Except for my five-year cycle of re-reading all of Robert Heinlein’s juvies and most of his grown-up stuff*, I don’t read much science fiction. And I don’t read fantasy at all. So how about some recommendations, folks? Which beloved dog-earred paperback would you loan to a guy who enjoys Heinlein, some Arthur C. Clarke, and the occasional hit of John Scalzi?
Mark Steyn on the strategic meaning of Iran’s way-advanced nuclear program:
Even without launching a single missile, Iran will at a stroke have transformed much of the map – and not just in the Middle East, where the Sunni dictatorships face a choice between an unsought nuclear arms race or a future as Iranian client states. In Eastern Europe, a nuclear Iran will vastly advance Russia’s plans for a de facto reconstitution of its old empire: In an unstable world, Putin will offer himself as the protection racket you can rely on. And you’d be surprised how far west “Eastern” Europe extends: Moscow’s strategic view is of a continent not only energy-dependent on Russia but also security-dependent. And, when every European city is within range of Tehran and other psycho states, there’ll be plenty of takers for that when the alternative is an effete and feckless Washington.
Ahmadinejad can see it. Putin can see it. A cultural critic living in a New Hampshire hamlet can see it. Europe can see it, but is too palsied to do anything about it. And yet almost our entire political class cannot or will not see it. So we will lose a city, or perhaps a planet, to their willful ignorance and adolescent abdication of their responsibilities.
Yuval Levin at The Corner:
The apparent decision to push Obamacare through reconciliation gives new meaning to the term political suicide. It will almost certainly fail, for one thing. And it will persuade rank and file Democrats in Congress that their leaders have lost their minds, and so will badly divide the Democratic caucus and make for a very difficult year to come for them. An ethic of every man for himself — which is what many House Democrats will have to adopt after this — is the last thing a party in trouble needs in an election year.
They haven’t “lost their minds,” as Levin thinks. Rather, they’re drunk — take it from someone who would know. However, unlike a nice icy martini which never hurt anyone ever, Pelosi and Reid and the rest of the leadership* are drunk on power.
On quick reflection, that’s unfair. They aren’t drunk, not yet. But they’re getting that antsy feeling a drunk gets when he hear’s the bottle open, or a junky gets at the sight of his gimmick. They know the power is there… just waiting… for them… all they have to do is reach out and grab it…
And as the Democratic rank & file are about to learn, God Himself cannot help you if you get between a desperate addict and his next fix.
I think I finally get the ebook appeal — and it’s not at all what I expected. And if I’m right, then Apple has got the better product with the iPad than Amazon does with the Kindle. Here’s why.
Think of your workflow throughout the day. Mine goes like this: Up at 6:15, check iPhone for weather and emergency emails and overnight events requiring immediate blogging. Coffee, shower, get the kid ready for school. And during every part of that but the shower, I’m checking in on the laptop or the phone.
Get the kid to school, then get back on the desktop computer or the laptop. And for the rest of my working day, except for when I’m in front of the camera, I’m in front of a computer.
Get kid home from school, enjoys snacks and family time… and, yes, check in on the phone or the laptop. Blogging isn’t the world’s biggest effort, but it does require constant attention — you’ve got to moderate the comments, keep in touch with readers, and at least type some notes down whenever the muse tickles. And that muse is frustratingly unpredictable with her timing.
After dinner, settle in on the sofa, laptop on lap. Look, I’ve tried watching movies or TV without the MacBook, but wifi and IMDB have totally changed the way we absorb video. See an actor you like or whose name you can’t remember? IMDB’em. Miss an episode and need a synopsis? IMDB it. Oh, and, yeah, check in with work.
Bedtime? One last look at email…
And none of this is meant as complaint. My job rocks, and I’ve chosen these weird hours and this strange system all on my own. These days, pretty much all of us are wired in 24/7, and I kinda like it. And honestly, except for the thing with the video camera and the lack of a commute, I bet my workflow isn’t so much different from yours.
But there is one tiny bad part. I hardly get to read books anymore. I used to go through two or three or more a week. Now a book can take a week or two, because I’ve always got my eyes glued to an LCD screen somewhere. And as I’ve said before, the MacBook’s screen just isn’t good enough for reading “books.” And all that scrolling is a real pain.
How about this, however: a portable device with a killer screen and a great bookstore — that I can also get my email and IMDB and all the rest on? I’m reading my ebook when an important email comes in, or the CNN app alerts me of something blogworthy. Well, just switch over to email or the browser and have at it. Then switch back to the book. iPad can do that. As yet, Kindle can’t. So my money is, once again, going to Cupertino.
There’s just one little problem. Books — real, solid, papery, physical books — are still where it’s at.
Have you seen the Blu Ray movies that come with a digital copy you can put on your computer, then transfer to your iPod or iPhone? I hardly buy BDs anymore if they don’t come with a digital copy. And, it gives people a reason to buy physical media still.
But when it comes to books, the physical media is what still attracts most of us hairless primates. The electronic edition would be the bonus, the convenience, the thing I could learn to live with — as a bonus.
So Apple and Amazon should absolutely include an ebook with every physical book you buy. Free? Hell, I’m open to paying a buck or two more. And then I’d read more books again, and buy more books again. Win-win.
Well, except for my checking account.
UPDATE: Help me Baen!
New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg has stomach cancer. Yikes.
Best wishes to him and his. That’s just lousy.
I’ll come right out and say it: Today’s Trifecta is one of our best.
Bill Whittle, Scott Ott and I take on “the reptilian left.” And if you’re thinking, “Why, he must mean Bill Maher and that nasty woman at Salon who’s been encouraging military wives to leave their deployed husbands,” you’d be exactly right.
Oh, and it also features my Best. Finish. Ever. Just sayin’.
Well, here’s like seven.
HEY: Here’s the link. Going live in just a few minutes.
Yesterday, Super PJ Media Editor Aaron Hanscom asked me if I’d be willing to drunkblog Tiger Woods’ big press conference Friday morning. Given a pitcher full of Bloody Marys — and my Bloodys are world-class — 9AM Mountain is a little early, even for me.
But I will be liveblogging the event, starting a little before 11AM Eastern. Be there. It ought to be fun.
OK, so I’m not there. But I can read a transcript with the best of them. Here’s Mitt Romney on President Obama:
President Obama instituted the most anti-growth, anti-investment, anti-jobs measures we’ve seen in our lifetimes. He called his agenda ambitious. I call it reckless.
I’m going to have to quibble with the exceedingly handsome gentleman from Massachusetts (something no one ever said about Jack Kennedy, but probably wished they had about Teddy). Romney calls Obama’s domestic initiatives “reckless.” But that’s not at all the case. Here’s my good friend New Oxford on the meaning of the word:
(of a person or their actions) without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action : reckless driving.
Obama knows exactly what he wants — to “fundamentally transform America.” And if that results in a bunch of lost jobs, a worthless dollar, or debts we can never repay… well, you can’t make an omelet without screwing a few chickens. And thus, the modern American economy: The wreck you see before you.
So Romney has it all wrong. Obama isn’t at all reckless.
But he’s sure as hell wreckful.
Good chin-stroking piece from Steve Chapman — except for the dreadful conclusion. It’s just one line in an otherwise interesting column. Read:
The good news for Obama is that he has lost ground with the electorate mainly because of things he can’t control.
Well, um… no. Not even close.
Obama has lost most of his popularity due to the “success” of getting Porkulus passed, and those twin dreadful losers — cap & trade and health care reform. And all three of them were completely in Obama’s control, because he initiated and pushed all three.
And on health care and energy taxes, Obama’s epic fails were made extra epic, because after pushing so hard to get Congress to do things, he left the actual doing of things up to Congress. And when your congressional leadership consists of the most liberal members from the most liberal districts — representing beliefs held by maybe twenty percent of the electorate — well, Obama wasn’t exactly aiming for the bleachers. More likely, his eye was so far off the ball that he swung the bat directly into his own crotch.
All of which, every single bit of which, was exactly entirely in Obama’s control. Those were his decisions, his policies, his choices. His EPIC FAIL.
It’s painful to endure, almost as painful to watch… and yet I’m doing a little happy dance, anyway.
Was just told that Scott, my brother-in-law, has his office next door to the building attacked today in Austin. He and his coworkers are fine.
Reading the news out of Austin with the same mix of horror and outrage as pretty much everyone else is. But then I thought back to Bill Branon’s 1992 novel, Let Us Prey. It’s brutally written, and by a guy who’s been there and done that in the service of his nation.
It involves a right-wing terror plot against the IRS — which [SPOILER ALERT!] turns out to be a false-flag operation masterminded and funded in part by the US government. It’s all a terrible, last-ditch effort to get people to rally behind Big Government and make “tax protestor” synonymous with “terrorist.”
And then iTunes shuffled up the Circle Jerks classic, “When The Sh*t Hits The Fan,” and I didn’t feel much better.
Some folks just can’t learn. The Hill explains:
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), continuing his combative stance on climate change of late, said Thursday that “fanatics, naysayers, and science deniers” will not prevent international action on climate change.
Kerry made the comment as part of his response to the news that United Nations climate chief Yvo de Boer will step down this summer.
“Yvo De Boer has provided years of global leadership and sound, science-based solutions to the international effort to halt the devastating impacts of global climate change,” Kerry said in a prepared statement.
Honestly, don’t worry about Kerry, Al Gore, or the other committed true-believers. Like the dinosaurs — those other victims of global cooling — they’ll go extinct soon enough.
The thing to keep your eye on, however, is whatever mad scheme the collectivists, socialists, communists, nanny-staters, worrywarts and cons come up with next. Although if it turns out to be even half as silly (and inept) as AGW, at least we’ll get some laughs.
So that happened — we did the first-ever live Trifecta, with audience questions posted via Twitter. Bill Whittle, Scott Ott and I took on the first anniversary of Porkulus, aka The Government Workers’ Protection Act.
A success? A failure? Not sure, but we’d sure like to try it again. If you missed the original airing, you can still stream it here.
I can’t believe I’m reading this from one of the smartest econobloggers out there, Megan McArdle. See for yourself:
I’m watching Obama claim that it is “largely thanks to the Recovery Act” that the recession didn’t become a depression. I supported the stimulus, and still do. But this claim is ludicrous.
The stimulus didn’t avert a depression. It hasn’t stemmed stemmed job losses. We’re saddled with new debt and, in some cases, newly-higher baseline spending. And it limits our choices in the future — on domestic spending, because the money’s all gone; and internationally, so as not to offend our foreign creditors.
Oh, and the damn “Recovery” act has put us at risk of a nasty inflation and a double-dip recession.
So tell me, Megan, why you supported this thing and, more importantly, how you manage to support it still?
(Hat tip, Insty.)
Yesterday’s post about Operation Togetherness got a thoughtful comment from John of Argghhh you should read:
One man’s “bogged down” is another man’s “I can’t just blow everything away like I did in WWII and Korea so I find that I have to take my time. Oh, and yeah, they didn’t sign the landmine treaty and the place is lousy with them.”
I.e., the Talibs can fight, and are putting one up.
And, as long as we keep our nose to the grindstone and don’t fret every time something doesn’t go just perfectly, we’ll find that we’ve ground them to dust in a place they have chosen to put up a fight.
I also rather suspect the name wasn’t chosen in a late-night skull session between the President and Rahm, but reflects the political realities of the war as we have to fight it.
I.e, see above – not being conducted as an existential fight by us, but *is* being conducted as an existential fight by them.
Yeah, it was just simpler when we could just nuke stuff and move the rubble piles around.
Too bad that’s not the war we’re fighting. Nor should it be, however much we might like it to be, because gosh, golly gee, it sure would be simpler. And I mean that.
Good points, to which I replied:
Putting the snark aside, which I’m loathe to do as snark puts food on my table, you’re almost certainly right. If you haven’t already (and I’m going to link to it tomorrow) see Austin Bay’s latest On Point at Strategy Page. The relevant bit:
News of NATO’s impending attack in Helmand province permeated regional and international mass media.
The sales pitch, however, was even more comprehensive and explicitly targeted. T-shirts and legendary U.S. Marine bravado played a role. For weeks Marines sported T-shirts that read, “Just do Marja,” the town of Marja being a major position held by Taliban forces.
If you don’t think the T-shirts and swagger spurred local rumor and gossip — which are important channels of communication in every culture, but especially in a society where literacy is rare — then you don’t understand the power of swagger and the pan-human effectiveness of word of mouth promotion.
The problem, of course, is that the Marines are pitching their sale to the Afghan/Taliban audience (and doing a smash-up job of it) and Obama & Rahm are pitching their sale to another audience — the collegiate elite. The problem, of course, is the the elite don’t really care about victory, or else Obama would bother himself to use the word now and then.
And the other problem is, the American people (and the Taliban, for that matter) can see the mixed message, and respond accordingly.
The discussion continues today, over at Argghhh. Check it out.
In just a few minutes, I’ll be streaming live on the innerwebs on The Rick Moran Show, along with Andrew Ian Dodge and Ed Lasky.
UPDATE: Rick always puts on a smart show, despite his occasional insistence about having me on. Tonight we covered Tea Parties and Iran. Dodge covered the nuts & bolts, Lasky had the inside scoop, and I, as always, made the crude jokes. If you missed it live, here’s the podcast.
And thus it begins:
WASHINGTON (AP) — A record drop in foreign holdings of U.S. Treasury bills in December sent a reminder that the government might have to pay higher interest rates on its debt to continue to attract investors.
Good news: Stronger demand for the dollar (from higher returns and the slow implosion of the euro; more on that later in the week) will make imports cheaper.
Bad news: No one will be able to afford even cheaper imports, because higher rates will choke off the jobless recovery, and continued government borrowing will crowd out private investment.
Badder news: That crowding out effect is the bit that should keep you up nights. When Washington borrows money, it spends it on peanut butter or whatever. It just gets spent and it’s gone. When an investor borrows money, he invests it in future growth — making us all richer. But it’s easier (and in Washington, safer) to bitch about rotten, greedy capitalists and kowtow to the Kowtower-in-Chief.
These are the names we used to give our military operations. Forceful names. Decisive names. Military names. OK, so Operation Olympic got called off — but only because we’d already nuked the crap out of a couple Japanese cities. After that, an actual invasion just seemed so over the top.
So now comes word that US Marines (and our Afghan allies) are finding the fight unexpectedly tough in Marjah. One report even says they’re “bogged down.”
The name of the operation: “Togetherness.”
When we tape this week’s Trifecta segments tomorrow, we’re going to try something new. Really new. Never-been-done-on-TV-so-far-as-we-know new. We record these things “live to tape,” as they say, even though we’re in three different states and there’s no tape involved.
But one of tomorrow’s segments will go out live on the air. Er, live on the internet. And we’ll be taking questions — in the form of tweets — from the audience.
Tune in at 4PM Eastern/1PM Pacific. Have PJTV in one window, and your Twitter account in the other. Tweet to us using the #PJTV hash tag, or tweet directly to @PJTV, @Scott_Ott, @BillWhittle or @VodkaPundit.
This could be fun. Also, we might fall flat on our faces. Which might still be fun.
OOPS, FORGOT: Tomorrow’s topic? You want to know that? Before the show? Oh, all right, fine. We’re talking about one-year anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — aka, “The Stimulus.” Also also known as: Epic FAIL.
Tweet us your questions or favorite examples of stimulus waste.
Take Bayh’s dramatic exit. “I have had a growing conviction that Congress is not operating as it should,” he says. “There is too much partisanship and not enough progress — too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving.” All true enough. You’d expect that he’d then diagnose the problem and explain how he’ll help fix it. But nope. Instead, he simply laments it and then says he’d like a job “helping grow a business, helping guide an institution of higher learning or helping run a worthy charitable endeavor.”
Respectable goals all, but small ball for a senator who has concluded that the American legislative system is so crippled that he can no longer bear to participate in it. Even in this, his most dramatic hour, Bayh was unable to be more than a perfectly typical politician, seeking praise for raising his voice while doing nothing to solve the problem.
Funny how Ezra failed to notice that Bayh was a “perfectly typical politician” way back on, say, Sunday.
Anyway, enjoy watching the circular firing squad.
Two items of interest from Politico. First one:
“The fate of Congress’s Democratic members and Obama are inextricably tied; there’s no question about that,” said Neil Newhouse, a GOP strategist. “And for those Democratic members who want to put distance between themselves and President Obama in an effort to save their own hides, they just need to look back to how successful that was for Republicans in 2006 and 2008. Which is to say: Good luck with that.”
Then there’s this report from Virginia:
Conservative leaders gathering in Virginia Wednesday will sign on to a broad statement of principle aimed at giving a coherent framework to the grassroots energy roiling the right.
The statement’s drafters, who will sign it near George Washington’s Mount Vernon home Wednesday afternoon, include figures from differing wings of the movement: former Attorney General Ed Meese, Heritage Foundation President Edwin Feulner, Family Research Council head Tony Perkins, Media Research Center leader Brent Bozell, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, direct mail guru Richard Viguerie, and David Keene, the head of the American Conservative Union, sponsor of this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference, with which the signing of the “Mount Vernon Statement” is meant to coincide.
Here’s what’s interesting. First, Evan Bayh’s retirement puts the Senate in play. It’s still long odds for the GOP to net ten seats, but it’s not impossible. After Scott Brown’s Senate win in Massachusetts last month, “impossible” doesn’t mean what it used to mean. Second, the GOP is — very smartly, I think — trying both to nationalize 2010 much like Newt Gingrich did with the Contract for America in 1994.
But look at the signatures, and look at the goals. Those are all GOP stalwarts and insiders and power brokers — co-opting the Tea Party agenda. That’s wise, but also dangerous. The Tea Party folks rose up in protest against stalwarts and insiders and power brokers. If the Republicans burn them like the Democrats did, then you can spell GOP with a W, H, I and G.