.

So Joe has been living for free in a $1.5 million house for over 5 years. During that time I have paid tens of thousands of dollars for my family to live in my little home. Lents has gotten lucky off the system, but he still strikes me as a scumbag. He’s stealing – we may not know from who – but he is doing it just the same. I hope that the current owner of his mortgage finds his note and kicks his butt out on the street.

Back to Basics: Reading, Writing and Rhetoric

I’m reading the Trivium by Sister Miriam Joseph Rauh. It covers logic, grammar and rhetoric – the original liberal arts.
It’s amazing how little of the stuff I actually learned in college. My degree is Bachelor of Arts but man, I didn’t study this. I suppose it’s never too late to start.

Trouble Focusing and Concentrating…

I’ve been noticing that I’ve been having terrible trouble focusing and concentrating on everything, especially reading, writing and speaking. When I read I find myself scanning too much and missing points completely. It’s like the way I used to intentionally read back in college when I had to digest hundreds of pages in a night. Now it’s out of control and I’ll read something only to discover that I’ve missed the entire point of the article.

Writing is almost painful. Every sentence is a struggle, and I find myself constantly using the wrong words as well as making too many typing mistakes. Sentences don’t flow the way they should, and my paragraphs don’t really work together very well.

While speaking I often lose my train of thought or get muddled. In business meetings occasionally someone will try to save me by saying something like “in other words, you suggest…” I’m trying to speak less in meetings, and to outline what I’m going to say first on paper. Still, I have to be careful; I’m a contractor and can be fired at any time.

My mind feels like it is constantly racing – like its “idle” is set way too high. In Buddhism it’s called “monkey mind” but in my mind it’s more like an entire troop of monkeys.

I have some ideas what may be behind this that I will explore over the coming months. It shouldn’t be cancer because it doesn’t run in the family. I’m still sober (7 years+), but I have gained some weight over the winter. Hopefully the return of the sun in Spring as well as more outdoor exercise will help. But until then this is pretty freakin’ hellish.

Self Defense is a Basic Human Right

I have children, and like most parents I love them more than Life itself. One is a Marine in Iraq, the other is home with me and his mother.

Both know how to handle firearms. The Marine is a marksman with several ribbons and medals bearing proof of his skill; the youngest picked up his first gun a month ago.

The campus shootings in Illinois prove the danger of relying upon others for one’s own safety. Had one member in the class had a weapon to shoot back, the odds are good that the shooter would have killed fewer than the six he got away with before taking his own life.

Guns are not “magic”; they are not inherently good or evil. They are simply tools that can be used to protect or to kill. By banning them on college campuses they in effect create a model for our society in which guns are banned: the law-abiding students do not have guns to protect themselves while the psychopath doesn’t care that s/he is breaking the law. The result is that the murderer gets to choose how many people he kills, as well as leaving him/her in control of when and how his/her life is taken.

Self-defense is a basic human right; by taking away that right the authorities may not be blamed directly for the massacre, but they do contribute to its severity.

When Software Goes Bad

Paul Marks, writing in New Scientist, raises an interesting point in his article “Crashing Software Poses Flight Danger,” (New Scientist, Feb 11, 2008).

“Why do software bugs arise and why can’t they be removed? Bugs are sections of code that start doing something different to what the programmer intended, usually when the code has to deal with circumstances the programmer didn’t anticipate. All software is susceptible to bugs, so it must be tested under as many different circumstances as possible. Ideally, the bugs get discovered at this time and are removed before the software is actually used. This is very difficult in complex systems like aircraft because the number of possible scenarios, – such as different combinations of air densities, engine temperatures and specific aerodynamics – is huge.”

The problem occurs when you write software that must be bug-free, for example to be used in the flight control systems of aircraft. In order to reduce weight and improve fuel efficiency aircraft makers have begun using computers to control planes. But bugs that result in the Blue Screen of Death on your Windows PC can be much more serious when they happen on a plane flying 30,000 feet in the air.

Paul Marks writes that the US National Academy of Science has documented several instances of trouble caused by faulty software design. In August 2005 a computer in a Boeing 777 gave contradictory reports of airspeed, varying between an air speed that was too fast for the plane to fly without breaking apart and too slow for it to stay in the air. That same year an Airbus 319 lost computerized flight and navigation displays, autopilot, auto throttle and radio for two minutes. The NAS also reports that “faulty logic in the software” was behind a computer failure that controlled fuel flow in an Airbus 340.

According to Marks, to test for bugs aircraft manufacturers adhere to the “DO-178B standard” which rates software based on the severity of the resulting consequences should it fail. The most rigorous test, “Level A” is for software whose failure would result in a catastrophic event using the “modified condition/decision coverage (MCDC)” method that tests software by placing it as many dangerous situations as possible and seeing how it handles.

Marks notes that Martyn Thomas, a systems engineering consultant in the UK, doesn’t believe that MCDC works. “MCDC testing is not removing any significant numbers of bugs,” he says. “It highlights the fact that testing is a completely hopeless way of showing that software does not contain errors.”

Thomas’s solution is to change the way software is written starting with the languages used. He suggests using computer languages that force the programmer to write unambiguous code such as B-Method and SPARK, instead of more commonly used C and its variants that allow programmers to write vague code that can lead to bugs. These languages and their compilers make it difficult for programmers to write ambiguous code by mathematically verifying the code as it is written. Languages that do this are considered “strongly typed”, defined in Wikipedia as “”a programming language plac(ing) severe restrictions on the intermixing that is permitted to occur, preventing the compiling or running of source code which uses data in what is considered to be an invalid way.”

One of the more commonly used “strongly typed” languages is Ada, of which SPARK is a variant. Ada, named after Lord Byron’s daughter and creator of the world’s first software Augusta Ada Lovelace, is an object oriented language developed in the 1970s by the US Department of Defense to reduce the number of high-level computer languages used, at the time numbering as high as 450. Since its adoption in December 1980 Ada has become a standard in the defense industry, and moved into other outside areas where safety is paramount. For example, Wikipedia notes that the software that controls the Boeing 777 is written in Ada – but makes no mention of the airspeed incident noted in Marks’s article.

So how safe is Ada? According to the article “Ada 2005 Strengthens Ada’s Safety-Critical Muscles” in the November 2005 issue of COTS Journal, Ada (http://www.cotsjournalonline.com/home/article.php?id=100424) was conceived with safety in mind, using strong typing and well defined semantics that has undergone continual international inspection and formal reviews – called “validating an implementation” now an ISO standard, thereby avoiding many of the pitfalls and traps that cause run-time errors in C and its variants.

The COTS Journal article also notes something that I was considering myself: Why should safety-critical software be used only in safety-critical situations?

“…in a society increasingly dependent on sophisticated computer software, there are more and more applications where correctness is essential, even if they are not formally considered safety-critical. For example, the commercial banking structure relies on complex computer controls. Even a minor failure can cause waves that can have huge economic consequences. There are several decades of experience in building safety-critical systems, and the success has been remarkable—no fatalities can be attributed to failure of certified safety-critical software. It is both practical and essential to extend these techniques to improve the reliability of our entire computer infrastructure.”

In 2002 the Knight Trading Group’s a bug in the firm’s own software generated “sell orders” on its own stock, driving the price down in pre-market trading, forcing the NASDAQ to halt trading in the stock. In 2005 the Tokyo Stock Exchange missed its morning trading session due to a software glitch. All this occurred years after the granddaddy of software bugs, Y2K cost firms billions to fix. Bug-free software may not have killed anyone in these situations, but it sure cost firms a lot of money.

So why isn’t Ada being used more often today in corporate environments where C variants including Java – and the bugs that come with it – have become the de facto standard? First the existing code base of C variant applications in use at firms represents a huge investment of hundreds of billions of dollars. While this code may be prone to bugs, it is much cheaper to patch the code than it is to replace it with code that is more robust.
Secondly companies already have an existing infrastructure, including hardware and software tools that are designed to work specifically with C variant languages. Part of this infrastructure would include a huge talent base of C programmers that can be augmented relatively easily by qualified professionals. As an informal test I compared jobs listings on the technical job site “Dice” using Ada and “C” as keywords. While the Ada search using that keyword returned 140 jobs nationwide, the C returned over 18,000 – roughly one in five positions listed.

Finally there is the perception that C code is “good enough,” that much of the programming being done in business today doesn’t require the extra money invested in better code. No one will die if a payroll application crashes during a check run, or a customer’s call is cut off prematurely by a bad line of code in voice recognition software.

However problems occur when the business processes used to justify programs change and the programs themselves do not, for example when a low priority process becomes embedded in a critical one, or the process itself becomes critical. Once software is in place and is working, it’s difficult to justify replacing it until something goes wrong. And when something does, an emergency often results in a quick fix that is cheaper in the short term than a more expensive and time consuming longer term solution.

It would be nice for companies to embrace “strongly typed” programming, but given the above constraints I simply do not see it happening any time soon. What I do see happening at the very least are better design tools appearing that monitor code writing and catch bugs before they are compiled, as well as more automated testing including perhaps full simulations of complex systems on virtual machines. Given today’s technology it is possible to run these simulations using historical data and time compression to see whether a given application works as intended or as designed – with bugs. Many firms already have completely duplicated production environments for testing and disaster recovery. It wouldn’t take much to adapt these environments into full-blown simulations.

A Blast From the Past

Imad Mughniyeh has been blown up in Damascus. Mughniyeh is perhaps the world’s most notorious terrorist since Carlos the Jackal. Mughniyeh was behind the following attacks:

1983 – American embassy bombing in Beirut – killing 63.
1983 – Attacks on US & French barracks – killing 300.
1984 – Kidnapping and murder of US CIA station chief William Buckley.
1985 – TWA Hijacking in which a Navy diver was killed.
1992 – Attack on Israeli embassy in Argentina – 92 killed.

Mughniyeh was so notorious that there was some speculation immediately after 9-11 that he had masterminded the attack. Of course we later learned that this hairball did.

Associated Press’s chief Mideast correspondent Terry Anderson, who spent 6 years in captivity in Lebanon, said of Mughniyeh, “I can’t say I’m either surprised or sad (by his death). He was not a good man. Certainly, the primary actor in my kidnapping and many others,” Anderson told AP on Wednesday. “To hear that his career has finally ended is a good thing and it’s appropriate that he goes up in a car bomb.”

FIOS Adventures

As these posts show I’ve been looking forward to ditching cable and going with FIOS. However like most modern consumer services in the United States, it’s not a simple matter.

First off there was the little matter of actually ordering the service. I called Verizon, and flowed down the voice prompts hoping to speak to a live human being, only to be disconnected three times. On three different days.

Next I went to Circuit City which offered a Fios rebate - that none of the minimum wage employees knew anything about.

Finally I chatted with a rep online – after waiting 25 minutes. I mentioned the Circuit City rebate, and s/he didn’t know about it. Nor could she offer any deals for moving everything from Comcast. Heck a quick Google search of deals beat anything s/he offered. Lame.

Consider: A FIOS installation evidently takes all day. In my household that means that someone is losing work – and that someone is me. Stay home from work means that I don’t get paid – and no offer I’ve seen even approaches a fraction of the cost of that.

So I called Comcast, told them I was paying too much for service and was thinking about switching to FIOS. The rep cut my bill by 20% and threw in an upgrade to digital. No committment – or day off was required. Just a ten minute phone call with less than 30 seconds of hold time.

So I’m still waiting on FIOS. Until Verizon makes me a serious offer I guess I’ll have to skip it. Bummer because the I liked the idea of having fiber to my house.

Hope for Kenya

Thinking Kenyan is hopeful after watching Congress’s investigation into the election… theft? debacle? disaster?... that occurred there in December.

The recommendation pushed by Mr. Kiai is only just now beginning to make sense to me. He proposes that the Koffi Annan team continues with the talks with the objective of having a transitional government in Place with Kibaki and Raila sharing power, and tasked with the responsibility of facilitating the enactment of a new constitution that has been debated and variously referred to as the Bomas draft or the Naivasha accord. The transitional government should not be in place for more than two years and should formulate a way to have a truth and justice and reconciliation process after the elections have been held. It is important, according to the KNHRC that elections are held to re-affirm Kenya’s belief in the electoral and democratic practices.

There’s lots of good background information, so read the entire thing.

And it appears that both parties have reached a powersharing agreement as well.

Politics Isn’t Fun Anymore

I grew up with a love of politics. Some of my earliest memories are seeing the assassination of Robert Kennedy on television, the nightly news broadcasts of the Vietnam war and later airliners exploding on the tarmac in Jordan during Black September in 1970. While waiting for my protestant friends to come home from school I watched the Watergate hearings. In fourth grade I wrote imaginative stories about Jimmy Carter living in a peanut, and my Favorite Sister and I discussed the merits of Jimmy Carter over Gerald Ford over the summer of 1976 while hoping Teddy Kennedy would run.

Every four years I became energized by the whole process and spectacle of American Democracy. I loved it – the heated debate, the rhetoric, the history, the pageantry. So getting a degree in what I loved was a natural. To me it was like studying football or baseball, just that the World Series or Super Bowl wasn’t held every year, although secretly I wished it was.

But I don’t love politics anymore, and I’m not exactly sure why. Perhaps it’s age; maybe I’ve seen too much and have learned that politics isn’t really a game. Politics does matter. Or perhaps it’s the fact that it does matter yet I have so little control over it that makes me find it depressing.

It’s not fun anymore, and since it is ingrained in my personal history it’s not like I lost interest in a recent TV show or anything. Politics has always been a critical part of who I am.

And now I’m sick of it and want to hide from it. Heh. Given the election is 9 months away it’s going to be pretty hard to do that.

Obama and Africa

While paying attention to what is happening in Kenya, I’ve picked up the buzz on Obama amongst commentators there, and even one of the best Kenyan commentators on the situation stumbles when it comes to our Byzantine nomination process. It’s no surprise since I’m still confused about it myself. I posted the following:

The American political system is a bit different from the one you suggest. First, no one will choose between Obama, Clinton and McCain. Obama and Clinton are fighting for their party’s nomination; McCain belongs to a different party. The people making this decision are the party faithful – the iPod listening rally attendees that you mention. That decision must be made at the latest by Aug during the party’s national convention. After that the winner will face the winner of the other (Republican) party – most likely John McCain at this point – in the general election in November.

So in the end it will be either Obama vs. McCain or Hillary vs. McCain. That’s when the votes of the common people will count.

Second, there is less of a difference between the two parties here in America than any two parties in Europe or Asia. Yes McCain is a white man, Hillary a woman and Obama a black man. However if they were politicians in the UK they would probably all three belong to the Conservative party. Liberal/Conservative in the USA does not = Liberal/Conservative elsewhere. The US is actually more conservative than the two party system would have you believe.

Third, Obama is a “rock star” and popular – but this popularity isn’t due to his policies; it’s more due to no one really knowing what those policies are. He’s critical of the war in Iraq, but will he remove troops from the land at a time when the bloodshed is declining and peace gradually seeping into a land that has been at war for decades? While the anti-war folks are wearing iPods and attending rallies, their message hasn’t exactly resonated with the bulk of the masses here in the US. In fact as far as anti-war movements go, this has to be one of the least effective ever mounted. The campaign to keep the USA neutral prior to World War 2 was much more effective in terms of setting the agenda, and the Vietnam protests were much more galvanizing for public opinion than the current crop of protests has been.

As that issue recedes and the American economy cools, focus has turned to jobs and the economy. What’s Obama’s stance on illegal immigration? What will he do to help alleviate the debt burden on average Americans? What does he propose to do to stop the flow of jobs abroad? How does he feel about Abortion? Gun control? I don’t know – and I’m one of the people following politics. Once these stances become known, his popularity will lessen.

Finally regarding Africa, yes he’s a black man – but that doesn’t guarantee he will pay more attention to the “plight” of Africa than a white man. It’s a very racist to think that one cares more about the land where his ancestors came from hundreds of years ago than someone else. Mine came from Germany – does this mean that I care more about Germany than I do Kenya? The fact that I’m reading your posts about Kenya, have been there and to Tanzania several times, and speak ki-Swahili better than Deutsch should disprove that.

Given the dire situation in Kenya, Kenyans must focus on solving their crisis and stop hoping for someone else to fix it. America cannot save Kenya, neither can the UK, the UN or the AU - or any other outside organization. Kenyans need to decide for themselves if they are going to allow their nation to fall apart violently like Yugoslavia, turn to genocide as in Rwanda, or whether they are going to rise up and replace the leadership that has failed them so miserably over the past weeks.

There is much for Kenyans to do; the election in America is only a distraction from the work and hard decisions that lay ahead.

UPDATE: 02/07/08
As you’ll see in the comments M – the writer of ThinkersRoom – took offense at my comment. S/he should have because s/he never wrote asking for an outside savior for Kenya. I was wrong to associate him/her with that meme, and I’ve apologized here, on ThinkersRoom and in a private email. I try to live my life as honestly as possible, and what can I say. I screwed up. No excuses or “re-do”s.

Why McCain Matters

A commenter, John B, at Classical Values nails why the Right needs to support John McCain:

After seven years of watching and fighting against Americans who wish to see the country suffer so that they can get at George Bush, the last thing I wanted or expected to see was conservatives saying they would rather see the country suffer than support John McCain over Clinton or Obama, so that they can “get the blame.”

A retreat before victory is assured in Iraq cannot be undone in 2012. And mandatory, single-payer, universal health care, once established, will not EVER go away either.

I am not impuning anyone’s motives. I believe I have a reasonable understanding of principled behavior. But if your goal is to see the country punished because—-

You can stop right there. If your goal is to see America punished, and her people open to attack and/or ruined financially in order to prove a point for any reason, then you do not deserve politial power nor are you likely to achieve it. A party is a compact. It is, essentially, a pleage of mutual support. As a matter of fact, it’s nothing more or less than a promise.

A political party is a series of personal compromises in order to achieve a goal unattainable by the perfect political party: one’s own self. If McCain is the legal and lawfully selected nominee, and Republicans decide to walk away from their party in droves, what makes them think they will be able to count on those who, you know, actually went out and voted Republican either joyfully or through clenched teeth, in order to prevent The Deluge?

If your idea of any political party is one that means unlimited support for your personal values if your candidate is ascendant, while you in turn owe none to those you dislike or even disdain, you might be in for a surprise in future elections.

Speaking as a FredHead myself, I am bitterly disappointed that I did not even have the chance to vote for a man I admired, and am more distraught still to find myself in the position I now occupy. I see many, many worrisome things about John McCain, but being tough on terror and spending are not among them. We could do worse. Two names come to mind immediately.

Much is said about principles, and since I am not able elect anyone BY MYSELF I have entered into this pact with the group of people who I feel most comfortable with in terms of values. If they, as a body, choose a candidate who is not my first, second, third or fourth choice, then I can look to the Democrats. There I find views so antithetical to everything I believe that I realize there is indeed something to this idea of party loyalty.

And I cannot help but think that such a kind and practical man as Ronald Reagan would be amazed that his name was being invoked so frequently in order to insure that the most liberal, socialist, power-hungry statist in my living memory is elected. I’m glad he’s not here to see this because if he knew the consequences of what was being done in his name, I believe it would kill the man.

If Hillary Loses the Nomination…

I don’t have a dog in the Democratic fight since my mind is set on voting for John McCain. Whether the Democrats choose Hillary or Obama to be their standard bearer in November won’t make much difference to McCain. Each one has strengths – and weaknesses – as a McCain opponent.

But one thing’s for sure. If Hillary loses and goes back to being a senator from New York, the Democrats are going to have one heck of a time shutting her – and Bill – back into their cages. Hillary has enjoyed the limelight since Gore’s defeat 7 years ago as the next best hope for the Clintonistas to return to power. Meanwhile her husband has trotted around the world, enjoying his role as Nice Guy in Chief.

I voted for Bill in ‘92 and again in ‘96. I voted for Gore in ‘00 and was just as depressed as the rest of the Democrats when Bush took the oath of office in ‘01. However after 9-11 I saw Bush in a new light and eventually voted for him in ‘04. Looking back on his presidency it’s been nice to have a president as clean and scandal-free as Bush. Sure he’s controversial; every president is. But with Bush there has been no Monica-gate. No Whitewater or special prosecutor stalking the president like an extra-judicial Torquemada waiting to take the man down with a subpoena. Heck even Ronald Reagan, now evidently beloved by Democrats, had Iran-Contra – a scandal that stands as arguably the worst scandal since Watergate.

I’ve cut President Clinton some slack for his failure to prevent 9-11, and his innate stupidity which drove the Right nuts during his stay in the oval office. But my feelings for Bill have tempered with time. Seeing Bill today makes me feel the same way as when I find an old picture of myself taken while he was in power. There’s a hint of nostalgia mixed with a feeling of embarrassment. Like my hair I moved on and I’m happy I did.

Bill makes me feel uncomfortable these days, and I think that Hillary is making people feel a bit the same way. Sure there were some good times back in the ‘90’s, but things have changed. We’ve changed – and the idea of a return to Business As Usual under a Clinton administration just seems kind of childish and outdated these days. A bit dirty too.

But Hillary doesn’t see things that way. I think she sees the White House as hers by right. She did all the right things: becoming senator from New York. Putting up with Al Gore’s wooden campaigning. She kept her promise to New Yorkers by staying out of the race in ‘04 all the while knowing that she could have easily picked off Kerry and possibly even Bush. Afterwards she built up a warchest, shaking hands with all the right people – or so she thought. Regardless, she’s the epitome of the strong post-Women’s Rights era woman. The job is hers by right – and her sisters at NOW agree.

But it’s not. People have come to realize that a world without Clintons can be almost as refreshing as a world without Bushes. And Hillary doesn’t belong in this world.

If she loses and Obama wins, don’t expect her to fade away. She’ll be sidelined for awhile, a long while if Obama is successful, but will no doubt play havoc with an Obama Agenda. I would expect her to be as cooperative with an Obama legislative agenda as Chuck Hagel has been to the Bush one.

But if she loses and Obama loses, she will become the Democratic frontrunner for 2012 and leading voice of her party. Those who supported Obama – from Ted Kennedy on down – will pay the price. The Clintons know how to punish their enemies, and you can bet that they have a list of each Democrat that has betrayed her by backing Obama. If Obama loses the Clintonistas will purge the Obama supporters from the party leadership. Ditto if Obama wins and becomes an unpopular Democratic president. Would Hillary dare challenge a seated president for the nomination?

Does anyone doubt it?

I’m confident that Hillary can still win the nomination. I believe she has what it takes to do what is necessary to win, and backed by her charismatic, self-deprecating Machiavellian husband I believe she has a very good chance of facing McCain in the general election. But if I were a Democrat, I’d be worried about what would happen if she lost the nomination. Think hell hath no fury? Wait until you see a Clinton scorned by the likes of Oprah and the Kennedys.