"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister

"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."

- Daenerys Targaryen

"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister

"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont

"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister

"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Left-liberal analysis failure

Maybe I'm just getting older and more compromised, but I was underwhelmed by left-liberals efforts to put Obama's feet to the fire and hold him to his campaign promised this past year. I know, I know, Obama explicitly asked for supporters to keep the pressure on and stay involved - the only recipe for success - but still reading this news reminds me of critics' evidence that the Obama administration would be a failure:
Mr. Tauzin is leaving his $2 million-a-year job as the top lobbyist for the drug industry amid complaints from drug makers that he bargained away their profits too cheaply, spent too much in his $150 million advertising campaign to sell the overhaul and miscalculated in his assessment that the passage of the legislation was all but inevitable.
Other drug industry lobbyists, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said his departure raised questions about whether the drug makers would continue to support the proposed overhaul, which has stalled in Congress.
Several of the lobbyists said Mr. Tauzin was undermined by a rival lobbying powerhouse -- Thomas J. Donohue, president of the United States Chamber of Commerce, who had fought the health care proposals from the start and complained to the drug makers that Mr. Tauzin had gone along too easily. A spokesman for Mr. Donohue declined to comment on Mr. Donohue’s behalf and later released a statement from Mr. Donohue praising Mr. Tauzin as "a great friend."
On the other hand many of the left-liberals who pointed to the drug industry deal never supported Obama.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Hitchens on Thomas Cromwell and the English Reformation.

He writes, "In Cromwell’s mind, as he contemplates his antagonist [Thomas] More, Mantel allows us to discern the germinal idea of what we now call the Protestant ethic:
He never sees More--a star in another firmament, who acknowledges him with a grim nod--without wanting to ask him, what’s wrong with you? Or what’s wrong with me? Why does everything you know, and everything you’ve learned, confirm you in what you believed before? Whereas in my case, what I grew up with, and what I thought I believed, is chipped away a little and a little, a fragment then a piece and then a piece more. With every month that passes, the corners are knocked off the certainties of this world: and the next world too. Show me where it says, in the Bible, "Purgatory." Show me where it says "relics, monks, nuns." Show me where it says "Pope.""
Ahmed Rashid on the present-day Taliban.

It's almost as if when the 21st Century "West" (and globalized Japan, China, etc.) looks at the Taliban, we are looking at our past.

From Rashid:
What [Taliban author] Zaeef omits or fudges is significant. He makes no mention of the ISI's financial and material support to the Taliban, and says hardly anything about al-Qaeda or how his hero Mullah Omar became so close to Osama bin Laden. He has nothing to say about the Taliban's repressive attitudes toward women, including the ban on their education, and he makes no mention of the Taliban's harsh punishments, including public stonings. 
By 2001, after UN sanctions restricted the Taliban's international contacts, Zaeef became the only Taliban leader who could meet with US and Western envoys. His relationship with the US embassy in Islamabad was dominated by American demands to hand over Osama bin Laden. In the days after September 11, he frantically tried to stave off the impending US attack on his country by appealing to Western embassies, writing letters to the UN, and trying to enlist support from Islamic countries. He met with Mullah Omar, who was convinced that the Americans would not dare attack. In Omar's mind, Zaeef writes, "there was less than a 10 percent chance that America would resort to anything beyond threats and so an attack was unlikely."
Review of Stewart Copeland's new book.
“Strange Things Happen” is just slightly more generous on the Police years than was Sting’s “Broken Music,” which dismissed the band in a single page. Copeland devotes 10 skimpy, highly impressionistic pages to the years between 1976 and 1984, at which time the trio became the biggest band in the world. (The guitarist Andy Summers was more expansive about the glory days in his endearing “One Train Later.”) Almost as much attention is devoted, for no clear reason, to a single show in which he sat in with middling alt- rockers Incubus, or an incomprehensible MTV event for which he accompanied the Foo Fighters. 
Above and beyond the Police, Stewart Copeland has had a pretty wild life. He was raised in the Middle East, the son of a C.I.A. operative. [Miles Copeland] He was something of a pioneer in the pop exploration of “world music,” recording with African musicians well before Paul Simon made his “Graceland” trek. He has worked on various documentary films and is an accomplished polo player. 
In “Strange Things Happen,” though, he glosses through these events at such high speed that at best, we get a wisecrack or a flip observation (“my daddy used to conduct his nefarious manipulation of local potentates with cocktail parties at our modest Ottoman palace”), but no real sense of what any of it means to him.