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January 2010 Archives

January 29, 2010

Immigration and the 2nd Generation

By Joe Katzman at 01:13

Back in December 2009, Christopher Jenks ran an interesting roundup on immigration-related titles in the New York Revew of Books. His lead paragraph touches on an important subject:

"Many rich countries have tried hiring foreigners to do their dirty work. Few have been happy with the results. Hiring immigrants for unskilled jobs seems a good deal for the employer. Immigrants will usually accept lower wages than natives, and at least in the United States most employers report that immigrants are more diligent, more reliable, and less prickly than the Americans who apply for such jobs. But hiring unskilled immigrants does not make unskilled Americans disappear; it just depresses their wages. In the long run, moreover, hiring unskilled immigrants has another significant cost. Most immigrants eventually have children, and while many of these children thrive in their new homeland, many do not."

Hiring immigrants to do dirty work is nothing new, even in America. The question is what happens next, and especially in the next 2 generations.

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  • Roland Nikles: Here are some policies to promote a more equal society: read more
  • Joe Katzman: Roland, My wife votes often for Democrats, but she isn't read more
  • mark buehner: "No, it is Le Chatelier's principle. The terrorist would be read more

January 28, 2010

Car Trouble

By Armed Liberal at 17:13

A friend has stated a smart 'frugality blog,' and I went there with a question on what to do about our car (about which more later)...check out 'New Car or Used Car: Eco-Friendly Or Not?'

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Larry Lessig At Cato

By Armed Liberal at 17:07

Check out this Powerpoint and speech by Larry Lessig at the Cato Institute...

...suggesting that left and right have some common critiques of the current system. Not a massively exciting presentation, but a really, really smart one.

(h/t The Tinker's Mind)

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  • Greg F: I think Lessig misses the target when he portraits the read more
  • Joe Katzman: I may well agree with Roland here: "Counterintuitively, the solution read more
  • Roland Nikles: The suggested possible solution of public financing of campaigns-which implies read more

January 27, 2010

2010: Obama's State of the Union Hurdles

By Joe Katzman at 20:44

Armed Liberal's Obama and the Competence Gap offers this thought:

"The issue from my POV is that what attracted many of us to Obama was the competence that his campaign displayed.... So even if you disagreed somewhat with his politics or policies, you had comfort that the nation would be well-run.... The problem, as I see it, is that in his first year he's shown very little domestic competence (I think foreign affairs are a separate matter), and that he either never believed in the "new^2 liberalism" or got completely stuffed by the interest groups and their Congressional sponsors.

So the question is "now what?"

There's some truth to that, but overall, I lean more toward David Gerson's assessment in the Washington Post:

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  • Joe Katzman: Not a bad speech. The man's a very good speaker. read more
  • Glen Wishard: mark:The best thing Obama could do would be to go read more
  • Joe Katzman: "Congress won't climb out of their earmark soup to save read more

Why They Hate Us: Middle Eastern Politics and the Principle of the Strong Horse

By Michael Totten at 09:40

If you read only one book about the Middle East this year--aside from mine, of course, after it's finished--read The Strong Horse by my friend and colleague Lee Smith. It is, as far as I am concerned, required reading for everyone who is interested in this topic. If you enjoy my work, you really need to pick up a copy.

Lee and I met in Lebanon in 2005, and have been friends ever since. We've spent I-don't-know-how-many evenings in Beirut and Jerusalem discussing Middle Eastern politics and conflict, sometimes expanding each others' knowledge and other times arguing. We don't argue so much anymore, except around the edges once in a while. I should say he won some of our arguments in the end, partly because he relocated to the Middle East before I did and was farther along on the learning curve, but he also claims I shaped some of the way he came to think about the region in that he believes the issues are largely Arab rather than Islamic per se. Whether he's right about that, or if I am, it's certainly an argument worth thinking about. Sometimes his prognosis is gloomy--the Middle East is the kind of place where it's extremely difficult, if not impossible, to remain optimistic and hopeful for long--but we both have a lot still invested in the region, including mutual friendships in several Middle Eastern countries on both sides of the front lines.

The Strong Horse is the product of Lee's on-the-ground experience there as a traveler and a resident since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. He was drawn to the region for the same principle reason I was--he wanted to figure out what on earth compelled suicidal hijackers to ram airplanes into our buildings. He stayed on for additional reasons, of course, as did I, and his book is about so much more than Osama bin Laden's murderous gang, but that was his starting point as it was mine.

His book is not so easy to summarize, so I invited him to speak for himself and go over some of the main points.

MJT: The title of your book is The Strong Horse. Can you tell us exactly what that concept means?

Lee Smith: It comes from Osama Bin Laden's observation that when people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse. I know this idea will be confused with the notion that Arabs understand only force, an idea often, and incorrectly, attributed to the Bush administration. It is useful to recall that throughout history most of mankind has "understood" force. Those lucky few who are fortunate enough to be able to live their political lives free of the fear of violence are largely concentrated in the capitals of contemporary Western Europe and along the east and west coasts of the United States, who not coincidentally happen to make up the primary audience I was writing for, so I wanted to explain that the inhabitants of the Arabic-speaking Middle East are not as fortunate as we are. To say that Lebanon is held at gunpoint by an armed gang, or that Lebanese journalists are assassinated for their work, Syrian intellectuals and Egyptian rights activists are typically thrown in prison and tortured, and regional minorities like the Shia, Druze, Alawi, Christians, Kurds and Jews have often been the target of purges and political violence all in the name of Arab nationalism, a corporatist ideology that seeks to erase communal as well as individual difference, is not to say that Arabs only understand force, but that violence is a central factor in Arab political life and it is impossible to understand the region without taking this into account.

Read the rest at»

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  • Joe Katzman: Definitely a guy who looks at the world as it read more

January 26, 2010

2010 WTF #1

By Armed Liberal at 23:34

So Big Government contributor and ACORN-stinger James O'Keefe has been arrested for - allegedly - conspiring to do something to the phone likes at Democratic LA Sen Landreau's office.

Young, suicidally aggressive, and incarcerated is no way to go through life, James.

There's no excuse, bummer for him, and if true it may well be that he'll enjoy penal food for a bit (start eating bologna sandwiches now, acquire the taste for them).

The usual progressive subjects are leaping in the air and waving flags, claiming that this - somehow - devalues the videos he took at ACORN.

Hint: no it doesn't.

My favorite line was from ACORN spokesman Kevin Whelan:

"ACORN's leadership and grassroots leaders have taken a whole series of steps, including commissioning an independent report that shows actually there wasn't illegal conduct by any of the ACORN employees involved, although we fired people involved for improper conduct," Whelan said.

So it was improper, but not illegal, and therefore OK...right, then, move along.

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  • Glen Wishard: kparker:At first glance, I'd say that "because the palace guard read more
  • mark buehner: The irony is that the story is now actually viable, read more
  • PD Shaw: It appears to me that without the intent to tap read more

This Is Massive - Keynes v. hayek Throwdown

By Armed Liberal at 18:59

Just watch it.

(h/t Megan McArdle)

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  • Joe Katzman: This is fooking brilliant. read more

Obama And The Competence Gap

By Armed Liberal at 18:20

Greg Sargeant says something that crystallized my thinking about the state of the Administration today.
The question is whether Dem leaders will decide they're tanking because voters don't like the health reform bill they've been trying to pass, making them decide to shelve it - or whether they'll conclude that voters don't like failure, making them redouble their efforts to pass something they can call a historic accomplishment. Anyone taking bets?

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  • mark buehner: “Let's just clarify. I didn't make a bunch of deals,” read more
  • Jeff Medcalf: Well, I think a lot of people read things into read more
  • mark buehner: For me, Obama has surprised me in foreign policy- pleasantly read more

January 25, 2010

We All Need Help Sometime - Gary Farber Needs It Today

By Armed Liberal at 19:28

Take a moment, and look at your surroundings. Most of us - many of us - are blessed with a rich mixture of friends, family, some measure of financial security, and health.

Those may vary widely; I'm nowhere near financially rich (trust me - the projects I was counting on for December fell apart - and I committed the cardinal sin of all consultants, which was to assume that the 'about to happen' project was the same as a 'happening' project), but I'm blessed with family, and colleagues, and friends - many of whom I have made thanks to blogging. So when I get a day when I feel like I'm living the blues, it's not long before someone does something that reminds me of how lucky I really am.

I need more business, and I need to get serious about working out, and Littlest Guy once again repeated that he plans to get into Stanford, but those are "high class" problems. I will get more business, I can work out, and I'm blessed with three amazing sons, who I'm happy to do what's necessary for.

Blogger Gary Farber, of Amygdala isn't.

And he's hitting a crisis point as his disability claim has been denied, meaning he can't get assistance with his healthcare or his finances. He's written a scaldingly honest post about it, and he's asking us for help - yes, I know he's needed it before.

But I just tossed another $25 in the pot, and encourage others to do the same thing. We'll watch a streaming Netflix movie this weekend instead of going out.

Look, it's a complicated thing. There are a lot of voices calling out for support right now. But I'll suggest, strongly, that generosity (not grandiose generosity, but small, frequent acts) is something that I know is central to my values. If you have enjoyed his work over the years (and he's put the work into his blog), it might not even be generosity. You might just be paying him for the thinking he's made you do.

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January 22, 2010

A Phrase I Never Thought I'd See In My Lifetime

By Armed Liberal at 15:00
The executive editor of the National Enquirer says he plans to enter his paper's work on the John Edwards scandal for a Pulitzer Prize.
No memo on this yet from the LA Times' Tony Pierce.

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  • Well, why not? I can't think of any more deserving. read more
  • lewy14: I pity the Onion writers. They are having a harder read more
  • Glen Wishard: Now, if someone publishes an article proving/demonstrating that Edwards used read more

Trijicon To Stop With The Bible-Verse Thing

By Armed Liberal at 01:29
From commenter Drogo Bunce, the Detroit News tells us:
The Wixom company under fire for putting tiny references to Bible verses on gun sights sold to the U.S. military, announced today it will drop the inscriptions on future arms shipments and offer kits to help the military remove codes on sights in the hands of troops.

Trijicon Inc., responding to an uproar in the United States and abroad, said it has voluntarily decided to drop the inscriptions on all of its products made for the Defense Department. It will also supply the Pentagon with 100 "modification kits" to allow for the removal of the codes.

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January 21, 2010

What's On Your Shelves??

By Armed Liberal at 17:57

I just switched to a Droid, which meant my old Blackberry was sitting forlornly on the shelf along with all it's accessories.

So I put it up for sale on my local email lists, with the proviso that whoever gave $150 to Team Rubicon would get it.

Team Rubicon is a group of nurses, medics, and doctors who have flown to Haiti on their own dime to offer emergency medical aid. Blackfive told me about them (speaking of B5 - we'll do a post on how to support him - he's in a primary on Feb 2nd!!).

What's on your shelf?

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What Torture Is - And Isn't.

By Armed Liberal at 17:31

I've made no bones about my stance on torture - it's bad. See this post, for example.

And then today I was flooded with links to this CNN dialog about torture, where Christine Amanpour and Phillipe Sands hammer author Marc Thiessen on the issue:

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  • Andrew J. Lazarus: It seems waterboarding isn't even all it's cracked up to read more
  • Armed Liberal: I haven't abandoned this, I'm mulling. Marc read more
  • Alchemist: By the way, If you haven't read the Harpers magazine read more

January 20, 2010


By Armed Liberal at 03:44

Ann Althouse pretty neatly summed up my macro reaction to the Massachusetts election:
Poor Obama! It's the eve of the anniversary of his inauguration. The State of the Union was supposed to be very grand. And now what? He has been repudiated! He made this election a referendum on the Democrats agenda, and the people of Massachusetts, the most liberal state, gave him a resounding no.

Now, I think that could be good for Obama. He's a man of change. Let him change. I hope he becomes the President I thought he could be when I voted for him. With the midterm elections looming in the fall, he can readjust, set himself apart from Congress. Take the people seriously.
I've got to believe that healthcare is headed for the wheels of the bus, because both Obama and the Democratic elites are passionate, primarily, about one thing - being re-elected. And the optics of their taking a stand on top of the monstrous pile of paper that this bill has metastized into in the face of such public opposition...and in the face of the weak coattails that Obama has shown to date...would be devastating both in 2010 and 2012.

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  • I've posed this question elsewhere, and would like as much read more
  • PD Shaw: alchemist, you make good points. Our current system is unsustainable. read more
  • mark buehner: "If this comes to pass, any system that controls costs read more

January 20, 2010

I'm Assuming You've Seen This...

By Armed Liberal at 03:10

...arguably the best commentary on today's election I've run into so far:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Mass Backwards
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

"...the Republicans are playing chess while the Democrats are in the nurse's office because they glued their..."
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Is It Bada**ery? Or Bada**itude? And It Doesn't Matter, Because You'll Cry Anyway.

By Armed Liberal at 01:11

We saw two films in the last two days, and they couldn't have been more different - although both were just flat excellent.

'Book of Eli' needs no introduction. But we also saw (via streaming Netflix) 'The Way We Get By,' a brilliant documentary about...well about this:

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  • Glen Wishard: The last time I read Canticle was with my 1980 read more
  • Armed Liberal: "Canticle" is dated, but really, really good...just don't read it read more
  • Alchemist: Hmmph. I guess I'll make an effort. But time is read more

January 18, 2010

Trijicon, The Bible, And Huge-A** Headache (Or, When Wrongs Collide)

By Armed Liberal at 22:16

The Wixom company under fire for putting tiny references to Bible verses on gun sights sold to the U.S. military, announced today it will drop the inscriptions on future arms shipments and offer kits to help the military remove codes on sights in the hands of troops.

Trijicon Inc., responding to an uproar in the United States and abroad, said it has voluntarily decided to drop the inscriptions on all of its products made for the Defense Department. It will also supply the Pentagon with 100 "modification kits" to allow for the removal of the codes.
So the story broke yesterday that Trijicon, makers of the excellent line of ACOG firearms sights is embossing the codes for Bible verses on the sights along with the model number and serial number.

A friend of mine checked his Army-surplus Trijicon and conformed this to me (not all that necessary, because in the ABC stories that broke this, the manufacturer apparently confirms it):
Trijicon confirmed to that it adds the biblical codes to the sights sold to the U.S. military. Tom Munson, director of sales and marketing for Trijicon, which is based in Wixom, Michigan, said the inscriptions "have always been there" and said there was nothing wrong or illegal with adding them.

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  • Andrew J. Lazarus: Andrew, there is no government action here.Except for buying and read more
  • Marcus Vitruvius: It would still depend on the specifications. My experience will read more
  • Kirk Parker: Marcus V., but aren't the Trijicon sights COTS items? It read more

On MLK's Birthday

By Armed Liberal at 06:58

Loving Your Enemies. Dexter Ave. Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama - November 17 1957
I am forced to preach under something of a handicap this morning. In fact, I had the doctor before coming to church. And he said that it would be best for me to stay in the bed this morning. And I insisted that I would have to come to preach. So he allowed me to come out with one stipulation, and that is that I would not come in the pulpit until time to preach, and that after, that I would immediately go back home and get in the bed. So I'm going to try to follow his instructions from that point on.

I want to use as a subject from which to preach this morning a very familiar subject, and it is familiar to you because I have preached from this subject twice before to my knowing in this pulpit. I try to make it a, something of a custom or tradition to preach from this passage of Scripture at least once a year, adding new insights that I develop along the way out of new experiences as I give these messages. Although the content is, the basic content is the same, new insights and new experiences naturally make for new illustrations.

So I want to turn your attention to this subject: "Loving Your Enemies." It's so basic to me because it is a part of my basic philosophical and theological orientation - the whole idea of love, the whole philosophy of love. In the fifth chapter of the gospel as recorded by Saint Matthew, we read these very arresting words flowing from the lips of our Lord and Master: "Ye have heard that it has been said, 'Thou shall love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.' But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven."

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  • MikeDC: Don't consider this an endorsement of everything they did, but: read more
  • Alchemist: Can you think of any politician whom applies "love thy read more
  • MikeDC: Love your enemies was not the theme of Barack Obama's read more

January 15, 2010

William Zinsser On Writing Good English

By Joe Katzman at 04:16

Taken from a talk to the incoming international students at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, on August 11, 2009. It's also great advice for anyone writing in English as their first language:

"As you start your journey here at Columbia this week, you may tell yourself that you're doing "communications," or "new media," or "digital media" or some other fashionable new form. But ultimately you're in the storytelling business. We all are. It's the oldest of narrative forms, going back to the caveman and the crib, endlessly riveting. What happened? Then what happened? Please remember, in moments of despair, whatever journalistic assignment you've been given, all you have to do is tell a story, using the simple tools of the English language and never losing your own humanity.

Repeat after me:
Short is better than long.
Simple is good. (Louder)
Long Latin nouns are the enemy.
Anglo-Saxon active verbs are your best friend.
One thought per sentence.

Good luck to you all."

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  • Kirk Parker: My original column: Incassum feugiat, melior et quae refero nunc, read more

January 13, 2010

An Interview with Christopher Hitchens, Part II

By Michael Totten at 02:35

Hitchens Smoking.jpg

Journalist and author Christopher Hitchens visited my hometown of Portland, Oregon last week, and I interviewed him at Jake's Grill downtown over glasses of Johnny Walker Black Label. My old friend and sometimes traveling companion Sean LaFreniere joined us and contributed a few questions of his own. You can read Part I here.

MJT: The big story in 2010 will be Iran. We have this revolution there--I'm not afraid to call it that.

Hitchens: You're right, I think it is one.

MJT: We have Iran's terrorist proxies in Gaza and Lebanon. And we have the regime's nuclear weapons program.

Hitchens: Also, in each case, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard--the Pasdaran--is the controlling force.

MJT: Hezbollah is the Mediterranean branch of the Revolutionary Guards.

Hitchens: We have the same bunch overseas where they're not wanted, in Lebanon and even among the Palestinians, conducting assassination missions abroad, shooting down young Iranians in the streets of a major city, and controlling an illegal thermonuclear weapons program. We do have a target. All this has been accumulated under one heading.

MJT: Yes.

Hitchens: I thought that was worth pointing out. It's not "the regime" or "the theocracy." It's now very clear that the Revolutionary Guards have committed a coup in all but name--well, I name it, but it hasn't yet been named generally. They didn't rig an election. They didn't even hold one.

MJT: They never counted the votes. There's no "recount" to be done.

Hitchens: The seizure of power by a paramilitary gang that just so happens to be the guardian and the guarantor and the incubator of the internationally illegal weapons program. If that doesn't concentrate one's mind, I don't know what will.

MJT: If the Obama Administration calls you up and says, "Christopher, we need you to come in here, we need your advice." What would you tell them?

Hitchens: I would say, as I did with Saddam Hussein--albeit belatedly, I tried to avoid this conclusion--that any fight you're going to have eventually, have now. Don't wait until they're more equally matched. It doesn't make any sense at all.

The existence of theocratic regimes that have illegally acquired weapons of mass destruction, that are war with their own people, that are exporting their violence to neighboring countries, sending death squads as far away as Argentina to kill other people as well as dissident members of their own nationality--the existence of such regimes is incompatible with us. If there is going to be a confrontation, we should pick the time, not them.

We're saying, "Let's give them time to get ready. Then we'll be more justified in hitting them." That's honestly what they're saying. When we have total proof, when we can see them coming for us, we'll feel okay about resisting.

Read the rest at

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  • lewy14: To the long list of grave hazards Michael has endured read more

Wow (Again). Google Does 'Not Evil' - To Stop Censoring the Chinese Internet.

By Armed Liberal at 01:01

From the Google Blog, Google's infrastructure was just attacked from China:
First, this attack was not just on Google. As part of our investigation we have discovered that at least twenty other large companies from a wide range of businesses--including the Internet, finance, technology, media and chemical sectors--have been similarly targeted. We are currently in the process of notifying those companies, and we are also working with the relevant U.S. authorities.

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  • J Aguilar: Applause and support for Google. read more
  • Joe Katzman: I'm impressed that Google has been willing to rethink its read more
  • phantommut: I've long been a Google skeptic, but credit where it's read more

January 11, 2010

Our Political Betters

By Armed Liberal at 19:36

So, like everyone else, I've been reading the excerpts from 'Game Change' with a mixture of amusement, schadenfreude, and deep concern for the Republic. The political insiders it depicts are as far removed from any notion of 'better government' and 'public service' as Pluto (which I still hold to be a planet, dammit!!) is from the Sun.

Something nagged at me, and finally I realized that they reminded me of the boardroom scene in Putney Swope (one of my favorite movies from that era) where the avaricious board votes in Putney - because he's black and they assume no one else will vote for him.

Yes, I get it that the entire text in the film is about race (it's actually a very good film about race that unmasks a bunch of interesting altitudes by a bunch of different people); and I almost didn't post this because some people will seize on that and make this post about Obama and race. It isn't.

I'll repeat again that it isn't about race (although that's the core of the film); it's about the corruption and process by which Putney becomes chairman and how appallingly close that is to our politics today.

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  • Glen Wishard: Okay, I get it that Putney is not Obama. So read more

A Home-Made Cannon

By Armed Liberal at 02:22

Rezeroing the long guns for the New Year, I went to the rifle range. My friend Bill is handy, and for the last few months has been building a cannon (from scratch - he didn't make the wheels or the striker, but the rest is all him). Today he brought it out for the first firing.

(I filmed the second one - for some reason I decided to stand further away the first time):


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  • lewy14: One word: canister... read more
  • Joe Katzman: Impressive. I assume he'll be bringing this to the next read more

January 9, 2010

Rent-Seeking In A Positive Light

By Armed Liberal at 07:51

...I've never seen quite such a blatant example as the op-ed by attorney Mark Greenbaum in today's LA Times which suggests that we need to throttle back law school accreditation to keep the revenues of those in profession high.
...the problem can be traced to the American Bar Assn., which continues to allow unneeded new schools to open and refuses to properly regulate the schools, many of which release numbers that paint an overly rosy picture of employment prospects for their recent graduates. There is a finite number of jobs for lawyers, and this continual flood of graduates only suppresses wages. Because the ABA has repeatedly signaled its unwillingness to adapt to this changing reality, the federal government should consider taking steps to stop the rapid flow of attorneys into a marketplace that cannot sustain them.
Ah, the attitudes of the Ottoman Empire. Where every pasha and wali could know that the office they had dearly bought would be profitable.

In case you ever wonder why the legal system seems to do such a bad job of defending markets...ask no further.

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  • Gbear: Lawyers who graduate law school should earn the minimum wage read more
  • toc3: I can't stop weeping for the plight of thewse these read more
  • Where every pasha and wali could know that the office read more

Pyrrhus Bowl 2010: GOP, Democrats Compete

By Joe Katzman at 01:24

Pyrrhus of Epirus wasn't a bad general - he beat the Romans twice, and was widely considered to be one of the great military commanders of his age, even by enemies. He was also smart enough to realize that while winning was better than losing, his tactical victories in 280-279 BC had cost him dearly.

Peggy Noonan can hardly help but see the analogy concerning Obama and the Democrats, whose talk of a permanent majority sure undid itself quickly. Though she doesn't mention it, she could add that it has quite a ways left to fall. If they keep going the way they're going, the bottom is a long way down. I hope they do, because it's probably the fastest way to get America back on its feet, and headed on a smarter course.

So do the Republicans, but Noonan's "The Risk of Catastrophic Victory" is also wise enough to see that the Republicans are gearing up for a Pyrrhic victory of their own - and provide evidence. I think the party's leaders have actually done well on the legislative front, given their position. On the other hand, many of those same people are part of the reason for that unenviable position. However capable in legislative tactics, they are also weak public leaders who project little vision, and display little behind the scenes. As a result, bright spots like the "Young Guns" are happening as much in spite of the party as because of it. With respect to the larger party, it remains deeply disconnected from its base, with the main bright spots of progress in 2009 being Sarah "Donna Reed-Quixote" Palin, and Ron Paul for his connection to the Tea Party Movement. With an honorable mention to, of all people, Dick Cheney.

The party is, in short, not ready for prime time. While it was impolitic of him to say it publicly, Michael Steele is absolutely right - and the lack of clue among senior Republicans concerning the truth of that message is a fundamental indictment of their own leadership. Their chosen approach of sitting back and letting the Democrats destroy themselves may result in tactical victories, but it will leave them incapable of winning the larger conflict.

There's an interesting subtext to this situation, and the Young Guns. Palin has been very publicly backing GOP reformers, and this kind of new blood. Contemplate what level of political clout that translates into, if her backing, fundraising assistance, etc. is seen by many of Capitol Hill's bright new talents as having helped put them there. And if Steele gets tired of being the RNC Chair, I really hope he's one of them.

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  • toc3: Funny, last time I heard, elections were won on electoral read more
  • Glen Wishard: mark:As far as the Republican part goes- this idea that read more
  • mark buehner: As far as the Republican part goes- this idea that read more

January 7, 2010

An Interview with Christopher Hitchens, Part I

By Michael Totten at 06:55

I had lunch with journalist and author Christopher Hitchens in my hometown of Portland, Oregon, this week and interviewed him over glasses of Johnny Walker Black Label downtown.

The man should need no introduction, but I'll give him one anyway. He's the author or editor of more than twenty books, a journalist, a literary critic, a world traveler, a teacher, and a polemicist who migrated rightward from the radical left and no longer fits in anyone's convenient box. Last year Forbes magazine cited him as one of the 25 most influential liberals in the U.S. media, but at the same time he's a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford. In 2005, Foreign Policy magazine cited him as one of the 100 most influential intellectuals in the world.

He's a regular contributor to Vanity Fair, Slate, and the Atlantic, and his most recent book, God Is Not Great, made him more famous (or, if you prefer, infamous) than ever. His best book, or perhaps I should say my favorite, is Love, Poverty, and War, a rich collection of travel pieces and essays on those three most important of topics.

Hitchens is certainly famous, and is recognized on the street a lot more often than I am. A tall and slightly disheveled man in his fifties rudely interrupted our conversation outside the bar at one point and said "I can't remember your name, but I recognize you from YouTube."

"You should read more," Hitchens said. He didn't remind the man of his name.

Not two minutes later, an attractive young woman walked up to him, squeezed his arm gently, and said "I love you."

"How often does this happen?" I said.

"This," he said and smiled at the pretty young woman, "doesn't happen nearly enough. But that," he said and gestured to the man who recognized him from YouTube and would not go away, "happens too often."

Read the rest at


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  • Roland Nikles: Hitchens is always provocative and interesting. You've got to admire read more

January 5, 2010

Sullivan's Credibility Escapes With A Literal "Woosh" - With Photo!

By Armed Liberal at 19:54

Sullivan approvingly quotes a correspondent:
A reader asks a very interesting question about the undie-bomber - why did he get back into his seat to detonate a bomb that had a ramshackle detonator and where he could be overcome by fellow travelers? Read the whole email:
I keep hearing this even described as a failed terrorist attack on an airplane. But was it really? I keep hearing about how the system failed, but did it really? Think about it. First, what is the major goal of terrorism? It is not to bring down airplanes. It is not to destroy the West. It is, pure and simple, to create terror in people. Why? Because when people are afraid they overreact. And this includes most of us, yourself included.

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  • MikeDC: Sullivan has an ideology? read more
  • Aog: The real problem for Sullivan and his ilk is that read more
  • toc3: The first thing we do, let's kill all the "journalists". read more

January 4, 2010

SNL: "The Real" Obama - Jintao Beijing Press Conference

By Joe Katzman at 00:23

This was simply too funny. If you haven't seen it, consider it my New Year's gift. Ever wonder what the Chinese participants were really thinking? Well...

And kudos to SNL for living up to its mission to parody anyone, from any party. They do it so well, which is one reason why they're still going.

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  • Joe Katzman: The guy doing Hu Jintao is good enough that as read more
  • toc3: The Reason Ju wants the sex is because he is read more
  • mark buehner: The translator sells it. Its hilarious how she gets louder read more

January 3, 2010

Things That Make You Go "Hrrrm..."

By Armed Liberal at 14:53

Redstate points to an official Israeli announcement that it pulled all it's senior diplomats (heads of mission and ambassadors) home for a conference from Dec 27 to Dec 31.

They think it's a precursor to opening a can of whoopass on someone; I'm less sure.

But it sure means something. A conference call would be far less intrusive; they obviously want something said that won't possibly be overheard.

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  • Joe Katzman: Read the release. It sounds innocuous. A best practices get read more
  • toc3: Whatever it is let's hope they let us know about read more

January 2, 2010

Race In The 21st Century - Another Inconvenient Truth

By Armed Liberal at 20:54

Browsing the LA Weekly, I was scanning for a movie to go to this weekend, and saw this review of 'The Blind Side':
Another poor, massive, uneducated African-American teenager lumbers onto screens this month, two weeks after Precious and obviously timed as a pre-Thanksgiving-dinner lesson in the Golden Rule. But unlike the howling rage of Claireece Precious Jones, The Blind Side's Michael "Big Mike" Oher (Quinton Aaron) is mute, docile, and ever-grateful to the white folks who took him in.

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read the rest! »

  • toc3: Toynbee wrote that the West had two great sins to read more
  • toc3: I tend to agree with mark. I like films and read more
  • Glen Wishard: mark - Literature, at least for me, expresses rich truths read more

Late But Good - Merry Christmas From Afghanistan

By Armed Liberal at 06:51

h/t The Jawa report

...not bad for Marines!!

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January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!!

By Armed Liberal at 01:34

To everyone!!

Sorry for the matters (i.e. family is more important). But here's to a closing out 2009 and opening a great 2010 for all of us.


And a special thought for Biggest Guy and his mates...may 2010 be smooth for them as well.

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