"I think I know what Mr. Vance means, sort of. I've gone to a lot of terrible plays in my capacity as the Journal's drama critic, but I'd much rather squirm through a bad play than a bad musical, much less a bad opera or symphony. No doubt this is partly because I have musical training, but I'm sure that it has more to do with the fundamental nature of the musical experience. Music, after all, is the most enveloping of the arts, the only one that creates the illusion of occupying both time and space. Live theater comes close, but it lacks music's all-encompassing quality. To enter into the presence of a piece of music, be it a Schubert sonata or a single by Metallica, is to be surrounded and permeated by its essence. The air is full of it -- and the clock is ruled by it. You can't get away from music, which explains its unparalleled power to disorient and disturb."
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Musical Torture Instruments:
Governments get thrown off course by “events.
...Whether or not it’s “already” failed or tanked, the monthly magazines still gazing out from their newsstands with their glossy inaugural covers of a smiling Barack and Michelle waltzing on the audacity of hope seem like musty historical artifacts from a lost age. The ship didn’t need to hit an iceberg; it stalled halfway down the slipway. This is still the phase before “events” come into play, when an incoming president has nothing to get in the way of his judgment and executive competence.
America has a choice: It can reacquaint itself with socioeconomic reality, or it can buckle its mandatory seatbelt for the same decline most of the rest of the West embraced a couple of generations back. In 1897, troops from the greatest empire the world had ever seen marched down London’s mall for Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee. Seventy years later, Britain had government health care, a government-owned car industry, and massive government housing, having become a shriveled high-unemployment socialist basket case living off the dwindling cultural capital of its glorious past. In 1945, America emerged from the Second World War as the preeminent power on earth. Seventy years later . . .
Let’s not go there.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Dems target right-wing talk radio:
"Representative Maurice Hinchey, a Democrat from New York is the latest to say he wants to bring back the 'Fairness Doctrine,' a federal regulation scrapped in 1987 that would require broadcasters to present opposing views on public issues.
'I think the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated,' Hinchey told CNNRadio. Hinchey says he could make it part of a bill he plans to introduce later this year overhauling radio and t-v ownership laws.
Listen: Hinchey says he wants to make talk-radio more fair"
The Agitator :
"Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), posting on Twitter:
“11 hours to review a 1000+ page spending bill that spends nearly a trillion dollars? This is not Congress’ finest hour.”
Looks like Obama will also again be breaking his pledge to post every bill on the web for the public to review for five days before signing it. And this on the biggest and (by his measure) most important bill he’s likely to sign in his presidency."
States Recruit Worried Californians:
"States have been vying to lure businesses from one another for decades, and California has often made a tempting target. But John Boyd, a corporate relocation consultant based in Princeton, N.J., says he senses a new eagerness among his California clients to look for greener pastures.
'The tilt of corporate investment out of California is accelerating,' he said."
"But that’s not what we got. Instead, the old adage “Everyone’s a capitalist on the way up and a socialist on the way down” is kicking in. The thing is, if you’re a socialist on the way down, you were never really a capitalist on the way up. Capitalism requires putting your own capital at risk.
What we do have is a grand adhocracy where “government,” a.k.a. Barack Obama, Timothy Geithner, Nancy Pelosi, and a dozen others, will figure everything out as they go. Businesses will rise or fall based on their skill at kissing up to the government.
And as sure as shinola, when government fails again, we’ll be told that only government can save us."
Thursday, February 12, 2009
What Mr. Obama “somehow” forgot to tell us is that almost 1.8 million of those seasonally adjusted job losses have occurred since his election, when his non-stop economic no-confidence game went into high gear, and that 2.8 million jobs have gone away during the seven months that began in July 2008, the first full month of the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) economy..."
"In times like this, it's easy to believe that if you laid all the economists in the world end to end, they still wouldn't reach a conclusion. But here's one of the things that basically everyone, left to right, agrees on: rent control is the surest way to destroy a city's housing stock short of aerial bombing, and one of the major culprits behind New York's painfully low vacancy rate. Rent control allows some people to stay in artificially cheap apartments, but only by forcing the people who would have rented them into some other, less desireable place. Those people bid up the price of the uncontrolled housing, so that you essentially end up with two housing markets, one with rents above the natural market price, and one with rents below it. There is no way to ensure that the deserving middle class folks you want to see stay in the city end up in the latter, and indeed, many of the owners of rent stabilized apartments were notorious for finding the richest tenants they could. Rich tenants rarely get behind on the rent, and move sooner than people who can just barely afford their below-market place.
Meanwhile, the stabilized stock deteriorates, because, especially in inflationary times, it does not pay the landlords to maintain them beyond the barest minimum required by law. And no one wants to build any new"
Steven F. Hayward:
"President Barack Obama's honeymoon period seems to have ended quickly. That's because Mr. Obama doesn't grasp the essentials of presidential leadership. Rather than making a compelling case for his economic policies, he has resorted to curt rebuffs, such as telling House Republican whip Eric Cantor, 'I won.' House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the same thing the same day: 'We won the election; we wrote the [stimulus] bill.' This is the trope of a party that has lost its ability to make an argument.
Mr. Obama and his team would be well advised to put aside the imperious FDR model and study Ronald Reagan's first 200 days in office. The contrast is instructive."
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act Leads Consumer Products Safety Commission To Advise Secondhand and Thrift and Consignment Stores To Destroy Children's Books Made Before 1985:
"What are the chances of Congress doing anything competent in the wake of this example of its own incompetence? Slim and none."
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
"Obama will face something of the same effect. All his life he has been the up and coming ernest black man in a political subculture that fawns over such people. He’s never really had to decide and to produce. He campaigned on being himself. He campaigned on the story of being the first black President. People listened to him in the context of partaking in the story of the first black Presiden. As President, he no longer has that context. He’s no longer the mythic story but just another politician. People listen to him with a certain suspicion. They want to know the specific whys and hows of his proposals.
Obama isn’t the inspiring story anymore. He’s just another huckster with a spiel. It remains to be seen if he can adapt."
How Much is Afghanistan Really Worth to Us?:
"Predicting the trajectory of a war is fraught with peril, like predicting next season’s hurricanes. Anything can happen, and often what changes the course of a war has little or nothing to do with the war. For instance, a failing global economy, or supervention of some chain of events perhaps still unimagined could cause the Af-Pak war to become less relevant. Caveats behind us, it seems that 2009 will see the sharpest fighting so far. That much has been clear for some time, and 2009 is now within our headlights. We can already resolve from the fog much of what is likely coming this year. Imagining what is beyond the headlights, my guess is that 2010 might bring the sharpest fighting of the entire war. My guess is that 2010-11 will likely be crucial years in this process, and that many allies will be making decisions during those years whether to stick it out or to punch out. By the fall of 2010, we should be able to resolve whether our renewed efforts under President Obama are working or failing.
The Great Game continues, but it’s no game for the people who are fighting it."
"Obama’s presser became suddenly fascinating when he was caught like a deer in the headlights by an Iran question, and haltingly managed to spit out that while the people of Iran are great, its government has a long history of being “unhelpful."
Slow Down the Political Response to a Perceived Crisis:
"This is the fifth time in my adult life that the president has asked for or asserted unprecedented authority on an expedited basis with little or no congressional review. Each of the prior occasions turned out to be a disaster."
Stimulus: A History of Folly:
"...in the new enthusiasm for stimulus, there is not a small degree of panic; monetary policy is not working, so fiscal policy must! To his credit, however, Feldstein writes toward the end of his January paper, “It is of course possible that the planned surge in government spending will fail. Two or three years from now we could be facing a level of unemployment that is higher than today and that shows no sign of coming down.”
The truth is that we have learned almost nothing about the use of fiscal stimulus since the Great Depression, and it is a fatal conceit to assume that we can hurriedly construct a fiscal policy that will produce the prescribed results today. Economists seem to admit this fact by advocating what they prefer anyway, for political or ideological reasons. I would feel better about stimulus if Elmendorf were clamoring for permanent tax cuts and Feldstein food stamps."
Monday, February 9, 2009
Thousands of Americans Abroad Got No Ballots:
"More than 1 in 5 overseas civilian and military voters did not receive their official ballots for the 2008 U.S. election, a year in which nearly half of local election jurisdictions reported significant rises in ballot requests from abroad, according to a new survey.
The situation was worse for military voters: More than one-quarter failed to receive ballots, though that was an improvement from the 36 percent in the 2006 election, according to a survey of more than 24,000 voters in 186 countries by the nonpartisan Overseas Vote Foundation."
'The World' Goes It Alone:
"With its friends, America now seeks 'even greater cooperation and understanding between nations.' To its enemies, 'we will extend a hand.' In exchange, the other nations of the world will...
Hey, isn't that a squirrel over there?"
Barack Obama's Stimulus Plan Will Get Little Value for Money:
Mr. Obama chose to let House Democrats write the bill, and they did what comes naturally: They cleaned out their intellectual cupboards and wrote a bill that is 90% social policy, and 10% economic policy. (See here for a case study.) It is designed to support incomes with transfer payments, rather than grow incomes through job creation.
Have They No Shame? A Power Grab at the Census:
We can expect a great deal more of this shredding of the Constitution as our President with the Jesus complex flexes his progressive muscles.....
"Amidst the high-profile fight over the stimulus plan and the embarrassing tumult over the batch of Obama administration appointees with tax cheating problems there hasn’t been much attention paid to the most naked power grab yet attempted by the Obama administration: the effort to wrest oversight of the federal census from professionals in the Commerce Department."
We can expect a great deal more of this shredding of the Constitution as our President with the Jesus complex flexes his progressive muscles.....
REPORT FROM USMC in Anbar Province:
"I don't suppose this will get much coverage in the States as the news is so good. No, the news is unbelievable. Something didn't happen in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, today.
Once the most violent and most dangerous place on earth, no suicide vest bomber detonated killing dozens of voters. No suicide truck bomber drove into a polling place collapsing the building and killing and injuring over 100. No Marine was in a firefight engaging an Al Qaida terrorist trying to disrupt democracy."
...One of the things I've always said was that we came here to "give" them democracy. Even in the dark days my only consolation was that it was about freedom and democracy. After what I saw today, and having forgotten our own history and revolution, this was arrogance. People are not given freedom and democracy - they take it for themselves. The Anbaris deserve this credit.
Today I step down as the dictator, albeit benevolent, of Anbar Province. Today the Anbaris took it from me. I am ecstatic. It was a privilege to be part of it, to have somehow in a small way to have helped make it happen.
The Dissenter Who Changed the War:
"Just over two years ago, President George W. Bush announced that he was ordering a 'surge' of U.S. forces. But that was only part of what amounted to a major change in the mission of American troops, in which many of the traditional methods employed by Odierno and other U.S. commanders in the early years of the war were discarded in favor of tactics based on the very different doctrine of counterinsurgency warfare.
Now, President Obama, an opponent of the war and later the surge, must deal with the consequences of the surge's success -- an Iraq that looks to be on the mend, with U.S. casualties so reduced that commanders talk about keeping tens of thousands of soldiers there for many years to come."
"Rather than focusing on crafting policy prescriptions that will best survive the sausage grinder, Democrats and Republicans alike spend a lot of time fantasizing about what life would be like if the other party disagreed, or stopped being a different party. The problem is not that the bill can't win enough support--it's that intransigent [Democrats/Republicans] are refusing to rubberstamp the president's initiatives.
But if the Republican Party disappeared, the Democrats would be no closer to their goals, because the Republican Party represents real interests that would continue to exist, and would elect other people who would also oppose the bill. And at the point when you're fantasizing about the mass disappearance of a large number of voters, I'd suggest that your political philosophy needs a rethink. And if the stimulus package were really as 100% guaranteed to make America better off as its proponents claim, you can bet that sensible Republicans would be falling all over themselves to get on board."
"If Gitmo helped al-Qaeda, then shouldn’t this video of another beheading trigger liberals from the Ivy League colleges to enlist?
The loony left has lectured us for 7 years about Gitmo.
We got Gitmo because we could not herd these animals — militant Muslims, if you prefer — in Afghanistan. A camp riot killed Mike Spann, the first US fatality post-9/11
A false report in Newsweek about a Koran led Muslims to go hog wild. The Muslim overreaction was excused by lefties.
True stories — and videos of numerous beheadings beginning with Daniel Pearl — elicited little more than a yawn from the left."
Stimulus Bill or Reparations Bill?:
"I think the answer is that it is a reparations bill, not a stimulus bill. People who pay income taxes tend to vote Republican. People who live off taxes tend to vote Democratic. To the Democrats, the Bush tax cuts were a heinous evil, comparable to Germany's violation of Belgian neutrality in World War I. Now, they are demanding reparations, with hundreds of billions of dollars to be paid into teachers unions and other members of the coalition that won the election."
We’re moving close to ‘a savior-based economy':
"The South Carolina Republican said such an economy is “what you see in Russia or Venezuela or Zimbabwe or places like that where it matters not how good your product is to the consumer but what your political connection is to those in power.”
“That is quite different than a market-based economy where some rise and some fall but there’s a consequence to making a stupid decision,” Sanford said after pointing to the powers granted to the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve to help deal with the current economic crisis."
Gitmo Conditions Have Worsened Since Inauguration:
"Bradley...will reveal that Mohamed, 31, is dying in his Guantánamo cell and that conditions inside the Cuban prison camp have deteriorated badly since Barack Obama took office. Fifty of its 260 detainees are on hunger strike and, say witnesses, are being strapped to chairs and force-fed, with those who resist being beaten. At least 20 are described as being so unhealthy they are on a 'critical list', according to Bradley."
"When the novelty of the first African American president wears off, the sight of Obama talking on television might have less impact..."
"And yes, I'm very interested in the first big press conference. But that's because the country seems to be going to hell, and I want to see some competence and accountability. If Obama's people think they are 'staging' some feel-good diversity show — it's 'the first African American president ... talking on television'! — they must be crazy."
Victor David Hanson:
"So is rendition fascistic or necessary? Is FISA shredding the Constitution or problematic? Is the Patriot Act now necessary, and no longer dictatorial? Is Guantanamo a Gulag that must be shut down, or a complex issue requiring a task force and a year of study? Should we have been out of Iraq by March 2008, or are we to withdraw according to the General Betray US/”suspension of disbelief” Petraeus plan? Will there a Hollywood movie Rendition II? Or a Nicholson Baker Knopf sequel to Checkpoint?"
Sunday, February 8, 2009
"At the core of Dalrymple’s critique is the idea that in many modern bureaucracies, appearances have become the actual measure of performance. They exist to fulfill their own procedures. And things may now have reached the point where people have actually forgotten what the point of the job is. And yet this startlingly ineffective, Potemkin bureaucracy has become the preferred vehicle for replacing personal responsibility in much of the developed world. In another article in the City Journal, Dalrymple described why the bureaucracy was expected to stand in lieu of the family: because that ancient institution was rapidly collapsing. The substitution of government for the perceived failure of the Old Ways has been a common theme in the culture wars. And in Britain at least, there was no doubt that the Old Way of doing things was having it rough."