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Spanish speakers? They’re not really as American as the rest of us…

[ 0 ] April 28, 2006 |

I seem to recall a little while ago that all the wingnuts were in a rage because immigration demonstrators didn’t wave enough American flags. Today, Dear Leader made clear that patriotism in Spanish just isn’t quite as good as patriotism in English.

That Bush’s claim is appalling doesn’t particularly surprise me. More importantly, it seems really stupid and hamfisted; how many of the people on the right who find this issue important are going to be swayed to vote by this? Bush has just made a symbolic identification of the English language with American identity. This is quite a bit different than making a practical argument (one that I think most people, including immigrants, agree with) that English is necessary to doing well in the United States. Moreover, it would seem a perfect issue for Democrats to use in the Spanish language media. The President has made clear that the Spanish language isn’t good enough to sing the national anthem in; by extension, Spanish speakers are second class citizens.

When you have to appeal to the bigots, you’re eventually going to step in it, and I think that’s what the President just did.

Huh?

[ 0 ] April 28, 2006 |

I admit to being a bit staggered by Ezra:

So far as Flight 93 goes, various folks have convinced me that the plane was actually shot down by scrambled fighter jets. I don’t tend to go in for conspiracies, and I don’t think it much matters one way or the other, but I basically trust the sources here. As I understand it, the way the plane’s wreckage lay wasn’t consistent with an on-the-ground crash, but rather with an in-air explosion. Various parts of the engine were miles away from each other, debris was found eight miles from the crash site, etc. If you’re interested, there’s a collection of info here, but as I said before, I fail to see how it matters.

Apparently Amanda Marcotte believes the same thing. I think it’s absurd; indeed, I think that it goes a fair bit beyond absurd. You have to believe that the Bush administration would willingly (and, really, in a few minutes) concoct a cover-up for something that was genuinely justified. If a fighter shot down United 93 on the orders of someone in the Bush administration, there would have been, literally, zero political heat. If, on the other hand, the administration had managed to shoot down 93 and quickly covered it up, there would be enormous heat if the facts ever got out. Given that the administration can barely be bothered to cover up the things it should be ashamed of (Gitmo, Abu Ghraib), you’ve got a long way to go to convince me that something happened here other than the standard narrative. If Cheney/Bush ordered Flight 93 to be shot down, they’re heroes; why wouldn’t they publicize it?

Part of the problem, I suspect, is that most people genuinely don’t understand how bureaucratic organizations, including the ones tasked with national security, function. They operate by a set of standard procedures fixed around expected threats. When other threats materialize, it can be difficult for them to shift focus in short periods of time. It’s not at all difficult for me to believe that the fighters scrambled over Washington did nothing useful on the morning of September 11.

Please, leave the conspiracy theories to the right-wingers who believe that Saddam Hussein sent all the WMD to Syria…

Jackie Fisher who are you Dreadnought

[ 0 ] April 28, 2006 |

Heh. Indeed.

According to Judge Smith:

“Jackie Fisher was England’s greatest admiral after Nelson, and was responsible for the creation of the Dreadnought, which was launched nearly exactly 100 years to the day of the start of the trial,” the judge wrote in an e-mail message. “Nevertheless, he has been airbrushed out of history.”

I’m not sure that either of those is the case. Surely Fisher deserves some credit for revitalizing the Royal Navy at the beginning of the twentieth century, but it’s not as if all-big gun ships would have failed to appear if he hadn’t been around. South Carolina and Michigan were already designed when Dreadnought was laid down, as was Satsuma. Moreover, Fisher had his share of disasters, including battlecruisers that exploded at the drop of a pin and useless light cruisers intended to foray into the Baltic Sea. I doubt the assertion that he’s been airbrushed out of history, either; he is featured quite prominently in Massey’s excellent books about the German and British battleships, and remains well known among naval enthusiasts.

Nevertheless, kind of cool…

[ 0 ] April 28, 2006 |


Friday Cat Blogging… Nelson and Starbuck

Why Not Then?

[ 0 ] April 27, 2006 |

Sorry, last Corner today:

Shorter Michael Ledeen: If you generals didn’t like Rumsfeld’s plan in 2003, why didn’t you just lead a coup? People who believe in civilian control of the military are such pussies…

Meditating on the Uselessness of Jonah Goldberg

[ 0 ] April 27, 2006 |

Wandering throught the morass that is the Corner revealed this, from our good pal Jonah:

PREDICTION [Jonah Goldberg]

This is off the cuff, so it should be taken with ample grains of salt.

The Tony Snow appointment, fair and unfairly, will be remembered as the begining of a Bush turn around in the polls. The press will like Tony, particularly at first. The base will like all the stories about a person critical of Bush from the Right is in there. And his reported plan to have the President and the Press Secretary make news rather than react to it, will put Bush in a more favorable light. In other news, the Iraqi new government is a good sign. Oil prices seem to be trending down a bit. The staff shake-up at the White House will put some new energy in there. The return of Judiciary hearings on judges will remind lots of people why they vote Republican.

Also, Bush really couldn’t go much lower in the polls. The pendulum nature of politics suggests that its easier for him to win back former supporters than for him to lose anymore of his loyalist, hardcore base.

If Bush goes higher in the polls, expect Democrats to panic and hit Bush much harder. If that happens the attacks may work and push him back down or halt his rise. Or, they may make Democrats look worse. Who knows?

Note to Jonah: a post that beings with the title “Prediction” should not end with a paragraph that allows that anything might happen, and most definitely should not end with the sentence “Who knows?” I mean, there are other problems; Republicans are not known for liking critics of George W. Bush, no one is known for watching Judiciary hearings, and I’m really not sure that oil prices are trending downwards ($71.05 at the moment). But at least these last are part of an actual PREDICTION, which, you know, ought to predict something. Otherwise, you might as well just name the post “Waffle”.

New Contest: The Wingnutty Meld

[ 0 ] April 27, 2006 |

Via Matt comes this gem.

Given Cliff and Stanley’s aptly alarming posts, and the other news that Iran is talking about sharing its nascent nuke know-how with Sudan (where bin Laden just told all the jihadists they should head in last week’s tape), I have a simple question I’d love to hear Congress answer:

Can the United States afford to take any action against Iran if our southern border is not secure?

[...]

The retaliation we most have to worry about is a nuclear attack against our homeland.

The easiest way to get a nuke into the United States may well be the southern border. (The ports may be equally easy or a close second, I acknowledge.)

Andy has managed the feat of suggesting, first, that Iran already has nukes, an opinion not shared by any significant expert on nuclear weapons. He then manages to use the specter of Iranian nuclear weapons to justify what would be, essentially, the construction of a wall between the US and Mexico.

It’s not important here to note that it would be easier for Iran to sneak a nuke into the US through a container ship, or on a yacht, or, for crying out loud, through the longer and less well defended border with Canada. This is high wingnuttery, and ought to be recognized as an achievement unto itself. In honor of Andy, I’m initiating a new contest: The Wingnutty Meld.

The object of the Wingnutty Meld is to connect, through the most strained logic possible, two or more absurd wingnut concepts with one another. Bonus points if you can provide an example of a wingnut making the argument you identify. Best answer gets a LGM certificate of championship-ness.

Examples:

Can the United States afford to stay in the United Nations if the menace of gay marriage remains alive in Massachusetts?

Can the United States afford to take any action against Iran while we still have progressive taxation?

UPDATE: This, from Chris, is excellent, but entries are still being accepted:

Can we continue to have public schools if they lead to all this multiculturalism, teenage sex, the attack on public displays of religion, sympathy for the homosexual agenda, and increased property taxes, which are dangerous without the adoption of the gold standard, which places us at risk economically and militarily with China’s stockpiling of gold, and since China is connected to North Korea, which is part of the Axis of Evil with Iran, which will use our southern borders to smuggle in a dirty bomb, public schools cannot be allowed to continue to exist unless we have a wall keeping illegal immigrants from Mexico out of the United States.

Caprica

[ 0 ] April 26, 2006 |

Fascinating.

‘CAPRICA’

From executive producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick (‘Battlestar Galactica’), writer Remi Aubuchon (’24′) and NBC Universal Television Studio, this new series is set over a half a century before the events that play out in ‘Battlestar Galactica.’ The people of the Twelve Colonies are at peace and living in a society not unlike our own, but where high-technology has changed the lives of virtually everyone for the better. But a startling breakthrough in robotics is about to occur, one that will bring to life the age-old dream of marrying artificial intelligence with a mechanical body to create the first living robot – a Cylon. Following the lives of two families, the Graystones and the Adamas (the family of William Adama, who will one day become the commander of the ‘Battlestar Galactica’) ‘Caprica’ weaves corporate intrigue, techno-action and sexual politics into television’s first science fiction family saga.

At this point, I think I would trust Ron Moore with just about anything.

Mobility

[ 0 ] April 26, 2006 |

Make sure to read Ezra’s post on income mobility in the United States. The fantasy that the US has greater income mobility than other Western countries is really quite critical to the conservative economic project in America, because it’s one of the only threads tying the libertarian and religious halves of the party together. If hard work can be intellectually tied to success, then economic success can be turned into a moral issue. If it can be turned into a moral issue, then measures designed to alleviate poverty and mitigate income inequality can be attacked as morally degenerate. For the conservatarian the road is much straighter; rich people are rich because they’re smarter, harder working, etc. To redistribute wealth (or even to engage in progressive taxation) is wrong because, in a fair system, it means taking from the deserving and giving to the undeserving.

Both of these are premised on the notion that the US system is fair and rewards the smart and hard working. If the idea of income mobility in the US is challenged, the the fairness of the entire system comes into question, and the edifices on both sides collapse.

Secret Flights

[ 0 ] April 26, 2006 |

I’m sure that this is all just an elaborate mole-hunting operation designed to ferret out disloyal continents:

The CIA has run more than 1,000 flights within the European Union since 2001, often transporting terror suspects for questioning overseas, MEPs [Members European Parliament] have said.

The MEPs began a probe after claims the US flew suspects to secret prisons in countries that regularly use torture. The US admits some terror suspects were flown overseas for interrogation, but denies sending them for torture.

Report author Claudio Fava said many EU states had ignored the hundreds of CIA flights that had used their airports. Mr Fava, an Italian socialist MEP, singled out Sweden, Italy and Bosnia, which is not an EU member, for particular criticism.

A string of former detainees have come forward with stories alleging kidnap and transport by the US for interrogation in third countries – a process known as “extraordinary rendition”.

Some have provided detailed accounts of alleged torture carried out in secret prisons outside EU or US jurisdiction.

I wonder how the participation of countries like Bosnia in projects like this will affect their efforts at EU membership. They are in a bit of a pickle; the friendship of the US (and the UK) is certainly important, but risking the irritation of other major European countries and of the European Parliament is a significant problem.

Online Budgeting

[ 0 ] April 26, 2006 |

Interesting.

French Budget Minister Jean-Francois Cope has announced the launch of an online game for the country’s taxpayers to have a go at balancing the books.

The game, called Cyberbudget, will launch in May and will let users manage 300bn euros ($373bn).

Some 10,000 players will be able to play at any one time for up to an hour, media reports say.

“The idea is that when we cut taxes, we can’t do it without creating deficits,” Mr Cope told French television.

Any game that could explain to people how $373 billion still can’t pay for everything we want would no doubt be socially valuable. I wonder to what extent the game will capture the difficulty of budgeting around entrenched interests and lobbies. It’s this last that really sets apart most computer games from reality; any successful game of Civilization or Sim City usually means enduring several fiscal crises, but the player almost always has near dictatorial fiscal power.

In the United States, the problem with a game like this is that a substantial portion of the players remain convinced that there are, in fact, no trade-offs required. Lower taxes, they believe, invariably lead to higher revenues, no deficits, and free ponies for all. It’s hard to have a serious budgetary discussion when one side is fundamentally unserious.

LGM Reader Survey

[ 0 ] April 26, 2006 |

Check out our results. Short summary: If you’ve ever wondered “Am I the only angry loner who reads LGM?”, the answer is no.

Other interesting results:

- The professional distribution is a lot more even than I would have expected; I had thought we’d skew very heavily toward legal and education sectors.

- I’m not at all surprised that 75% of respondents have post-graduate degrees. Good work, people.

- Who made over $200000 last year? Let me direct you to our Amazon donation box, in the right sidebar…

- We have a reader who gets the print copy of Esquire?

Here are the full results for all political blogs. LGM skews younger and better educated than the blogosphere as a whole.

Update: I should note that the last was intended tongue in cheek; as commenter Moriarty points out, 16 is far too small of a sample size to draw any meaningful conclusions.