What’s the deal with this? Kaus:
Where’s “Faggot-Guy”? … It seems like only last week that Andrew Sullivan was calling me “faggot-guy” at every available opportunity. (“[F]rom now on … on those few occasions when his name comes up, he will have a new appellation on this blog.”) He was sending me passionate emails. But today, nothing! Sullivan’s brilliant running conceit has simply disappeared. … Did he lose heart? Has he come un-unhinged? Did his new boss, David Bradley, decide that running around calling people “faggot-guy” might not be in the highest tradition of the venerable Atlantic? … Update: The Cycle of Excitability is nearing its all-too-predictable end. He’s back to calling me “Kaus.” He’ll be sucking up again soon! [Don't think so--ed. It's his default mode.] … 5:17 P.M.
Ooh; passionate e-mails, and an excitable Sully who’s sucking up. Hmm. Is it just my imagination, or does Mickey think that Sully is coming on to him? I’m not sure, but it kind of looks that way…
Here’s a friendly bit of advice, Mickey; I don’t tend to think of myself as an arbiter of male attractiveness, but I really, really, really (really!!!!) think that Sully can do better. I wouldn’t worry too much about it…
I’m in DC, working on various research. Best part of archival research is the trivial anecdotes that you come across. Found this in Special Collections at the Washington Naval Yard:
Soon after reaching the Atlantic U-100 sighted a motor vessel proceeding alone towards America and zigzagging; she was described as being about 6600 tons, apparently new, with shining paint and bright decks. Two torpedoes were fired from a submerged position and the ship heeled over and sank.
U-100 surfaced and the Captain, followed by the Quartermaster, climbed out of the conning tower. Survivors in one or more lifeboats were observed, but before the Germans had time to get close to their victim, for some unexplained reason the U-boat began to submerge. The Captain pushed the Quartermaster down the conning tower hatch and slammed it shut, remaining himself on the bridge. The water rose higher and higher and the Captain had to hang on to the periscope for his life before the U-boat surfaced again. The crew were roundly cursed by their wet Captain.
The wet Captain in question was Joachim Schepke, one of the most successful U-boat commanders of World War II. Boats under his command are credited with sinking 36 ships displacing a total of 153000 tons. Sadly (or happily, depending on your perspective) Schepke was crushed to death on the conning tower when U-100 was rammed by a Royal Navy destroyer… UPDATE: See comments on this point.
Also, my co-blogger should be pleased to discover that the first Canadian vessel to force the surrender of a German U-boat in World War II was none other than HMCS Moose Jaw.
If he were still living, William Joseph Casey would be enjoying his 94th birthday. Head of the SEC under Nixon and the CIA under Ronald Reagan, Casey died of pneumonia — abetted by a malignant brain tumor and prostate cancer — in May 1987.
Wiliam Casey directed Ronald Reagan’s election campaign in 1980 and was rewarded with the directorship of an agency whose reputation had taken a severe and well-earned pounding in the post-Watergate years. On matters of foreign policy, William Casey was devoted to the “Reagan Doctrine,” which called on the US to fund insurrections along the margins of the so-called “Communist world,” including those in Afghanistan, Angola, and Nicaragua. Few of these conflicts turned out quite according to plan, and the brutality of the elements being patronized by the US did not always suit the nation’s vision of itself as a moral exemplar. After Congress voted in 1984 to suspend all American financial assistance to the contra rebels in Nicaragua — an idiosycratic constellation of groups that shared little in common beyond their willingness to violate human rights — officials in the CIA and on the National Security Council were furious, that elected officials dared to interfere with their global ideological struggle against the Red Menace in all its guises.
Rather than accept defeat graciously, they instead devised a plan to continue funding the war, first by recruiting South Korean, Saudi and South African financial assistance, then by diverting revenue to the Central American fighters — revenue derived, as it turned out, from illegal arms sales to Iran. Although Chief of Staff James Baker had warned that such efforts might constitute “an impeachable offense,” Casey and the rest pressed forward in 1985 and 1986. Casey introduced Oliver North to various CIA assets in Central America, contacts that enabled North to organize the illegal financial transfers that were intended to bring millions of dollars into the Nicaraguan civil war. The project was bungled, however. In a beautiful twist of fate, the illegal covert operations were disclosed on the verge of Congressional approval of $100 million in aid to the contras.
Casey took ill in December 1986 and was dead by early May. At the time this seemed like a wise move, as the prime movers in the Iran-Contra scandal all appeared to be headed for lengthy prison terms; in retrospect, Casey might have put forth more of an effort to survive the beastly disease, since even the most deserving among the conspirators emerged without too many legal blemishes. Despite the pardons and vacated convictions and short prison terms that spared these men lasting indignity, history will not be nearly so kind to Casey and others who subverted the Constitution, funded terror, retained the services of drug traffickers, and helped prolong brutal conflicts that siphoned off tens of thousands of lives on two continents.
A comment below by R. Stanton Scott seems worth highlighting:
Those who argue that some citizens should be excluded from military service because their presence would hurt “unit cohesion” are saying that current soldiers should be able to decide with whom they serve. This is bravo sierra–the military is not a country club whose members should be able to blackball undesirables.
As a tank platoon sergeant I faced a variety of obstacles to unit cohesion, including affairs and arguments over women, unpaid gambling debts, racism, gang membership, laziness, and simple personality conflicts. The biggest one was the constant squabble between single junior enlisted troops who lived constricted lives in the barracks (daily inspections, etc), and the married soldiers who lived off post and lived much more freely (and also got time off for things like sick family members).
The point is that conflicts will always arise among any group of people large enough to complete a destructive military mission, and leaders–like General Pace–have the mission of solving these problems. This turns out to be easier than one might think, since most soldiers, even when slighted, know when they are being treated fairly and when they are not, and they know good leaders when they see them. Good leaders can create cohesive, effective units from diverse raw materials. Saying that military units cannot integrate homosexuals into cohesive units is the same as saying that our armed services have too few effective leaders.
What strikes me as most interesting is not that General Pace is comfortable classifying a non-trivial number of his own troops as immoral. It is that there is a mission that he can’t or won’t complete because of morality or ethics, but this mission has nothing to do with killing thousands of innocent civilians or breaking the Marine Corps he leads. It regards instead his refusal to validate sexual preferences his religion demonizes.
Who is the immoral one?
Right. It should be obvious that the solution to somebody failing to do their job because of their petty prejudices or immaturity isn’t to violate other people’s writes to accommodate them, but to tell them to grow up and if they can’t find people who can, and supervisors willing to indulge this behavior are similarly guilty. And as I’ve said before, somebody who isn’t willing to do his job because of his obsession with someone else’s sex life isn’t exactly somebody I’d be anxious to share a foxhole with. As Rob says, this “unit cohesion” stuff–which has been used to challenge not only gays but women and segregation in the military–is just a transparent pretext to justify exclusionary policies political and military leaders support for other reasons in any case.
Just 3 days removed from almost choking to death because of an allergic reaction to nuts, after repeated requests for the vinaigrette some clown at the Hale&Hearty applied some “Asian Peanut” dressing to my salad, which I discovered only because I happened to see the label on the side at the last minute; I don’t even want to think about what would have happened if I hadn’t been looking. Christ, this kind of thing can kill people, and it’s not exactly a high-skill task to figure out.
Treason-in-Defense-of-Slavery Yankee. While the old newspapers and oily rags pile up in his living room, and as he passes his days eating cheese sandwiches and saving his own excrement in white plastic buckets, Bob Owens has been in a manifesto-writing mood. In his latest effort,
“Death to the Leftist Insect that Preys on the Life of the People” “United Left of Defeat,” Bob concludes that
[o]n a fundamental level, leftists are no longer Americans first. They nakedly place their partisan political objectives above those of the nation as a whole. . . .
They are incapable of seeing it as a victory for the Iraqi people, whom they have made abundantly clear though their choices of rhetoric and proposed legislation, are secondary citizens of the world, at best. They refuse to acknowledge the possibility of a victory in Iraq as being good for the United States, the Iraqi people, or the world at large. They have chosen sides, and they do not side with the best interests of our country, or that of other free nations.
Strong words from a man who’s argued for caning the wogs when they get out of line. And coming from a fellow who . . . you know . . . loves the Confederacy and all, the “Americans first” exhalations are priceless as always.
No, really! OK, there are some details that are problematic–I’m not sure what campaign finance reform has to do with this, and George Bush was hardly less prone to claiming to transcend partisan conflict than Hillary Clinton–but the more that the argument that “democracy is about disagreement, and you can’t have the former without the latter” appears in our op-ed pages, the better. There’s no stupider genre of op-eds than the Broderesque “all political problems and our horrible partisanship could be solved if we could just agree that I’m right about everything” routine.
I’m glad that Peter Pace has made clear the reason he believes gays should be excluded from openly serving in the military. It’s so much more refreshing to hear this argument than the more nebulous “gays reduce unit cohesion” argument that’s been in vogue for the last fifteen years or so. According to this argument, gays reduce unit performance both by creating distrust in the unit (heterosexuals get nervous) and through developing relationships that prevent properly dispassionate analysis and action (Sarge doesn’t want his boyfriend to get shot, and thus takes unnecessary risks). There’s not the faintest shred of empirical support for the unit cohesion argument, but because it’s so difficult to test, there’s not a ton of empirical disconfirmation, either.
Much better for Pace to simply make clear that he finds homosexuals icky. The odd thing is that, in spite of this ickiness, Pace claims that he supports the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Closted gays, apparently, aren’t as icky as open gays. I suppose that God hates an Army where soldiers have purple triangles on their uniforms, but finds an Army with closeted gays acceptable. Whatever. By making clear the real reason for the exclusion of gays, Pace is helping to sound the death knell of their exclusion. Attitudes toward homosexuality are becoming more progressive in virtually every demographic, even the very conservative ones that the armed forces draw from. The attitudes that Pace displays are steadily going to grow less tenable. There’s plenty of tolerance of gays in the military now; most soldiers that I’ve met knew that some of their comrades were gay, and almost none of them cared.
Cross-posted to TAPPED.
I have a post at TAPPED about the strange new conservative trend toward talking about abortion as weakening America’s precious baby supply, an argument that (assuming conservatism wants to preserve any viability at all)–even if it were actually accurate–would obviously prove too much, since birth control is a rather greater brake on fertility rates. I use this to discuss attempts by conservatives to “pull the thread” of Roe without upsetting the Griswold line of cases, which I think usually fails. Since I’m having trouble getting the comments to work and this has come up once before, I thought it was worth explaining this in more detail. A commenter says:
I think that argument is somewhat facile, simply because the main difference between Roe v. Wade and Griswold is the existence of a competing interest — the putative child’s — in abortion cases. That’s not an argument that was advanced to any significant degree in Roe, but it’s one that’s likely to be advanced in any potential repudiation of Roe, specifically for the reason that it would avoid repudiating Griswold.
In theory, this is true: someone can acknowledge that abortion is a fundamental right–which it logically must be, if contraception is–but that is trumped by a more powerful state interest. But, in practice, this is rarely the case. None of the past or current anti-Roe Supreme Court Justices have actually made this argument: Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, and White instead argued that a woman’s right to choose an abortion is not a fundamental liberty interest at all. (White actually joined Griswold, making his position hopelessly incoherent.) And, actually, this makes sense, because attempts to “pull the thread” will fail. Anti-Roe arguments, in practice, depend on taking asserted legislative ends at face value and not analyzing the fit between the policy and the stated ends–precisely the opposite of the strict scrutiny applying Griswold requires. Let’s assess the two potentially countervailing interests that could trump fundamental reproductive rights:
- Protecting a woman’s health. While this is certainly a compelling state interest, it is obvious that abortion criminalization is a grossly overbroad means of achieving these ends. The legitimate state interest of ensuring the safety of abortions hardly requires them to be banned altogether. Moreover, this justification runs into the obvious problem that abortion is much safer than bringing a child to term. If reproductive freedom is a fundamental right, this isn’t a remotely hard question.
- Protecting Fetal Life. This is the somewhat more viable enterprise; one can imagine a moral conception of the fetus that could plausibly trump even a fundamental liberty interest. However, it is clear from the way abortion laws are actually written and enforced that abortion laws do not reflect anything like such a consensus. If fetal life was protected, these laws would be strongly enforced, women who got abortions would face serious jail time, juries would convict doctors for performing abortions absent injury, affluent women would not have de facto exemptions from the law, etc. But none of these things are true. Once we stop taking state assertions at face value–and if a fundamental right is involved, we cannot–the fit between the purported interest and the construction and application of abortion bans is too implausible to sustain abortion bans. Legislation delegating these decisions to panels of doctors under vague standards fares even worse in this respect.
Given actual abortion laws, as opposed to abortion laws in some abstract universe, one can have both Griswold and Roe or neither, period.
I think that Thomas Geogeghan is a bit unfair to Thucydides:
The strong will crush the weak. If ever there’s a case for pre-emptive war, it is all there in Thucydides. It’s a world in which there is no world opinion, or international law. That kind of thing’s for sissies, the neocon’s would say Set up those prisons in Guantanamo. They don’t cry over these things in Thucydides. You focus on being strong.
First, he was writing in Fifth Century B.C. There was no such thing as world opinion. There was no mass media. There was no CNN, or UN, or anything like the Hague. We were not wired up to each other. And there were no roadside bombs. What the neocons miss is that things that the Spartans could get away with in The Peloponessian Wars, they wouldn’t even try to get away with now. It’s not that we’re “soft” in the twenty-first century. But our hard power is so dependent on our soft power that there are things a “realist” would have done once that anyone with a sense of reality wouldn’t do now.
Right; I suppose that someone could have that interpretation of Thucydides if they only thing they read was the Melian Dialogue. In the context of the rest of the book, it makes no sense whatsoever. Thucydides makes quite clear, over and over and over again, that the Athenians and Spartans do not live in a purely anarchical international system. Norms matter even to the Athenians; there are even multiple ways of reading the Melian Dialogue. Certainly, we are supposed to understand that the Spartans took the general guidelines of international conduct more seriously than the Athenians, even if they were often just as ruthless. And the Spartans won, after all…
Part of the problem is that neoconservative readings of Thucydides tend to be relentlessly terrible. Once you convince yourself that Thucydides thought that they Sicilian Expedition was a good idea, I guess invading Iraq looks downright sensible…
I’ll confess, also, that I’m unsympathetic with Geogeghan’s argument (that we need to read more Herodotus and less Thucydides) because I simply loathe Herodotus. He may have travelled a lot, but it’s clear that he simply made up a lot of stuff from questionable second hand accounts.
Via Bitch, Ph.D., we read about the latest uninformed plea for “accurate language” to describe Plan B.
“Plan B (the morning after pill) “can lower the risk of pregnancy by up to 89 percent if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.”
So states a sentence matter-of-factly in various AP articles today regarding a woman’s complaint against the Kroger Co. because a pharmacist refused to provide her with Plan B, the massive dose of birth control pills permitted for sale by the FDA (thanks to the new FDA chief appointed by Bush) that either 1) destroys the fetus immediately after conception by preventing it from attaching to the womb, flushing it out of the mother’s system, 2) prevents the egg from joining with the sperm, or 3) stops the egg from being released (these three descriptions can be found on the Plan B website). The mainstream media-censored description of Plan B never mentions that one of the three ways Plan B works is to destroy the life of the fetus. This is one of the most clear-cut examples of media bias.
One could develop a pretty good drinking game around this paragraph — if we figure one swig of Beefeater per factual error, I’d be filled with a gentle, undeserved love for humanity by the end of that first run-on sentence. As Bitch points out, Rachel Alexander can’t even read the Duramed website correctly, instead insisting that anti-choice fantasy (e.g., “destroys the fetus”) substitute for a clinically accurate account of the drug — a drug that is, of course, not a “massive dose of birth control pills” but rather an elevated (two-pill) dose of progesterone that does not “destroy the fetus” because there is no such critter to destroy.
More interesting to me is the deliberate inversion of Plan B’s effects. As a high dose of progesterone, its primary (and only clinically-demonstrated) effect is to prevent ovulation; instead, Alexander gives primary emphasis to an effect that conservates have simply invented to attack a drug they won’t condone for their own peculiar reasons. Along the way, we’re even reminded of the scientacular “statistic” — a popular one among the anti-choice crowd, drawn as it is from an unreliable data set — that “83 percent” of women who go through abortion procedures later experience “regret.”
Taken on its own the post is an illiterate throw-away, unworthy of mention except for the extent to which it expresses a symptomatic wingnut hostility to anything resembling a sober, accurate description of Plan B. Alexander even goes so far as to chide Duramed for not including “pictures” to illustrate the pills’ effects. I can only assume that the photos she has in mind were last seen waving on a stick outside a clinic in Omaha.
The latest from one of the guys McCain consults:
What’s more, Bush won’t be able to “stay out of it.” Others will continue to place his White House at the very heart of it, as the Libby appeals move forward. After all, Libby’s lawyers foolishly (or perhaps desperately) introduced at trial the notion that Libby was a “fall guy”–which would seem to legitimize the notion there was a conspiracy, of which Libby was a part, though a less important part than others. Each time a legal paper is filed, a new anti-Bush news cycle will erupt. So if the White House wants to minimize opportunities for fresh speculation about how the Libby case is part of some broader conspiracy, the president should act now.
So this is where “for-the-good-of-the-country” arguments come to, I suppose. As far as Kristol can tell, the most compelling argument in favor pardoning Libby — aside from the obvious claim that “there was no underlying crime” — rests on the craven wish to avoid “a new anti-Bush spin cycle.” Even more amazingly, Kristol insists toward the end of the piece that a pardon for Scooter Libby would “reinvigorate” the President’s strongest supporters, who are “demoralized” by the conviction.
. . . Kristol link fixed . . .
. . . and for the easily confused, Tom Hilton offers a nice chart guaranteed to keep you momentarily smarter than the Washington Post editorial board . . .