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Archive for September, 2010

Contract On America 2.0

[ 4 ] September 30, 2010 |

Ed has located the original draft.


Good Point

[ 17 ] September 30, 2010 |


Maybe now is the time to start asking people exactly why ACORN was killed by Congress — and doing something about it.

It is worth noting that prior to exposing himself as such an obvious, creepily misogynist fraud that virtually nobody will defend him, O’Keefe was able to destroy an organization that actually did valuable work with extremely dubious “reporting.” It would be easy to laugh at wingnut “journalists” dedicated to making stuff up — if they weren’t taken seriously in many venues up to and including the United States Congress. And even if this permanently hurts O’Keefe’s career (which I wouldn’t bet on), you know Breitbart is going to keep his seat at the grownup table no matter what.

More From A Rough Week In Movies

[ 3 ] September 30, 2010 |

Arthur Penn and Sally Menke, R.I.P.

This means I definitely need to see Bonnie and Clyde when it screens at the Palace in a couple months. To be honest, on small screen viewings it has seemed to me a pretty good movie and nothing more than that. In part, I’m sure, this is because its more innovative aspects have become commonplace — but you can say the same thing about, say, L’Aventurra or The Wild Bunch or Vivre sa Vie, all of which hold up a lot better for me. But, then, I’ve seen all off the latter ones in proper big-screen showings, so maybe I’m missing something. And I’ve always liked Night Moves

Glenn also has more on Tony Curtis here.

“Every Movie I’ve been in has Ended Up on Television”

[ 4 ] September 30, 2010 |

RIP Tony Curtis.

And I can’t seem to find an embeddable version of this clip in English:

His superiors no doubt consider him the most prestigious feather in their cap.*

[ 38 ] September 30, 2010 |

A few months back, during an exchange which still bothers me for all the obvious reasons, The Donalde defended himself against my charge that certain of his posts created a hostile learning environment for female students with a riposte in which he claimed that

This is a private blogging matter. American Power is hosted on Blogger. None of my college identification pages link to my blog. I recommend my blog for students to read, on a voluntary, non-assignment basis. Occasionally I’ll pull up an academic post in class as a lecture launcher—and actually, THAT’S A GOOD TEACHING THING!

At the time, my response was to mock him via translation:

“This blog is a private, unaffiliated entity that I recommend students read and display in class.”

But now I can’t help but wonder what “GOOD TEACHING THING!” he recommended his students read could have resulted in this:

I’m sure there must be some grand misunderstanding between The Donalde and Photobucket about the “Women” he posted as examples (exemplars?) of “Weekday Hotness,” just as I’m sure that none of the female students he encourages to read his blog will be the least bit disturbed that their professor’s “Babe Blogging” is so pornographic that Photobucket refuses to host the “image or video” he wanted to post.

That … or the opposite.  Because in all seriousness, the line The Donalde regularly crosses is the one ethical professors do their damnedest to avoid. Tenure has made a monster of him, and for the sake of his wife and children and students, I hope (but doubt) it only emerges online.  After all, what spouse or student or spawn would respect a tenured professor who posted pornography to score a few random hits from perverts?

*I’m not reneging on my promise not to mock The Donalde again, I’m just genuinely disturbed by his behavior.

The fact that it sounds like they’re planning a rape is a coincidence.

[ 35 ] September 29, 2010 |

While the fact that none of the major conservative blogs have rushed to O’Keefe’s defense is amusing, the document CNN acquired is not.  Or only differently.  It contains statements like:

That the people planning the prank—O’Keefe included—know that O’Keefe’s normal persona (or “personality”) is “sleazy” shows improved judgment on their part, at least as concerns character.  Association?  Not so much.  Most reasonable people would rather not associate with someone they consider sleazy.  They also seem to have a problem with hyphens and parallelism (or a very odd notion of what goes on necklaces), but grammar is less significant than the fact that they believed she would fall for something “entirely over the top.”

Going over the top, much less “entirely over the top,” involves creating situations that cross beyond the boundary of believability and into the realm of the unbelievable. The unbelievable (yet merely exaggerated) persona O’Keefe would have employed wouldn’t have been an element of the prank so much as its undoing.  Even if circumstances conspired such that his dress and demeanor didn’t tip Abbie Boudreau off—for example, she could have gone to an eye doctor for an ear infection and boarded the boat with her ears plugged and eyes dilated—the room he had planned for her quickly would:

Read more…

CNN is Not Amused

[ 16 ] September 29, 2010 |

Everything about this story is amusing, but I found the transcript of O’Keefe’s phone call particularly indicative of CNN’s attitude towards the affair:

“I just want to talk,” O’Keefe told Boudreau on the phone. “I just want to have a, you know, meeting with you, and talk to you face to face about this. Because, I don’t, I feel sort of, let’s just say reserved about, about letting people into my sort of inner sanctum, about letting, letting people sort of take a glimpse into, into, behind the scenes, so that’s why you know, I just feel more comfortable if it was just me and you and we just had a face-to-face meeting before I agree to, to let you guys come out and shoot the video shoot out there.”

Normally, a network edits out the “uh, a, you know” from a quote. When they don’t, it’s clear that they’re happy to let you sound like a moron.

UPDATE BY SEK: First person to say what the sites discussing this story have in common wins a cookie:

Buck Up or Stay in the Truck!

[ 47 ] September 29, 2010 |

When Taibbi’s on there’s no political journalist who makes better reading, and the white conservative Republicans re-branded as the “Tea Party” inspires some of his best work.

After you finish it, you may want to read Douthat’s recent assertions that the teabaggers are just as mad at the Republicans and have a principled belief in “fiscal rectitude,” which is definitely good for a few laughs. Omitted: an explanation for why this nonpartisan belief failed to manifest itself when fiscally incontinent Republicans actually controlled the government.

Metrics for Winning Hearts and Minds

[ 7 ] September 28, 2010 |

I often find myself in disagreement with Amitai Etzioni, but he does makes some sense in his recent Politico op-ed on Petraeus’ “metrics” for progress in Afghanistan:

The newest way General Petraeus plans to measure success in the war in Afghanistan reminded me of what the government did when its campaign to persuade the public to stop smoking did not make much headway. It stopped counting how many people had had their last cigarette – and started counting how many anti-smoking pamphlets it mailed.

…Gen. Petraeus has outlined five metrics of military success, including: ‘the elimination of Taliban sanctuaries outside the city of Kandahar and continued targeting of senior and mid-level insurgent leaders by U.S. Special Operations forces, an increase in the disappointing number of Taliban fighters brought into a government reintegration scheme, the development of newly authorized local defense forces, and improvement in the capabilities of Afghanistan’s national security forces.’

These measurements correlate very poorly with what the U.S. is seeking and with what General Petraeus argued to date was what he sought to achieve. Petraeus is famous for his counterinsurgency strategy, according to which one cannot win the war militarily, but only by building a ‘legitimate and effective’ government composed of the citizens of the country, so that those who would rebel will be enticed to come in from the cold.

True. The “metrics” the US needs to be looking for are the extent to which civilian sentiment is moving toward the government rather than toward the Taliban. But then Etzioni tells us that’s not happening – through reference to the same kind of irrelevant indicators (like how many areas the Taliban hold) that tell us something about Taliban strength but nothing about the views of the Afghan citizenry on the legitimacy of the government or US presence in the country:

To measure progress on this front one, would have to know, for instance, that, if following the last election, the public does feel that the Karzai government is more representative and less fraudulent? Hardly. Does the public feel that the Karzai government and its local representatives, including the police and army, are less corrupt? No indication to this effect. Do they feel minimally secure in their homes and public spaces? Evidence shows to the contrary; the Taliban has been spreading in the northern, non-Pashtun areas of Afghanistan and holding on to most of the Southern ones. According to the Afghan NGO Safety Office, Afghanistan is more dangerous now than at any time since 2001. Four years ago, insurgents were active in only four Afghan provinces. Now, they are active in 33 of 34.

Etzioni doesn’t cite the data he is quoting from, but recent polling data – precisely the type you would look at if you wanted to gauge Afghan sentiment re. their government and ISAF forces – suggests his interpretation is a wee bit too gloomy. Read more…


[ 7 ] September 28, 2010 |

Reds win the NL Central.

Distinctly Not Terrified

[ 37 ] September 28, 2010 |

Wittes, responding to Adam Serwer:

In other words, Adam’s fear that “the president can have someone executed on his say-so based on mere suspicion of a crime” does not describe the claimed power properly. The better description would read: “The president has the power to target a U.S. national whom he concludes in good faith is meaningfully at war with the United States, who lies beyond its law enforcement capacities, and whose capture he cannot effectuate without undue risk to forces.”

Now, I don’t mean to suggest that this power is less than awesome. It is terrifying. Indeed, I can think of only a few things in this space more terrifying than a presidency with the power to kill its citizens, even under these very limited circumstances. One of them, however, is a presidency that lacks this power–one barred by law from attacking citizens even when those citizens make war against it and when it has no other available means of neutralizing them.

Really? Wittes finds a world in which the President cannot order the killing of Anwar Al Aulaqi “terrifying”? I think that I need a bit more elaboration on this point, because I’m not sure that I would be able to get past “mildly disconcerted,” which would then be suitably overwhelmed by the aforementioned terror of a presidency with the power to kill its citizens. It seems to me that a legal inability to target Anwar Al Aulaqi for assassination has, at worst, a series of mildly inconvenient consequences; we have to undertake steps to arrest him, or we have to kill him in a genuine battlefield context, or we have to endure his (frankly) trivial contribution to Al Qaeda’s campaign against the United States.

Even if we take this argument to its natural extreme, I’m not sure I find myself “terrified”. The worst case scenario appears to be that there would be real limits on the ability of some future Abraham Lincoln to order the assassination of a future Jefferson Davis with a drone strike. Even at this level, the restriction doesn’t seem to be wholly unreasonable, much less “terrifying.”

Linky Linky…

[ 5 ] September 28, 2010 |

Some lazy blogging on a Tuesday evening…

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