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Beirut

[ 15 ] October 24, 2008 |

Marine Corps barracks bombing 25 years ago today. 241 dead, almost all USMC. 58 French paratroopers died the same way, on the same day.

I don’t ascribe to the bombing the importance that neoconservatives have accorded it; Al Qaeda et al would have discovered other “evidence” of American “weakness” even if St. Reagan had kept us in Lebanon until 1989. But I do find the deification of Reagan by neoconservatives fascinating, especially in the context of the withdrawal from Lebanon, the ensuing Iran-Contra deal, and the arms control agreements with the Soviets. Neoconservatives deserve the scorn heaped upon them for their efforts to co-opt Wilson and Truman, but the fact that even Reagan substantially fails to live up to their standards too often goes unremarked…

Well, Now We Have the Flop Sweat Vote Locked Down…

[ 15 ] October 24, 2008 |

Scott McClellan endorses Obama. Scott, you couldn’t carry Ari’s flag lapel pin.

Just Planning My Evening…

[ 0 ] October 24, 2008 |

If everything goes as predicted by the current chart at 538, and if state are called within an hour of poll closings, then Obama will reach 270 sometime between 9 and 10pm EST.

Time McCain Obama
7:00 31 27
7:30 36 47
8:00 69 185
8:30 75 200
9:00 139 286

If Indiana, North Carolina, or Virginia go for McCain (or are slow to call), Obama still hits 271. If Florida, Ohio, or Pennsylvania go the other way, then we wait until 10pm, when Iowa and Nevada close.

Rememmber; it’s never too early to plan out your election night drinking strategy. Unfortunately, Kentucky prohibits the opening of bars and liquor stores until the polls close at 6pm…

The Europeans are So Different than We…

[ 0 ] October 23, 2008 |

Stuff that you couldn’t make up:

The successor of the Austrian far-right leader Jörg Haider was dismissed yesterday after he revealed a “special” relationship “far beyond” friendship with his former mentor.

In emotional interviews with the national broadcaster and a tabloid newspaper Stefan Petzner spoke openly about his affair with Haider, who died at the age of 58 in a high-speed car crash after heavy drinking session at a gay club this month. Haider’s party, the Alliance for the Future of Austria, captured 11 per cent of the vote in national elections last month .

“He was the man of my life. Our relationship went far beyond friendship,” Mr Petzner, 27, said after only a week in the job, adding that Haider’s wife, Claudia, 52, “did not object” to their relationship.

It’s not April Fool’s Day, is it? The American equivalent to this would be… I’m not sure, really.

..re: this comment, we really do learn remarkable things from Wikipedia:

In the early 1980s, the Naval Investigative Service was investigating homosexuality in the Chicago area. Agents discovered that gay men sometimes referred to themselves as “friends of Dorothy.” Unaware of the historical meaning of the term, the NIS believed that a woman named Dorothy was at the center of a massive ring of homosexual military personnel. The NIS launched an enormous hunt for Dorothy, hoping to find her and convince her to reveal the names of gay servicemembers.

Just Sayin’

[ 0 ] October 23, 2008 |

If I was going to select someone to dispense earnest campaign advice, I might try to find someone who didn’t confidently claim that John McCain was an “even chance” to win Massachusetts.

Socialist of the Day

[ 2 ] October 23, 2008 |

John McCain. After all, a free market tax scheme would try to tax all types of income relatively equally and trust the market to distribute resources. But McCain wants to “pick winners and losers” and benefit investors as opposed to people who earn money through wages or salaries. Oh, the humanity!

And, of course, proposing a capital gains tax cut as a remedy to…a collapsing stock market makes it a super-brilliant idea.

Jonah Goldberg: Collective Ownership of the Means of Production Isn’t Socialism, But Progressive Taxation Is

[ 13 ] October 23, 2008 |

Shorter Jonah: My grasp of the word “socialism” is every bit as firm as my grasp of the words “nepotism” and “meritocracy.”

Submitted for its potential sociological interest

[ 29 ] October 23, 2008 |

Mrs. Joe X, a resident of San Angelo, TX, writes in response to this:

“It is only 8:30 in the morning and I have had my laugh for the day. It is impossible to believe that a “constitutional scholar” such as yourself would attempt to convince the American people that the redistribution of wealth has actually benefited the super wealthy. Only a fool living in “la la liberal land ” would think in those terms. For those of us in the real world, the facts tell a different story. Please give me one example where socialism succeeded. Just one. Europe, Russia, Cuba, or the wonderful state of Michigan? The human spirit desires freedom, ownership, working hard and being proud. Say for a
moment that the United States evenly divided all the money and assets. Everyone started out with the same amount. One year later, I guarantee that you would have those that squandered everything, did not save a cent,and refused to work. And then you would have those that worked hard, invested, saved, and produced. In essence, I am saying that after one year, things would be back to where they are now. We are a country of hard working achievers as well as individuals content to feed at the public trough and believe they are entitled to every government handout. John Edwards was right after all–there are two America’s. Those that work hard and build something and those who live in an entitlement world.My husband and I have a successful cotton farming operation here in Texas. We have built a legacy for our children and grandchildren. He has worked like a SOB his entire life. If you and your liberal/socialist/communist ilk think that we are going to stand idly by while you attempt to take it away and “redistribute” our lifetime of work to individuals who have no ambition and refuse to better themselves-you have misjudged us (and the American people).Joe the plumber must have really touched a nerve on the left. To write an asinine column about the super wealthy benefiting from the redistribution of wealth is an insult and a stretch for anyone who has any understanding of economics and the free market.I know that there are people who need our help and assistance. But we have become a nation of “takers”. The government is not our benevolent father and we don’t need the government to tell us what to do.Your ideology is code for “let’s make everyone equally poor and governed by the elite few”. Of course, the elite few would include intellectuals and scholars such as yourself.”

I suppose the email columnists get is only slightly more respectable than conversations Tom Friedman has had with cab drivers the world over as a source of social insight, but I do get a lot of missives that sound exactly like this. The translation device in these peoples’ heads is extremely powerful.

On a tangential note, I enjoy reading Andrew Sullivan’s site for both straightforward and ironic reasons, and in the latter category I especially enjoy the “email recognizing the blogger’s unique insights, courage and intelligence” genre.

Big Ten Goes Blue

[ 0 ] October 23, 2008 |

I fear that this is too good to be true:

Illinois Obama 61% McCain 32%
Indiana Obama 51% McCain 41%
Iowa Obama 52% McCain 39%
Michigan Obama 58% McCain 36%
Minnesota Obama 57% McCain 38%
Ohio Obama 53% McCain 41%
Pennsylvania Obama 52% McCain 41%
Wisconsin Obama 53% McCain 40%

The Indiana and Ohio findings seem particularly optimistic. On the other hand, the September 19 poll was very favorable to McCain, even more so than most of the Midwest polls of the time.

If you talk to God that’s called prayer

[ 19 ] October 22, 2008 |

If God talks to you that’s called schizophrenia.

So observed Thomas Szasz, in his interesting if extreme critique of the concept of mental illness.

Nevertheless, some people actually are certifiably nuts. And we’re going to be hearing a lot from them in the next few years. Just wait until Scaife et al start funneling serious money to Philip J. Berg, Esq. et. al. et. seq.

Spin Prediction

[ 0 ] October 22, 2008 |

The McCain campaign’s response to this bit of news will consist of some variation on the following:

Americans should be comforted to know that al-Qaeda’s assessment of John McCain’s temperament as president roughly parallels everything that Sen. Obama has been saying on the campaign trail.

If the McCain campaign won’t run with it, the wingnuts are by all means welcome to have it. In which case, my official response will be some variation on the following:

Wingnuts should be comforted to know that their analysis of al-Qaeda’s analysis of the American presidential election was anticipated by the half-serious analysis of a freedom-hating, nihilistic, left-wing professor who may or may not have been half-drunk when he first thought of it.

This, via Ackerman, will also do nicely:

I Can Haz Moral Abomination?

[ 30 ] October 22, 2008 |

This is the funniest thing I’ve read all month.

UPDATE [by SL]: It’s obviously a rich comedy vein indeed, but my favorite part is Douglas’s assertions about my colleague’s lack of “rigor.” Within the last week, you’ll recall, Douglas wrote an intended-to-be-serious post about a transparently photoshopped hotel receipt showing Michelle Obama to have obtained rooms service (including a bottle of champagne priced below retail) at a hotel in New York while she was at an event in Indiana. I think we can all agree that this is someone whose evauations of intellectual rigor should be taken with the utmost seriousness. I am eagerly awaiting his new post about the latest stunning revelations about this crucial subject!

UPDATE [by davenoon]: This is the last straw. Piss off, Rob. Now Donald is paying more attention to you than to me. Look. I found him; I brought his absinthian splendor to our threads; I made him the increasingly prominent neoconservative he is today. Stop bogarting my troll.

UPDATE [by Rob]: Use him or lose him, dude.