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Archive for June, 2005

[ 0 ] June 20, 2005 |

Rocky Mountain National Park. . .DJW at 8500′ Posted by Hello


[ 0 ] June 20, 2005 |

Rocky Mountain National Park. . .11700′ Posted by Hello

Bought and Paid For

[ 0 ] June 20, 2005 |

Shorter Susan Estrich: “As a feminist and a Democrat, I’m happy to take a paycheck from Fox News and to work with brilliant people like Neil Cavuto so I can continue to do to Democrats what I did to them when I ran their campaign in 1988.”

And the thing is, Estrich is just a piker when it comes to being a fake Democrat. Let’s see the master, Mickey Kaus, apply the greasepaint and appear with James Taranto on Kudlow & His Combover:

JT: It is the loony left, and I think what’s happening is the media, by reporting on all these bad poll numbers for the president, has persuaded the left that the public is on their side, and that has liberated them, in their own minds, to behave like idiots. And I don’t…

LK: Mickey, real fast. Twenty seconds until the break, and then we’ll come back. Is James right? Or am I right? Is this the loony left? I mean, Howard Dean looked bad, but Durbin looks worse.

MK: I agree, and they’re the best friend Bush has right now. I think you and James are right.

LK: Okay. There’s an honest man, Mickey Kaus. I love it.

Good boy, Mickey! Here’s a rubber bone for you to play with!

After This Baer I Need a Scotch

[ 0 ] June 19, 2005 |

I don’t think it can be said with any certainty who best represents the intellectual bankruptcy of “liberal hawks,” but Kenneth Baer tempts one to declare the competition over. The most recent source of Baer’s sniggering is the Democrats who had the temerity to hold hearings about the Downing Street Memo:

First, there’s the obsession with hypocrisy. Truthfulness and integrity are critical in public life. The Bush Administration on a number of fronts has demonstrated a reckless disregard for both. But proving that the Bushies didn?t do what they said or were political with intelligence or, in general, are just a bunch of meanies does not a foreign policy vision make. Yet, the focus of this special hearing was just that: the truthfulness of the Bush Administration. When Bush talks about spreading democracy around the world or the innately human quest for freedom, what do Democrats have to say to that? What is our vision?

In November, the American people decided that despite the slipperiness of the Bush Administration’s case for war in Iraq, they still want them to lead. And last time I checked the Constitution, Bush can?t run again. Taking that into account, it would be more constructive if the Democrats held more hearings into the emerging threats facing the United States and devoted more time thinking about what the progressive vision of America’s role in the world should be than impugning the honor of the Bushies.

First of all, it’s obvious that the whole premise of Baer’s argument is idiotic. Critiquing another’s foreign policy is hardly inconsistent with developing one’s own policies. Moreover, this claim is particularly hilarious coming from somebody whose discourse consists almost entirely of attacking dirty, dirty liberals (remember when, during his TPM gig, he compared all Democrats to the left of Joe Lieberman to the left of the British Labor Party in 1982?) The dirty secret about “liberal hawks” is that they have nothing to say about foreign policy, apart from the claim that “serious” Democrats are obliged to support all of the Bush administration’s foreign policy initiatives based on an ever-changing series of ad hoc rationalizations, while ignoring how the fact that our army is tied down in Iraqi quicksand might affect out ability to deal with actual security threats. And, worst of all, there’s his contention that evidence that the Bush administration lied to the public prior to a war that has killed 1,700 Americans and countless others with no end in sight amounts to nothing more than calling the GOP “meanies.” And, Bush can’t run again, so what business is it of the opposition party to look into gross derelictions of state power? In an L, G & M exclusive, I have acquired a memo Kenneth Baer wrote in 1973:

Why are liberal Democrats in Congress concerned with proving that the Nixon Administration is a bunch of poopy-heads? As I read the Constitution, Nixon can’t run again. What difference does it make what they did? The Democrats need to stop their mindless obstructionism and start developing their own positive policies on illegal wiretapping, robbing offices to find private information, and using the power of the state to intimidate political opponents. The Democrats are proving they don’t know how to govern. Hopefully they will start by launching a series of demagogic attacks on the ultra-liberal college newspaper editors who control the Democratic Party.

I know you won’t believe this, but the argument gets worse:

Second, there’s the conspiratorial, and — at times, anti-Semitic — delusions that are cropping up among the left.

Ah yes, our old friend “the left.” Needless to say, Baer seems to be using the Glenn Reynolds definition–in this case, “the left” seems to consist of “some activists handing out flyers” and “some guy you never heard of who got cut off after 2 minutes.” And in a particularly neat trick, “the left” also now seems to include James Moran, not only an anti-Semite but one of the most reactionary Democrats in Congress. (And he discussed “the left” without even interviewing it!) But, then, this is pretty much the political acumen would one expect from someone who believes that Congressional hearings are a good vehicle for developing positive foreign policy, and that the opposition party in Congress has no business engaging in governmental oversight.

I have the utmost respect for Josh Marshall, but Jeebus, where did he find this guy? Wait–I have the answer:

During the 2004 election, he was a senior advisor to the Lieberman for President campaign…

Yep, that’s somebody I want to get my political advice from. Hopefully, he’ll sign on with Biden in 2008, maybe Zell Miller in 2012–if he plays his cards right, maybe he can be the right-wing Bob Shrum!

Shorter Bobo

[ 0 ] June 19, 2005 |

Having more than one sexual partner in a year is committing moral suicide–unless you’re a reactionary Republican Senator who’s about to marry someone he doesn’t much care for and has been lying to, in which case it’s a sign of great moral fiber.

Species Diversity

[ 0 ] June 18, 2005 |

Erik asks an interesting question:

I am a bit disturbed by this US Forest Service plan to start shooting barred owls who are pushing spotted owls out of their nesting areas. By all accounts that I have read, the barred owls have migrated to the West Coast from the Midwest without any assistance from humans. So should we intervene in this case to keep spotted owl populations up? It’s a tricky question. Humans have destroyed so many of the world’s species that if we can save some, even if they are on their way to dying out naturally, maybe we should. Perhaps some of you are aware of the fate faced by the Tasmanian devils, who have developed a genetic mutation that makes it so they can’t eat and is spread through biting, which the devils do to each other all the time. This mutation is wiping out the population of these animals very quickly. Australian scientists have quarantined some devils to hope they can rebuild the population. But by all accounts, humans have no fault in causing this to happen.

Erik ends up answering in the negative, but I answer in the affirmative. I don’t find much value in authenticity, even when applied to the natural world. If we can save tasmanian devils and spotted owls I’m all for it, even if our primary justification is aesthetic. Nonetheless, an intriguing question.

I Love L.A.?

[ 0 ] June 18, 2005 |

I’m not sure if mine is more accurate or not:

American Cities That Best Fit You:

70% San Francisco
65% Chicago
65% New York City
55% Los Angeles
55% Philadelphia

The #1 choice is correct; NYC should rank above Chicago, but fair. I would rather be in Boston than Philly, but I like the latter. The strange one is LA. Now, I have argued with several people that although I don’t really care for LA it’s one of the 10 best metro areas in the country to live (you think about this a lot when you’re trying to go into academia.) But it’s way below any of these 4, and also way below Seattle and Portland. Not only that, but it would seem that given the questions that the survey would have picked this up. Odd. I’m also not sure why Seattle doesn’t show up; my indifference to outdoorsy stuff and the lack of questions about movies and baseball, maybe. So what are my actual preference rankings? Leaving Canada out of it (and I think only Montreal would crack the list, and the new lack of baseball would take it out of the top 5. Maybe Vancouver–I guess I’d rather live there than LA or San Diego, but very marginally) my actual top 10 urban areas:

1. SF
2. NYC
3. Seattle
4. Chicago
5. Boston
6. Portland
7. Philadelphia
8. DC
9. Minneapolis/St. Paul
10. LA

I guess San Diego might be #11. After that, there would be a huge dropoff, particularly once you got out of California. The other question is what would be #1 choice below the Mason-Dixon line, which hopefully won’t be relevant. Austin? Memphis? I’ve never been to either, so I can’t say, I guess. I can guarantee I won’t retire in Florida, where I have been. Ugh.


[ 0 ] June 18, 2005 |

American Cities That Best Fit You:

60% Honolulu
60% San Diego
60% San Francisco
55% Los Angeles
50% Chicago

Not at all surprised by any of them except Honolulu. I’ve always thought I might like to live in San Diego, and San Francisco has obvious attractions. I guess that Oahu just never popped up on my radar.

Via Lance Mannion.

It’s All a PR Problem

[ 0 ] June 18, 2005 |

Or so say the wingnuts.


Isn’t the administration overdue for some fight-back against the growing unpopularity of the Iraq War? Even if the polls overstate this unpopularity, even if they are driven by an overpessimistic media, the legend could easily become fact. …


In particular of the Bush Administration for not making its case strongly or clearly enough.


But our weakness is back home, on the couch, in front of the tv, on the cable squawk shows, on the editorial page of the New York Times, in the political gotcha games of Washington, DC. It seems America wants to get on with its wonderful Electra-Glide life, that September 10 sense of freedom and security, without finishing the job. The military is fighting, the Iraqi people are fighting, but where is the US political class?


It is anti-military to hand huge propaganda wins to our enemies, isn’t it?

If these people really thought that military action in Iraq was a good idea, and that the war would go well, why did they spend so much time preparing the “stab in the back” narrative? Evidence that the war is going poorly cannot reflect badly on either the military or political personnel associated with its launching. At worst, the glorious leaders have failed to make the public case (which clear headed thinkers like Kaus and Reynolds never needed anyway), but even that failure is mitigated by the apparent hostility of the national media, even if any vaguely objective observer could note that the media has been more subservient to the administration in this conflict that in just about any military conflict in recent history. LBJ and Dick Nixon didn’t have Fox News in their corner, either.

The problem with lying to the public in order to establish a long-term military presence in Iraq is that the public has only a minimal taste for bloody, long-term engagements that don’t really go anywhere. Americans were willing to stand for stationing 300000 troops in Germany for fifty years because nobody was killing our soldiers there on a daily basis. They seem to be less willing to see 135000 slowly ground down in a counter-insurgency conflict that has no apparent end point. There’s nothing particular unusual about this among democracies, as the French had the same problem in Algeria and Vietnam, the Russians have had the same problem in Chechnya, and the British had the same problem in Northern Ireland.

Indeed, as Matt points out, the situation that we have created in Iraq runs directly counter to the aims that neocons have had in this war. Eventually, domestic political considerations will force the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. At that point, whoever is left in Iraq will claim victory. The idea that Americans are casualty averse and cannot tough-out long occupations will be reinforced, and the next military intervention will be that much harder to sell to both domestic and international audiences. Americans are not particularly casualty averse, and I’m inclined to think that they can handle long term occupations as long as the goal seems compelling and progress is clear, but neither of these things will matter. Instead, the reputation for weakness, which is precisely what the neocons wanted to dispel, will be confirmed.

And no stab-in-the-back narrative will change that.


[ 0 ] June 18, 2005 |

Everyone does their duty.

The Marines do their duty by launching yet another offensive with yet another aggressive name (Dagger! Spear!) killing yet another 50 or so insurgents.

Fox News does its duty by trying to convince the rubes that this operation has anything whatsoever to do with the War on Terror.

The New York Times does its duty by reporting, without context or the faintest critical eye, the claims made by the Pentagon.

Warbloggers do their duty by explaining how this operation, just like the fifty before it, will help turn the corner.

Armando does his duty by pointing out that all of the above is nonsense.

In this story alone, there is mention of 500 insurgents killed or captured. Think about that. Say an average of 500 are killed or captured a week, not every couple of days. That makes 26,000 a year. We’re going on two years now of this insurgency.

How many are there again? This sounds like a never ending “last throe” to me.

[ 0 ] June 17, 2005 |

Friday Cat Blogging. . . Henry and Pippin

Torture is the New Cocktail Party

[ 0 ] June 17, 2005 |

There seems to be some consensus among right-wingers that Chris Muir’s unspeakably atrocious Day-to-Day is teh funny, the right-wing Doonesbury. (Admittedly, it helps when your main competition is a crudely drawn duck reading Michelle Malkin columns.) P.Z. finds the incomparable Assrocket touting this particularly loathsome strip Muir barfed up, and Roy finds Hugh Hewitt praising another one. You see, people often like the company of attractive women, loud music, and sweaty sheets, so coercive interrogation is fun!
It really is amazing that so many wingnuts find comparisons that eliminate the rather important differences between consensual and non-consensual activities so clever.

It’s also sickening to see the foppish likes of Hewitt snigger at a comic talking about people being held without charges at Guantanamo being brought rice pilaf. This reminds me of nothing so much as when suburban students talk about how cushy prison inmates have it, with their color TVs and nautilus equipment and all. I think we can all agree that Assrocket and Hewitt should be sent out for a little coercive interrogation, just to show what enviable conditions exist there!

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