An Existential Question

This is a sign I saw on the road from Las Cruces to Tucson.

Dust Storm Sign

So. What does it mean?

Is it a description of what might be? That there is a possibility of dust storms? Here, and now, but not other wheres or whens? Or is it (as we were reprimanded by our mothers or English teachers) simply an expression of permission for dust storms to exist? By whom? Our betters in Santa Fe, or Phoenix? These are state-sanctioned dust storms? And they’re not permitted elsewhere?

Or is it more of a Heisenbergian deal? That dust storms simultaneously both exist and don’t exist, and which is the case is determined only when one collapses the wave function by driving down the road to Lordsburg?

I’ll never know for sure, of course, but I can say that I never saw a dust storm on the trip.

Next up (or perhaps other things in between) — a road sign that I liked a lot more, on the American autobahn. There are a few things that the Germans got right.

Deja Vu

I’m watching Michigan demonstrate why it’s the worst 4-0 team in the country against the Spartans. They seem to be reverting to the team that they were last year. Last week’s win against Indiana may have been their last this season.

[Post-game update — the above was posted in the third quarter]

Well, they almost pulled off another one, like Notre Dame and Indiana, but their luck ran out in overtime.

Life Imitates Art

The most recent clown to enter that circus known as the US Senate says that Chicago didn’t get the Olympics because of Bush. Just as predicted.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Here’s a non-nutty explanation for the Olympics decision. Don’t expect the administration to learn from the experience, though — as a commenter notes over there, the president is far too intrinsically, almost pathologically narcissistic to change.

And then, of course, there’s also this:

A sense of stunned bewilderment suffused Air Force One and the White House. Only after the defeat did many advisers ask questions about the byzantine politics of the Olympic committee. Valerie Jarrett, the president’s senior adviser and a Chicago booster who persuaded him to make the trip while at the United Nations last week, had repeatedly compared the contest to the Iowa caucuses.

The country’s in the very best of hands.

Desperate Times

…call for desperate tax reforms? If California would do something like this, I’d feel a lot better about moving back, and maybe even start a business. I can’t see it happening, though, absent a massive voter revolt that throws out the gerrymandered morons in Sacramento. And the gerrymandering dictates against that, absent some kind of proposition to blow up the redistricting system.

But, But…

I thought that when Barack Obama was elected, it would mean (in addition to lowering the ocean and all of the other things) a restoration of international respect for the benighted nation that had suffered under the BusHitler regime, and that we’d get better cooperation from the world. So, imagine my shock when I hear that, after spending hundreds of thousands (probably millions) of your and my money on an Air Force One flight to Copenhagen to lobby for his corrupt home town to get the Olympics, he gets shut out.

I have to confess that I had badly misunderestimated these peoples’ political ineptitude. I had just sort of assumed that, like much of what the administration does, this was just a photo op to impress the booboisie, and that the Windy City Olympic bid was a done deal. I mean, what American president with an ounce of political sense would risk getting so publicly spurned on the international stage?

But then, the question sort of answers itself, doesn’t it? Anyway, if I were a Chicago resident, I’d be cheering. I wouldn’t wish an Olympics on anyone.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Yes, it does seem like a missed opportunity for synergy:

Here is why Chicago should win: The International Olympic Committee is one of the most disgusting, corrupt organizations in the world. Placing the games in Chicago is a match made in Heaven. If there were a competition for graft, Chicago would regularly win bronze, silver and gold. Bring on the synchronized corruption.

On the other hand, Rio’s no piker when it comes that sort of thing, either.

[Update a few minutes later]

Ramesh agrees with me:

Obviously I had way too much confidence in the Obama administration’s political skills. But I’m sure that Obama will be a lot more persuasive with the Iranians.

As Paul Dietz said in comments, dry humor is the best kind.

[Update a few minutes later]

I’m sure I’ll be neither the first or last to note it, but obviously, the IOC is racist.

[Update a few minutes later]

To elaborate on the serious, and concerning point:

Diplomacy 101 tells us that your head of state only shows up on the high-profile stage when a deal is complete. The lesson that most politicians learn well before they gain positions of power is that diplomacy is done by diplomats, professionals who work through all the negotiations and the hardball tactics and the carrot/stick combinations. The principals in the matter gather to discuss high-level topics and to smile for the cameras as the agreement is being signed. Heads of state do not conduct diplomacy, they ratify it, and surprises are entirely unwelcome at those summits and signing events (hence Reagan’s anger in Iceland.)

Why were you and Ramesh surprised? Because you thought that President Obama at least knew this very basic lesson. Today’s announcement suggests that he does not, and it just got advertised big-time to countries who already were pretty sure we had a rookie at the helm who didn’t know how to use international power. President Obama just got upstaged by an organization against whom no retaliation is acceptable, and he wants to meet with the Iranians next month? We are in deep, deep trouble.


I had already noted my underestimation of the political ineptitude, even after all the other blunders we’ve seen in the first eight months of this administration. I won’t make that mistake again. I suspect that a lot of people won’t. I’ll be interested to see his poll numbers next week.

[Late morning update]

Instapundit is disappointed:

That’s too bad. I was kinda looking forward to seeing President Palin speak at the opening ceremonies…

Yeah, it would have been a nice way to kick off her campaign for reelection.

Ah well, so much for “smart diplomacy.”

[Late morning update]

Tucker Carlson:

Why didn’t Obama see this coming? He spends all this time, gets all this press, uses all this political capital to promote Chicago, and then loses? What an amateur. Prosecutors don’t ask witnesses questions in court unless they’re sure of the answers. Presidents don’t stake their personal reputations on contests whose outcomes are uncertain. Very foolish move. No wonder he can’t get health care passed.

If I were a Democrat, my morale, and confidence in this president, would be at an all-time low today. But then, I’m not a Democrat, and it was never high to start with.

[Early afternoon update]

The top ten reasons Chicago didn’t get the Olympics:

10. Dead people can’t vote at IOC meetings.
9. Obama distracted by 25-minute meeting with Gen. McChrystal.
8. Who cares if Obama couldn’t talk the IOC into Chicago? He’ll be able to talk Iran out of nukes.
7. The impediment is Israel still building settlements.
6. Obviously no president would have been able to accomplish it.

Follow the link for the top five.


Joe Katzman, on the administration’s Iran policy (and foreign policy in general):

Anne Applebaum writes…that “Tehran’s worst fear is a well-financed human rights campaign.” In other words, talk less to Iran and more to Iranians.

Unfortunately, this also seems to be Obama’s worst fear. Applebaum is also dead wrong to say that “he people who care about [the democracy movement] are rarely much interested in [Iran’s nuclear program] – and vice versa.” In fact, most of the people concerned with the nuclear program see the democracy movement as the best hope for progress, and have for some time. Obama, in contrast, has a consistent record of aversion to human rights, rule of law, and other niceties abroad. Which is why the drift will continue, until Iran has the bomb.

The only nuclear weapons that he seems truly concerned about are our own (and Israel’s).

And his polls are tanking on foreign policy as well:

On who they trust more to decide the next steps in Afghanistan. 66 percent say military commanders, while only 20 percent say the president. Even Democrats have more faith in the military commanders (by a 45 to 37 percent margin). On Iran, 69 percent say Obama has not been tough enough, including 55 percent of Democrats. Sixty-one percent favor a U.S. military action, if needed, to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Fifty-one percent think Obama apologizes for American too much.

That’s some rapid fail. He’s accelerated from zero to Jimmy Carter in less than a year. Actually, he makes me miss the robust, assertive foreign policy of the Carter years.

[[Update a while later]

More thoughts from Dr. Krauthammer:

When France chides you for appeasement, you know you’re scraping bottom. Just how low we’ve sunk was demonstrated by the Obama administration’s satisfaction when Russia’s president said of Iran, after meeting President Obama at the U.N., that “sanctions are seldom productive, but they are sometimes inevitable.”

You see? The Obama magic. Engagement works. Russia is on board. Except that, as the Washington Post inconveniently pointed out, Pres. Dmitry Medvedev said the same thing a week earlier, and the real power in Russia, Vladimir Putin, had changed not at all in his opposition to additional sanctions. And just to make things clear, when Iran then brazenly test-fired offensive missiles, Russia reacted by declaring that this newest provocation did not warrant the imposition of tougher sanctions.

Do the tally. In return for selling out Poland and the Czech Republic by unilaterally abrogating a missile-defense security arrangement that Russia had demanded be abrogated, we get from Russia . . . what? An oblique hint, of possible support, for unspecified sanctions, grudgingly offered and of dubious authority — and, in any case, leading nowhere because the Chinese have remained resolute against any Security Council sanctions.

Confusing ends and means, the Obama administration strives mightily for shows of allied unity, good feeling, and pious concern about Iran’s nuclear program — whereas the real objective is stopping that program. This feel-good posturing is worse than useless, because all the time spent achieving gestures is precious time granted Iran to finish its race to acquire the bomb.

But we’re talking. That’s what’s important.

Did Cash For Clunkers…?

kill GM and Chrysler? Not single handedly, but it may have proven the fatal blow. Between that, and the fact that so many consider them Government Motors, and run by union thugs, they may never recover. The question is, what does the administration come up with next to punish Ford and level the playing field?

[Update a few minutes later]

More thoughts from Mickey:

…they seem to have grossly misperceived consumers’ reaction to the equities of the bailout itself. And that 45% can’t be all Republicans.


I also have to say that this saddens me immensely, having come from a GM family (and having a brother who still works there). If they do go under, I hope that someone can take the assets and do something more productive with them. But that might also require an overhaul of the government in Lansing, and I’m not sure what the prospects are for that.

[Update mid morning]

Speaking of my last point: Michigan’s budget train wreck. And to think that some people a few years ago (and maybe even now) were bewailing that pesky Constitution that didn’t permit darling Jennifer to run for president.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!