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Category: General

1. Recycling Obessessions Nobody Cared About Even at the Time. 2. ??? 3. Profit!

[ 10 ] February 26, 2011 |

M. Bouffant notes that while it still doesn’t merit front page attention on a site that at this writing features stories such as “The Clap-off Bra in Action” and “Ben Franklin: I Love Cougars,” Kausfiles, the Daily Tucker edition is now live!

Back issues of legendary, influential Spy magazine are now online, so you can read Joe Conason’s 1992 cover story on George H. W. Bush’s sex life and keep it in mind next time there’s a Dem sex scandal and Conason starts pontificating about “standards.” (Sample pontification, when the subject was J. Kerry’s sex life: “Is American politics suddenly returning to the bad old days, when Washington journalism became frenzied with sheet sniffing and keyhole peeping?”)

Point taken — Kaus is immune from such criticism, because especially when it comes to John Kerry he doesn’t have any standards. At any rate, you have to be impressed with Kaus’s ability to stay on top of the zeitgeist. What will the cutting-edge follow-up be: a detailed review of the seventh issue of George magazine? A review of the latest Spin Doctors CD? You may be able to resist the urge to find out!

Nobody Could Have Predicted…

[ 8 ] February 26, 2011 |

that extreme variations of Hooverism wouldn’t work.

Cf. also the brief conservative love affair with Germany.

A Powerful Metaphor

[ 40 ] February 25, 2011 |

Poor Mittens:

Mitt Romney has a new book called “No Apology.” I was not aware that people were demanding apologies from Mitt Romney, but apparently he will not give them the satisfaction.

I first see the Mitt Romney book in the “New Releases” section with all the other new books that have grand hopes of gracing the New York Times best-seller list. Later, I see “No Apology” again … in the bargain books section. Here it is selling for $5.98. This feels like some sort of grand mistake, but apparently it is not because there are a half dozen there, all marked down. It is, the first straight to bargain section book I can ever remember.

Maybe the title refers to the publisher’s official stance about people who paid full price.

His trip to the proverbial remainder table of the 2012 GOP primary figures to be equally instantaneous.

The Big Sleep

[ 7 ] February 25, 2011 |

Speaking of moribund fourth-rate conservative sites, I decided to check out the Daily Tucker to see how their own recycled conservative hire is doing. The answer, apparently, is that Kaus has started his new gig with a lengthy vacation. Which seems all too appropriate!

Still, you think Tucker could have had someone write a bot that would produce the same three posts the real Kaus would have written again and again during this time (“Unions suck!” “Immigrants suck!” “The new Democratic Party can then replace Obama and go with Shuler/From ’12, woo-hoo!”) with the requite random boldfacing and mock-editor interventions. Perhaps Tucker is negotiating to trade Kaus and Carey Roberts to Kelsey Grammer for Victor Davis Hanson and a hack to be named later.

The Success of the Detroit Bailout

[ 208 ] February 25, 2011 |

As G.M.’s healthy profit makes clear, it’s been a striking policy success that Republicans in Congress were wrong about.

For a strikingly non-prescient column, your moment of Bobo from 2009. The giveaway is the bit about “educated buyers.” But, in fact, as I knew from having to research the purchase of a car for the first time in 2009, people who believed that GM (or Ford) were not making competitive cars were pretty much the opposite of educated (particularly when you remember that the decision to replace the Cobalt with the vastly superior Cruze had already been made.) Anybody who actually did up-to-date consumer research rather than relying on lazy received wisdom could have foreseen that the bailout would work for GM. The quality product was already there or on the way; it needed the capital to shut down redundant product lines and dealers. As Cohn says, Chrysler (where the stereotypes about American car quality were still largely applicable) is a tougher case, but bailing out one but not the other was almost certainly not viable.

Holy Frak.

[ 6 ] February 25, 2011 |

This is disgusting.

Gross Analytics

[ 1 ] February 25, 2011 |

Professor Michael Gross left a lengthy response at Current Intelligence to my remarks about his characterization of asymmetric war. I’m afraid he seems displeased with me:

Far superior to faint praise, it is still annoying when reviewers pick out controversial arguments but leave the impression that the author did not address them.

Oh dear. It’s true that, in my effort at brevity, I did give short shrift to many of the overarching strengths of the book: its breadth, up-to-date-ness, and unique and timely case studies on non-lethal weapons, assassination, the right to self-defense of national liberation movements and humanitarian intervention among others.

But then again, this wasn’t a book review, just a brief response to a specific set of points Gross makes. My other essay referencing his book responds to a different set of equally specific points, and should also be read as such. Neither is or is intended to define or respond to the entire book, which is a broad overview of dilemmas states face in winning wars against irregulars. (Professor Gross is also apparently writing an equivalent treatise on the moral dilemmas faced by irregulars, which I eagerly anticipate.)

At any rate, Gross goes on to engage the comments I did make at some length, for which I’m grateful. As one good turn deserves another, I have developed a post at Duck of Minerva that discusses some of his remarks and also tries to clarify where I see the differences in our opinions. We’re not so far apart really (we both care about war law and about protecting noncombatants) but we do differ somewhat on analytical, ethical and programmatic grounds. Read it here.

“Strong Democracy” indeed

[ 11 ] February 24, 2011 |

When I saw this Guardian piece about Saif al-Islam Gadhafi’s PhD thesis on global democratization from LSE, I thought David Held’s ‘Saif as tragic Shakespearean figure’ narrative came across as more than a little self-serving and naive. But that did not in any way prepare me for this profoundly unfortunate post from Benjamin Barber. I’m not sure what’s worse–a leading democratic theorist uncritically parroting the Huntingtonian “not ready for democracy” line, or his evident belief that serving on the board of Gadhafi’s charity organization but finally got around to resigning on February 22, 2011 is something to be proud of.


[ 12 ] February 24, 2011 |

As Lithwick says, the only problem with the Obama administration’s actions is that it took too long.

Rolling Stone: “Psy-Ops Team Resists Illegal Orders To Target US Officials”

[ 15 ] February 24, 2011 |

Again from Michael Hastings. This time, the story is being spun as “US Military Targets US Officials” but if it’s true (and many are casting doubt) then the interesting story in my mind is not that “the military is behaving badly” but that these acts contravene decades of federal law and military protocol, that Caldwell’s subordinates knew it, and that they acted on that knowledge despite the repercussions.

UPDATE: The more I read the reactions to this article from bloggers I respect, the less convinced I am that there will turn out to be much there there. Tom Ricks says there’s not a clear bright line between public affairs work and info operations designed to influence the enemy.

The skills employed are basically the same, and the internet has ensured that information flows easily and quickly across national borders. Plant a story in an Iraqi paper, and the Baghdad bureaus of the major American newspapers would read it and perhaps write about it within 24 hours. Not a problem — unless the story were false. Not supposed to lie to the American people.

This ambiguity has been hanging out there for several years… There is always another side to the story, so I want to see what Caldwell has to say. But going by what the Rolling Stone article says, if I were Caldwell, I’d issue a statement saying, “I screwed up, and I am sorry.”

I don’t know enough about anti-propaganda law to evaluate the argument that the line is unclear – thoughts anyone? And I think there’s a civ-mil issue here too, potentially. I do know that my first reaction to the McChrystal affair was more or less along the lines of these guys’ gut feelings on this one, and I was wrong then about how that would play out.

But I definitely agree with Ricks’ final point:

I actually think the apparent retaliation against an lieutenant colonel who objected may prove to be the messier problem.

The Tea Party

[ 20 ] February 24, 2011 |

…is just bog-standard reactionary Republican politics. It certainly has nothing to do with “small government.”

Legislative Cover for Anti-Abortion Terrorism

[ 7 ] February 24, 2011 |

It many have been withdrawn in South Dakota.  But similar legislation is now being considered in Nebraska and Iowa.  I’m so old I remember when legitimating terrorism was considered a bad thing.   Anyway, I just hope that pro-choice groups don’t try to draw attention to extremist anti-abortion legislation; politics is so icky!