What is that old saying about a woman scorned?
On first glance, it could be the ultimate Valentine's Day card -- a gigantic billboard that towers over New York's Times Square, featuring a happy couple with the text: "You are my soulmate forever, Charles & YaVaughnie."

But as every scorned lover knows, looks can be deceiving. This billboard -- which also has gone up in Atlanta and San Francisco -- is the ultimate act of revenge -- a very public retaliation by a dumped mistress aimed at a very wealthy, and married, businessman who is an adviser to President Obama.

I wonder if it was worth it.

The Passenger

The Passenger:

I was going back through some old archives tonight. A few months ago, Eric posted this video, which has a lot to do with the "vision of beauty" that once defined our nation.

If there is a clear message in it, it is this: There is joy in a life boldly lived; and yet we are all going to pass, and therefore die. God save us!

And, given that, let's ride.

UPDATE: For the ladies, and the brave ones: Cassandra calls.

"Let's see what's mine." What is?

UPDATE: Looking through that video this morning, I realize that the sense of 'we are all going to pass' is something that comes from sitting in a place where all of these things have passed. At the time they made these films, they were meant to be vibrant statements of how to live now.

In some ways, we learn from our place in this late hour. They were right about how to live. We'll be gone someday, as they are now, and should try to leave such a legacy.

76. Cattle die, and kinsmen die,
And so one dies one's self;
But a noble name will never die,
If good renown one gets.

77. Cattle die, and kinsmen die,
And so one dies one's self;
One thing I know that never dies,
The fame of a dead man's deeds.

Grim's Tour Guide to Iraq

Grim's Tour Guide to Iraq:

Hey, I've been to several of these places!

Iraq littered with high levels of nuclear and dioxin contamination, study finds.
For example, here I am at the Tuwaitha Nuclear Facility just about a year ago:

Oh, well. Did you want to live forever?

Those Who Understand

Those Who Understand:

...will understand.

The Scottish Warpipes are that kind of thing, you know.

The Unexamined Life

The Unexamined Life:

Via Dad29:

I had read that week an article by Ashley Montagu of Princeton University on what he called “A Life Worth Living.” He listed the qualifications for a life worth living: good health, a stable family, economic security, educational opportunity, the prospect of a satisfying career to realize the fullness of one’s potential. These were among the measures of what was called “a life worth living.”

And I remember vividly, as though it were yesterday, looking out the next Sunday morning at the congregation of St. John the Evangelist and seeing all those older faces creased by hardship endured and injustice afflicted, and yet radiating hope undimmed and love unconquered. And I saw that day the younger faces of children deprived of most, if not all, of those qualifications on Prof. Montagu’s list. And it struck me then, like a bolt of lightning, a bolt of lightning that illuminated our moral and cultural moment, that Prof. Montagu and those of like mind believed that the people of St. John the Evangelist—people whom I knew and had come to love as people of faith and kindness and endurance and, by the grace of God, hope unvanquished—it struck me then that, by the criteria of the privileged and enlightened, none of these my people had a life worth living. In that moment, I knew that a great evil was afoot.
It is easier, I have heard, for a camel to pass through an eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Here, perhaps, is part of the reason why.

An Amusing Weekend Review

An (Amusing) Weekend Review:

So, what's your favorite story here at the start of the weekend? Is it mockery by the Huffington Post because Scott Brown's wife was once 'suggestive'? That story has a lot going for it, really: "Gail Huff wasn't always so prim and proper." "At the song's climax, she suggestively squeezes a tube of sunscreen...."

'At the climax,' right. So, my question is, isn't this Arianna Huffington's site? You know, she and now-Senator Franken used to be on that show called Strange Bedfellows?

I guess you've forgotten. Anyway, so what? Franken went on to become a Senator, which is meant to be a serious job with serious responsibilities; Huffington went on to become a leading figure in new journalism. Somehow, the fact that they once had a non-serious, 'suggestive' moment hasn't stopped them. (Actually, Franken's whole life has been built on non-serious moments, though he was rarely clever enough to be suggestive; but whatever.)

That story, though, is not the only contender. How about the story from Der Spiegel titled, "The World Bids Farewell To Obama"?

More than that, though, the vote shows just how quickly the political pendulum has swung back to the right following Obama's election. The seat Brown won had been in Democratic hands for all but six years since 1926. Now, its new occupant is a man who not only opposes the health care bill, but also favors waterboarding as a method of interrogation for terrorism suspects and rejects carbon cap-and-trade as a means of limiting carbon emissions.
Remember when Obama was speaking to a giant, adoring festival of Germans in Berlin? And now they're already writing him off. It's almost as if you had an ally that promised to support you with their finest Kommando unit... only to find that those 'elite fighters' never went on a single mission before they went home.

Maybe you picked the wrong horse here, hoss. Next time, try to get supporters who will fight for you.

Of course, if you have some, it might be best not to stab them in the back.
"If Democrats waste this majority, and have nothing to show for it but bailouts of the biggest banks, auto companies and insurers, they deserve to be returned to minority status in the fall.... "--Timothy Egan, New York Times Web site, Jan. 20
Well, yeah, that does seem to be the major accomplishment of the Obama administration so far. I think that my friends on the Left usually call this kind of thing "corporate welfare," and it's pretty much all that the administration and Congress actually accomplished last year.

This year will be different! We're off to a good start with a... er... jobs bill. How will we be spurring the creation of jobs? Well, we, um, probably with tax cuts to corporations... maybe some low-cost loans or subsidies to, er, corporations.... hm.

Meanwhile, the dream lingers on. For a few more minutes, before the delicious aroma of coffee takes over.
I think it's still possible that there's going to be a second thought, a realization that there's nothing but Plan B. And I think it's possible that in concert with this, Dem Reps will be on the receiving end of a wave of dissatisfaction from Dems across the country. But I think it's only a small chance.

And the key reason is because it gets harder every day. And if they can't do it today, why does anyone imagine they'll be able to tomorrow.
Good morning, Josh.

DtP on fire

Peasant Burning:

Dennis the Peasant is on fire. There's some highly pragmatic, insightful political advice buried amid all that cursing and mockery. :)

The health care bill has always been an exercise in time. When the Senate voted for it just before Christmas Eve, it looked like they might just beat the clock... until the next day:

I'm not sure why this is happening. I mean, I know about the polls; and I recognize that the left and the right both hate it. I understand that it's a terrible mess, and I've got no idea why anyone would actually want to pass it. However, until today I've been convinced that passing it was the first order of business on the minds of the national Democratic party.

It came through the House on a squeaker, though; and the Senate version passed with a zero-vote margin to spare. Now Congress has to come home on recess, to constituents who are very angry about the whole thing. When they come back in January, apparently the President wants to do something else for a while -- until after his State of the Union speech, at least.
I wondered at the time if that delay meant a concession by the Democratic leadership that the bill was dead. Putting delays in front of it, when the 2010 election season has always been the chief danger, was almost suicidal.

However, I'm beginning to think it was pure incompetence by the administration. They clearly have fought for it, as with the President's personal appeal to voters over the weekend. They are still shouting from the rooftops that they'll find a way to pass it.

Combined with this incompetence may have been pure murder by Senate wise-men who understood that the bill needed to die. Stretching it out until now means they can kill it without suffering personal blame. Witness Jim Webb:
As Democrats reel from the loss of a U.S. Senate seat in deep blue Massachusetts, Virginia Sen. Jim Webb becomes the first senator we've seen tonight to call for suspending all votes on health care until newly elected Republican Scott Brown can take office.... It's been obvious to me for months now, just from observing Webb's body language and listening to his words, that he was not happy at all with the health care reform legislation, either the substance of the process. For months now, I've been wondering whether Webb would jump ship, and now he appears to have done so.
The last chance, really, is the House performing the ping-pong strategy. The good news for HCR supporters: due to gerrymandering, and in direct contradiction to the Founder's intentions, House seats are much safer than Senate seats on average. The bad news: the entire House is up for re-election, and we've just demonstrated that the definition of "safe" is going to be different this year. Witness Barney Frank:
Frank said that, for now, lawmakers must "rule out" any effort to pass healthcare anyway.

"I am hopeful that some Republican senators will be willing to discuss a revised version of healthcare reform because I do not think that the country would be well-served by the healthcare status quo," Frank said. "But our respect for democratic procedures must rule out any effort to pass a healthcare bill as if the Massachusetts election had not happened."
Now, there are ten months until the main election.

I suggest that the main thing is to build a new Congress based on small-government principles. Party isn't really the issue here, although if we begin to see the Tea Party movement capturing the Republican party that may change. I was never willing to leave the Democratic party for the Republican party; but I might be willing to leave it for a party that was honestly devoted to the principles of the Founders, gutting the social-welfare state, and very limited government interference in one's life.

At the moment, though, we need to look at our local races and figure out who among the candidates is the "limited government" candidate. We need to de-leverage American government, so that it isn't so heavily indebted and so that we aren't particularly dependent upon it nor subject to its whims.

Finally, I've noticed that some people are upset that Sen. Brown is a supporter of universal health care -- at the state level. Well he might be! That is a 10th Amendment issue. The state may have authority to do something like that; it's the Federal government that plainly does not. If Massachusetts wants to have universal health care, let them have it. If Georgia doesn't, we'll get all the jobs come the recovery: Atlanta will outstrip Boston because of better deals on taxes and spending.

Meanwhile, citizens who want universal health care can move to Massachusetts; whereas those who want less government in their lives can go elsewhere. That's genuine freedom, which doesn't exist given a one-size-fits-all Federal solution.

There's room in this country for liberals and conservatives alike. We just need to make sure that we're practicing our ideology at the state level. At the Federal level, the powers are meant to be specific and limited, and the government small and relatively absent from our day-to-day lives. The Federal government should look outward, for the most part; its power should mostly be used to push back the world, and maintain a space for liberty. It is the state, which any citizen can leave if he doesn't like it, where any expansive government functions should be exercised. Those of us who really want very little government should be able to have it; but there will remain some states where those who want cradle-to-grave security can try to have it, if they can indeed afford it.

Personally, I think that approach will always fail; but if they want it, let them try it there and not here. If they can make it work, at the state level in a state where it doesn't bother me, more power to them.

Animus eorum

This Calls for a Celebration:

Pop the champagne -- or whatever other fine wine or ale you may prefer. We should drink to the good people of Massachusetts, who tonight have struck a fine, resounding blow. So here's my favorite, appropriate song, as performed by the Oni Wytars Ensemble.

Ense Petit Placidam Sub Libertate Quietem!

UPDATE: A good party needs more than one song. Here's one that should celebrate those good Irish folk that I hear can be found up Boston way. Goodness knows they were there when I went up to the town, back in '96.

And whenever the Irish come to mind, I can't help but think of the Clancy Brothers, though they start off here with an old English song:

They make up for it, though. "...I met a fellow rebel, and to me he did say..." Well, a fine song for today!

And here's from my old friend Harry:

For those of you who prefer a touch of whiskey to the fine wine or ale, well, good luck to you:

Watch Whiskey Bent & Hell Bound in Music  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

So that should make enough of a party on a weeknight. A good showing, my fine Yankee friends.

After Ted

The Deluge:

From RCP:

AP calls it. Coakley has apparently called Brown and conceded. With 71% in, Brown leads 53 to 46. - Tom Bevan

Public Opinion

The Struggle for Public Opinion:

Commentary notes some polling:

In the survey, only 33 percent say President Obama’s health-reform effort is a good idea, versus 46 percent who consider it a bad idea. That result is essentially unchanged from last month’s poll. However, the number saying that Obama’s health plan is a bad idea has increased 20 percentage points since April, when the public supported the reform effort by a 33-26 percent margin.
So, in April, only 59% of voters had any particular opinion about health care reform. A good 41% didn't yet know how they felt about it.

Today, however, 79% of voters have an opinion... and every single one of them who has decided since April is opposed.

Right? I mean, it's possible that some people were in the 33% in April, fell out by now, and have been replaced by "new" supporters. But in spite of nine months of campaigning for this monster, essentially not one single net supporter has been added. The anti-health-reform side has captured the entire shift in opinion.

This ought to be a mild signal to Washington. A hint, you know, of which way the people would like the Congress to vote.

Werewolves of Moscow

Werewolves of Moscow:

From the Financial Times (h/t Arts & Letters Daily).

Every so often, you would see [a stray dog] waiting on a metro platform. When the train pulled up, the dog would step in, scramble up to lie on a seat or sit on the floor if the carriage was crowded, and then exit a few stops later. There is even a website dedicated to the metro stray (www.metrodog.ru) on which passengers post photos and video clips taken with their mobile phones, documenting the ­savviest of the pack using the public transport system like any other Muscovite.
How did they learn to do that? One alone, perhaps an exceptional brain among dogs -- but many?


Guardame las Vacas:

The tune is named "Guarding the cows." As we know from the sagas of Ireland, this was warrior's work from the early period; cowboys and Cú Chulainn are united in their understanding of the importance of the Old Brown Bull. This is from the CD "Music for a Knight," from the CD set Time of the Templars.


Grim's Hall Book Club: Bendigo Shafter, Chapters 4-13

Several things happen in this part of the book:

1) The town is set upon by raiders, who are wiped out by the citizen's militia. Webb irritates many of the citizens with his part in it, which is to end negotiations and 'open the ball.' Bendigo Shafter believes Webb saved them by doing so, however: the raiders had come with evil intent, and therefore the 'negotiations' were only a fraud. Webb's quick action had, Shafter says, thrown the raiders off balance and allowed the victory that followed.

2) The town assists some Mormons, who are attempting to cross very difficult terrain with hand-carts. These Mormon pioneers represent an interesting moment in American history; L'amour mostly includes them, I think, in order to tell an interesting story that is not well known by most Americans.

Yet it's also a moral decision point -- will the small society of the town try to be kind to strangers and offer hospitality to those in need, even though they have little themselves? Will they undertake physical dangers in order to help those who need help? There are consequences to the decision.

3) The introduction of Drake Morrell, the gambler, and his charge. Bendigo takes a particular attitude toward him: even though he knows of his past, he purposefully sets what he knows aside and insists on judging the man according to his present behavior. Yet he also warns Morrell about Webb, in order to prevent a conflict between them.

What do you think about the attitude that L'amour suggests here? How much does a man's past matter? Is his character more important? His present actions?

4) The issue of how a young man ought to think about marriage. Ben doesn't feel ready to marry, and the one young lady who seems ready to marry he doesn't think is right for him. Yet he doesn't seem to take a negative attitude towards her: he regards her as dangerous to himself ("a trap"), but in every case he attempts to avoid that danger without rudeness or by causing her anger. He's just... careful.

Is that enough? Does he behave towards the (obviously interested) young lady in the right way? If not, what might he have done better?

5) Throughout, his education continues and he begins to think about what he wants to do with his life. He settles on a first step: a cattle drive. He begins to prepare for that, and we'll have more to discuss later on that subject.