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Archive for November, 2006

Nope. That doesn’t sound plausible at all.

[ 0 ] November 2, 2006 |

I’m not one to carry much water for John Kerry, but is there anything more disineguous than the claim that “he’d have been fine” had he only apologized quickly for his remarks yesterday? (See an equally implausible variation on this argument here.) I’m trying to imagine a scenario in which less than a week prior to national elections, with all the tea leaves and sheep intestines indicating significant Democratic gains in Congress, John Hinderaker and Austin Bay would have allowed John Kerry — the most treasoningest, shrapnel-in-the-ass Purple Heart swiftboat fraud, Jane Fonda-loving traitor ever to soil the Senate floor — to walk away unscathed after suggesting that anyone involved with the war on Iraq (the troops, the President, the Hamburglar, whoever) was operating under diminished mental power.

And what are we to make of those who continue to repeat nonsense like this?

[Kerry's] past exploits and efforts to drag the reputation of American soldiers through the mud are absolutely relevant and mean he doesn’t get to pretend that nobody could ever think he’d say something denigrating about the military. If you’ve never been known to raise your hand in anger towards a woman, you can crack a joke about beating your wife and get away with it (even if you shouldn’t). But if you’ve got a history of beating your wife, you don’t get to make jokes about beating your wife without bringing the full weight of society’s suspicion and opprobrium down on you.

Set aside, if you can, the absolutely fucking stupid analogy propping up that paragraph. As to the substance of the complaint, I’ll merely point to a couple of key passages in Kerry’s 1971 Congressional testimony, which is the source of the zoo noises we usually hear from the right on this topic:

But the problem of veterans goes beyond this personal problem, because you think about a poster in this country with a picture of Uncle Sam and the picture says “I want you.” And a young man comes out of high school and says, “That is fine. I am going to serve my country.” And he goes to Vietnam and he shoots and he kills and he does his job or maybe he doesn’t kill, maybe he just goes and he comes back, and when he gets back to this country he finds that he isn’t really wanted, because the largest unemployment figure in the country — it varies depending on who you get it from, the VA Administration 15 percent, various other sources 22 percent. But the largest corps of unemployed in this country are veterans of this war, and of those veterans 33 percent of the unemployed are black. That means 1 out of every 10 of the Nation’s unemployed is a veteran of Vietnam.

The hospitals across the country won’t, or can’t meet their demands. It is not a question of not trying. They don’t have the appropriations. A man recently died after he had a tracheotomy in California, not because of the operation but because there weren’t enough personnel to clean the mucous out of his tube and he suffocated to death.

Another young man just died in a New York VA hospital the other day. A friend of mine was lying in a bed two beds away and tried to help him, but he couldn’t. He rang a bell and there was nobody there to service that man and so he died of convulsions.

I understand 57 percent of all those entering the VA hospitals talk about suicide. Some 27 percent have tried, and they try because they come back to this country and they have to face what they did in Vietnam, and then they come back and find the indifference of a country that doesn’t really care, that doesn’t really care. . . .

[W]e are here to ask vehemently, where are the leaders of our country? Where is the leadership? We are here to ask where are McNamara, Rostow, Bundy, Gilpatric, and so many others. Where are they now that we, the men whom they sent off to war, have returned? These are commanders who have deserted their troops, and there is no more serious crime in the law of war. The Army says they never leave their wounded.

The Marines say they never leave even their dead. These men have left all the casualties and retreated behind a pious shield of public rectitude. They have left the real stuff of their reputations bleaching behind them in the sun in this country….

Requiem for Tower

[ 0 ] November 2, 2006 |

Terry Teachout recently had a WSJ piece about the bankruptcy of Tower Records. Alas, this one will be fatal (and, worse, I found out only after the jazz sections at both the 4th St. and Lincoln Center locations had been all but picked clean.) After singing the praises of the serendipity of browsing in physical stores, he said that he now bought all of his CDs online. Oddly, although I do a lot of online shopping (especially for books), with CDs I always preferred brick and mortar. I liked wandering around stores and being reminded of something, was impatient about getting new releases, liked getting recommendation from the clerk in the local shop who looked like Anna Karina circa 1962, etc.–the whole experience. But I decided to take the hint and with my eye on the P.J. Harvey BBC thing (somebody put her “Wang Dang Doodle on a mix CD a while back–I want to her more where that came from), the strange new Tom Waits project, and the new Joanna Newsom (hard to know what to make of the O’Rourke/Albini/Dyke Parks production/arrangement consortium applied to her music–but, actually, it sounds promising, and my critic friends seem to like what they’ve heard), I decided to suck it up and put in an advance order and hope they’ll arrive close to the release date. Another principle surrendered…

By the way, I just remembered that I forgot to thank Dave N. for his generous purchase of We Jam Econo from what I had assumed was a vestigial wish list. An extra round of Jesus and Tequilla for all!

Not as good as winning a mayonnaise-eating contest, but it’s better than a bowling trophy

[ 0 ] November 1, 2006 |

Readers might be interested to know that nominations for the Cliopatra Awards (for history-related blogs) are being accepted throughout the month of November. Cadillacs and steak knives are being handed out for Best Blog, Best Post, Best Series, Best Group Blog, and Most Convincing Exploration of the Asshattery of Victor Davis Hanson. (Okay, I really just invented that last category, but only because I thought there was a chance I might win).

If anyone should feel motivated to click away from this site, I would strongly recommend nominating Rob’s Sunday Battleship Blogging in the “Best Series” category.

You should also also consider the “Forgotten Americans” series over at Alterdestiny. Erik doesn’t have them archived into a single collection yet, but each Tuesday he writes about someone (or some group) whose contributions to the past have been unnecessarily overlooked. Recent entires have included Myles Horton, The Cahokia Peoples, Diane Nash, James H. Carleton, and Philip Vera Cruz. They’re all worth reading and nominating.

"I seem to have tapped into some deep vein of insanity here"

[ 0 ] November 1, 2006 |

Saith the Derb, in the midst of the kind of circus that compels him to be the voice of reason. Let’s take increasingly pathetic Republican hatchet-woman Ann Althouse, who claims that “Kerry is outrageously lying when he says he wasn’t referring to the troops.” Needless to say, she doesn’t deign to share the evidence underlying that conclusion. Is it Kerry’s tie? Has he put on a few pounds? Based on her commenters, it would seem to be a sort of endless last-refuge-of-a-scoundrel feedback loop: when you start with the evidence-free assertion that John Kerry hates American troops, then all statements made by John Kerry become further evidence that he hates the troops, QED.

Anyway, this is just nonsense. Kerry–a decorated veteran–doesn’t hate the troops, and it would be obvious to a reasonably bright five-year-old that Kerry’s statement was a clumsy joke about Bush. Since others have already quoted the Derb’s first argument, I’ll cite this one:

…from several readers — and, obviously some of my Corner colleagues — that I would dare to suggest that John Kerry was not slandering our troops.

But he wasn’t. He may regard them with contempt (my personal impression is that JK regards most of the human race with contempt); he may despise them; he may think they’re dumb crackers; but T-H-A-T-’-S N-O-T W-H-A-T H-E S-A-I-D.

What he said was: “You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

Who is stuck in Iraq? Not the common soldier, who just does a tour of duty, as Kerry himself knows from (sorry to bring it up) experience. Who’s stuck in Iraq? George W. Bush is stuck in Iraq. That was the point of Kerry’s joke. Which he botched. No fair-minded person, watching Kerry deliver those lines, could think otherwise.

I’m not carrying any water for John Kerry. I wrote this about John Kerry, and a good deal more uncomplimentary stuff besides. I don’t like John Kerry. I didn’t vote for John Kerry. Truth is truth, though, even when applied to John Kerry. If you can’t handle the truth, that’s your problem.

This couldn’t be more straightforward; in John Cole’s words “he was trying to insult the President and not the troops.” You’ll note that even the Cornerites who want to push the story concede that Kerry’s explanation is “plausible” or “likely.” And this non-story is being pushed by the likes of Glenn Reynolds, who couldn’t spend enough time pushing the Swift Boat Liar’s smearing of Kerry’s military service during the campaign. What’s “outrageous” is the likes of Althouse and Reynolds using the troops being put in harm’s way for a disastrous war they’ve both uncritically supported as a prop to allow them to return to their personality-based obsession with John Kerry. What a disgrace.

Feminism: Still Necessary

[ 0 ] November 1, 2006 |

The Happy Feminist and Jessica Valenti draw our attention to a remarkable-in-a-bad-way ruling by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. The court threw out a rape conviction because the judge failed to instruct the jury that a woman could not legally withdraw consent after penetration. The Court’s ruling was based on dicta in a 1980 decision, which it itself was based on common law definitions of rape. The court describes the principles animating the 1980 decision as follows:

But, to be sure, it was the act of penetration that was the essence of the crime of rape; after this initial infringement upon the responsible male’s interest in a woman’s sexual and reproductive functions, any further injury was considered to be less consequential. The damage was done. It was this view that the moment of penetration was the point in time, after which a woman could never be “re-flowered,” that gave rise to the principle that, if a woman consents prior to penetration and withdraws consent following penetration, there is no rape.

The court’s reasoning is unconvincing; it seems highly unlikely that the statute enacted by Maryland in 1976 was intended to reinscribe common law definitions of rape, and by definition the dicta of a 1980 decision are not binding. But whether the court was straining to uphold common law standards that saw rape as a criminal act not because of injury to the victim but because it represents “damage” to an “asset,” or–more frighteningly–it’s an accurate representation of Maryland law in 2006, it’s certainly disgraceful and chilling either way. Hopefully the Maryland Supreme Court will forcefully overturn this court’s decision, but it’s ridiculous that this could even be an issue at this late date.

[Cross-posted to TAPPED.]

Tax Breaks for Dependents=Fascism

[ 0 ] November 1, 2006 |

Matt Duss dredges the depths of the Corner and finds that opposition to abortion and the taking of positive steps to encourage families to have children is the equivalent of fascism. At least, that is, if such steps are taken in Iran. President Ahmadinejad is pushing a program that would limit the work hours of married professionals. Ledeen:

For this is right out of the fascist manual. Indeed, Mussolini once wrote an impassioned introduction to a very boring book (authored by one Richard Korherr, who I do not believe was from Bologna, and called something like “shrinking population, the death of nations”) urging Italians to reproduce like Topsy. And of course Hitler had all those breeding programs, about which I will say no more for fear of being lumped in with Webb and Libby as a foul-mouthed (or is it foul-penned, or foul-keyboarded) sex fiend.

Never mind that conservatives regularly denounce Europe for having an insufficient birthrate to support its social model, or that conservatives support myriad legal and social tools designed to promote the bearing and raising of children, or that social conservatives enthusiastically denounce abortion and birth control. All of those are cool, but when Ahmadinejad does it, he’s a fascist.

There’s no doubt that it’s poor public policy to try and increase Iran’s birthrate at this point, but the tools used by governments to pursue such ends are hardly fascist, and the goals are not limited to fascist regimes.

Cross-posted at TAPPED.

You never have to be wrong…

[ 0 ] November 1, 2006 |

Just because of pesky reality. Just take a lesson from James Glassman and tweak the original claim a little. Like, you know, giving your financial prediction a time horizion almost four times as long as the original prediction.

I can play this game, too.

(November 1st, 2006). I predict that next Tuesday, the Democrats will take the House of Representatives convincingly, and hold it for some time.

(Democrats pick up 8 house seats in 2006, loose them all and then some in the 2008 McCain landslide)

(2009) I stand by my original claim. It’ll just be the 2018 midterms, that’s all.

h/t Ezra

On an unrelated note, tonight I’m heading to Bloomington, Indiana (widely acknowledged as the only decent place in what is otherwise the ugliest state in the union in our ugly state thread). Realistically, this is probably my only visit to Bloomington in the foreseeable future, so if there’s anything one simply shouldn’t miss in Bloomington, do let me know.

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