They should convene a panel for the next Meet the Press with Jenna Bush Hager, Luke Russert, Liz Cheney, Megan McCain and Jonah Goldberg, and they should have Chris Wallace moderate it. They can all bash affirmative action and talk about how vitally important it is that the U.S. remain a Great Meritocracy because it's really unfair for anything other than merit to determine position and employment. They can interview Lisa Murkowski, Evan Bayh, Jeb Bush, Bob Casey, Mark Pryor, Jay Rockefeller, Dan Lipinksi, and Harold Ford, Jr. about personal responsibility and the virtues of self-sufficiency. Bill Kristol, Tucker Carlson and John Podhoretz can provide moving commentary on how America is so special because all that matters is merit, not who you know or where you come from. There's a virtually endless list of politically well-placed guests equally qualified to talk on such matters.Go read the whole thing, if you haven't already. Then go read Crittendon's scathing takedown.
Another Kennedy May Head to the Senate: Will the Famed Family's Legacy Linger on?and
The race to succeed Kennedy has been effectively frozen in place as a handful of ambitious Democrats wait to see what Kennedy's family members might do.
As reported by George Stephanopoulos today and confirmed by Patrick in a news conference in Boston this afternoon, Vicki Kennedy, the senator's widow, is not interested in an interim appointment, if state law is changed to allow the governor to appoint a stand-in until the election.
With Kennedy's widow apparently out of the running, attention has turned to the senator's nephew, Joseph P. Kennedy II, who was a House member for Massachusetts for 12 years, in the emerging race to fill out the rest of the late senator's term. One Massachusetts Democrat with close ties to the Kennedys said Joe Kennedy would make up his mind by the end of this week, and that he's "about 50-50" on whether he will run.Now I've got to tell you that I'm deeply disturbed by the notion that elective office is somehow heritable; but you know it's funny - I don't limit my disdain for those who politically agree with me.
That said, today's post is about a particular strain of royal succession: those who inherit their position and and whose achievement is attributable to their mommies and daddies and yet ludicrously purport to be Stern Advocates for (and Beacons of) Meritocracy and become righteous opponents of "unfair" affirmative action on the ground that only merit should determine advancement. Not everyone who inherits their influence is guilty of that.So if you're left, it's OK to practice dynastic politics because, you know, you don't really believe in freedom or achievement or anything like that. What an utter pile of crap.
"No war without Egypt, no peace without Syria." -- Henry Kissinger
Javier Solana, the European Union foreign policy chief, flew to Damascus this weekend to cajole Syria into re-entering peace talks with Israel. He's going to go home disappointed, if not now then later, just as every other Western diplomat before him has failed to put an end to the perpetual Arab-Israeli conflict. Bashar Assad couldn't sign a peace treaty with Israel even if he wanted to -- and he doesn't want to.
Assad and his late father and former president Hafez Assad have justified the dictatorial "emergency rule," on the books since 1963, by pointing to the never-ending war with the state of Israel. Many Syrians have grown weary of this excuse after more than four decades of crisis, but Assad would nevertheless face more pressure to loosen up his Soviet-style system without it.
An official state of war costs Assad very little. His army does not have to fight. His father learned the hard way in 1967 that Israel could beat three Arab armies, including Syria's own, in six days. Assad can only fight Israel through proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah, but that suits him just fine. Gaza and Lebanon absorb Israel's incoming fire when the fighting heats up.
Assad gains a lot, though, by buying himself some legitimacy with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Syria's fundamentalist Sunnis have long detested his Baath party regime, not only because it's secular and oppressive but also because its leaders are considered heretics. The Assads and most of the Baathist elites belong to the Alawite religious minority, descendants of the followers of Muhammad ibn Nusayr, who took them out of mainstream Twelver Shiite Islam in the 10th century. Their religion has as much in common with Christianity and Gnosticism as it does with Islam, and most Syrians find it both bizarre and offensive that the Alawites are in charge of the country instead of the majority Sunnis.
In 1982, the Muslim Brotherhood took up arms against the regime in the city of Hama. The elder Assad dispatched the Alawite-dominated military and destroyed most of the old city with air strikes, tanks, and artillery. Rifaat Assad, the former president's younger brother, boasted that 38,000 people were killed in a single day. Not once since then have the Muslim Brothers tried to rise up again.
In his book From Beirut to Jerusalem, Thomas Friedman dubbed the senior Assad's rules of engagement "Hama Rules." They are the Syrian stick. The carrot is Assad's steadfast "resistance" against Israel. No Arab government in the world is as stridently anti-Israel, in both action and rhetoric, as Assad's. There is no better way for a detested Alawite regime to curry favor with Sunnis in Syria and the Arab world as a whole than by adopting the anti-Zionist cause as its own.
John Kay, of London's Financial Times, sees a pattern in the financial sector. It's not unique to that sector by any means, but the industry may be more susceptible to it:
"Forty years ago, Dr Lawrence Peter enunciated what he immodestly called the Peter Principle. Individuals would find their level of incompetence. If you were good at doing a job, you would be promoted until you were appointed to a job you weren't good at.
The recent failures of financial institutions suggests an organisational analogue. Financial institutions diversify into their level of incompetence. They extend their scope into activities they understand less until they are tripped up by one they cannot do. It was almost refreshing when the Chelsea Building Society announced large losses because it had been a victim of mortgage fraud. The bank's problems related to its core business. Most financial institutions that have come close to failure have done so as a result of losses in essentially peripheral activities.
The principle of diversification into incompetence applies from the largest financial institution to the smallest..."
Of course, adding more taxpayer bailouts to the system just makes this worse among the largest players. Unsurprisingly, the payouts are large. If Kay is right, they'll also be pretty consistent.
The British government has been roundly criticized for freeing Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the Libyan national convicted of murdering 270 people when he blew up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. The Libyan government, meanwhile, has been roundly criticized by even the British for hailing him as a hero when he returned to his homeland. Britain has no leg to stand on, however--not because the government released a convicted terrorist out of "mercy" last week but because it is still considering its plan to dispatch the Duke of York to Libya next week for Moammar Qaddafi's celebration of the 40th anniversary of his seizure of power.
Qaddafi was Megrahi's boss when that plane exploded over Lockerbie. The only reason he isn't in jail is that it's as hard to arrest him as it is to arrest Sudan's genocidal Omar Bashir, even after an international warrant has been issued against him. (Bashir, by the way, will be attending Qaddafi's party without fear of capture.)
Britain is "reconsidering" its decision to send a member of its royal family to toast a Stalinist and a terrorist. That's something. But as Gene put it at the British blog Harry's Place, "What's disturbing is not that the plans are being reconsidered, but rather that there were plans in the first place."
The Duke of York's scheduled appearance at Qaddafi's gala is unseemly, but that's "diplomacy" for you. Plenty of diplomats from democratic countries attend events hosted by dictators.
Qaddafi's one-man rule, however, is almost uniquely grotesque. He closely studied Nicolae Ceauşescu's vicious regime in Romania and imposed the same system on Libyans after he overthrew King Idris in 1969. His government is so repressive that the Islamic Republic of Iran looks libertarian by comparison. Unlike in Iran and even in Burma, there are no protests against government power in Libya ever. State control over the people is absolute.
Freedom House gives Libya scores of 7 in political rights and civil liberties--the lowest possible scores in each category, with a score of 1 being the highest. Iran, by contrast, scores 6 in each category. Saudi Arabia is slightly less free than Iran, as is Syria, but both are freer than Libya. Only seven countries in the entire world are as miserably oppressive according to Freedom House: Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Somalia, Equatorial Guinea, Burma, Sudan, and North Korea.
I'm one of the very few Americans who has visited Libya since Qaddafi seized power. (Setting foot there was illegal until recently.) And I can attest that it is, indeed, one of the most thoroughly totalitarian countries on the face of the earth.
The place stinks of oppression. You can't escape the state without leaving the country or going off-road and into the desert. Informers and secret police are omnipresent and all but omniscient. Hotel rooms are bugged. No one can travel from one city to another without a thick stack of permits and papers. I saw propaganda posters and billboards literally everywhere, even alongside roads in the wilderness where nobody lived. State propaganda is even carved into the sides of the mountains. Pictures of Qaddafi hang inside every building, and an entire floor of the museum in the capital is dedicated to glorifying him personally. Libya even looks like a communist country, with its Stalinist tower blocks outside Tripoli's old city center and its socialist-realist paintings depicting happy proletarians in their Workers' Paradise.
No one I met would talk about politics if there was the slightest chance anyone might overhear us. Those who did open up when we were safely in private were unanimous in their hatred, fear, and loathing of the regime. And they made sure to tell me that their entire families would be thrown in prison if I repeated what they said to anyone.
Seems that way. If you still have yours.
I was amazed. A NY Times guest op-ed that actually acknowledged the need for attitude adjustments on the part of militant atheists like Richard Dawkins, as well as a dishonest creationism that even if true at its core, is not and never can be science (negative hypothesis, anyone?). The reconciliation of religion and science is important on many levels, not least of which is the fact that religious morality and the ethic of science form the twin pillars upon which our civilization rest. I've discussed this before.
Robert Wright of the New America Foundation:
"The "war" between science and religion is notable for the amount of civil disobedience on both sides. Most scientists and most religious believers refuse to be drafted into the fight. Whether out of a live-and-let-live philosophy, or a belief that religion and science are actually compatible, or a heartfelt indifference to the question, they're choosing to sit this one out. Still, the war continues, and it's not just a sideshow. There are intensely motivated and vocal people on both sides making serious and conflicting claims.... William James said that religious belief is "the belief that there is an unseen order, and that our supreme good lies in harmoniously adjusting ourselves thereto." Science has its own version of the unseen order, the laws of nature. In principle, the two kinds of order can themselves be put into harmony - and in that adjustment, too, may lie a supreme good."
Jamal Afridi of the "realist" (read: diplomatic establishment) Council on Foreign Relations pens an analysis of Pakistan's relationship with China.
Will the sharp upturn in relations between the USA and India, begun under President Bush, prompt Pakistan to push for even closer ties with Beijing? Pakistan certainly values its relationship with China, but like most large-small relationships, the value isn't fully reciprocated. After the Uighur protests, China is growing more concerned about Pakistan's locus as a center of gravity for Islamonazis, and worry that more Uighurs could begin finding their way there. So there's a bunch of complicating concerns and interests. Most interesting passage:
"China is well aware of the threat it faces if it becomes too involved in counterterrorism efforts within Pakistan," says Garver, "and that means taking a more cautious and calculated approach--at least publicly--in strengthening Pakistan's secular institutions against the Islamist challenge. This may partly explain why China has been quite comfortable in encouraging the United States to engage more with Pakistan: to take the heat off of China."
Well, this was interesting. Active, broadband, exterior cloaking devices... but not for light:
"University of Utah mathematicians developed a new cloaking method, and it's unlikely to lead to invisibility cloaks like those used by Harry Potter or Romulan spaceships in "Star Trek." Instead, the new method someday might shield submarines from sonar, planes from radar, buildings from earthquakes, and oil rigs and coastal structures from tsunamis.
"We have shown that it is numerically possible to cloak objects of any shape that lie outside the cloaking devices, not just from single-frequency waves, but from actual pulses generated by a multi-frequency source," says Graeme Milton, senior author of the research and a distinguished professor of mathematics at the University of Utah."
At the same time, I've come to be increasingly baffled by the high degree cynicism and immorality displayed in big-time politics. For example, Senators who genuinely do believe that carbon dioxide emissions are contributing to a global climate crisis seem to think nothing of nevertheless taking actions that endanger the welfare of billions of people on the grounds that acting otherwise would be politically problematic in their state. In other words, they don't want to do the right thing because their self-interest points them toward doing something bad. But it's impossible to imagine these same Senators stabbing a homeless person in a dark DC alley to steal his shoes. And what's more, the entire political class would be (rightly!) shocked and appalled by the specter of a Senator murdering someone for personal gain. Yet it's actually taken for granted that "my selfish desires dictate that I do x" constitutes a legitimate reason to do the wrong thing on important legislation.I just happen to have a copy of James Buchanan's collected works 'Politics as Public Choice' on the shelf...Matt, just click the link and buy the book - it'll open your eyes to all kinds of things.
Robert Kuttner, co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, asks, on The Huffington Post, "Will somebody please explain to me why Barack Obama is still on his bipartisan kick…What do these guys think they are getting by continuing to kiss up to the Republicans?"The change is real:
I think the answer to Mr. Kuttner's conundrum can be found in an article, ironically enough, by one Mark Schmitt, who happens to be executive editor of, you guessed it, The American Prospect. Way back in December 2007, when supporters of both Hillary Clinton and John Edwards were pummeling Obama on what they deemed was the wishy-washiness of his bipartisan appeal in the face of so nasty an opponent, Schmitt published an influential (among liberals) argument, "The 'Theory of Change' Primary". In it, Schmitt argued that liberals were "too literal in believing that 'hope' and bipartisanship are things that Obama naively believes are present and possible, when in fact they are a tactic, a method of subverting and breaking the unified conservative power structure. Claiming the mantle of bipartisanship and national unity, and defining the problem to be solved (e.g. universal health care) puts one in a position of strength, and Republicans would defect from that position at their own risk."
Obama invited me to dinner shortly after he became a senator, and I got exactly the same impression. This man is, like FDR, a genuine liberal, but also a serious politician. He is not interested in moral victories or noble defeats. He wants to win. What he's figured out, however, is that - particularly after two full decades of Bush/Clinton/Bush wars - the American people feel more comfortable with a politician who appears to reach out to the other side, who gives them a chance to play ball. This works both as an electoral strategy and a governing strategy. He gave in a little on the stimulus, but just enough to keep the ball rolling. He could always come back for more, later if necessary.
The slippage among college-educated whites also helps explain Obama's troubles with independent voters, another more troublesome trend for him. All of the most recent national surveys have placed his approval rating among independents below 50 percent, although his positive ratings with them still generally exceed his negative marks.So the core difference between me and a typical Netroots blogger is that they passionately, deeply, believe that as soon as 'truly pure' candidate steps forward, a vast 'hidden majority' will appear. (Note that conservative purists and Paulistas believe the same thing). I think that's a delusion, and that what we have is a multpolar electorate with three major poles; liberals, conservatives, and moderates (who may be moderate because their views can't be encapsulated in either camp - like mine [pro-gun, pro-environmental regulation etc.] or because their views genuinely stand between the poles of ideology). If they are right, Obama should turn hard left and wait for the support to explode. If I'm right, when he does that, his support will collapse.
The NBC/Wall Street Journal national survey also released this week offers some insight into that decline. It found that just 31 percent of independents now approve of Obama's handling of health care, while 54 percent disapprove, according to crosstabs from the poll provided by Public Opinion Strategies, one of the pollsters. Asked their view of Obama's health care plan, just 28 percent of independents said they consider it a good idea, while 43 percent described it as a bad idea, and the rest said they didn't know.
Basically, Obama has a big problem. He got lots of people to trust him, chiefly by doing exactly what Krugman now complains about: speaking in vague generalities. It only works from a distance.I'll suggest a corollary: That he took the positions that would have worked (albeit with a lot of sweat, labor, and compromise) and tried to use them as a fig leaf for more traditional power politics. It doesn't work.
In November 2004, Winds authored "The Battle of Fallujah: A Comprehensive Briefing (v3.6)" to monitor one of the 2nd Iraq War's decisive battles. Staff Sgt. David Bellavia and the "Ramrods" of the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment didn't need to read it. They were there, and among other things, his actions over that period earned him a recommendation for the Congressional Medal of Honor. Not bad for a theater major who joined the army because he was sued by Steven Sondheim.
Bellavia's book "House to House" describes his experiences in detail, and Chicago's Pritzker Military Library recently hosted and videotaped a, well... "one man theater show" isn't a bad way to describe it, actually. He has a very sane and real take on a lot of things, and he describes the visceral and mental reality of that combat in a way that isn't going to come across in the award citations.
Warren Buffet sounded the all-hands alarm in the New York Times today, of all places. While he supported the stimulus, now that the emergency is over he says it's time to get real, or the government will destroy the value of the US dollar:
"An increase in federal debt can be financed in three ways: borrowing from foreigners, borrowing from our own citizens or, through a roundabout process, printing money. Let's look at the prospects for each individually - and in combination..."
If you assume that all $400 billion of America's expected 2009 current account deficit is funneled into purchases of US government debt, and that Americans not only increase their net savings to $500 billion (about 9× 2007 figures) but put all their savings into United States Treasuries... the US Treasury will be obliged to find another $900 billion to finance the remainder of the $1.8 trillion of debt it is issuing. Buffet continues:
"With government expenditures now running 185 percent of receipts, truly major changes in both taxes and outlays will be required. A revived economy can't come close to bridging that sort of gap. Legislators will correctly perceive that either raising taxes or cutting expenditures will threaten their re-election. To avoid this fate, they can opt for high rates of inflation [called"monetization of the debt"] , which never require a recorded vote and cannot be attributed to a specific action that any elected official takes. In fact, John Maynard Keynes long ago laid out a road map for political survival amid an economic disaster of just this sort: "By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens.... The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose."
PIMCO has a different and interesting analysis of the same problem, in "Emerging Markets in the New Normal."
Read my 2002 post "Pipeline Politics: The Caspian Front" for an intro, and "NATO's German/Eastern Question" to understand the limits of American power and influence. Now, RIA Novosti RussiaProfile.org's July 24/09 "Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: A Battle of the Pipelines"...
"The last three weeks have been rich in developments in the unfolding "battle of the pipelines" to supply natural gas to Europe. Russia, the EU and the United States are locked in a tough struggle to secure domination over the natural gas supply lines to Europe from Russia and Central Asia. Why is there such heated competition for building alternative gas pipelines to Europe? What are Russia's objectives in the "battle of the pipelines"? What are the EU and American objectives? Why is the United States trying to play such an active role in decisions that will not in any way affect the energy supplies to the United States?"
By any measure, that has to be the headline of the year. Article here.
Some of you may have seen the stories about Robert Elwood's research, which makes a pretty good case that crabs, lobsters, and prawns can feel pain. Hermit Crabs also remembered it later, and changed their behaviour. That second bit is key, as it takes it out of the realm of a mere reflex response. There go our rationalizations, and even reflex responses may deserve attention:
"It was also thought that since many invertebrates cast off damaged appendages, it was not harmful for humans to remove legs, tails and other body parts from live crustaceans. Another study led by Patterson, however, found that when humans twisted off legs from crabs, the stress response was so profound that some individuals later died or could not regenerate the lost appendages."
The good news is that there is a new alternative to boiling lobsters alive, approved by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals no less, and it has a number of benefits to chefs in the bargain. The "Crustastun" is a shoebox-sized device that uses salt water and electric current. Its approach reduces the cortisols and adrenaline that stress can create in boiled critters, resulting in tenderer and tastier meat. The voltage also kills bacteria, which means the dead crustaceans can safely be stored for up to 48 hours - a bonus for restaurants, which reduce their throw-away losses.
Looks like a win solution all around. Hat tip to inventors Simon and Charlotte Buckhaven.
There's a lot of talk right now among opinion writers and policy analysts about how Iraq may be slouching toward civil war again. It's understandable. Suicide- and car-bomb attacks make headlines every week. After a recent devastating assault on a Shia village, a woman standing amid rubble looked into a television camera and yelled at Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki: "Look Prime Minister," she shouted, "look Minister of Interior, where's the security you're talking about?"
Iraq is still a violent, dysfunctional mess. It probably will be for a long time. But Iraqis aren't necessarily doomed to suffer another round of internal bloodletting like they did during the middle years of this decade.
In the dangerous security vacuum that followed the demolition of Saddam's regime, Abu Musab al Zarqawi's al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) ignited a civil war by unleashing ferocious terror attacks against the country's Shia community. Now that American soldiers have withdrawn from urban areas and created another partial security vacuum, the shattered remnants of AQI are trying to ramp up that effort again. It won't be as easy for AQI now as it was last time.
Iraqis suffered terribly at the hands of militias and death squads before General David Petraeus radically transformed American counterinsurgency with his "surge" strategy. Petraeus succeeded, at least temporarily, thanks to overwhelming cooperation and support from traumatized Iraqis who had a bellyful of politics by bullet and car bomb.
Initially, many Iraqi Sunnis welcomed and sheltered al-Qaeda because of its promise to expel American soldiers and protect the Sunni minority from the Shia majority. In the meantime, three legs of al-Qaeda's support have been sawed off. American soldiers aren't a daily irritant anymore. Maliki's Shia-dominated government smashed the Shia militias. And al-Qaeda proved itself the enemy of even the Sunnis with its barbaric head-chopping behavior.
Terrorist attacks against Shias by AQI won't likely reignite a full-blown sectarian war as long as the Sunnis continue to hold fast against the psychotics in their own community and Maliki's government provides at least basic security on the streets.
Iraq's Sunnis have as much incentive as its Shias to fight the AQI killers among them. They suffered terribly at AQI's hands, after all. Out in Anbar Province, they violently turned against "their own" terrorist army even before the Shias turned against "theirs." And Tariq Alhomayed points out in the Arabic-language daily Asharq al-Awsat that Maliki faces the same pressure to provide security on the streets, especially for his own Shia community, that any Western leader would face under similar circumstances -- he wants to be re-elected.
The uptick in violence following America's partial withdrawal shouldn't shock anyone. If you scale back security on the streets, more violence and crime are inevitable. The same thing would happen in the United States if local police departments purged the better half of their officers. That does not mean, however, that Iraq is doomed to revert to war.
So, Al-Jazeera (yeah, I know) commissions a poll from Gallup in Pakistan. 2,600 people across the political spectrum, in all 4 Pakistani provinces. Might be methodologically flawed for all I know, but doesn't look like it to casual inspection.
And the question is which is the greatest threat to Pakistan - India, the Taliban/Al-Qaeda who are waging an internal civil war in Pakistan, or the USA.
11% say the Taliban. 18% say India. 59% say the United States.
Clearly, President Obama has forfeited the USA's reserves of goodwill.
Other conclusions are possible, of course, for people who realize the globe doesn't revolve around them and their wishes, and who weren't stupid enough to believe nonsense about squandered goodwill in the first place. For instance:
"Pakistan is a Potemkin State with nukes, poor development, limited capacity to deal with its Islamist civil war, justifiably low government legitimacy (note other poll), and a cultural penchant for blaming others rather than facing its problems. Except for the nukes, it resembles many if not most states in the Islamic world. Its government and/or local leaders will deal with its problems only to the extent that they're forced to (coalition of the bribed, bought, and coerced), and will resent those doing the forcing."
In Pakistan, however, the alternative is Islamonazis with nukes - which is why the forcing acquires such an urgent dimension in the first place. Without US help and strikes, the Taliban was clearly winning in Pakistan - and still might with support from its high-level friends in the ISI and military.
This dynamic, and these sorts of poll results, will be common to every other Islamic country now aiming at nuclear technology.
"China mostly invests in activities that raise productivity, raising the amount of goods and services that they can produce. This could be manufacturing or infrastructure or various kinds of services. Agriculture lags but continues to get some new investment. And of course they pour money into education. I'm not a fan of the Chinese way of organizing their economy or their society.... But contrast their pattern of investment in recent years with ours. What sector in our economy has expanded more than any other? ....Finance.... What has this really added in terms of productivity?"
"The ATM and the credit card were great breakthroughs, but they are old. What has "financial innovation" brought us since the 1980s? ....Because financial innovation has mostly facilitated a big increase in finance.
....Rent-seeking means effectively a tax extracted by one sector from the rest of the economy.... Finance is rent-seeking. The sector has devoted great resources to tilting all playing fields in its direction. Consumers are taken advantage of; consumer protection is vehemently opposed. And great risks are taken, with the downside handed off to the government (and the consumers again, as taxpayers). This downside protection allows an overexpansion of debt-financed finance - reaching the preposterous levels seen in mid-2008 and now re-emerging.
Finance in its modern American form is not productive. It is not conducive to further sustained economic growth. The GDP accruing from these activities is illusory - most of finance is simply a tax on what is done by more productive members of society and a diversion of talent away from genuinely productivity-enhancing activities.
The rise of China does not necessarily imply slowdown or demise for the United States. But if they specialize in making things and we specialize in finance, they will eat our lunch."
In Johnson's comments section, the Mike Rulle comment thread provides a useful counterpoint with good questions. The aptly-named Bond Girl offers, I think, the most common sense reply, StatsGuy the most detailed one. It's a good and worthwhile debate, because there is an element of overstatement in Johnson's formulation of finance as a pure rent-seeking industry.
On the other hand, you look at banks insisting on tying corporate loans to derivatives, and marketing "structured notes" to small investors before the smoke has even stopped issuing from the crash, and "rent seeking" seems like a pretty obvious description. This is an industry that hasn't changed a bit, or learned a thing - and significant aspects of what they do magnify both the probability and extent of losses in the economy.
This is not currently a left-wing vs. right-wing argument - vid. guys like Peter Schiff (getting cheered on Jon Stewart, no less!), and also some smart Democrat politicians among the other side. Obama's Consumer Protection initiative might even have a lot more going for it than the other side of the aisle will acknowledge.
This could become a partisan issue in future if the GOP remains clueless, Obama decides he needs a lifeline/scapegoat as his other economic policies catch up with him, and financial firms continue with deceptive and fraudulent practices on a grand scale, leading to further financial shocks. The perfect storm O is generating for the American economy (exploding deficits and unemployment, coming jumps in interest rates and inflation, imploding energy exploration and production) is the GOP's biggest asset, and most of them realize that.
Even as they fail to see that Wall Street is shaping up to be President O's biggest political asset, possibly even his "get out of jail free" card.
Sure, it would mean throwing all of his loyal, high-contribution financiers under the bus, but that never stopped O before with power at stake. Especially if the GOP is stupid enough to be uncritical of Wall Street practices beforehand, then offer a Pavlovian defense of the so-called "free market" afterward. All without further thought re: what that market truly needs in order to be transparent and efficient.
Fraud is not capitalism. Paper is not productivity.
It's time for a wide, deep rethink in America, coupled with quick action to address the seeds of the next crash. Which have already being planted, and could well bear fruit before 2012.
If we want to get off this path, it's going to take dedicated, smart critics on both sides of the aisle. Maybe then we'll get to a happy future of fewer lawyers, curbed financiers with lower average earnings presiding over a much more stable base system, and fewer public employees - and more engineers, more domestic energy, more science grads, and more domestic manufacturers (the latter 2 merging as we speak in some areas).
Throw in steady savings, and we could have a prosperous America again. Fail, and the best scenario looks like Britain's long economic fall from the grace. The worst scenario looks like Germany's.
The Middle East is riven with fault lines. Conflicts between Israelis and Arabs, Persians and Israelis, Arabs and Persians, Sunnis and Shias, Islamists and liberals, and democrats and Khomeinists are all stuck in a holding pattern that isn't sustainable. The region is in a deadlock and will likely remain so until something big and probably violent unjams it.
Because of its extraordinary diversity, almost every major political current in the Middle East echoes in Lebanon. In the past, Arab Nationalism and Palestinian "resistance" blew through the place and left swaths of wreckage before passions cooled. Thanks to Hezbollah, the country is still a front line in the Arab-Israeli conflict -- and that's because the Iranian-backed militia is the tip of the spear in the Persian-Israeli conflict. Lebanon is also where mutually antagonistic Sunnis and Shias are more or less numerically matched and where the Syrian-Iranian axis directly confronts its resilient political opposites. Beirut, like Tehran, is where some of the Middle East's most liberal modernizers face off against committed radicals in thrall to Ayatollah Khomeini's totalitarian vision of Velayat-e Faqih.
A divided country with a weak central government can't indefinitely withstand this kind of pressure any more than geological faults can forever keep still while continental plates slowly but relentlessly collide with each other. And so Lebanon is a place where the Middle East fights itself. It is also where the East meets the West and, at times, where the East fights the West. Everyone with a dog in a Middle East fight has a dog in Lebanon's fights.
Beirut may be the best place of all to observe that part of the world. It has its own local problems, of course, but its most serious local problems are regional problems. The Syrians are there, the Iranians are there, and the Saudis are there. France and the United States sent soldiers there more than once. United Nations peacekeepers have been there since the 1970s. The Israelis barge in and out. Yasser Arafat and the PLO used the country as a terrorist base and set up their own parallel state after their violent eviction from Jordan. When Ariel Sharon drove Arafat and his gang to Tunisia, Hezbollah set up an Iranian-sponsored parallel state in the PLO's place.
I visited Lebanon after wrapping up my last trip to Iraq, and was pleasantly surprised all over again by how much nicer Beirut is than Baghdad despite all its troubles. It's still a mess, of course, but that's because the region it reflects is a mess.
The Washington Post writes "For Many Americans, Nowhere to Go but Down" - a typical media story about an unemployed family and their travails. Of course, there isn't a single place in this story that might be described as self-reflective, by the family - or by the reporter:
"What if we don't have cash to buy milk, eggs, bread or diapers? What if our unemployment benefits run out? What if we never find jobs?....Scott got a job on a paint crew at an RV plant, and by the end of 2007 his income had climbed to $53,000, more than he had ever earned. After work he was the man at the bar with the thick roll of bills, the man he had always wanted to be, buying round after round for himself and his friends. The man with "the full pocket," as he liked to say. He took his son on a fishing trip. He took his family out to eat and told them to order whatever they wanted."
To add insult to stupidity...
His wife turns down an $8 hour job because she makes more on unemployment benefits. Which are going to expire very soon, of course. The story just breezes on by that.
I have nothing but sympathy for people who have worked hard, made efforts to save, and are struggling. The includes many (but not all) people who may have made poor mortgage choices, for reasons that would require another post.
A completely self-inflicted train wreck like this one is different. I'm sure this family is made up of perfectly nice people. And I'm sure these parents love their kids. Doesn't change the fact that they've failed their kids and each other in some pretty important ways, and don't seem to grasp that fact. Which is why I have very little sympathy.
Vincent Fernando of "Research Reloaded" was absolutely correct to describe this story as "A Microcosm of What Has Been Wrong With the US Consumer." You could write a pretty similar story about quite a few people whose earnings were well north of $100,000. It's not a class story, as the reporter thought, and part of returning to prosperity in America will be about widespread recognition of what's really wrong here.
The Post has done good reporting on this story. It's just not the story they thought they were running.
Since the $182 billion bailout, state regulators have said that its core business was sound, and that the problems were confined to a single high-risk unit. Uh, maybe not. David Merkel (CFA) at AlephBlog has been looking at this issue for some time now, and see the full PDF/Excel analysis. He also makes a compelling case that the bailout was unnecessary. Now, the New York Times is taking a harder look at the solvency of AIG's subsidiaries... and seems to be coming to the same conclusions as Merkel's analysis:
"...state regulatory filings offer a different picture. They show that A.I.G.'s individual insurance companies have been doing an unusual volume of business with each other for many years -- investing in each other's stocks; borrowing from each other's investment portfolios; and guaranteeing each other's insurance policies, even when they have lacked the means to make good. Insurance examiners working for the states have occasionally flagged these activities, to little effect. More ominously, many of A.I.G.'s insurance companies have reduced their own exposure by sending their risks to other companies, often under the same A.I.G. umbrella.... But A.I.G.'s companies have reinsured each other to such a large extent, experts say, that now billions of dollars worth of risks may have ended up at related companies that lack the means to cover them."
In other words, they're cooking the books. Legally, but dishonestly. Another player in a game that's harder and harder not to see as rigged. That's bad for capitalism as a whole, and bad for the country.
Maybe it's time to go through all of the "too big to fail" financials, and send them into breakup. When even Forbes Magazine is starting to float this idea, it's time for a serious look.
Palin and Bachmann remind no one of Hillary Clinton in their success in grasping complex policy issues, or in their desire to do so. It may be too much to expect them to trace the origin and veracity of these talking points....but politics ain't beanbag, as they say, and I'm not in the Palin-defending business (or in the business of defending any other public figure).
The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's "death panel" so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their "level of productivity in society," whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.- he needs to show just a little honesty himself.
None of the identified high-priority items involved anything approximating the rationing of life-saving or life-extending care. End of life care ranked 28th in their chart of priority areas for CER research. This may be a mistake. Better approaches to palliative care often look very good when evaluated against the standard benchmarks of medical cost-effectiveness.(emphasis added)
On the far right, this is being portrayed as a plan to force everyone over 65 to sign his or her own death warrant. That's rubbish. Federal law already bars Medicare from paying for services "the purpose of which is to cause, or assist in causing," suicide, euthanasia or mercy killing. Nothing in Section 1233 would change that.Go read Section 1233 yourself...
Still, I was not reassured to read in an Aug. 1 Post article that "Democratic strategists" are "hesitant to give extra attention to the issue by refuting the inaccuracies, but they worry that it will further agitate already-skeptical seniors."
If Section 1233 is innocuous, why would "strategists" want to tip-toe around the subject?
Perhaps because, at least as I read it, Section 1233 is not totally innocuous.
Though not mandatory, as some on the right have claimed, the consultations envisioned in Section 1233 aren't quite "purely voluntary," as Rep. Sander M. Levin (D-Mich.) asserts. To me, "purely voluntary" means "not unless the patient requests one." Section 1233, however, lets doctors initiate the chat and gives them an incentive -- money -- to do so. Indeed, that's an incentive to insist.
Patients may refuse without penalty, but many will bow to white-coated authority. Once they're in the meeting, the bill does permit "formulation" of a plug-pulling order right then and there. So when Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) denies that Section 1233 would "place senior citizens in situations where they feel pressured to sign end-of-life directives that they would not otherwise sign," I don't think he's being realistic.
What's more, Section 1233 dictates, at some length, the content of the consultation. The doctor "shall" discuss "advanced care planning, including key questions and considerations, important steps, and suggested people to talk to"; "an explanation of . . . living wills and durable powers of attorney, and their uses" (even though these are legal, not medical, instruments); and "a list of national and State-specific resources to assist consumers and their families." The doctor "shall" explain that Medicare pays for hospice care (hint, hint).
SEIU and ACORN are also contributing to the mayhem at these town hall meetings. I can't wait to we have ours here and see how many of you, from out of town are in attendance.Maybe there's something to this whole 'social media transparency' thing.
I am a Democrat and worked on the Obama campaign in Hollywood, Florida for 4 months with SEIU. I am not a radical, belong to any radical organization or belong to any Republican organization. I just disagree with it, plain and simple. Not everyone is a radical or a naysayer for disagreeing with this and by labeling people, SEIU is lowering themselves to the level of these radicals and naysayers.
From a former employee of Local 11 (now 32bj), Miami, Florida
Former employee of Florida Public Services Union
Former employee of Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida who lost their job fighting to support the janitors and landscapers attempting to organize.
Capt. Speicher's F/A-18 Hornet fighter was shot down over Iraq during Operation Desert Storm on Jan 17/91, and was listed as killed. There has been considerable controversy regarding his fate, however, and in January 2001, the Secretary of the Navy took the extremely rare step of changing his status to "missing in action." In 2002, it was changed again, this time to "missing-captured." Many also believe that his aircraft was not shot down by a surface-to-air missile, as claimed at the time, but by an Iraqi fighter that passed American planes who were not allowed to engage it. See also the March 27/01 CIA report.
After Operation Iraqi Freedom, evidence was found that included a flight suit believed to be his, an escape and evade sign located on the desert floor, and what appear to be the initials "MSS" scrawled on a wall of a cell in the Hakmiyah prison in Baghdad. Speicher's name was also found on a document in Iraq, dated January 2003, that had the names of prisoners being held in the country. Despite these efforts and clues, however, Speicher's whereabouts and the exact details of his fate remained unknown until a July 2009 tip from Iraqis led to his burial place:
"One of these Iraqi citizens stated that they were present when Speicher was found dead at the crash site by Bedouins and his remains buried. The Iraqi citizens led U.S. Marines to the site who searched the area.... The recovered remains include bones and multiple skeletal fragments. Positive identification was made by comparing Speicher's dental records with the jawbone recovered at the site. The teeth are a match, both visually and radiographically."
Peter Schiff (so A.L. will know what his kids have been reading) goes after Arthur Laffer, Ben Stein (which A.L. will enjoy), and others:
I especially love the laughter of his opponents. Now, the most powerful central planner in the world, displaying the usual track record:
Incidentally, we're supposed to stake America's future on guy #2. Have a nice day.
Our soldier, Cpt. Michael Valleta just notified me that--- he won the Lexus for a year while he is deployed.-
Just wanted to say thanks one last time! I was just notified by Lexus as the winner of the contest! I couldn't have done it without you! Mike-
Here is the info below:
Congratulations! You have been selected to receive a prize in the Lexus HS Contest, administered by ePrize.
You have been selected as the winner of the use of a Lexus HS for one (1) calendar year, a voucher good for two (2) nights weekend accommodations at a participating Fairmont Hotel, and a Lexus Hybrid Living gift bag containing Sponsor selected Lexus branded products. Please see the attached Official Rules for further prize details and eligibility requirements. This prize has an approximate retail value of $9600.
Congratulations again and thank you for your continued patronage.
Prize Fulfillment Services
SciVee had an interesting video from some biology researchers, who think they may have hit on an important key by watching how some animals do it in nature. This article briefly explains the basic science, then offers a video for further viewing. The tip?
bq. "Simply stop eating during the 12-16 hour period before you want to be awake. Once you start eating again, your internal clock will be reset as though it is the start of a new day. Your body will consider the time you break your fast as your new "morning."... If you are travelling from Los Angeles to Tokyo, figure out when breakfast is served in Tokyo, and don't eat for the 12-16 hours before Tokyo's breakfast time."
Yale Environment 360 blog has a piece about evolution and global warming. Which actually starts from a grounded base of science, rather than politics.
"When a severe drought struck southern California, Weis realized that he could use the extra bucket of seeds for an experiment. In 2004 he and his colleagues collected more field mustard seeds from the same sites that Sim had visited seven years earlier. They thawed out some of the 1997 seeds and then reared both sets of plants under identical conditions. The newer plants grew to smaller sizes, produced fewer flowers, and, most dramatically, produced those flowers eight days earlier in the spring. The changing climate had, in other words, driven the field mustard plants to evolve over just a few years. "It was serendipity that we had the seeds lying around," says Weis."
SoCal has had drought cycles before, of course, but the point that some plants and animals can select/adapt rather quickly to changes in their environment seems to be a replicable result. If so, it's likely to take a good chunk (but not all) of the edge off of biodiversity impacts, if global temperatures do warm appreciably due to solar fluctuation, carbon effects. or whatever. We'll see. I especially liked this bit, which is apparently something many genebanks already do on a less systematic basis:
"Weis is now laying the groundwork for that research with something he and his colleagues call the Resurrection Initiative. They are starting to gather seeds and put them in storage. "Fifty years from now, botanists can draw out ancestors from this seed bank and do much more sophisticated experiments on a much bigger scale," says Weis. "It will answer some very nitty-gritty details about the evolutionary process itself. We want to take the serendipity out of it."
Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Meshal told the Wall Street Journal that he’s finally willing to accept a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “We along with other Palestinian factions in consensus agreed upon accepting a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines,” he said. “This is our program. This is a position we stand by and respect.”
Meshal needs to do a lot more than make the right kind of noises to the Wall Street Journal before any of us begin to take what he said seriously.
Yasser Arafat was famous for saying one thing to Westerners in English and something else entirely to Palestinians in Arabic. He spoke so convincingly like a peacemaker to Israelis, Americans, and Europeans that he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1994. Yet while smiling for the cameras during sham negotiations with U.S. President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, his own newspapers and schools incited the Palestinian people to murder and war. Not until hundreds of Israeli civilians were killed by suicide bombers during the Second Intifada did most in Israel and the United States understand what Arafat was up to.
It won’t be so easy for Hamas to pull off a similar stunt, and not only because Americans and Israelis — especially Israelis — have heard this rhetoric before and are accordingly skeptical. We also have outfits like the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) providing us with translations of what is written and said every day in the Arabic media. If MEMRI were as well known among journalists and policymakers in the 1990s as it is now, the violent collapse of the Oslo peace process might have come as less of a shock — and might therefore have been less deadly.
Even if Meshal were serious, accepting a Palestinian state along 1967 borders is a start, but it’s only half of what’s necessary. Hamas must also accept an Israeli state on the other side of the Green Line. And Hamas must accept that the Israeli state have a Jewish majority. Israel will no more transform itself into an Arab country by allowing every Palestinian in the Diaspora to settle there than Hamas will allow all the Jews in the world to relocate to the West Bank and Gaza.
In any case, if you want to know what Middle Eastern political leaders really think, pay more attention to what they do than to what they say. Even what they say in Arabic means less than what they actually do. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, for instance, flattered the Iranian government with all sorts of friendly gestures and promises while sending Iraqi soldiers into battle alongside Americans to crush Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Sadr City and Basra. It’s theoretically possible (though highly improbable) that Hamas might at some point continue paying lip service to the cause of “resistance” when speaking to a regional audience while working to convince Palestinians that the perpetual war has been a disaster.
The rockets out of Gaza have stopped, at least for now. That’s something. It’s not as significant as Maliki’s fighting Iranian-backed militias alongside Americans, but it’s something.
Assuming Meshal doesn’t instantly and publicly reverse himself, what Hamas-run schools, newspapers, and television programs say should settle any lingering doubts. Will Palestinian children still be told they will one day “liberate” Tel Aviv, Haifa, and all Jerusalem? Or will the cause be properly narrowed to the West Bank and Gaza? If the Palestinian public — and especially Palestinian children — doesn’t get the message that Hamas is finally willing to accept a two-state solution, what Meshal just said to a Wall Street Journal reporter doesn’t mean anything.
Ms. X July 9 at 2:31pm I guess I don't even know what you do. You travel a lot. Something like a project manager for big important projects, yeah that explains it.
Anyway, as you know, I've been looking for a job back in low cal So Cal. My industry is melting like the wicked witch after Dorothy doused her. My career went like this: public accounting > construction (job cost) accounting > accounting software development/programming > accounting software consultant (implementations for the construction industry)
[long discussion clipped ]
Marc Danziger July 9 at 8:11pm Happy to do it...there is a big (huge) demand for HC PM's - but there's a buttload of domain-specific info you'll need to be competitive. Let me talk to a buddy at a big hospital about the best path to break in.----------------------------------------------------------
Off the top of my head, I'd pitch some of the big vendors - McKesson, Cerner, GE - and see if you can get in a door there. I'll see who I know at any of those.
Send me your CV and I'll comment...
Ms. X July 10 at 1:26pm Thanks!! I'm glad to hear you agree with the demand I thought is out there. There is a vendor in this area EPIC that I am contacting.----------------------------------------------------------
You didn't say what you do...and how you know all these people! (just curious).
Which address can I send my CV? I'm sure not [email redacted] ;-)
Marc Danziger July 10 at 1:27pm Longer reply to follow...send to [email redacted]...
Subject: CV attached Date: Fri, 10 Jul 2009 15:30:52 -0500 From: Ms. X To: Marc Danziger [email redacted]----------------------------------------------------------
Thanks for having a peek. I would be grateful for any comments you have (and promise not to hold them against you ;-)
I want to setup a new email address just for this, but haven't come up with something catchy yet professional. I can use comcast.net or gmail.com. Does the latter look too hokey or transient?
From: Marc Danziger To: Ms. X Sent: Friday, July 10, 2009 3:40 PM Subject: Re: CV attached----------------------------------------------------------
Short of your own domain, gmail is fine...will review when I get home Sunday...
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
Subject: Re: CV attached Date: Wed, 22 Jul 2009 17:07:00 -0500 From: Ms. X To: Marc Danziger [email redacted]----------------------------------------------------------
Any chance yet to have a look? Any ideas or feedback for me?
Subject: Re: CV attached Date: Wed, 22 Jul 2009 15:08:38 -0700 From: Marc Danziger [email redacted] To: Ms. X----------------------------------------------------------
It's in the reading queue...probably Sunday night??
Subject: Re: CV attached Date: Wed, 22 Jul 2009 17:10:34 -0500 From: Ms. X To: Marc Danziger [email redacted]----------------------------------------------------------
Wow, you were just sitting around waiting for my email to arrive, weren't ya? ;-)
No worries, I appreciate any help you might offer. Epic Systems (my vendor of choice) handily rejected my CV this week. They won't say why, but word on the street is they only hire right outta college so they can "mold their people into Epic people". Psssshaw!!!!
Ms. X Today at 10:09am Are you ever gonna respond? I know its not polite to nag someone who's offered a favor, but I was all excited to hear your work story...to hear of possible advice or connections you could offer...to get your perspective of my resume and my chances. I'm getting more discouraged by my attempts each day. Not just you, but how extremely tight fisted HIT seems to be. Epic Systems won't hire me because I'm too old fer petesake!!!----------------------------------------------------------
I know you have a life, but I'd really rather hear you're not interested in helping or you don't have anything to say or you regret offering advice. If you don't want to bother, just say so. Otherwise "I'll take a look at it Sunday when I get home" is kinda long gone.
Marc Danziger Today at 11:48am So, first, apologies for not pinging you...you're right I have a life and am kinda busy and focused on other things, so I let it drop.----------------------------------------------------------
Next, I did send your (perfectly fine) CV over to the guy who runs the PMO at my vendor (Medplus, a division of Quest), with the question of what it would take for you to break into their shop, or health IT in general...we're going to be talking next week sometime - if you haven't heard anything by Friday ping me.
And...finally, here's the rub. Instead of writing a personal and nonabrasive message like "Marc, I'm really stressing - I'm so sorry to bug you, and appreciate what you're doing, but can we talk in the next day or so?" you send the message above, which I think most people would find pretty unprofessional and unnecessarily abrasive.
Which presents two problems to you - it disincents me to do stuff for you in general (why help people who aren't appreciative or nice?), and much more seriously to me, it makes me doubt your maturity and self-control - which means that if I armtwist to get someone to look at you and they hire you - and you pull something like this and blow yourself up, I worry that some of it blows back on me.
I'll try and get you in front of my vendor, and chat with some people about you. But you really - really, really - need to think about how you present in the context of work.
I'm not saying this to one-up you, or kick you when you're down, but in the genuine hope that it helps you - I really hope you can take it in that light. Let's communicate next Friday.
Subject: a really fun rebuttal, I promise From: Ms. X Date: Fri, 31 Jul 2009 15:37:23 -0500 To: [email redacted]----------------------------------------------------------
Dear. Darling. You amuse me. I do hope that you will indulge my rebuttal. Please note that what follows is a PERSONAL communication, not to be construed as, perceived in or related to the context of my work or yours.
While I agree that some might judge my message "unprofessional and unnecessarily abrasive", it was sent to a friend (I might be stretching that definition) with whom I've enjoyed a playful and extremely casual, not to mention unfettered, association through [email list].
You don't really know me personally. Nor do you know much about my stress levels or my maturity and certainly nothing about my professionalism. Had I realized that I would be judged so harshly from a freaking FB message, I would not have sent it at all.
Additionally, I think you may have vastly overestimated what I expected from you, or at the very least, what I asked for in the first place. I was interested in your job (ya know, what you do for a living?) and how it was related to where I'm trying to go (still don't know). I gladly accepted your offer to comment on my CV (got two words on that...just now). I asked for whatever help you might offer....and only then did you mention you would "talk to a buddy at a big hospital about the best path to break in" - How that morphed into personally presenting and supporting me, I do not know. But thanks for the vote of confidence....oh, never mind. Not sure if I've lost your vote or not.
I really think your attack, disguised as helpful advice, is defensive...because you feel guilty about responding enthusiastically, then dropping the ball. I'd really rather you say something like - oh, shit, Ms. X...I'm such a heel. I shouldn't have ever promised Sunday night then completely written you off. - You could have gone on to say that you had actually done something...like forwarded my CV! Or better yet, you could have said from the beginning - you know, I'm really not comfortable backing you, ya seem like a real infantile bitch and I wish you the best of luck finding a job washing dishes somewhere - .
Honestly!! I would have preferred *either* to an attack on my 1) appreciation 2) niceness 3) maturity and 4) professionalism.
I *do* appreciate what you have offered, I just have this odd habit of believing people when they say yes and then being irritated when they don't follow through. Oh, and you're right...I do have self-control issues. I'm pretty sure you can empathize ;-)
So, if you've read this far, maybe you'll care to see my comments on your specifics:
So, first, apologies for not pinging you...you're right I have a life and am kinda busy and focused on other things, so I let it drop.I do accept your apology, even though it is weak, like a man's apology can be. My ex-husband used to say "I'm sorry that you feel that way" - as if my feelings were the problem after what he had done or said. At least your apology includes a statement of self-responsibility! Bravo.
Might I suggest that if you are "kinda busy and focused on other things" - that you not promise higher than you are willing to deliver? My suggestion does not diminish my appreciation (nor my nicety). Please take it in the helpful light in which it is offered.
Next, I did send your (perfectly fine) CV over to the guy who runs the PMO at my vendor (Medplus, a division of Quest), with the question of what it would take for you to break into their shop, or health IT in general...we're going to be talking next week sometime - if you haven't heard anything by Friday ping me.Wonderful news! Had you shared that with me, my nagging query might have been avoided. I'm not sure what "my vendor" - means in relation to your job, nor do I know what PMO means, and I'd love to know more about Quest. Remember, I am trying to change horses midstream here. More like changing from a horse to a zebra in the middle of a raging river!
And...finally, here's the rub. Instead of writing a personal and nonabrasive message like "Marc, I'm really stressing - I'm so sorry to bug you, and appreciate what you're doing, but can we talk in the next day or so?"First, I'd like to point out that you admit you perceived the message as personal...so why the professional slam? Second, you apparently inferred from my message that I was stressing, so my not saying it probably wasn't all that important. Third, I did hint at an apology (and even appreciation) when I said "I know it's not nice to nag someone who is doing me a favor - .
you send the message above, which I think most people would find pretty unprofessional and unnecessarily abrasive.I'm sure you will not be surprised to hear that I have been accused - many, many times - of being abrasive. I do not have the gift of diplomacy, nor have I enjoyed much success in trying to develop it, although I have mellowed over the years, believe it or not.
I might also suggest that the casual, written and internet environments make it really easy to overestimate said abrasiveness and/or take something in such a way that it was not intended. I mean, when I say "Shut Up" - to [so and so] when he's being an annoying ass, or call [such and such] a "fuckwad" - back when he used to come after me onlist like a rabid dog...you can be pretty sure I meant what I said. But otherwise, I am not nearly as bad as I sound in an email, I promise you.
Which presents two problems to you - it disincents me to do stuff for you in general (why help people who aren't appreciative or nice?),Well, by all means, Mr. Mrac, if you are disincented (not a word btw, I looked it up) then please say so and I will grudgingly accept the retraction of your offer of help.
and much more seriously to me, it makes me doubt your maturity and self-control - which means that if I armtwist to get someone to look at you and they hire you - and you pull something like this and blow yourself up, I worry that some of it blows back on me.If you want me to believe for even one second that you would armtwist (I believe this should be hyphenated, but now I'm just picking on you for fun) someone to look at me, then you should add a fifth insult to your attack, because you obviously think I am stupid...and maybe you are too....if it were really true that you would do that.
I'll try and get you in front of my vendor, and chat with some people about you. But you really - really, really - need to think about how you present in the context of work.As I said, I will accept the retraction of your offer, and I never asked for "getting me in front of your vendor" - . I wouldn't want you to stick your neck out for me, especially considering how my message today made you feel. I am sorry for that, by the way. I hate to do anything to offend; unless of course I am trying to...then it is kind of a rush!!
I'm not saying this to one-up you, or kick you when you're down, but in the genuine hope that it helps you - I really hope you can take it in that light.My theory is defensiveness (which is a form of one-upmanship but I digress), not helpfulness, but only you can know your true motives.
Let's communicate next Friday.I leave the ball in your court. I thank you for getting this far, and I completely understand if you never say another word to me. I also promise that I won't nag you Have a great weekend!
Subject: Re: a really fun rebuttal, I promise Date: Fri, 31 Jul 2009 14:56:25 -0700 From: Marc Danziger [email redacted] To: Ms. XSo there are a few lessons there; for me, when doing favors for folks don't do more than I promise and do it late, and be thoughtful about who I'm doing them for. For those seeking favors, engage common sense before engaging keyboard (or mouth).
Look, I'm not even sure how to respond to this mess.
I do know that you think I'm dishonest and - at best - defensive. So I'm probably not much help to you anyway.
Genuine good luck to you...