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2007 December 24 — Why Now?
On-line Opinion Magazine…OK, it's a blog
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Water Is Wet

Via ‘Noz at Rubber Hose we find David L. Stern of the New York Times reporting that Uzbekistan Re-elects Its President

OSH, Kyrgyzstan — President Islam A. Karimov of Uzbekistan won 88.1 percent of votes in the presidential election Sunday, according to preliminary results released on Monday by the country’s Central Election Commission.

The results give Mr. Karimov overwhelming support for a third term, but the contest was widely accepted as a foregone conclusion and casts doubt on the country’s long-term stability.

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December 24, 2007   6 Comments

Unintended Consequences

LJ at Agonist notes the confusion of bankers: BofA chief: Credit-worthy customers default

“There’s been a change in social attitudes toward default,” [Bank of America chief executive Ken] Lewis told the Wall Street Journal. “We’re seeing people who are current on their credit cards but are defaulting on their mortgages. I’m astonished that people would walk away from their homes.”

There hasn’t been a change in social attitudes, the bankers organized a change in the bankruptcy law. You can’t protect your home and you can’t avoid the credit card debt, so the financially prudent thing to do is stop paying for the house and keep paying down those credit cards. You are going to lose the house anyway, so why throw good money after bad?

The financial institutions are reaping what they sowed, and don’t want to admit they did it to themselves. At some point the bankers will realize that the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Unfortunately things will get a whole lot worse before they turn around.

December 24, 2007   2 Comments

No One Could Have Imagined…

Andrew North, the departing BBC Baghdad correspondent, looks back on his time reporting from Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion: Iraq: The trauma and the mistakes

“If you go back to the Desert Storm fight [in 1991] they used regular army formations,” said Lt Gen Richard Natonski, when I met him again recently at the Pentagon in Washington.

“They did not resort to what you might call irregular warfare.”

And looking back, he says he now sees the Nasiriya battles as “an indication of what was to come, not that we ever thought that that was what was going to happen”.

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December 24, 2007   2 Comments

What An Idiot

John Amato at Crooks and Liars noted this: Huckabee: Gitmo is too nice

“The inmates there were getting a whole lot better treatment than my prisoners in Arkansas. In fact, we left saying, ‘I hope our guys don’t see this. They’ll all want to be transferred to Guantanmo. If anything, it’s too nice.”

Where to begin? I don’t guess that Mr. Huckabee is aware that the inmates in the Arkansas prison system are actually convicted criminals. Their habeas corpus rights were observed at an arraignment; they were represented by an attorney; they received a speedy trial; they saw the evidence used against them; they confronted their accusers; and all of the other rights guaranteed by the Constitution in the Bill of Rights were observed by the state of Arkansas before they were locked up for specified sentences.

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December 24, 2007   4 Comments

Some Leaders ‘Get It’

The BBC announces that the Queen launches YouTube channel

Announcing the launch of the channel, a spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace said the Queen “always keeps abreast with new ways of communicating with people”.

“She has always been aware of reaching more people and adapting the communication to suit,” she said.

“This will make the Christmas message more accessible to younger people and those in other countries.”

Not surprising in view that last year it was announced that the Queen would podcast her Christmas speech.

The Shrubbery has a video up at the White House site featuring Barney. To quote myself “it’s a bit odd that the smartest male in the White House is the one that is neutered.”

December 24, 2007   Comments Off on Some Leaders ‘Get It’

Gulf Coast Christmas

Christmas Cactus

This is a Christmas Cactus among the ivy on the fence to my Mother’s side yard. The camellias are also starting to bloom, but might take a hit if the temperature drops a little lower. We have to “put up” with these distractions instead of snow.

December 24, 2007   3 Comments

Happy Christmas

Holly, Robin & Mistletoe

[As I listen to A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College, Cambridge, I thought I would re-run this post from last year.]

The British have some wonderful Christmas customs that have survived the incursion of Christianity, especially the Puritan party poopers. Stealing customs from the Celts, Germans, and Scandinavians, they have created a wonderful holiday that I fondly remember from time spent there.

The bird is a European robin that is featured on British Christmas cards, as it is a Winter bird in England, unlike the fair-weather laggard of the same name in America. It is bracketed by holly and mistletoe. All go back to the druids and solstice celebrations.

If you read the Harry Potter books you will get a taste, but not the full effect of a British Christmas. A full-on Christmas dinner is wretched excess to the nth degree – Thanksgiving on steroids.

The BBC has the background on Father Christmas.

December 24, 2007   4 Comments