Posted by Brad @ 9:30 pm on May 31st 2007

Music Video of the Midweek

Bored and YouTubing.

Remember when MTV was cool?

Posted by Brad @ 4:19 pm on May 31st 2007

Iraq/Vietnam

Continuing on my Iraq/Vietnam stuff (here and here), Ross Douthat pulls out another interesting difference between Iraq and Vietnam, specifically the difference as it pertains to the campaigns of 1968 and 2008 (a comparison that Ron Paul makes frequently, for instance).

Namely, the Iraq war is MORE unpopular now than Vietnam was heading into the 68 campaign, by about 5-10 percentage points. In fact, Vietnam didn’t reach the level of unpopularity that Iraq enjoys until about 1973. By the time the first primaries hit (assuming that the popularity of the War in Iraq doesn’t improve and, in fact, decreases as it has pretty reliably), it’s very possible that the Iraq war is more unpopular than Vietnam in 1968 by 20 points or so.

I still hold that most all analysis of the Iraq war’s electoral effect underplays the unpopularity of the War in Iraq, and overplays the degree to which Republican candidates in particular (or ANY candidates) have to stay tied to it. Ross, thankfully, doesn’t often make the former mistake (though he sometimes makes the latter). I think that probably about 30% of the Republican electorate are going to be neocon imperialist die-hards. About 30% are already aching for a viable anti-war Republican. And the rest are just waiting around for some leadership, or new marching orders (depending on the mood you’re in). The moment a major Republican candidates begins to seriously talk about a new direction in Iraq (namely, one pointing home), I would bet that he starts picking up serious chunks of new support.

UPDATE: Sully has this to add. Among Iowa Republicans, 54% support withdrawing all troops from Iraq in the next six months. Repeat: 54% support withdrawing all troops from Iraq in the next six months. That’s inline with every other Iowa poll I’ve seen on the issue, and New Hampshire isn’t much different.

I’m telling you, don’t underestimate the potential Republican support of a serious anti-war critique. Not coming from Ron Paul, but especially not coming from a more “major” candidate.

Posted by Adam @ 3:14 pm on May 31st 2007

Gas price-gouging

So, the House is taking a stand against the shadowy legions of gas price-gouging profiteers, who are gorging themselves on the fruits of human misery, swine who are well worthy of at least one nazi comparison per paragraph.

Boo. Hiss. Boo.

But, alas. Hold your horses (or pferde, as Hitler would have called them).

Price gets driven up by scarcity (as measured relative to demand). That’s a good thing, in fact, because if price didn’t go up it wouldn’t moderate demand and, therefore, we could exhaust supply. So-called ‘gouging’ makes sense to a supplier that knows that supply is limited; they’ll make more per unit but they have to, because there are less units to sell. Those nazi bastards.

The House, of course, cannot bear to tell Americans that they might, you know, have to use less gasoline, not when they can pass meaningless feel-good laws, aimed at the arrayed stormtroopers of Big Oil, that will achieve nothing at best and, at worst, do real harm.

Posted by Brad @ 1:03 pm on May 31st 2007

Some Snark

Lifted from a dailykos Cheers and Jeers thread, but it’s a good batch.

“At a press conference somebody finally stood up to Bush: a bird shit on him. Here’s what is wrong with this man: he looked at it, and then wiped it off with his bare hand. And this is the guy who doubts that he descended from an ape.”
—Bill Maher

“This week Dick Cheney’s daughter, Mary, and her partner, Heather, had a baby boy. Afterwards, Dick Cheney teared up and said, ‘I’ve been asking her to bring a boy home for thirty years.'”
—Conan O’Brien

“Experts said this is going to be a very busy hurricane season. To which FEMA said, ‘Not for us.'”
—Jay Leno

“During a concert of the Virginia symphony at the 400th anniversary celebration of Jamestown, President Bush briefly took over conducting the orchestra. Which explains why the orchestra is now four trillion dollars in debt.”
—Seth Meyers

“The [Iraq funding] bill contains a plan to establish 18 benchmarks. It’s sort of like punishing your child by saying, ‘If you don’t get your grades up, you are grounded—unless, of course, you would like to go out. And by the way, you are grading yourself. And I keep the pot in the silverware drawer.”
—Jon Stewart

Posted by Brad @ 12:25 am on May 31st 2007

The Achilles Heel of Fred Thompson

And why none of the current GOP frontrunners are in any position to exploit it.

On Iraq, Thompson voted to authorize the invasion in 2002 and now opposes setting a timetable to withdraw U.S. troops. Still, his fortunes aren’t as inextricably tied to the war as those of McCain, one of the war’s leading defenders.

In any case, Thompson argues that Republicans lost control of the House and Senate in November not because of the war but because of out-of-control spending and unrestrained partisanship. What’s surprising is that Democrats didn’t gain more ground, he says.

“It’s been kind of a pox on both your houses,” he says.

Now, I’m not one to minimize the importance of spending (though I will minimize “unrestrained partisanship”; has there been an election year in the history of American politics that this wasn’t a milquetoast answer for what Americans don’t like about current politicians?). But that’s a pretty damn interesting read of the 2006 election, which started with Joe Lieberman losing his party ID and the Republicans losing both houses of congress. Maybe a significant chunk of GOP voters stayed home over Big Government Republicanism, but I’m guessing most “centrist” voters didn’t pull the lever for Democrats in the hopes that they’d reign in spending.

Fred Thompson should do well when he enters the race, and he may well soak up some small government conservatives. But, ultimately, he doesn’t distinguish himself in any way from the Republican front-runners on Iraq and National Security, and none of THEM distinguish themselves from President Bush in any way once they hit the general election. What took the Republicans INTO the majority was national security and Iraq. What took them OUT of the majority were the same issues, or at least it’s pretty hard to argue that wasn’t a huge part of it.

And, for some insane reason, this remains unclear to all the Republican candidates save Paul, which is why they’re going to be very poorly set for the general race. And if this month in the race looks similar to, say, January 08, when voting begins, it might not even matter that much. But more Iraq battles are in the pipeline, set to break at just about the same time that Fred Thompson hopes to surge, and it’s hard to see how the landscape is going to MORE favorable at that time to a pro-surge pro-unending and vapid commitment, and when that happens and the country looks at the current candidates for their vision of the way forward…what’s the selling point for Fred? Say what you will about McCain or Giuliani, but at least they’ve got something of a vision (albeit terrible ones: McCain as constant True Believer, Giuliani as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld mighty morphed into one hideous, lumbering beast).

What about Fred?

Posted by Brad @ 12:05 am on May 31st 2007

Ron Paul on Dennis Miller

Nice interview. Dennis Miller amazes me; when he’s right he’s right, when he’s wrong, he’s really, really wrong. He’s one of those guys that, after 9-11, became positively OBSESSED with Islamofascism. Everything is reducible to that, and he won’t be satisfied until every Middle Eastern country becomes a sheet of glass. How can he be, given his precepts? Listen to his answer after he has to concede to Ron that Iraq was no threat to us. “But what about bad intentions?” Wow. Or his take on Iraq as a stepping stone in a World War on radical Islam.

Thank God Dennis Miller isn’t running for office, Dr. Paul is, and Dr. Paul is, as always, classy and erudite.

Anyway, here it is.

Also a good editorial today in the Seattle Times titled “The GOP would be wise to listen to Ron Paul’s message”.

Two-thirds of Americans can now see that starting a war in Iraq was a mistake. The majority of Republicans still do not see it. Eventually they will, but it’s hard to go against their own president unless one of their own makes them do it.

That may be the usefulness of Rep. Ron Paul…

It is fairly clear now that America will leave Iraq, and not in triumph. It will be tempting for the Republicans to blame the result on the Democrats, because that would mean that the Republicans were “right” in some theoretical way. But they were not right. They did not understand Iraq, or the history of imperialism or much of anything

Posted by Rojas @ 9:47 pm on May 30th 2007

The New Eugene McCarthy

Brad has envisioned the Paul campaign as sort of a second coming of Eugene McCarthy–not a winner, but a candidate who can reshape the future of his party even in the course of losing. Bruce Bartlett seems to agree, but takes note of some formidable obstacles to the scenario. The most formidable of these is the fact that Paul may have arrived on the scene too late–the people around whom he’d be building may no longer be Republicans.

Posted by Adam @ 6:02 pm on May 30th 2007

Free trade: it’s good for us

John Stossel, whose explanations of underlying economic facts generally kick all kinds of arse, whacks it out of the park with this article.

I suspect ignorance about economics leads many to believe that when two people exchange goods and money, one wins and the other loses. If rich capitalists profit, the poor and the weak suffer.

That’s a myth.

How many times have you paid $1 for a cup of coffee and after the clerk said, “thank you,” you responded, “thank you”? There’s a wealth of economics wisdom in the weird double thank-you moment. Why does it happen? Because you want the coffee more than the buck, and the store wants the buck more than the coffee. Both of you win.

Now, yes, you need competition and some stability for the underlying motivations to be satisfactory most of the time (for example, if I’m dying of thirst, I want a bottle of Dasani more than I want a hundred dollars, but that’s not a generally satisfactory situation; the problem is, of course, that I’m dying of thirst, which means a shortage of water and, therefore, high prices) but those are achievable. At the end, Stossel says that his next piece will be about gas prices; I have been thinking of offering my own opinions on that issue, particularly the recent price-gouging nonsense in the House, but I am looking forward in any case to seeing what Stossel has to say.

The whole article is quotable, but I’ll just end with this:

People who live in different countries are divided by a political boundary, but boundaries are accidents of history or the results of politicians’ arbitrary decisions. Political boundaries are economically irrelevant. When left free, people trade across them as naturally as they do across state lines. Trade is trade. Buyer and seller both benefit. “Thank you.” “Thank you.”

Posted by Adam @ 5:52 pm on May 30th 2007

The Perfect Storm (of whining)

Meanwhile, at NRO, Kate O’Beirne (who I often like when she’s talking on television rather than posting at the Corner) rides the perfect storm, complaining about amnesty and the fact that loyalty to the administration doesn’t excuse committing a felony:

Too bad Scooter Libby can’t prove that he was in the country illegally before January of this year so he could be pardoned for past offenses. Apparently, President Bush’s compassion extends to 12 million illegal aliens but not to someone who loyally and tirelessly served him.

One has to seize these opportunities when they arise.

Posted by Adam @ 5:32 pm on May 30th 2007

A confusion of issues

The Plame case and associated furore are about a lot of different things. Some of them are (with some assessment from yours truly):

  • Were the Whitehouse trying to punish Plame for her husband’s malfeasance by screwing her covert career? I can’t really believe this.
  • Were the Whitehouse trying to limit damage caused by Wilson and weren’t too careful about how they did it? I can believe this and they should have been more careful.
  • Was a crime committed in the course of Plame’s CIA employment being revealed? Not sure about this; I personally don’t think that they took too seriously the idea that she was covert (which is still debatable, I think, even in light of this and the law is pretty narrowly drawn. If there was a crime committed in what happened to Plame, I am not convinced that it would be prosecutable and it was committed by Dick Armitage, who spilled the beans to Fitzgerald.
  • Did Libby perjure himself? I think that the evidence suggests that he did and, to my way of thinking, perjury is pretty damn serious. I don’t get the idea that Libby should be pardoned or that he shouldn’t have been prosecuted
  • Did US Attorney Fitzgerald go too far, or display other unhealthy behaviour? No, I don’t think so; in fact, I think that Fitzgerald, in keeping leaks to basically zero, did his job well despite a lot of slurs cast at him. Beats Ken Starr out of the damned park.
  • How much time should Libby do? Byron York suggests that Fitzgerald, in asking for the importance of the crime being investigated to be considered in Libby’s sentencing, goes too far. Personally, I think that the importance of the investigation you lie to is something that ought to be considered when deciding how important your felonious lie was, although I don’t know what the situation is in law.
  • Was it a scummy thing to do? Well yes, I think so. It may have been done careless of the implications, but it was scummy nevertheless
  • What is the truth as to how Wilson was recommended as the guy to send to Niger? Plame looked good in her House testimony, but her story has allegedly been rather changeable. It’s important, both because perjury is serious and also because it helps tell us how appropriate, or not, the choice of Wilson actually was.
  • Will Bush pardon Libby? Well, I think that he will be true to his principles and not pardon Libby. There are many things of which Bush can be accused, but he has been consistetly excellent in his use of pardons.
  • Will Fred Thompson really pardon Libby if he became President? He has said that he would (buried in here, for example) and he’s helped raise funds for Libby. For me, that’s a reason to be a lot less enthusiastic about Thompson. What would other candidates do?

Not an exhaustive list, but the items that interest me most at the moment. Mostly, however, I am utterly convinced that perjury is very bad and it should get stomped on where it is proven. Without such robust action, the system will work much less well than otherwise; lying on oath may indeed endanger your immortal soul but it also has temporal effects on those of us that respect and appreciate the rule of law and, frankly, I’ll take that pound of flesh now.

Posted by Brad @ 9:53 pm on May 29th 2007

Plame Was Covert

So, we finally get that confirmed, though people that were hanging on to the hope that she wasn’t have been out to lunch for some time anyway.

An unclassified summary of outed CIA officer Valerie Plame’s employment history at the spy agency, disclosed for the first time today in a court filing by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, indicates that Plame was “covert” when her name became public in July 2003.

The summary is part of an attachment to Fitzgerald’s memorandum to the court supporting his recommendation that I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Cheney’s former top aide, spend 2-1/2 to 3 years in prison for obstructing the CIA leak investigation.

Posted by Adam @ 8:16 pm on May 29th 2007

Russia

Russia is worrisome. The brutal attempts to crush Chechen resistance continue, assassination and extradition shenanigans, increasing protest supression, the risk of serious military escalation, renationalisation of private enterprise and general concerns about the erosion of Russian democracy: there are signals aplenty to worry us. Niall Ferguson goes so far as to tie mch of this together in revive a comparison to 1930s Germany, with the fledgling democracy ineffectually led by Boris Yeltsin fulfilling the role of the Weimar Republic as Nazism’s set-up man.

It’s an interesting piece; although I am suspicious of analogies, I am concerned that the direction in which Russia is headed is not just bad for Russia but may be bad for all of us. We don’t stand to immediately profit from pushing Russia back and might not profit at all; if we just let things develop, however, we might end up in a situation that is very fraught indeed. But wait, you cry: can Bush’s infallible judgement have failed?

I will answer the question. I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country. And I appreciated so very much the frank dialogue.

Posted by Adam @ 5:33 pm on May 29th 2007

I, for one, welcome our evil corporate overlords

In a Corner post en route to making a larger point, Victor Davis Hanson says:

12 million illegal aliens: the amoral, nationless corporate right wants cheap labor any way possible, the government to pay for the ensuing entitlement costs, cares little about the stability of its own country, and figures its own elites have enough privilege to shield themselves from the social consequences…

It’s not entirely clear to me that the stuff about the corporate right isn’t a charicature of a lefty objection (although the rest of his post doesn’t appear to be) but there has been some chat on the Corner about the evil elites, on the subject of immigration and the immigration hawks do sometimes pursue an anti-corporate agenda in their zeal for closed borders and mass deportation. So let’s, for the sake of argument, take it at face value, whilst not directing our ire at VDH, who may have been jesting.

What utter tosh. The argument as presented treats the government as an entity whose benificence is being abused, but as conservatives, firstly we don’t believe that, secondly we haven’t forgotten where the money that government spends comes from and thirdly we know how important corporations are in providing that money both directly and indirectly. Yes, there are plenty of cases to be made against ‘amnesty’ or ‘normalisation’ or continued illegal immigration, etc, but treating corporations as faceless schemers gnawing away at the roots of our society in their evil and instiable quest for profit is the talk of the lefties, not the Right. Corporations pay taxes. They create jobs for theiremployees, who pay taxes on the money that the corporations pay them. Their performance makes stockholders money, on which they pay taxes; the same people pay taxes on dividends. Before we wax hysterical about the amoral corporations and others who benefit from cheap labour (from farmers to bars and restaurants to small companies, etc), let’s not forget where the nation’s engine is located.

I welcome the debate on immigration; let’s, as conservatives, conduct the debate as conservatives. Stealing the populist clothes of the Left is a victory for the Left, even before outcomes are apparent.

Posted by Brad @ 2:09 pm on May 29th 2007

The Free Republic’s Giuliani Purge

Jim Robinson, the nutbag who long ago decided Free Republic was his own personal kingdom and everybody who visited the site was only there to listen to what he had to say, has apparently been on quite a tear lately, “putting his house in order” by clearing out everybody who supports Rudy Giuliani.

I posted at Free Republic a bit around 2002, but ultimately, though there were some nice and reasonable people around there, the site as a whole was too close to self-parody for my tastes, and JimRob in particular is just insufferable.

And while I can sympathize with the anti-Rudy zeitgeist in some of those circles, it’s not how you run a website. But, it does give me one more reason (as if I needed it) to not wander back into what is one of the vilest and dankest corners of the conservative blogosphere.

Posted by Brad @ 1:47 pm on May 29th 2007

Ron Paul in NRO

Posting because the source is worth noting. NRO doesn’t like paying attention to things that throws their Matrix into even mild flux, so when the managing editor writes a generally positive article called “Not the Ron You Were Looking For?”, it’s worth noting.

Since entering into the crowded field of Republican presidential-primary candidates, Paul has become a lightning rod for conservative criticism as well as an unlikely Internet phenomenon. After serving in Congress for just over 16 of the last 31 years and attracting minimal national attention during that time, Paul has, in just a few weeks, begun to stand out and apart from the rest of the Republican candidates.

Posted by Brad @ 1:29 pm on May 29th 2007

Airport Security

Ha.

From The Guardian (hat tip: Lew).

“Director Mike Figgis spent longer at LAX airport than intended. He’d arrived in Los Angeles, along with half the acting and directing world, for what is known as ‘pilot season’, when the big studios try out new scripts, directors and actors in a two-week frenzy of auditions and career make-or-breaks. When Figgis was being grilled by airport immigration, he was asked the purpose of his visit. Unthinking and tired after a long flight, Mike replied: ‘I’m here to shoot a pilot.’ After five hours in an interrogation cell (yes, really), he finally made it into town.”

Posted by Adam @ 8:10 am on May 29th 2007

China adopting a robust approach to government corruption and incompetence

There was a recent poisonous Chinese pet-food scandal and an ongoing Chinese food and drug scandal. China exports a lot of products that are more tightly regulated in many of its markets than is the case in China and is keen for those exports to continue, which means supporting confidence in those markets.

Thus, the result of investigations into Zheng Xiaoyu, the former head of the Chinese equivalent of the FDA, for corruption and negligence was going to be looked at quite closely. The Chinese justice system (not famous for acting contrarily to the wishes of China’s leaders) has pulled no punches, sentencing Zheng to death.

“Zheng was supposed to use the power given to him by the state and the people seriously and honestly, but instead he has ignored their vital interests … by taking the bribes,” Xinhua quoted the court as saying.

“This has threatened the safety of people’s life and health and has caused an extremely bad social impact.”

One presumes that British and American government officials wouldn’t want such stringent standards for public service applied in their own countries. Spent time on a ‘fact-finding’ trip to a luxurious golf resort? Off with his ‘ead.

Posted by Brad @ 12:30 am on May 28th 2007

Dems Have Been Leading the Way on Foreign Policy All Along

Second, Steve points out something pretty interesting in relation to the recent announcement that the United States will be talking directly to Iran for the first time in 25 years. The implications of the talks, or the good/bad of it, is one thing, but what’s interesting, of course, is that when the Democrats suggested that maybe we start talking to Iran last year, it was shot down wholesale by the administration in the starkest of terms. Now, of course, after enough time has passed, that’s exactly what they’re doing.

This is something of a pattern for Bush. In fact, as Benen points out, it’s been the case for Iran, North Korea, Syria, as well as a lot of changes in the US military, the Dems proposed something, it was shot down by the administration as being a terrible idea (often for pretty specious reasons), and then, after about a year, they quietly do exactly what it was the Democrats were suggesting in the first place.

For years, all we’ve heard from the right is that Bush is a bold visionary when it comes to foreign policy, and Dems are weak and clueless. And yet, here we are, watching the White House embrace the Dems’ approach on most of the nation’s major foreign policy challenges.

Worth thinking about.

Posted by Brad @ 12:25 am on May 28th 2007

Private Security in Iraq

Gonna post two TPM-flags in a row, but both are interesting.

The first is about a recent spat between Blackwater–a private security contractor that is operating a lot in Iraq–and Iraqi forces (the good kind). The Blackwater guys fired on a car, killing the driver, and Iraqi Interior forces stepped in, and there was a standoff. Details are sketchy because, well, private security forces aren’t accountable to anybody, and choose not to release any details of their operations. Finally, a passing US military convoy had to step in. Steven Benan, filling in for Josh:

As if the dynamic of the conflict wasn’t complex enough, U.S. troops are now interceding in a gunfight between Iraqi Interior Ministry forces and employees of U.S. private security firm.

Great.

Here.

Posted by Brad @ 9:47 pm on May 27th 2007

This Memorial Day… (Counterpoint)

The Washington Post does a ballsy and correct thing in putting, among their Memorial Day editorials filled with the usual bland deifying of the American military, this piece, titled “I Lost My Song To a War I Oppose. We Were Both Doing Our Duty” by Andrew J. Bacevich. It’s enormously powerful. I’ll put up a quote, but read the whole thing please.

Memorial Day orators will say that a G.I.’s life is priceless. Don’t believe it. I know what value the U.S. government assigns to a soldier’s life: I’ve been handed the check. It’s roughly what the Yankees will pay Roger Clemens per inning once he starts pitching next month.

Money maintains the Republican/Democratic duopoly of trivialized politics. It confines the debate over U.S. policy to well-hewn channels. It preserves intact the cliches of 1933-45 about isolationism, appeasement and the nation’s call to “global leadership.” It inhibits any serious accounting of exactly how much our misadventure in Iraq is costing. It ignores completely the question of who actually pays. It negates democracy, rendering free speech little more than a means of recording dissent.

This is not some great conspiracy. It’s the way our system works.

Posted by Brad @ 7:34 pm on May 27th 2007

CEO Firings Still on the Rise

From the world of business.

Related to CEO renumeration, an interesting market report by Booz Allen Hamilton finds that worldwide, nearly one in three CEOs are leaving involuntarily, continuing a steady increase in forced retirements since Booz Allen started their annual survey of such things in 1995 (about 60% increase in CEO turnover from 1995 to today)(though the rate of increase finally declined a tad this year from last).

Mergers account for a big chunk of that, but still, a large portion seems to be related to the now-common practice of fishing for outside CEOs, rather than promoting from within. It’s pretty en vogue these days for stalwart companies to bypass the promote-from-within mentality of yesteryear and instead gun for hotshot, company-hopping executives who promise big short term, and don’t last long term.

Posted by Brad @ 3:16 pm on May 27th 2007

This Memorial Day…

Adam, Dizzy, Rojas and I used to sometimes get in discussions, that we haven’t yet hashed out at this blog, about the deification of the soldier, and the different ways in which British and American citizens generally look at their troops. I tend to think that Americans have an unhealthy obsession with lionizing their soldiers, and that the English have a much more sensible relationship with their troops, but that’s perhaps a discussion for another day.

What we all would agree on, however, is that it’s worthwhile to take a moment here and there to pay your respect to the fallen soldiers of your country and reflect.

So, in that light, with a hat tip to Laura, John McCain put out today a YouTube clip of him discussing Memorial Day. I like it because it shows a side of McCain I wish we’d see more often. Human, personal, casual. Campaigns are finally starting to figure out the rules and opportunities in the new media landscape, and with that the realization that you can control more than just message, but also take the opportunity to highlight different facets of your candidate than just “beloved statesman and speech-maker”. Take, for instance, Hillary Clinton’s videos regarding her campaign song, which are frankly terrific, and very positive, and show you a side of Hillary you don’t see much. In this video, John McCain just sits in a chair and, unscripted, says a few words about Memorial Day. And it’s a McCain that’s much more effective than the “Gates of Hell” style fist-pounding GWOT acolyte we’ve been seeing so much of. He reminds me of why I liked Bob Dole (oh but for campaign YouTubes in those days). He sits in a chair, as an ex-soldier himself and a man who has devoted so much of his life to the military in some fashion or another, and he just kind of rambles for a few minutes. And, frankly, he comes off much better than he does in most of his grand speeches and chest-thumping debate performances. I like McCain on the campaign bus a heckuva lot more than I like McCain on the pulpit.

But what I like most about it is the way it casts Memorial Day. Not as a time to worship on the altar of the American military and chest-thump for ass-kicking Americana, but as a simple, personal reflection that there have been citizen-soldiers in our history, and today, going out there and giving their lives, whether they meant to or not, in pursuit of greater causes.

So, here’s John McCain, asking you to pause and remember on this Memorial Day.

Posted by Brad @ 3:03 pm on May 27th 2007

The Demographic Majority

I’ve cited this a lot, but Ross Douthat, now at the Atlantic, adds some further thought specific to the Bush administrations immigration plan and how that’ll likely play out for the Republican party’s electoral coalition in the coming years, demographically.

Now, the immigration plan is either right or wrong on its own merits, that needs to be stated first. But as election-watchers, it’s certainly not off-limits to note what the immigration deal’s likely electoral impact will be.

(more…)

Posted by Brad @ 2:22 pm on May 27th 2007

The War On Non-Terror

Andrew Sullivan, ever since it first (and finally) entered his head that maybe Bush wasn’t the anti-terrorism statesman he imagined he might be, has been consistently and mercilessly ratcheting up the rhetoric in the Case Against Bush. This afternoon, he posts a new entry titled “Al Queda’s Enabler“.

It’s a sobering read, in part because the case that George W. Bush has arguably been the most powerful pro-Al Queda force in the world short of Bin Laden himself is one that, despite the slap-you-in-the-face nature of it, practically makes itself.

Lots of money quotes to pick from. Here’s just one:

What can one say? Well: we can say this at least. The president is right that al Qaeda remains a terrible threat to Americans. He is right to insist on this. But one core reason he is right is because he has been in the White House for the last six years. Al Qaeda surely never had a more helpful man in such a powerful place. After over six years of this presidency, Bin Laden is still at large. Five and a half years after Bin Laden’s religious tools murdered 3,000 innocents, this president still cannot find or capture or kill him. Five and a half years after that dreadful day, al Qaeda’s reach in the Middle East is more extensive than ever, centered in Iraq, where it was barely existent before the war. Over four years after invading Iraq, the security situation there is as grave as it has ever been. Tens of thousands of innocents have been added to the three thousand murdered on 9/11 – many of them unspeakably tortured and murdered by death squads or Islamist cells empowered by Bush’s jaw-dropping negligence. Over three thousand young Americans have died in order to give al Qaeda this victory and this new platform.

Sully goes on to lay down track after track on this point, which is at the core of really nearly everything facing America today.

Look, George W. Bush is, I believe, a good man. But the direction in which he’s moved things hasn’t been a response to terror so much as playing into the narrative of terror, nearly by the book. 9-11, in itself, didn’t change America. The event didn’t make America less safe, by itself. 9-11 was, if anything, the critical piece of evidence that America was not safe, already. It has been the RESPONSE to 9-11 that has made us less safe. Let’s be clear on this. IT HAS BEEN THE RESPONSE To 9-11 THAT HAS MADE US LESS SAFE. Right up to the point of Iraq, we were doing alright. Al Queda was pretty well on the ropes, the rest of the world was falling into place behind us, we had been forced aware of the grave threat that faces the world, and were taking more or less appropriate actions to try to neutralize it.

But from 2003 on, we have not just backslid, but practically wrote the book on how to do it wrong. The only piece of evidence in Bush’s favor has been that there hasn’t been an attack on US soil since 9-11. Of course, there has been in Britain, Spain, Indonesia, and various other sites, and of course we’ve willingly sacrificed 3000+ more lives as nothing if not sacrifices to appease the Terrorism Gods, of course Al Queda, which was all but disintegrated by 2003, is now stronger, more flush with cash and converts, than they were on Sept 10th, 2001, and of course either because of despite the lack of homeland attacks we’ve had to give up more in the way of fundamental freedoms than I think anybody at the outset had been prepared to, but most relevantly, we haven’t had an attack on the US homeland, I think, for a lot of reasons, but at least one significant one is because an attack on US homeland has been entirely unnecessary.

Posted by Brad @ 8:15 pm on May 26th 2007

Music Video of the Week

A slow weekend for us, so I’ll do it a bit early.

Half of the point of these for me is the fun of looking them up; as a side effect, the nostalgia factor is pretty high.

One of my Top Five bands of all time is Nine Inch Nails. Which may be a bit out of character seeming, given the music I usually put up, but they’re one of those bands I got into young and just never got out of. I have everything Trent Reznor’s ever put out, and revisit it often, always discovering something new. As an added benefit, particularly with his remix albums like Further Down the Spiral, nin boasts the best music ever to write to, for me at least. I’ve probably written close to 500 pages of fiction spinning nin records. If you’ve never really given nin a serious listen, give it a chance. Even just as background music.

As an added benefit for blogging purposes, Reznor puts out consistently top notch quality videos. Some of the coolest stuff to ever hit MTV. The early vids were pretty punk rock but with a bit of weird and primitive experimentalism thrown in for good measure. By the time The Downward Spiral came along, Reznor was really pushing the limits of the music video as an art form, and his stuff could go from a kind Gothic Tim Burton / Edward Gorey sort of feel, to a pretty grotesque Tod Browning / Goya thing. Great stuff.

Pretty much none of these are safe for work, I don’t think.

Nine Inch Nails – The Perfect Drug

(more…)

Posted by Brad @ 9:53 am on May 26th 2007

Ron Paul on Real Time

Here it is. More of a drive-by than I thought it was going to be, and all just Paul for the most part (Affleck and O’Rourke just listen), but I think the more people see of him, the better he looks. He doesn’t have a great TV presence in the way that, say, Barack Obama does, or Bill Clinton did. He doesn’t have that grand, sweeping, slick way about him. But the more you watch him, the more he’s got this genuine, humble charm to him. He seems like a guy who does what he does for all the right reasons; because he believes in it and wants, in his small way, to make America a better place. He seems incapable of grandstanding and, if not uncomfortable, than at least a bit uneasy in the spotlight. But, if he doesn’t put these principles out there, who will? And so he trucks on, and just stays committed to finding the positive in what must be a pretty grueling and thankless career.

Somebody once said (maybe it was O’Rourke), that the first disqualifier for a potential president is them wanting to be president (bad paraphrase). Here’s a guy that qualifies.

Anyway, it’s a good clip. And check out the reactions. He’s a rock star.

Posted by Brad @ 9:37 am on May 26th 2007

Open Government Act being blocked by secret hold

Only in America.

Posted by Brad @ 2:35 am on May 26th 2007

“The Surprising Relevance of Ron Paul”

…Is the title of the article in the New Republic, by Michael Crowley.

I read it this morning through a subscription, and was trying to figure out how to repost it here without breaking any laws, so I was thankful to run into it at Lew Rockwell’s site. Here. Bonus points for it spurring Lew to use the word “hoary”.

While I’m at it, here’s a great interview with Dr. Paul in the Washington Post.

Sleuth: How do feel about a huge Internet phenomenon?

Paul: Well I haven’t quite realized that yet but if that’s true, I guess that’s good if you’re in politics. I love the Internet. I’m not going to get $100 million…but we might get a lot of supporters and we might get a lot of small donations. And then, maybe we’ll get a lot of votes.

Sleuth: Do you monitor how well you’re doing with hits on the Internet compared with other presidential candidates?

Paul: Not on a daily or hourly basis. I do think my staff watches it closely. There for a while I thought they were just sort of trying to pump me up, encourage me…But they’ve about convinced me, maybe this is for real.

Also contains Dr. Paul’s advice on exercise, chocolate chip cookies, and prostitution.

And finally, I have no idea what to make of this, and frankly it’s even a little frightening, but here’s a cute girl rambling aimlessly about her Ron Paul addiction on youtube. It’s amazing how much tolerance I have for people posting meandering blatherings if they’re A. pretty, or B. talking about Ron Paul.

Posted by Brad @ 1:32 am on May 26th 2007

What’s Left to Say About Iraq?

Not much, apparently. Of the three major cable news networks, Fox News devotes by far the least amount of programming time to covering the war these days.

That’s a stark contrast to when the war began, and Fox News was a pretty reliable source of Patriot Porn 24/7. And then for awhile they sold themselves as being the only ones willing to cover the “real” Iraq war story (the implication being that all the other networks only cover the bad news, leaving all the good news unreported).

As the years tick by, though, they’ve just kind of…..trailed off…..

Posted by Adam @ 12:09 pm on May 25th 2007

Tul Bahadur Pun

Tal Bahadur Pun, a Gurkha, is a very brave man. His citation for his Victoria Cross:

“The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the VICTORIA CROSS to :- No. 10119 Rifleman Tullbahadur (sic) Pun, 6th Gurkha Rifles, Indian Army. In Burma on June 23rd, 1944, a Battalion of the 6th Gurkha Rifles was ordered to attack the Railway Bridge at Mogaung. Immediately the attack developed the enemy opened concentrated and sustained cross fire at close range from a position known as the Red House and from a strong bunker position two hundred yards to the left of it. So intense was this cross fire that both the leading platoons of ‘B’ Company, one of which was Rifleman Tulbahadur (sic) Pun’s, were pinned to the ground and the whole of his Section was wiped out with the exception of himself, the Section commander and one other man. The Section commander immediately led the remaining two men in a charge on the Red House but was at once badly wounded. Rifleman Tulbahadur (sic) Pun and his remaining companion continued the charge, but the latter too was immediately wounded. Rifleman Tulbahadur (sic) Pun then seized the Bren Gun, and firing from the hip as he went, continued the charge on this heavily bunkered position alone, in the face of the most shattering concentration of automatic fire, directed straight at him. With the dawn coming up behind him, he presented a perfect target to the Japanese. He had to move for thirty yards over open ground, ankle deep in mud, through shell holes and over fallen trees. Despite these overwhelming odds, he reached the Red House and closed with the Japanese occupations. He killed three and put five more to flight and captured two light machine guns and much ammunition. He then gave accurate supporting fire from the bunker to the remainder of his platoon which enabled them to reach their objective. His outstanding courage and superb gallantry in the face of odds which meant almost certain death were most inspiring to all ranks and beyond praise.”

Tal Bahadur Pun has been refused permission to live in the UK, as he is believed by the British authorities not to have sufficient connection with the country (hat-tip Andrew Stuttaford, who hat-tipped Iain Dale). Apparently, running through muddy shell holes into a hail of bullets whilst fighting in the army of a country thousands of miles away from your home isn’t as much of a connection as, say, having a grandparent from that country. Jesus wept.

The way that the Gurkhas, who are troops as dedicated and brave as any in the world, have been treated by the British, over the years, is shameful. The way that this particular Gurkha is being treated beggars belief. I haven’t been this angry for a long time; if the rules do not allow for immigration by men who received the Victoria Cross, the prerequisite for which basically includes the act being so dangerous that death was likely, then the rules are wrong. If a man so spectacularly demonstrates that he is prepared to die in service of our country, he should be allowed to live in it.

I hope that this picks up enough steam to get the ruling overturned. I also think that all Gurkhas should get the right to reside in the UK, assuming a lengthy enough term of satisfactory service in the military. Tul Bahadur Pun should be there now.

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