The Wall Street Journal notes:

“The President’s changes in antiterror policy have never been as dramatic as he or his critics have advertised. His supporters on the left have repeatedly howled when the Justice Department quietly went to court and offered the same legal arguments the Bush Administration made, among them that the President has the power to detain enemy combatants indefinitely without charge. He has also ramped up drone strikes against al Qaeda and Taliban operatives in Pakistan.

However, the Administration has tried to break from its predecessors on several big antiterror issues…”

(Italics mine.)

Maybe I’m crazy, but the italicized portion seems to be implying that this is in keeping with Bush’s policies, when, in fact it is a break from them. “Ramping up” means changing the policy. It’s not as drastic, I admit, but nevertheless Obama and Bush are not the same when it comes to the drone policy. Obama is more aggressive. This probably part of the reason Obama’s track record vs. Jihadism compares favorably with G.W. Bush’s and Clinton’s over their first terms.

Michael Wolff says:

“But capturing it all—the clichés, vapidness, illogic, inversions of reality, Cheneyisms, and her (Sarah Palin’s) constant whacking at Obama’s legitimacy—he (Andrew Sullivan) yet misses something.

He misses how really compelling she is. Unaccountably amazing. It could be the meaninglessness itself, and her confidence in it, that is so riveting. But I think it’s something else.”

In the immortal words of Paul Graham: “It’s charisma, stupid.Charisma is just that powerful. It is a hard to define thing, and yet when someone has it, they have it, and it makes them seem inexplicably compelling.  

P.S. The title of this post is a reference to the musical Fiddler on the Roof. It occurred to me when I read the above quote. FYI, it’s actually not true in the lager context of the song, though; because charisma is a destabilizing element in politics. This guy named Max Weber will explain it to you. 

Should they make a movie of the Mass Effect video games

No. As that pro-Mass Effect movie article says: “The relationships Shepard (and in turn, us) forms with his crew take on the audience-friendly tone that defines the best men-on-a-mission movies.”

The only thing I’d change with that assessment is that the tone is better  than the best such movies. We feel more involved in Mass Effect (especially ME 2) than in a movie because we’re doing things. We’re making the tough choices, and deciding which characters are friend or foe. And while you could boil a 20+ hour game down to a two-hour movie, the sidequests are part of what gives RPG’s their depth and richness.Mass Effect isn’t even the best video game when it comes to this, (Try Knights of the Old Republic I & especially II) but it’s better than the movies could be. 

According to CNN, the Tea-Party-supported principles include:

  • Fiscal Responsibility.
  • Lower Taxes
  • States’ rights
  • National Security.

My opinion is that anyone who tries will find it very difficult to achieve principles #1 and #2 at the same time. The Laffer curve is not that powerful, if it even exists at all. And “National Security” is so far better under Obama than it was under either Clinton or George W. Bush after their first years. So I’m not sure what their movement would really do if given power. Even supposing that tax cut multipliers are much larger than economists think, they cannot balance the budget based solely on that.

As near as I can tell, the optimal strategy according to this movement would be “militaristic Keynesianism,” which would mean cutting taxes, and increasing government spending by vastly increasing expenditures on the military (to further National Security) while making cuts elsewhere. The resulting stimulus from these increased outlays would hopefully get the economy back to full employment, at which point the military spending would be curtailed as well, and the increased wealth produced by the hopefully-booming economy would allow for deficit reduction. (I can’t figure how states’ rights is involved. I suspect it’s a euphemism for overturning Roe v. Wade.)

 That’s the ideal scenario for the Tea-Party. Frankly, however, I really doubt whether the deficit can ever be eliminated altogether by this method.  I think that, at any time, they can have at most 3 of the 4 principles adhered to.