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Mmm… Pithy

[ 0 ] September 6, 2007 |

Kenneth Waltz, via Travis Sharp:

To say that militarily strong states are feeble because they cannot easily bring order to minor states is like saying that a pneumatic hammer is weak because it is not suitable for drilling decayed teeth.


[ 0 ] September 6, 2007 |

John Judis has a rundown of the 2008 Senate races, noting that in the long run Warner leaving is a lot more important than Craig’s resignation. I agree that the Dems are very, very likely to win Colorado and New Hampshire. The most interesting category to me is the “could win” one:

Moderate Republican incumbents Norm Coleman in Minnesota, Susan Collins in Maine, and Gordon Smith in Oregon could be in trouble because they are running in states that are expected to vote strongly Democratic in 2008. If the Iraq war drags on, and the Republicans are identified nationally with it, these candidates will have to run against their own party. Coleman and Smith are both unpopular in their states but face relatively inexperienced, although by no means incapable, foes. Collins remains popular in Maine, but she faces a popular Democratic congressman, Tom Allen. These races could hinge on voter disgust with the national Republicans and who runs the best campaigns.

Here, I’m a touch less optimistic. I’ll be interested to see how Allen looks; I’ve generally assumed that, while GOP control of the seats will end with the end of their tenures, that Snowe and Collins have their seats for as long as they want them. I’d be pretty skeptical about Democratic chances there. Minnesota seems the most promising. I don’t know what to make of Oregon; it seems like a good pickup theory in principle, but Smith seems oddly popular. (I would definitely like to see his “disapprove” numbers get over 50% before I’ll be too optimistic…)

The bottom line, I guess, is that while the Dems are in good shape because they have a lot of opportunities for states where things can break right, we shouldn’t forget how hard it is to beat a GOP incumbent even in a blue state. This is why Warner resigning helps a lot. I would be surprised if the Dems could pick off more than 1 of the above three incumbents, and I wouldn’t be shocked if they all held on.

Send the Flowers, Call the Hearse

[ 0 ] September 6, 2007 |

Well, that’s the end of that; the only remaining AL question is whether the Yankees will play the Angels or the Tribe. (Well, I suppose the Tigers could get hot, but they’re no going to make it given the schedule the Yankees have.) I wonder if Murray Chass still thinks the Mariners were brilliant not to make any effort to sign Rodriguez? (And I’d like him to explain why, if Hicks signed such a bad contract, why Slappy is going to opt-out and get a better deal after this season.)

Well, it could be worse; I could be a Phillies fan

I’m At a Loss For Words

[ 0 ] September 6, 2007 |

This’ll get your blood boiling. Upon waking up this morning, I read this headline in the NY Times: Despite DNA Test, Prosecutor is Retrying Case.

That’s right. A Mississippi prosecutor is retrying a man, Kenny Brewer, a mildly mentally handicapped laborer who served 15 years for a rape and capital murder of a young girl, and who was released from death row after it was found last year that the DNA at the crime scene didn’t match his. The state has made no effort to find the man whose DNA actually is at the crime scene. The prosecutor never even checked the DNA against the state’s database, claiming that there isn’t one. The state argued in Mr. Brewer’s first trial that he acted alone. But now the prosecutor says Mr. Brewer assisted while someone else raped and murdered the girl. The prosecutor says the DNA evidence proves nothing. Mr. Brewer doesn’t deny he was at the young girl’s home; he was dating her mother and stayed there often. The state’s star witness in the first trial was a bite mark expert who later was expelled from the national medical boards and the association of forensic dentists. There is no evidence linking Mr. Brewer to the crime. Prosecutors sought a new capital murder trial for Mr. Brewer, but have had to settle for plain old murder.

This is an appalling example of the continuing two-tier justice system that still exists, especially in the former Jim Crow states. The man was exonerated. The state did nothing to find the man whose DNA was at the crime scene. But they’re continuing the prosecute (persecute) the one man they see as an easy target — poor, black, and to many in the state who have not quite wrapped their heads around the conclusiveness of DNA evidence, still guilty.

Update: Can any of you criminal law experts out there explain why this is not double jeopardy? IS it because they are now trying him as an accessory? Now this is what they call continuing legal education.

Almost As Funny As Stomach Cancer Column of the Day

[ 0 ] September 6, 2007 |

Mr. Richard Cohen. (But his elementary school teachers think he’s funny! And his mother thinks he’s cool!) More here.

More on Ab Only

[ 0 ] September 5, 2007 |

Amanda – in a new gig at RH Reality Check – reminds us why we have got to get rid of abstinence only programs. I wish I could have the same sense of humor about it as these guys. But instead, I just get mad.

While there is oh so much wrong with abstinence only programs, and with the fact that our tax dollars fund them (they’re often closely connected to churches), Amanda hits on what I find to be one of the most patently offensive parts:

Women, or at least vaginas, are objects that get “used up” fairly quickly. Abstinence-only educators absolutely love having classroom demonstrations to drive home the point that women who’ve had sex are used up and more suitable for being thrown in a dumpster than gussied up in a wedding gown. Various objects are used to drive home this point. Some educators prefer to compare women to toothbrushes, telling the students you don’t want to use someone else’s toothbrush after they’ve opened the package and used it. Some pass out gum or lollipops and then dare the students to swap them after they’ve started chewing on them, likening non-virginal women to chewed up candy. My all-time favorite, though, might be Jennifer Waters’s method, since she sticks tape to student arms and pulls it off, showing that if a woman has had sex with another guy before you, she’s less emotionally “sticky.”

So again we’ve got the women as vessels image rearing its ugly head. And while these games might appear gender neutral at first glance, the context in which they’re taught makes it clear what we’re talking about: girls. My question builds off of Scott’s continued highlighting of the inconsistencies in the fundies’ approach. And it’s this: at what point will they realize that the choice for many (most) teens is not sex or no sex but rather safe sex or unprotected sex (leading, potentially, to unplanned pregnancy and abortion)?

Fear the Canadian Menace

[ 0 ] September 5, 2007 |

All indications suggest that the Royal Navy will press ahead with its plans to build Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales, a pair of 65000 ton aircraft carriers that will be the largest ships the Royal Navy has ever operated. I have to wonder, though, what the point of having 65000 ton carriers is if the Canadians can sink them. To the left is an actual photo taken of HMS Illustrious from HMCS Corner Brook:

Had [submarine HMCS] Corner Brook been a hostile, rather than a participant in NATO’s exercise Noble Mariner, taking place in the North Sea and Baltic in May, “Lusty” [HMS Illustrious] would have been a matter of seconds away from taking a Mk 48 heavyweight torpedo in what British naval folk technically describe as the Khyber Pass. This came after the RN had issued a press release praising the ship’s ability to dominate the battlespace. It is doubly ironic in that Corner Brook is the former HMS Ursula, one of four Upholder-class SSKs built at great trouble and expense by the U.K. and then sold to Canada when the U.K. government decided to standardize on nuclear boats

Indeed. In other news, the Royal Navy’s new Type 45 destroyers are just (and I put this as delicately as I can) as ugly as all get out:
Seriously; is the hope that the Iranians will be too overcome by laughter to kidnap British sailors?

Mister Trend is Making Sense (Unless You Really Like Mariachi Music or Hate Sonic Youth)

[ 0 ] September 5, 2007 |

If you haven’t seen Mister Trend’s Random Music Observations, you really should treat yourself (the first installment is here). They’re pretty much as you would expect — pithy, one- to two-sentence dissertations on the demerits of mariachi music or the comparative worth of John Tesh vis-a-vis Yanni and Kenny G. It’s the sort of thing that would work well in fortune cookies.

A sample:

While it is very impressive that Def Leppard’s drummer drums with one arm, it does nothing to elevate their music from absolute crapitude.

I don’t know why, but that one’s been cracking me up just a little bit for the past 20 minutes.

If we’ve won Katie Couric, we’ve won America!

[ 0 ] September 5, 2007 |

For nearly forty years, a prophecy — known only to the clerics of Outer Wingnuttia — has foretold the arrival of the One True Redeemer, a Chosen One who will recalibrate the scales of national honor by atoning for the sins of Walter Cronkite, one of History’s Greatest Living Monsters, and the CBS network that sponsored his betrayals.

At last, it appears the day of atonement has arrived. Behold Jules Crittenden:

Cronkite made it acceptable to question Vietnam, to accept failure, and ultimately to abandon Vietnam, which at this late date, makes it acceptable to pretend there were no dire consequences for the United States, for millions of Southeast Asians. Couric, best known at CBS for a well-turned ankle, is now bucking convention by daring to say something good is happening there. It would be ironic if TV’s most famously lightweight anchor made it acceptable to think seriously about Iraq, our progress there, our prospects there, the consequences of abandonment there.

Oh, ho, ho, irony! Oh, no, no, we don’t get that here. See, uh, people ski topless here while smoking dope, so irony’s not really a, a high priority. We haven’t had any irony here since about, uh, ’83, when I was the only practitioner of it. And I stopped because I was tired of being stared at.

Loose Quality Control at TAPPED

[ 0 ] September 5, 2007 |

So, what, we’re letting just anyone post at TAPPED now?

…and the fact that he got an Atrios link for this is going to make my campaign to count Atrios-linked posts as publications for tenure purposes so much more difficult…

The War on Gore

[ 0 ] September 5, 2007 |

Until Bob Somerby gets a book contract, this fine Vanity Fair article on the history-changing media war on Al Gore will do. In particular, what’s important about the piece is that it’s not just about the “right-wing noise machine” but calls out, by name and with detail, figures in the so-called “liberal media,” not just columnists but reporters, who spread tall tales about Gore. Particularly egregious was the inept and grossly unprofessional work of Ceci Connolly in the Post and Kit Seelye in the Times. For example, creating the bogus “Love Canal” story out of a straightforward misquote:

On December 1, 1999, Connolly—and Seelye—misquoted Gore in a damning way. Their error was picked up elsewhere and repeated, and snowballed into a political nightmare. Gore was speaking to a group of students at Concord High School, in New Hampshire, about how young people could effect change. He described a letter he had received as a congressman in 1978 from a girl in Toone, Tennessee, about how her father and grandfather had gotten mysteriously ill. He had looked into the matter and found that the town was a toxic-waste site. He went on:

“I looked around the country for other sites like that. I found a little place in upstate New York called Love Canal. I had the first hearing on that issue and Toone, Tennessee. That was the one you didn’t hear of, but that was the one that started it all.… We passed a major national law to clean up hazardous dumpsites, and we had new efforts to stop the practices that ended up poisoning water around the country.… It all happened because one high-school student got involved.”

Jill Hoffman, a high-school senior in the audience who was helping to film the event, says, “I remember thinking, I really, really like what he has to say.” But what Seelye and Connolly zeroed in on was Gore yet again claiming credit for something he didn’t do—”discovering” Love Canal (which was, in fact, discovered by the people who lived there). In addition to mischaracterizing his somewhat ambiguous statement, they misquoted him, claiming he said, “I was the one that started it all,” instead of “that was the one that started it all.” The next day, Seelye offered a friendlier account of Gore’s visit to the school. Connolly repeated the misquote. In an article titled “First ‘Love Story,’ Now Love Canal,” she wrote:

The man who mistakenly claimed to have inspired the movie “Love Story” and to have invented the Internet says he didn’t quite mean to say he discovered a toxic waste site when he said at a high school forum Tuesday in New Hampshire: “I found a little place in upstate New York called Love Canal.” Gore went on to brag about holding the “first hearing on that issue” and said “I was the one that started it all.”

There is, sadly, plenty more where that came from. [Via Kevin Drum.]

All About the Horses

[ 0 ] September 5, 2007 |

This is a 747. Seeing a 747 is not an uncommon experience if one hangs out at airports, unless your preferred airport-of-hanging is Bluegrass Airport in Lexington. At Bluegrass, the only 747s you see are, like this one, from the United Arab Emirates. Kentucky and the UAE have a close connection between one another because of the horses; Rashid al Maktoum, Emir of Dubai, owns several horse farms in the area and regularly flies in (along with others) to buy new horses.

The good folks of Kentucky seem unfazed by all of this, although on Monday there was some good natured gawking at the size of the aircraft. In Kentucky, partiality for horses excuses many sins. Debbie Schlussel, of course, is not one of the good folks of Kentucky. For a chuckle, check out these two old posts on the relationship between Kentucky and the UAE.

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