May 8, 2011
DEVELOPMENT BEFORE SECURITY?: Aidwatch on what happens when you decide to build a long highway as a development project in Afghanistan, before the area is secured.
DEVELOPMENT BEFORE SECURITY?: Aidwatch on what happens when you decide to build a long highway as a development project in Afghanistan, before the area is secured.
DANGER ROOM: At the end of this week, I’m with Spencer Ackerman on this.
And while I’m at it, I’m sorry I didn’t go celebrate in front of the White House last Sunday night. I have zero patience for the “every man’s deathe diminishes me” meme, au courant in some (and some surprising) quarters; it is untrue and a disservice to the concept of justice. Unjust aggression, unjust war is a form of tyranny, as Michael Walzer wrote in Just and Unjust Wars.
The tyrant does not have to be sitting atop of one as the dictator in power; today the tyrant can be a terrorist who leverages a small bit of actual violence into a massively tyrannical effect, even from a far distance. And when the tyrant is overthrown, even one at a far distance and in a far country (where he is sheltered and given safe haven by those who are also enemies of ours), we the people rejoice and celebrate in the streets and shout for joy at his downfall and, yes, his death. Why should we not?
FAILED ELIMINATIONIST RHETORIC: Professor Jacobson says, be careful before you go full eliminationist.
LIKE MANY IPHONE APPS, this one lets you cut down on pedestrians. I tend to think the biggest driving problem these days is the driver not actually looking in the direction the car is moving. Also, not to stand in the way of progress and all but … was it worth the $20 million San Francisco spent on it?
EASTERN SIERRA SUMMER SEASON about to get underway. The town of Bishop, in the Owens Valley, and the surrounding mountains, both the Eastern Sierra on one side and the White-Inyo Mountains on the other side, are God’s own country; other places, not so much. This year, we will manage to get there for a family vacation before Beloved Daughter leaves for freshman year at Rice University.
HEADLINE OF THE DAY: Manless Drone Strikes Brainless Men.
IRWIN STELZER predicts a coming Euro-zone crackup: it’s a fine, short, and brisk analysis of the political economy of the EU. The cold facts, says Stelzer, are these:
One of the many problems of the risk models used in the run-up to the debt crisis was the assumption of smooth, continuous rises and falls in the price of debt. But institutions, whether firms or sovereigns, tend to grow incrementally, financial instrument by financial instrument – and crash by institution.
WE SPENT MIDDAY AT LONGNECKER GARDEN in the UW Arboretum. There should be lots of flowering trees by now, but everything is late this year. The Mother’s Day revelers had to content themselves with magnolias and daffodils.
I like the name of the place: Longnecker. In these days of “truthers” and “birthers” and “deathers,” I look at “Longnecker” and try to dream up strange ideas about people with long necks.
AT AMAZON, markdowns on DVD and Blu-Ray.
JANE EYRE: So, okay, shoot me, I wasn’t looking forward to two hours of Jane Eyre in the movie theater on Mother’s Day, not even with Beloved Wife and Daughter. Increasing skepticism as the theater filled with nearly all mothers and daughters. But it was terrific. I really enjoyed it.
(Even with pretty much the only other guy in the theater seated two seats away – this enormous guy came into the theatre with a cooler, and midway through the movie proceeded to pull out a family size bag of doritos and consume the entire crunchy, crunchy, far more crunchy than popcorn, bag while slurping from a big bucket sized thermos, followed by some kind of cookies. I was distracted from the Divine Waifiness of Mia Wasikowska on-screen because a part of my brain could not help but calculate the calorie intake of the human cookie monster next to me. There is a reason I hardly set foot inside a movie theater.)
RAND SIMBERG tells me not to be sad.
ALTOGETHER NOW, SAY, “GUTSY.”
DALE CARPENTER: Is there a rising tide of GOP opposition to a Minnesota state constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage? Republicans won last fall “on promises to balance the budget, limit taxes and spending, and make the state more business-friendly. Social issues were almost totally absent from the campaign. Nevertheless, a constitutional amendment excluding gay couples and their families from marriage has been making its way quickly through the Minnesota legislature. If approved, it would go on the ballot in November 2012 in a popular referendum, where it would have to get a majority of all votes cast in a high turnout year. It had seemed the amendment would sail through the state legislature. But now it faces rising Republican opposition.”
FLY THE JITTERY SKIES:
“DEAR GOV. BROWN: WHAT PART OF ECONOMICS 101 DID YOU FAIL?” – “For the seventh year running, California has been ranked the WORST state in which to do business according to a survey by Chief Executive Magazine.”
THE HERMETIC AND ARROGANT NEW YORK TIMES:
The NYT employs some of the smartest and ablest users and analysts of social media: it’s probably the most sophisticated newspaper in America on that front. And then it has dinosaurs like Bill Keller and Arthur Brisbane, whose respective columns this weekend betray the fact that the people with the bully pulpits are stuck in a completely different world, seemingly ignorant of some of the biggest stories in social media.
A couple of months ago, Keller described the Huffington Post (which competes daily for the Times’ core Bobo demographic)* as a haven for “celebrity gossip, adorable kitten videos, posts from unpaid bloggers and news reports from other publications.” So it may be asking him far too much to get Twitter, as well.
In other words, once again, Gray Lady Down.
SECRETARY CLINTON, CALL YOUR LAWYER: Positions the US government needs to defend in its legal defense of the OBL targeted kill. The questions that AG Holder needed to address, but didn’t, and that State Department spokesman Mark C. Toner thought should be discussed … somewhere other than the Department of State.
DANA LOESCH: “Motherhood Is Political.” But as more and more aspects of life fall under the purview of government, what isn’t, these days?
JIM TREACHER: “It took over 65 years, but as of today, the United States’ total demoralization of Germany is finally complete.”
AT AMAZON, it’s the Computer Outlet Sale.
STREET FIGHTING IRAN: “According to reports from Iran, serious clashes between the rank and file supporters of the Ayatollah Khamenei and the supporters of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad erupted on Saturday, with many protesters severely injured with clubs and machetes.”
ON THE ROAD TO 2012:
There’s a lot of that going on these days.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, MOM.
Assessing the regulation of systemic risk in the financial system: Duke University’s Steven L. Schwarcz (with whom I’m co-authoring a book on financial regulation reform) gives a clear, short statement of where we are today. It is an address, rather than an article, not too long … and it makes sobering reading.
THE WORLD’S BIGGEST CELEBRITIES: The Lady Gaga/President Obama connection, revealed!
DAVID ZARING: How’s the Implementation of Dodd-Frank Coming Along? Not well, apparently.
IN THE MAIL: Reagan’s Journey: Lessons From a Remarkable Career.
SECRETARY CLINTON, CALL YOUR LAWYER: John Bellinger, who was Harold Koh’s predecessor as Legal Adviser to the State Department, asks why the administration has not more clearly laid out its legal rationale for the OBL raid. ”Perhaps assuming that everyone will applaud the killing of Bin Laden, Administration officials have confined themselves to stating that the killing was justified in self-defense and to providing facts to support their argument (with which I agree fully) that Bin Laden posed a threat. But these general statements are not the same as detailed explanations as to why the Bin Laden killing was lawful under both domestic and international law.”
GAY PATRIOT: On covering gays in the conservative movement.
WHERE THE WORD “Blunderbuss” comes from.
USS MICHAEL MURPHY CHRISTENED YESTERDAY: Named for the first recipient of the Medal of Honor in the war in Afghanistan.
AT AMAZON, deals in electronics.
The Great Books According to Me: Arthur Rex, by Thomas Berger. This witty and profound reflection on the virtues needs to reissued, including on Kindle.
I HATE HOROSCOPES but I love newspaper blackout poems.
A CENTURY (OR MORE) OF MARTINIS: This Website claims that the Martini was invented a century ago; the late, lamented Wired Cocktail Website (sadly now only available via the Wayback machine, or on dead tree in a now-out-of-print book) notes that its origins go back longer than that, to its predecessor cocktail, the Martinez, of the 1880s. In any case, the cocktail’s origins — and its proper mixology — are well worth debating over a Martini or two. Or three, unless you’re Dorothy Parker.
(Via Maggie’s Farm.)
LINDA CHAVEZ: Reward, Don’t Punish CIA Interrogators. So the administration takes a victory lap thanks to the CIA – while not ending the investigations?
ABOUT THAT CHEERLEADER WHO WOULDN’T CHEER for the player she’d accused of rape. Let’s talk about the free speech and other legal issues, but you’ve got to get the timeline right.
MOTHER’S DAY: It’s still not too late to send an Amazon gift card! You can email ‘em for immediate delivery. You can even send ‘em via Facebook.
THE CRUELTY OF HALF-MEASURES: The Chicago Tribune on the no-exit strategy in Libya. The “war has settled into an inconclusive slog that could go on a long time.” That’s for sure. The morally pure Europeans won’t admit to aiming at Gaddafi, but instead indulge the mendacious fiction that they merely targeted “things” in the mansion and not a person. When they attack the “things,” they go for half-measures, miss the dictator and kill the kids instead. Gaddafi responds by shelling Misrata, creating pretty much exactly the slaughter of civilians that the intervention was supposed to prevent.
RIFFING ON THAT WATCHING-YOURSELF-ON-TV THING that Osama started.
The Great Books According to Me: The Red and the Black, by Stendhal. This is the only novel that really matters in all the history of the world, and I confess I have been in love with Mathilde de la Mole since I was fourteen; luckily I married her. Happy Mother’s Day, Jean-Marie, and all other mothers.
BLAMING FREUD, NOT FREIDAN for the denigration of the stay-at-home mother.
(And happy mother’s day, to all you mothers, at home and out in the world!)
GRAPHIC: MOTHERHOOD: 2011 IN REVIEW.
Inevitability of Greek Default on Sovereign Debt: “The trading patterns of Greek bonds indicate that traders expect a restructuring, and they think it will be messy.” And note to International Business Transactions law students – choice of law and forum clauses matter. ”Greece’s negotiating position is improved by the fact that about 90 percent of its outstanding bonds specify that Greek law will determine any disputes — and of course Greece can change its laws if needed.”
China’s Neorealist Regret at OBL’s Demise: “When Washington shifted its focus toward terrorism and the Middle East after the September 11 attacks in 2001, Beijing experienced genuine relief. As China’s leaders and strategists came to believe, an America distracted by two wars and a weak economy presented a priceless window of opportunity for China to extend its influence in Asia and beyond. But Beijing realizes that Washington’s strategic attention will eventually turn eastwards, and the death of bin Laden is one small but significant step in hastening the arrival of that day.”
What Is the US Government’s Legal View of the Armed Conflict Against Terror Groups?: At Opinio Juris, a discussion trying to fairly describe the US government’s position. From a legal standpoint, what are the extension, duration, and adversaries in the conflict with Al Qaeda and parties under the AUMF? The comments are illuminating, too.
TURNING RIGHT AT HOLLYWOOD AND VINE: The updated version of Roger L. Simon’s autobiography is half-price off at Encounter Books.
UP TO 30% OFF ON Victorinox Kitchen Knives. When we were having our big kitchen-knife discussion a while back, these got good reviews for quality and inexpensiveness.
Congratulations to Miriam Wittes on her bat-mitzvah!
10 Years of the Claremont Review of Books. Congratulations – special double sized celebration issue.
I LOVE THE FIRST AMENDMENT, I REALLY DO. The UK government says it will regulate journalists’ Twitter feeds. The US government would probably do this, too—and oh so much more—if it could.
THE NEW OSAMA VIDEOS. Have you seen them? He looks pathetic.
THE WEEK IN BLOGS: “It’s like taking the Internet, putting it on TV, and then back on the Internet….”
OUR TRUSTED ALLIES IN THE GWOT: “Pakistan breaches trust, names local CIA boss.”
WALKING ON ANOTHER WORLD: This makes me sad.
ILLINOIS TEA PARTY NEWS: “Palatine, IL Tea Party begins to boil: Failed Priorities of IL Senate Republicans…When we saw this red hot critique coming from the Palatine Tea Party we weren’t surprised at all. Watch for this kind of outrage to grow if Illinois Republicans continue to play with the Democrats in Springfield. “
I, FOR ONE, WILL GIVE GENEROUSLY TO OUR NEW ROBOTIC OVERLORDS: Are robots the future of charity fundraising?
DIDN’T YOU PEOPLE EVER WATCH THE SHOW?: Robots evolve to look out for their own. But that’s always how it starts, isn’t it? (H/T Emily Jones, UVA.)
WHERE IS HAROLD KOH WATCH, CONT.: Lawfare’s Ben Wittes, after referencing an earlier post of mine at Volokh on UN special rapporteurs asking the US to justify its targeting of OBL, posts the following exchange between press questioner and State Department spokesman Mark C. Toner:
QUESTION: But did it abide by international laws?
MR. TONER: Again, I’m not going to get into a discussion here. That’s – that can be debated elsewhere.
If not the Department of State, then where?
LEE SMITH on bin Laden’s death and the Islamic way of burial: “To fret over bin Laden’s end, to lament the killing of an American enemy, identifies you as something other than a friend of the United States.”
And by the way, his book, The Strong Horse: Power, Politics, and the Clash of Arab Civilizations
GOODNIGHT MOON: As read by Mankiw, Dingman, Ager. Funny, I would have figured that if Professor Mankiw were going to read a children’s book aloud, surely it would be … If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.
BREAKING NEWS FROM 1996: “Are we suffering from Gingrich Fatigue?”
IN THE MAIL: Say Her Name, Francisco Goldman’s moving novelistic tribute to his deceased young wife. Frank is an old friend, one of the marvelously gifted writers of his generation, and this book merits the many glowing reviews. Bittersweet, it’s an offbeat but good Mother’s Day gift.
“JUDGE GIVES IMMIGRANT IN SAME SEX-MARRIAGE a Reprieve From Deportation” after … the Obama administration sends “an unusual signal.”
THE LAST WILL OF OSAMA BIN LADEN: Michael Yon has the text, and adds via email:
It’s a doozy…
“Allah attests that the love for Jihad and death in the cause of Allah has taken over my life and the Sword Verses have penetrated every cell of my heart, “and kill all the polytheists [infidels] as they fight all of you”. And how many times I wake from my sleep and find myself reciting this holy verse. If every Muslim would ask himself why did our Ummah reach to where she is [in a state of] humiliation and defeat, his instinctual response would be, because she has clung to the pleasures of life and tossed the book of Allah [Koran] behind its back and it is the only source that has the cure and success in the here and now and the hereafter. The Jews and Christians have tempted us with the pleasures of life and its cheap delights and they invaded us with their monitory values before invading us with their armies. And we were, like women, did not react, because the love for death in the cause of Allah has departed the hearts.”
THE WAGES OF WEAKNESS: Why Pakistan knew it could hide OBL and get away with it.
RENTING VERSUS BUYING AS HOUSING POLICY: “A new academic article in Real Estate Economics turns this conventional wisdom on its head. Using data from 1979 to 2009, the authors demonstrate that renting was the superior investment strategy for most of the past 30 years… Unless someone possesses the cash necessary to buy a residence, he or she will be renting one way or another. The choice is between renting the property directly or instead renting the capital necessary to buy the property.” I defer to Megan McArdle as to the argument in the article.
VAMPIRES BEFORE TWILIGHT, BEFORE BUFFY, BEFORE BRAM STOKER: Toby Lichtig in the Times Literary Supplement reviews scholarship on how and when vampires entered the European imagination. “By 1741 the term was commonly used as a synonym for a “cruel exactor or extortioner”. In keeping with the characteristics of the creature it signifies, the etymology of the word is harder to pin down, “vampire” having been variously attributed to the Chuvash word väpär, meaning “bad ghost”; the Tatar ubyr (“witch”); and, perhaps more tenuously, to the ancient Greek king Amphiaraus.”
AYAAN HIRSI ALI: Will the Muslim Brotherhood succeed where Osama bin Laden failed? The gradualists–not moderates, but gradualists–in the Brotherhood do have a greater chance of success. Unlike the vicious psychotics of Al Qaeda in Iraq, they won’t alienate their soft supporters until it’s too late.
“SHE WANTS TO HONDLE over a pissant little amount.” The problems of a shopkeeper… and the consequences for a restauranteur.
HOLDER VS. HOLDER: An AG divided against himself cannot stand!
INSIDE THE BELLY OF THE BEAST: Video of Andrew Breitbart’s CBS interview yesterday.
SIGH: Kenneth Pollack thinks escalation in Libya is inevitable. How about we just kill Qaddafi and wrap it up instead of declaring him untouchable and dragging this out? That’s easier said than done, of course, but it looks like we’re not even trying.
EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD: “Video Shows bin Laden Watching Himself on TV.”