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Archive for December, 2008

Opposite Day

I…agree…with…Justice Thomas.  I will now light myself on fire.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/16/business/16bizcourt.html

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More Madoff

Hard to tell who the bad guys are in this story.  Not sure the guy realizes that his wife’s family – the folks who think they lost $30mm – are the persons who gained from the scam.  The “entire family had been in the fund for decades and lived well off the returns” – those were other people’s “investments” that funded the lifestyle.  And, ultimately, Robert’s:
http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1866398,00.html?xid=feed-yahoo-biztech

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Two thoughts on the Iraqi shoe sideshow
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OM3Z_Kskl_U
http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/12/15/news/ML-Bush-Arab-Anger-Analysis.php

1) If Bush had said “who throws a shoe…” and gone into the Austin Powers routine, my laughter would likely have made me forget the disaster of the last eight years.  It would have been that easy for Dubya.  Luckily, he said something about the shoe being a size ten and I can carry on hating him.

2) This is yet another example of the complete incompetence of the Secret Service.  You fly the President into a war zone.  Everyone is waiting for something to happen.  Al Qaeda killed Ahmad Shah Massoud by pretending to be a camera crew and setting off a bomb.  The room is tiny.  A guy stands up and moves toward the president while screaming.  This would be a good time for someone to at least get in the guy’s line to the President.  He throws what seems to be a shoe at the President.  All right, guns drawn, we’re after him, right?  What, you let him throw another shoe?  At this point, three full seconds have passed, surely…wait, the first guy to make contact with him is another reporter (seated, in leather jacket)?  NFL quarterbacks act more quickly.  Well, except Kurt Warner…but seriously, that is some slow-ass reaction time.

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Cuba

In a country full of incoherent and inexplicable policies, our approach to Cuba has to be among our nuttiest.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/07/magazine/07cuba-t.html

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Economy

Reasonably serious economic perspective, if more bearish than most:
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2008/12/deflation-has-become-inevitable.html

Nutty guy, but probably right on this:
http://www.reuters.com/article/InvestmentOutlook09/idUSTRE4BA5CO20081211

I missed this at the time, but if it stands, it would be terrifying: essentially MA is looking to nullify some subprime loans.  Barring the loans going forward could be a reasonable decision, but retroactively voiding them seems to miss the point that the borrower got a house.  I would have expected better from a blue state.  Pray this gets overturned before CA/FL/NV governments begin thinking about the votes to be had.
http://www.bostonherald.com/business/general/view/2008_12_10_High_court_hits_subprime_lenders/srvc=business&position=recent_bullet

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Precious Bodily Fluids

Good article in the Times about something that won’t happen: reforming the Department of Agriculture.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/11/opinion/11kristof.html

Speaking of things that won’t happen, one powerful change that would only require Congressional approval would be the removal of the 1911 cap of the House of Representatives at 435 members (the House was originally 120 and had grown until then).  Since every state gets at least one Representative, you end up with some districts – Wyoming at-large, for example – with many fewer people than a “standard” district.  The Wyoming Rule (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wyoming_Rule) would set the size of the house as the population of the country divided by the population of the least-populous state.  For a big state such as CA, it makes a difference – the state goes from 53 to 73 congressmen as the House goes from 435 to 569.

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House arrest?  Wow, way to crack down.  They must be really mad.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081211/wl_nm/us_india_mumbai_85

Extraditing him would show serious cooperation.  Killing him would show practicality – in an Indian prison, LeT’s long history of working with the Pakistani government in Kashmir is going to come out – but still show some amount of course correction.  But telling the guy he can’t leave his house for a little while?

This moment, by the way, is why Pakistan protects Osama so carefully, and why we will never catch him until we accept offending them.  If Osama were dead and gone, we would not be trying to hunt for terrorists in western Pakistan (there would still be terrorists, we just wouldn’t be looking for them).  If we were not looking for Osama, we wouldn’t really care whether Pakistan’s army was on its eastern or western frontier.  If we didn’t care where Pakistan deployed its army, there would be no one to object to India mobilizing its forces along the Line of Control/Radcliffe Line.  As the significantly larger force, India could always mobilize and wait, forcing Pakistan to either mobilize in return, exhausting its economy, or stand down and risk India picking off Pakistani Kashmir or whatever else it wanted…

Our government seems to miss the nuance that Pakistan wants the religious nutters, because they provide a force multiplier in Kashmir and keep us petrified that the Pakistani government will fall and they will rule the show.  At some point, then, we need to ask ourselves what we would do if Al Qaeda had a state.  Because it does.

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