Sunday, August 31, 2008
And yet . . . the defense appears to be solid. Norm Chow is an excellent offensive coordinator (and would probably like to show up USC where he had success before but seems to have been dissed) and Rick Neuheisel has been successful as head coach wherever he has gone. Besides quarterback the "skill" players (though don't ever tell me offensive linemen don't need skill, especially when they're undersized runts as I was) seem to be pretty solid.
Anyway, chips, beer and guacamole are stocked up, so I'm ready.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Anyway, here's the Register's editorial. The rest of the guidelines take recent court decisions into account and set up fairly reasonable standards that most dispensaries are likely to meet. That might not keep the feds away, as Jerry said he wanted to do, but it's not a bad start.
Legislative meetings and negotiations are likely this weekend.
Then that rascal McCain showed he had a pretty good trick up his sleeve and stole Obama's thunder by choosing Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate. She has some downside risks, but what I saw on conservative blogs was a real energizing of the base. It's become a much more interesting race.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
But despite problems at other schools where he has coached -- though the fact that he put a big bet into an NCAA basketball tournament pool while coaching football was pretty bogus as an ethical problem and I think he got a settlement from U. of Washington after they fired him over it -- he has been successful as a coach wherever he has gone, and he's an old (1984 Rose Bowl MVP, which makes him a youngster by my lights) Bruin player. I suspect there will be a certain amount of "wait until next year" this season, but I'm hoping against hope that it will be better than that.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
In the process I had a nice talk with my old friend Tom Henriksen at the Hoover Institution. He's got a new book out, "American Power After the Berlin Wall," the first comprehensive history of how the U.S. has used its power, that I think is intended as a college text and is definitely worth reading.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
By the way, if Orange County were a separate nation (nice dream), it would have finished 13th in the medals brigade.
There was a strange aspect little commented on earlier. A Robert McGovern, described as a New Age spiritual healer, supposedly a long-time associate of Rielle Hunter, who arranged the meeting at the Beverly Hilton. Edwards was attracted to a woman duped by a New Age fraud? Did McGovern set up the meeting purposely so Edwards would get caught? Just bizarre.
And now there's this story today about Edwards trying to reach out to friends and former aides to apologize and try to make amends for all the lies he told and the deception he practiced. Apparently most of them want nothing to do with him. A few have told him so to his phone receiver, and others say they don't intend to answer his calls. Ever.
What strikes me as unacceptable, however, are those who are starting to criticize Elizabeth Edwards publicly for acquiescing in the deception. She may deserve such criticism, but do you have to do it in public. She's politically deluded, of course, but she seems like a decent enough person who doesn't deserve it. Unless her (former) friends and associates know stuff about her that I don't.
Monday, August 25, 2008
I think I got a patriotism/nationalism discussion going among Antiwar.com commenters, some of whom thought I was all wet. Good.
Friday, August 22, 2008
So Random House gave her a $100,000 advance and the book was slated to be an August Book of the Month Club selection. But one Middle Eastern studies professor, Denise Spellberg, who has also written about Aisha, said the book was inflammatory and problematic, and demanded that her name be eliminated from the bibliography. She than contacted some Islamic Web sites to ask them to oppose it, and apparently they did.
The best I can figure out, not having read it but only read about it, is that while there are no explicit sex scenes, the novel treats Muhammad and Aisha as sexcual beings Horrors!
Anyway, Random House, having gotten a few complaints, has withdrawn the novel from its publishing schedule. The craven chickenhearts.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
"What I absolutely did not concede, however, was the fact that this change meant the war itself was worth it. By invading Iraq in the manner it did, the U.S. exacerbated all of the threats it faced prior to 2003. Recruitment into terrorist cells shot up all over the world. North Korea and Iran accelerated their development of nuclear weapons." And Iran is now the dominant player in the Persian Gulf region.
Fukuyama also explains, beyond the psychological reluctance, why so many war opponents are so reluctant to concede that the "surge" has "worked" -- beyond the obvious fact that other factors, including the Anbar Awakening beginning before the surge and Muqtada al-Sadr getting word from Iran to enter a cease-fire were involved. As Fukuyama puts it, "The smallest concession induces supporters of the war to argue that they were right all along, as Mr. Stephens did." This war may end without the result being indefinite occupation and a complete mess in Iraq. But it was still unnecessary and unwise.
As is hardly a secret, the newspaper business is still in serious trouble. Terry Horne, the new publisher at the Register, has pretty solid plans for dealing with the situation, but a whole lot -- death of department stores, Craigslist and Monster.com taking away classified advertising, other Internet news sites, young people not buying newspapers -- is beyond our control. We're working on Web-first reporting and commentary. The strategy of zoned editions, to attract local businesses not interested in the full run of the paper, is starting to show results, but we're a long way from being out of the woods.
Anyway, here's the Register's editorial on Musharraf's resignation. The two parties now in control aren't even speaking to each other and what is called a government in Pakistan really isn't one -- which might not be all that bad. Fortunately the Pakistani military still seems to have effective control of the nuclear weapons. I wouldn't be surprised if they took over he government before long. It's been a Pakistani pattern.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
I say try everything else also, but not in the same way many do. Most politicians want to use various government incentives like tax credits to encourage wind energy, ethanol, other biofuels, solar and the like. That distorts the market and makes it more difficult to know what kinds of alternative energy is truly economical and competitive.
We got a call from a very angry old man today who said this editorial was "wrong on everything" and that it reflected the left-wing bias of the nasty media. He said he was canceling his subscription, but he didn't want to talk to the writer, because it was just plain wrong. You put your work out there and you just don't know what people are going to think. I love it.
If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
During the life of any heart this line keeps changing place; sometimes it is squeezed one way by exuberant evil and sometimes it shifts to allow enough space for good to flourish. One and the same human being is, at various ages, under various circumstances, a totally different human being. At times he is close to being a devil, at times to sainthood. But his name doesn't change, and to that name we ascribe the whole lot, good and evil.
Instead of acknowledging this likelihood, which as nearly as I can understand it is close to the heart of Christianity properly understood, they defined evil as something somebody else does -- and in McCain's case especially, as something to make one angry. But isn't anger itself at least a shortcoming?
Sunday, August 17, 2008
And we have a new benchmark in commentary. I don't know who the girl is who comments on women's diving is, and I don't especially want to know. But my wife, who is never wrong, has pronounced her "worse than Dick Button," and that is a status that in her mind is difficult to achieve.
And interviewers everywhere (but especially at NBC apparently). Can we retire the tired old question, "What was going through your mind when . . ." You never get anything resembling an insightful answer because chances are, if you're referring to an athletic endeavor, nothing was going through your mind because the adrenalin rushing through your body blocked any possible thoughts, and thinking might have interrupted the focus needed to get the physical job done. I know it's hard to think of good questions for athletes who have just achieved something significant, in large part because most athletes seldom have anything very interesting to say (remember the people in high school who were the jocks? how many were mental giants?). But that question is particularly lame.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
It lived up to its billing as a civil event -- a bit unusual but somewhat interesting in that Warren asked each candidate the same questions separately, with Obama going first while McCain was in a "cone of silence" so he couldn't hear Obama's answers. Somewhat revealing, and it will certainly boost Rick Warren's prestige. As I noted in an earlier Orange Punch blog, however, it was just on the edge of proper. I don't remember Jesus and Paul being all that eager to cozy up to the principalities and powers.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
The suicide of Army scientist Bruce Ivins just as the FBI seemed to be closing in on him as the prime suspect in the anthrax letters case strikes me as just too neat and clean to be completely credible. I know, Occam's Razor, simplest-explanation-best and all that. But even with all the stuff they released about Ivins being pretty mentally unstable, I'm not completely convinced. I'm not sure I go all the way with this writer who suggests the Bush-Cheney cabal staged it, but I do remember how helpful the anthrax letters were to creating the impression that it might have been Saddam Hussein, which the Bushies were pushing as hard as they could -- and which contributed to the psychological build-up to the Iraq war -- until the FBI seemed to settle unjustly on Stephen Hatfill, who ended up getting $5.8 million from the taxpayers for all the harassment to which he was subjected.
The best on this issue has been Glenn Greenwald, who has pursued various inconsistencies in the case against Ivins, here, here, here, and here. Very lawyerly, which in this case and context is a compliment. But even the WSJ has run pieces (by a former Ft. Detrick scientist who worked with him) saying that it just couldn't have been Ivins, and probably not any single individual.
Full-scale congressional investigation, anyone?
"Anthrax Case Raises Doubt on Security."
If the Register had run the same headline, it would have appeared this way:
"Anthrax case raises doubt on security."
It wouldn't have had every word except a few short but somewhat arbitrary ones -- a, an, on, to, of -- capitalized. Although in big print, it reads like a sentence, which most headlines (though not all by any means) are. I hope I'm not being to employer-centric when I say I prefer the Register style. I think it promotes easier reading and makes headlines a little less blocky.
The Post style is the more traditional. I think the Register shifted style sometime in the 1980s. USA Today uses the same style. Did we copy it from them? I'm not sure.
Perhaps it's a formal/informal dichotomy. Maybe not. The LA Times takes itself very seriously, but it doesn't capitalize all the words in a headline. Maybe it's an East Coast/West Coast thing; the New York Times uses capitalized words too, as does the Wall Street Journal. But then USA Today is headquartered in Arlington VA. And the UK's Telegraph doesn't capitalize all the words in a headline. Maybe it's stodgy/trying to be hip?
It's not all that important, but I though it was kinda interesting.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Perhaps the most striking thing about this conflict is the extent to which it has unleashed nostalgia for the Cold War, with Russia as the easily identified, easily demonized enemy again. From the Wall Street Journal to the Heritage Foundation to AEI to Bob Kagan writing in the WaPo. the calls to "do something" about the evil Russians' aggressions against a valued democratic ally issued plaintively.
Trouble is, as this Register editorial outlines briefly, it isn't all that clear who the bad guys or aggressors were here. Just as Georgia sees Russia as the neighborhood bully, the smaller separatist provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia see Georgia as the neighborhood bully, and for reasons rooted in history and ethnicity among other factors they prefer (at least significant majorities do) to be more closely associated with Russia, perhaps even to be part of Russia.
The timing was surprising, but the conflict wasn't. Russia felt (and was) dissed when it was weak and chaotic in the 1990s, but now that it's waxing fat on oil money and has a canny autocrat at the helm, it's worrying about the "near abroad," as Russian regimes have for hundreds of years. It's not necessarily necessary, but Russia has always wanted only neighbors who are friendly or vassals on its border, and the prospect of a state longing to be in NATO, with Saakashvili talking constantly about eventually "retaking" the two provinces that have been de facto independent and allied to Russia (which made all residents Russian citizens was predictably too much for Russians eager to flex their geopolitical muscles a bit to bear. However it started, the Russians were better prepared (probably have war-gamed it a hundred ways).
However, who rules South Ossetia is hardly a core U.S. interest, so there was no sensible reason for the U.S. to intervene -- and besides it had no way to do so. All the blustering without any concrete way to punish Russia only made Bush and McCain (and to some extent Obama) look silly and exposed how helpless a giant the overstretched imperial power is. And to have the invader of Iraq moralizing about invading sovereign countries? I suspect Bush is so self-righteous he didn't even notice a contradiction.
Monday, August 11, 2008
It's also interesting that China is so relentless in its pursuit of more medals than the U.S. wins. I guess the U.S. got four more last time. So what China did was to form Operation 119, after studying events that give out a lot of medals China hasn't really gone after -- 16 medals in canoe/kayak, for example -- and put together a program to find and train athletes to go after those medals. That's the kind of thing a totalitarian or authoritarian society can do. A freer society has to depend on the interest and enthusiasm athletes and potential athletes develop when young and (for the most part) count on parents to finance those Olympic dreams.
Which doesn't really lead us to the opening ceremonies, but it';s where I want to go. The NYT said it contained a reassuring message: "Do not worry. We mean no harm." I don't think that was the most important message at all, though some aspects of it were there. Assembling 2008 drummers to do exactly the same routine, with the same gestures and facial expressions was impressive in its way, but it also sent the message that this regime doesn't consider the individual as important as the people in mass, especially doing utterly uniform and identical things, is what we cherish. Did anyone else find that other than reassuring. Matt Leone in our office today said it was impressive but just a little creepy.
The impression was reinforced by the gigantic wave-like show with various boxes going up and down to create waves, characters and ather graphic images. Impressive again, in its way, but both more and less so to know it was all done by people, not levers or computers. It almost said -- though the opening ceremonies contained plenty of CG -- that we don't need no stinking computers, we have 1.4 billion people and they're eminently trainable and obedient. There was almost a Triumph of the Will-like display of gigantic, impressive collective action. You know this is a collectivist regime rather than one that cherishes the individual as an individual. I don't think this regime has the kind of geopolitical ambitions that should make the U.S. worry much, but I would hate living under it.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
It's still worth thinking about the fact that the last two totalitarian regimes to host the Olympics -- Germany in 1936 and the Soviet Union in 1980 -- were gone in about a decade. I think the Chicoms are shrewder, but it's still an interesting thought.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Just finished my Antiwar.com piece and time for more homeowner errands.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
I think Solzhenitsyn sped up the process, especially with the publication of "The Gulag Archipelago." (So did Vladimir Bukovsky, whom I met and instantly liked when he spent time at Stanford in the 1980s.) For whatever reason -- maybe it was the Nobel Prize and the literary quality of "Gulag" helped-- in the early 1970s Solzhenitsyn had enormous credibility with western intellectuals, including some who had been more inclined to be critical of anti-communists than communists. Maybe they were just ready to abandon the old dreams of a worker's paradise, or maybe the system was looking creaky. But they paid attention to Solzhenitsyn (it was later, after he took up residence in the U.S. and started criticizing its moral emptiness, etc., that many became disenchanted). And Solzhenitsyn was shrewd; he understood the system from the ground up, and knew just what he could demand, and the Nobel gave him protection from returning to the camps or an arranged death. So they eventually just got rid of him.
Here are a few more remembrances, from the WSJ, from WaPo's Peter Finn and Robert Kaiser, from Chistopher Hitchens, and Serge Schmemann, and Anne Applebaum.
It developed, of course, that Solzhenitsyn was something of a traditional Orthodox Russian nationalist rather than a liberal democrat or libertarian, with perhaps a too-tolerant relationship to anti-Semitism, which turned a lot of people off. Still, he was a literary giant and he played a pivotal role in the end of communism.
I was in the same room with him only once, shortly after he came to the U.S. around 1974 -- maybe it was '75 when he was invited to a reception at the U.S. Senate -- and famously not invited to the White House on Kissinger's advice. I was working for Rep. Bob Bauman of Maryland at the time, and fellow staffer Ron Docksai (a former YAF national chairman) and I wanted to see Solzhenitsyn, so we walked over to the Senate. But the reception was only for members of Congress and a few other select invitees. Fortunately, along the way we got to talking with Rev. Robert Drinan, the famously left-wing Rep. from Massachusetts, and when we got to the event he said "they're with me" and we got in.
But the room was further divided, with only MCs allowed on the side where Solzhenitsyn was. I had brought along my copy of the novel,"The First Circle"with the idea of getting it autographed, but I couldn't get to where the author was. So I asked then-Sen. John Culver of Iowa, (another left-wing Democrat) if he would get it done, which he did. I think he was pleased because he was able to present a book that had obviously been read rather than having been bought new that morning, creating the impression that he read books (which most politicians don't do). And Solzhenitsyn looked pleased to see a copy of his book that had obviously been read.
Alas, when my first wife and I divorced, she kept the book, saying the autograph was just rare enough (it said U.S. Senate and the date, and there weren't more than a few other books autographed at that event) that it might put the kids through college if she decided to sell it. I don't know if she ever did or not.
On the other hand, maybe if doubling down is a step toward the end of the American empire and of NATO, the alliance with no more reason to exist, maybe . . .
Monday, August 04, 2008
"The 4th District Court of Appeal for California issued a published opinion today ruling that federal law does not preempt California’s medical marijuana law. San Diego County had filed a suit in Feb. 2006 challenging the validity of the state identification card program for medical marijuana patients, and also challenging the whole foundation of the state’s medical marijuana law, put in place by voters in 1996 through Prop. 215. The suit was rejected at the superior court level, but San Diego County decided to appeal it. Today the appeals court rejected that appeal, saying that federal law — the Controlled Substances Act — does not preempt California law, because the CSA itself “signifies Congress’s intent to maintain the power of states to elect to serve as a laboratory in the trial of novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country by preserving all state laws that do not positively conflict with the CSA.”
I’m not sure that really was Congress’s intent when passing the CSA, which updated previous drug laws, back in 1974. I do know that when some congressmen back then questioned the placement of marijuana on Schedule I, the most prohibitory of the four schedules, which disallows even medical use, they were told it was simply for convenience, that future placement would be determined scientifically rather than politically. Of course that never happened, even when the the Drug Enforcement Administration’s chief administrative law judge in 1988, after several years(!) of hearings, ruled that it was improper and frivolous to keep marijuana on Schedule I. He was simply overruled by the politically appointed DEA administrator. So much for federal government respect for science.
With this ruling — I certainly hope San Diego County won’t waste any more of its taxpayers’ money appealing it to the California Supreme Court — counties have no excuse for not implementing the medical marijuana patient ID card system mandated by state law. Orange County has taken some halting steps in this direction, but it’s unclear just where that process is.
Here’s a link to the 4th District’s decision, and to comments by Americans for Safe Access, a patient advocacy group. And just for good measure, the amicus brief from the city of San Diego, which disagreed with the county, and the apellate court’s decision in a Garden Grove case, in which the city was ordered to return confiscated cannabis to a legitimate patient. If you want a lot more detailed background, I can humbly (sure!) recommend my own book, “Waiting to Inhale: The Politics of Medical Marijuana,” although since it was published in 2001 it doesn’t have all the most up-to-date information. If you e-mail me I’ll arrange to sell you a copy at less than Amazon’s price.
I still don't understand why free trade, which anyone who has ever taken Econ 101 or thought for more than a moment understands is long-term beneficial to the society that adopts it (though there may be short-term disruptions and losers, as always happens in a dynamic economy), is so easy to denounce in the political realm. Dan says, however, that some of same politicians who demagogue against free trade and globalization privately understand that the stance is stupid populism (maybe Barack Obama?) and in action take steps to increase trade. (Count on politicians to be hypocrites.) Dan sees a good deal of progress in the area of reducing bureaucratic impediments -- overlapping agencies demanding forms and doing inspections, sometimes soliciting bribes, consuming valuable time -- which can be more significant than outright tariffs at impeding trade flows.
Friday, August 01, 2008
Sometimes the most nefarious things politicians do are perfectly legal and even hailed as public-spirited by some. By laundering the transaction through the federal government Stevens (like most congresscritters) fuzzed the true nature of the deals, which was to take money from ordinary taxpayers and give it to friends, supporters and important interests in his home state. Stealing on behalf of others. Stealing and sharing to proceeds.
A friend of mine worked for Sen. Steven back in the 1970s when I was in Washington. His pattern was already well-established. He voted with the GOP most of the time, so he was considered reliable, but his only true conviction seemed to be that his job was to raid the federal treasury on behalf of Alaskan interests as extensively as possible. Others do the same of course, but he performed on a truly grandiose scale. Sadly,that's what a great deal of politics amounts to.