Posted by Rojas @ 8:21 pm on June 30th 2007

Wacky terror hijinks

The point of terrorism is, presumably, to inspire terror. By that standard, the latest round of “terrorists” have been startlingly inept.

The tragicomic attempts to attack various targets near NYC earlier in the summer have since been followed up by even punier efforts in Britain. The possible car bomb in London was adequate, I suppose, although (ironically) pedestrian. Today, however, we have a Keystone Kops-like attempt to attack an airport with a car.

Can this possibly be the handiwork of the same people who brought down the World Trade Center six years ago? We’re getting perilously close to the point at which Bob Saget is going to be narrating footage.

Posted by James @ 3:02 pm on June 30th 2007

Headlines, shmeadlines.

News headlines rather fascinate me in that the wording that is chosen to encapsulate the content of the story they cover can differ from a little to a lot from one outlet to another. Sometimes this difference is minor and relates to details such as death toll numbers, etc. But sometimes the wording of the headlines, if not the stories themselves reveal what the writer wants you to think as opposed to whet he/she wants you to know. Take the story of the 26 insurgents killed in Iraq that is being reported today. Here are the headlines and stories covering the event as reported by The Associated Press, Reuters, and AFP:

Associated Press: U.S. raids Baghdad slum; 26 Iraqis die

Reuters: U.S. kills 26 militants in Baghdad

AFP: 26 ‘Iran-linked terrorists’ killed in Baghdad raid: US

So, looking at these headlines, did 26 slum-dwelling Iraqis get butchered while kneeling on their prayer rugs? Did 26 courageous Iraqi minutemen die fighting for kin and country? Or, did a pack of blood-thirsty agents of Iran get turned into a pink mist?

While a certain amount of bias is inevitable given the fact that humans have opinions and journalists are human, at least some of them anyway, I find it striking that they all too often don’t make the effort to at least attempt to conceal it. The above story is but one example, and a very tame one at that. It is little wonder that so many people are turning to the new media of blogs and such. Such sources make few bones about their biases, but nor do they try to pretend those biases don’t exist. With this new form of media the packaging is well marked. With the mainstream media, that tin of Spam could contain the hideous mystery meat that the labeling indicates, or the stuff that came out of that ‘meat’ when it was still walking around. Of course in the case of Spam, the difference would be negligible. A bad example, sorry.

Posted by Rojas @ 12:17 pm on June 30th 2007

Leadership vs. Caesarism

It baffles me. The frontrunner for the Republican Presidential nomination, as Mayor of New York City, instructed his officers not to enforce immigration law. Yet he is given a free pass on this issue by the Republican base. They choose instead to turn their fire on John McCain, who is losing ground in the polls, unable to raise money, and who may now be dead in the water politically (though I personally think it’s too soon to say that).

It bears repeating, folks: Rudy Giuliani is demonstrably to the left of John McCain on immigration! McCain’s troubles are not a consequence of his policy stance, but perversely, of his virtuous adherence to principle. If McCain goes down over this issue, it will be because he is absolutely, positively incapable of being a modern politician. There isn’t any prevarication or syncophancy in the man; he stands where he stands on every issue, and damn the consequences. So when he disagrees with the base, there is no Giuliani-like slipperiness (or Romney-esque flip-flopping) to be seen. He doesn’t suck up to those who disagree with him, he seeks to persuade them; and there’s apparently a lot of Americans who absolutely can’t stand that.

Senator Tom Coburn, one of the immigration bill’s staunchest opponents, pays tribute to McCain’s courage and sense of fair play in the new National Review. Coburn gets it. Coburn understands the distinction between leading and following. A number of Republicans, though, seem to conflate Rudy Giuliani’s tough talk and personal aura with leadership. It is worth noting that those who’ve dealt with Giuliani longest have outgrown that illusion. Primary voters, who are charged with selecting an electable candidate who embodies their party’s principles, are running out of time to outgrow it.

Posted by Adam @ 9:46 am on June 30th 2007

Barnes on the Immigration Bill

Fred has a fair amount to say about the failure of the bill, but it’s pretty clear who the main villian is… Harry Reid, come on down:

Of the what-ifs, one is worth considering. That was Reid’s rash decision on June 7 to pull the bill off the Senate floor rather than give Republican leaders a day or so to put together a limited number of
amendments and proceed to final passage. At the time, the bill was hurtling toward passage. Opponents were despondent. Both McConnell and Kyl believe it would have passed within a few days had Reid not been so impatient. But we’ll never know.

The pause before Reid brought the bill back to the Senate floor last week proved fatal.

For Christ’s sake. Reid seemed pretty happy to kill the Bill, sure, given that the Republicans were assembling a circular firing squad over the issue, but blaming the Democrats for Republican/Presidential miscalculations is just stupid. I know that you find it hard to criticise Bush, your Rebel in Chief, Fred, but for God’s sake, man, grit your teeth and engage your brain.

Posted by Adam @ 9:24 am on June 30th 2007

A border fence. In Mexico. Oops

Pundits who rightly objected to the proposed and now-defunct Immigration Enforcement benchmarks being based on money spent rather than results achieved should bear in mind that even more solid achievements like building a fence aren’t necessarily so solid when government is involved. Having built a section of border fence, something to warm the hearts of the most anti of the anti-immigration types, it turns out that the border is, oops, actually over the border. Fortunately, it’ll only cost 3 million to fix.

Jesus wept.

Posted by Adam @ 9:05 am on June 30th 2007

Bombs in London — back to normal

The latest bomb plot in London — thankfully unsuccessful — do, I think, differ from the bombings of July 7th 2005. Aside from the obvious difference (these bombs didn’t go off), the fact is that car bombs aren’t anything new — yes, they are brutal and kill a lot of people, but there’s something about bombings on the Tube (London’s underground railway) that’s pretty disturbing. If you live in London, there’s a good chance that you catch the Tube every day and even if you don’t, you almost certainly catch it from time to time.

The London Tube is old, cramped and claustrophic at the best of times. In rush hour, you can spend your whole journey crammed in between other people, uncomfortable and sweaty. When things are busy, there are queues at every escalator and ticket barrier and movement around the stations is slow because of the sheer numbers of people. The King’s Cross fire of 1987 showed that if something goes wrong, people can’t get out very quickly.

I think that part of the power of the attacks of 7th July 2005 was that they were on the Tube, this transport system that most Londoners use and that is, unnaturally, underground (often far underground) and enormously crowded. It’s an environment that depends on trust to work; trust that other people are acting reasonably, trust that the system is going to work, trust that things are engineered well (so that, for example, the River Thames isn’t going to come rushing in). I lived in London for 15 years and I never really got used to it (although I used the Tube very day, nevertheless).

The car bombs are different, I think. They can kill a lot of people if they go off, but there have been car and truck bombs in London before. Londoners haven’t had occasion to get used to them, or anything like that, but there seems to me to be something less terrifying about them, compared to bombs on the Tube (or, if you prefer, bombs on the Tube are more terrifying than car bombs). I remember, years ago during the IRA bombing campaign, that there was a warning about the risk of explosives being placed under the (relatively easily) removeable seats on some train lines; in response, there were obvious ties placed on those seats so that we could see if tampering had taken place and report it, but it was pretty sobering, for me at least, back then. The aftereffects are different, too; there’s no road as important to transportation in London as the average Tube line and if there’s one thing that really affects the everyday experience of Londoners, it’s transportation.

It seems that London is dealing with the latest concern pretty well; it may be that Blitz, IRA bombs and the July 7 2005 bombs all being within living memory have given Londoners an intuitive understanding of statistical probability regarding the chance that they will be the ones killed, so avoiding the sort of fear-driven paralysis which might otherwise result (and which, I should add, would comprise huge dividends on their efforts, for the terrorists). Mind you, even with the extra dimensions of the Tube attacks, Londoners dealt with those pretty well, too. Perhaps the biggest deterrent to taking any action, particularly a murderous one, is the idea that it won’t make any real difference, compared to not doing it all; if Londoners can keep that up, then the rewards from doing this sort of stuff are essentially limited (incidentally, CNN’s utterly moronic comment just now that, with these carbombs’ discovery, London has turned a corner is, well, utterly moronic. Who writes that crap? Who can bear to say it?).

With a hat-tip to Sully, I present this most excellent wartime British poster:

Stiff upper lip, what?

Posted by Adam @ 8:19 am on June 30th 2007

“We love explosions”

CNN Morning was just showing live footage of the Kodak building in Rochester, NY, being demolished which they commented on by saying “We love explosions” and then, presumably warned by the frantic hand gestures of someone in the crew, added “because no one gets hurt”.

You’re not fooling anyone, CNN.

Posted by Adam @ 8:10 am on June 30th 2007

Isaiah Washington — sanity lost

The whole faggotrehabfiring nonsense should be done. We got an Ann Coulter moment from it, Washington has explained what he claims really happened and it’s over, right? Another drama in the workplace, resolved by the administration of a swift Spanish Archer?

Well, no. Isaiah Washington, the firee, has claimed that racism was a factor in his firing. Well, he might be right, I guess (I don’t know enough to say either way) but this is constructing a pretty weird case:

“Well, it didn’t help me on the set that I was a black man who wasn’t a mush-mouth Negro walking around with his head in his hands all the time. I didn’t speak like I’d just left the plantation and that can be a problem for people sometime,” he said.

“I had a person in human resources tell me after this thing played out that ‘some people’ were afraid of me around the studio. I asked her why, because I’m a 6-foot-1, black man with dark skin and who doesn’t go around saying ‘Yessah, massa sir’ and ‘No sir, massa’ to everyone?

Way to go to war with pretty much everyone, guy.

Posted by Rojas @ 1:50 am on June 30th 2007


Posted by James @ 9:34 pm on June 29th 2007

And another…

Andy is the man.

Posted by James @ 5:35 pm on June 29th 2007

An ‘End of Week Video’ from me to you…

I recently discovered Andy McKee through a friend of mine. I find his style amazing.

Posted by Adam @ 3:38 pm on June 29th 2007

Hillary Clinton — still unelectable

There’s a long way to go yet, sure, but Clinton’s negatives (hat-tip, Kathryn Jean Lopez) amongst the wider electorate haven’t shrunk, even as she rides out ahead in the Democrat nomination race. I think that this is a more worrying problem for her in the long term than Obama’s poll lag (as mentioned by Rojas in a comment here) is for him.

Also worth noting that Romney is second to Clinton for negatives, and that was presumably before he was unveiled as a dog-torturer. Michael Bloomberg must be praying for a Clinton-Romney election.

Posted by Rojas @ 11:45 am on June 29th 2007

The worst site on the internet

We have a winner. Amazingly, it’s not us.

Posted by Brad @ 9:46 am on June 29th 2007

Abbey Road

Off to the monastery. For a slightly more detailed background on why I’m going, go here. It’d be amazingly presumptuous to do a thing like this looking for answers. But here’s a great piece of writing I stumbled on the other day that maybe gets some of the questions right (bonus: it’s about the abbey where I’m staying specifically).

I’m deliberately trying to not allow myself to have much in the way of expectations; if I get a solid month outside my normal stream of life, I’ll be happy. I think at the very least I can count on that.

In the meantime, we’ve invited our friend James to maybe fill in for me while I’m gone. His style is pretty different from mine, but that’s part (most of?) his charm. :) He should be more than up to the challenge of keeping things interesting though. Perhaps a few other friends will stop by.

I’m actually kind of bummed about leaving the blog. It’s been going like gangbusters since we started it in February.

I will be back in August.


See you on the flip side.

Posted by Brad @ 11:55 pm on June 28th 2007

The Final Push For Ron Paul Relevancy

So, we’re in the final days of this fund-raising quarter, and a lot of questions are going to be answered, fairly or unfairly, by the numbers that come back. Who looks less viable than people have been thinking, who looks more viable, and who looks viable or inviable at all.

For Ron Paul, the news that comes out the beginning of next week is going to be carefully watched by a lot of people, including some who claim to be ignoring him, or who believe him an also-ran, a non-ran, an over-hype. Even they, behind the bluster, are raising their eyebrows and if they’re not expecting to be surprised exactly, they’re at least a bit nervous…what if they’re wrong?

The numbers coming out of the Paul campaign (and despite some early noise made by some sites about them having five million dollars, the campaign has tried to keep that sort of talk at arm’s length) are going to have one of four effects. He gets much less than even a 2% national candidate would get, and the whole story about his campaign becomes about his phantom online support, another notch in the “new politics proves to be a paper tiger yet again” meme. If he gets about as much as one would expect (few hundred thousand dollars), it’s just a non-story. “Guess nothing really panned out after all), and people go on ignoring him. If he, however, pulls in a surprising fund-raising level disproportionate to his supposed “hard” support, say in the 2 to 3 million dollar range, he becomes a story. The eyebrows gets raised. And every story of the Republican fund-raising numbers has to include the name Ron Paul with a shake of the head. This is the result I expect.

If, on the other hand, he DOES manage something in the five million range, he becomes his own story. That money buys an automatic cycle of free positive publicity, and he goes into the middle of the summer a guy that everybody has to start taking seriously.

So, this quarter is an opportunity for Paul on par with his debate performances.

To that end, if you believe in Ron Paul, if you like what he brings to the conversation, if you like the feet he holds to the fire, if you find you’re disgusted or underwhelmed by every candidate BUT him, really consider donating some money to the campaign.

Ron Paul

Even if it’s just 25 bucks. The money isn’t to “Back a Winning Candidate”, it’s to amplify a message you believe deserves to be heard, and in that respect, no money you can give is wasted, even if Paul never gets above 2% of the vote anywhere. He’ll have gotten a bigger platform for our efforts, and if you believe in the message, if you think people now need to hear some of the things Paul is saying, donate. It buys him airtime, it buys him staff to start organizing this massive bottom-up candidacy, it buys him mailings, it buys him a new office it buys him a lot of stuff. And, if enough people are thinking the same, it buys him some relevancy and legitimacy. It forces people to begin to reckon with him, because it puts him in a spot where he can’t be ignored forever.

If you’ve ever thought of giving money to the Paul campaign, today is the day to do it. If you know you’re going to give the campaign more money later but are kind of just putting it off for a few weeks, consider whether you can push up the schedule. The money does a lot more work as part of this quarter than it will in August. If you’re going to contribute but just haven’t gotten around to it yet, now’s the time.

If I hadn’t been so busy with life-stuff these last couple of days, I’d start a real fund-raising drive, wherein all of us bloggers + Laura agree to match contributions to a certain point. But, sadly, I haven’t been able to coordinate anything, and there’s only 24 hours or so left.


I tell you what though, I’m putting in 100 bucks right now. If somebody matches that, I’ll match it again in August and give you some kind of prize to boot (let you write an article for this blog, say, which isn’t much but at least it’s in my power, or put you on the blogroll, or send you a book, whatever). Send me an email saying you’ve contributed and how much (don’t make it public though). If you don’t want to contribute above, say, fifty, grab another person and put in with them. You can keep it anonymous, or I can give you credit here for it (which I’d like). So you’re doubling your money. By giving 100, you’re giving 200.

We have about 24 hours, as I said (at the end of the 30th I guess? I don’t know the exact time Q2 is “officially” over. Put your money where your mouth is. Help support a cause you believe in. Make me eat ramen noodles for all of September. But most importantly, make Ron Paul relevant. It is withing your power.

Posted by Adam @ 6:45 pm on June 28th 2007

L. Ron Obama

Man, Obama’s on fire. Well, not actually on fire; that would almost certainly be bad for his chances in the election. He has, though, gotten 250 000 donors. Now yes, a bunch of those won’t have given that much (yet) but getting that many people on board is pretty outstanding and unless he does something to really piss them off, he’ll go back and get more money from them. That so many people are prepared to make the effort to get on board the Obama train must be raising a few concerns.

Dean, the last grassroots phenomenon, burnt out; Obama, though, is way surpassing Dean. He’s up against a much stronger machine politician than Dean was, of course, but this looks set to be a real battle between the old and the new style of campaign politics.

On Tucker Carlson’s show today, one of the pundits hazarded that the Obama money wouldn’t be so good, so they leaked the number of donors in advance, to get some positive coverage. Also today, Hillary’s team said that they expect Obama to beat Hillary in the money stakes. Is there a lot of headology being practiced?

Posted by Adam @ 6:17 pm on June 28th 2007

And Britain has a new government

Gordon Brown has been a-reshuffling. I don’t have a great deal to say about the new cabinet — early days yet — although I had thought that Jack Straw might end up back as Foreign Secretary, partly because he apparently loved the job and partly because it was Blair that demoted him out of it (rumoured at the time to have been done, in part, to please Bush) and putting Straw back in that job would be a hearty way to remind Blair that he’s no longer in power.

One hopes that we’ll only be treated to a short Brown government before a Tory victory, although I’m not a great fan of the modern Tories, either.

Posted by Brad @ 4:43 pm on June 28th 2007

Music Video of the Week

Yeah yeah, another blog posting Flight of the Conchord videos. Screw you, it’s great stuff.

The Humans are Dead.

And another.

Posted by Adam @ 3:58 pm on June 28th 2007

A double handful of straws

Over at a happy Corner, there is partisan optimism. Rich Lowry thinks that the Dems’ not dropping subpoenas against the Whitehouse will hurt them more than it hurts the Republicans:

There’s really not much more damage that Democrats can do to Bush with this stuff. What are they going to do? Take him from 29% to 27%? But they can further cement their own role in the ongoing saga Inside the Beltway called, “Everything Everyone Hates About Washington.” Republicans can hope after another year-and-a-half of this both parties will have unpopular high-profile symbols, Bush for the Republicans and Congress for the Democrats.

Meanwhile, Jonah Goldberg, reacting to the excitement over Sorenson’s “Dream Speech” sees signs of, you guessed it, Democrat weakness:

Taking it a bit more seriously, I think Sorenson’s dream speech is actually a potential indicator of Democratic weakness. There’s a tendency among the activist base of the Democratic Party to, putting it delicately, get hung up on George W. Bush’s mistakes. Maybe you’ve noticed?

The problem with it is that everyone already knows that Democrats hate Bush, apparently.

Sorenson’s speech sounds like a fresh-start speech but it’s really just a rehash of the same stuff we’ve been hearing in a more passive-aggressive form. Indeed, the public policy formulations sound like they start from the premise that if Bush does X then not X is the wisest most enlightened position possible. That Ted Sorenson thinks this is a great speech for the Dems to give is barely interesting. That the editors of the Washington Monthly think it’s so great that it warrants the cover of the magazine may be a somewhat more interesting indicator of where liberals are right now.

Given that this comes in the wake of a humiliating battering for the President and bitter divisions within the Republican Party over the Immigration business, and with public opinion moving in the Democrat direction over Iraq (not unconnected, in my opinion), I think that it might be a little optimistic to be looking at Democrat weakness.

Posted by Rojas @ 12:22 pm on June 28th 2007

Bumfights it ain’t

The 2006 final in South Africa

Coming to Copenhagen on July 29, one of the cooler international sporting events: the Homeless World Cup.

Posted by Adam @ 10:51 am on June 28th 2007

Coulter on Morning Joe

Coulter sounded like she was melting down on the telephone to loveable Joe Scarborough (I just saw a clip on MSNBC). There’s a post on it at HuffPo but the embedded video there seems to be broken. I’ll see if I can find a clip of it elsewhere.

UPDATE: Via Sully, a Youtube:

Posted by Adam @ 10:31 am on June 28th 2007

And… the immigration bill goes down

So, no chance of cloture, CNN reports, and the Immigration Bill is dead. My interest is still whether or not this further screws war support.

This has really gone down in flames, for a variety of reasons (the bill being written in secret by a bipartisan group of Senators didn’t help, for sure), but this may really have broken what remained of the camel’s back that was the Bush support in the Republican base. Bush was always going to be lame by now, but exactly how much of a busted flush does this latest defeat make him? The only thing that might cheer his supporters are the recent judgements coming down from the Supreme Court (even if Scalia is resorting to veiled insults for his Chief Justice while agreeing in general on the rulings).

Posted by Brad @ 3:54 am on June 28th 2007

More on Stabbed In the Back

Matt Yglesias comes to the defense of fellow Atlantican Ross Douthat against Jonah Goldberg’s personal crusade to prevent any groundwork being laid for an eventual counter to the idea that we lost Iraq because we didn’t put enough stock in Republicans.

The argument is idiotic on any number of levels, here are a few (read right past the illustrations of the Godwin Rule):

Suffice it to say that I think the main point of analogy is that mainstream contemporary American conservatism, like inter-war Nazism, believes that military defeats are primarily due to failures of national will. They believe this in part because they massively overestimate the significance of will in determining outcomes of this sort. They also, like Nazis, seem to deny that it might ever better serve the national interest to abandon a military adventure than to continue it. These beliefs serve to foster the further belief that several constitutive elements of liberal democracies — committed to free speech, to unfettered political debate, the existence of active political opposition movements — are a source of national weakness.

We talk a lot about the electoral ramifications of the end of the Iraq War (coming to a Middle Eastern theater near you, Spring 2008), but I think it’s certainly worthwhile to sometimes discuss it purely on its merits. Is Yglesias’s characterization wrong here (Nazi stuff aside)?

Posted by Rojas @ 11:21 pm on June 27th 2007

The ridiculousness of McCain-Feingold

You are a pro-life citizen. Your Senators are filibustering the President’s pro-life judicial nominees. Should you be allowed to sponsor advertisements urging fellow constituents to oppose your representatives’ actions?

McCain-Feingold says no, you shouldn’t; not within sixty days of an election. And now, the Supreme Court says otherwise. George Will comments.

Posted by Adam @ 9:01 pm on June 27th 2007

Smashing the Immigration Bill: is it worth it?

I ask whether ‘smashing’ the Immigration Bill is worth it because the opponents, such as those at National Review, are not trying merely to defeat it, but to batter and damage those that favour it, leaving them stranded amidst a field of scorched political earth. It’s a serious business.

There is a picture at NRO of the “amnesty eight”, labelling eight of the Senators that merely voted for cloture to revive debate on the immigration bill as enablers of ‘amnesty’, the preferred accusation of opponents of the bill. Now, all this is fair enough; politics is rough and has to be practical. I don’t have any problem with anti-Immigration Bill folks deciding that these are the actions that they wish to take, and I suspect that tomorrow, the next cloture vote will fail, Harry Reid will feel like a million bucks because he can say he tried and failed because of those dastardly Republicans, the NRO crowd will feel better than they did since Harriet Miers withdrew her candidacy for the Supreme Court and the Phillies will start to really commence their run to eventual World Series Glory. I’m not against the Immigration Bill myself, but it doesn’t look like a great piece of legislation, either. All, then, is well with the world, or at least those portions of it here legally and not dependent on illegal labour, I guess. Right?

Well, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. The highly-motivated, direct and brutal efficacy of the opponents of the Immigration Bill will leave scars on proponents of the bill and not by accident. In particular, Bush and McCain, two individuals most linked with the bill, are also the two best hopes that many of us who want to stay in Iraq have of keeping the US mission in Iraq going. Now, I’m not in the anti- crowd on the Bill, but I am very much in the camp of wanting to keep the US in Iraq and trying to produce some sort of successful state out of it, as are Bush and McCain (and if, like McCain, I am unhappy about how it’s been conducted, well, you go to war with the President you have, not the one that you want) and I know that many of those opposed to the Immigration Bill are also against a withdrawal from Iraq. I mused yesterday that the campaign to kill the Immigration bill can cause so much damage to Bush’s credibility with sections of the Republican base that support for the Iraq mission can erode as a result (and wondered whether that was the reason for recent polling showing that war support amongst Republicans is falling fast):

It seems to me that war support amongst Republicans has long been bolstered by a belief in the president, that he’s a decent bloke with strong convictions that America shares, blah blah; given how some of those same people feel about the immigration bill, it seems to me that faith in George W Bush the man is a casualty of the immigration ill-feeling. There are obviously other factors in dropping war support (no WMD, things going badly, protracted operations, etc) but I suspect that faith in Bush has butressed support for the war and that the loss of faith in Bush, caused by Bush’s wholehearted support of the immigration bill (that opponents tend to refer to as the ‘amnesty bill’) takes war support with it.

Add to that McCain, who has some credibility on Iraq with other sections of the Republican and Independent electorates and who is also getting savaged over immigration, and smashing the Immigration Bill might, in practice, make sustaining the US effors in Iraq much harder, politically (and they were looking tough enough as is). Is smashing this Immigration Bill, rather than taking an approach based on killing it more gently in the House, worth it, when the cost might be continued US efforts in Iraq? Not for me. Easy for me to say, I guess, because I’m not that bothered about the Bill, and I am keen on keeping and increasing US troops in Iraq (as I have said many times) but I know that, for example, the NRO crowd are mostly keen on trying to make something work in Iraq. How will the editorial board feel about a banner similar to the ‘Amnesty 8’ one but featuring them as the ‘Board of Defeat’? Actions have consequences. Are the consequences worth it, in this case?

Posted by Adam @ 3:51 pm on June 27th 2007

The impact of defeat

Jonah Goldberg has received an email which is part of an ongoing critique of Ross Douthat’s “Stabbed in the Back” theory. The thrust of it is that if Iraq is lost, conservatives shouldn’t spend a lot of time blaming the liberals and the media for it, as they did with Vietnam, because then as now, most people will see it as delusionist hogwash. Well, I’m not so convinced that Democrats did escape the blame for pulling out of Vietnam and I think that they should be worried about getting lumbered with blame for a defeat in Iraq if they force a withdrawal; Brad, however, is, I think, on the same page as Douthat.

Anyhow, Goldberg’s correspondent writes:

What helped Reagan was not the actions of the media and the Left in attacking the war in Vietnam. It was the fact that, after the war was over, they couldn’t let go of it. Many (perhaps most) American supported our withdrawal, but with regret. When it was over, much of the country wanted to forget about it. But the media and the Left dwelt on it, sometimes celebrated it, constantly rubbed our noses in it.

At the war’s end (for us), Johnson and Nixon got the blame. But those who could not let go of it came to own it. The long-term consequences of the Iraq War for the Democrats are probably dependent on their handling of the aftermath.

This is the perfect answer for some of the Corner posters: ‘it’s the fault of the damn lefties that they got blamed for Vietnam; they brought it on themselves by not letting us all pretend it never happened.’

The weird thing is that commonsense might suggest that trying to forget about defeats, particularly those brought about in large part by picking the wrong objectives and misunderstanding the enemy, would be a recipe for experiencing similar events in the future. You know, one could almost imagine that people who wished to forget about the defeat, rather than pick over it, would lead the nation into another ill thought-out war complete with a juicy misunderstanding of the enemy. And that would be bad. Let’s hope it never happens. No, wait.

Posted by Brad @ 1:04 pm on June 27th 2007

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and Triceratodd The Annihilator

Behold! The Catholic Church decrees that ye humans shall welcome your Hideous Overlords, and bless them in the holy waters of Christ our savior so that they may taste of his flesh and drink of his blood, as they shall of us all.

“Human-animal hybrid embryos conceived in the laboratory – so-called “chimeras” – should be regarded as human and their mothers should be allowed to give birth to them, the Roman Catholic Church said yesterday.

Under draft Government legislation to be debated by Parliament later this year, scientists will be given permission for the first time to create such embryos for research as long as they destroy them within two weeks.

But the Catholic bishops of England and Wales, in a submission to the Parliamentary joint committee scrutinising the draft legislation, said that the genetic mothers of “chimeras” should be able to raise them as their own children if they wished.

The bishops said that they did not see why these “interspecies” embryos should be treated any differently than others.


Posted by Adam @ 12:44 pm on June 27th 2007

Delay case racing through treacle

After some of the charges against Tom Delay were thrown out (because, erm, the alleged crimes weren’t, in fact, crimes when they were committed, doh!), an Appeals Court has backed that call, after only a year. A year, to decide that? Jesus wept. Still no trial date for the remaining charges of money-laundering, although to hear Byron York tell it, you’d think that there were no charges left to face:

Tom DeLay was forced to step down as House Majority Leader after he was indicted by Ronnie Earle, a local prosecutor in Texas. Now, the charges seem to be falling apart.

The problem with that reading is that this result was pretty much predictable at least since these charges were originally thrown out a year ago. I’m not a lawyer, and I know less of Texas law than I do of general law, so I can’t predict what will happen with the remaining cases, but for as long as the charges are there, it seems to me that the underlying cause of Delay’s demise (BS charges brought from political motivation, or a genuine criminal case to answer) isn’t decided yet.

The ironic thing is that the biggest beneficiaries from Delay’s demise in the House are probably, in the long term, the Republicans, for whom Delay was a diamond-encrusted anchor attached to their necks. None of which should excuse Ronnie Earle for bringing the charges that have been thrown out; if the money-laundering charges also fall apart, Earle should be toast.

Posted by Adam @ 11:51 am on June 27th 2007

Steven Weinberg, on the UK and anti-semitism

The second thing I read about recently, which is actually a month old and I had missed it (saw it eventually on the much-maligned Lubos Motl’s blog), is Steven Weinberg’s decision not to attend the PASCOS07 conference. Steven Weinberg is a 1979 Nobel Prizewinner in physics, a prize he shared with Abdus Salam, then of Imperial College, and Sheldon Glashow.

Weinberg, in an open letter to conference organiser Mike Duff, cites concerns about anti-semitism in the UK media and scientific communities (background and copy of the letter here).

The issues that Weinberg cites are disturbing and they are certainly consistent with antisemitism. Weinberg takes the position that there is no explanation for the expressed hostility to Israel other than antisemitism:

I know some will say that these boycotts are directed only against Israel, rather than generally against Jews. But given the history of attacks on Israel and the oppressiveness and aggressiveness of other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere, boycotting Israel indicates a moral blindness for which it is hard to find any explanation other than anti-Semitism. (The only other explanation I can imagine is a desire to pander to the growing Muslim minority in Britain.) I see this bias reflected from time to time in the news reporting of The Guardian, The Independent and the BBC, so it is not really surprising that the NUJ would take this action.

Well, I don’t agree with him there, although he’s entitled to his opinion; I would fully expect that there are, amongst those anti-Israel types, anti-semites (much as there are racists amidst the anti-immigration types) but I wouldn’t characterise their number by the anti-semitism of some of their members. I also don’t come to his rather odd binary conclusion (the anti-Israel is either anti-semitism or pandering to moslems) and, in particular, I don’t see how he arrives at this:

For some time, I have had mixed feelings about visits to Britain, due to my perception of a widespread anti-Israel and anti-Semitic current of British opinion, especially in the intellectual establishment.

Weinberg does state that it’s his perception but I’d dispute, nevertheless, the idea that anti-semitism there is widespread, especially in the ‘intellectual establishment’. Maybe I never experienced the right part of it (I’ve not met Weinberg myself, although I am close to a lot of people that work in his area, and have) and he may have additional evidence to which I am not privy, but I think that, in Weinberg’s effort to raise concern about something that is a problem (these calls for a boycott of Israeli academics, from a year ago, in particular), he associates too many people with anti-semitic beliefs (Motl makes that mistake, but worse, I think; it may be different in the US, although I believe that it is not, but you cannot read into the statements of an educator’s union, like the NATFHE, the widespread opinions of their members, because the unions are run by the most motivated members, who are often nutty).

Posted by Rojas @ 11:26 am on June 27th 2007

We’re number four!

The Gold Cup final trounces the Stanley Cup final in TV ratings.

And here’s the fun part: the soccer game that just squashed the NHL’s crown jewel? Was being broadcast in Spanish. The English-language broadcast was on a different channel and isn’t included in the ratings.

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