Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Good thing it's still too small to roll up the wedding guests, although it's big enough I'd probably keep the babies away. (If you're thoroughly confused right now, Wikipedia might help).
Doooooo doo doo doo doo-doo dooo dooo doo-doooo doooo doo-doo doooooooo...
Friday, September 26, 2008
The bailout is meant to fix the credit market and stabilize the economy.Very true, and probably the most succinct argument I've read yet for the necessity of the bailout. Then this morning, Charles Krauthammer agrees with K and adds an additional (and vital) warning against the instinct to punish Wall Street's supposed malfeasance:
Individuals aren't the only ones who use credit - companies use it too, and they use it just like we do: to cover expenses until they have the cash to pay them off. These expenses include: money owed to other companies for supplies, copyrights, etc., and of course, payroll.
If companies have their credit lines cut or severely reduced, they won't be able to cover their expenses...and this doesn't apply only to poorly managed companies. A bad credit market affects everyone, including well-run, ethical businesses. There were financially sound Fortune 500 companies that almost didn't make payroll last week for this very reason.
So, what happens if there's no bailout is employees don't get paid, companies go under and countless workers are laid off. This is what the bailout is meant to prevent. It might not give money directly back to the taxpayers but it will help them keep their jobs. Aiding companies that have used poor business practices and people who made bad decisions with their mortgages is an unfortunate side effect, but it's better than the whole economy going in the tank.
Congress has every duty to be careful with taxpayers’ money and to suggest improvements in the administration plan. But part of Congress’ reaction has nothing to do with improving the proposal and everything to do with assuaging the rage of constituents — even if it jeopardizes the package’s chances of success, either by weakening it or by larding it up with useless complicating provisions designed solely to give the appearance of sticking it to the rich [and] window dressing such as capping pay packages, which the Bush administration has already caved in to. I’ve got nothing against withholding golden parachutes from failed executives. But artificially capping the pay of people brought in to lead these wobbly companies back to health is a fine way to tell talented executives to look elsewhere for a job.I like having smart friends.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
To sustain this shining city on a hill, we need to rescue the ignorant, irresponsible folks — from Wall Street to Capitol Hill to Main Street — who got us to where we are today. We must guarantee that no American suffers the soft bigotry of being forced to live with the consequences of his bad decisions. Our financial system rests on a foundation of huge banks, brokerage houses and quasi-governmental agencies that followed Washington’s lead by gambling on long-shot, poorly-collateralized investments.Man, I wish this was going to be his speech. Not that I disagree that the recent bailouts were necessary (that judgment is well beyond my expertise, so I'll trust the experts), but instead of hearing politicians rail against greed [pointedly coughs in Senator McCain's direction], I'd like to hear a bit more of an admission of how we've gotten ourselves into this situation through our own collective irresponsibility. Aspects of the current crisis have been fed by poor (and bi-partisan) decision-making in Congress, on Wall Street, and at our own kitchen tables. If our politicians succeed in placing some quick blame and doing a legislative patch-job, we'll only succeed in laying the foundation for more trouble down the road.
Now this glorious way of life is threatened, and we must act to preserve it. We need to guarantee that the structures, systems, people and products that got us to this point won’t be tossed on the ash heap of history. If these giant companies fail, then America will be left with nothing but thousands of small to mid-sized financial firms that made prudent investment decisions during the past 15 years.
Americans value the liberty they have to buy homes they can’t afford, to invest in securities backed by nothing but hope, and to draw six- and seven-figure salaries based on the courage to risk taxpayer dollars on deals that even the dealmakers don’t understand.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Every agreement and every treaty contains mechanisms for its suspension or abrogation. Therefore, even supposing Bush was negotiating an absolutely terrible agreement with the Iraqis in which he would be selling the family silver, Obama should have waited until he saw the text, and then demanded the cancellation of the accord through the constitutional channels.Furthermore:
One key feature of all mature powers, at least since the Congress of Vienna, is the reliability of their international commitments. Even putschists who seize power in a military coup make sure that their first pronunciamento includes this key sentence: We shall honor all of our country’s international obligations and commitments.
Senator Obama is the leader of a loyal opposition in the United States, not the chief of an insurrection or a revolutionary uprising. What we are witnessing in the U.S. is an election, not an insurrection or a coronation, even less a regime change.Obama and his followers seem not to recognize the difference.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Emergency preparedness is pretty low in America these days, the government's well-intentioned efforts notwithstanding. We've already seen far too many Americans incapable of helping themselves when disaster strikes. It won't help the situation when they can't even make a call.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
If Jesus came down and said that he wanted abortion providers to finish the job if babies were born after the procedure, or that he wanted everyone dependent on government, or that he’d soak the rich and tax evil oil companies, I’d still vote against him. Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world, and I thank him for that.Amen.
According to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Obama made his demand for delay a key theme of his discussions with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad in July.
"He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington," Zebari said in an interview.
Obama insisted that Congress should be involved in negotiations on the status of US troops - and that it was in the interests of both sides not to have an agreement negotiated by the Bush administration in its "state of weakness and political confusion."
It's disturbing (and as far as I know, unprecedented) for a candidate to be out making foreign policy as self-assumed president-in-waiting. He's actively undermining the legitimacy of a sitting president, with a key foreign government, no less. Obama has apparently decided it's not enough to already act like president, he needs to prevent anything out of his power from happening in the meantime.
Now, this story been sitting quietly in an open browser window for a few days because I didn't want to blog on it until we got some verification. That came today with the Obama campaign's masterful non-denial:
But Obama's national security spokeswoman Wendy Morigi said Taheri's article bore "as much resemblance to the truth as a McCain campaign commercial." In fact, Obama had told the Iraqis that they should not rush through a "Strategic Framework Agreement" governing the future of US forces until after President George W. Bush leaves office, she said.
Which is completely different from "[asking] why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington". That's quite a denial: "It's all dirty lies. Our candidate most certainly did not do x. Rather, he did x." Huh? The only difference is in the wording, which sounds even worse in Morigi's account. At least Zebari had Obama making a suggestion; Morigi says he simply told them what to do.
UPDATE: Rusty Shackleford of The Jawa Report whom the Hindustan Times noted as one of the likely agents of the attack on al-Qaeda's website in the above-linked story, has denied his involvement. And admitted that, even if he were involved, he would deny it then, too.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Now, while crediting his support of the ROTC, I can't give him a pass on his Orwellian "Plan for Universal and Voluntary Citizen Service", and Shikha Dalmia explains why. I'm all for service, mind you; I'm in the Army after all, and I personally believe that truly voluntary charitable work could be perfectly capable of providing the entirety of our social "safety net". It's when community service is funded, organized, mandated, and coerced using government money and enforcement powers that the whole thing starts feeling a little bit, well, fascist.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
'Once upon a time there were three little sisters,' the Dormouse began in a great hurry; 'and their names were Elsie, Lacie, and Tillie; and they lived at the bottom of a well--'
'What did they live on?' said Alice, who always took a great interest in questions of eating and drinking.
'They lived on treacle,' said the Dormouse, after thinking a minute or two.
'They couldn't have done that, you know,' Alice gently remarked; 'they'd have been ill.'
'So they were,' said the Dormouse; 'VERY ill.'
Charlie Gibson got it wrong. There is no single meaning of the Bush doctrine. In fact, there have been four distinct meanings, each one succeeding another over the eight years of this administration — and the one Charlie Gibson cited is not the one in common usage today.
I know something about the subject because, as the Wikipedia entry on the Bush doctrine notes, I was the first to use the term.So just for kicks, when someone tries to criticize Palin for not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is, ask them what they think it is. Or better yet, just ask them, "Which one?"
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
Incidentally, in this interview with the New York Times [HT Jonah Goldberg], McCain sounds like he's got a reasonable level of online engagement for someone of his age. For that matter, I don't really give a pair of fetid dingo's kidneys whether my president keeps up on all the top blogs or not. If he's not farming that work out to some (extremely) junior staffer I'd have serious doubts about his ability to delegate responsibility.
UPDATE: InstaPundit has a great recap of the response to this ad. A few favorite comments:
"It's extraordinary that someone who wants to be our president and our commander in chief knows how to send an e-mail ...but not how to do a five-minute Google search."
"I think they spent months trying to figure out how they can position Obama as better qualified than McCain, and basically came up with the fact that Obama can type."
I feel like this guy.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
There is a disturbing phenomenon creeping into the public debate about all things 9/11. Increasingly, Sept. 11 is compared to hurricanes, bridge collapses and other mechanical disasters or criminal acts that result in loss of life, with "body count" being the primary factor that keeps it in the top spot of "worst in the nation's history."
Misremembering is as dangerous as forgetting. If we must know one thing, it is that the Sept. 11 attacks were neither a natural disaster, nor the unfortunate result of human error. 9/11 wasn't the catastrophic equivalent of a 3,000-car pileup.Our fellow human beings were not "lost" in 1993 or on 9/11. They were torn to pieces. We must not give the enemy any quarter. We must confront the reality of their acts.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
UPDATE: Apparently one of the villains of the game has been spotted in the CERN publicity spots as well!
Too, too perfect.
As a hilarious side note, the construction company which had built the scaffolding in record time must have seen how many people were taking photos of the scene, so two workmen quickly attached a sign to the poles to take advantage of the free publicity. Some guerrilla capitalism amidst the anarchy!
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Monday, September 8, 2008
Sunday, September 7, 2008
“I cannot lie to you,” [Taliban commander] Namdar said, smiling at last. “The army comes in, and they fire at empty buildings. It is a drama — it is just to entertain.”
Entertain whom? I asked.
“America,” he said.
When it comes to the militants in their midst, it’s easier for Pakistan to do as little as possible. “There is a growing Islamist feeling in the military, and it’s inseparable from anti-Americanism,” I was told by a Western military officer with several years’ experience in the region. “The vast majority of Pakistani officers feel they are fighting our war. There is a lot of sympathy for the Taliban. The result is that the Pakistanis do as little as they possibly can to combat the militants.”
... [a] retired Pakistani official offered another explanation — one that he said could never be discussed in public. The reason the Pakistani security services support the Taliban, he said, is for money: after the 9/11 attacks, the Pakistani military concluded that keeping the Taliban alive was the surest way to win billions of dollars in aid that Pakistan needed to survive... “Pakistan is dependent on the American money that these games with the Taliban generate,” the official told me. "The Pakistani economy would collapse without it. This is how the game works. [...] The U.S. is being taken for a ride."
So how should America respond? Well, that's the hard part. Frankly, despite its long position in the public mind as "the right war", the chances of seeing something resembling victory in Afghanistan are to me far slimmer than they ever were in Iraq. Quite simply, and very much unlike Iraq, the plot of land currently labeled "Afghanistan" has simply never been a functioning country. From the time of Alexander the Great forward it has been the redoubt of bandit warlords, the mountain waste between the empires that have ever fought each other to hold this or that slice of it. The reason Pakistan is inseparably tied to it is that a good-sized chunk of that ungovernable mountain waste lies on Pakistan's side of the border, and the sizable population of that region's ungovernable mountain people have no interest in having anything to do with Pakistan or Afghanistan. And we pay Pakistan ludicrous amounts of money to fight the Taliban; is it any surprise they aren't particularly interested in winning?
I know it's just old colonialist instincts, but I just can't help wondering if the rest of the world might be better off if we drew a new line around the Pashtu homeland instead of through it, and just left them alone in their medieval xenophobia. Talibanistan. It's got a nice ring to it.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
But another part of the answer is that the press was simply surprised. Cockroaches scatter when shocked by a flipped light switch. Grizzly bears attack when startled. And when caught napping by big news, the press corps floods the zone. Editors scream at underlings who missed the story. Networks fret they’ll be scooped. And all of a sudden, the norms and standards become a blur in the race to be first.
By the end of the week, after Palin's tour de force in St. Paul, the liberal media were so befuddled that they were reduced to complaining that conservatives aren't being narrow-minded enough. Thus, Hanna Rosin--who has covered religion and politics for the Washington Post, and has also written for the New Yorker, the New Republic, and the New York Times--lamented in a piece for Slate: "So cavalier are conservatives about Sarah Palin's wreck of a home life that they make the rest of us look stuffy and slow-witted by comparison." I suppose it was ungenerous of conservatives, in our broad-mindedness and tolerance of human frailty, to have let Ms. Rosin down, just when she was counting on us to bring out the tar and feathers. But she gives us too much credit when she suggests we make the liberal media look stuffy and slow-witted. They do that all by themselves.
If you leave a bunch of eleven-year-olds to their own devices, what you get is Lord of the Flies. Like a lot of American kids, I read this book in school. Presumably it was not a coincidence. Presumably someone wanted to point out to us that we were savages, and that we had made ourselves a cruel and stupid world. This was too subtle for me. While the book seemed entirely believable, I didn't get the additional message. I wish they had just told us outright that we were savages and our world was stupid.
Public school teachers are in much the same position as prison wardens. Wardens' main concern is to keep the prisoners on the premises. They also need to keep them fed, and as far as possible prevent them from killing one another. Beyond that, they want to have as little to do with the prisoners as possible, so they leave them to create whatever social organization they want. From what I've read, the society that the prisoners create is warped, savage, and pervasive, and it is no fun to be at the bottom of it. In outline, it was the same at the schools I went to.
A lot of people seem to think it's good for smart kids to be thrown together with "normal" kids at this stage of their lives. Perhaps. But in at least some cases the reason the nerds don't fit in really is that everyone else is crazy. I remember sitting in the audience at a "pep rally" at my high school, watching as the cheerleaders threw an effigy of an opposing player into the audience to be torn to pieces. I felt like an explorer witnessing some bizarre tribal ritual.Okay, that's quite a few quotes. Read the whole thing. There'll be a quiz.
Officially the purpose of schools is to teach kids. In fact their primary purpose is to keep kids locked up in one place for a big chunk of the day so adults can get things done. And I have no problem with this: in a specialized industrial society, it would be a disaster to have kids running around loose. What bothers me is not that the kids are kept in prisons, but that (a) they aren't told about it, and (b) the prisons are run mostly by the inmates.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
1. Venison (though only in the form of garlicked summer sausage, which could be made from fetid dingo's kidneys and nobody would know the difference).
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue (though the last time I had it, I had so much and was in such a bad mood, I'm not sure I ever want it again).
10. Baba ghanoush
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
47. Chicken tikka masala
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear (yeah, remember field exercises in Texas? I hate to get my revenge on the buggers somehow).
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal (though seriously, I think only once. I'm a quarter-pounder sort of guy).
56. Spaetzle (best. staple. starch. ever).
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores (do they count if I never have to patience to actually roast the marshmallow?).
63. Kaolin (only if you count using Kaopectate, and I don't).
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake (heck yeah county fair!).
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
79. Lapsang souchong
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare (wait, just hare? or does rabbit count?).
90. Criollo chocolate
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
52. Just over halfway there.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Monday, September 1, 2008
Sidenote: New Orleans is deserted. The evacuations were mandatory and thorough. There will be no tragedy. If the city were to sink below the waves, the only people to go with it would be the unconscionably foolhardy. And the reporters. No tragedy. I know it would be pretty hard on all the people whose homes would be devastated yet again, but in light of this world of ours, I can't quite bring myself to get too hung up about a bunch of people losing their stuff.