Shorter Hitch: Tony Judt is, like, so obsessed with himself.
Hey, when did the NFL game scheduled on Monday night become MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL!!!!!!? I know that it’s always been the biggest media game of the week, but ESPN is selling it as some kind of lifestyle choice.
Does the fact that I loathe Hank Williams Jr. (but not his daddy or his son), that I can’t stand the damn Cowboys, and that I’d rather watch a regular season baseball game than this pageant make me un-American?
Over at CT, Kieran Healy discusses this site, which — in addition to letting us know that there are 35 people named “Scott Lemieux,” 709 named “Robert Farley,” 1,954 named “David Watkins” and 39 people unfortunate enough to go by “David Noon” — alsosuggests that the current Secretary of Defense does not in fact exist:
This may or may not be good news.
Don’t they know how many people watch ‘Lost’ while stoned?
The CIA aren’t the only spooks with wacky recruiting stunts. The signals intelligence snoops over at the National Security Agency are trying out tricks of their own, to reel in potential employees. The latest, according to Defense Tech pal Siobhan Gorman: a first-ever series of TV ads, airing on episodes of “Lost” and “CSI.”
Another reminder of why local ownership of media is neither here nor there in terms of either a progressive editorial slant or quality journalism: that epitome of third-rateness the Seattle Times has followed up its Bush 2000 endorsement by endorsing Mike McGavrick for the Senate. What’s worse about the Times is that it’s not even really that the publisher has strong wingnut ideological commitments as his selfish opposition to the estate tax, which of course figures prominently in the endorsement. Seattle’s Hearst paper, conversely, actually tries to reflect the politics of its readers.
Hey, and maybe after that he can rehire Brownie! And reopen the Terri Schiavo case! And sell some ports to Dubai!
You know, I can understand the Bush portrayed in today’s New York Times article, the one who’s just trying to keep the base motivated by exuding confidence. But the fact that Bush pointedly prioritized his immigration plan, which his base hates, and his Social Security plan, which appalled everyone else, suggests that his narcissistic personality disorder is trumping any political instincts he might have. That narcissism makes him unable ever to admit that he’s licked. (See, of course, Iraq.) It’s high time everyone realized that Bush isn’t a simple, straightforward guy — he’s a neurotic.
Anyway, if there’s a better argument for getting as many Republicans out of Congress as possible, I don’t know what it is. (You have to think Round 1 is a key reason why Santorum is being thumped so badly.) Hopefully Democrats in tight races are taking note of this and will act accordingly.
Every day the corpses pile up in the capital like discarded furniture — at curbside, in lots, in waterways and sewer lines; every day the executioners return. A city in which it was long taboo to ask, “Are you Sunni or Shiite?” has abruptly become defined by these very characteristics.
Once-harmonious neighborhoods with mixed populations have become communal killing grounds. Residents of one sect or the other must clear out or face the whim of fanatics with power drills.
The next night, an armor-piercing bomb hit the same squad, Gator 1-2. A sergeant with whom I had ridden the previous evening lost a leg; the gunner and driver suffered severe shrapnel wounds. “Timing is everything, especially in Iraq,” the captain and unit commander wrote in an e-mail informing me of the incident.
Meanwhile, Glenn Reynolds asks “So why are people so cranky?”
Everyone has gone batshit over the State Department official who confessed on al-Jazeera that things haven’t gone so swimmingly in Iraq and that the United States has displayed, among other possible attributes, “stupidity” and “arrogance.” The predictable suspects have worked themselves into a frothy mess over this, citing remarks by Alberto Ferbandez as one more piece of evidence that the DNC-Media Complex want the United States to “lose” in Iraq. The warbloggers appear to be nearly unanimous in calling for Fernandez’s head (literally, I would assume in some comments sections); those who aren’t are suggesting — since Great Britain is the new France — that the BBC is hatching an anti-American, pro-Islamist plot. It’s all quite exciting.
For a valuable corrective to all this, here’s Lounsbury on the issue:
[D]enying one has fucked Iraq into a cocked hat merely means one is a liar or delusional – or a stupid cretin I suppose – and framing it as an honest attempt destroyed by incompetence and arrogance at least steps up to the plate, whereas the other choice is for people to believe you deliberately have fucked the Iraqis.
Lounsbury’s point is reiterated and magnified more substantively by Marc Lynch, who — get this — actually understands something about the nature of public diplomacy and explains why these remarks were potentially quite useful. This administration has stood by with mute incomprehension for over five years now, wondering why (as The Decider often puts it) the people of the Middle East misread the pure intentions and noble hearts of Americans. As Lynch understands, if that narrative is ever going to be persuasive, it won’t so long as the Bush administration remains defiantly “on message,” falsely insisting that the war is exactly what they expected it would be.
To warbloggers — for whom the notion of “Arab culture” is an abomination, and for whom any dialogue a slippery slope toward “dhimmitude” — none of what Lynch has to say will make any sense. For the rest of us, the whole post is worth reading.
For reasons Tim Lambert explains in detail, I think Matt is being far too generous to Fred Kaplan’s attempt to discredit the Lancet study, which doesn’t seem to be any better than his first. Particularly hackish is Kaplan’s argument that the study’s pre-war mortality rates are less credible than the UN’s–although the latter are based on pure guesswork!–because it’s implausible that Iraq would have a lower mortality rate than Western Europe or surrounding countries. As Lambert explains again, this is just false:
I went to the UN population page and looked up the death rates for every country neighbouring Iraq for 1995-2000. Here are the numbers: Iran 5.5 Jordan 4.6 Kuwait 1.8 Saudi Arabia 4.1 Syria 3.9 Turkey 6.6. All but one are less than or equal to 5.5. Remember, this is the same source that Kaplan used for the death rate for Iraq. Kaplan’s claim seems to have been made with a reckless disregard for the truth.
And, of course, this isn’t surprsing–what’s implausible is thinking that Western Europe’s superior medicince could make up for its vastly older populations. Kaplan is a fine writer on subjects he knows something about, but I really don’t see how his new article is any better than the old one–he still lacks even a basic grasp of the central facts he’s discussing.