Obama has only made ONE mistake? ONE? Solyndra? CLASS? Porkulus? Porkulus II: Electric Boogaloo? Asking for everyone’s approval to invade Libya EXCEPT Congress? Presidential Assassination Lists that include American Citizens?
A misanthrope was sipping coffee and pondering a quiet afternoon when the Devil dropped by to chat.
“Why decaf?” asked the Devil.
“Because I’m getting old and twitchy,” said the misanthrope. “Now I’ll merely be old and sleepy.”
“Like many of my Enemy’s creations,” the Devil said, “Coffee stirs things up. It agitates, unsettles, and gets folk to move about—or it just wakes them up, which might be all that’s needed.”
“Sort of like you?”
“Kind of,” admitted the Devil. “It’s why I usually give my Enemy’s wonders a twist. He creates poppies; I invent opium. He creates bold colors; I soothe with greys. He creates coffee; I make decaf. I exist in part to keep you from getting complacent. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but complacency kills many a kitten.”
“So what do you think of the protests around the world?”
“Which ones?” asked the Devil. “They’d like to think that they’re similar—the Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street/Washington/What-have-you—but they’re different and problematic for me.”
“Interesting. I’d've thought you loved the chaos,” said the misanthrope.
“Oh, I do,” said the Devil. “But it’s tricky to turn it to my advantage some time. The mere fact that people are rightfully protesting is dangerous. After all, one doesn’t get to be Prince of Darkness and King of this world because things are going well. Fortunately, I have a great ally named Good Intentions. He’s very sweet and easy to lead around. He can be stubborn, but so long as he isn’t paying too much attention, I can work with him.”
“What do you think of the occupiers in various American cities?”
“For the moment, they’re comic relief,” said the Devil. “Banks really are landing on the taxpayers’ feet, but that’s not entirely the bankers’ fault. Every industry in the country would like to do that, but the bankers have just been the most successful. Sloth, the most underrated of the deadly sins, is the first part of the equation. Being bailed out for your mistakes worked for the bankers. The bankers were lazy and approved many things they never should have. So they begged politicians and were saved. (Perhaps taxpayers need better lobbyists.) The second part of the equation is envy: now the occupiers seem upset that they themselves aren’t able to land on some taxpayers’ feet.
“There’s a great deal of confusion. I’d love it if this chaos turned seriously ugly—arson, looting, rape, murder—but what crimes that have been committed seem damned to be small scale. It takes a certain degree of strength to be truly good or evil, and these protestors don’t seem to have it.”
“And what of the Arab Spring?” asked the misanthrope.
“Now we’re talking serious chaos and serious problems,” said the Devil. “Arab dictators are always some of my favorite people. If they’re not quite so vicious as Kim Jong Il or Castro, it’s not for lack of trying. Nobody decent is sorry to see Gaddafi go. I prefer systematic monsters myself, and Gaddafi was rather like Batman’s Joker, only even I failed to get the joke. The real trick for me is to see if I can turn these revolutions to my advantage. Mubarak and Gaddafi are replaceable, and their regimes can always (from my perspective) improve. Whether the ordinary people protesting will like my improvements, of course, is another story.”
“Didn’t you mention some problems?” asked the misanthrope.
“Well, yes,” said the Devil. “Decent people can always fight to take control. But mostly they’re slothful, too. Not awake enough to realize that goodness is an endless slog but evil is comfortable and always ready to take over. The good people, alas, have a chance to make a move and improve things. Which I don’t want—what kind of devil would I be if people improved on a wicked dictator? But I’m growing more confident by the day that things out there will go my way. Never mind whether Gaddafi deserved his brutal death: the mere fact that people are getting tangled up in that side story is a good omen for me. So long as people lack perspective, I can find a way to have my fun. Have another cup of decaf.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration Friday pulled the plug on a major program in the president’s signature health overhaul law – a long-term care insurance plan dogged from the beginning by doubts over its financial solvency.
Targeted by congressional Republicans for repeal, the long-term care plan became the first casualty in the political and policy wars over the health care law. The program had been expected to launch in 2013.
Although sponsored by the government, it was supposed to function as a self-sustaining voluntary insurance plan, open to working adults regardless of age or health. Workers would pay an affordable monthly premium during their careers, and could collect a modest daily cash benefit of at least $50 if they became disabled later in life. Beneficiaries could use the money for services to help them stay at home, or to help with nursing home bills.
But a central design flaw dogged CLASS from the beginning. Unless large numbers of healthy people willingly sign up during their working years, soaring premiums driven by the needs of disabled beneficiaries would destabilize it, eventually requiring a taxpayer bailout.
After months insisting that problems could be resolved, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, finally admitted Friday she doesn’t see how that can be done.
“Despite our best analytical efforts, I do not see a viable path forward for CLASS implementation at this time,” Sebelius said in a letter to congressional leaders.
So it turns out bureaucrats in Washington really don’t know everything. No matter how smart they think they are they simply can’t design the perfect system, or even a system that works better than what we have.
One of the individuals charged with the Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador lived near Austin, and today the local paper does a profile of him.
It is unclear how Arbabsiar spent his time in the Austin area, or if he had a job.
Muhammad Kosari, owner of Alborz Persian Cuisine on Anderson Lane, said that he recalls at least one time that Arbabsiar came into his restaurant.
“He started talking nonsense about going to Iran and getting Persian girls,” Kosari recalled.
He said Arbabsiar told him: “Over there you can pay 50 bucks and have a Persian girl.”
Kosari, who is from Iran, said he considered the statements disrespectful and told Arbabsiar to leave.
Sam Roostaie, who with his wife owns Pars Mediterranean Supermarket and Cuisine on Burnet Road, said he, too, was offended by Arbabsiar, who has come to his restaurant regularly over the past several years.
Roostaie, who is also Iranian, said that Arbabsiar would “make fun of people” and say other offensive things.
The Statesman story quotes this story from a San Antonio paper, which is even harsher:
“He couldn’t even pray, doesn’t know how to fast. He used to drink, smoke pot, go with the prostitutes,” Hosseini said, laughing with a clerk at his market in downtown Corpus Christi. “His first wife left him because he would lose his keys every other day. … This guy is not a mastermind.”
Though if he is inept, Arbabsiar isn’t the only boob mentioned in the story:
Neighbors, however, said it had been years since Arbabsiar lived in the stucco house he once shared with his wife on a suburban cul-de-sac. They said it appeared as many as 10 people were living in the house, and lately there had been some signs of suspicious activity: When residents looked for available Wi-Fi networks, names like “FBI Van 1” would pop up.
A $4 trillion government, and our leading anti-terrorism agency is pumping out wi-fi signals that announce the presence of its surveillance van.
Remember how strange it was for the Democrats to nominate someone running as an anti-war candidate despite having voted to authorize the war he now opposed? Remember how Kerry spent most of the campaign talking about that rather than moving on to his other issues (whatever those may have been)? Remember how Kerry’s repeated explanation – that he supported the war until George Bush flubbed it up – never really caught on because it was plainly nothing more than political opportunism?
Let’s review what’s going on right now in American politics:
Our president is touring the country, railing against the opposition party in Congress for not passing a bill he has proposed in the Senate.
The president insists that this bill has elements that are supported by both Republicans and Democrats, but zero Republicans support the bill and quite a few Democrats oppose the bill.
The Republicans have attempted to force the Senate – which is controlled by the president’s party – to vote on the president’s bill. When they did this, the leader of the Senate’s Democrats called the proposed vote a “charade.” He later changed a very old rule in the Senate so as to prevent a vote on the bill that the president wants passed.
People mistakenly believe that Adolph Hitler proposed “the big lie” – a lie so large and preposterous that those who heard it would presume that no one would would say it if it were not true – as a propaganda tool for the Nazis to use. That’s not true. Rather, he accused his opponents of using a big lie – namely that Erich Ludendorf was responsible for the German loss in World War I – and decried them for doing so. Like any vaguely rational individual attempting to win public support, he did not write a book advocating dishonesty. So if someone accuses another of using a “big lie,” the accuser is not putting the accussee in the position of the Nazis, but vice versa.
With that being said, what can we make of our president’s current speaking tour? He is touring states and districts represented by Republicans, railing against Republican obstructionism, but the house of Congress controlled by his own party will not support his bill. If the president’s agenda was being blocked by his own party, but he toured the country telling everyone that it was the opposition party that was blocking his agenda, wouldn’t a casual listener believe that the president was telling the truth because no one would have the audacity to say such a thing if it wasn’t true?
I made a mildly starky tweet about Steve Jobs that, alas, isn’t getting retweeted. It must be too soon for humor. Steve Jobs was a genius and it’s sad that he died so young. Walt Mossberg wrote a fine eulogy of the man he knew. I never met Steve Jobs, but know something about him—and about the people he inspired. When people leave flowers at Apple stores around the world, something big has happened. It’s similar to what happened when Princess Diana died, but Jobs had rather more important accomplishments than she had. A symbol has died, and the world rightly mourns. Here are 5 things to keep in mind about Steve Jobs:
George Orwell once proposed that saints be assumed guilty until proven innocent, and if we apply this standard to Steve jobs, one thing becomes clear: he wasn’t always a good man. In recent years, he’s given inspiring speeches. When everyone was paying attention to him, he behaved. In his early days, as James Altucher makes clear, Jobs behaved less admirably: Jobs denied paternity of his first child, paid his child support with welfare checks, and swindled Steve Wozniak, his first partner. If character is what you do when nobody else is looking, Jobs may not have had much. And even when in power, Jobs was mercurial, moody, and a holy terror to work for, as Walt Mossberg hinted at.
But Jobs was unquestionably a great man. Does anybody remember 86-DOS, formerly the Quick-and-Dirty Operating System? The thousands of lines of mind numbing code? Jobs cleaned that up with icons. Perhaps he ushered back a preliterate age, but icons are a godsend. And he kept the inventions coming: Pixar, the iMac, iTunes, the iPhone, the iPad. Jobs wasn’t as great an inventor as Thomas Edison, he wasn’t as great a manufacturer as Henry Ford, he wasn’t the great artist that Walt Disney was, but he might have been the most amazing combination of those three—inventor, manufacturer, artist—the world has ever seen.
His death has dominated both formal news, like NPR and Google, and informal news, like Facebook and Twitter. We knew his time was short, but it was still a shock when he finally succumbed. The mourning needs some explanation, though, since millions of people obviously didn’t know him, nor do they entirely grasp all he did (even the well educated can barely grasp all the changes Jobs made). All of Jobs’s gifts to us—sleek lines and elegance and simplicity that clearly took lifetimes of hard work and hard thinking—have been mocked by brutal pancreatic cancer.
The symbol that Jobs chose for himself was an Apple. He could have picked something grander, as tech companies like Oracle and Palantir did. Or he could have made a gimmicky portmanteau like Verizon or Comcast. For a Zen Buddhist to pick up this bit of Judeo-Christian iconography (icons again!) and give it an ironic twist was genius. When the serpent gave Adam and Eve an apple, they were cast out of paradise; when Steve Jobs gave us Apple, he led us to the future. He replaced gargantuan machines with Macbooks, clunky mobile phones with iPhones, and entire libraries with the iPad. To the less technically inclined, it’s almost like turning water into wine.
Europe and America and Japan are mired in recession; China may well be on the verge of one; the Middle East and Africa are as unstable as they always are. In short, people are not short on self pity right now. They’re asking, “Does the future still happen here?” Steve Jobs attempted all his life to lead us into the future. He was a consummate salesman who encouraged us to see him and Apple as one and the same, and Apple was the future. The people leaving flowers at Apple stores are mourning the death of the future. This, too, shall pass. There will never be another Steve Jobs, but his vision lives. We can still be inspired: go, and think different.
At the last Republican debate, I was baffled when Rick Santorum attacked Rick Perry for being soft on illegal immigrants and said that Perry “gave a speech in 2001 where he talked about bi-national health insurance between Mexico and Texas! I mean, I don’t even think Barack Obama would be for bi-national health insurance! So, I think he’s very weak on this issue of American sovereignty.”
Politifact, for all its flaws, did a little run-down on what Perry said. But Avik Roy points out the real flaw with Santorum’s, um, attack: bi-national health insurance is a free market idea that in no way impinges on American sovereignty. There are tons of people who legally travel between the US and Mexico all the time, and giving them an insurance policy that covers them wherever they are isn’t One-World Socialism. And allowing Americans to purchase insurance that will cover them if they choose to get treatments in Mexico, if feasible, would be a perfectly fine thing. Santorum’s “attack” is only an attack because it plays off the negative associations of some syllables in a little-understood phrase. It’s like a first-grader who makes fun of a classmate because his epidermis is showing.
But part of Perry’s 2001 speech stuck out to me as demonstrating Perry’s understanding of the border. He praised a study conducted by the state legislature because the “study recognizes that the Mexican and U.S. sides of the border compose one region…” Five years ago, that statement would have struck me as unfortunate, and “weak on this issue of American sovereignty.” Since then, though, I’ve been to and done business with the Rio Grande Valley, and what Perry said is true.
Americans not familiar with the Valley should think of it as being kinda like Quebec: A large indigineous population of Romance Language-speaking people, complete with their own established culture and folkways, that was annexed by an English-speaking people. The Old World is full of conquered peoples who are goverened by those culturally distinct from them, but the Valley and Quebec are the only examples of this in North America. In California, I saw pro-amnesty marchers with signs along the lines of, “We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us.” That’s not really true in California, where the pre-Mexican War population was tiny and dispersed, and, after the cession, almost immediately overwhelmed by Anglo settlers. The Rio Grande Valley, however, came into America with its own sustainable population and, more importantly, there was very little Anglo migration.
Today the Valley remains as it has always been, inhabited almost entirely by people of Mexican descent. The people there have family and business interests on both sides of the river, and culturally share much more with those on the south side than with Americans north of the Nueces. Try driving there: their driving culture is completely different from anywhere else in America, due in no small part to the fact that about 1 out 5 cars has Mexican license plates.
I’m not saying they’re foreigners. People in the Valley are definately American. They will often speak Spanish (and, more often, Spanglish) among themselves, but they conduct official business in English; I’ve read tons of trial transcripts from the area, and their English is actually a little better than in transcripts from the rest of the state. Their accent reflects their bilingualism – English with a rapid-fire Spanish cadence – and takes a while to get used to. They have names like Rogelio, Federico, and Jose, but they go by Roy, Freddy, and Joe. Their political life is more corrupt than in most parts of America, but not nearly so much as in Mexico. And despite being the poorest part of Texas, they are significantly better off than their friends across the river. In short, the place seems exactly like what you would expect to happen if you took a large number of Mexicans in 1848 and gave them 160 years of consistent government, instead of the revolutionaries and despots that governmed Mexico during that time period. The Valley is a singular refutation to those political scientists who argue that culture matters more than regime.
I would encourage you to examine Rick Perry’s comments about our border (and, in hindsight, those of GWB as well) as those of someone who has been the governor of a legitimately bi-national, bi-lingual, bi-cultural area, and had to deal with the practical consequences that flow from that reality. I don’t say this to excuse or even fully explain his stances (some of which I disagree with), but it’s an aspect of Texas government that most non-Texans, and a great many Texans (the vast majority of whom will never go south of the Nueces) don’t appreciate.
“You want to be commander in chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it’s not politically convenient,” Obama said during remarks at the annual dinner of the Human Rights Council, the nation’s largest gay rights organization.
The reaction of the crowed at the recent Republican debate was shameful. The reaction of the candidates – more so. It angers me that even those representatives of the party that champions our citizens in uniform would allow such a thing to happen.
the police are only minutes away. So goes the old gun-owner’s saying. But this story takes it to a different level–when hours count, police are only a few days away:
La Vau disappeared last Friday night. The retired cable company worker was known for taking weekend trips on his own — to the beach, wine country, shopping — so the family didn’t worry.
But when Wednesday came and no one had heard from him, they filed a missing person report with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Officials told the family it would take several days to process the report, [La Vau's son] Sean said.
“We didn’t have time to wait,” he said. So with his sisters, girlfriend and other relatives, Sean turned the kitchen of his Lancaster home into a search-and-rescue headquarters.
There’s no help like self-help.
Apollo posted this at 12:03 AM CDT on Saturday, October 1st, 2011 as Amer-I-Can!