The Campaign in the Mirror

It’s a pity that the Lizard Queen’s insurrection next week might spoil the chance of solving America’s energy problems. With two windbags like Obama and Biden on a single stage, we’d only need to have a portable wind farm to follow them around in order to power Los Angeles.

In the event that the Clinton comeback fails, Biden’s not the worst choice despite the plagiarism scandal. But historically, senators have not fared well running for President and it’s hard to imagine that pairing two senators together will make things any easier. One key for Obama will be to persuade Biden to steal from speeches by speakers who don’t happen to be British socialists.

In some ways, though, it’s a perfect pairing. Mr. Speech Stealer is a good fit for Mr. Can’t Talk Without a Teleprompter.

UPDATE – Jonah Goldberg reaches a similar conclusion: “There’s more than a small risk that Biden will reinforce the sense that this ticket is all about hearing itself talk.”

Early rumbles

An injunction would be timely right about now:

A prominent Philadelphia attorney and Hillary Clinton supporter filed suit this afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic National Committee and the Federal Election Commission. The action seeks an injunction preventing the senator from continuing his candidacy and a court order enjoining the DNC from nominating him next week, all on grounds that Sen. Obama is constitutionally ineligible to run for and hold the office of President of the United States.

Philip Berg, the filing attorney, is a former gubernatorial and senatorial candidate, former chair of the Democratic Party in Montgomery (PA) County, former member of the Democratic State Committee, and former Deputy Attorney General of Pennsylvania.

Regardless of whether Obama was actually born in Kenya or in Hawaii, the formerly unthinkable idea that he is constitutionally eligible to be president appears to be cropping up at precisely the wrong time. Or, if you are the Lizard Queen, precisely the right time.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes the mainstream media to look into this story, given their inability to keep the John Edwards affair under their collective hat. If nothing else, the exotic contortions by which they attempt to conclude that a story involving a lawsuit of public record and the presumptive presidential nominee of the Democratic Party is not “newsworthy” should be amusing.

The horror, the horror

In which an innocent child is sentenced to twelve-years:

CARPENTERSVILLE, IL—Local first-grader Connor Bolduc, 6, experienced the first inkling of a coming lifetime of existential dread Monday upon recognizing his cruel destiny to participate in compulsory education for the better part of the next two decades, sources reported….

While Bolduc stood waiting for the bus to pick him up on his first day of elementary school, his parents reportedly were able to “see the wheels turning in his little brain” as the child, for the first time in his life, began to understand how dire and hopeless his situation had actually become.

Basic math—which the child has blissfully yet to learn—clearly demonstrates that the number of years before he will be released from the horrifying prison of formal schooling, is more than twice the length of time he has yet existed. According to a conservative estimate of six hours of school five days a week for nine months of the year, Bolduc faces an estimated 14,400 hours trapped in an endless succession of nearly identical, suffocating classrooms.

If doing nothing but sitting around in a room is unhealthy and demotivating, then why does it surprise us that forcing kids do it for eight hours a day should tend to produce fat, unmotivated dullards?

Run, little boy! Run from the Yellow Bus of Doom!

The challenge

Roger Kimball issues it:

The Challenge: Name the silliest argument to be offered by a serious academic in the last 25 years and to be taken up and be gravely masticated by the larger world of intellectual debate.

It’s very hard to top his nominee of Fukuyama and “the end of history”. But for my money, it’s got to be something to do with equalitarianism. The problem is that I can’t think of a serious academic specifically making an argument about equalitarianism as such. The idea tends to be more of a base assumption than an argument for most intellectuals these days, its material nonexistence notwithstanding.

Now this is just delicious

Russia takes a page from NATO:

Russian investigators have launched a criminal case on charges of genocide in connection with the events in South Ossetia. Russia’s Interfax news agency reports that the Russian General Prosecutor’s Office has said Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili may also be put on trial. Igor Komissarov, deputy chairman of the Prosecutor’s Investigation Committee, said it had “initiated a genocide probe based on reports of actions committed by Georgian troops aimed at murdering Russian citizens, ethnic Ossetians, living in South Ossetia.”

This naturally provides a perfectly reasonable justification for keeping Russian troops in Georgia. After all, such a notorious war criminal can’t be permitted to hide behind his political office, as precedent established in the case of Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic. I wonder how long it will be before some nation or collection of nations put George Bush and the neocons on trial for their undeniable war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq? That would be as amusing as it would be fitting.

The thing is, Putin is not exactly a good guy. Not even close. But the outrageously hypocritical actions of the Clinton and Bush adminstrations – don’t forget, Kosovo began as a Clinton initiative – allow him to credibly position himself as one. Believe me, he’s much better regarded by the average European than Bush is these days. The thing that too many myopic Americans can’t seem to grasp is that everybody hates #1! no matter who they are. This was true in the days of Athens and it is true now.

By the way, Stratfor saw this coming back in February in a piece entitled “Kosovar Independence and the Russian Reaction” “What is the hardest to believe — but is, of course, possible — is that Putin simply will allow the Kosovo issue to pass. He clearly knew this was coming. He maintained vocal opposition to it beforehand and reiterated his opposition afterward. The more he talks and the less he does, the weaker he appears to be. He personally can’t afford that, and neither can Russia. He had opportunities to cut his losses before Kosovo’s independence was declared. He didn’t. That means either he has blundered badly or he has something on his mind. Our experience with Putin is that the latter is more likely….”

Surge or pre-order?

Here’s a question for the impatient multitudes* who for whatever reason happen to be genuinely interested in picking up a copy of the forthcoming Summa Elvetica. Would you prefer to pre-order it directly from the publisher or would you prefer to participate in a mini-surge of the sort we did for TIA?

In contemplating this difficult question, please keep in mind that my usual policy of making the complete text available for download will apply to this book as well, so it’s not as if you won’t have options if you prefer not to shell anything out.

* Multitude means eleven, right?

Blithering ignorance

There are few things more ludicrous, or more unintentionally funny, than journalists attempting to write about economics. The ink-stained wretches may be many things, but intelligent and well-educated are not two of them. Read this paragraph and see if you can spot the glaring logical train wreck that David Leonhardt makes of what appears to be his first foray into macroeconomics:

For three decades now, the American economy has been in what the historian Sean Wilentz calls the Age of Reagan. The government has deregulated industries, opened the economy more to market forces and, above all, cut income taxes. Much good has come of this — the end of 1970s stagflation, infrequent and relatively mild recessions, faster growth than that of the more regulated economies of Europe. Yet laissez-faire capitalism hasn’t delivered nearly what its proponents promised. It has created big budget deficits, the most pronounced income inequality since the 1920s and the current financial crisis. As Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury secretary and Rubin ally from the Clinton administration, says: “We’ve probably done a better job of the last 20 years on the problems the market can solve than the problems the market can’t solve. We’re doing pretty well on the size of people’s houses and televisions and the like. We’re not looking so good on infrastructure and education.”

1. How in the name of Adam Smith does laissez-faire capitalism create a budget deficit of any kind? What is the precise mechanism by which a genuinely free market determines the tax inflows and spending outflows of a national government?

2. Given that income inequality is far worse in the tightly controlled economies of Latin America and the many severe restrictions on the not-very-free market’s operation in the USA, it is clearly incorrect, if not downright bizarre, to attempt to blame the undeniable fact of American income inequality on something that does not actually exist in America.

3. The current financial crisis is a direct result of interest rates being set at artificially low levels by the Federal Reserve. Given that the U.S. currency is a government-established monopoly protected with the full force of law, how can this possibly be interpreted as an indictment of a free market in operation?

4. What percentage of “infrastructure and education” are provided by the free market and what percentage are provided by government? To the extent that the latter is more than zero, there is obviously a limited amount of laissez-faire capitalism involved.

Regarding the article itself, it shows Obama to be the same sort of left-wing statist that we’ve seen a hundred times before. While he has some accurate perceptions on the smaller issues, he subscribes to the greatest economic foolishness of all; the idea that the national economy is a singular entity capable of being somehow improved through government management. Obama’s concept of a theme to compete with “lower taxes, smaller government” is downright hilarious:

“So what we need to bring about is the end of the era of unresponsive and inefficient government and short-term thinking in government, so that the government is laying the groundwork, the framework, the foundation for the market to operate effectively and for every single individual to be able to be connected with that market and to succeed in that market.”

Government-managed markets where no one is a loser. Yeah, that’s a theme no one’s ever tried before… and this is supposed to be HopeChange? The ending is the perfect punchline to what one finally begins to suspect was intended as a surreptitious piece of guerilla comedy all along, as Leonhardt cites global warming in contrast to all the previous environmental crises that turned out to be overheated figments of scientific imaginations.

Who is forgetting what?

Condi Rice channels Churchill:

“When you threaten Poland, you perhaps forget that it is not 1988,” Rice said. “It’s 2008 and the United States has a … firm treaty guarantee to defend Poland’s territory as if it was the territory of the United States. So it’s probably not wise to throw these threats around.”

As Pat Buchanan has chronicled, the last time a great Western power decided to offer Poland a firm treaty guarantee against foreign attack, it ended up bankrupting itself and losing its status as a great power. Russia has survived being on the losing end of wars more than once before, so I suspect Putin is correctly calculating that he can afford to lose this one more than the USA can afford to win it.

So, the reality is that the USA isn’t likely to do anything even if Russia invades Poland. We can’t afford to, not without giving up on the goal of attacking Iran and neither side has any interest in going nuclear over it.

The truth about cats

Rachel Lucas asserts that “cats are assholes“. That’s surely true, and yet it doesn’t even begin to tell the whole story:

The Tail of the Serpent and the Cat

The best beloved beast of Underearth was nothing other than the serpent. Down below in the bright shadows, he was admired for his grace and elegance, and for his cool blood and wicked self-command. Presently the demons, innocent then, or merely extremely cynical, brought the snake up to the earth, supposing thereby to make men also fall in love with him. But men took against the snake, scenting his demonical origins, mistrusting his lack of legs and ears, his smart teeth and implacable garment. Indeed, they turned on the snake, threw him out of doors when he came in, brained him with mallets when they were able and cursed him and spat on him when they were not.

The Eshva mourned for the serpent, for they loved him best of all. The Vazdru said to each other: “Let us trick mankind into adoration of the snake.” And this they did by various means, causing him here and there to be elected a god and worshipped, or venerated as useful in magic.

But one of the day-nights in Druhim Vanasta, certain Vazdru princes began to bet with each other that they could persuade men to like the snake himself. And this they tried, and this they failed at.

At last the vexatious problem came to the notice of Azhrarn. And accordingly Azharn went by night to the world to listen to men’s opinion of the snake. “How we abhor his cold scales,” they complained. “And his teeth, which are sometimes venomous, and his forked tongue, which might be. And how allergic we are to his leglessness. He is all tail, and the sound of his hiss causes our hair to rise up like bristles.”

Then Azhrarn smiled, and he went back to the Druhim Vanasta. There he took up a snake and he inquired, “Would it be worth while to you, in order to win the affection of mankind, to be a little changed?”

“Of what good is mankind’s affection?” asked the snake.

“Those they love,” said Azhrarn,” fare well. And those they hate they harm.”

The snake had heard reports from his cousins concerning mallets, and after some thought, he agreed.

Then Azhrarn conducted the snake to the Drin, and the Drin made for the snake particular extras, which had all to do with what men had said they disliked about him. First the Drin make him four muscular little legs with four round little paws on the ends of them. And then they make him two little pointed ears to stand up on top of his head. Then they bulked out his body with a cunning device, and straightened his tongue with another – but it remained in fact a thin tongue, and in fact a great deal of tail remained to him at the back. Next they made him an overcoat of long soft black grasses, and decorated his face – which was now very pretty – with ornaments of fine silver wire. His jewel-like eyes, which had always been quite wonderful, they had need to alter only a jot. Lastly, to compensate for removing his venom, (although they left the shape of his teeth alone), they presented him with some sharp slivers of steel to wear in his round feet for purposes of self-defense.

When Azhrarn beheld the result, he laughed, and ran his hand over the new animal’s spine. At which all was transmuted into flesh and muscle, and the coat of grass into luxuriant, velvety hair. And at the touch of Azhrarn also, the new animal made a strange sound, not a hiss, but –

“My dear, you are purring,” said Azhrarn, and again he laughed.

To this day, no cat can bear to be laughed at, even in love.

However, sure enough, the animal, legged, eared and furry, was an enormous success on earth. Men were pleased by his grace and elegance, admired his cool blood and wicked self-command. And when he grew sometimes peeved, forgot himself, and hissed – they did not remember the snake, but remarked: “There is the cat, hissing.” Nor did they notice how both the cat and the snake slew mice, or enjoyed milk, though both became the pets of sorcerers. And men never would credit that if they overlooked the fur and held flat the two pointed ears of the cat, then and now, you might see still the wedge-shaped demon head and the sharp teeth of the serpent, poised there, under your hand.

– Tanith Lee, Delusion’s Master

Where have you been and why?

Of course, it’s necessary to track and spy on Americans because the terrorists hate them for their freedoms:

The federal government has been using its system of border checkpoints to greatly expand a database on travelers entering the country by collecting information on all U.S. citizens crossing by land, compiling data that will be stored for 15 years and may be used in criminal and intelligence investigations.

Officials say the Border Crossing Information system, disclosed last month by the Department of Homeland Security in a Federal Register notice, is part of a broader effort to guard against terrorist threats. It also reflects the growing number of government systems containing personal information on Americans that can be shared for a broad range of law enforcement and intelligence purposes, some of which are exempt from some Privacy Act protections.

As the irrelevant horse race continues apace, the bureaucrats methodically continue to expand their reach.