31 January 2009

There's An Election In Iraq Today

Nothing to see here; keep on moving.

29 January 2009

Funny Ex-Presidents

Thanks to Ann Althouse and Riehl World View.

It's Not What Bush Did, It's Who He Did It To

From todays Foreign Policy Morning Brief:
The Democrats' proposed $819 billion stimulus package was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday. Despite last-minute lobbying by President Barack Obama, not a single Republican voted for the package. The bill includes tax breaks, aid to states, and funding for infrastructure improvements, education, Medicaid, and alternative energy projects.

A controversial "buy-American" provision in the bill would mostly bar foreign steel and iron from the infrastructure projects funded by the stimulus. Critics charge that this provision constitutes protectionism and could violate existing WTO agreements.

Meanwhile, the Senate's version of the bill is nearing $900 billion.
Given all the transference and projection that has characterized BDS, it was almost inevitable that one of Obama's first big, signature policy achievements would violate our treaty obligations. Now, we wait for the left to concede that at least Bush was explicit in his repudiation of treaties while Obama is simply brazenly violating "international law."

24 January 2009

Haven't Seen Much Discussion

Of the fact that all the ARMs that people were worried about and making fun of as obvious disasters in the making for home owners on a tight budget are resetting lower, saving mortgage-holders a lot of money.

23 January 2009

Might As Well Get It Out Of The Way

So, based on three days experience, it appears that President Obama is going to maintain Bush foreign/military policy while engaging in nationalization and social-engineering at home.

Hmm, military adventures in foreign nations; socialism at home. What discredited 20th century philosophies does that remind us of?

What A Difference A Day Makes

President Obama has asked that trials of inmates at Guantanomo Bay be suspended. The world applauds.

Can you imagine the reaction if President Bush, last week, had asked that the hearings be suspended? I suspect that the response would have been more on the "wiping his feet on the Constitution" side of the ledger.

This sort of thing, along with the "I pledge allegiance to Obama" video that AOG, among others, points us to, are pretty hard to take. I want to give President Obama a fair shot, but that doesn't mean I don't feel the pain of how he is treated compared to W, or that the creepy cult-of-personality stuff isn't worrying.

21 January 2009

Fortunately, I'm Not Looking For A Good Man

Refusing to have sex on the first date 'increases the chance of finding a good man': Prolonging the mating courtship increases a woman's chance of finding a "good" man, mathematicians have found (Kate Devlin, Telegraph.co.uk, 1/16/09)
You've got to love that "prolonging."

Just Americans

I was struck by one portion of President Obama's Inaugural Address that I haven't seen mentioned elsewhere that did something that seems to me important, deliberate and profound:
In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn. Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.
The prototypical American experience is the immigrant experience. We take pride and draw strength from the fact that our fathers and mothers chose to endure unimaginable hardships, including permanent separation from everything and everyone they knew, to come to the United States and build a better life for their children. But if that is the prototypical American experience, it is not the experience of black Americans who did not choose, but were torn from their families and sold across the sea to lives spent as property and with their own children considered to be the property of others.

Of course, if the prototypical American experience is one thing, and the prototypical African-American experience is fundamentally different, then what does that say about the position of African-Americans in America?

It seems to me that in the passage I quoted above, what President Obama is trying to do -- and what only President Obama can do -- is to normalize the black experience as part of the American experience. Whether they chose to do so, the slaves toiled for us. President Obama refers elsewhere in his speech to "our ancestors" and I think that this is part of the same effort.

When people convert to Judaism, it is said that it is as if they are descended from all the Jews who have come before them; they are the inheritors of Israel. American is, of course, the new Israel and we need to recognize, as President Obama wishes us to recognize, that it is as if we are all the inheritors of our American past. We are all the heirs of the slaves and we are all the heirs of the masters. In this way, at least, Obama's inaugural address captures the essence of Lincoln.

Dissappointing Republicans And Democrats

The sun rose today, but still in the east.

20 January 2009

As Long As I'm Being Crabby

1. Whose bright idea was it to perform an overly ornate version of a song praising simplicity?

2. In what sense is the following a poem?
Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others' eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin."

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's something better down the road."

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.

Oh, Great

Now we get four years of half the nation's whackadoos arguing that Barack Obama is not really the president because John Roberts screwed up the oath, and the other half screaming that the Chief Justice screwed up the oath on purpose for exactly that reason.

P.S.: At 7:50 pm on January 21, Drudge is flashing that President Obama has been re-sworn by the Chief Justice in the White House.

15 January 2009

Television: The Newspapers Of The '10s?

How can television survive the Internet?

12 January 2009

It's Time For Another Round Of Thoughtful . . . Or Creepy?

The guy in line at the grocery store who had two items, a bouquet of flowers and a large tub of "I can't believe it's not butter."

10 January 2009

Cancer Gene Becomes 100% Fatal: Progress Lauded

Breast cancer gene-free baby born (BBC.com, 1/9/09)
The first baby in the UK tested before conception for a genetic form of breast cancer has been born.

Doctors at University College London said the girl and her mother were doing well following the birth this week.

The embryo was screened for the altered BRCA1 gene, which would have meant the girl had a 80% chance of developing breast cancer.

08 January 2009

The Bomber's Veto

If we believe that:
  • People are born with certain inalienable rights;

  • Among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; and

  • People consent to government in order to protect these rights,
Then it necessarily follows that the Israeli government is not only permitted to go into Gaza to stop Hamas, but that it is obligated to do so. But this implies that, so long as Hamas survives, it can provoke Israeli government action at will. It needs only find a way to kill Israelis, or (as its done with its rocket attacks) find a way to so far degrade Israeli liberty and pursuit of happiness that the Israeli government must act.

If so, then Hamas can always torpedo a truce between the Palestinians and the Israelis, at least so long as Arab governments, including the PA, continue to use hatred of the Jews to distract their people from their own failure to secure life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If demography is really the Palestinian's friend, then Hamas can win, or at least convince itself that it can win, simply by preventing peace until such time as the Palestinians so greatly outnumber the Israelis that Israel's position becomes untenable. Of course, by preventing peace Hamas also keeps the Palestinians poor, so it's a self-reinforcing cycle.

So what can Israel do? It can decide to simply absorb the rocket attacks. This is, in fact, what it decides periodically, until the burden on its populace becomes too great. Since I think that this is an immoral abrogation of the basic responsibilities of government, I'm less than happy with this tactic.

It can wipe out Hamas. I'm generally skeptical of the "fighting terror only creates martyrs and recruits" argument. Al Qaeda has found that we can make enough martyrs to limit the number of recruits, or at least prevent them from doing anything constructive with the recruits they do get. But the Israelis, who have been calling and texting people living near their targets and telling them to seek shelter, including members of Hamas, are not willing to do what it takes to wipe out a popular movement mixed into a civilian population. This is another indication that, contrary to most people's expectations, the US -- following the Declaration of Independence -- is more ruthless than the Israelis.

The other possible solution is OJ's argument that the Israelis should let Hamas govern, with the expectation that it will fail. This is similar to the Anbar Awakening, in which seeing the future that AQ was trying to bring about up close and personal drove the Sunnis into alliance with us. The problem with this is two-fold. First, Hamas already has some experience delivering social and civil services. Second, whenever Hamas gets in trouble with the people, all it need do is lob a few rockets into Israel, leaving us back where we started.

There is another solution, of course. The federal government owns or managers 86% of the land in Nevada, some 61 million acres. Israel is less than 5.5 million acres. Let them make another desert bloom.

05 January 2009

Barack Obama, The Perfect President

In one way, Barack Obama might be the perfect president: he was in the Senate, but not of it. He has no reason to feel any institutional loyalty, he wasn't there long enough to be coopted, and I suspect that he understands -- as all reasonably intelligent, reasonably impartial observers must understand -- that the Senate is a ridiculous institution and that Senators are, largely, pompous blowhards who, if they could do anything else, would. Spending any time at all with Joe Biden, who is what passes in the Senate for intelligent and well-informed (he almost certainly knows what century it is), can only underscore that message.

Thus, we see, thanks to OJ, that Obama didn't run his nominee for head of the CIA past Diane Feinstein, and she's now in a snit.

There are certain things that are true of the men who are elected President. One is that they want to be President. Barack Obama, like George W. Bush, doesn't see his allotted role as ushering in the re-animation of congressional governance. He's no more likely to run his nominees past the Senate grandees then George W. Bush, who was lectured by Harry Reid on the necessity of selecting his judicial nominees from a list provided by the Senate.

Does the Senate dare withhold its consent from the Democrat's anointed one? That's the beauty of it: the Senate dares nothing.