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Archive for July, 2008

Linky Linky…

[ 0 ] July 29, 2008 |

Some stuff to link to before it slips through the cracks:

Priorities

[ 24 ] July 28, 2008 |

Shorter Bush administration: “Indirectly punishing partisan opponents is more important than effectively opposing terrorism.” (Via Atrios.)

Scumbaggery

[ 20 ] July 28, 2008 |

Press release this morning from the McCain campaign:

For Immediate Release
Contact: Press Office
Monday, July 28, 2008
703-650-5550
ARLINGTON, VA — Today, Chief Warrant Officer (4th class) Michael J. Durant (Ret.) issued the following statement on Barack Obama’s canceled visit to Ramstein and Landstuhl:
“Over the last week, Barack Obama made time in his busy schedule to hold a rally with 200,000 Germans in Berlin, hold a press conference with French President Nicholas Sarkozy in Paris, and hold a solo press conference in front of 10 Downing Street in London. The Obama campaign had also scheduled a visit with wounded U.S. troops at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, but this stop was canceled after it became clear that campaign staff, and the traveling press corps, would not be allowed to accompany Senator Obama.
“I’ve spent time at Ramstein recovering from wounds received in the service of my country, and I’m sure that Senator Obama could have made no better use of his time than to meet with our men and women in uniform there. That Barack Obama believes otherwise casts serious doubt on his judgment and calls into question his priorities.”
Michael Durant, CW4 (Retired), US Army; born July 23, 1961 in Berlin, NH. He entered the United States Army in August 1979. Following basic training he attended the Defense Language Institute, and was then assigned to the 470th Military Intelligence Group, Fort Clayton, Panama as a Spanish voice intercept operator. He then completed helicopter flight training at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Upon appointment to Warrant Officer 1 in November 1983, he completed the UH60 Black Hawk Qualification Course and was assigned to the 377th Medical Evacuation Company, Seoul Korea. His next assignment was with the 101st Aviation Battalion, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he performed duties as an instructor pilot.
Michael joined the 160th Special Operations Group on August 1, 1988. Assigned to D company, he performed duties as Flight Lead and Standardization Instructor Pilot. He participated in combat operations Prime Chance (Persian Gulf in 1989), Just Cause (Panama invasion in 1989), Desert Storm (Liberation of Kuwait in 1991), and Gothic Serpent (Somalia in 1993).
On October 3, 1993, while piloting an MH60 Black Hawk in Mogadishu, Somalia, he was shot down and held captive by hostile forces. He was released eleven days later.

***

Of course like everybody over 12 and an IQ above 89 I realize politics is a dirty business, but even by the low standards of the profession this kind of thing is pretty egregious. I doubt McCain would dare try it if the media weren’t so historically in the tank for him.

Now we’ll get a cycle of stories about the “controversy,” with the controversy being whether Barack Obama really cares about the troops.

Edit: James in the comments points to this MSNBC story (via TPM) indicating even McCain’s strictly factual claims about the cancelled visit are false.

Is It News?

[ 28 ] July 28, 2008 |

Emily Bazelon and Hanna Rosin discuss the news value of the National Enquirer story about John Edwards’s alleged affair. Both score some points. I guess that in a world where Maureen Dowd can win a Pulitzer Prize it’s hard to dispute that under existing standards “it “is news, absolutely clearly and by any definition I can think of.” From Edwards’s standpoint, if he did it he had to know the risks he was taking and can’t be shocked that he was exposed. Modern politics, for better or worse, means that you can’t expect discretion about your private affairs. After all, in this campaign we’ve seen the Paper of Record engage in innuendos about John McCain with less basis than this.

Having said that, on a normative level — if we ask whether this should be considered news by the serious press — Rosin is right. It is unlikely that Edwards will be a candidate for vice presidency, and as for the possibility that he could be Attorney General, please. I don’t recall extensive discussions about Michael Mukasey’s sex life during his confirmation hearings, almost as if they were completely irrelevant to his performance in office. The analogies with Craig and Vitter are null, and not only because there’s no contradiction with any policy being advocated by Edwards. Edwards wasn’t testifying in open court. The mainstream media didn’t discuss Craig’s sexual proclivities until he was arrested and his colleagues demanded he resign, both of which are actual news (although the coverage was, I think, greatly overblown and calls on him to resign ridiculous.) In the midst of this gruesome thigh-rubbing, Roger L. Simon cries crocodile tears about how “playing this game while his wife had cancer makes it contemptible beyond words.” Leaving aside that if I were his wife I would (as Rosin says) prefer to be left alone, what would Simon say about an actual current candidate for President who cheated on and then unceremoniously dumped his wife after she was in a horrible accident? Why, he would support him, of course. Because when you get down to cases almost nobody really thinks that this kind of thing matters in evaluating candidates for higher office; it’s a way of trashing people you already dislike for independent political reasons. And this is entirely appropriate.

So, basically, the current confinement of the story to the National Enquirer seems exactly right, and I hope it both continues and (while we’re dreaming) is applied more consistently.

Supply and Demand Is Over…If You Want It!

[ 0 ] July 28, 2008 |

Shorter John McCain: “Economists don’t understand that a gas tax holiday will work to significantly reduce gas prices because I’m going to have oil companies sit down and tell them to cut the bullshit.”

One one have thought that the Republican candidate’s intellectual capacity and command of policy detail could only go up, but apparently not.

Far Beyond Roe

[ 10 ] July 28, 2008 |

For those who think that the threat John McCain poses to American women is the anti-Roe median vote he would try to put on the Supreme Court, Kate Sheppard and Kathy G. make clear that the problems a McCain presidency would pose would go far beyond this. One of the many valuable things about Kate’s piece is her point that Democrats need John McCain to be forced to clarify his very reactionary position on abortion as much as possible. I would also suggest that an anti-McCain ad on the subject should start with his support for the too-draconian-for-South-Dakota abortion ban and go from there.

Kagan

[ 0 ] July 28, 2008 |

From Marc Lynch’s summary of a US Institute for Peace panel he attended last week.:

Finally, Kim Kagan shocked me with a comment made forcefully, twice, once towards the end of her prepared remarks and again at the opening of her closing remarks: the future of Iraq depends primarily on American decisions, not Iraqi decisions. I found this extraordinarily revealing: for her it really is all about us. This infantilizes Iraqis – and [. . .] demands nothing of them, since it is American decisions and will which matter and not theirs. Such a world-view, characteristic of so much neoconservative foreign policy thinking, explains a great deal. How could one possibly contemplate drawing down American forces, after all, if American actions are the only actions that matter, American power the only power which matters, American decisions the only decisions which matter? Why would it matter what Maliki says, or what Iraqi politicians or public opinion polls say, if what really matters is only ultimately us?

Because, as Kagan has argued before, that’s all that’s ever mattered:

At the end of the day, the United States is not in Iraq for the benefit of the Iraqis. American forces are not fighting to allow Iraqi leaders to make hard choices. The U.S. is engaged in Iraq in pursuit of its own interests in fighting terrorism and resisting Iranian destabilization and hegemony. Reconciliation agreements within the Iraqi parliament are part of what is required to secure those interests over the long term, but they are not now and never have been the reason for the presence of American combat forces in Iraq.

I assume this is probably the sort of remark that Kagan actually made at the panel, though I’d be interested to see the transcript. It’s not even worth commenting on Kagan’s sleight-of-hand there — arguing that the US is in Iraq to “fight terrorism” and resist Iran when, as everyone knows, the war has served as a compost box for terrorism while abetting, through the profound incompetence of its planners, the expansion of Iranian influence in the region.

The more immediately relevant point is that it shows why some of the war’s apologists are able to insist that their unconditional vision for the US in Iraq amounts to unconditional support for the Iraqi government and its people. It’s breathtakingly simple, I suppose, to support a potentially endless mission in Iraq when you can’t imagine that your decision to leave might have anything to do with the wishes of your hosts. Under those circumstances, I would guess it’s possible to imagine that everything amounts to consent if not enthusiastic gratitude.

Random Film Links

[ 0 ] July 28, 2008 |
  • Self-Styled Siren on Le Crime de Monsieur Lange (and the number of great movies still unavailable on Region 1 DVD).
  • Michael Wood on David Lean.
  • Glen Kenney on Bresson.
  • David Edelstein gets, as one would expect, a considerable amount of negative feedback for being a Dark Knight detractor (I’m not endorsing his view; I haven’t seen it yet.) In the course of the post, he says that “It took awhile for the fanboys to come around to the consensus that The Phantom Menace was inept — I got death wishes for that review, too.” As I’ve said before, it wasn’t just fanboys but a remarkably large number of professional critics who for whatever reason were compelled to be apologetic: check out the number of 60+ scores for a stupefyingly dull movie with a level of acting and writing well below the standards of a typical made-for-Lifetime joint. To correct the historical record, it was Masterpiece-A-Week Maslin, not Elvis Mitchell, who slobbered all over Lucas’s stillbirth in the Times.

Evolution Happens Quickly These Days!

[ 0 ] July 27, 2008 |

The formerly significant gap in math SAT scores between men and women has essentially been erased.

Radical Country Club Ivory Tower Negro Elitist Snubs Troops

[ 3 ] July 27, 2008 |

While engaging in quasi-fascist workout regimen on foreign soil.

Via the Straight Talk Express.

True = Funny

[ 12 ] July 27, 2008 |

This is a fantastic piece of performance art:

What I love best about No Quarter is the smart, lively debate about issues of critical concern, the colorful and flamboyant language that is often enough wildly clever and can be knee-slapping funny…

But, beware of Trolls who can ruin the party. Trolls have been around since the Internet began, sort of like how maggots emerge from good fruit. The usual definition is someone who has no real interest in lively debate but rather aims to sabotage the post by making irrelevant, often inflammatory diatribes that disrupt the communication process.

I couldn’t agree more. Because a vigilant citizenry is ill-served by pranksters who would stoop to —

holy crap! Barack Obama is a Republican Manchurian candidate concocted in the undersea laboratory run by Donna Brazille and Karl Rove! Cue the videotape! Cue the videotape!

Saturday Food Chain Blogging

[ 8 ] July 26, 2008 |



It’s hard out there for a salmon. Better luck next time, my friend.

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