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Failed Imperialists

[ 36 ] July 16, 2008 |

Atrios makes a point:

From the perspective of US as imperial power the “‘single-minded’ focus on Iraq” has also been an utter disaster. For those who think that one way or another the US should be throwing its weight around everywhere (by invading random countries, by various forms of economic imperialism, or by controlling and using the power of international institutions), Bush has pretty much set that agenda back substantially. That these people have been and continue to be his biggest supporters is a testament to the fact that their egos are more important than their dreams. But that’s no surprise either.

Indeed; to the extent that the United States must devote years, billions upon billions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands of troops to “winning” in Iraq, the very purpose of the invasion is undermined. It does no good to “throw some little country against the wall” if in doing so our own capacity to act is severely wounded; other little countries that might have been intimidated take note of the fact that we are incapable of acting. This was, of course, why Don Rumsfeld bitterly resisted proposals to go into Iraq with substantially more troops, why he resisted the idea of increasing troop levels, and why he resisted the shift to counter-insurgency; he understood that such moves undermined the purpose of the invasion in the first place. To the extent that the war has been about the extension of American imperium, it has failed disastrously.

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Surprise Surprise

[ 5 ] July 16, 2008 |

You’ll all be stunned to learn that the Sons of Confederate Veterans have laid claim to the grave of another selfless bondsman who loved his master so very much that he was willing to serve in defense of his master’s right to own him.

In related news, the Sons of Confederate Veterans have discovered that the hundreds of thousands of enslaved men and women who fled to Union lines during the War of Northern Aggression were motivated by anticipatory grief — so dearly did they love the Peculiar Institution that they couldn’t bear to face a post-war South that lacked it.

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Baseball Challenge Halfway Results

[ 0 ] July 16, 2008 |

Although C. Moore’s Sluggy McSlugs managed a hard charge towards the end of the first half of the season, they were unable to stave off the inevitable victory of the Lexington Bearded Ducks. The Ducks, considered nigh unbeatable by most analysts, delivered a 175 point victory over the McSlugs and other, lesser competition. The pointless formality of the second half of the season will begin on Thursday. The final first half standings:

1 Lexington Bearded Ducks, R. Farley 4700
2 Sluggy McSlugs, C. Moore 4525
3 The Rev. Josh Fields, A. Katz 4374
4 Headless Thompson Gunners, S. Hickey 4325
5 kodos423, k. crockett 4274
6 JacobyRules, P. Smith 4231
7 KY Colonels, R. Payne 4198
8 Austin Electric Chairs, E. Loomis 4080
9 Wild Loose Comma, C. S 4015
10 Axis of Evel Knievel, D. Noon 4012
11 Theibault Moor Orioles, J. Theibault 3924
12 Lungless Wonders, E. Udall 3907
13 MutiliatedLittleLady, K. Houghton 3823
14 Sprained Mitochondria, P. McLeod 3783
15 Heavily Armed Tourists, M. Haxby 3712
16 Warning Track Power, P. Wu 3681
17 Drunken Warthogs, S. Ehrlich 3601
18 Robertson, E. Robertson 3593
19 Wobblies, M. Christman 3543
20 Lee Ho Fuk’s, P. Richardson 3529
21 The 14th Century, M Dugas 3316
22 Anderson, f. Anderson 3184
23 Wengler1, W. Engler 3115
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The Zoo

[ 30 ] July 15, 2008 |

Between visits to Beefaroo, the family and I managed to spend a few days in Chicago during our recent venture to the midwest. Just before heading off to O’Hare for our return flight, we dropped by the Lincoln Park Zoo; the toddler/cat strangler literally crapped her pants with glee, but that’s only because she’s too young to be rendered breathless with despair at the sight of polar bears lapping away in at bricks of salt and lard, or whatever the fuck you’re supposed to feed polar bears in 90-degree heat. The enormous plexiglass box of Madagascar hissing roaches seemed content, I suppose.

About the best I can say about the place is that it’s not the most depressing of the old 19th century urban zoos I’ve seen. (This one is.) I suppose the beasts at Lincoln Park were unusually demotivated last week, since the vets had just euthanized Yiet Yang, an elderly snow leopard who — bear with me on this one — hated people for some reason. But it seems to me that the meerkats have adopted the proper strategy:

P1040362

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These ads just write themselves

[ 0 ] July 15, 2008 |

Kleinman and Yglesias on McCain’s latest comments on social security. One wonders when–and how–he’ll stop digging. On some level, I actually admire the sheer audaciousness of “too many specifics just polarize the debate.”

Since know one’s offering me any jobs as a political consultant, I’ll just give it away for free. Begin with a voiceover: “John McCain says he’ll cut social security benefits as president, but he doesn’t think you deserve to know how much he plans to cut….” This is too easy.

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The Chief of Police of Flint, Michigan is a Crazy Person

[ 16 ] July 15, 2008 |

The finest of the finest of Flint:

The police chief is warning residents of Flint, Mich., to pull up their trousers … or else.

“Some people call it a fad,” Chief David Dicks tells the Detroit Free Press, a fellow Gannett newspaper. “But I believe it’s a national nuisance. It is indecent and thus it is indecent exposure, which has been on the books for years.”

Ben Schmitt, a USA TODAY correspondent, says violators face the possibility of fines and jail time. As of yesterday, the Flint Police Department had yet to make any arrests as part of its crackdown on “this immoral self expression.”

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Oh, So HE’s Livid Now…

[ 56 ] July 15, 2008 |

Michael O’Hanlon is displeased:

Michael E. O’Hanlon, a Democratic defense analyst at the Brookings Institution who has been an outspoken supporter of the war in Iraq, said he could not believe that Obama would put such a definitive timeline into print before a trip to Iraq, where he is to consult with Iraqi leaders and U.S. commanders.

“To say you’re going to get out on a certain schedule — regardless of what the Iraqis do, regardless of what our enemies do, regardless of what is happening on the ground — is the height of absurdity,” said O’Hanlon, who described himself as “livid.” “I’m not going to go to the next level of invective and say he shouldn’t be president. I’ll leave that to someone else.”

Susan E. Rice, a senior Obama foreign policy adviser, snapped back, calling McCain’s position “fundamentally disconnected from reality.”

Huh. Well, I’m livid too, not least about the fact that Mike O’Hanlon has been critical to the project of keeping my country in a pointless war that will apparently never end. You’d hope that O’Hanlon would at least take into account the fact that the Iraqis seem to be demanding a timeline for US withdrawal; you’d hope, but of course you’d be wrong.

So please, Mike, go fuck yourself. How’s that for going to the next level of invective?

Via AG.

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Maybe Latin America Doesn’t Need Our Leadership

[ 6 ] July 15, 2008 |

Mr. Trend on Obama’s proposed Latin America policy:

Certainly, it’s tough at this stage to say exactly and concretely what kind of plans or policies he has for Latin America, because he’s not offered much beyond general, open-ended comments. Still, the two clearest models, Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy, the two Democratic presidents that might offer the clearest examples of what foreign policy from a Democratic president could be, are pretty poor examples (I think we can exclude Carter because his policy was based almost strictly on human rights violations in military dictatorships, which simply no longer applies in the Americas). However, drawing on vague, Kennedy-esque notions of an “alliance of the Americas” strikes me as the kind of paternalistic rhetoric common to the mid-20th century. Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress, while beneficial for some countries in various ways, was also extremely patronizing, imperial, and too closely bound to Cold War polarizations to be as effective as Kennedy’s supporters would like to have us believe. And Clinton’s insistence that Latin American countries join in his neoliberal Washington Consensus (which, let us not forget, South American leaders like Menem and Cardoso agreed to do) resulted in the Argentine economic collapse and also caused long-term negative consequences that leftist leaders in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Brazil (among others) are only now overcoming. Far from being some benign program of social and economic improvement, the Alliance for Progress and the Clinton administration’s Washington Consensus were just two in a series of presidential (Democratic and Republican) efforts where the U.S. government presumed it knew what was best for Latin America, regardless of whether the individual countries wanted that help or not.

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All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, Where It Consequently Tastes Like Michelob Ultra

[ 70 ] July 15, 2008 |

A Belgian/Brazillian producer of bad beer has purchased an American producer of vaguely beer-flavored alcoholic water. This has caused some conservatives to realize that there may be some contradiction between capitalism and the preservation of local tradition–how about that? Being not a conservative, I can’t really understand the concerns, although I do worry that this may lead even more store space devoted to Sellases and Beckeses and Labattses and less devoted to beer. (Seriously, this is one gigantic mountain of crap. Well, Boddington’s is OK, although when I feel like the genre I prefer Old Speckled Hen, if only for those cool coasters with the wolf in a suit. Oh, and if you’re ever in Western Canada and someone starts touting Kokanee, make a mental note to ignore any judgments about beer ever offered by said individual permanently.) Anyway, I think this makes it clear that nobody has to worry about the Budweiser recipe being altered; it fits right in…

A neighborhood in Queens was once the country’s leading consumer of Bud. I had never actually heard of Breezy Point before; they have bad taste in beer but a cool name.

…a commenter is correct to note that I missed Hoegaarden, which is pretty good. Another expert notes that the list may exclude some of their good small Belgian beers, which I assume is also true.

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A Brief Note On the Latest Silly Season Controversy About Nothing

[ 150 ] July 15, 2008 |

I’m going to go even beyond where bean is and straight-up endorse the views of Edroso and the Editors. On the proposition that all satire requires extensive belaboring-the-obvious signaling lest some complete idiot misunderstand the point, I vote “no.” On the proposition that everything in a magazine (or movie or song or whatever) should be precisely calibrated so as to weigh its potential partisan impact, I vote “double hell no, you want to be like those NRO tools who decry the wrongthink in movie trailers and are only capable of enjoying “Clampdown” if they can convince themselves that it was really an endorsement of Reagan’s policies in El Salvador?”

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I Wonder What He Means by "Neutralize"

[ 8 ] July 15, 2008 |

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak:

“If we see the development of systems that could reduce our deterrent potential, our military will have to take steps to neutralize the threat,” Kislyak was quoted as saying at a briefing in Moscow.

He did not specify the steps that would be taken, saying, “This will be decided by military specialists.”

“We would prefer not to have to do this,” he added.

I would assume, if he’s serious and not simply engaged in bluster, that this means refurbishing the Soviet missile force, perhaps rebuilding the MRBM force, and developing weapons intended to target the missile defense sites themselves.

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DDG-1000 Down at the Bow

[ 15 ] July 14, 2008 |

It looks as if procurement of the DDG-1000, also known as the DD(X) or Zumwalt class destroyer, may end at 2. The $2.5 billion ship is designed to attack land targets with missiles and long range precision gunfire, and uses stealth technology and an experimental hull. The motivating concept is the need for a ship that could counter a 1990 style Iraqi invasion of Kuwait; the ship, protected by stealth, would maul an army moving in the open. In addition to massive cost overruns, the perceived need for such a vessel has waned. The initial production expectation was 32; this dropped to 24, and more recently to 7. Instead, it looks as if the Navy will pursue additional DD-51 (Arleigh Burke) destroyers, and use the two DDG-1000s already ordered as technology demonstrators and test vehicles for future ships.

Danger Room has much more.

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