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The Coming Student Loan Debacle

From The Scrapbook.

Jul 19, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 41
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 ♦ Moving to the Direct Loan program changes the timing of when your loan funds are released and when we can provide refunds for those students who use loan funds for living expenses off campus, books, meals, etc. Unlike in the past, refunds will not be available until about a week after classes begin. Please plan accordingly to arrive on campus with enough money to cover your living expenses until you receive your refund [emphasis in the original].

Like we said, what could possibly go wrong? Cash flow problems for students, paperwork nightmares for parents—all in a day’s work for the Obama Democrats. The upside: The pain will be felt most acutely this August and September, and with any luck will persist until the Education Department’s new clients can do something about it in November. ♦


The Scrapbook applauds President Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates for the selection of Marine General James Mattis to head Central Command. Victor Davis Hanson writes that “Mattis is a proven battlefield commander, a sophisticated student of history, and unshakable in his nerve and purpose.” Hanson adds, “We now have, with General Petraeus as ground commander, our two most gifted senior combat generals in charge of Afghanistan, who have worked well together and who were brilliant in Iraq in its darkest hours. I think all this is somewhat analogous to the final rise of Grant and Sherman in spring 1864 .  .  . or Ridgway in the last days of 1950, or the arrival of Abrams in Vietnam in latter 1968 .  .  . and increases our chances for success.”

Mattis is extraordinarily well-read and well-spoken, but he’s also willing to be direct and blunt on occasion. The Scrapbook has enjoyed some of the Mattisisms that have been circulating since the announcement of his pick, and thought you would too:

♦ Speaking to tribal leaders in Iraq: “I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f— with me, I’ll kill you all.”

♦ Convincing an Iraqi that the United States wouldn’t cut and run: “I said I am never going to leave. I told him I had found a little piece of property down on the Euphrates River and I was going to have a retirement home built there. I did that because I wanted to disabuse him of any sense that he could wait me out.”

♦ Advice to soldiers and Marines: “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” Also: “If I were to sum up what I’ve learned in 35 years of service, it’s improvise, improvise, improvise.” And: “You are part of the world’s most feared and trusted force. Engage your brain before you engage your weapon.” Similarly: “An untrained or uneducated Marine .  .  . deployed to the combat zone is a bigger threat to mission accomplishment .  .  . than the enemy.”

♦ Psychological counseling: “The first time you blow someone away is not an insignificant event.”

And last but not least: “Marines don’t know how to spell the word -defeat.” ♦


Barack Obama is fond of the Nobel Prize winner in his cabinet, Energy Secretary Steven Chu—never missing an opportunity to salute his fellow Nobelist—but THE SCRAPBOOK has always preferred Chu’s (we dare say) savvier and more competent predecessor, Spencer Abraham. Abraham served in that august position during the first term of George W. Bush—and was, the jacket of his new book informs us, “America’s longest-serving secretary of energy.” Who knew?

In any case, just in time for congressional debate over energy legislation, Abraham has produced a useful and readable (and affordable!) book on energy policy that The Scrapbook is pleased to recommend: Lights Out: Ten Myths about (and Real Solutions to) America’s Energy Crisis. Abraham, writing with William Tucker, lays out clearly and accessibly how to think—and how not to think—about all the issues surrounding energy policy. Jacques Nasser, the former head of Ford Motor Company, says the book is “an interesting mix of folksy story-telling, technical analysis, and political intrigue.”

The Scrapbook sped through it in one evening, in a well-lit room, TV on in the background, air conditioner going full tilt, popcorn popper popping—and felt better about our energy future. ♦

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