Tuesday, February 19, 2008, 04:15 PM
Please tell me there's going to be a floor fight at the convention.
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On Stupidity and Other Unhelpful Additions to the National Debate 
Tuesday, February 19, 2008, 11:36 AM
A quote by Debra Sweet from a NYT blog post on Army recruiting: "These troops are being trained to carry out war crimes." Yes that's right, the secret is out -- military personnel are being trained to carry out war crimes. Why I remember with fondness my "Indigenous Peoples (and How to Slaughter Them)" course, held during freshman orientation.
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Obama the Phenomenon 
Saturday, February 16, 2008, 10:46 AM
The Economist, the respected British magazine, considers Obama the president versus Obama the Phenomenon. On policy:
Even if he never voted for the Iraq war, his policy for dealing with that country now seems to amount to little more than pulling out quickly, convening a peace conference, inviting the Iranians and the Syrians along and hoping for the best. On the economy, his plans are more thought out, but he often tells people only that they deserve more money and more opportunities. If one lesson from the wasted Bush years is that needless division is bad, another is that incompetence is perhaps even worse. A man who has never run any public body of any note is a risk, even if his campaign has been a model of discipline.

Couldn't say it better myself.
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People of the State of California vs. Peter Hsu 
Wednesday, February 13, 2008, 05:44 PM
Not Guilty.

As of now, I'm two for two in traffic case acquittals. Both times I've used trial by written declaration. This time the court notes "The officer does not have a recollection of the citation."

For more on fighting traffic tickets, especially in California, see my page on California Traffic Tickets.
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Sunday, February 3, 2008, 12:50 AM
This is how DOD publicly identifies casualties:
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Cpt. Michael A. Norman, 36, of Killeen, Texas, died Jan. 31 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the Military Transition Team, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.

For more information media may contact the Fort Riley public affairs office at (785) 239-3410.

There a whole listing here blended in with other news the media might find interesting. Pray that you never see the name of someone you care for on such a heartless list.
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Reach for the Stars 
Wednesday, January 30, 2008, 08:48 PM
From Gail Collins' latest column:
But J.F.K.’s grand achievement was the raising of expectations, not the follow-through. His administration was a decidedly mixed bag, during which people spent a great deal of time building nuclear fallout shelters.

She's far too liberal for my taste (although not in that quote), but she's one of the more hilarious political writers out there -- even when she's mocking what I believe in.

Humor aside, the question of whether Obama can actually deliver, a freshman senator with no previous national experience, is a valid one. I thought we already tried the "let's elect a woefully unqualified candidate with inspirational rhetoric who has little to no experience in international affairs and see how things work out." Just because this one's party affiliation is different doesn't change the fact that it's a terrible idea. You fooled me in 2000, you fooled me in 2004 -- I will not be fooled again.
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State of the Union 
Monday, January 28, 2008, 06:54 PM
I'm watching President Bush's State of the Union Address, and the one thing that strikes me is that the military staff in audience this year is less restrained in their applause. By tradition the heads of the five services attend the State of the Union address and sit in the front row. By tradition they also refrain from offering applause on political programs or statements, sticking only to issues of national pride, congratulatory remarks, or similar non-political statements.

The debate over the War in Iraq has seen an unprecedented polticization of the military. Turning warriors into heros is a byproduct of ever war, but in today's media saturated environment the problem is compounded more than ever.
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Friday, January 25, 2008, 01:59 PM
I couldn't help but grab completely out of context - movie advertisement style - this hilarious quote from A. O. Scott's surprisingly positive review of the latest installment in the Rambo franchise:
His face looks like a misshapen chunk of granite, and his acting is only slightly more expressive...

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On Iran 
Wednesday, January 23, 2008, 03:20 PM
The BBC has a rather complementary article on the Bush Legacy. Two of the more amusing paragraphs are here:
And although the president seems to disagree with his own spies, he can at least turn round and say that tough talk has worked - that Iran dismantled its nuclear programme at about the same time as Colonel Gaddafi of Libya fessed up to his weapons of mass destruction, which, I seem to remember, was when Saddam Hussein moved from his palaces into a hole in the ground.

Iraq as a deterrent to unruly regimes? Discuss.

The thing is, there's a time for tough talk and there's a time for moderation. Ever since the NEI came out stating that Iran had dismantled it's Nuclear weapons program, dramatically reducing the threat of military action overnight, Iran has turned internal. This has not been a good thing for their president Ahmadinejad, who is no longer able to distract the populace with rhetoric about "the great Satan" away from the hash he's making of their economy.

The argument here, and it is a rather convincing one, is that by reducing our threat to Iran (and other "rogue" regemes) we deprive the hardliners of their talking points and allow moderates to flourish. The problem is that, despite what some may say, such an approach will only work in certain situations. For example, if Ahmadinejad was an economic genius and a hardliner, his support might not be erroding quite so rapidly and tough talk might be the only option to keep him in line.
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Kristol Redeems Himself 
Monday, January 21, 2008, 02:55 PM
I'm not a big fan of Bill Kristol; some of his more extreme statements have caused me to lump him in with other conservatives who seem to do more harm than good to the cause of advancing true conservative principles. Both those on the extreme left and extreme right have a habit of stridently repeating the same, unhelpful talking points while operating in a reality vacuum (I'd include Kos in that category). Rather than using their stature to advance and advocate innovative solutions or ideas, they repeat the same unoriginal rants that their base finds so soothing.

Kristol, in his latest column over in his new home at the New York Times, puts something I've never seen before in an op-ed column: poetry. The poem, Invictus by William Ernest Henley (and recited to him in part by John McCain), reminded me once again of the pleasure of poetry and why this disappearing art should be returned to its rightful place in the high school curriculum. Because it's so beautiful, here is the poem in full:
Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of Circumstance
    I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of Chance
    My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
    Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
    Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
    I am the captain of my soul.

Kristol ends his column with these two paragraphs:
Yesterday, on “Fox News Sunday,” using his most up-to-date talking points, Romney claimed to be an outside-the-Beltway candidate, by contrast with John McCain, “who has been in Washington all [his] life.”

Romney might have paused before charging McCain with being a prisoner of Washington. In the late 1960s and early 70s, while Romney was a missionary in France and a law and business student at Harvard, McCain wasn’t living the good life here in the nation’s capital. He was “tied up at the time,” as he once reminded the audience in a Republican candidates’ debate, tied up and perhaps reciting to himself lines from “Invictus.”

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