31 January 2009

El Santo in Iraq!

OMG. Isn't this the famous Mexican wrestler, now perched atop a humvee in Iraq overseeing the elections?

anyone check his documentation?

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New word alert!

This one from Peggy Noonan: Goldsmansachs Head

I think there is an illness called Goldmansachs Head. I think it's in the DSM. When you have Goldmansachs Head, the party's never over. You take private planes to ask for bailout money, you entertain customers at high-end spas while your writers prep your testimony, you take and give huge bonuses as the company tanks. When you take the kids camping, you bring a private chef. Goldmansachs Head is Bernie Madoff complaining he's feeling cooped up in the penthouse. It is the delusion that the old days continue and the old ways prevail and you, Prince of the Abundance, can just keep rolling along. Here is how you know if someone has GSH: He has everything but a watch. He doesn't know what time it is.

Schadenfreude. Pure schadenfreude.

well, I always said that as a political analyst Noonan was a good wordsmith.

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29 January 2009

History Lesson for the Bank Fiasco

I love it when journalists turn to history, in this case ancient history, for commentary on today's happenings. Here's one from the reign of Tiberius, stepson of Augustus and second emperor of the Roman Empire. It's from Tom Ricks as channeled by Matthew Yglesias:

Tom Ricks: “The latest round of massive corporate layoffs reminds of the financial crisis the Roman Empire suffered in 33 A.D.”

The Emperor Tiberius seems like a man who wouldn’t shy away from nationalizing a bank or two:

Tiberius also raised funds by accusing Sextus Marius, the richest man in Spain, of incest — almost certainly a trumped-up charge — and then having him thrown headlong from the Tarpeian Rock (see below), a cliff at the edge of Rome’s Capitoline Hill. “Tiberius kept his gold mines for himself,” Tacitus notes. It makes me think that Wall Street is getting off easy.

Given the mood of the country, I can see it. Hey, it's all the rage to compare America to the Roman Empire, especially among neo-cons.

don't ask about the Caligula plan for economic stimulus.

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Post mortem on Culture 11

Andrew Sullivan thought that Culture 11 was a big deal, and now it is gone. Sullivan laments.
But the loss of Culture 11 is, in my view, far worse than 14 lost jobs. It represented, at its best, a new and honest start for a thinking young conservatism, forged by a new generation of writers who, for the most part, were unafraid to think freshly - and showed up their elders by their courage and curiosity.

Perhaps. It is a bit depressing that it could not garner more support, ie money. I have to assume that what they were peddling is not selling, at least among the conservative crowd.

But one wonders where that "new generation of writers" is likely to go.

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Tarheel Logic

While we managed to get rid of the Wicked Witch of the South, the crazy aunt in the attic is still at large in the halls of Congress. Yes, our own Virginia Foxx (no relation to Redd) is hard at work weaving that special brand of North Carolina logic and reason we know so well.

This tidbit from the Times story on the House stimulus vote just bowls you over:

Representative Virginia Foxx, Republican of North Carolina, said that former President George Bush’s signature tax cuts in 2001 had created years of growth but that the nation’s problems started when Democrats regained majorities in Congress in the 2006 elections.

Really? So the Democrats came into office and a housing bubble retroactively inflated and began to pop? Mortgage-backed assets worth trillions less than their stated value just magically appeared on bank balance sheets and in hedge fund portfolios?

Well, I did my best in the last election.

funny. can anyone remember anything the Demos actually did after 2006?


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"New Majority" readers and Rush Limbaugh

Most serious bloggers, at least political bloggers, admit that they owe a huge debt to the comments of their readers. Josh Marshall over at TPM actually encourages them to do some of the basic reporting for his blog. So it is always educational to read the comments sections.

Here is one from Frum's New Majority site by "HollywoodBill that claims Rush Limbaugh's popularity is waning. If true, one can only wonder what took it so long.
The free market is taking care of Rush. In Southern California, one of the largest talkradio markets in the country, Rush Limbaugh is bleeding market share. The afternoon rush hour shockjocks, John and Ken, openly call him the Morning Gasbag. Bill Handel, admitted at a symposium that Rush is losing money for KFI. KFI was fiercely against the idiotic choice of Sarah Palin as VeeP. Do they influence much? Bush lost California in 2000 by 10 points, 11 in 2004. McCain/Palin lost California by 23 points, the largest loss in a Presidential election in nearly 60 years.

Others point out that a high profile Rush benefits the Dems.

Interesting, if true.

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A Sample of New Majority

That would be David Frum's new blog I mentioned in the preceding post. Here's a sample of what is blog is all about entitled "Base? What Base?" You can see why I like it. Here is a sample of the sample:
Overall: 36% of Americans now identify as Democrats and only 28% as Republicans. That 8% advantage for the Dems is the biggest since 1983, before the Reagan boom and triumph in the Cold War created a “Reagan generation” of young conservatives.

These are the numbers that make yesterday’s flexing of muscle by Rush Limbaugh over Georgia congressman Phil Gingery not merely ridiculous but actively dangerous. When Republicans line up behind Rush Limbaugh in this way, they are dividing the country 80-20 against themselves. Our supreme priority now has to be to reinvent ourselves as a pragmatic, inclusive, modern party of free enterprise and limited government. We have to relearn how to talk to moderates, independent, younger voters, educated voters, women – it’s a long list.

Me? I'm hoping he folds like Culture 11 before Republicans start listening to him.

and I have reason for hope.


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A new conservative blog

Ever since he boasted of seeing star bursts careening around the room every time Sarah Palin winked at him it has been hard for me to take Rich Lowry seriously. So much for his designated adult status. The rest of the crew over at National Review are just pathetic. The strongest contender for the uncoveted title of designated adult was David Frum, followed closely by Ramesh Pannuru. NRO solved that problem by getting rid of Frum, leaving Pannuru.

Frum, however, insists that it was an amicable parting brought on by his desire to start a blog of his own, New Majority. I've looked at it and it does seem to be a genuinely conservative voice, at once serious, intelligent, and sane, more or less. It is from tiny little sparks like this that the conservative movement will regain some credibility and, perhaps, a new identity at least in the perception of the American voter.

There was, briefly, another conservative blog called Culture 11 that attempted to do much the same. It had to fold. Lack of support.

while NRO rolls merrily along. No lack of support there.


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28 January 2009

Governent ought to be run like a business!

Well, sometimes you hear that from people. Usually from businessmen who want to become our political leaders. I've worked for big business, small business, and all types of government including the Feds. Trust me on this: you do not want your government to be run like a business.

And just to be sarky and totally unfair I present these two cases for your consideration:

AIG, the insurance giant that was essentially nationalized in September, has confirmed to the Associated Press that it's paying bonuses to employees who sold credit default swaps -- the very deals that helped cause millions in losses, leading to the company's collapse.

According to news reports, the bonuses amount to $450 million -- or $1.13 million for each of the 400 staffers in the financial products unit. (from TPM)

And for you fans of peanut butter:

The Georgia peanut plant linked to a nationwide salmonella outbreak that has killed eight people and sickened more than 500 knew on at least 12 occasions over the past two years that its product was contaminated but sold it anyway, according to federal officials. (from the NYT)

In China they would shoot these guys. Of course, that would be wrong.

so how did your kids like their PBJ sandwich? yummy.

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23 January 2009

The Beast that did it

The one that mauled ex-president Chirac so badly he had to be sent to the hospital.

Schadenfreude for the day

I love that word, schadenfreude. Sounds foreign enough to give it a false air of erudition while describing one of the most common of human emotions: malicious joy at some one's bad fortune. Here are two good examples from Peggy Noonan in The Washington Post (she calls it karma) in a rather sweet column today.

Illinois first lady Patricia Blagojevich has been fired from her $100,000 job as a fundraiser for the homeless.

And former French President Jacques Chirac was taken to the hospital after being bitten by his pet Maltese poodle. The pup was being treated for depression, apparently unsuccessfully.

Mauled by a depressed poodle. How ignominious.

I shouldn't be smug. If schadenfreude is a sin I am so in trouble.

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22 January 2009

Star Wars - The Oral Tradition!

"Star Wars" as told by someone named Amanda who has not actually seen the movie.


I can't wait until she tackles the Russian version of "War and Peace."

thanks to The Daily Dish.

Update: Carmen loves this. She thinks Amanda is so sweet.

Update II: I wonder if the Iliad started out this way.


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21 January 2009

Bubonic Plague: Not just for Medievalists anymore

Seems the Black Death is back. Via Andrew Sullivan and Chris Bodenner:

As practitioners of the Dark Ages, what goes around comes around:

At least 40 al-Qaeda fanatics died horribly after being struck down with [bubonic plague, which], swept through insurgents training at a forest camp in Algeria, North Africa. ... Now al-Qaeda chiefs fear the plague has been passed to other terror cells — or Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. One security source said: "This is the deadliest weapon yet in the war against terror. Most of the terrorists do not have the basic medical supplies needed to treat the disease. It spreads quickly and kills within hours. This will be really worrying al-Qaeda."

However, after noting a "total blackout from the Algerian media," Olivier Guitta says that Western nations should also be worried:

[I]magine if one of the infected individuals board a flight to Paris, London or New York, this person could be the means of "delivering" the weapon. The damage could be enormous.

While modern antibiotics can easily knock out the disease, it must be administered quickly, and still carries a 5% mortality rate.

Kind of a mixed curse, so to speak. But it is no laughing matter.

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18 January 2009

For those who don't understand Turkish

Here is a different version of the song Eartha Kitt sings in Turkish. This one is sung in Ladino, a type of medieval Castillian suffering from a train wreck with Turkish and Hebrew (and a few other languages).

klezmorim forever!


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Eartha Kitt

We lost a great singer and an interesting person a few weeks ago.

But I didn't know that she could sing in Turkish!

with thanks to B.B. of Hitti


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17 January 2009

Les Misérables et le photographie

A fascinating photo found in today's Daily Dish by Andrew Sullivan. He calls it the "The First Human Ever Photographed" and points out "he is getting his shoes cleaned in Paris - sitting still for ten minutes while the Daguerreotype captured him."

Except that there are TWO humans in this photo. The middle class gentleman who counts as the 'first human' and the little boy shining his shoes who evidently doesn't. The year was 1838.

Eh bien, plus ça change ....

though a Paris street corner is still a good spot to kill ten minutes


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16 January 2009

I didn't know Krauthammer had a sense of humor

Charles Krauthammer on Fox News.

BAIER: It was at George Will's house, and I saw our friends at "The Politico" called it a dinner and said "The silence of the lamb chops" because no one is talking about it. But what can you say about it?

KRAUTHAMMER: What is interesting is the fact that he would want to do this. And you see that since his election he has kind of reached out to people that may not be ideological allies, to Rick Warren, the pastor who will be at his inaugural, to John McCain, whom he has treated with a lot of dignity and respect, and to a bunch of right wing columnists last night, in part, because I think he is a guy who is intellectually curious and wants to exchange ideas, but also in part he wants to co-opt the vast right wing conspiracy.

And I'm here to tell you that, speaking for myself, he has succeeded. I am brainwashed entirely. I'm in the tank, and I am a believer of hope and change and, above all, audacity.

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15 January 2009

Without Comment

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10 January 2009

Why I have not been writing

I am in Minnesota and have been since Tuesday. It has been a draining trip but one I had to make.

I had forgotten what it is like to pump gas with your gloves off with -4 windchill. This is the first time I have been back to St Paul in the winter time for 19 years. Still, this weather is not so bad. For Minnesota.

Maybe I will write some more about my trip on that other blog.


03 January 2009

Presidents - ALL of them

Found this little video on National Review Online. It's fascinating to watch. All of our presidents morphing from George to Barack set to Bolero. Very educational.

also notice the profundity of NROs commentary.

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Paging through an old New York Review of Books this afternoon, listening to Ennio Morricone music, I find an ad for a book that sounds almost an impossible concept: Hitler's War Poets.

Is it even possible for such a regime to have real poets?

Probably, I am afraid. But I wouldn't be the one to judge.

the book cover has a portrait of an intellectual looking man, sensitive face and glasses, wearing the uniform of the Death's Head division of the SS. Oh well. Ars longa.

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01 January 2009

The New Year

Happy New Years to everyone. We are almost done with both the Double Zeros and the Bush Administration. Don't know about you but I am channeling Louis Armstrong. Not to mention this sentiment. As I have said so often, no one's reputation survived the Double Zeros.

And in backwards celebration of the misbegotten decade, the march of the Witch's guards*.

my favorite piece of music.

*notice the brave little doggie on the drawbridge. He serves to remind me that one good thing about the Double Zeros was I did manage to marry the right person.

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