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Archive for January, 2007

Is Maureen Dowd Necessary?

[ 0 ] January 31, 2007 |

Ugh.

What’s frustrating is not only that this shallow, misogynist claptrap is filling up op-ed space at the Times, but that Dowd is often portrayed as a liberal and sometimes even as a feminist.

…or, to put it another way, the Times is the organization that fired Molly Ivins but continues to sign Dowd’s paychecks.

I’m Pretty Sure…

[ 0 ] January 31, 2007 |

…that there is no way to reconcile liberal democracy with rulership by presidential decree. At best, you’ve got Carl Schmitt democracy, in which a leader by acclaim gets to rule until he doesn’t.

Nuclear Diplomacy

[ 0 ] January 31, 2007 |

I have a piece up at TAP on nuclear diplomacy and the Iranian nuclear program.

In All Fairness

[ 0 ] January 31, 2007 |

Norbiz on the hapless Joe Biden: “Is it a mitigating factor if he plagiarized that condescending compliment from a Mississippi housewife describing Nat King Cole in 1964?”

This is a Bad Joke

[ 0 ] January 31, 2007 |

I understand why the Air Force is going to be stepping up patrols along the Iraq-Iran border. The USAF needs to be able to tell Congress that it’s contributing in a positive way to the war effort, and the Bush administration needs to blame its failure in Iraq on Iran. Stupidity explained is not stupidity excused, however. The whole project stinks of the absurd. The Iran-Iraq border is very long, very poorly patrolled, and sees a tremendous amount of traffic, especially in southern areas. The idea that a few more fighter-bombers zipping along the border are going to do anything to reduce the (largely imaginary) traffic in weapons and IEDs is just silly.

The Air Force’s problem is that it believes its PR. Of limited use even in a conventional conflict, the promiscuous use of airpower is downright counter-productive in a counter-insurgency conflict:

A counterinsurgency manual developed by Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the new U.S. commander in Iraq, only briefly mentions air power in fighting the insurgency. And the commander of day-to-day operations, Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, comes from a background in heavy infantry units, traditionally less dependent on air power.Some military officers have argued that dropping bombs in dense Baghdad neighborhoods would be counterproductive, and Petraeus has warned commanders against operations that might alienate the local population.

Stymied by its more sensible Army and Marine counterparts, the Air Force searches for alternatives:

Thomas G. McInerney, a retired Air Force lieutenant general who advocates military strikes in Iran, said U.S. planes along the border could be better used to keep bomb-making materials out of Iraq.

“We know they are doing this. Why do we accept it?” McInerney said. “For every [improvised explosive device] that goes off in Iraq, a bomb should go off in Iran.”

This is a position which, I daresay, would make even the craziest of wingnuts blush. I really have to wonder whether all of this doesn’t find its origin in a frustrated 35 year desire to pound “Charlie” as he came down the Ho Chi Minh Trail…

The Exception Trap

[ 2 ] January 31, 2007 |

The South Dakota legislature is planning to reintroduce an abortion ban that (unlike the law overturned by initiative last year) includes exemptions for rape and incest. Jessica Valenti notes that “this is going to mean a change of fighting words on our part. After all, a lot of what pro-choicers talked about when trying to defeat the last ban was the lack of exceptions.”

Although I can understand that sometimes you have to take advantage of what opportunities you have in the short-term, I’ve always thought that from a pro-choice perspective focusing on the lack of a rape or incest exemption is a disastrous long-term strategy. First of all, in practice rape/incest exemptions are unlikely to afford much protection to women, so women don’t really gain anything. Given the compressed time frame, states determined to prevent abortions can make the procedural hurdles to proving that a pregnancy was the result of non-consensual sex so difficult and humiliating that most women who could clear them could probably obtain abortions under any legal regime anyway. And second, to imply that forcing women to carry pregnancies to term is uniquely bad in cases of rape or incest is to essentially accept the reactionary sexual mores that underly the criminalization of abortion in the first place. Implicit in such exceptions is the assumption that if a women gets pregnant through voluntary sexual relations she can be punished by being forced to carry her pregnancy by the coercive authority of the state; rape victims get a pass because they didn’t “choose” to become pregnant. To pro-choicers, this should be viewed as nonsensical. A woman’s reproductive freedom should not depend on whether or not she is a victim of rape or incest. As the South Dakota case demonstrates, pushing pro-life positions toward their logical conclusion is the much better strategy.

[Also at TAPPED.]

RedState.org’s Guide To Defending Apartheid

[ 0 ] January 31, 2007 |

Via Thers, I see that Paul J. Cella and Maximos–RedStaters who articulate Strom Thurmond’s political views in prose that suggests that they think Josh Trevino could use a little more pomposity–have put forward a “reactionary catechism.” Apparently, one central feature is that Jim Crow was a just social order:

¶ A healthy polity will have a majority population and culture; contemporary orthodoxy on diversity tends towards anarchy and strife.

¶ The right of a community to maintain its identity, autonomy, and independence is among the first principles of a free polity.

[...]

¶ Tradition and custom need not constantly explain or justify themselves as practice or policy. The presumption is in their favor. To drag them before the bar of a rigid rationalism is profound impiety.

¶ Men, and societies of men, are ultimately more apt to maintain loyalties among those who are like them. This is natural and not to be either deplored or extirpated, but rather disciplined by civic virtue.

[...]

¶ Indiscriminate blending of cultures is thus undesirable, and more often than not an at least implicit act of aggression against the existing majority culture.

[...]

¶ Voting is not a right but a privilege. Its abuse is rampant, and to contain it is a valid object of public policy. More damaging to a republic than corrupt politicians are corrupt voters.

[...]

¶ The American traditions of federalism, states’ rights, and localism deserve the deepest respect and cultivation: for in them is the truest protection of liberty.

Loverly. It’s not just that these principles would logically require defending apartheid against the federal government’s attempts to enforce the Constitution–although they certainly would–but that these were the arguments that were used. I guess the precise reference isn’t Strom Thurmond, but Bill Buckley circa 1957

I look forward to RedState’s endorsement of Joe Biden.

Mythical Spit

[ 0 ] January 31, 2007 |

Jack Shafer has a terrific piece debunking the myth (recently seen in Newsweek) that Vietnam vets were routinely spit on:

In researching the book, Lembcke found no news accounts or even claims from the late 1960s or early 1970s of vets getting spat at. He did, however, uncovered ample news stories about anti-war protesters receiving the saliva shower from anti-anti-war types.

Then, starting around 1980, members of the Vietnam War generation began sharing the tales, which Lembcke calls “urban myths.” As with most urban myths, the details of the spat-upon vets vary slightly from telling to telling, while the basic story remains the same. The protester almost always ambushes the soldier in an airport (not uncommonly the San Francisco airport), after he’s just flown back to the states from Asia. The soiled soldier either slinks away or does nothing.

No title will do this justice

[ 0 ] January 30, 2007 |

Shorter TIDOS Yankee: “Should I be an irresponsible piece of shit? Allow me to present my case.”

Observe:

I’m presenting working on what will likely be my last post on the Jamil Hussein/Hurriyah mosque attacks debacle. [ed.-- sweet bleeding Jesus, this is good news!] I’ve got some emails out to several sources and the AP itself attempting to tie up loose ends, and I won’t write a final draft until those addressed have a reasonable amount of time to respond.

I did, however, have one question I addressed to all of those I queried, that I’d like to ask my readers as well:

Should I “out” Jamil, revealing his real, full, and complete name?

Now, I have few doubts that Bob Owens suffers from delusions of grandeur and that the actual identity of Jamil Hussein has been revealed to him by a tiny green Martian that only he can see as it floats effortlessly over his right shoulder. Whatever madcap hilarity this might produce, his posts of late have been soaked with an air of self-importance that he has not in fact deserved — constantly announcing without irony that he’s “awaiting Kathleen Carroll’s response” to whatever lightly toasted ideas he’s sent forth into the void; making vague and dramatic references to his “sources” in The ‘Raq; and generally carrying on like an asshole.

This, however, shows once and for all — as if we needed further confirmation — that cracked, wingnut warbloggers will never be mistaken for actual journalists.

"My Third-grader Gets it Right. Why Can’t You, You Prick?"

[ 0 ] January 30, 2007 |

Via a commenter chez Yglesias, a classic from August J. Pollack.

Your entire life is a warning to others

[ 0 ] January 30, 2007 |

So about 20 people have already e-mailed this story to me. Now I know what happened to our power on Sunday:

About 10,000 Juneau residents briefly lost power after a bald eagle lugging a deer head crashed into transmission lines.

“You have to live in Alaska to have this kind of outage scenario,” said Gayle Wood, an Alaska Electric Light & Power spokeswoman. “This is the story of the overly ambitious eagle who evidently found a deer head in the landfill.”

I feel awful for the eagle, but what the hell was a deer head doing in the landfill?

I’d Like to Apply the Quicken Spell Feat to Spill Red Ink

[ 0 ] January 30, 2007 |

When nerd worlds clash, hilarity ensues.

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