Yearly Archives: 2009

Weekly Review — December 31, 2009, 10:38 pm

Yearly Review

Barack Hussein Obama was sworn in as the forty-fourth president of the United States and ordered the detention center at Guantanamo Bay closed within a year. George W. Bush gave his final press conference. “Abu Ghraib was a huge disappointment,” he said. “Not having weapons of mass destruction was a significant disappointment.” A federal appeals court in Texas ruled to permit the sacrifice of goats. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele announced an “off the hook” Republican publicity campaign, targeting “urban-suburban hip-hop settings.” “We need to uptick our image with everyone,” Steele said, “including one-armed midgets.” When asked about the …

Mr. Fish — December 31, 2009, 10:37 am

A Cartoon

No Comment — December 29, 2009, 4:38 pm

The Afghanistan Detention Dilemma

Max Boot prescribes a new imperial detentions policy in the Washington Post: Successful counterinsurgency operations require locking up suspects based on a lower level of evidence — often based on classified intelligence that would not be admissible in a civilian court. It would be better if U.S. and allied forces undertake these kinds of security detentions while the Afghans build their own civilian legal capacity. That means the United States, Canada and other nations need to overcome their squeamishness about detentions. The Bagram facility has been expanded to handle more than 1,200 detainees. Further expansion is necessary. Even more important, …

Links — December 29, 2009, 3:52 pm

Links

I suffer from a motor neuron disorder, in my case a variant of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS): Lou Gehrig’s disease. Motor neuron disorders are far from rare: Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and a variety of lesser diseases all come under that heading. What is distinctive about ALS—the least common of this family of neuro-muscular illnesses—is firstly that there is no loss of sensation (a mixed blessing) and secondly that there is no pain. In contrast to almost every other serious or deadly disease, one is thus left free to contemplate at leisure and in minimal discomfort the catastrophic progress of …

Weekly Review — December 29, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

The wire master and his puppets, 1875. Voting on Christmas Eve for the first time since 1895, the Senate passed a sweeping health-care bill that does not include a public option. Majority Leader Harry Reid accidentally voted “no” before instantly reversing his vote (“It was just–I am bushed,” he explained); ultimately, Democrats supplied every one of the 60 votes needed to pass the bill, leaving Republican Senator Orrin Hatch to complain that some of those votes were obtained with “a grab bag of back-room Chicago-style buyoffs.” The Senate bill will be merged next month with the version that passed the …

Links — December 28, 2009, 5:37 pm

Links

In New York, many natives fretted about a “Jewish crime wave” that was supposedly plaguing the city during these decades. Young Jews in disturbing numbers, it was said, had joined crime “rackets”—that period’s version of gangs—along with children of Irish and Italian immigrants. During Prohibition and again after World War II, legends grew about gambling and bootlegging rackets led by larger-than-life figures with names like Max “Kid Twist” Zwerbach, “Big” Jack Zelig, Vach “Cyclone Louie” Lewis Charles, and Louis “Lepke” Buchalter…. The fear turned out to be unfounded. But though the history is suggestive, it is not determinative. The question …

No Comment, Quotation — December 27, 2009, 9:17 am

Novalis – Hymnen an die Nacht

Hinüber wall ich, Und jede Pein Wird einst ein Stachel Der Wollust seyn. Noch wenig Zeiten, So bin ich los, Und liege trunken Der Lieb’ im Schoos. Unendliches Leben Wogt mächtig in mir, Ich schaue von oben Herunter nach dir. An jenem Hügel Verlischt dein Glanz– Ein Schatten bringet Den kühlenden Kranz. Oh! sauge, Geliebter, Gewaltig mich an, Daß ich entschlummern Und lieben kann. Ich fühle des Todes Verjüngende Flut, Zu Balsam und Äther Verwandelt mein Blut– Ich lebe bei Tage Voll Glauben und Mut Und sterbe die Nächte In heiliger Glut. I quest the beyond, where every pain will …

No Comment, Quotation — December 26, 2009, 1:00 am

Meister Eckehart – The Trinity of Love

Hâst dû dich selben liep, sô hâst dû alle menschen liep als dich selben. Die wile dû einen einigen menschen minner liep hâst dan dich selben, dû gewünne dich selben nie liep in der wârheit, dû enhabest denne alle menschen liep als dich selben, in einem menschen alle menschen, und der mensch ist got und mensche. If you love yourself, then you love all others as yourself. As long as you love a single human being less than yourself, you cannot truly love yourself—if you do not love all others as yourself, in one human being all human beings: and …

Mr. Fish — December 25, 2009, 5:04 pm

A Cartoon

No Comment, Quotation — December 24, 2009, 6:57 am

Happy Christmas!

Listen to Puer natus in Bethlehem by Michael Praetorius from the Polyhymnia caduceatrix et Panegyrica (1613-17) and the Musae Sioniae VI (1609) in a performance by the Gabrieli Consort. The text in Latin and German can be examined here. <object width=”560″ height=”340″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/TlzJYbWL-hc&hl=en_US&fs=1&”> <embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/TlzJYbWL-hc&hl=en_US&fs=1&” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true” width=”560″ height=”340″></embed></object></p>

No Comment, Six Questions — December 23, 2009, 12:37 pm

Does the Constitution Follow the Flag?: Six Questions for Kal Raustiala

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently noted that, although one might assume that the Bill of Rights follows and limits the conduct of American officials wherever they go, “that is not our current jurisprudence.” UCLA law professor Kal Raustiala has patiently traced the way in which the flag was separated from the Constitution in a new Oxford University Press book, Does the Constitution Follow the Flag? I put six questions to Raustiala about his book. 1. The United States started with a notion of strict territoriality. As John Calhoun put it, “the criminal jurisdiction of a nation is limited to its …

Washington Babylon — December 23, 2009, 9:48 am

AIG to U.S. Gov’t: Drop Dead

From the Washington Post: When word spread earlier this year that American International Group had paid more than $165 million in retention bonuses at the division that had precipitated the company’s downfall, outrage erupted, with employees getting death threats and President Obama urging that every legal avenue be pursued to block the payments. New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo threatened to publicize the recipients’ names, prompting executives at AIG Financial Products to hastily agree to return about $45 million in bonuses by the end of the year. But as the final days of 2009 tick away, a majority of …

Six Questions, Washington Babylon — December 23, 2009, 9:44 am

Six Questions for John Scott-Railton on Cambodia

While completing a master’s degree at the University of Michigan, John Scott-Railton helped develop “participatory mapping” projects aimed at protecting the fragile property rights of poor families living in Phnom Penh. While there he became an advocate of transparency in Cambodia’s natural resource management. Scott-Railton, now a doctoral student at the University of California-Los Angeles, has traveled extensively in Cambodia and throughout Southeast Asia. I recently asked him six questions about the political situation in Cambodia and the role there of the international community. (Note: For a look at the apparel industry in Cambodia, which is promoted by industry as …

Washington Babylon — December 23, 2009, 9:38 am

It Could Happen Here

From The Onion, via Andrew Sullivan: In a sudden and unexpected blow to the Americans working to protect the holiday, liberal U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt ruled the private celebration of Christmas unconstitutional Monday. In accordance with my activist agenda to secularize the nation, this court finds Christmas to be unlawful,” Judge Reinhardt said. “The celebration of the birth of the philosopher Jesus—be it in the form of gift-giving, the singing of carols, fanciful decorations, or general good cheer and warm feelings amongst families—is in violation of the First Amendment principles upon which this great nation …

Links — December 22, 2009, 2:06 pm

Links

The far-left Velvet Revolution has put a $200,000 bounty on the head of Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohoe… Mr. Donohoe’s alleged crime– his outspoken opposition to government run health care and cap and trade legislation. Those who read the Good Book might be thinking, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone…” As a victim of far-left liberal vitriol, Mr. Donohoe is in good company. Truth has also become a victim of Obama Thumpers… While chasing you with lawyers, lies, and pitchforks, Obama Thumpers will call you every name in the book. If you …

No Comment — December 22, 2009, 12:52 pm

Doctors and Torture, Iran Edition

Farnaz Fassihi of the Wall Street Journal reports on the mysterious death of Ramin Pourandarjani, a heroic young doctor who defied authorities by refusing to sign death certificates to cover up persons tortured to death at Tehran’s notorious Kahrizak detention center during the Green Revolution last July. But he went a step beyond this, testifying to a parliamentary committee about the abuses he witnessed and demanding accountability. Then, on November 10, Dr. Pourandarjani was discovered dead at a military clinic where he worked. Over a period of nearly three weeks, Dr. Pourandarjani was called to the prison four times to …

No Comment — December 22, 2009, 12:03 pm

Code Orange: How the Bushies Got Punk’d by a National Security Fraudster

My friend Aram Roston’s article in the current Playboy introduces us to the Count Cagliostro of the Bush years. The weeks before Christmas brought no hint of terror. But by the afternoon of December 21, 2003, police stood guard in heavy assault gear on the streets of Manhattan. Fighter jets patrolled the skies. When a gift box was left on Fifth Avenue, it was labeled a suspicious package and 5,000 people in the Metropolitan Museum of Art were herded into the cold. It was Code Orange. Americans first heard of it at a Sunday press conference in Washington, D.C. Weekend …

No Comment — December 22, 2009, 10:53 am

Lithuania Fesses Up To Its Black Sites

The likely location of a CIA black site in Lithuania was first the subject of speculation in a piece that ran at this site, “Inside the World of Dusty Foggo.” When ABC News took the story mainstream, Lithuanian officials rushed to offer formal denials. Under pressure from European authorities, however, Lithuania’s parliament opened a probe. Today, the existence of not one but two black sites, operated with the knowledge of the Lithuanian government, is acknowledged by the parliamentary report. This finding had been widely anticipated after Povilas Malakauskas, the head of the Lithuanian intelligence service, resigned last week without offering …

Weekly Review — December 22, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Senate Democrats succeeded in producing an “historic” health-care reform bill that will force millions of people to buy insurance and will tax existing benefits if they are too generous, but will not include a public option or force the pharmaceutical industry to lower its prices. Liberal Democrats were upset with Senator Joe Lieberman for playing bad cop in the Senate negotiation process, thus ensuring that both the public option and the Medicare “buy-in” options were scuttled. New York TimesTalking Points MemoWashington PostTime MagazineAn amendment that would have allowed Americans to buy their medication abroad failed in the Senate, in large …

No Comment — December 21, 2009, 6:33 pm

Andrei Sakharov Misremembered

The twentieth anniversary of Andrei Sakharov’s death was not forgotten in Russia. But it’s distressing to note how it was remembered. A television special ran on Russian state television celebrating Sakharov’s life—but the Sakharov it celebrated was the father of the hydrogen bomb and a key contributor to the military technology of the former Soviet Union, not the tireless advocate of “peace, progress, and human rights.” Fedor Lukyanov, a prominent foreign affairs journalist, wrote in the daily Gazeta that Sakharov’s ideas about human rights had been “discredited.” On the other hand, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev attempted to distance himself from …

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Discussed in this essay:

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert. Henry Holt. 352 pages. $28.

The extinction symbol is a spare graphic that began to appear on London walls and sidewalks a couple of years ago. It has since become popular enough as an emblem of protest that people display it at environmental rallies. Others tattoo it on their arms. The symbol consists of two triangles inscribed within a circle, like so:

“The triangles represent an hourglass; the circle represents Earth; the symbol as a whole represents, according to a popular Twitter feed devoted to its dissemination (@extinctsymbol, 19.2K followers), “the rapidly accelerating collapse of global biodiversity” — what scientists refer to alternately as the Holocene extinction, the Anthropocene extinction, and (with somewhat more circumspection) the sixth mass extinction.

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“Now may be the unlikeliest time for us to grow a conscience about how our rapacity is endangering other species, since we’re now aware of how frightfully our rapacity is endangering us.”
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Ratio of husbands who say they fell in love with their spouse at first sight to wives who say this:

2:1

Mathematicians announced the discovery of the perfect method of cutting a cake.

Indian prime-ministerial contender Narendra Modi, who advertises his bachelorhood as a mark of his incorruptibility, confessed to having a wife.

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