So long, farewell!

This is going to be my last diary here.  But this is not one of those GBCW diaries.  Indeed, it is a "Goodbye Beautiful Blog" farewell.

I have thoroughly enjoyed blogging here.. it is the only place I have ever blogged at.  I used to be a regular reader of DailyKos, and of TPM... but have avoided those places ever since they jumped the shark during the primaries.  I came here because I was told it was a refuge of sorts for Clinton supporters.

I have watched as the site has evolved from Clinton supporters and Obama supporters to "Clintonistas for Obama" and original Obama supporters.  I am not an Obama supporter (I intend to decide on who will get my vote in late October), and have run into occassional skirmishes with some of you as a result.

But the reason for leaving is not that....

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Bring them home first

I am going to begin quoting a celebrity (of sorts):

The request is familiar to American ears: "Bring them home."

But this is no ordinary celebrity.. She goes on to say (you will have to click the link to find out who she is):

But in Iraq, where I've just met with American and Iraqi leaders, the phrase carries a different meaning. It does not refer to the departure of U.S. troops, but to the return of the millions of innocent Iraqis who have been driven out of their homes and, in many cases, out of the country.

And that is what I find troubling over Sen. Obama's plan to bring the troops home... and also the current plan to redeploy US troops by 2011.

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Enough, already!!

I have had enough !

Do you know why the polls are closing ?  Do you know why this election is not a landslide ??

It is because you, dear progressive reader, make silly character assassinations on Sen. McCain.  And because Sen. Obama's campaign appears to be suffering from the spillover effects.  Rule #1 about character assassinations: do not make one unless you can make it stick.  

I am referring to the constant streams of "McSame" and "McBush", and "100 years of war with Islam" and "too old", and "he is mean to women", and "out of touch" etc. etc.  

Do you know why those accusations do not stick ?

(a) Because Sen. McCain is a war hero
(b) Because Sen. McCain is (perhaps) the most famous POW in history
(c) And because Sen. McCain chose a "black" daughter... of his own free will!

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The reservoirs of goodwill

Some of you may recall a "reservoirs of goodwill" chart that I had occasionally presented during the primaries.

This metric plots the (%favorable - %unfavorable) and the (%very favorable - % very unfavorable) metrics for the candidates over time.  I found that to be a useful barometer to gauge outcomes.

And so, here are the "reservoirs of goodwill" charts for Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama.  The forced linear fits on the two sets of data points are just that ~ forced linear fits that are meant to guide the eye (the correlation is poor..blah blah...not enough statistics...blah blah..and I would not put too much faith on them)

The source of all this data is www.rassmussen.com

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What happened in the mortgage crisis ?

Update [2008-8-18 21:22:26 by SevenStrings]:My oh my... I have 2 diaries on the rec list (if only for a moment). This must be a really really slow day. In any case, I have pdf..ed the rec list for my own ego boosts when I am feeling down. And thank you all...for the recs!!

This diary is about the housing crisis that we are now facing.  A lot of virtual ink has been spilled on the topic by bloggers and economists who understand the problem better than I do.  However, I have seen no reporting on an experience that I had, and which is quite relevant to how the crisis unfolded.

My wife and I bought our home well before the current crisis.  The housing market was "hot" at the time, and interest rates were headed down.  In the years that followed, we refinanced our house several times.  In all cases, we scrupulously avoided pulling any money out of the house, and in all cases, we refinanced when we could get a better interest rate.

And what is unusual about this, you may ask ?

Well, it was simply this:

(a) we refinanced whenever we could get an interest rate that was even marginally (i.e., 1/8th of a percent) lower than the rate that we had.

(b) refinancing never cost us a penny.  The net out of pocket cost to us was...Zero.  Zip.  Zilch.  Nada.  Zed.

(c) refinancing was a relatively painless exercise.  The only things I had to do was email my broker with copies of our latest pay-stubs, show an appraiser around, and spend 30 mins with a notary public that would come to our house with a stack of documents.

Our broker took care of it all.

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Goodbye General, You will not be missed !

Back in 2001/2002, I had several conversations with some friends about what should be the proper US policy w.r.t. Pakistan, and it's dictator ~ Gen. Musharraf.  My friends were of the opinion best summarized by the line "We need him", and therefore all his sins are forgiven.  I was of the opinion that one needs Musharraf just like one needs a venomous snake in one's bed

And nothing illustrates the venom in the snake better than the treatment meted out by Gen. Musharraf to Mukhtaran Bibi (caveat: this incident occured after 2001/2002; but it is the best illustration).

Muktharan Bibi was gangraped by tribesmen from a Baloch clan, as per tribal custom, to avenge her brothers alleged rape of a Baloch.  Mukhtaran Bibi is Gujjar ~ a less powerful clan.  Some accounts have it that the allegations of rape against her brother were concocted to cover up his sodomization by powerful Baloch elders.  The coverup would have been perfect ~ women subjected to a "revenge honor rape" are expected to kill themselves.

Instead, Mukhtaran Bibi went public, and fought back.

She quickly became an embarrassment to the leaders of Pakistan, and those who would pretend that such problems do not exist.  Her travel was restricted, on orders from the Big Chief (Gen. Musharraf) himself, and she lived under virtual house arrest.  

And, to top it off, Gen. Musharraf proudly proclaimed and justified his decision to restrict her movements.

And lest you believe that this was the only incident, there was the case of Dr. Shazia Khalid, who was raped by a Captain in the Pakistan Army.  Her rape was first denied by the government, then blamed on the local tribesmen ~ thereby fomenting a rebellion that was later ascribed to the resurgence of the Taliban in Balochistan.

Goodbye General, You will not be missed!

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The Gray Lady of Bagram

I would like to highlight the curious case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui.  She is a Pakistan born, MIT/Brandeis trained neuroscientist who went missing in 2003, and showed up in 2008 in a US court, accused of fighting for Al Quaeda.

For a background, I would like to quote from Wikipedia

Aafia Siddiqui was born in Pakistan in March 1972. She came to the United States, and attended colleges in the Boston, Massachusetts area. As a sophomore at MIT in 1992, Siddiqui received a Carroll L. Wilson Award for her research proposal, "Islamization in Pakistan and its Effects on Women."[1] As a junior, Siddiqui received a $1,200 fellowship through MIT's LINKS program to help clean up Cambridge elementary school playgrounds. During her undergraduate career, she lived in McCormick Hall and worked at the MIT libraries. She graduated from MIT in 1995.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence asserts that Siddiqui has ties to Guantanamo captive Ammar al-Baluchi.

       In 2002, 'Ammar directed Aafia Siddiqui--a US-educated neuroscientist and al-Qa'ida facilitator--to travel to the United States to prepare paperwork to ease Majid Khan's deployment to the United Staes. 'Ammar married Siddiqui shortly before his detention.

Al-Baluchi is now held in extrajudicial detention in the Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba.

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Where would Jesus drill ?

I offer up this diary in response to another diary with the same title here.  

So, where would Jesus drill ?

The answer is, sadly, quite obvious.  He would have to drill somewhere.  Most likely, it would be in places where oil is likely to be found... such as ANWR, and off the coast of California, and Florida.  Jesus, after all, has quite a few things to do, and very many souls to save.  He must maximize His time by drilling in places where he is likely to find oil.  Rumor has it that he would know where to find the oil better than us humans.

Jesus would probably weep, while doing so ~ destroying his Father's creation is not a pleasant task.

But, what choice would Jesus have ?

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In case of trouble

This diary is about the crisis in Georgia, and the US response.  This diary is not about Sen. McCain, or about Sen. Obama.. it is about Pres. Bush, and his response to the crisis.

I have advocated a gradual ratcheting up of pressure on the Russians to reverse their present course of action.  I have also stated that I support what Pres. Bush is trying to do, at least as I understand it.  This is not a time to be taking potshots at the sitting President... there will be plenty of opportunities to do that down the line.

I understand that my view is a minority opinion here, and I am okay with that.

Along those lines, I note with satisfaction that the US and Poland have just "crossed the rubicon" with respect to Missile Defence.  I am sure the timing of move, and the fact that such a move was made at all, is not a coincidence.

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Stand up to the bully!

History offers up a few moments when the world is presented with a choice:  someone is committing a naked act of aggression on someone else, and we can choose to ignore it, or we can stand up to the bullying.

Ignoring the bullying is the preferred option ~ who wants to get involved in a messy situation with no end in sight.  Standing up to the bullying is the right (morally and strategically) option.

It is time to stand up to the Russian bullying in Georgia.

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