If you told me this game was played between a team less than one year removed from a Super Bowl appearance and another team with the best record in the league, I’d be forced to inquire as to when the NFL was demoted to the football equivalent of the Texas league.
With respect to the Ackerman/Farley/Lemieux debate, a formerly ambivalent Kevin Drum (along with Mona) comes down squarely in the Ackerman camp. Yglesias and Atrios disagree, and of course I still do. A couple of additional points:
- The reason that letting them having their surge won’t really change much about the political dynamics is that you can always have done more. As Kevin notes, this narrative was used about Vietnam, which was prosecuted in a much more brutal fashion in Iraq. If you’re inclined to make (or, more importantly, to believe) such arguments, objective actions are always beside the point. As long as the country hasn’t been nuked into oblivion, you can always move the goalposts yet again.
- My other question is how much effect the “do we get to win this time?” narrative of Vietnam has really had on perceptions of Democratic weakness of foreign policy. My guess is actually very little, and most of what exists is concentrated among people who would never vote Democratic anyway. I think that the link of opposition to an unpopular war to an even more unpopular counterculture, for example, was much more important. I think it’s a small part of the story. (Perhaps Rick Perlstein can adjudicate.)
So I’m still where I was. I don’t think the surge is anything like a net benefit because I doubt that it will provide a substantial political benefit, and it will certainly mean more young men and women sacrificed in a hopeless cause.
. . . December 23 is the holy day of Festivus. Happy holidays, to the extent that such things are possible.
For the ritual Airing of the Grievances, use the comments section. You’ll feel better.
As for myself, my most recent grievance is with Alaska Airlines, whose employees included a most unwanted “prayer card” with my meal the other day as I flew from Seattle to DC. This wasn’t a seasonal card — they include such annoyances every time I fly with them. According to one of my students who works for the airline, the CEO is a religious maniac who believes in the
immanence imminence of the Second Coming. According to legend, he insists that at least one pilot on every flight not be a Christian, just in case the Rapture of the Faithful occurs mid-route. While I appreciate his concern for the unsaved — who will land gently only to face years of war and tribulation — I absolutely hate the inspirational prayer cards and would really love not to receive them any more.
(. . . my other grievance is against myself for confusing “immanence” and “imminence.” Too much Festivus meth.)
Nice to see Bob Somerby on board:
Again, when we talk about what is “appealing” and authentic,” we enter extremely subjective territory. And oh yeah—we validate the type of discussion the mainstream press corps is eager to have. Once we allow this type of discussion, they can create any novel they want about who’s “authentic” and who isn’t. And surprise! As an upper-class and corporate institution, the press corps will increasingly tend to judge that Republican candidates seem “authentic”—and that the Dems do not. Indeed, that’s precisely the way this group has called it in our last two White House campaigns—Bush and McCain were authentic straight-shooters, the hideous Gore and Kerry were not. As a general matter, they will continue to make such judgments—if we validate the type of discussion this addled crew hopes to have.
Having studied the 2000 race in detail, we cringe when intelligent liberals adopt the “authenticity” meme. That silly theme is the press corps’ meat. Once we let them start making such judgments, they’ll quickly craft the story they like—and whatever it is, they’ll recite it in unison. And again, their judgments—which will be too subjective to be meaningfully disputed—will tend to favor Republicans. Even now, with Bush having nearly destroyed the known world, they haven’t quite walked away from their “Republicans = authenticity” judgments. They will soon return to these themes in force—if we stoop to the silly place where they want our discourse to go.
And it’s not just that the concept is just an empty shell into which you can pour any a priori preference, but that it’s worthless as a criterion of value even if it actually had any content.
Speaking of amusing front matter, I enjoyed the following, the first paragraph of the preface of a major American political theorist’s first book:
This book began as a doctoral dissertation, which is warning enough for the experienced. To the usual faults of dissertations I have added other defects, nurtured in the intervening years and perfected by revision. It is pretentious even by the standards of political theory; and since theorists must, like Jacob, wrestle with gods and men, those standards are far from mean. It is intolerably long. Let it stand that I have provided myself the weak excuse of recognizing such faults and forewarning the reader.
I dug into this exchange between Max Boot and Geoffrey Wheatcroft with some mild enthusiasm. Boot, while often wrong, at least tends to be interesting and is well-informed about military affairs. I knew less about Wheatcroft. I gave up, however, when I reached this passage:
But those who take the Odom line should also be candid and admit what cutting and running implies: the whole of the larger Middle East, from Turkey to the Gulf, Israel to Iran, will be abandoned to its fate. Back to fully-fledged isolationism, America First, and the narrowest interpretation of the national interest.
When the guy in the dialogue who isn’t Max Boot writes something like that, you know that you’re wasting your time.
Read Brad Plumer’s excellent article on the Houston janitorial strike, and what it may portend for union organizing in the South. Plumer has this interesting paragraph, which got me thinking:
So why did the SEIU choose Houston for its latest foray into the South? Partly, the political atmosphere in the country’s fourth-largest city has been changing–because of immigration, Houston has become a nearly majority-minority city with a Democratic mayor. Structural factors also played a role. “What’s fascinating about Houston is that all the major building owners and all the major cleaning contractors were national and international corporations that were unionized everywhere but Houston,” explains Stephen Lerner, the director of the Justice for Janitors campaign. “So we felt we could use our strength in other cities to pressure these companies.”
The first is very interesting, since I’d always been of the belief that it was the combination of ethnic tension and ethnic diversity in the South that had helped scuttle unionization previously. Allowing that my picture may have been far to simple, I’d thought that the trick to resisting unions in the South was to mobilize tension between black and white workers. Was I wrong, or does the entire picture change when you add a third ethnic group or when non-whites outnumber whites?
I’m also kind of curious about the second. For those of you that’ve engaged in union activism, is there a notable difference between corporations headquartered in a union hostile area like the South and, say, a corporation headquartered in Germany, or do employers simply adapt to whatever local conditions they find? From what I know about organizational theory, I’d suspect the former, but I don’t really know.
Travel day today, so very light blogging. In the meantime, enjoy Roy nominating Dr. Mrs. Ole Perfesser for a Robert Bork “It’s the Sociological Significance” award, and 3 Bulls having fun with the Pitchfork Top 100 singles list.
And I thought Alaska was a freakshow. Turns out my last two states of residence — Virginia and Minnesota — are linked together by the incoherent yodeling of Virgil Goode, whose constituents are really concerned about the election of Keith Ellison to Congress. If Virgil Goode’s assurances aren’t enough to satisfy the hayseeds of Virginia’s Fifth District, I hope the ungrammatical triumphalism of Minnesota’s finest wingnut bloggers helps ease them to sleep at night, secure in the knowledge that . . . um . . . a couple of dudes won’t let anything bad happen. Or something.
First, there’s Right Wing Guy:
If Keith Ellison was intent on representing the people of Minnesota who elected him than [sic] we would swear in on a bible and actually represent the overwhelming majorities [sic] view on religion, because we sure as hell are not a Muslim state and that would happen over my cold dead rotting body.
I am very sad to say that this man is suppose to represents [sic] me, which obviously he does not and I sure as hell did not vote for him and I will never support him for he doesn’t even give a shit about me or any other white person in this state.
And then there’s this guy, who may in fact have the most incoherent blog description I’ve ever seen. He also offers these thoughts on the Ellison matter:
I don’t want to see America go down the road Europe is currently traveling where formerly western civilizations are being dragged bach [sic] to the stone age where women are mere property and freedom is not even a priviledge [sic].
I don’t even have the heart to see what James Lileks is writing on this.