Sunday, December 30, 2007
I have not reread it since I myself was about 15. But I credit it with being one of the formative literary and intellectual experiences in later becoming a military officer.
Watership Down is much, much more than a children's novel about a group of rabbits seeking a new home. Watership Down is a brilliant allegory of leadership in the face of adversity, written by a man who served in the British Army from 1940 to 1946.
I heartily recommend this novel to any young person, and I believe it has a place on professional reading lists in precommissioning programs as well.
Fuck the RIAA.
All of those assholes should lose their jobs anyway. These are the same cretins that steal more than 90 cents on the dollar from recording artists, even when the cost of music distribution approaches nothing. I'd much rather encourage job creation in the emerging digital media server category anyway.
I wouldn't invest in a record company, and I damn sure am not going to let them tell me where I can store music I purchased. I signed no contract with them.
I've never been one to burn copies of CDs. Nobody in this world has a copy of a CD I burned for them. I've emailed some tracks to other fiddle players, but most musicians I know love that, because that practice actually generates sales.
But you know what?
At this point, I don't give a rat's ass.
Respect is a two-way street. Consider my days of respecting the RIAA over.
I hope enough other consumers feel the same way to drive down CD sales to the point where they lay off their dumbest executives and get smart enough to surrender in their suicidal war with the marketplace.
Hey, assholes! I'm your customer!
Well, of course, it was bad of the little girl to lie, but little kids lie. Making a spectacle out of disgracing a 6-year-old is disgraceful. After failing to check the very checkable fact that made the company think of her essay as the best, it should have quietly resolved the matter with the girl's family — probably by sending her on the trip anyway — and given the prize — the honor of winning plus the trip — to someone else.
Rather than put the onus for lying on the girl's mother, where it belongs, Althouse goes so far as to accuse the store of negligence!
My point is that the store was negligent in failing to check (and for giving the prize for a fact about a person's life instead of for the quality of the essay). I think because they are at fault, they should not have resorted to public humiliation, which is a punishment way out of line for the little girl. Obviously, her mother is to blame, but nevertheless, the shame is being visited on the little girl, and I think this is wrong, given the fault of the store in judging the contest.
That's retarded. It's not even lawyer-logic. It's nothing logic. It's a store. Not a newspaper. They have no duty to fact-check every entry in a frigging essay contest for six-year olds. If they did, and were liable to torts every time all the losers smelled a foul in a winner, no one would ever have any essay contests ever again.
I don't think Althouse grasps the seriousness of honor thievery. This wasn't just a lie. This was a deliberate attempt to steal the honor of our fallen, and those family members who have made real sacrifices, for personal gain.
Our servicemen and women don't get rich. When they are publicly recognized as individuals by the national press, it is just as likely to be excoriated in the press as it is to be honored.
The rewards are few, the hours are long, and the dangers are many and deadly and the sacrifices of their loved ones dear, even where the service member is not injured. The one currency they are due - and due richly - is that of honor.
This woman stole their honor - all for concert tickets.
There is a reason it is illegal to buy and sell a Congressional Medal of Honor.
If this woman does not like her honor impugned publicly, then perhaps she should have considered its value before trading on the honor of others for personal gain.
Her crime was a crime of honor. The only fitting recourse is public shaming. Keeping everything on the down low would not accomplish that.
I guess honor is just not in the curriculum at law schools these days.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
An essay that won a 6-year-old girl four tickets to a Hannah Montana concert began with the powerful line: "My daddy died this year in Iraq."
While gripping, it was not true — and now the girl may lose her tickets after her mom acknowledged to contest organizers it was all a lie.
The sponsor of the contest was Club Libby Lu, a Chicago-based store that sells clothes, accessories and games intended for young girls.
Money quote: "We did the essay and that's what we did to win," Priscilla Ceballos, the mother, said in an interview with Dallas TV station KDFW. "We did whatever we could do to win."
I hope Club Libby Lu raffles off the grand prize, and donates the proceeds to a charity that really does benefit the children of our fallen.
I will help publicize if they choose to do so.
The store is considering "taking away the girl's tickets."
I don't see how they can possibly consider NOT doing it. There are plenty of youngsters who really lost their daddies in Iraq. Give the prize to one of them. The little girl who wrote the essay will understand. Even if her mom doesn't, and never will.
Labels: Random weirdness
Friday, December 28, 2007
Here's the excellent guitarist John Doyle, from Asheville, NC (well, Dublin, Ireland originally) I'm not sure who the concertina player is. It's not John Williams. Noel Hill? Anyone?
The tuning Doyle uses is standard with a 'dropped' low D. So it's DADGBE
The first tune is a three-part reel called "The Cup of Tea." The first part is in Em and the next two parts are in D. That throws a lot of backers who aren't familiar with the tune.
I particularly like the diatonic walk down at the end of the Cup of Tea, transitioning into the second.
The second tune, a common session tune called the Congress Reel, Doyle goes outside the tonal center a little too far for my taste. But since this an instructional video I suppose he was just illustrating a concept.
1. Hilary Clinton
2. John Conyers
3. Larry Craig
4. Diane Feinstein
5. Rudy Giuliani
6. Mike Huckabee
7. I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby*
8. Barack Obama
9. Nancy Pelosi
Click on the link for a 1 paragraph background on each.
Six Democratic members of congress. Of the people on this list, only one of them, Larry Craig, is a Republican member of Congress. They had to pack it with Libby. (I'm surprised Stevens from Alaska didn't make the list, instead of Libby. But maybe that just needs more time to shake out. Ditto with Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana. I mean, getting caught with 90k in cash in your freezer's pretty bold. And it's a more obvious case of outright corruption than Libby's.
But of the six Democratic congress members on the list, two of them happen to be the House Speaker and Senate Majority Leader.
I guess that's the way to move up in the Democratic party.
* I don't think he's a politician, but ok.
Top editors at the military newspaper Stars and Stripes are asking for full disclosure of the paper’s relationship with a Department of Defense publicity program, called America Supports You, after disclosures that money for the program was funneled through the newspaper....
An audit, announced in October, is examining whether the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference, a Pentagon outreach program that educates civilian leaders about the military, is in compliance with the law and Defense Department policies.
After a Stars and Stripes reporter, Jeff Schogol, discovered that the inspector general’s office had widened the inquiry to include the newspaper, he investigated and wrote articles that the newspaper published. Documents have been posted on the paper’s Web site, www.stripes.com, that describe payments, including a $499,000 purchase agreement between Stars and Stripes and a contractor doing work for the America Supports You program. The documents stipulate that work be submitted to employees on the business side of the paper for an advertising program and a Web site for America Supports You.
Holy wholesale ink purchase invoices, Batman! I think we found the last six newspapermen in the country that think media companies don't sell advertising and never get involved in creating Web sites for large advertising clients!
Welcome to the real world, guys.
Disclosure is a good thing. But I don't see why the editorial integrity of Stars and Stripes has been compromised by the arrangement, any more than it's already compromised by being partly owned and financed by the Pentagon in the first place.
Labels: The media
"It was with sadness that I signed my name this grey morning to a letter resigning my commission in the U.S. Navy," wrote Gig Harbor, Wash., resident and attorney-at-law Andrew Williams in a letter to The Peninsula Gateway last week. "There was a time when I served with pride ... Sadly, no more."
Williams' sadness stems from the recent CIA videotape scandal in which tapes showing secret interrogations of two Al Qaeda operatives were destroyed. ...
The tapes may have contained evidence that the U.S. government used a type of torture known as waterboarding to obtain information from suspected terrorists.
Torture, including water-boarding, is prohibited under the treaties of the Geneva Convention.
Not for illegal combatants and terrorists it's not. (Did I mention the Knight Ridder reporter was stupid, too?)
It was in the much-publicized interview two weeks ago between Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, who is the chief legal adviser at the Pentagon's Office of Military Commissions, that led Williams to resign.
In the interview, Graham asked Hartmann how the uniformed legal community should respond if the Iranian government used waterboarding to torture a U.S. solider into disclosing when the next U.S. military operation would occur.
Hartmann responded: "I am not prepared to answer that question."
For Williams, a former naval Lieutenant Commander and member of the Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAG), this answer went against "every training I had as an attorney" and as a member of the military.
Williams enlisted in the Navy in 1991 after completing law school at Santa Clara University. He was a legal officer and defense counsel in the U.S. Navy, meaning he both prosecuted and defended people in military courts.
He served on the USS Nimitz CVN-68, based in Bremerton, before becoming a member of the Naval reserves in 1995.
Williams, 43, felt that Hartmann was admitting torture is now an acceptable interrogation technique in the United States -- an admission that did not sit well with him.
This isn't rocket science, and it's not complicated. A U.S. soldier in such a hypothetical would be a legal combatant, wearing a uniform, carrying arms openly, responsible to a chain of command, and entitled to protection under Category III of the Geneva Conventions.
An ununiformed terrorist is entitled to no such protection.
If this is what passes for legal reasoning in his mind, we're better off with him chasing ambulances in Gig Harbor. Good riddance.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
I guess that's what you do when years of short-sighted, inept management and cutting back your newshounding has turned your brand into crap.
Oh. People Magazine still does well.
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
--William Butler Yeats
Via Lee Distad, the man who outed him.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
The abstract of the paper, authored by doctoral candidate Tal Nitzan, notes that the paper shows that "the lack of organized military rape is an alternate way of realizing [particular] political goals."
The next sentence delineates the particular goals that are realized in this manner: "In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it can be seen that the lack of military rape merely strengthens the ethnic boundaries and clarifies the inter-ethnic differences - just as organized military rape would have done."
The paper further theorizes that Arab women in Judea and Samaria are not raped by IDF soldiers because the women are de-humanized in the soldiers' eyes.
More: "An army is blameworthy of rape, and also blameworthy of not raping."
Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ, a regular stop (though the Ace folks themselves hat tip Hot Air, who heads their story thus: "IDF Troops Don't Rape Palestinian Women Because They're RAAAAAACIST?"
I can't wait for some enterprising soul to first raise the "Palestinian Women are Butt-Ugly" hypothesis.
Or Andy Sullivan to raise the "Most IDF Soldiers are closeted gays" hypothesis.
P.S., I get it. Most women get off on being dehumanized. So THAT'S why "nice guys" can't get dates!
I had to respond on Matt Yglesias's blog to this specific comment:
"Dukakis didn't mess up. He didn't wake up one day and decide to free Horton. He was governor at a time when MA had a furlough programme."
(Scroll down to Dec 26 at 4:16pm for the original).
You shameless liar.
Michael Dukakis was an ardent defender of the furlough programme, dating back to his first term as Governor, which began in 1975 - more than a decade before Horton was released on furlough. Dukakis, inexplicably, continued to defend the programme even into the 1988 elections.
Willie Horton was a murderer. Say it with me slow. A mur-der-er. Who was in prison without possibility of parole. Dukakis defended the furlough programme for its rehabilitative properties. What this idiot thought rehabilitating people who were incarcerated without possibility of parole was supposed to accomplish I can't imagine. It probably takes a liberal to excuse something that stupid. But let's take a closer look at Horton, as he was percieved - correctly, it turns out -- by the judge who sentenced him:
"I'm not prepared to take the chance that Mr. Horton might again be furloughed or otherwise released. This man should never draw a breath of free air again."
This is the man whom Dukakis released. This is the programme that Dukakis defended in 1976 and in 1988.
Defended in 1976, you say? Yes. Here are the facts:
The state legislature passed a law authorizing the furlough program, which was signed into law by Dukakis' predecessor, a Republican. But the genius liberals on the Massachussetts State Supreme Court found that the law, as written, also applied to first degree murderers.
Now, clear-reasoning people rightly see that as insane. And so the Massachussetts legislature passed a law exempting first-degree murderers. You know. Like Willie Horton.
In 1976, Governor. Dukakis. Vetoed. That. Law.
Don't you dare try to excuse Dukakis from responsibility for that programme. His fingerprints are all over the furlough programme. And he went to the mat insisting that it apply to first degree murderers.
(scroll down to December 26 at 4:47 AM and following)
Oh, in the process, accusing US troops of genocide. Well, of killing brown people, anyway, but we all know those liberal code words.
My posts documenting that spitting on veterans did occur have been blocked for approval for some reason (though my others not containing links go through. It might be an anti-spam measure).
Any first-hand accounts would piss off all the appropriate people, though.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Labels: Ron Paul
They would love to believe that Republicans won electoral dominance in the South, wresting it away from racist Democrats, by pandering to their racist views and becoming the party of choice for segregationists.
That's just idiotic. Racist Democrats wanted to join forces with country club republicans up north over the civil rights legislation of 1964 and 1965? Right. Because they had so much in common with Rockefeller.
No. As much as Democrats want to indulge in their holier-than-thou fantasy that the reason they lose elections is because they aren't racist (the liberal assumption, always always ALWAYS, is that the American people are basically bad, bigoted and stupid), they are ignoring what really happened between 1964 and 1980.
What happened after 1964 was that the Democratic Party of Kennedy and Roosevelt, which commanded some loyalty and was broadly pro-American and pro-strong defense, quickly degenerated into the party of anti-Americanism, rioting in Chicago, spitting on veterans, and surrendering to the Communists in Viet Nam.
You don't get to run a national disaster like McGovern in 1972 and then wonder why Southerners trended Republican. McGovern didn't exactly carry that many states in New England, either.
What the south really is is pro-America and pro-military. There is a strong tradition of military service throughout the south. When liberals and radical Democrats began showing up on television and news reports calling soldiers and marines "baby-killers" and spitting on veterans returning from Viet Nam, southerners rightly recognized those as lies, and turned away in revulsion.
Ronald Reagan grasped that, and called for Americans to take pride in our armed services again, and take pride in our role as a positive force for good and freedom in history.
It was that that southerners responded to. Some of them were racists, naturally. Most weren't.
But the left's failure to grasp that their anti-American, anti-military rhetoric coming from their radicals (and increasingly, their leadership in congress) is damaging is one of their chief obstacles to building a lasting majority and regaining the White House.
Of course, some bonehead is probably going to respond on Yglesias's blog saying "but we AREN'T a force for good, Bushco is guilty of war crimes, and we're fighting a racist genocidal war and our troops ARE rapists and baby-killers. Thus proving my point (that the liberal postulate, always always ALWAYS, is that Americans are bad, bigoted and stupid)
If they don't do it there or here, the morons at Daily Kos or Democratic Underground will take care of it for them.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
And not two hours after I write that do two Paulbots show up to prove my point.
One of them, an anonymous Paulbot I'll call "dufus," writes in with this:
[quoting Megan McArdle, FMOMC(TM)*]"No Ron Paul supporter (or other gold standard advocate) has managed to articulate to me what problem the gold standard solves."
- That's easy. For starters, how bout the illegality of the current system? What does the constition say is legal tender?
Article 1 (The Legislature), Section 10 (Powers Prohibited to the States), Clause 1: "No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility."
So, the question to you is: Do you support the Constitution of the United States?
Emphasis was in the original comment dufus left on the post.
Yes, dufus, I do support and defend the Constitution of the United States. The difference between you and me, though, is I put down the crack pipe long enough to actually read and understand it - and in particular the passage you sent.
Holy Crap, dufus! Did you and the rest of the Paulbots have a great big bowl of Dumb Flakes at the Ron Paul Fundraising Pancake Breakfast? If you will actually take the time to READ the passage that you quote, you will find that the passage expressly forbids these actions by STATES. It does NOT prohibit any of these actions on the part of the federal government, dufus. You might accept the whack in the head by the cluebat when the text spells out: "Powers prohibited to the States." In layman's term even a Paulbot should be able to understand, dufus, Powers prohibited to the States means, (ahem) "Powers prohibited to the States."
What's more, the term "the States," as used herein, actually attaches to...wait for it, dufus... the States. Say it with me. The STAAAAAAAAAAAATES.
Plain meaning. Who knew?
Unless you want to argue that it's actually illegal for the federal government to coin money.
Presumeably, in Paulbot World, the power to issue coins is going to be delegated to magic penny machines in Disney hotels, or something.
FMOMC = "Future Mother Of My Children"
I swear, it's as if every gold bullion publisher in the country got together to hire a PR firm to monitor the blogosphere for Ron Paul mentions. If they did, it's the dumbest, sloppiest PR firm in the world.
Also, I hope regulators mop the floor with whoever it is that issued the idiotic radio ad "Gold has doubled in value and is poised to double again!"
Those are the same hucksters pushing Ron Paul.
And they're morons.
No Ron Paul supporter (or other gold standard advocate) has managed to articulate to me what problem the gold standard solves. Inflation is low, and even better, relatively predictable, so the expectation is built into asset prices. Moreover, most people on fixed incomes are retirees, and most retirees get almost half their income from Social Security, which is indexed for inflation.
This Ron Paul speech lists a number of reasons, all of them wrong:
Read the whole thing.
Natch, McArdle, whom I like to refer to as the Future Mother of My Children(TM) (an honor she shares with Lara St. John, but for different reasons), naturally then attracts a host of Paulbots laying down an obscuration barrage. The Paulbot morons are a source of entertainment in themselves.
Here's the thing: Ron Paul and the goldbugs frequently like to assume a populist stance with their rhetoric. But a return to the gold standard is a return to hard money. And that is, at its core, a fundamentally unpopulist position!!!
Returning to the Gold standard means a return to an inelastic monetary policy that overwhelmingly favors, you know, the New York money people.
And unlike Ron Paul supporters and dumbass Democrats, when I say the New York money people, I don't mean Jews. I mean the REAL New York money people -- WASPs. A hard money policy overwhelmingly favors the owners of capital.
Honestly, I'm agnostic as to whether the gold standard is a great idea or not. But I'm not agnostic as to whether Paulbots are morons. They are, almost without exception.
Don't give me that libertarian crap. Glen Reynolds is a libertarian. Ron Paul is a crazed nutjob who plays footsie with even crazier nutjobs.
And he's not even any fun!!!!
For fun, I refer you to the Mogambo Guru, whom I used to turn to for color quotes back in my days editing investment newsletters.
Now, watch the Paulbots roll in. How's that Technorati alert working for you, assholes?
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Here's his Web site!
No, we don't agree on a whole lot on the platform. But what we do agree on is far more important that what we don't. We are both very passionate about public service and public life, we believe in integrity and we are both, to our bones, lovers of freedom and supporters of the Constitution of the United States.
And no, he's not a typical Democratic surrender monkey in Iraq. He wants to see that mission succeed, but successfully transferred over to the Iraqis.
He also wants to win in California, though. (It's tough to root for success in the land of moonbattery.)
Plus, trust me. He's alright for a squid.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
First, reform journalism school. It's too late to be training new journalists in the classic mode. Instead, journalism should become a required course, one or two semesters for every graduate. Why? Because journalism like everything else that used to be centralized is in the process of being distributed. In the future, every educated person will be a journalist, as today we are all travel agents and stock brokers. The reporters have been acting as middlemen, connecting sources with readers, who in many cases are sources themselves. As with all middlemen, something is lost in translation, an inefficiency is added. So what we're doing now, in journalism, as with all other intermediated professions, is decentralizing. So it pays to make an investment now and teach the educated people of the future the basic principles of journalism.
Second, embrace the best bloggers. How? Easy -- every time someone is quoted in your publication, offer them a blog hosted on your domain. This has a couple of advantages: 1. It gives the reporters the ultimate say on who gets to share some of your authority, who gets a chance to be the next amateur star. 2. It gives the reporters an incentive to only use sources that are qualified, it would improve the quality of your reporting. It also has a third benefit, as you expand the number of people writing under your banner, you also expand the reach of your publication, into school boards, local government, sports teams and businesses. It's also important because it's how you decentralize, aligning your interests with the "grain" of the web, as opposed to the current positioning, against it.
Obviously, neither will happen as long as journalists see bloggers as threatening upstarts and wannabe's, rather than as supplements for their own stories and as opportunities to leverage their own research skills with expert commentary.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
The fiddlers, left to right, are Mairead NiMonaigh (schwing!!!), Sean Keane, and Ciaran Tourish.
Who's the hottest pop music star ever?
You have 30 seconds to comment.
I wish I had more time to write about this now.
Is it mutiny? I'd go slow with that charge. For one, you have to charge individuals with it, not entire units. And if a pfc's entire platoon refuses to go except him, can you really say he's guilty of mutiny? He's not going out by himself!
Second, yes, it's true that units might need a legitimate breather after losing so many beloved comrades. The command may have erred in not taking a look at the scheduled battle rhythm, under the circumstances. But then again, that's command business, and it's their call to make. That call does not belong to the platoon.
Here's what caused my jaw to drop:
But, he said, he didn’t know the whole platoon, except for Ybay, had taken sleeping medications prescribed by mental health that day, according to Ybay.
Strickland didn’t know mental health leaders had talked to 2nd Platoon about “doing the right thing.”
He didn’t know 2nd Platoon had gathered for a meeting and determined they could no longer function professionally in Adhamiya — that several platoon members were afraid their anger could set loose a massacre.
“We said, ‘No.’ If you make us go there, we’re going to light up everything,” DeNardi said. “There’s a thousand platoons. Not us. We’re not going.”
They decided as a platoon that they were done, DeNardi and Cardenas said, as did several other members of 2nd Platoon. At mental health, guys had told the therapist, “I’m going to murder someone.” And the therapist said, “There comes a time when you have to stand up,” 2nd Platoon members remembered. For the sake of not going to jail, the platoon decided they had to be “unplugged.”
These twits in mental health need to be taken down a peg. I'd sooner try them for sedition than try these warriors for mutiny.
First of all, to put an entire platoon on sleeping meds at the same time???? That's just idiotic. That's a fireable offense right there, as far as I'm concerned. These morons in mental health, with their Mickey Mouse degrees in social sciences, forgot that there's a war on, and that the platoon needed to be able to defend itself and shoot, move and communicate, 24 hours a day.
If there were a medical issue, mental health should have coordinated that with the command. Commanders make the call whether to take a platoon out of the line. Not mental health.
Second, mental health is supposed to support commanders and the mission. It is not in their job description to assist soldiers in rationalizing violations of the UCMJ. If the story is accurate, it was mental health that arrogated to itself the role of the commander, and undercut the authority of the command.
In my book, that's sedition.
Obviously, the unit needs to be broken up. They're done. But mental health was supposed to help preserve its combat effectiveness. Not work to destroy it.
Friday, December 14, 2007
A commenter asked what my take on Ron Paul was.
Here's a little story about Ron Paul. It was back in my financial reporter days. At the time I was a cub reporter for a national consumer magazine, now defunct, called Mutual Funds. I was working on some story or other - I can't remember what it was now - and I was looking for some quotes to add color and perspective, particularly from a conservative commentator, since I already had a more liberal perspective from a couple of different sources.
So, for some reason, I gave Ron Paul's office a call, and wound up talking to his spokesperson. We started chatting, and I got him going. That's part of the key to interviewing...say something provocative and just shut up and let the subject talk. (That's why print can be better than TV. On TV you have to be seen to control the interview. Print journalists don't have to control the conversation so much, and can let the source be more himself.)
Anyway, I mentioned the Securities Exchange Commission somehow, and the Paul spokesperson said, and I quote him precisely because that part I remember like it was yesterday:
"Well, obviously the SEC should be abolished tomorrow."
There was about a half second of silence on my part. Then he said "well, obviously, that's off the record."
I said, "You mean you wish it were."
Most serious investors and investment thinkers I know realize that the United States has the best and most transparent markets in the world because it is the best regulated market in the world. We have the lowest frictional costs, and the risk premium you have to take into account to adjust for financial fraud is small compared to equity markets in less well-regulated environments. GAAP isn't always a model of clarity. But it at least provides a common language for security analysts to start with.
Yes, we sometimes go overboard, but I think that's mostly a matter of stupid compliance officers in the financial industry rather than a stupid regulatory body.
But the bottom line is this: I don't think Ron Paul is not being honest with the electorate about what he believes and is campaigning on. I don't think Ron Paul is a serious and sober-minded thinker.
Plus, he's a surrender monkey.
He's the kind of candidate who can discredit Libertarians and Republicans all at the same time.
He attracts the dumbest people on the right, the same way Dennis Kucinich attracts the dumbest people on the left. Except that when Dennis Kucinich says something, I believe he's being honest about it.
He should be heaved overboard with the ballast.
Oh, and regarding Giuliani... I like the guy personally, and agree with him on the War on Terror. But there will be more skeletons falling out of his closet.
I will be happy to cast a vote for Thompson or McCain, though McCain and I part company on a lot of things.
I do want to see Thompson step up to the plate and run a more effective campaign. He's too passive, and you can't have a passive Chief Exec. You wind up with Reagan's second term. Not a disaster, but some things got away from him as he began to slow down.
Don't know anything about the lesser known GOP candidates now.
My only hope is that Huckabee and Paul will split the moron vote between them.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
The late John Kelly, and his two sons, James and John, circa 1977. James, in the back row, is my fiddle teacher. And a great one. (Thanks, James!)
Supporters of "citizen journalism" argue it provides independent, accurate, reliable information that the traditional media don't provide. While it has its place, the reality is it really isn't journalism at all, and it opens up information flow to the strong probability of fraud and abuse. The news industry should find some way to monitor and regulate this new trend.
Dear David: Take your monitoring and regulating and shove it up your arrogant ass. "Professor."
Geez, I wish I were in college again. So I could create a classroom spectacle with twits like this loser. For the benefit of the undergraduates.
CNN's last YouTube Republican debate included a question from a retired general who is on Hillary Clinton's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender steering committee.
That's because your vaunted 'professional class' didn't do their job in figuring out he was a plant. That fell to... wait for it, assclown ... citizen journalists!
It's just a matter of time before something like a faked Rodney King beating video appears on the air somewhere.
Hey, bitchface. It already has. And you 'professionals' were responsible for it. Wow, those schools of journalism must be super awesome!
• Major news organizations must create standards to substantiate citizen-contributed information and video, and ensure its accuracy and authenticity.
I have a swell idea, professor. How about you concentrate on policing your own before you have the gall to come after the people doing your job for you?
Jus' sayin,' y'all.
Iowa Republican primary voters, keep that in mind.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Today, Ms. Costa and other former Message of Peace parishioners claim that Mr. Santos was a key part of a mostly Brazilian ring that allegedly conspired to defraud people by persuading them to buy homes they couldn't afford. Ms. Costa, the housekeeper, secured a $713,000 sub-prime mortgage. In another instance, a Brazilian baby sitter borrowed $495,000. Now, the home buyers are beset by foreclosures and additional stains on their already-tainted credit.
Lenders and their dumbass shareholders deserve to lose every penny in these loans.
Various immigrant groups have long been subject to financial scams.
Various immigrant groups, apparently, are made up of ignorant dweebs who can't be bothered to be their own judge of what they can and cannot afford and think that America is here to offer them a free lunch. Maybe we should deport some of them. They're mucking up the gene pool here.
My mom's an immigrant, and she didn't fall for this stupidity. What's their excuse?
In summer of 2005, Ms. Costa and her husband, Samir Abdelnur, agreed with Mr. Santos to start house hunting. The first thing he did was give Ms. Costa several blank forms to sign, she says.
Mr. Abdelnur, a taxi driver at the time, earned $4,000 a month, twice as much as his wife. But his credit was weaker, so he says that Mr. Santos advised them to buy a house in Ms. Costa's name. Her FICO credit score at the time was 585, which placed her in the subprime range.
Mr. Santos introduced the couple to Suzel Serafim, a Brazilian real-estate agent. Ms. Costa says Ms. Serafim offered to add Ms. Costa's name to her personal credit-card account to help boost the buyer's credit score. When contacted for comment, Ms. Serafim confirmed that she had added Ms. Costa to her credit card. "I helped her," she said. (A spokesman for the National Association of Realtors, a trade group, says that such a practice amounts to misrepresentation.)
Ms. Costa's credit report from the time shows her as an authorized user of another person's credit card.
The couple says they told the agent and loan officer that they could afford a monthly mortgage payment of $3,500. Ms. Serafim and Mr. Santos steered the couple to Contra Costa County, across the bay from San Francisco. Ms. Costa and her husband chose a remodeled single-story, three-bedroom house in the town of Hercules. Mr. Santos said they would get a cash incentive at closing to help pay for repairs and any appliances they needed. Ms. Costa recalls him telling her, "Everyone who buys gets $20,000 back. I did."
But first, says Ms. Costa, the couple needed to find $5,000 to make a deposit on the house, listed at $688,000. Ms. Costa says she borrowed $3,000 from her father and another $2,000 from Ms. Serafim. Such assistance from a real-estate agent is improper, lawyers say, because it deceives the lender about the borrower's ability to afford the house.
The more of this rottenness that airs out, the better. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.
Liquidate the subprime lenders. Liquidate the homeowners that leveraged themselves and committed fraud to make a quick buck. Call the roller of big cigars. Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone. Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
I'm going to see if my car will run eight days without oil.
It strikes me as a fun project. But the Torah says "do not tempt the Lord thy G-d!" And the local rabbi tells me to appreciate miracles, but do not put myself in the position of relying on them - even though I do just that every time I talk to a girl in a bar.
As if to demonstrate the goyim and descendents of Ishmael don't have a lock on stupidity, the word's gone out in some circles that Jews should "light one less candle" in order to save the planet.
Of all the dumbass things I've heard liberals suggest, this has got to be the dumbest.
No, we're gonna keep the silver and blue wrapping paper and all the trees we destroy in the process of making that wrapping paper. That's not a problem.
And apparently, we're going to keep the rank consumerism that has infected Hanukkah with all the worst attributes of Christmas. That's not a problem.
And apparently, we're gonna light one less candle. But if lighting one less candle makes any sense, why not dispense with the candles altogether? Yeah, that's a great idea.
I sincerely hope that this is simply a prank to discredit liberal Jews.
If liberal Jews had a lick of sense, they'd be suggesting things that actually make a friggin' difference. Like converting from lox and nova, which requires a smoking process that releases CO2 into the air like mad, and signing on with salmon sashimi.
And how about not sending Jewish kids on trips to Israel? That uses up a lot of jet fuel right there.
While we're at it, how about we ease up on all those flights between LaGuardia and Miami?
Are these people serious or not?
Update: Jack M at Ace of Spades is promising to burn "the biggest damn yule log I can fit into my fireplace." Required reading.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
And when you look at the internet business, what’s dangerous about it is that people who are clearly unqualified get to disseminate their piece to the masses. I respect the journalism industry, and the fact of the matter is ...someone with no training should not be allowed to have any kind of format whatsoever to disseminate to the masses to the level which they can. They are not trained. Not experts. More important are the level of ethics and integrity that comes along with the quote-unqoute profession hasn’t been firmly established and entrenched in the minds of those who’ve been given that license.
"Therefore, there’s a total disregard, a level of wrecklessness that ends up being a domino effect. And the people who suffer are the common viewers out there and, more importantly, those in the industry who haven’t been fortunate to get a radio or television deal and only rely on the written word. And now they’ve been sabotaged. Not because of me. Or like me. But because of the industry or the world has allowed the average joe to resemble a professional without any credentials whatsoever."
Dang it. Someone pimp-slap some sense into this twit.
Labels: The media
Foer makes the point about how nobody at TNR knew anything about the military in general or the Army in specific over and over, though he does not apparently know that he is doing so. He goes on talking about how hard it is to fact-check in Iraq, how they felt they had to give the writer anonymity so he could write "the truth" (maybe if they had not assigned Beauchamp's wife to be his fact-checker...?), how their own investigation was so difficult ... oh, bull.
Essentially, what unnerved me is that a magazine like TNR was so completely divorced from the military that they did not even have one person on staff -- one single person -- who was personally connected to a career professional in the military (and Elspeth Reeve, an intern at TNR who is now married to Beauchamp -- himself not a career professional in the military -- doesn't count), who could have a) helped them screen what was being sent in the first place, and b) helped them figure out how to fact-check the guy (let alone, after the fact, help them figure out what was really going on). I mean, seriously, how is it that at this point the best de facto depictions of life in-country come ... in Doonesbury?! (The very liberal cartoonist Gary Trudeau is, in a strange twist of journalism, apparently far better wired in to real soldiers on the ground than is the editor of a major magazine? How did this happen?)
Folks, we are six freaking years into a war now. Regardless of how you or I or Eric or anybody feels about the causality of these wars, the fact of these wars remain important for all of us to understand. We are six years into a period in which the military and issues of war have been, like, you know, sort of central. How could TNR remain so divorced from anyone in the military for so long that they eventually fell for this?
Long time readers will remember that I've harped on this incessantly, both here and on Jay Rosen's PressThink.
The problem is cultural. Too many media outlets - especially coastal elite outlets - make zero attempt to recruit from among military veterans. And military veterans are in extremely short supply in NYC, America's media center, since seven of the worst ten zip codes for military recruiting per capita are concentrated there.
The Washington, D.C.-based TNR, however, has no such excuse. They've never developed a relationship with a Pentagon or Walter Reed employee or their families? Fort Eustis? Fort Lee? Newport News? Annapolis? Hello? Is this thing on?
Instead, they look for college internships at newspapers, and recruit journalists largely from that pool - with predictably disastrous results, as they simply replicate their intellectually inbred culture.
ROTC students, for example, can rarely do summer internships. Nor can reserve component soldiers.
But you can recruit veterans at VA job fairs, etc. But I've never seen a media outlet at one. They don't even try.
And then they wonder why they can't do a competent job of covering military affairs.
No, scratch that. It doesn't even occur to them how pathetically incompetent they are. And the massive diversity campaigns - campaigns to recruit from among all manner of minority groups, inner city residents, gays and lesbians, the handicapped, and every other disadvantaged group you can think of - do contribute to the quality of coverage. Our news coverage is richer for their inclusion, and newspaper editors know this, and sing the praises of their diversity programs.
But recruiting from among veterans doesn't count.
For some reason.
Just sayin,' y'all.
Early in the morning of March 10, 2003, after a raucous party that lasted into the small hours, a groggy and hungover 20-year-old named Ryan Holle lent his Chevrolet Metro to a friend. That decision, prosecutors later said, was tantamount to murder.No, Professor Whitman. Quite the contrary.
The friend used the car to drive three men to the Pensacola home of a marijuana dealer, aiming to steal a safe. The burglary turned violent, and one of the men killed the dealer’s 18-year-old daughter by beating her head in with a shotgun he found in the home.
Mr. Holle was a mile and a half away, but that did not matter.
He was convicted of murder under a distinctively American legal doctrine that makes accomplices as liable as the actual killer for murders committed during felonies like burglaries, rapes and robberies.
Mr. Holle, who had given the police a series of statements in which he seemed to admit knowing about the burglary, was convicted of first-degree murder. He is serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole at the Wakulla Correctional Institution here, 20 miles southwest of Tallahassee.
A prosecutor explained the theory to the jury at Mr. Holle’s trial in Pensacola in 2004. “No car, no crime,” said the prosecutor, David Rimmer. “No car, no consequences. No car, no murder.”
Most scholars trace the doctrine, which is an aspect of the felony murder rule, to English common law, but Parliament abolished it in 1957. The felony murder rule, which has many variations, generally broadens murder liability for participants in violent felonies in two ways. An unintended killing during a felony is considered murder under the rule. So is, as Mr. Holle learned, a killing by an accomplice.
India and other common law countries have followed England in abolishing the doctrine. In 1990, the Canadian Supreme Court did away with felony murder liability for accomplices, saying it violated “the principle that punishment must be proportionate to the moral blameworthiness of the offender.”
Countries outside the common law tradition agree. “The view in Europe,” said James Q. Whitman, a professor of comparative law at Yale, “is that we hold people responsible for their own acts and not the acts of others.”
This particular case seems a little draconian, sure. I think that intent matters. But that's a question for the jury to consider, and they already considered it.
The Times article is one in a series of articles that examines aspects of American justice which are, in the view of the editors of the New York Times, "unique in the world."
The underlying assumption, natch, is that the cretins in Europe who gave us the Holocaust, raped German women by the millions in the aftermath of WWII, and sponsored the Srebrenica massacre, or stood by idly and watched it happen, are somehow more enlightened than us backwards Yanks.
I think it could be an interesting series. But I don't trust the NY Times to do it. Why? Because not until you get to the end of the story do you learn that Holle was actually offered a way out: A plea bargain that would have let him off with perhaps 10 years at most, instead of life. The prosecutor acknowledged that he was "not as culpable as the others."
Holle decided not to take it. Good lawyer you had there, Holle. He didn't tell you you could be charged with the same murder that your buddies were?
Finally, here's another laugh line from the genius editors at the NY Times:
Mr. Holle, who rejected the deal, has spent some time thinking about the felony murder rule.
“The laws that they use to convict people are just — they have to revise them,” he said. “Just because I lent these guys my car, why should I be convicted the same as these people that actually went to the scene of the crime and actually committed the crime?”
Mr. Rimmer sounded ambivalent on this point.
“Whether or not the felony murder rule can result in disproportionate justice is a matter of opinion,” Mr. Rimmer said. “The father of Jessica Snyder does not think so.”
I have an idea. Let's worry less about Europe's laws, and worry more about striking the fear of God into people who knowingly aid and abet murderous thugs intent on committing home invasion.