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The Torturer In Chief

[ 12 ] March 8, 2008 |

President Bush, as most of you know, has used his veto powers sparingly. But on some issues — like more poor children getting health care — he simply can’t avoid using them. Today, he acts to advance another issue he feels strongly about: torture. He’s for it:

President Bush on Saturday further cemented his legacy of fighting for strong executive powers, using his veto to shut down a congressional effort to limit the Central Intelligence Agency’s latitude to subject terrorism suspects to harsh interrogation techniques that are prohibited by the military and law enforcement agencies.

Mr. Bush vetoed a bill that would have explicitly prohibited the agency from using such interrogation methods, which include waterboarding, a technique in which restrained prisoners are threatened with drowning and that has been the subject of intense criticism at home and abroad.

Less than a year left. But remember that Straight Talkin’ John McCain urged Bush to support torture as well. Indeed, unlike Joe Lieberman Zell Miller Hillary Clinton, I think that future Democratic candidate Barack Obama is in fact much better qualified to be Commander-In-Chief, and hopefully a majority of voters will reach the same conclusion.


And Don’t Forget Those Negotiations With Tim Allen And Carrot Top

[ 17 ] March 8, 2008 |

Hillary Clinton, as you know, is claiming that having a considerable amount of foreign policy experience is crucial for the next President. Leaving aside the fact that she completely botched the most important vote of her Senate career by making an extremely bad judgment on foreign policy, the problem is that she doesn’t, in fact, have anything like a considerable amount of foreign policy experience. So how does she square the circle?

Pressed in a CNN interview this week for specific examples of foreign policy experience that has prepared her for an international crisis, Clinton claimed that she “helped to bring peace” to Northern Ireland [um] and negotiated with Macedonia to open up its border to refugees from Kosovo.

Sounds impressive! What was the nature of these high-level negotiations in Macedonia?

The Macedonian government opened its border to refugees the day before Clinton arrived to meet with government leaders. And her mission to Bosnia was a one-day visit in which she was accompanied by performers Sheryl Crow and Sinbad, as well as her daughter, Chelsea, according to the commanding general who hosted her.

The good news is that I’m slightly less worried about Clinton making Michael O’Hanlon her Secretary of State. The bad news is that I’m more worried about Gallagher becoming Secretary of State. Actually, I retract the bad news part — that would probably be an improvement.

Her Secretary of Defense, of course, will be her new BFF Straight Talkin’ War Mongerin’ John McCain.

The Powers Resignation

[ 9 ] March 7, 2008 |

I think it was the best option for the Obama campaign.

The Book or the Review?

[ 0 ] March 7, 2008 |

This review of Gusher Of Lies makes me wonder whether the bad arguments are the book’s or the reviewer’s. For example, Bryce’s attacks on ethanol seem very convincing, but in what way do they challenge “cherished green beliefs?” This is djw’s department, but it seems to me that the class of people pushing ethanol contains a rather higher percentage of “corn-growing interests and their political representatives” than “environmentalists.” Then there’s this:

Wind power and solar power have the added drawback of being intermittent and unpredictable. A town that relied entirely on solar or wind power would suffer constant service interruptions and wild fluctuations in output, which is why both technologies must be used in conjunction with traditional fossil-fuel generators.

You don’t say! One hopes that it’s Grimes and not Bryce who considers identifying the fact that wind and sunlight are not constants as potential problems in using them to generate power a monumental insight.

Be More Funny! And Less Homophobic!

[ 40 ] March 7, 2008 |

Since I really, really Don’t Get Garrison Keillor, at least I can say that I don’t find this disillusioning. (I mean, given the esteem with which his wit is inexplicably held in many quarters, shouldn’t his attempt at homophobic humor at least involve some stereotypes that wouldn’t have stood out as stale cliches at a Dean Martin Celebrity Roast in 1971?)

[Via TS.]


[ 0 ] March 7, 2008 |

Yglesias on Abe Foxman giving a pass to the anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic, anti-gay, all-purpose nut whose endorsement John McCain assiduously sought out: “What does Foxman have to say about all this Hageean nuttiness? He thinks it’s just fine since Hagee’s pro-Israel. Obviously, we’re not supposed to give too much scrutiny to the content of Hagee’s “pro-Israel” views since in an ordinary sense deliberately seeking the destruction of the Jewish state and the deaths of all its citizens wouldn’t be considered an especially pro-Israel stance.”

The Five Universal Commandments of Writing About Women

[ 8 ] March 6, 2008 |

Dahlia Lithwick infers them:

1. It’s not sexism if it’s women trashing women.

2. Writing by women about women need not be held to the same critical or analytical standards as writing by men because—I suppose—we really are as stupid as Allen suggests.

3. No need for originality in pieces by women about women. Oprah, Celine, and Grey’s Anatomy never get old. Good times.

4. When all else fails, say the piece was meant to be funny. Then you can say that anyone who didn’t like it has no sense of humor.

5. Laugh all the way to the bank.

This is very smart, so maybe John Pomfret will mistake her for a man and give her an op-ed job with an assignment to write about a topic besides why Women Are Teh Stupid. (Or, as I’m sure she’d prefer, the Times will give her Greenhouse’s job when it comes open, but I’d miss the snark.)

They’re Being Run By A Committee Consisting of Cam Bonifay, Michael Brown, and Katherine Harris

[ 0 ] March 6, 2008 |

That explains why there’s nothing resembling a vote count in the Texas caucuses. I believe that the operative words are “in” and “ept.”

The Right Call

[ 56 ] March 6, 2008 |

Howard Dean says that delegates will not be seated based on the Michigan and Florida straw polls, but would be willing to sanction delegates based on an actual election agreed to by both campaigns. This is obviously the correct decision. We’ll see if the state parties choose to enfranchise their voters or not.

Allen: "I Was Serious!"

[ 54 ] March 5, 2008 |

You may recall John Pomfret claiming that the embarrassing Charlotte Allen editorial he published was just “tongue-in-cheek.” (Exactly what the column was satirizing Pomfret left obscure.) Alas, Allen herself doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo:

Washington: When I read this, I immediately thought it was written ironically. Were you surprised that so many people took it literally?

Charlotte Allen: I wouldn’t quite use the word “ironic,” but yes, I meant to be funny but with a serious point–that women want to be taken seriously but quite often don’t act serious. Also, that women and men really are different.

Washington: You write that you doubt women’s representation in such fields as law (the Supreme Court) and medicine (brain surgeons) will rise much in the 21st century. However more women than men currently are graduating from law school and medical school. Could you please comment on this apparent contradiction?

Charlotte Allen: That’s absolutely true, but the proportion of women at the highest levels of these fields is going to remain relatively small, I predict.


Memphis, Tenn.: Ms. Allen, I am confused about The Post editors’ “it was satire, stupid” defense of your article. Could you explain why (or how) you thought the reader could have (or should have) picked up on the satirical tone? I recognize that this question may provoke a response not unlike the Supreme Court’s “I know it when I see it” approach to obscenity, but I have read a lot of satire, and I just don’t see it in your article. Perhaps you could give me a quick and dirty review of my eighth-grade English class?

Charlotte Allen: I’m not sure whether I’d characterize the piece as satire, but I’d certainly characterize it as humor: my poking fun at the dumb things my sex does.

So Allen really does think that women are dumb, largely unqualified for positions of responsibility, etc. — which is entirely unsurprising — and Pomfret feels that it’s reasonable to “proactively” air such views in his op-ed page. Good to know. I can’t say I’m looking forward to the inevitable satirical and provocative debate between Charles Murray and Allen about whether women or African-Americans are dumber.

The Long Primary

[ 26 ] March 5, 2008 |

Kevin Drum, citing 1968, says that Democrat’s needn’t panic. I don’t really buy the historical analogy for a reason that can be summed up in two words: George Wallace. Without him in the race to split the white supremacist vote that went for Goldwater in 1964, Nixon almost certainly wins in a massive landslide. For this reason, I don’t think that this is a very encouraging precedent. On his overall argument, however, I agree with him at least to a point. I don’t think that the extension of the campaign per se is a big deal at all. Were Obama to win Pennsylvania and end the race, for example, I don’t think that the extra month of campaigning would hurt him much as a candidate, and as Kevin says depriving McCain of oxygen may even be a net positive.

The bigger problem is a scenario (which, given that Clinton has to be considered a strong favorite in Pennsylvania, has a substantial likelihood) where Obama has a lead of pledged delegates in the high double or low triple digits but is coming off some high-profile losses in state popular votes. Serious attempts by Clinton to seat delegates based on the results of Michigan and Florida straw polls (although not necessarily a re-vote agreed to by both campaigns and the DNC), for example, would produce very serious conflict. And if Clinton were put over the top by superdelegates (which I continue to think is highly unlikely) she would be severely weakened as a general election candidate. Is it possible that the Democrats could win after a protracted convention battle? Sure. But it would turn an election in which the Democratic candidate has considerable structural advantages into a much dicier proposition. I don’t think that this is something to be sanguine about.

But that’s life; politics is messy. Even having two very strong potential candidates has its downside. It’s especially ironic that a process re-designed to produce a quick victory and party unity has led to the opposite, but unintended consequences are endemic to political institutions. Hopefully this won’t put John McCain in the White House.

They Write Letters

[ 6 ] March 5, 2008 |

Katha Pollitt on John Pomfret’s Misogyny Clearinghouse:

Linda Hirshman [“For Hillary’s Campaign, It’s Been a Class Struggle,” Outlook, March 2] explains that women, including me, who support Sen. Barack Obama are “fickle,” “elites” who don’t care about low-income women, have possibly been seduced by the wealthy and attractive Barack and Michelle, know (like all women) less about politics than the men of our social class, and being, like all women, more averse to political conflict than men, may just have been browbeaten by those mean, mean “Obamabots.” It couldn’t possibly be that we have read up on the issues, watched the debates, evaluated the campaigns and made complicated judgments that happen to come out differently from Ms. Hirschman’s.

Fortunately, Charlotte Allen boils it all down for the fickle, Obama-crushing, Manolo-coveting, ignorant, conflict-averse, push-aroundable female voter: “Women Aren’t Very Bright.” Thanks for clearing that up!

I’m looking forward to further installments, like “Female Suffrage: A Big Mistake” and “Why Education is Wasted on Women.” Followed by yet another round of, “Why Don’t Women Read The Washington Post?”

[Via Somerby.]

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