Post from September, 2011

Anthology of Interest 2011, Part IV

Sunday, 25. September 2011 17:00

For the new classes this Fall, I occasionally do a post on the blog that collects a number of interesting and relevant links and comments under the title “Anthology of Interest” (Futurama fans will get the reference). This is the fourth such this year.

The Republican presidential primary process has been proceeding apace and the most significant development of the past month has been the entrance into the race of Texas Governor Rick Perry. Perry, an evangelical conservative, leaped into front runner status. Since then the other Republican challengers have chipped away at him during the debates and Perry’s position has erroded (though he retains front-runner status). Ben Reinhard of the National Journal documents this in noting that Perry’s honeymoon in the Republican primary is over. For Myra Adams, its a political game show. The key upcoming state is Florida, with Romney expected to take New Hampshire and Perry expected to win South Carolina.

While the Obama administration has been relatively scandal free, two emerging scandals may prove to be problematic in the 2012 re-election campaign. The Fast and Furious scandal, where agents of the government had gun sellers sell guns to members of the Mexican drug cartel (ostensibly to gain intel on the hieracrchy of the cartel) is currently under investigation by the House Oversight committee. Representative Issa has already uncovered evidence that guns sold to the Carel through the program were used in crimes, including the murder of a Border Patrol agent. How far up in the administration this goes is an open question, though some has suggested it may implicate current Attorney General, Eric Holder.

The other scandal, which broke in the last few weeks, is the scandal over the upcoming banckrupcy of the solar panel company, Solyndra. NBC provides the basic details of the emerging scandal:

There are two aspects to this particular scandal. As the video notes, the fact President Obama touted Solyndra as part of his Green Energy policy is politically embarrassing and a blow to the notion of “green energy” as a viable fusion of government priorities and business ventures. The more serious issue is the extent to which the administration tried to tilt the field in favor of Solyndra and biased the evaluation of the company as a public investment. The two heads of the company took the Fifth this past week at hearings into the scandal, one of four ongoing investigations into the Solyndra loan. While the NY Times’s Joe Nocera argues this is much ado about nothing and a “phony” scandal, Reason’s Tim Cavanaugh believes there’s no wishing away the Solyndra scandal. Charles Gasparino at the Huffington Post points out that criminality or no, the loan is an example of the broader problem with Obama’s ineffective stimulus. Stay tuned.

Other stuff:

10 Lessons from the Florida Straw Poll.

The Real Clear Politics Poll Average has President Obama’s job approval at 43.3%.

Things aren’t going well in Europe. Greece is on the verge of economic collapse. Tax increases don’t seem likely to help. Mark Steyn wonders at the West’s complacency.

The Palestinians have applied for UN recognition as a state, bypassing the negotiation process with Israel mandated by the U.S. The Security Council is likely to veto the application and there will likely be an effort to cut off funds to the Palestinian Authority in Congress. Winner: Hamas.

6 Arcade Games too Awesome to Get Released in the West.

Thoughts on Television, Truth, and Reality by Peter Wehner. H/T Instapundit.

Oh, and by the way, is everything we think we know about physics, i.e. Einstein’s theory of relativity, wrong? Maybe.

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What if Lucas Edited Other Classic Films?

Monday, 12. September 2011 15:46

Sigh. The lampooning is on the mark, but will George ever listen? Of course not. Of course not.

Also this.


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My 9-11

Sunday, 11. September 2011 15:29

The Day the World Changed

I remember, as a kid, my grandfather talking about how everyone knew where they were and what they were doing on the “day that will live in infamy,” i.e. the attack on Pearl Harbor. And I also remember my dad talking about where he was the day Kennedy was shot in 1963. These moments of national crisis are crystalized in the memories of those who went through them. The closest I had come to such a moment in my own life had been the Challenger explosion in the 80’s, when I was a 5th grade student at Immaculate Conception School in Blytheville, AR.

That all changed on 9/11/01. I had just started in the PhD program at the University of Missouri in Columbia, and I was settling in to a new town and getting to know a new stable of friends. This was the furthest I had lived away from home in my life, so I was already experiencing a feeling of dislocation and aprehension. Graduate study is daunting in and of itself. Years of study and work ahead even if you measure up, which 8 out of 10 graduate students fail to do. I literally did not yet have cable — the cable guy was scheduled to come in later in the week. I had spent a long night doing some reading and had planned on sleeping in the next day. So you can imagine my surprise and consternation when my roommate, the lacross coach at MU, woke me that morning and informed me that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.

I descended from my room (a tiny room in a duplex on the north side of town…it was probably a little bit bigger than Harry’s room under the staircase on Privit Drive) to the main room downstairs to watch the NBC coverage (by way of antenna) of what I initally believed to have been a tragic accident. We were discussing how a plane could have accidentally veered into the WTC, and we speculated that some catastrophic failure in the plane’s guidance systems had occurred when I saw a glint of metal off to the side of the WTC.

Looking back, it was as if time stopped. In my memory, the plane careening towards WTC 2 was moving in slow motion. It felt as if I could reach out and stop the inevitible from happening. It seemed as if that plane would never reach its horrifying destination. But of course, I could not stop it…and its plunge into that wall of glass and steel thundered home the reality of that moment. And even through the grainy reception on an old-school tube-based 20 inch TV, it was clear that the world had changed. As that plane, looking no bigger than a bird, blew through the building and we watched, dumbstruck, as the movie-esque fireball engulfed the World Trade Center…it was an emotional experience I have difficulty describing. Shock. Awe. Denial. Followed by fear and anger. Who had done this? Who would do this? How could this happen to us? That moment hammered home the undeniable fact that the untouchable and invoiable United States homeland was untouchable and invoiable no more.

The rest of the day was a blur. The towers fell. We learned of the third plane and its destiny with the Pentagon. And initial reports indicated a fourth plane had gone down in Pennsylvania. I went to a local resturant to watch continuing coverage on cable news. On the way, I stopped at Wal-Mart and bought an American flag to hang out of the window of my car. Again it is tough to describe what I was feeling. That overwhelming sense of wanting to *do* something…but being completely impotent to do anything. Not to mention the uncertainty. Was this just the first blow in what was to be armageddon? When would the next attack come? Tonight? Tomorrow? A week from then? The movie Red Dawn, which postulated a Cold War era attack on our homeland by communists, had always seemed surreal. More unreal than science fiction. An attack like that couldn’t really happen. Not to us. And then it did. The world had changed.

The following days were a deluge of terrible bits of news, each more depressing than the next, as reality began to set in. We learned that we had been attacked by Al Qaeda and that the attacks were percipitated by jihadists directed by Osama Bin Laden and a War on Terror would ensue. We knew the enemy. But we did not know what he could or would do next. Small sparkles of hope and joy in survivors found and heroism noted were overwhelmed by the absolute reality of the carnage and the number who had lost their lives. And I realized what it meant to live through an event like Pearl Harbor or the Kennedy assasination. To experience the gamut of emotions of a truly world-changing event. To be there when it all changed and would never be the same again.

My story of 9-11 is but one of millions of simillar stories. We were there when the Towers fell. When the Pentagon was violated. When those heroes on Flight 93 proclaimed “Let’s Roll” and struck the only counter-blow against the terorists the West managed on that day. 9-11 changed my views on the importance of international affairs, on the state of national security, on the threats to our country, and on what must be done to protect it. In many ways all of our politics, foreign and domestic, have been affected and continue to be affected by that day. The Chinese have a saying, a curse directed at your enemies: “May you live in interesting times.” In other words, may you live in a time of uncertainty, upheveal, war, and death. 9-11 was the first moment of the “interesting times” of the War on Terror. A day that will live in infamy. A day I lived through, just ten short years ago, on a beautiful Tuesday morning in September.

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9-12-01 Above the Fold

Saturday, 10. September 2011 23:32

The New York Times

NY Daily News

San Francisco Examiner

The Washington Post in 2001 & 2011

The Washington Times

The Daily Telegraph

The Guardian & Daily Mail

The Sun

The Mirror


Detroit Free Press

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

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Never Forget

Saturday, 10. September 2011 21:45

The Towers

Second Tower Struck

It Begins





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Jack Buck’s 9-11 Poem

Saturday, 10. September 2011 11:27

Still chokes me up. D.GOOCH

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Obama’s Job Speech

Friday, 9. September 2011 11:26

Keynes Flipping in Grave

President Obama gave a speech presenting his new jobs program, called the American Jobs Act (AJA), to a joint session of Congress last night. Here is a round-up of the reactions to the speech. The price tag for the bill comes in at about $447 billion.

AP’s fact checkers rate President Obama’s claims that the AJA is paid-for, bipartisan, deficit-neutral and immediately effective as false.

Critics of the president have made much of the fact that Obama repeatedly called for them to “pass the bill” in his speech. The count? See for yourself:

Captain Ed over at Hot Air notes the curious absence of any mention of “energy” in President Obama’s job proposal. Meanwhile, Robert Reich, Clinton’s former Secretary of Labor, gives the speech two cheers and one jeer. Reich believes it was a step in the right direction, but not bold enough.

Elanor Clift, a liberal supporter of the president, argues Obama made a clear and compelling case for his new jobs program. She argues it is a “common sense” mix of bipartisan proposals that amount to a sound program to stimulate the economy.

If President Obama’s speech were only about economics, its proposals would pass easily in both chambers of Congress. Though bigger and bolder than expected, it is still at its core a common-sense mix of ideas that both Democrats and Republicans have supported.

Jay Cost argues that the AJA is Stimulus, part deux.

Much of Obama’s speech from last night was directly imported from other addresses. It was full of his usual tropes – strawmen characterizations of his opponents, a soaring paean to American greatness that only ever mentioned big government, and the typical denunciations of “politics as usual,” implicitly defined as everything that hurts his political prospects in 2012.

John Podhoretz, a critic of the president, agrees and is underwhelmed. Podhoretz argues that Obama’s “jobs” plan is no different from his original stimulus bill in 09, which did nothing to “stimulate” the economy or help with unemployment.

But Obama’s fetishistic invocation of the glory of infrastructure projects is directly related to his unyielding certitude — a certitude unaltered despite the failure of his last stimulus — that the federal government needs to take a lead role in thecountry’s employment crisis by employing people directly itself.

Whatever the merits of Obama’s job proposal, the politics are clear. Given the failure of the first stimulus to actually stimulate the economy and the continued threat of a double-dip recession, Obama’s re-election bid is in serious jeapordy. The below graph, which shows the actual unemployment rate versus the post-stimulus projections of the Obama administration in 09 illustrate why many congressional leaders have either dismissed Obama’s new plan or are highly skeptical of it. Obama’s credibility on the economy has taken a serious hit and it may be too late for him to do anything about it:

Obama vs. Reality

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