Attewell is brilliant, as per usual; SEK is scattered, as per usual. Enjoy!
Author Page for SEK
This is a guest post by Steven Attewell, my co-host-who-does-most-of-the-heavy-lifting on our Game of Thrones podcasts, in which he discusses military strategy in a way that Rob’s more fit to comment on than I. It was discussed in both this and last week’s podcasts, so it only makes sense for it to appear here. The original post and its many comments can be found here.
Spencer Ackerman, the well-known national security blogger, recently posted an article criticizing Robb Stark’s military strategy in the War of Five Kings. In the piece, Ackerman argues that:
But the Young Wolf is a case study in the difference between winning battles and winning wars. Robb is an excellent company commander, leading from the front and inspiring his men with both his bravery and his battle prowess. He’s also a terrible general…
Robb’s vainglorious uncle clearly messed up by disobeying orders to hold Riverrun, preferring instead to stop Clegane’s army at Stone Mill from crossing the rivers of the Trident and heading west. Robb rolls his eyes: he wanted Clegane to come west, so the Mountain, who “doesn’t have a strategic thought in his head,” would have been lured unsuspecting toward the eastward-marching Stark forces and killed. “Instead,” the King in the North laments, “I have a mill.”
News flash, Your Grace: Clegane is not worth much more than that mill.
While I think his article does have some important points, I feel that the piece fails to grasp the larger strategic and political environment informing Robb Stark’s military decisions and as such comes to an overly negative conclusion.
Via the comments in the previous post, we glean some real insight into Rand Paul’s principled objection to intrusive government surveillance:
But it’s different if they want to come fly over your hot tub, or your yard just because they want to do surveillance on everyone, and they want to watch your activities.
If someone says “police state” and your first concern is that Big Brother’s going to figure out what you’ve been up to in your hot tub, maybe you should reconsider whatever it is you’re doing in your hot tub.
I’m not saying, I’m just saying.
I’m beginning to understand why Michelle Malkin and “The Twitchy Staff” publish everything under the byline “The Twitchy Staff.” If I blamed a missing person for the Boston bombing on account of him being mentioned on a police scanner while wearing a Che t-shirt, I wouldn’t want my name directly associated with it either. Or with stories like “We’re pretty sure Dzohokhar Tsarnaev is not Tweeting,” which carry all the authority of a poorly sourced rumor just in case it really happens to be him so that Malkin can engage in some blog-triumphalism if the improbable turns out to be true. Would Malkin do this under her own name? Of course not. As proof I offer as evidence that she hasn’t. It looks like she has, but a quick read of that post shifts all potential blame where she wants it: on the “Twitchy Team.” Who’s responsible for this irresponsible speculation? One of these people. Which one?
Wouldn’t you like to know.
But you never will, because the site’s designed to facilitate irresponsibility. Despite all Malkin’s proud declarations about the importance of citizen journalists, in the end she’d rather hide, like the coward she is, beyond an anonymous byline because she knows “mistakes were and will be made.” How does she know? Because that’s the point of the entire site. She’s free to publish anything she’d like without having to worry about annoying things like “consequences,” because not only is she not directly responsible for what she’s published, she’s merely aggregating what other people have written on Twitter. It’s a perpetual bullshit machine powered by anonymity. She can take credit for its “findings” when some infernal occlusion causes it to belch out something accurate, but for the most part she denies via “UPDATE” the endless stream of bullshit it was designed to produce.
This is a more sophisticated version of the long-standing tradition among conservative bloggers of denying-without-denouncing the sexism and racism and homophobia and xenophobia of their readers. The bloggers are merely exercising their right to speak freely about their conservative values and extending their readers the same opportunity. When those readers inevitably reveal themselves to be within earshot of the whistle, these same bloggers claim to have no idea where all these dogs came from. The problem with this approach is that eventually the stench of urine sticks to bloggers who quietly encourage their readers to lift their leg on the America dream. So Malkin created a forum where figuring out where that smell’s coming from is as difficult as distinguishing one yellow stain from another — we certainly can’t blame her for the mess or the miasma.
But I think we can. I think we should force Malkin to take responsibility for the state of her house. She wants to shift the blame to her roommates or their friends but her name is on the deed. Anything they do or say is ultimately attributable to her. (Hence the title of this post.) I normally wouldn’t make such an insistence, but since her site is designed to allow her an unconscionable deniability, I’m not sure what choice we have.
Jew know that’s considered offensive to those people? It’d be good for them if you made a sincere apology:
But we shouldn’t criticize him, because he “has brought and will continue to bring integrity and common sense to the House of Representatives,” and this is basically what passes for “integrity” and “common sense” in Oklahoma. No? It isn’t?
Maybe the people of Oklahoma should ask their representatives to wipe those snide “you’re not supposed to say that aloud” looks off their faces. I’m not actually offended by this sort of casual racism — I grew up Jewish in the South after all — nor am I even surprised by it. The father of one of my best friends nicknamed me “Good One,” not because he thought I was one of the good ones, but because he thought I was the good one.
What offends me isn’t the casual racism, then, but the smile that accompanies the apology. Because Dennis Johnson is a man who knows his audience and is absolutely certain he’s delivering a punchline.
I apologize for not posting this sooner, but unfortunately my voice deserted me Monday and Tuesday and, as I make clear in the podcast itself, I’m an asshole. We discuss, among other things: set pieces and jump shots; the threat of rape; great moments in horse cinema; hands; musical chairs; and silence. I think that just about does nothing resembling to justice to what we discussed. Also, for the first time ever, some awkwardly included visuals! Enjoy!
In a move which has nothing whatsoever to do with Saturday’s post about bitter academics collecting multiple pseudonyms of various genders based on people they’ve studied, Lawyers, Guns & Money is proud to announce that “B. Spencer” will joining us on the masthead as of right now! The arrival of “B. Spencer” is also utterly unrelated to the rap travesty I subjected you to earlier in the week. “B. Spencer” is no “B-Rabbit” but an actual real person — and a noisy one at that — who is not just here to shut Greenwald up. (Were the case we’d have made her gay and named her Kenneth.) Why have we invited “B. Spencer” to join us? It’s not like she’s been here all along in the raging waters of our ever-expanding comment threads. Because I swear she hasn’t. “B. Spencer” is a real live kosher person who just happens to be a doctor and she’ll be writing here from now on.
So roll out the red carpet for her already!
I make this confession: I’m an anthropologist from the future, intent on discovering feelings that have yet to be offended, except I did something wrong and it collapsed and broke my brain and feet and spleen. Some of the aftermath has been chronicled online.* But the theory, it’s still sound!
*Including but not limited to the obvious, as well as dealing with a stalker fixated on my wife, a tiny car fixated on my spine, and a liberal impersonating a racist fixated on my job. The Library came after me, then thanked me for the chase. Terrible emails were sent. Cookies arrived. I tried to file. I wanted to kill myself. Was nearly arrested. My cat died. I was covered in blood. Arrived in England. To a volcano. Returned home to a forest fire. Followed by a kidney stone. That brings us to 2010 and doesn’t include any events that could topple local governments. It doesn’t include my sordid current stalkers or Porch Wars or any of the other random things that never happen to anyone that regularly happen to me.
“It would be irresponsible to speculate,” Pamela Geller will never say, especially not when Muslims speak. Conservatives have realized that having a choke-hold on the narrative and maintaining constant pressure is the best way to ensure that, even if the facts eventually betray them, they’ll have framed the event to their advantage. The Newton massacre, which unequivocally concerned the ready availability of unnecessarily high-powered weapons, is now a marginal debate about maybe closing gun-show loopholes and never doing anything about mental healthcare deficiencies because that would be communism.
But ask a conservative and he’ll insist that his views aren’t being represented in the mainstream media — because he’s incapable of understanding that a system in which liberals on television ineffectually call for change while “liberals” in Congress noisily twiddle their thumbs is the perfect mechanism for maintaining conservative policy. I’m using the term “conservative” in the broader sense of “conserving structures as they currently exist,” but given that the country’s been stumbling into Sharia for the better part of five years now, how does erecting such a system constitute anything other than a conservative victory? Rachel Maddow can rail against Mississippi’s successful skirting of Roe but it’s still happening and, in the early hours after this attack in Boston, it doesn’t matter who’s ultimately responsible. In the minds of many — including Geller’s readers and Fox’s viewers — even if it isn’t the Muslims, it’s the Muslims.
Because that’s what happens when people conspire to “praise” an absence no matter how often it never appears.
And on the day they consult their stopped clocks and find no fault? That’s the day the rest of us begin to never hear the end of it. The day “twice right, daily” becomes the new standard of prophecy all liberal policy suffers more than it did under W. I sincerely hope that day’s not today.
(Of course this is yet another one of those visual rhetoric posts. Can you not see all the pictures?)
The title of the episode, “The Collaborators,” is so obviously meant to be evocative that it almost sinks beneath its own freight. The episode’s foremost “collaboration” occurs between Don Draper and his upstairs neighbor, Sylvia Rosen, who are acting out the transparent stratagems of Updike’s titular Couples (1968). Though Updike’s novel covers the time addressed in earlier seasons, its particular combination of adultery and war is relevant here:
This pattern, of quarrel and reunion, of revulsion and surrender, was repeated three or four times that winter, while airplanes collided over Turkey, and coups transpired in Iraq and Togo[.] (161)
Simply put, there’s something about having sex while the radio describes some new front in the Tet Offensive makes The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit feel more like The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. (And we well know how accurate that novel is.) Consider the first time Don and Sylvia play “collaborators.” The scene begins with a point-of-view shot from Don’s perspective as the elevator door opens on Sylvia and her husband, Dr. Arnold Rosen, arguing over money:
It’s significant that even though she’s shot in profile here, Don’s able to see her entire face. He can see more of her than she can of him; he exists only in her peripheral vision, if at all, whereas he can observe her from two angles. He’s not spying on her, but he is paying attention to their private matter. When Dr. Rosen enters the elevator, she throws Don the most meaningful glance she can in the half-second that she has:
The director of this episode, some clown by the name of Jon Hamm, uses this medium close-up to great effect. Remember that close-ups are meant to suggest intimacy, whereas medium shots are designed to give some sense of body language. In terms of scale, this medium close-up provides intimate access to her face as she shoots Don a plea, while simultaneously allowing enough frame to depict the familiarity of Dr. Rosen’s body language. He’s distant from her (emotionally) but doesn’t know it (physically); she’s distant from Don (physically) but acutely feels it (emotionally); and Don’s somewhere back there on the elevator, but the camera’s not aligned with his perspective anymore so his feelings are absent from this shot. (If it were his perspective, the eyeline match wouldn’t be slightly frame-left.)
But not from the scene. This is the first example of the “collaboration” between the two, so it should come as no surprise that after Dr. Rosen enters the elevator, Don remembers he’s forgotten his cigarette:
The medium shot is perfunctory, because its main purpose is to capture Don’s exaggerated gesture. The fact that the gesture’s exaggerated is important, or would be if Dr. Rosen were paying attention. (Which he seems not to be.) But Don puts on a show just in case and zips back up the elevator:
To Dr. Rosen’s apartment, where Sylvia awaits. Whether she knew he was also playing this game at this point is unclear. That she wanted it to be one of the days he did goes without saying, but her attractiveness here isn’t a function of being “made up” so much as being natural. Which reminds Don of something:
Because she just got burned in a totally effective manner by an actor! From a television show!
— nick searcy (@yesnicksearcy) April 13, 2013
The problem with this logic extends beyond the fact that conservatives devote Russian steppes of bandwidth to discrediting the idea that actors ought to participate in the public sphere. They start highly effective Twitter-campaigns to boycott actors and employers who make overtly political statements because they believe, deep in their ideological core, that people involved in the production of televisual entertainment have nothing to add to the national conversation. We’re talking deep personal convictions here. They’d never enthusiastically embrace the statement of a character actor just because who am I kidding of course they would. They don’t hate Hollywood — they hate that the majority of it thinks their values are antediluvian. And when someone from Hollywood agrees with them?
Every conservative celebrity-of-the-month becomes the John-Paul-George-and-Ringo of Twitter for awhile. (Adam Baldwin’s either sitting alone crying on the abandoned set of Chuck or mercilessly pounding his Twitter trying to make Twitchy love him again.) But the thing about Twitter-campaigns and its meth-dependent scribe is that it all amounts to chatter amongst like-minded folks. Conservatives on Twitter form tiny circles of self-congratulation whose sole purpose is being sky-hooked into illusory importance by a service, Twitchy, that only exists to reinforce that delusion. No fiendish liberal could come up with a plan that mollifies conservative egos with the subtlety of Twitchy. Once they scale Malkin’s xerostomic mount they feel like they’ve made it — who cares if their throats are too parched to say anything else? It’s not like they said much of value before.
Take Nick Searcy’s declaration above. He will never be more beloved by bigots than he is right now. This is the summit for him. All that was required of him to reach it was a profoundly impotent public statement. No longer will Amanda be able to turn on her television on Tuesday nights and watch Justified because … because … because Nick Searcy said so. You’d think someone who’s portrayed as many officers of the law as Searcy has would understand the concept of enforceability, but apparently he’s more concerned with being Conservative Internet Hero Du Jour than actually saying something that might make sense. But at least he attacked Amanda in a way that might hurt her feelings!
Because I’m sure his empty threat to take away toys he doesn’t own via means he can’t control must really sting.