the curious physics of bad reading
I have a bunch of longish posts in my head, but they'll have to wait to come out, 'cause I'm a busy puppy. But a brief comment in passing on the bizarre disconnect in blogging and journalism between what people write and how some people read it.
In this post
, Max Blumenthal calls Christopher Hitchens an intellectual whore. Which is like calling a whale a mammal -- it's mere description, rather than an argument. Christopher Hitchens is Faye Dunaway in Barfly
; the evidence is in. The man is Mr. Say Anything
In this specific instance, Blumenthal notes that Hitchens has happily oozed his way into the embrace of religious-right groups, then turned around and, to market his contrarianist brand, blasted religion as a cancer, saying (warm from the Christianist embrace) that Christ never existed. Among other willfully transgressive little gimmicky anti-religious statements (that are, to be clear about this, gimmicky because of the mouth they come out of and the context of his past, not inherently gimmicky). The point is about hypocrisy and cynicism, and is uncomplicated. But then scroll down to the bottom of Blumenthal's post and look at the comments...
"Jesus Christ never lived? I happen to agree. I went looking for the evidence of his existence and found only an ancient myth wrapped in a series of known and suspected forgeries."
I am WTFing like crazy, here, ladies and gentlemen. A full thirty percent of all known blog commentors appear to have the cognitive skills of houseplants or Doug Feith.
Management challenges Historiblography readers to identify a sex-referencing lyric that manages to be less sexually stimulating than this Prince classic:
We can funk until the dawn
Making love till cherry's gone
Extra points for hair bands and/or singers known to have sexed an Arquette. Winner receives the standard prize.
two years after broken
The moment in the cartoon when Wiley E. Coyote finally realizes that he's gone over the cliff, looks down, stops running, looks at the camera, starts to fall:
1.) An active-duty Army officer is publishing a blistering attack on U.S. generals, saying they have botched the war in Iraq and misled Congress about the situation there.Meanwhile in fantasyland...
"America's generals have repeated the mistakes of Vietnam in Iraq," charges Lt. Col. Paul Yingling, an Iraq veteran who is deputy commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. "The intellectual and moral failures . . . constitute a crisis in American generals."
2.) 15 month tours may only be the start, for troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. I'm hearing that soldiers about to leave for the Middle East are being told to expect stays of 16 to 18 months.
asian man recycles; john doe acts
with bomb squad and from multiple agencies, furiously tell Asian man to stop looking all Muslimy in public.
Second favorite part: "Ma'am, you are associated with the suspect."
Guilt by brownness; guilt by association with brownness; presumption of guilt that survives evidence. Annnnnd so on. Like the man says: "Such behaviors exist most strongly in closed, undemocratic and fascist societies."
Read the comments on this one; they're exceptionally revealing.)
To be clear, I think it's an enormous overstatement to say that this is a "closed, undemocratic and fascist" society. But, yeah, some of us have all the instincts.
peace by exhaustion
Back to the nineteenth century:
"For years poverty has kept the peace in Europe. One of the fruits of civilization is the increasing expensiveness of war, so that when the voice of humanity cannot be heard, the hollow sound of an empty treasury is a warning which cannot be slighted."
-- William Ellery Channing, describing
the peace that followed the Congress of Vienna
Meanwhile, back in the twenty-first century, this
leads to this
. Which leads to this
Which is, hilariously, interpreted like this
"your private medical information...
...is now being used
by federal law enforcement to investigate crimes that have nothing to do with prescription drug abuse." (Via.
Atul Gawande's New Yorker story
about geriatric medicine is a stunner, interesting for both the political implications and the humbling picture of mortality. Well worth the time.
I think I would use this
, especially question number three, to reframe my recent question about single-payer. Everybody
wants to fix us, somehow or another, and they're all looking for the avenue to do it.
"one of the first things that was brought to my attention..."
Six years in a nutshell.
Whenever Michelle "Der Stürmer
" Malkin's existence makes its way into my aching head, I wonder if she's consciously doing lucrative schtick or if she's really just that fucking dumb. And, well
. Yeah. I actually feel embarrassed for her.
This is politics for people who can't stop being twelve years old.
Okay, yes: Irving Kristol and Jonah Goldberg and Michael Ledeen and Max Boot and the rest of the wankosphere have been wrong about everything
having to do with the war in Iraq, but they still somehow get published and invited to appear on TV and yadda yadda yadda.
But I can't say enough about Ron Robin's book
about the Cold War, which is so incredibly well worth reading. Especially worthwhile (aside from the necessary introduction, which establishes the premises of the book) is chapter nine, which discusses the Rand Corporation's behavioral sciences "analysis" of the "insurgency" in Vietnam. Speaking of people who succeed by getting everything completely wrong.
I won't try to summarize, but the bottom line is that Rand -- working for U.S. Air Force pay -- unleashed a foul stream of utter bullshit on the world, prescribing a series of fact-free and ideologically insane measures that failed, failed, and failed again. Which led to, yes, new "research" contracts from a government that was increasingly desperate for answers. Get paid, fail, get paid again as a consequence of failure
I'm more convinced with each passing day that being demonstrably right about policy choices not only has nothing to do with the success or failure of pundits and think tank bloviators, but can even be directly harmful to their careers. The important thing is to make the right kinds of noises, always sounding enough like what everybody else is already thinking that no one can identify you as an outlier or an intellectual deviant. The important thing is to be conventionally respectable
, not right
So a responsible analyst is one who said, in late 2001 or 2002, that the Iraqis would greet Americans as liberators, and there would be a quick transition to peace and stability; loud, shrill, dangerous nutjobs said that the war would produce complex and ugly outcomes. Notional level-headedness and actual correctness are unrelated.
And so the rest of us are stuck endlessly on the merry-go-round.
And yes, I know that other people have already said this. But it was attention-getting to read such familiar stuff in a different context, so I'm saying it again. There's a basic, built-in failure in our ability to discuss the consequences of policy choices -- and that failure will show up again
Seriously: Read this book, or at least the introduction and the chapter on Rand and Vietnam, and see if it doesn't sound entirely, gravely familiar.
You really have to watch this
. (Not a permalink, so the video may change.)
Okay: "Will you support me, a soldier in the Army, and stand up against evil?"
In the post below this one, I note that Michelle Malkin has been posting emails from active duty members of the U.S. military attacking Senator Harry Reid for his comment that the war in Iraq is lost. One current
servicemember calls for Reid's death as a traitor. Forget for the moment whether Reid is right or not; the issue here is whether or not active duty servicemembers may directly and aggressively insult elected officials of the government
If you re-read my blog posts from the year and a half that I was just on active duty, I think you'll find that I wrote critically about events and policies, but took very great care
to avoid direct attacks on public officials. Maybe I fucked up and forgot myself, somewhere, in which case I would have hoped that someone would have brought that transgression to my attention. And yes, I informed my company commander that I was posting to a pair of blogs, and I made sure he knew where to find them.
But now we have Malkin's site printing some extremely
aggressive attacks by active duty servicemembers on a ranking member of the United States Senate -- and an official organization of the Republican party
using their contemptuous words against that senator in a series of televised political attacks.
Note well the quote from an active duty soldier near the beginning of this post; it's from Malkin's site, and appears in the Republican advertisement. Fuck that.
That's a young soldier who needs to be reminded, seriously
reminded, who he works for. The republic is not a servant to its military.
It's time for a sit-down, because people are forgetting.
Because sometimes the world flies by faster than you can comment on it:
1.) It must be neat being Lurita Doan
, because, like, you take a bite of your sandwich, and you chew and swallow, and then pick up the sandwich to take another bite -- and whheeeeeeeee, you already don't remember what kind of sandwich it is! Every single bite is a neat new surprise! (Corned beef!?!? Get out!
2.) Tony Snow
: Congress has no oversight authority over the White House. I believe this represents the legal principle known as the "fuehrerdiktat."
3.) Over at the Washington Post
(and reprinted elsewhere), E.J. Dionne
thinks airport security measures are great, proposes expanding the principles behind them into the rest of society. Time to stop whining and start being completely safe! Amazingly, this column was not published on April 1.
4.) Ahh, I forget. There was more, I swear.
Coming soon: A timely Historiblography commentary on that knucklehead Nicholas II! (And what's up with this nullification crisis!?!?)
5.) Boris Yeltsin
dead at 76. Price of liquor to fall sharply.
6.) Over at Der Stürmer
, Michelle Malkin posts signed emails
from active duty
servicemembers shitting all over Harry Reid
for acting like a senator and publicly debating the course of the war in Iraq. Look for the nation's editorial pages, which shat blood
at the sight of six retired
generals criticizing a government official, to similarly decry this instance of military-civil crisis. Those editorials will be published in...never. Soldiers overstep their role only when they criticize Republicans; agreeing with Republicans is, of course, politically neutral behavior.
7.) I think it's absolutely outrageous that Sheryl Crow and Laurie David spoke words in Karl Rove's presence that Rove didn't agree with. These people have no business even opening their mouths
in the presence of a government official. And did they just "forget" to kowtow!?!? Let's try to remember to show the proper obeisance to state power, people.
garrison state issues free candy
opponents of garrison state offer rousing cheer
, the eminently sensible Glenn Greenwald raises an eyebrow
at the news that federal officials are unable to find records of the Virginia Tech shooter's medication history in their files:
Is there any good reason whatsoever why the federal government should be maintaining "files" which contain information about the pharmaceutical products which all Americans are consuming? The noxious idea has taken root in our country -- even before the Bush presidency, though certainly greatly bolstered during it -- that one of the functions of the federal government is to track the private lives of American citizens and maintain dossiers on what we do.
I very much agree, but I've also bookmarked Greenwald's post for future reference when the debate
begins in earnest over the implementation of single-payer health care. Because, yes: When the government pays for all of your medical care, then they will of course have all of your medical records, and they will know what medication you take.
If you oppose the surveillance state erected by the Bush adminstration over the last six years -- the NSA's domestic eavesdropping and the abnegation of FISA laws, the FBI's national security letters, the Patriot Act provision for obtaining library records without a warrant, watch lists on top of watch lists -- but favor single-payer health care, I'd like to hear how you build that argument.
Or try this: If you oppose the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, and deplore this week's Supreme Court ruling
on that law, and think your body is none of the government's business -- but favor single-payer, in which case the government will in fact see all of your ob/gyn bills -- how do you reconcile these two sets of political beliefs? How will the government pay for your prenatal care without maintaining a "dossier" on it? How then would a successful abortion ban not be enforced through law enforcement access to your medical records?
Or put it this way: If Bill Frist's diagnosis-by-video of Terri Schiavo turned your stomach, and you thought the Republican Congress should have stayed out of the question of her ongoing care, do you think the Republican Congress would have had more
power to intervene or less
power to intervene if they had been paying all the bills
for that care?
The bottom line is that the successful implementation of single-payer in, say, 1999, would have meant that George Bush would have been in charge of your health care for the last six years. The successful implementation of single-payer in 2009 means that President Romney will be in charge of your health care in 2010.
I'm baffled that legions of sensible people have correctly identified the element of unbounded state power in the actions of the Bush Cult, but see no such implications in single-payer, which would apparently just be a really neat chance for the government to help
. Like Irving Kristol said
, defining neoconservatism back in 2003, the new conservative paradigm is to aggressively use state power to helpfully shape a neat new culture:
The steady decline in our democratic culture, sinking to new levels of vulgarity, does unite neocons with traditional conservatives -- though not with those libertarian conservatives who are conservative in economics but unmindful of the culture. The upshot is a quite unexpected alliance between neocons, who include a fair proportion of secular intellectuals, and religious traditionalists. They are united on issues concerning the quality of education, the relations of church and state, the regulation of pornography, and the like, all of which they regard as proper candidates for the government's attention.
Anyway, I can't wait
until Sam Brownback has funding authority over AIDS treatment -- just think progressive
the outcome will be.
From the "Society of Americans for National Existence" comes a new website
that promises to map Muslim-owned institutional property in the United States. Which is gonna be tough, because they have to track pretty much everybody who isn't white:
The exact number of Islamic mosques, day schools, and social clubs and organizations in the United Stated [sic] is unknown. We do know there are approximately 6 million Muslims in the US. This number is growing exponentially from several sources. One, birth rate. Two, conversions, especially among American Blacks, and especially among American Blacks in prison. Three, new immigrants.
Also see this rambling essay
in which the director of the project acknowledges that the shooter at Virginia Tech wasn't a Muslim, then painlessly connects the shootings at Virginia Tech to the threat of Islamist terrorism. Aaaannnnd off into the wild-blue yonder. Future essay: A middle-aged Iowa Catholic has been in a single-car traffic accident! Now do you people understand what I've been trying to tell you about the Global Caliphate!?!?!?
Anyway, it's a pretty useful project. You can't take the property of the internal enemy
if you don't know where they are, nicht wahr? (Via.)
the rule of law is hurting my genitals
So even if all the good people at that university agreed that Something Should Be Done, they have been castrated by the lawyers. If they do the Right Thing they are guilty. It's not just the problem Derb correctly identifies, it's The Law.
Read the whole vomit-inducing thing, and note that one of our most prominent "conservative" writers, in one of our most prominent "conservative" magazines, is arguing against restraints on the behavior of the state
, namby-pamby rule of law stuff that privileges an individual right to be left alone by the government.
(I know, I know: Gasp!
And I repeat: Authoritarian. Socialists.
ADDED LATER:Wanker round-up.
terrorists may ask for directions to kalamazoo
Paging Tom Servo.
And I'm pretty sure that's Donald Rumsfeld's long lost brother with the broom, just diggin' on them spooky tunes.
There was more carnage in the hallway. Kevin Granata had heard the commotion in his third-floor office and ran downstairs. He was a military veteran, very protective of his students. He was gunned down trying to confront the shooter...Wanker pundit asshole world:
Room 204, Professor Librescu's class, seems to have been the gunman's last stop on the second floor...By the time the gunman reached the room, many of the students were on the window ledge. There was grass below, not concrete, and even some shrubs. The old professor was at the door, which would not lock, pushing against it, when the gunman pushed from the other side. Some of the students jumped, others prepared to jump until Librescu could hold the door no longer and the gunman forced his way inside.
Matt Webster, a 23-year-old engineering student from Smithfield, Va., was one of four students inside when the gunman appeared. "He was decked out like he was going to war," Webster recalled. "Black vest, extra ammunition clips, everything." Again, his look was blank, just a stare, no expression, as he started shooting. The first shot hit Librescu in the head, killing him.
Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn't anyone rush the guy? It's not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness' sake—one of them reportedly a .22.
At the very least, count the shots and jump him reloading or changing hands. Better yet, just jump him. Handguns aren't very accurate, even at close range.
And yes, I read the "well, I
would have rushed him -- he only had a couple of guns!" blather as a metaphor
. Wrong about everything
everybody into the pool
Management announces the commencement of a new Historiblography betting pool on the timing and nature of the first major university overreaction, with negative consequences (e.g. lawsuits or negative news media coverage), to a perceived threat of campus violence potentially similar to the Virginia Tech shooting. Feel free to come up with your own, but the following handcrafted scenarios are available for your betting selection:
--Student in creative writing class is expelled / suspended / counseled / placed under institutional supervision / removed from campus housing / barred from a class after authoring a story in which acts of violence occur. (Extra points for film school or MFA program.)
-- Campus is locked down, classes cancelled, students held under armed supervision / locked in housing or classrooms after random single act of violence on or near campus. (Extra points for guessing the distance of the said act of violence from students placed under lockdown. Extra points for guessing length of lockdown.)
-- Loner / angry / foreign / noncommunciative student approached by police / dean / mental health professional for preventive intervention: "My name is Detective Smith, and I hear you haven't been going to many campus parties. Should we be worried, here?" (Extra points if targeted student is Asian male.)
-- Campus housing raided, searched for weapons.
-- Metal detectors at classroom buildings or campus housing.
-- School holds drill(s) in which students practice reacting to on-campus / nearby gunfire.
All bets should include scenario and date by which scenario will occur. Extra points as above, and also for correct guesses regarding responses and outcomes. Winner collects the standard Historiblography prize of one (1) shiny [notional] silver dollar.
A lot of manly man's men
out there would have by god rushed that fella at Virginia Tech and taken him down
one-handed. While shoveling mutton into their lantern jaws with the leftover fist, grrr
. I defy you to read this post
, or this one
, without actually sighing out loud.
Here, on the other hand, is a message
from a grown-up.
All the talk in the world doesn't make this
In related news, here are the top few results of a google search
for the terms "cheney us news tough guy," found while I was looking for an image of a growling vice-president. See if you can guess why I laughed out loud:
USNews.com: Bush's No.2 Cheney gives no quarter and plays for all ...Tough-guy Stuff. Bush's No. 2 gives no quarter and plays for all the marbles...This story appears in the November 14, 2005 print edition of U.S. News ...
www.usnews.com/usnews/news/articles/051114/14cheney.htm - 19k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this
USNews.com: Cheney Reaction; Poor Choices; Correction
Cheney Reaction I appreciate the balanced report on Vice President Dick Cheney ... This story appears in the February 20, 2006 print edition of U.S. News ...
www.usnews.com/usnews/letters/articles/060220/20lett.htm - 23k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this
[ More results from www.usnews.com ]
Fatal Flaws of Bush's 'Tough-Guy-ism' | BaltimoreChronicle.com
US News Media Criticism. 04.12 Rallying Around Their Racist Friend ... “Tough-guy-ism” insists that all conflicts no matter how misguided must end in ...
baltimorechronicle.com/2007/032607Parry.shtml - 38k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this
FOXNews.com - Cheney Accidentally Shoots Fellow Hunter in Texas...Armstrong told FOX News that Cheney, thinking he was the last hunter on the right of the ... "This will just play into 'Dick Cheney is a meanie kind of guy, ...
www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,184617,00.html - 53k - Apr 18, 2007 - Cached - Similar pages - Note this
That just about says the whole thing, yes.
maybe a little dignity
The shootings at Virginia Tech prove nothing about anyone's politics. Gun control would not have stopped the shootings, anymore than the gun ban in the District of Columbia has made that city a peaceful place. Concealed carry laws would not have helped against the sudden appearance of a gunman who shot quickly and fled. Only in fantasyland do people successfully quick-draw their concealed weapon at the sudden appearance of a gunman who rips open a door, weapon at the ready, and begins pumping bullets into a room.
The police and the campus administration were not at fault for the later round of shootings; officials do not typically respond to a shooting at one location by placing every other nearby location under armed lockdown, and there was no good reason to think that a shooting at one place on campus would lead, two hours later, to another set of shootings somewhere else. People routinely shoot other people without going on extended rampages at other locations; this is the norm, and it was reasonable for police to make the assumption that they were facing a normal act of violence. Only in fantasyland does an institution immediately and correctly assume that an act of violence on their premises will be a precursor for a later and related act of violence somewhere else on their premises. (Somebody's been shot on Third Street -- quick, close down Seventh Street, Fourteenth Street, and the corndog stand at the mall!
The violence at Virginia Tech proves that there are violent human beings on the planet, and horrible violence will sometimes happen. This is why we have police and paramedics, who did their jobs in this instance at great risk to their own personal safety.
And that's it. No lessons about anyone's ideology. No politician to blame. The shooter did it, and either the police appropriately killed him or he killed himself. Let us be spared the other week of televised pollution that will surely follow, in which it will be proved by screaming idiots that Bush or Pelosi or the liberals or the gun nuts killed those poor kids.
Let's for once blame an action on the person who took that action, and leave it at that.
four fucking years
In a Washington Post op-ed piece
today, a retired Marine Corps general explains why he turned down a job offer from the White House, which wanted him to set up shop at the White House to take administrative charge of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Money quote, with emphasis added:
What I found in discussions with current and former members of this administration is that there is no agreed-upon strategic view of the Iraq problem or the region. In my view, there are essentially three strategies in play simultaneously.Four fucking goddamn years
into a war, a highly experienced military officer is telling us that he can discern no overarching, agreed-upon strategy for the United States to prevail in that war. Incompetence, incompetence, incompetence.
And the jackasses in the administration, aided and abetted by a gang of idiot bloggers and faux-journalists on the authoritarian socialist "right," prattle on about having the will
to win -- as if the problem were wholly based in the ideological spirit (or what the fuck ever), and had no component of failure in the development and execution of basic policy.
my checkbook has lost its geist
In 1494, the world's two greatest empires divided the earth between themselves. The Treaty of Tordesillas
gave Spain ownership of half the planet, and gave Portugal the other half. This balance of global power, you may have noticed, is no longer the status quo. Having said that, I now present some Very Grave News.
Western Civilization, ladies and gentlemen, has lost
its purity of essence (and I challenge you to identify the author of these words without peeking at the source):
I recently had a dream that British marines fought back, like their forefathers of old, against criminals and pirates. When taken captive, they proved defiant in their silence. When released, they talked to the tabloids with restraint and dignity, and accepted no recompense.
I dreamed that a kindred German government, which best knew the wages of appeasement, cut-off all trade credits to the outlaw Iranian mullahs — even as the European Union joined the Americans in refusing commerce with this Holocaust-denying, anti-Semitic, and thuggish regime.
Ahh, for the Good Old Days, when the Germans stood firm against the deniers of the Holocaust that they perpetr-- wait, fuck, now I'm totally confused again.
Assuming for the sake of not tediously giving more examples that we've all seen a million iterations of this lament in recent weeks -- the old stiffness gone out of our swagger stick, eh what, used to give a rousing good sock to the natives with it, back in the day -- I'd like to move straight to the what-a-load-of-crap part.
First, granting that the British Navy appears to have never heard of the tactical maneuvers known as "looking around while you do stuff so you don't get a big surprise" or "having some other guys with you to look around while you do stuff so you don't get a big surprise," and granting that it was embarrassing for the almost-free captives to grin at Mahmoud Ahmadinejad like four-year-olds meeting Tigger in front of the Dumbo ride, it's probably not a good idea to shoot at the representatives of a Shiite regime while your own government has several thousand
of your fellow servicemembers parked in the middle of several million
Shiites in a neighboring country. Who really dig the country that the other guys live in.
It's like, okay: You and a friend, a couple of British soldiers on leave, walk into a really crowded Irish bar, wade in good and deep, find a guy who seems to be really popular and is surrounded by a bunch of friends...and punch him in the face. (Because your fighting spirit is strong! Huzzah!) (And then you get your ass handed to you.)
So, tactics and general ground-level competence aside, I'll give those British sailors and marines points for better broad strategic wisdom than anybody in or near our own White House.
But here's the bigger point about the bigger point:
What if the alleged decline of the West currently said to be on display in the Middle East -- sorry, the Decline of the West, cue trumpets -- is a product of something other than a failure of spirit? The much-bullshat theme of recent days, in which the Bright Spark of Liberty Grows Dim in Our Hearts as the Light of Western Civilization Dies (and I just made myself feel tired from typing that), sure seems to me to overlook a long historical pattern in which major powers merely overreach and exhaust the bank on imprudent wars and reckless quests for national greatness.
The United States is either struggling in Iraq, for example, because (pick one): a.) It has insufficient staffing and funding to sustain a long war, forcing the government to extend
combat tours for troops and spend
hundreds of billions of dollars a year on debt service alone
(for this and other prior recklessness) to go on funding operations it plainly can't afford; or b.) It has exhausted something ineffable in its spirit.
Farther south, the British are half-assing a war that they don't believe in, because it's a stupid war. I don't see a larger point about the Wounded Soul of the Western Warrior.
But others do, and I will now assume that Victor Davis Hanson also owns crytals, does a lot of work on his energy fields, and likes to get naked at Esalen, because he seems pretty sure it's the spirit thing. Me, I'll take "we can't sustain the staffing and funding."
The Dutch had a global empire, and exhausted the bank on it. As did the Spanish and the Portuguese, and the Belgians sort of, and the British, and the French. The projection of power costs money and effort that could be spent elsewhere. The people who now shriek on endlessly about the entirely valid lesson of Munich don't seem to have ever noticed that WWII was a defeat for the victors, who lost a bunch of colonies in the deal. War has costs and consequences? Victors lose? Dude, amazing
I am not a pacifist. War is sometimes necessary and appropriate, and I've even been willing to participate in one myself, had I not ended up watching television in Kuwait in an office full of Girl Scout cookies.
But war only works
as an instrument of policy if the people who wage it understand how much they're likely to lose in the course of obtaining a victory. And spirit
is neat, and stiff upper lips, and all that. But rational administration, wise use of productive capacity, sustainable financing, and clearly defined aims make all of that stiff-upper-lipping actually add up to something. War is an activity of the state apparatus, of formal institutions that make choices about how to direct resources. Some British military personnel rode into contested waters without enough guns and guys, and were directed to do so by the institution that employed them, and it didn't work.
I had a dream that some military personnel serving in a poorly managed and ill-defined war were careless, got caught and were fucked with for a while, and then went home to their families without anybody dying unnecessarily. It would make stirring material for a column in the National Review
, and worth the time to also read the comments there.
world's least likely hegelians
I'm so confused right now.
especially the part about the misspellings
my severed and gushing femoral arteries are the best evidence yet that i'm in perfect health, although the news media is too biased to get it
Try to count the instances of Kool-Aid-guzzling delusion.
"there must be a gate or portal"
Pleasant sarcasm here
, wrapped around a solid core. (Via here
So apparently, judging by the current standard, American Conservative
magazine is left-wing. Why do they hate the troops? Do they want the Global Caliphate to implement sharia law in their restaurants?
Lucky for the editors, I don't think John Doe reads their stuff.
stable, except for the daily bombings
What would Laura say?
Meanwhile? Safer on this bridge
than in Detroit or D.C.! (Distributes additional faerie dust.)
In what apparently will become an important tradition
, the winter issue of UCLA Graduate Quarterly
prominently features the university's "Best TAs." As usual, two themes connect the very finest of our academic apprentices. Go ahead and guess what they are. The first one is easiest:
"As these examples show, having fun
is one thread that links the teaching philosophies of this year's Distinguished Teaching Assistants."
Italics from the original text, I'm sorry to say. And yes, I vomited. Here's what a UCLA education looks like in 2007:
The link between class and real world is part of the curriculum of an Introduction to Literature class with a service learning component, which Denise designed for the English Department. Paired with service agencies, students were challenged to consider how the issues raised in their texts were reflected in the service setting. One student read Aaron MacGruder's satirical comic strip, The Boondocks, while tutoring students at a Los Angeles high school, then wrote about the complex disparities in the Los Angeles school system.Yes, I studied literature in college -- we read widely in all the major cartoonists.
I feel a little embarassed, here, because I just spent ten weeks leading discussion sections in nineteenth century U.S. history -- and never once brought up the issue of how Cathy is always having a hard time losing weight on her diet! Zing! (Garfield ate all the lasagna again, wokka wokka wokka, and how 'bout that gilded age, zippity-bang! Let's dance!)
The second theme? Uncompensated labor. "Knowing that distinguished teaching doesn't end at the classroom door, this year's winners are all notable for the extensive time they spend outside of class -- and even formal office hours -- talking with students and nurturing their academic ambitions." Of course, a TA who really
wants to be the Very Super Best will also stick around in the evenings to wipe down the urinals. Every employer loves the heck out of an employee who does full-time work for a part-time paycheck -- they're the best
And, yes, I'm being a bit of an asshole, here. Distinguished teaching does, in fact, extend beyond the classroom door, and that's fine. But good luck producing research without drawing some boundaries around the frequency with which undergraduates can enter your stall and squeeze you for another pail of free milk.
, Chris is depressed again. Hooray for The Boondocks
at least five of us have to die
with vanity googling:
"Chris Bray, a Texas franchisee and president of the Toasted Subs Franchise Association, said he was not familiar with the company’s delivery plans but was skeptical of its prospects for success."
Between the prominent occultist and the musician and the adventurer and the realtor and the...
the charge of the lightweight brigade
Some Muslims have been caught near an airport with cigarette lighters and a flashlight
! Well done, John Doe!
Western Civilization survives to see another day. Take that
, flashlight-owning Muslims!
Important new post
at Crocheted Hats on the Muslim Flashlight Crisis.
a very telling absence
but i wanna
Wait, is everybody done making fun of the John Doe Manifesto
? Because I was planning on doing it for the next, I don't know, twenty years or so. Why no posts anywhere?
Do you people WANT sharia law on your chicken fried steak?
the guy wearing my nametag was a jackass
Retired Gen. Tommy Franks, speaking before the Petroleum Club in Midland, Texas, said
on Thursday that it would have been a serious mistake to invade Iraq with a larger force:
Deploying a larger invasion force during the first stage of the Iraq War could have been a mistake that cost thousands of American lives, retired Army Gen. Tommy Franks, told an audience at the Petroleum Club on Thursday.
During a question and answer session at the end of a benefit for Texas Special Olympics, Franks, who was the commanding general of the U.S. Central Command from 2000 to 2003, indicated in his response to an audience member that it would have taken up to six months to deploy a substantially larger force to Iraq than what was sent March 20, 2003. During this time Saddam Hussein's regime would have had more time to prepare for the invasion and could potentially have mounted a much fiercer and deadlier resistance to U.S. forces and their allies.
"I believe as many as 50,000 Americans would have lost their lives as a result of a better dug-in enemy," Franks said.
So what kind of deluded idiot would have proposed going to war with a larger invasion force? Um...
With an eye on a potential Iraqi collapse, [former CENTCOM commander Anthony] Zinni developed the plan further. CENTCOM's OPLAN 1003-98 called for three corps, some 380,000 troops in all...
"If I had to point to one person who was deeply involved in 1003-98 it was Tommy Franks," Zinni recalled. "He was the major contributor to the force levels and the planning and everything else."...
Zinni recommended Franks as his successor...
Based on these assumptions, Franks and his team of planners had shaved the numbers in 1003-98 to some 385,000, essentially the minimum number of troops that Zinni had concluded were necessary to occupy Iraq. But when Franks presented them on December 4 it became clear that that was not what Rumsfeld expected...
[Later,] Franks had managed to shrink the ground force to 300,000 by fiddling with these assumptions...
The plan was moving in Rumsfeld's direction, but the defense secretary indicated that he was still not satisfied...
By the time Franks presented the plan to Rumsfeld in Washington on December 19 he had managed to shrink the force some more and shorten the timelines. An initial invasion force of 145,000 would be deployed over ninety days. The war would begin at that point while reinforcements would continue to flow until the force reached 275,000 or so...
Rumsfeld thought the plan had improved, but lay down yet another marker that it still needed to be smaller and faster.
-- Michael R. Gordon and Gen. Bernard E. Trainor, COBRA II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq
Apparently Tommy Franks thinks Tommy Franks is a fool.
tied for 136th
on Monica Goodling's total like law school and stuff from today's Boston Globe
, via Andrew Sullivan
The Regent law school was founded in 1986, when Oral Roberts University shut down its ailing law school and sent its library to Robertson's Bible-based college in Virginia. It was initially called "CBN University School of Law" after the televangelist's Christian Broadcasting Network, whose studios share the campus and which provided much of the funding for the law school...
Many of those who have Regent law degrees, including Goodling, joined the Department of Justice. Their path to employment was further eased in late 2002, when John Ashcroft , then attorney general, changed longstanding rules for hiring lawyers to fill vacancies in the career ranks.
Previously, veteran civil servants screened applicants and recommended whom to hire, usually picking top students from elite schools...
The graduate from Regent -- which is ranked a "tier four" school by US News & World Report, the lowest score and essentially a tie for 136th place -- was not the only lawyer with modest credentials to be hired by the Civil Rights Division after the administration imposed greater political control over career hiring....
Seven years ago, 60 percent of the class of 1999 -- Goodling's class -- failed the bar exam on the first attempt. (Goodling's performance was not available, though she is admitted to the bar in Virginia.) The dismal numbers prompted the school to overhaul its curriculum and tighten admissions standards.
Total, absolute, lasting absence of seriousness among these assholes.
The professional prosecutors at the generally way-pro-Bush Patterico's Pontifications
also have nothing positive to say
about Goodling's credentials. Rachel Paulose, on the other hand, they describe
as "an attorney of exceptional acumen" with a "gold-plated resume."
the u.s. attorney for like minnesota and stuff
All ideological questions aside, I keep noticing Bush appointees who are astonishing lightweights. Watch this video
of a report on Rachel Paulose, the 33-year-old U.S. Attorney for Minnesota, and hang on until the segment near the end where she's all, like, totally being like interviewed and stuff: "I'm not sure, uh, why you're asking me these questions."
Seriously, go watch the video. I'll wait right here.
Ashlee Simpson? Who looked at this person and thought, yes, here's an experienced and intellectually gifted leader who belongs in a critical post at the Justice Department
Which is maybe why the head of the civil division, the head of the criminal division, and a first assistant U.S. attorney in Paulose's office have all given up their management posts
this week and returned to jobs as line prosecutors.
Then there's Julie Myers, appointed in 2005
at the age of 36 to head the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, the part of the government responsible for minor stuff like port security
and stopping bombs at the border
After working as a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, N.Y., for two years, Myers held a variety of jobs over the past four years at the White House and at the departments of Commerce, Justice and Treasury, though none involved managing a large bureaucracy. Myers worked briefly as chief of staff to Michael Chertoff when he led the Justice Department's criminal division before he became Homeland Security secretary.
Myers also was an associate under independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr for about 16 months and has most recently served as a special assistant to President Bush handling personnel issues.
Her uncle is Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, the departing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She married Chertoff's current chief of staff, John F. Wood, on Saturday.
Then there's Monica Goodling
, who just stepped down as a lightweight senior aide to our lightweight attorney general. "Goodling, 33, is a 1995 graduate [of] Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., an institution that describes itself as 'committed to an embracing evangelical spirit.' She received her law degree at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va. Regent, founded by Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson, says its mission is 'to produce Christian leaders who will make a difference, who will change the world.'"
What would Jesus do about a tort?
Sadly, the Virginia Bar Association website doesn't allow visitors to find out if an attorney is a member of the state bar, limiting searches
to attorneys who have been disciplined or are in private practice without malpractice insurance. But a shiny silver dollar -- not really! -- to anyone who can find out if Monica Goodling has ever passed a bar exam anywhere.
Then there's Mike Brown, the former FEMA director who had extensive experience with, you know, show horses
and stuff. Or we could talk about Brown's deputies
, who had just as much disaster response experience as their zero-qualifications boss.
And, I mean, it's all fine with me, but I have just one request: I have some retail experience -- can I be an assistant secretary of defense or something?
"i have lost total disrespect for you"
OOOoooooohhhhhh my GOD, and it won't wash off
Everyone will have their own favorite line, but mine has to be the one about the chokeslamming.
"christian socialist authoritarianism"
On a similar note, I invite alert readers to parse the penultimate sentence of the president's 2005 state of the union address
a very pressing deadline, even for a cpa
up at Crocheted Hats (or, in the now-obligatory note for Saber Point readers, "Crotched Hats").
Subject line for an actual spam email: "Be Like Ron Jeremy."(Shudders visibly)
They're selling onion rings by email?
the third man was old, fat, and trashed
On one level, desperately sad. On another level, funnier than a lizard attack
and now i have to print new business cards
"Chris is excellent at sarcasm, ridicule and being downright obnoxious." --"Stogie"
blowin' with the wind
[This post was removed on January 26, 2009, to remove the name of the person it references. That anonymous blogger complained that I was causing him professional harm, and I agreed to remove his name. I don't agree that I caused him professional harm, as he argues, but I don't wish to risk doing so, and prefer to err on the side of caution. I'm an asshole, as is well known, but not that kind of asshole.]
roderick spode has stolen my newts
this weekend from a self-styled defender of Western Civilization:
The West has become weak, decadent, and indecisive from too many years of liberal rule and the self-hating leftwing politics and culture that infest our media and universities. It is time we cleared this dry rot from the foundations of our civilization and replaced it with an iron resolve.
And to think that I called him a fascist.
merit badge for john doe
Over at Crocheted Hats -- or, for Saber Point readers, Crotched Hats -- John Doe reports in
on a close encounter with the terrorists.