Monthly Archives: February 2009


In Woody Allen’s film “Bananas,” the revolutionary Latin American tyrant Esposito is portrayed at the moment when power goes to his head. Esposito declares: From this day on, the official language of San Marcos will be Swedish. Silence! In addition to that, all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half-hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check. Furthermore, all children under 16 years »

Simultaneous Exhibition Record Set

Bulgarian Grandmaster Kiril Georgiev has set a new simultaneous chess exhibition record of 360 games. Georgiev played for more than 14 hours and has applied for recognition by the Guinness Book of World Records. Simultaneous chess exhibitions have a long history, but today’s version is wimpy by historical standards. Grandmasters used to play blindfolded: Alexander Alekhine played more than 30 games simultaneously, blindfolded, against tough opposition, and in more recent »

Maryland basketball, a postscript

In my post about Gary Williams and Maryland basketball program, I noted in passing that Maryland has been shut-out of the NCAA tournament the past few years in part because mid-major conferences are now more highly regarded than they were in the days when a .500 record in the ACC (plus a “sexy” win or two) pretty much guaranteed a trip to the tourney. To be clear, I’m not suggesting »

Hillary Clinton uncut

Hillary Clinton will visit Israel and the West Bank next week. During her Asian tour, Ms. Clinton announced her intention to clear the linguistic fog of international diplomacy, and replace it with “more straightforward” talk that does not avoid “stating the obvious.” This commitment to plain speaking made me wonder what utterances we can expect from our Secretary of State when she reaches the Middle East. Here are a few »

Politics Over Policy

As I noted earlier this evening, the American public is showing virtually no confidence in the economic measures that have been implemented or advocated by the Obama administration. In today’s Washington Post, Robert Samuelson reminded us why that is so: the “stimulus” bill had little to do with the economy, and a great deal to do with Democratic Party politics: Judged by his own standards, President Obama’s $787 billion economic »

Another Porkfest On the Way

Congressional Democrats, apparently immune to any sense of irony, used the occasion of President Obama’s Fiscal Responsibility Summit to unveil the most bloated discretionary spending measure ever–a $410 billion omnibus spending bill that is left over from last fall. The Democrats waited until President Obama was in office to move the omnibus bill forward, as President Bush had threatened to veto it. The bill represents an 8 percent increase over »

Panic On The Street

The stock market tumbled again today, to its lowest level in more than a decade. Whatever else you think about the government’s efforts to right the economy, it’s impossible to say that it has succeeded in instilling confidence that its policies are on the right track. The stock market’s continued slide should be no surprise, given that Scott Rasmussen reported today that both consumer confidence and investor confidence are at »

If You’re Missing the Oscars…

…like so many of us, you can follow along as Jules Crittenden live-blogs. I’ve been wandering in and out, and so far there have been only a couple of offensive moments–that I’ve witnessed, anyway. The worst was Bill Maher referring to “our crazy gods,” or something like that, being the source of all evil. Speak for yourself, Bill. To comment on this post, go here. »

Is this inquest really necessary?

Maryland’s stunning upset victory yesterday over North Carolina comes against the backdrop of non-stop attacks on the Terps coach, Gary Williams. The Washington Post has led the charge. Two weeks ago, it ran a three part series devoted to Williams’ “failings” as a recruiter (his ability to coach the players he recruits remains beyond dispute). A three-part inquest into one aspect of a college basketball program seems a bit excessive. »

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day, run by NASA, has been around for a while, but I just learned of it from a reader last week. It’s a fun site, and helps put your declining net worth in perspective–something we can all use these days. I browsed the archives for a while; here are a few representative photos; click to enlarge. Hyperion, a rather weird-looking moon of Saturn: Saturn, taken by »

Europe’s Politicians Don’t Pay Their Taxes, Either

The European Union’s internal audit office investigated cheating on expenses by members of the European Parliament and found it is widespread. The internal audit office wrote a 92-page report to that effect, but kept it secret. Now the report has been leaked and the Telegraph has the details: Matthew Elliott, the chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “Having acquired the report, we felt it was right to publish it »

An Observation

Barack Obama is a smart guy, in the fashion of a lawyer, and it isn’t necessary that a President be a scholar (although quite a few have been). But there are two subjects, ignorance of which in a President is dangerous: economics and history. Unfortunately, those are the very topics in which Obama’s knowledge is below average. To comment on this post, go here. »

Good Question!

Mickey Kaus asks: Isn’t the border fence shovel ready? To comment on this post, go here. »

Dan Diker: On US outreach to Syria and Hamas

Dan Diker is a foreign policy analyst with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He comments from Jerusalem on John Kerry’s trip to the Middle East: Senator John Kerry’s visit late last week to Gaza and Syria was well received in Tehran. Their response was clear. Israel was hit with rockets from southern Lebanon and Gaza this weekend. Hizbullah denied involvement, but attacks from southern Lebanon do not take place »

Remembering the indispensable man

Today is the anniversary of the birth of George Washington. Of all the great men of the revolutionary era to whom we owe our freedom, Washington’s greatness was the rarest and the most needed. At this remove in time, it is also the hardest to comprehend. Take, for example, Washington’s contribution to the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Washington’s mere presence lent the undertaking and its handiwork the legitimacy that resulted »

The Real Thing

Nicholas Ashford and Valerie Simpson are the gifted husband and wife team who wrote pop/soul classics including “Let’s Go Get Stoned,” “Ain?t Nothing Like the Real Thing,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “You’re All I Need To Get By.” He writes the words, she the music. They have a remarkable personal story that begins in a Harlem church choir and is enhanced by their longevity as a writing and »

Most stunning Terps upset win ever?

The University of Maryland’s basketball program has been pulling off major upsets for four decades, first under Lefty Dreisell and more recently under Gary Williams. But today’s overtime victory over No. 3 ranked North Carolina may be the most stunning ever, or at least since the pre-shot clock, 31-30 stall ball win against No.2 ranked South Carolina in 1970 That’s because this year’s edition of the Terrapins is, at least »