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[ 33 ] June 8, 2010 |

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Double Standards

[ 30 ] June 8, 2010 |

There is, of course, no defense for Helen Thomas’s anti-Semitic remarks, and in isolation the consequences are unobjectionable. But why Pat Buchanan remains a constant presence on The Serious TeeVee News is also hard to defend or explain, just as I have yet to understand why the adultery of President, Attorney General, and Associate Justice John Edwards makes him History’s Greatest Monster while Rudy Guiliani and John McCain’s adultery didn’t stop them from become beloved media figures.

An Epochal Event

[ 6 ] June 8, 2010 |

Apologies for the light non-existent posting of late; I’m on vacation this week. Apparently, while I was away Glenn Reynolds became a complete hack! Oh wait…

Anyway, I would be remiss if I didn’t note this day in history: California has had many Democratic Senate primaries, and today is certainly one of them. But while blue-state primaries often involve choices between multiple candidates who aren’t obsessively anti-labor and pro-mass-deportation, today’s is pretty unique in that respect. Californian LGM readers should vote accordingly! I will be watching Strasburg’s first start at the Bellagio sports book and then going for a nice dinner examining the results of this major election with intensive interest.

[Picture this post is really an excuse to put up again by FMK.]

David Brooks shows us his “Big Shaggy”

[ 32 ] June 8, 2010 |

So it appears that David Brooks has penned an entire column premised on the observation that a century of social science has failed to provide satisfying explanations for why oil companies would cut corners and wreck an ecosystem; why investment bankers would develop complex financial instruments and wreck an economy; and why governors would have affairs and wreck their marriages. Social science also, apparently, fails to account for why a pitcher would be gracious when an umpire ruins his perfect game, why soldiers would risk their lives in war, or why Kobe Bryant shows “fierce determination” to score a lot of points.

None of this is true, of course — there are vast and relevant heaps of research on each of these phenomena that are evidently too complicated for David Brooks to understand. But the fact that Brooks takes all of these examples and makes them a function of some “inner beast you could call The Big Shaggy” makes me wonder if it isn’t time to retire the nickname “Bobo” after all these years.

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More on Unruly Clients

[ 3 ] June 8, 2010 |

North Korea probably didn’t need this:

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that a North Korean border guard shot dead three Chinese nationals and wounded one last week in an incident in northeast China, prompting the Chinese government to file a formal complaint.

The shootings took place last Friday at the China-North Korea border by the Chinese city of Dandong, in Liaoning Province, said Qin Gang, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, at a regularly scheduled news conference in Beijing. The four shot Chinese were residents of Dandong and were believed by the guard to be engaged in illegal trade across the border, Mr. Qin added, according to a report by the Chinese-language edition of Global Times, an official newspaper…

It was unclear how the shooting incident would affect relations between North Korea and China, which is North Korea’s closest ally in the region. China has been the host of the six-party talks, a series of negotiations among the United States, North Korea, Russia and several Asian nations aimed at curbing North Korea’s nuclear program. Last month, Kim Jong-il, the reclusive North Korean leader, made his first visit to China in four years, crossing the border by train and stopping first in the port city of Dalian, then continuing on to Beijing.

The actions of North Korean leaders have been made more opaque and unpredictable in recent months by what analysts believe is Mr. Kim’s effort to engineer a transfer of power to his third son, Kim Jong-un, 27.

Even if they were smugglers, shooting Chinese nationals as they cross the border is probably not a good way to endear oneself to Beijing. North Korea’s survival depends on Beijing’s tolerance…

The Legacy of War

[ 13 ] June 8, 2010 |

This is one reason why Europeans understand war differently than Americans:

An Allied bomb left over from World War II has exploded in Germany, killing three military engineers who were trying to defuse it. The blast occurred in the central city of Goettingen on Tuesday after construction workers building a sports stadium discovered it in a densely populated area.

Bomb disposal experts were called to the scene to defuse the 500 kilogramme device, which police said was likely to be British. But it exploded before they could neutralise the device. Another six members of the bomb disposal team were injured in the blast, but all were expected to survive.

The legacy of war remains written into the landscape of Europe in a way that’s not really understandable to Americans. This legacy doesn’t provide a full explanation for why Americans and Europeans tend to view military adventurism differently, but there’s no doubt that it’s a factor.

What if Political Scientists Wrote The News?

[ 1 ] June 8, 2010 |

From Christpher Beam at Slate:

A powerful thunderstorm forced President Obama to cancel his Memorial Day speech near Chicago on Monday—an arbitrary event that had no affect on the trajectory of American politics.

Obama now faces some of the most difficult challenges of his young presidency: the ongoing oil spill, the Gaza flotilla disaster, and revelations about possibly inappropriate conversations between the White House and candidates for federal office. But while these narratives may affect fleeting public perceptions, Americans will ultimately judge Obama on the crude economic fundamentals of jobs numbers and GDP.

Chief among the criticisms of Obama was his response to the spill. Pundits argued that he needed to show more emotion. Their analysis, however, should be viewed in light of the economic pressures on the journalism industry combined with a 24-hour news environment and a lack of new information about the spill itself…

Read the rest here. Commentary from The Monkey Cage; Drezner, and Richard Bridger.

[cross-posted at Duck of Minerva]

2 Years For 20,000 Lives, 26 Years Later

[ 1 ] June 8, 2010 |

Unconscionable.

This makes me want to take a second look at Polly Higgins’ idea of prosecuting catastrophic corporate negligence at the International Criminal Court.

Medium rare futbol blogging

[ 8 ] June 7, 2010 |

Mildly amusing exchange of emails between U.S. and UK ambassadors, in re one of those silly sporting bets that politicos make every time the Battle of Waterloo is about to be won on the playing fields of Eton. If England defeats the US the American ambassador must purchase a steak in a tony DC establishment for his Brit counterpart, leading to this bon mot from the redcoats:

Incidentally, you should know that the Ambassador takes his steak like American soccer victories – somewhat rare.

A friend of mine notes that the response should have been that, in that case, he would find his steak resembles English national team soccer players: expensive and overrated.

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The Plot Thickens.

[ 59 ] June 7, 2010 |

The US intelligence analyst who leaked the footage that resulted in Wikileaks’ infamous “Collateral Murder” video has been outed by a hacker to whom he boasted of his actions online, and arrested by the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division. Wired has the story:

Manning was turned in late last month by a former computer hacker with whom he spoke online. In the course of their chats, Manning took credit for leaking a headline-making video of a helicopter attack that Wikileaks posted online in April. The video showed a deadly 2007 U.S. helicopter air strike in Baghdad that claimed the lives of several innocent civilians.

He said he also leaked three other items to Wikileaks: a separate video showing the notorious 2009 Garani air strike in Afghanistan that Wikileaks has previously acknowledged is in its possession; a classified Army document evaluating Wikileaks as a security threat, which the site posted in March; and a previously unreported breach consisting of 260,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables that Manning described as exposing “almost criminal political back dealings.”

“Hillary Clinton, and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning, and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public,” Manning wrote.

Manning’s arrest comes as Wikileaks has ratcheted up pressure against various governments over the years with embarrassing documents acquired through a global whistleblower network that is seemingly impervious to threats from adversaries. Its operations are hosted on servers in several countries, and it uses high-level encryption for its document submission process, providing secure anonymity for its sources and a safe haven from legal repercussions for itself. Since its launch in 2006, it has never outed a source through its own actions, either voluntarily or involuntarily.

Manning came to the attention of the FBI and Army investigators after he contacted former hacker Adrian Lamo late last month over instant messenger and e-mail… From the chat logs provided by Lamo, and examined by Wired.com, it appears Manning sensed a kindred spirit in the ex-hacker. He discussed personal issues that got him into trouble with his superiors and left him socially isolated, and said he had been demoted and was headed for an early discharge from the Army.

When Manning told Lamo that he leaked a quarter-million classified embassy cables, Lamo contacted the Army, and then met with Army CID investigators and the FBI at a Starbucks near his house in Carmichael, California, where he passed the agents a copy of the chat logs. At their second meeting with Lamo on May 27, FBI agents from the Oakland Field Office told the hacker that Manning had been arrested the day before in Iraq by Army CID investigators.

Lamo has contributed funds to Wikileaks in the past, and says he agonized over the decision to expose Manning — he says he’s frequently contacted by hackers who want to talk about their adventures, and he’s never considered reporting anyone before. The supposed diplomatic cable leak, however, made him believe Manning’s actions were genuinely dangerous to U.S. national security.

More thoughts on this as things develop. Interested in readers’ gut reactions.

Kausmentum Part XVII

[ 7 ] June 6, 2010 |

It’s hard for me to view the Kaus Senate bid with anything but amusement, but he’s obviously trying very hard to irritate as many people as he can…

Saturday Cat/Baby Blogging

[ 10 ] June 5, 2010 |

The pussification of the American male continues, as Orrin caves to the aggressive economic demands of his inferiors.

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