Sorry for the nearly unprecedented (and perhaps blessed) period of silence on my end — my move to New York’s lovely capital region currently involves (in addition to too many unopened boxes to count) Internet access neither at home or at the office. Both situations are likely to be resolved imminently, so the regular pontificating should resume in the near future.
I want to flag this now, and I’ll have more to say about it in the next day or two. High points so far for me:
Straw will say that the government wants to consult on which of three electoral systems to adopt: first past the post in constituencies, consisting of three members, modelled on the old European parliamentary constituencies; single transferable vote, with four or five members, based on the existing government regions; and elections in today’s large multimember European parliamentary constituencies. Unlike elections to Strasbourg, which are closed lists, these would be open or semi-open lists. Labour favours this.
I’m in favor of the latter two, with a preference for STV.
Jesus; did they build Citi Field on an ancient Indian burial ground or something?
Johan Santana needs surgery for bone chips in his left elbow and the star pitcher is out for the season, the latest blow to a New York Mets team battered by injuries.
The team said their 30-year-old ace is expected to be OK for spring training next year. He was examined Tuesday by Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek in New York.
A soldier is trudging through the muck in the midst of a downpour with a 60-pound rucksack on his back. ‘This is tough,’ he thinks to himself. Just ahead of him trudges an Army Ranger with an 80-pound pack on his back. ‘This is really tough,’ he thinks. And ahead of him is a Marine with a 90-pound pack on, and he thinks to himself, ‘I love how tough this is.’ Then, of course, 30,000 feet above them … an Air Force pilot flips aside his ponytail. Now, I’m sorry — I don’t know how that got in there. I know they haven’t had ponytails in a year or two. And [he] looks down at them through his cockpit as he flies over. ‘Boy,’ he radios his wingman, ‘it must be tough down there.
See Spencer for the details, but Cheney’s contention on the effectiveness of torture basically amounts to this: If we torture a dude, and at some later date he reveals information, we have demonstrated that torture is effective, regardless of whether other methods of interrogation intervene.
With a medium sized blog and an openly available e-mail address, I find myself subscribed to more than a few odd mailing lists. For example, I get regular e-mail from the Venezuelan Embassy, and receive no end of angry tirades from pro- and anti-Israel organizations. In terms of sheer pathos, however, FredPac takes the gold. FredPac is, of course, Fred Thompson’s political action committee. The latest e-mail reads as follows (hyperlinks removed):
Follow the links below to hear Fred’s Winners and Losers, The Lightning Round, and Fred’s thoughts on what the healthcare debate actually means for America.
Winners and Losers – Get Fred’s take on the winners and losers in today’s news.
Lightning Round – Get Fred’s take on the most important news stories of the day.
Fred’s Rant – Listen to Fred speak on the current healthcare debate, and its proof that the American system is not broken.
It may not literally be true, but I’m pretty sure that there is, literally, nothing in this world that I would be less interested in hearing about than Fred Thompson’s take on the winners and losers in today’s news, or on the most important news stories of the day. As for Fred’s rant, I can only assume that it goes something like this:
With due respect to the notion of an “armed peace corps,” what happens when either a) a peace-keeping situation deteriorates into real war, or b) a real war deteriorates to the point where someone decides to deploy the armed peace corps as a stop-gap? I very strongly suspect that, if such an armed peace corps existed, it would have been deployed to Afghanistan in 2002, and I doubt very much that it could have prevented the re-emergence of the Taliban. Similarly, I suspect that poorly trained “armed peace corps” forces would have found themselves deployed to relatively quiet parts of Iraq during the dark days of 2005, 2006, and 2007.
I certainly think that peacekeeping forces deliver positive value, but the scheme to create an organizationally separate force seems poorly conceived.
This post, on the prospect for Russian military reform, is absolutely fabulous. A taste:
These reforms amount to the complete destruction of Russia’s mass-mobilization military, a legacy of the Soviet army. Such a change was completely anathema to the previous generation of Russian generals, who continued to believe that the Russian military had to be configured to protect the country from a massive invasion from either Europe or China. This perception explains the military leaders’ reluctance, for two decades, to dismantle key aspects of the old Soviet army and, most especially, its vast caches of outdated and unneeded weapons overseen by an equally vast number of officers with very little battlefield training and no combat experience. These officers and weapons are the remains of an army designed to fight NATO on the European plains and have served no functional purpose since the end of the Cold War.