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Everything Old is New Again…

[ 13 ] July 23, 2008 |

This has to be a joke:

Russian bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons could be deployed to Cuba in response to U.S. plans to install a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, a Russian newspaper reported Monday, citing an unnamed senior Russian air force official.

The report in Izvestia, which could not be confirmed, prompted memories of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, when the United States and the Soviet Union came to the brink of nuclear war after Nikita Khrushchev put nuclear missiles on the Caribbean island. The weapons were eventually withdrawn in an apparent Soviet climb-down, but President John F. Kennedyalso secretly agreed to remove U.S. missiles from Turkey.

A spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry declined to comment on the report Monday, but did not deny it. Izvestia is often a forum for strategic leaks by Kremlin and other officials.

Via AG.

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"We wanna get loaded!"

[ 25 ] July 23, 2008 |

This is more in Rob’s and Scott’s wheelhouse, but Tim at Walking the Berkshires is compiling a list of the “Top Ten Movie Soliloquies.” He embeds Robert Shaw’s famous Jaws monologue about the fate of the sailors on the USS Indianapolis, and in comments he adds a few others — Gregory Peck in Mockingbird, Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now, and so on.

I suppose I’m usually not a fan of monologues per se — if we’re talking about characters who dominate a scene, I usually find something like this to be more compelling — but then again, it’s hard not to feel inspired by this:

Or this:

Or this.

Oh, wait. That’s not a movie. Never mind.

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Doughboy Hyperbole of the Day

[ 15 ] July 22, 2008 |

Jonah Goldberg actually compares the “success” of Teh Surge to — oh, Jeebus, its just too fantastic to spoil:

Recall that Bill Clinton, with his dovish record and roster of “character issues,” would never have been elected if the Soviet Union hadn’t collapsed in 1991. With the Cold War over, the successful Reagan surge (and Bush pere‘s cleanup efforts) made rolling the dice on Clinton tolerable. The McCain surge (as well as Bush fils‘ success at averting another 9/11) produces the same effect for Obama.

I suppose someone should alert Norman Podhoretz that World War IV has ended. Meantime, I can’t wait for the “peace dividend” debate. I was worried that we were going to have spend another few trillion dollars on this war.

…And in other Goldberg-related news….

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A Prediction: Glenn Reynolds Will Continue To Be Wrong About Everything

[ 9 ] July 22, 2008 |

Shorter Verbatim Glenn Reynolds: “A PREDICTION: If Barack Obama is elected President, he’ll be far more warlike than President Bush, and far more warlike than his pre-election rhetoric suggests. Because before he’s elected President, attacks on America are just attacks on America. But after he’s elected President, attacks on America will also be attacks on Barack Obama.” So I take it that Reynolds will be voting for Obama then? (I trust that the projection inherent in the Perfesser accusing other people of supporting endless perpetual wars everywhere for narcissistic reasons is too obvious to require elaboration.)

But what happens when Obama finds those secret Iranian nuclear weapons that Reynolds told us about?


See also.

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So let it be written; so let it be done

[ 15 ] July 22, 2008 |

Just got this breathless press release from the McCain campaign:

BARACK OBAMA SAID IT!: “There’s No Doubt That General Petraeus Does Not Want A Timetable”
Barack ObamaMedia AvailabilityAmman, JordanJuly 22, 2008
Barack Obama: “In terms of my conversations with General Petraeus, there’s no doubt that General Petraeus does not want a timetable. I mean I think that he’s said that publicly. And he is, and as I said, in his role, I think he wants maximum flexibility to be able to do what he believes needs to be done inside of Iraq.”

So there you have it — the debate is over. Gen. Petraeus, aka The Maximum Leader of Mesopotamia, has considered the matter, and there’s nothing left for the American government to decide, let alone the Child-like Brown People and their feckless representatives.

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Do You Believe In Miracles?

[ 24 ] July 22, 2008 |

I forgot to mention this, but commenter Howard and I once again have a $50 donation to Planned Parenthood riding on whether the Yankees make the playoffs. Harvey Araton’s highly unconvincing comparisons to 1965 notwithstanding, I would definitely make the bet again in a second. Especially with Posada looking out for the year, I don’t think it’s quite the lock it was at this time last year, but I still think it’s much better than 50/50. In particular, with the collapse of the Indians the competition is a lot weaker. The West is a write-off: with over-their-heads pitching and a pathetic offense, the A’s (as Beane correctly saw) have as little chance to make the postseason as a team in their position could have, especially after their meek surrender in the Bronx. (Speaking of pathetic offenses, is the jig finally up on J.P. Riccardi?) The Tigers might outscore the Yankees going forward, but with their pitching I can’t pick them to be 4 games better the rest of the way. The Twins have two players who could start for the Yankees and have allowed more runs. And while I would still pick the Red Sox, one can’t rule out the possibility of the Yankees winning the division outright.

This leaves us with Tampa. I’ll be rooting hard for them, not only to beat the Yankees but because they remind me of my beloved early-90s Expos. But I think they’ll be good but not quite good enough. The historical hurdle is formidable: indeed, I think they would be the most unlikely miracle team ever. The only other miracle team with 95 Pythagorean losses the previous year is the ’91 Braves, and the Rays face tougher competition and don’t have a Hall of Fame manager in their first year. (The ’69 Mets and ’61 Reds did have a manager who wasn’t new and had no previous credentials, so it’s not impossible, just something working against them.) If their young starters hold up under the strain, Percival stays healthy, and Wheeler, Howell and Balfour all keep pitching brilliantly, they’ll win…but myself I wouldn’t bet on that. Not impossible, but significantly less than 50/50.

Whether they make the playoffs this year or not, though, they’ve still had an amazing season. And like the ’91 Braves, I think the key lesson is that when you have a team with talented young pitching, putting a real defense behind them is absolutely crucial.

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[ 2 ] July 22, 2008 |

Nicholas Carr asks Is Google Making Us Stupid?” (I started reading this but got bored so I don’t know the answer).

I do know that Google is the single greatest invention of the human mind since that thing Peter Frampton used to make his guitar sound like a robot voice, mainly because it allows one to find the answer to questions such as “was Jimmy Gobble’s ten runs given up in a single inning last night a major league record?” in 20 seconds flat.

Early on during those 20 seconds I suspected the answer might involve one of those deals where a position player pitches an inning in a game that has gotten out of hand, so I take it as some sort of cosmic joke that the record is held by a regular pitcher who washed out of the majors then came back five years later as an outfielder at the age of 31 and hit .349 in seven seasons (fourth-highest average of all time in 3000 or more plate appearances, per baseball-reference).

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Genocidal Maniac Captured

[ 0 ] July 22, 2008 |

Radovan Karadzic. Good deal.

More from Hilzoy and Doug.

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Not so Fast

[ 9 ] July 22, 2008 |

Well this is depressing.

After moving into virtually every occupation, women are being afflicted on a large scale by the same troubles as men: downturns, layoffs, outsourcing, stagnant wages or the discouraging prospect of an outright pay cut. And they are responding as men have, by dropping out or disappearing for a while.

“When we saw women starting to drop out in the early part of this decade, we thought it was the motherhood movement, women staying home to raise their kids,” Heather Boushey, a senior economist at the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, which did the Congressional study, said in an interview. “We did not think it was the economy, but when we looked into it, we realized that it was.”

It should not be surprising that with a slowing economy and men losing more jobs than in recent years, women too are losing more jobs. But I guess a study like this sort of undercuts all that hysteria about women dropping out of the workplace and a return to 1950s values, eh? I’m hoping so because that line of thinking is not doing professional women any good.

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Presidential Statement of the Day

[ 0 ] July 21, 2008 |

Benjamin Harrison, proclaiming a day of celebration (scheduled for October 21) in recognition of the 400th anniversary of the “discovery of America,” 21 July 1892:

Columbus stood in his age as the pioneer of progress and enlightenment. The system of universal education is in our age the most prominent and salutary feature of the spirit of enlightenment, and it is peculiarly appropriate that the schools be made by the people the center of the day’s demonstration. Let the national flag float over every schoolhouse in the country and the exercises be such as shall impress upon our youth the patriotic duties of American citizenship.

In the churches and in the other places of assembly of the people let there be expressions of gratitude to Divine Providence for the devout faith of the discoverer and for the divine care and guidance which has directed our history and so abundantly blessed our people.

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And another thing…

[ 12 ] July 21, 2008 |

My wife asked the other day why I seemed so interested recently in the self-evident absurdity of “Black Confederates.” The short, pragmatic answer is that I’m teaching a course on the US Civil War era this fall, and I plan to spend no small amount of time exploring some of the popular fantasies that continue to shape public conversation about the war. The even shorter answer is that I continue to read Kevin Levin’s blog, Civil War Memory, which is an essential stop for anyone concerned with how we teach and think about the history and historiography of that horrific conflict.

Kevin has an interesting guest post from Peter Carmichael of West Virginia University, who writes about the ambivalent depictions of camp servants who participated in the war, not as “Black Confederates” but as enslaved men whose presence on the battlefield both ratified and undermined white assumptions about race and servitude.

There were camp servants who picked up a musket in battle or rescued a wounded white soldier, but these acts were not patriotic expressions of Confederate loyalty as wartime Southerners and Lost Cause advocates have claimed. Patriotism is a purely voluntary act. The presence of coercion in slavery, moreover, creates an insurmountable challenge for those who want to describe slaves as Confederate heroes. In reality, many Confederate slaves capitalized upon the masters’ need for black political action to demonstrate a sense of self-worth that they had long repressed. While Confederate slaves successfully challenged popular conceptions of what it meant to be a black man, these “victories” did not earn them the public recognition they sought, nor did it insulate them from the brutality of an institution that was even more unpredictable and volatile within the setting of a Southern rebel army than it was on the plantation.

The whole post is worth looking at. One of Carmichael’s most helpful observations is that the presence of slaves on the battlefield was an essential prosthesis for Southern white masculinity. To be able to command blacks as camp laborers — performing, among other things, “woman’s work” as cooks and laundrymen — would obviously have had practical as well as ideological value for Confederates with the means to supply them, but Carmichael also explores how enslaved laborers provided white soldiers with useful foils against which they could celebrate their own battlefield bravery. As in peacetime, the war provided slaveholders and advocates of a slaveholding society with the means to insist that enslaved men were not, in fact, Men.

Carmichael also tries to read against the grain of historical evidence to evaluate how camp servants might have experienced the war. Here, too, there’s a lot to think about, particularly the reminder that the war stoked expectations and demands among enslaved people that would have been disastrous for the future of slavery even if the Confederacy had somehow managed to survive in tact and independent. I’m reminded of Sen. Alexander Stephens’ warning, not long before he became Jefferson Davis’ vice president, that slavery would be more secure within the Union than outside of it.

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[ 0 ] July 21, 2008 |

As you have noticed below, because bean will be on a light posting schedule and this site certainly needs at least one lawyer, Paul Campos will be joining LGM for at least the next couple months. I strongly recommend his book The Obesity Myth. I hope you will enjoy his work here too!

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