Archive for June 25th, 2009

Sea Squirt of the Day

June 25, 2009

The sea squirt is a little critter that famously — well, semi-famously — finds itself a cozy spot, settles in, and eats its own brain.

Today, the news networks ate their own brains.

Wanna know the latest developments in Iran?  Tough.

Wanna know what happened with the various health care bills today?  Not gonna happen.

Wanna know if they’re still slaughtering folks in Darfur?  Maybe you could call the Sudanese embassy.

Wanna know what the Dow did?  Capitalist pig!

Michael Jackson died, and not only is that newsworthy, it’s the only important thing that has happened all day.  In the world.  It is imperative — imperative, I tell you! — that we discuss every song he ever recorded, talk to everyone who ever knew someone who knew him or might have been in the same county with him at the time of his demise, re-examine all the details of his colorful life, roll the file footage of every dance move he introduced, and discuss how much money “Thriller” made.  Right.  Now.

Nothing else matters.  In the entire world.

And these people don’t understand why everybody’s turning to The Daily Show and the internet for their news?

(I’ve been rather ranty of late.  I’ll try to get the reeform.  Broom and midget and whatnot.)

Deadpan Matt

June 25, 2009

Yglesias, cracking wise on the argument that 9/11 should have caused an increase in American defense spending, cracks me up:

It’s difficult to make the case that the 9/11 plot succeeded because the gap in [military] expenditures between the U.S. government and Osama bin Laden was not big enough.

Nixon to China

June 25, 2009

If the Iranian regime manages to remain in power, should the Obama administration go forward with diplomatic negotiations with them?

It’s an interesting question.  In my opinion, the answer is yes.

The issues we need to discuss with Iran — nuclear proliferation chief among them — are of the sort that you can’t just let drop, just because the government you’re negotiating with is in power only through violent repression of their people.  It’s why Nixon went to China to talk with Chairman Mao.  It’s why presidents from Eisenhower to Reagan engaged in talks with Soviet dictators.

People say it would be politically risky for Obama to negotiate with Khamenei and Ahmadinejad now.  True, there would be people who would explode in opposition to it.

Take Nixon, again.  Remember all the politicians who went apey over Nixon’s visit to China?

Me, neither.

Which is my point.  Those people were so terrifically wrong that history has forgotten them.  Negotiating with China was the right thing to do, despite the fact they were really, really bad guys.

How about Reagan.  Remember all those people who blew their stack when he went to Reykjavik to negotiate nukes with Gorbachev?

Me, neither.  History has completely forgotten them, too.

In both cases, it’s not that there weren’t politicians and groups who strenuously objected to negotiating with those regimes.  There were — hard-core anti-communists.  But they were wrong.  The judgment of history is so utterly against them that it’s not even worth remembering their names.  What we do remember is that Nixon made the world safer by opening relations with China, and that Reagan made the world safer by signing a nuclear reduction treaty with the Soviets.

Obama would do well to remember that.

Creeping Excuse-ism

June 25, 2009

In a previous post, I asked:

How long, you figure, before somebody in the GOP — probably Michele Bachmann — comes up with the following argument:  “No wonder we’ve had such a rash of infidelity among our politicians!  When President Clinton got away with it, everybody realized all the rules were off.”  GOP infidelities are Clinton’s fault.

As if on cue, Rush has taken the first step in that direction:

“This is almost like, ‘I don’t give a damn, the country’s going to Hell in a handbasket, I just want out of here,'” said Limbaugh. “He had just tried to fight the stimulus money coming to South Carolina. He didn’t want any part of it. He lost the battle. He said, ‘What the Hell. I mean, I’m — the federal government’s taking over — what the Hell, I want to enjoy life.'”

So, in under 24 hours, we’ve already gotten as far as blaming the Democrats for Sanford cheating on his wife.  Right now it’s Obama’s fault.  We should start a pool on when they’ll get to Clinton.

On a related note: just imagine how big a mess this country would be if conservatives weren’t standing up for personal responsibility.

Finally, A Good Idea

June 25, 2009

At the recent senate hearing on health care reform, NPR’s photographer (radio networks have photographers?) took pictures of the audience instead of the senators.

NPR is now asking readers for help identifying the lobbyists and other special interest representatives in the crowd.  Now that’s some old-media news reporting I can get behind.

How Bush Affects Iran

June 25, 2009

There’s a lot of discussion these days about what the Obama administration will do if the current Iranian regime manages to stay in power by violently suppressing its people.  Will Obama continue to press for diplomatic talks on nuclear weapons?

Spencer Ackerman puts it thus:

Does the administration and its allies then try to link human rights obligations to any nuclear deal, knowing that the regime won’t accept that, and thereby jeopardizing the prospect of keeping Iran free of nuclear weapons? (And that’s presuming that, say, China and Russia will accept that, which they probably won’t.) Or does it hold to its top priority of preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and implicitly grant the regime legitimacy? Right now, though, the administration’s construction at least buys it time to judge Iranian intentions — and decide whether a regime willing to so blatantly steal an election is really rational enough to hew to its international obligations.

Why should Iran “hew to its international obligations”?  We didn’t.  The Bush administration flagrantly violated the Geneva Conventions for several years, and continues to defend those violations.  The Obama administration is also violating our international treaty obligations by refusing to investigate those war crimes.

Is that an excuse for what Iran is doing?  Clearly not.  But it does leave us with little, if any, legitimacy to complain about Iran’s international compliance.

This is how high the price is when we act against the rule of law.

Is it Opposite Day?

June 25, 2009

Candy Crowley was just on CNN discussing the Sanford brouhaha.  As part of her expert analysis, she said these sex scandals always have more severe consequences for Republicans than for Democrats.


Gary Hart was forced out of a presidential primary, his political career ended.  Bill Clinton was impeached.  James McGreevey resigned as governor of New Jersey.  And, most recently, Eliot Spitzer had to resign.  Barney Frank has kept his seat, but he was officially reprimanded by the House, and another representative, a guy named Larry Craig, tried to get him censured or expelled.

Meanwhile, that same Larry Craig kept his Senate seat until the end of his term, then decided not to run for re-election.  David Vitter is still in his Senate seat, having been re-elected after getting caught using prostitutes.  Mike Ensign still has his seat, and there’s no sign that anybody expects him to resign.  So far, Mark Sanford is still a governor.  As I mentioned in my previous post, Newt Gingrich’s extramarital affairs haven’t adversely affected his career in the least; nor did John McCain’s.

Mark Foley, forced to resign from the House, is the only Republican I can think of who suffered any serious consequences for sexual misbehavior.

Want another crack at that analysis, Candy?

(You know, it would be interesting to see what would happen if a Republican woman got caught in an affair.  Would they be as forgiving?)