Archive for November, 2009

Obama issues orders to begin Afghan escalation

I’m trying to catch up from a great holiday/vacation and put together a column on this topic for tomorrow, but in the meantime, from Fox:

“Top military and diplomatic officials got their marching orders Sunday evening from President Obama ahead of a planned speech Tuesday in which he’s expected to outline his new Afghanistan war strategy and call for about 30,000 more U.S. troops to be sent to the war zone.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama issued the orders during a meeting in the Oval Office Sunday.

While offering few details of the contents of Obama’s speech — to be delivered at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. — he stressed that the president will discuss the importance of an exit strategy.

“This is not an open-ended commitment,” Gibbs said.”

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Iran stomps down a lose-lose path on nuclear issue

Events in Iran seem to be turning toward a lose-lose outcome, with Iran apparently recommitting itself to a nuclear-weapons program and foreign powers, including perhaps both China and Russia, ready to impose more serious sanctions in response.

From the Washington Post:

TEHRAN — Iran’s government will build 10 new sites to enrich uranium, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday, a dramatic expansion of the country’s nuclear program and one that is bound to fuel fears that it is attempting to produce a nuclear weapon.

Ahmadinejad told the official Islamic Republic News Agency that construction of at least five nuclear facilities is to begin within two months.

The surprise announcement came two days after a censure of Iran by the International Atomic Energy Agency over the Islamic republic’s refusal to stop enriching uranium, a key demand of Western powers. The 35-member board of the agency also criticized Iran’s construction of a second enrichment plant in Qom, southwest of …

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Happy Thanksgiving to one and all….

I hope everyone has a great day, surrounded by friends, family and bountiful food.

Continue reading Happy Thanksgiving to one and all…. »

I’m thankful for…

A long, long time ago, my brother stood at my side as my best man. I was nervous as hell, and glad to have him up there with me.

The fact that we were standing in front of a lot of people, both of us wearing hideous, baby-blue rented tuxedos, made his act of support and loyalty all the more impressive.

This week, two days short of Alan’s 50th birthday, I finally got the chance to return the favor as best man (sans the blue tuxedos, thank goodness).

As of today, Bachelor Brother is properly and happily married off, with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities therein.

This year, for the first time, we’ll be enjoying Thanksgiving with him and his lovely bride.

It’s a strange relationship, that sibling thing, fraught with warmth and danger. Growing up, brothers and sisters share a strange, enforced intimacy that can be greatly complicated by a shared genetic background and upbringing.

Siblings know things about each other that no one else can or sometimes should …

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Cutting the ‘2 Big 2 Fail’ down 2 size

In the discussion about banks that are “too big to fail,” I think you start with two observations:

1.) In general, competition and the discipline of failure are better, smarter regulators than government bureaucrats. That doesn’t mean government regulation is unnecessary; it does mean that regulators should be empowered to do only what the market cannot or will not do.

2.) Banks that are “too big to fail” are largely immune to the discipline of failure and to the rigors of competition.

That in turn leaves you with two basic solutions: You can greatly expand the gov’t regulation applied to the “2 Big 2 Fail,” or you can reduce and limit the size of those institutions and by doing so reintroduce the spectre of failure to the system.

There’s a move afoot in Congress to take the second approach, and I hope they have the guts to carry it out.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Angered by bailouts that have kept corporate titans such as American International Group Inc. …

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We can’t keep going on like this….

Sooner or later, the piper demands to be paid:

From the NY Times:

With the national debt now topping $12 trillion, the White House estimates that the government’s tab for servicing the debt will exceed $700 billion a year in 2019, up from $202 billion this year, even if annual budget deficits shrink drastically. Other forecasters say the figure could be much higher.

In concrete terms, an additional $500 billion a year in interest expense would total more than the combined federal budgets this year for education, energy, homeland security and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The potential for rapidly escalating interest payouts is just one of the wrenching challenges facing the United States after decades of living beyond its means.

NOTE: I’m on vacation this week, so posting will be a little lighter than normal. As you might have noticed….

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Democratic senators stay with Reid… so far

Another big step cleared, apparently.

From the Washington Post:

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) appears to have secured the 60 votes needed to move an $848 billion health-care reform bill to the Senate floor for debate.

After days of indecision, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) — the final Democratic holdout — announced Saturday afternoon that she has decided to support a procedural motion to break a GOP filibuster. Reid now expects all 60 members of his caucus to vote yes at 8 p.m. Saturday, clearing the way for amendment deliberations to begin after the Thanksgiving recess….

Two other undecided Democrats, Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Mary Landrieu (La.), also announced their support in the final hours before the Saturday vote.

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A special dedication for this week’s travelin’ music

This guy I know — I’ll call him “Boose” — is getting married this weekend for the first time, just two days short of his 50th birthday. The man held out for a long, long time, but the once impregnable citadel of his bachelorhood finally met a conquering force it could not resist in the great and powerful Miss LK.

So Boose my man, this week’s Friday Evening Travelin’ Music is dedicated to you, courtesy of the inimitable Miss Nina Simone. And don’t worry, bro, I’ll be standing right there beside you when the deed gets done.

The ceremony, that is.

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Fox poll says Obama disapproval rising; bow was OK

Fox News is trumpeting the results of its latest poll, showing that President Obama’s job approval rating has fallen to its all-time low of 46 percent, matching his disapproval rating.

A few days ago, Fox was also trying to make a big deal about Obama’s bow to the emperor of Japan. The poll suggests that seed fell on barren ground.

The question:

When the president of the United States is traveling overseas, do you think it is appropriate for him to bow to a foreign leader if that is the country’s custom or is it never appropriate for the president to bow to another leader?

The response:

Yes, bow when it is the proper custom: 67 percent
No, it is never appropriate: 26 percent
Democrats: Yes, 84 percent; Never, 9 percent
Republicans, Yes, 53 percent; Never 40 percent
Independents: Yes, 62 percent; Never, 30 percent

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The phenomenon of sprawl has passed into history

Sprawl is dead. It’s roadkill, you might say.

And unlike movie zombies, the growth phenomenon that once defined the metro region is not going to spring back to life. In Atlanta and most other places, the sprawl era that began with post-war Levittown, N.Y. and eventually redrew the American landscape and mindset has now passed into history.

Now, that doesn’t mean that the suburbs created by sprawl will disappear or even decline. To the contrary, for many they remain great places to live and raise a family, and that won’t change. Once the economy recovers, a lot of suburbs will resume growth through infill development and increased density, although they will become increasingly urban in the process.

However, the conversion of vast tracts of far-flung greenspace into suburban housing — that has ended. The larger postwar demographic trends, economics, lifestyle choices and government subsidies that drove that trend have all petered out, and without them, large-scale sprawl …

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