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February 23, 2008

Comments

OCSteve has an infinitely large line of interpretive credit from me. If he hadn't earned it a long time before, which he did, his response to Clinton after Wisconsin alone would have secured it.

Brussel sprouts are delicious tiny cabbages. Of course my wife hates them so I never get any.

And here is a lovely non-sequitur for you all...

[knocking on door, door opens]

Henry: What is it, sir?

Ned: I'd like to pawn myself.

Henry: Who sent you up here?

Ned: You did!

Henry: Then you've come to the right man. Get into this lift.

[lift door opens, winch starts up]

Minnie: Going down. Page eighteen. Seventeen, page sixteen, yim bumble dee ooooh, fifteen, chapter one, Crun's pawnshop, Seagoon enters and pawns himself, oh, that's a very small part for me this week [goes off muttering].

Henry: Get outside, Min, you naughty....

Ned: We're back where we started. What'd you send me up to the fourth floor for?

Henry: To get me.

Ned: To get you? Wait a minute - how did you get up there before me?

Henry: [cackling] I skipped a couple of pages!

Six Charlies in Search of an Author

OCSteve: The right-wing shriek committee is going to find SOMETHING hugely offensive and hysteria-inducing about Obama no matter what.

And, honestly, probably about his wife no matter what.

There's no sense trying to avoid it, nor is there any reason to let them dictate behavior.

In fact, a good politician should consider their overreaction to harmless statements fertile ground to sow a message of "This is the sort of hatred and unreasoning bile that needs to be removed from politics if America wishes to move forward in prosperity".

I wonder if there's a candidate with a message that might work with?

von: I'm still leaning McCain

Even after he voted to allow waterboarding and other forms of torture? For me, that would be a deal-breaker. It thoroughly shatters his claim to be against torture.

Of course, his "I did not meet with that woman" is pretty ghastly too. He's clearly been in the pocket of lobbyists, and Paxson in particular.

So what does he offer (other than the "R" by his name) that Clinton or Obama don't?

"Gary: On assumptions: you accused me of having assumptions."

No, I didn't.

"I said, yeah, I do."

Indeed, which is besides the point, since you couldn't have assumptions. We all have assumptions. The point is to have only assumptions that are rational and supportable.

There would have been no reason for me to have stated that you have assumptions, since it couldn't be otherwise.

What I actually wrote, and which you didn't read carefully, was "You're inserting some of your own assumptions there."

As in, you're inserting some of your own, unsupported, errroneous assumptions.

I thought that was unnecessary to say, since why would I have been suggesting that you're inserting some grounded, correct assumptions.

Needless to say, "yes, I have assumptions" is not a defense when someone suggests you've inserted incorrect and unsupported assumptions.

"Given your definition of 'spiked', I was wrong."

It's not "my" definition. It's what the word means:

[...] 4. To put an end to; terminate: spike a rumor.
They never remotely did that to the Times story, and nobody has even suggested they did. It comes from literally taking the piece of paper with the copy, and putting it down on a spike you had sitting upright, on a frame, on your editor's desk, with the rest of the killed stories.

The rest of what you say seems to be your imaginings, which I won't comment on, save to say that I strongly advise against putting forward one's fantasies as any kind of substitute for evidence. I also think it's a terrible idea to even engage in the kind of fantasizing you do, because so far as I can see, it bears little relationship to the likely reality, and yet you seem to put a lot of faith in the unlikely likelihood that your imaginary version is
something close to reality, and it's my obsertaion that this sort of thing frequently leads to a lot of misapprehending of the universe around one's self.

But it's advice you're free to ignore as worth what you paid for, of course. ;-)

"(Perhaps you have a point.)"

Better. ;-)

I don't think I have any response to the rest of what you wrote. But you do seem to have a tendency to respond with variants of "I am a normal person" whenever someone -- okay, me -- suggests you're making a point that is illogical or unsupported. The fact that you're normal, or make assumptions, or have preferences, is a given, and isn't a defense for being wrong about is and isn't logically supportable or correct. That you like or dislike someone makes you just like everyone else; if someone says "it doesn't make sense for you to believe X about person A because of Y," saying "I don't like person A" isn't a sequitur. And that's the kind of one-sided bias you still tend to engage in quite a bit. It leads to you incorrect conclusions at times, I suggest, which is why I suggest you might want to reconsider that sort of logic, or non-logic. It's one thing to have a prejudice -- we all have prejudices -- it's another to simply say "and because of that I'm going to be irrational, but my answer is still defensible." If you notice a prejudice, the thing to do is to try to figure out what's reasonable despite your prejudice. Not to just say, "oh, I have a prejudice," and stop dead there, never thinking about the topic again.

Not that I think you do that. You show an admirable ability to reconsider. Thus why I bother to write these long explanations to you, which I wouldn't do for someone I don't respect.

"Indeed, which is besides the point, since you couldn't have assumptions."

Should be "couldn't not have assumptions."

I made it through the Michelle Obama thesis. She sounds really angry, but the poll results are interesting if I read them correctly (I read it twice this time).

One finding was that when blacks went to college, their intellectual comfort level with whites dropped by two-thirds, and never recovered. Social comfort with whites dropped by 90%. Political comfort with whites dropped by half. General comfort with whites dropped by 93% after attending Princeton. What are our colleges teaching African Americans?

Her conclusions section did not touch these findings.

"So what does he offer (other than the 'R' by his name) that Clinton or Obama don't?"

The R besides his name. The Democrats are too much for that class warfare that's gotta go, you know, as well as not being serious about foreign policy and Iraq and lots more.

But, then, you're still relatively new around here, and not that familiar with von's POV. (Von, Sebastian, this is your cue to applaud me now for making pronouncements on what's on your agenda, because you're big fans of people in the opposing party doing that for the other.)

I was a fair Goon Show fan back in the early/mid-Seventies, ral, so for you:

Seagoon: How are we to get the waterproof gas stove to the garrison? Drop it by helicopter?
Bloodnok: Impossible, sir, impossible. The fort is invisible from the air, and worse still...
Seagoon: Yes, yes?
Bloodnok: The air is invisible from the fort. Oh!
Seagoon: By road, then.
Bloodnok: No road.
Seagoon: Up the river.
Bloodnok: No.
Seagoon: Down the river.
Bloodnok: No.
Seagoon: Across the river, into the trees.
Bloodnok: No, no.
Seagoon: Why not?
Bloodnok: No trees.
Seagoon: Then across the trees and into the river!
Bloodnok: No river.
Seagoon: By train?
Bloodnok: Doesn't run.
Seagoon: Why not?
Bloodnok: No railway.
Seagoon: Could we build one?
Bloodnok: No, the river would wash it away.
Seagoon: You said there was no river!
Bloodnok: Ah, it's behind the trees.
Seagoon: But a moment ago you said there weren't any trees either!
Bloodnok: Ah, but they've grown since then, you know. They just can't stand still for you, you know.
It's like comments, you know.

I have to say: having been maybe four years ahead of Michelle Obama at Princeton: it was, in fact, a very, very white place. I think it was someone at NRO who was asking: hey, what did Michelle Obama mean by that? I don't know what she meant, and I'm not even sure I could articulate what I mean, but I was quite clear about it at the time. It's at least related to whatever made people say that Princeton was country-clubby and preppy, both of which were also true.

Gary: The point is to have only assumptions that are rational and supportable.

Oh now you go too far sir! ;)

The rest of what you say seems to be your imaginings, which I won't comment on, save to say that I strongly advise against putting forward one's fantasies as any kind of substitute for evidence. I also think it's a terrible idea to even engage in the kind of fantasizing you do, because so far as I can see, it bears little relationship to the likely reality, and yet you seem to put a lot of faith in the unlikely likelihood that your imaginary version is something close to reality, and it's my obsertaion that this sort of thing frequently leads to a lot of misapprehending of the universe around one's self.

Schizophrenia? Well maybe Obama will get me health insurance that covers that. I may as well vote for him for that reason as any other.

which I won't comment on

Er, except you did, at length, and it amounted to “you’re nuts dude”.

But you do seem to have a tendency to respond with variants of "I am a normal person"

I’m nuts. That’s my cover.

You show an admirable ability to reconsider.

Crap. Now I’m not nuts enough?

Thus why I bother to write these long explanations to you, which I wouldn't do for someone I don't respect.

I do appreciate the fact that you take the time for this.


OK. I’m slamming you here Gary. I’m not mad and I’m actually chuckling as I write this. But could you read your last post one more time and put yourself in my shoes?

Now let's compare this captain, whose complaints Obama exagerated for the sake of emphasis, to Ronald Reagan's welfare queen, who was a figment of his imagination.

What are our colleges teaching African Americans?

What white students actually think of them?

While I'm hesitant to over-generalize from my own experience (at a somewhat elitist school), I do recall that many white students aren't aware of how their attitudes come off to non-white students (and how their default assumptions were irritating and even offensive to non whites). And that some of those students were rather resistant to being informed of this. (I'm afraid it is NOT PC to consider a drunk "F*** off, chinks" to be racially offensive).

For black and other non-white students to face this after believing in a color blind meritocracy, well....I'm not sure what's the "correct" response to be...

"Er, except you did, at length, and it amounted to 'you’re nuts dude'."

I regret I was so unclear (and that I didn't proofread that comment), since that's not at all what I was trying to say.

I was trying, in short, to say that you shouldn't confuse your hypotheses with fact. That's all.

In no way was I trying to say that you were "nuts," or anything like that. The worst characterization would be that it's my impression that you're don't always apply the logic that you're capable of, and I'm urging you to so apply it more rigorously.

As for Michelle Obama's thesis, I'd like to note that 1985 was twenty-three years ago, and was less than twenty years after the assassination of MLK, and the rest of the innumerable terrible events of the Sixties and early Seventies, in which Black Panthers were being systematically gunned down in an assassination campaign by the FBI as part of COINTELPRO, the FBI was bugging MLK and sending the tapes to his wife, along with notes to King advising him that suicide was the only way out, hundreds of race riots had taken place across the U.S., not long after the sweeping violence across the South, as racist whites fought and killed dark-skinned folks, and their Jew allies, with clubs, guns, bricks, dogs, and more.

If someone can't imagine why she might have been a tad conscious of being an African-American, and very interested in applying her intellect to, along with many other topics, questions of what that meant, then it's possible such a person might want to educate themselves a bit more as to how and why things might look, then and now, to someone with an African-American perspective.

hilzoy: I have to say: having been maybe four years ahead of Michelle Obama at Princeton: it was, in fact, a very, very white place.

I visited there a lot (6-7 times per year, 2-3 days at a time) when my sister’s “significant other” was there in 2000-2002.

At that time I think I saw fewer Caucasians than Asians, but I swear I did not see a single black person at all.

But my memory is not great. Mostly I remember the phenomenal chapel (not religious, just a fantastic building) and this FANTASTIC ice cream place downtown.

Gary: We’re cool. As I said I chuckled. I do appreciate your feedback and that is the truth. But come on, if I get a chance to bust your stones I’m not going to jump on it? Hah!

Here it comes:

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20080223/D8V053E00.html

via Josh Marshall.

Get a load of the professional vomiteers the "reporter" quotes.

Whether Clinton or Obama wins this thing, it's time to have it out at full volume-- both fists full of mud--knocking over the podium and charging the audience anger with so-called patriot Republicans who somehow were born with American citizenship but manage to pay respect only to the Republican Party, which is nothing more than an alien, foreign power bent on wrecking America.

The filth quoted in the article are Traitors.

When Obama is elected, for the sake of our country, he needs to turn the entire apparatus of Homeland Security against them.

Bug em, round em up, waterboard them, and disappear them.

If someone can't imagine why she might have been a tad conscious of being an African-American, and very interested in applying her intellect to, along with many other topics, questions of what that meant, then it's possible such a person might want to educate themselves a bit more as to how and why things might look, then and now, to someone with an African-American perspective.

That will be a tad difficult to white people who are too used to thinking of "white" as the default.

Too, I think some people are not thinking things through. The attitude that blacks are, by default, there only by the grace of affirmative action was in their faces consistently, both now and in the 1970s and 80s. If they see, concretely, that they are every bit as good as these people holding those attitudes, they are, in all probability, not going to feel very close to white people.

Perhaps THAT'S what colleges are teaching African Americans, hm?

What Gary said.

But also: an anecdote from my college years, which I think I've told before, but what the heck. In my freshman year, Princeton seemed to assign rooms for black students in the following way: on certain hallways, every double would have one black student and one white student. I was in such a hallway. As a result, a lot of my friends, and of course my roommate, were black. When room draw for sophomore year approached, five of us (2 white, 3 black) decided to room together.

Then, maybe a week before room draw, all my black friends but one dropped all their white friends, in unison, and the three black friends with whom I was going to room decided they'd get a triple. In an odd way, it was lucky for me that they dropped all their white friends: if it had been just me, I would of course have assumed that I had done something awful, or was perhaps just generally unlikeable, but one of the dropped friends in particular was a person about whom it was just impossible to see why anyone would dislike her.

In any case, though, it was incredibly hurtful and bewildering. I was talking to my Dad about it, though, and he, being very wise, said (after some commiseration): think about it from your friends' point of view. Princeton is very, very recently integrated, after a long history of being the white Ivy school. It is still overwhelmingly white, and has a lot of traditions and culture that are associated with its being very white. Your friends, on the other hand, are mostly from the black middle and upper class; they might well be suddenly wondering: what exactly does it mean to be black here? How can I fit in, or how can I even just exist, without being somehow coopted? They rightly don't want to somehow disown who they are, or become sellouts, or anything, and they might very, very easily feel that they have to do something to prove that they aren't. And that's a very difficult situation to be in.

I thought about it, and the more I thought, the more I thought that he was probably right. At the same time that all my black friends dropped all their white friends, they also got politicized about being black, so that made sense. Moreover, the one black friend who did not drop all of us all at once -- who actually seemed just baffled by the whole thing -- was also the only one who was from an actual black inner city neighborhood, and suddenly I thought: it's pretty twisted, but I can see how she would be the one who was immune to having to prove that she was authentically black or whatever.

I also looked around at Princeton, and that was when I really realized just how white it was. As I said, I don't know that I can explain this; I only know that when my Dad said this, I did look around, and it just leapt out at me. I could easily see how if you were not sure what it meant to be black, and you didn't want to sell it short or disown it or something, you wouldn't want to just fit in there. It just seemed as plain as the nose on my face.

And I can also see how, if one were both black and thoughtful, one might try to make sense of this, possibly by writing a thesis about it. I don't think it would be an easy thesis to write -- as I've said, I can't pin down what was so very, very white about Princeton, or why I was so clear that it would be a disorienting place for a person of color, and hopefully I'm older and wiser than I was when I was a senior. I haven't read Michelle Obama's thesis, but I would expect it to be full of ways of putting things she might not espouse today, just because what it sounds as though she was writing about is so very, very hard to describe with any kind of exactitude.

Bug em, round em up, waterboard them, and disappear them.

First you need to codify Patriot. Then you need to micro-serialize and register ammunition because with 280,000,000 private firearms out there, that train has left the station. Perhaps the $4000/yr crowd can process the paperwork.

This is what the ‘cut taxes on businesses that keep jobs here’ boils down to:

“In the case of any taxable year with respect to which a taxpayer is certified by the Secretary as a Patriot employer…”
-From S. 1945; a Bill Co-Sponsored by Obama

A very scary bill that seems to offer a 1% tax break to some business owners (to counterbalance the 17% tax increase that this group will bear). If the Democratic Party was legitimate, and was really out for the working families in the United States, it would cut off the flow of cheap immigrant labor and put tariffs back in place. Maybe raise the hedge fund guys’ tax rate above 15%. That’s not the game plan, I’m afraid.

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:S.1945:

For the record, in case I run for President or am married to someone who runs for President, I wrote an undergrad paper tracing the Nietzschian influences in Henry Miller's __Sexus__ __Nexus__ and __Plexus__.

All parties ...... professor, fellow students, advisor, kept a straight face.

I think they humored me because I was, you know, an UNDERGRAD!

Please don't hold me to it. Besides, I've changed my mind. I wish Nietzsche had lived long enough to spend a week in Paris with Miller on the Ovarian Trolley. He wouldn't have been so overwrought.

Title of paper: "The Will To Screw".

not true, but it might as well have been

Bill:

That sounds like a lot of work. I like my mayhem a little more haphazard, off the cuff, and spontaneous.

"Get a load of the professional vomiteers the 'reporter' quotes."

Ah, Nedra Pickler. It's like 2003 all over again. Good times, except for the "good" part.

Alas, that What A Pickler is defunct.

"That will be a tad difficult to white people who are too used to thinking of 'white' as the default."

Although I'm hardly the best person to start compiling a reading and viewing and talking and experiencing list, I'd recommend one starter for such a person or persons be viewing all of Eyes On The Prize I & II, and reading Taylor Branch's's Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63, Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-65, and At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, the latter not so much because of Dr. King per se, but because the books do such a good job of conveying the broad sweep of the civil rights movement, and some of what it was like to be African-American, in those years.

There are about 8000 other books one might prefer first, of course, and others will doubtless have far better educational suggestions, beyond the obvious Black Like Me experiment, which is a bit more than most people are inclined to try.

Unfortunately, a lot of people are so blind that they can look around today, and not seeing discrimination and racism in front of them, happening to themselves or their family or friends, and then conclude that there's very little overt racism in today's society, not realizing remotely how different their experience is from someone who actually gets to be treated differently pretty much every day of their lives, multiple times a day, simply because they're non-white.

Engineers didn’t have to write a thesis, but we did have to take a technical writing class. I got in trouble. Donna Shalala, our Chancellor, was the subject of my final paper. C minus and no political prospects for me. Dropped my transcript average below 3.0.

It is kind of unfair to be picking through college papers from twenty years ago.

the "Democrat Party" (can someone please explain where this phrase came from, and why?!)

Wikipedia has an interesting article on the phrase. I had assumed it was a recent invention, but it was widely used as a pejorative at least as far back as the 1930s.

My daughter was in college at an elite university in the early 80's. A friend of hers, who was black, also attended. The two races were so separate that she said they really could not even be very friendly, while at school. Still were friends at home, but tensions were such at school that both elected to just say, "Hi," as they passed. It was sad for both.

And when people get all bent out of shape by Michelle's remarks (my husband being one of them), my reply is a reminder that she has lived in this country as a black woman. Hers is bound to have been a totally different experience from that of her detractors.

This is one of those subjects that comes round again every eight months or so.

Although the good Wikipedia piece both links to, and briefly quotes a line or two of, Hendrik Hertzberg's piece on the subject, I still recommend it as worth reading on top of the Wikipedia piece, to answer the question.

"It is kind of unfair to be picking through college papers from twenty years ago."

Twenty-three years, and like a lot of things, it depends on how it's done. There are plenty of things I wrote twenty-three years ago that I stand by, and some things I don't. I'd certainly desire anyone to ask me if I still held to something I wrote twenty-three years ago, before going bananas on the assumption that I do.

(Note: Michelle Obama is about five years younger than me, and Barack Obama is a little under three years younger than me, so there's even less reason for either to be assumed to be standing by something from twenty-three years ago, when she was only 21, and I was 26.)

As for Michelle Obama's thesis, I'd like to note that 1985 was twenty-three years ago, and was less than twenty years after the assassination of MLK, and the rest of the innumerable terrible events of the Sixties and early Seventies[...]

This never ceases to amaze me, because of an accident of personal chronology. I was born in 1968 and I was becoming a teenager at the beginning of the 1980s. To me, the gap between those years was immense--it was my whole little life. The civil rights movement was distant history in books, and I never really realized the war in Vietnam was going on until it was over (which I can't entirely explain, because I do remember hearing about the later moon landings and Watergate on TV, but the political awareness of young children is a strange thing).

The gap sure wasn't immense to my parents, though. It was only when I got older that I truly realized that, in the memory of most people, the Vietnam War was recent during the Reagan years. September 11th, 2001 was six and a half years ago. In January 1981, the fall of Saigon was more recent than that. The JFK assassination and the Civil Rights Act were about as recent as the breakup of the USSR is today.

...and, note, Michelle Obama is only a few years older than I am--but what a few years, and what a different perspective.

It was only when I got older that I truly realized that, in the memory of most people, the Vietnam War was recent during the Reagan years.

I get the feeling that it's recent for a lot of people.

Some republicans seem to have been offended by this sentence in particular:

"They were actually capturing Taliban weapons because it was easier to get Taliban weapons than it was for them to get properly equipped by our current commander in chief."

I suspect that "capturing" or captured was not an exageration by Obama but rather a direct quote or a paraphrase using the same root word of what the captain told him.

Looting, or looted would have been the correct word, but it has bad connnotations in general and in the context of the military specificaly. US soldiers are supposed to be proffesionals who would never stoop to looking the corpses of the men they killed. Capturing just sounds better, even though you are just talking about 'capturing' weapons off the ground after a firefight.

What I think trips up many folks is that the experience of minorities in American is very much the same of non-minority Americans; they share much more in common than with, say, a Chinese farmer or an Kenyan herder. But where they do differ from mainstream Americans, the differences can be substantial, striking and profound. And the expectation that lives for all Americans are similar can be jolting when those areas of differences pop up and people stub their toes on them.

"Capturing just sounds better, even though you are just talking about 'capturing' weapons off the ground after a firefight."

After you've killed the owners.

You seem to think that a) somehow "looting" is a more appropriate word; b) that everyone would acknowledge this, if only they were honest; c) therefore the word was being deliberately avoided; d) therefore, the implication of "looting" is an aspersion on U.S. forces, and therefore that is why some people are objecting to that sentence.

I know my opinion will mean nothing to you, but I daresay that every single one of those assumptions is incorrect. And I'm quite sure the last one is.

The people who are offended about that sentence are offended at the claim that President Bush's Government would not supply them properly. Not that they've been accused of theft or low behavior.

And, yeah, after you've killed or driven off the enemy in battle, it's fair to say you've "captured" any stuff they've left behind. It's not a euphemism. It's English.

von: OK, so: (1) Soldiers need weapons; (2) soldiers aren't getting adequate weaponry from George Bush's DoD; (3) it's easier for soldiers to get weapons from the Taliban (per Obama's literal statement, which is surely an exageration); and (4) soldiers attack the Taliban, and take their weapons because they need their weapons due to points 1-3. But soldiers don't actually attack the Taliban for their weapons. The weapons, which are critical and allegedly easier to get weapons from the Taliban than from George Bush's DoD, are simply a side effect of attacking the Taliban and taking their weapons. In other news, eggs always come before chickens, but chickens are needed to lay eggs.

How is this a chicken-and-egg scenario? These guys had a mission, and that mission involved capturing or killing armed Taliban soldiers. I'm sure they came across more than a few weapons in the process, what with the Taliban having been shooting at them and such. What is so difficult about the math here?

And whether you are a Chicken partisan or egg-firster, Obama's statement isn't supported by the Captain's statement.

No, your assumptions aren't supported by the Captain's statement. And you are making the error of substituting your assumptions for Obama's actual statement, as Gary, JanieM, and Anarch have already pointed out.

Look, this subject is played out.

Were the subject played out, your comment would have been a whole lot shorter. It perhaps would have consisted of only this one sentence.

I happen to think it's clear that Obama exagerated to make a point and said something silly in the process. It seems that a lot of Obama supporters are saying things like, well, I didn't hear it that way and/or there's no way he said something that stupid so he must not have meant it quite that way. And that's fine -- even expected.

Folks are saying "I didn't hear it that way" not so much to be charitable to Obama as to be charitable to you, von, by implying that your initial interpretation is not completely crazy, even if it is ultimately proven wrong. I hope you aren't trying to make snarky about that charity here, or implying that it is indicative of some kind of weakness in their argument. Because if you are, then you shouldn't be surprised if you find less such kindness directed toward you in the future.

And your interpretation was not entirely unreasonable, at least at first. You heard a sparsely-detailed anecdote, and you mentally filled in a blank or two, something we all do all the time. Obama never said one way or the other whether the platoon was conducting raids for the express purpose of arming themselves with Taliban weapons. Perhaps he omitted this detail out of haste or carelessness. Maybe he left it out because the idea that they would do so sounds ridiculous that he figured it wouldn't survive a moment's reflection on the part of the listener. Whatever the case, you nonetheless assumed he meant these soldiers WERE going out and jumping Taliban troops for no other reason than to get their guns. Fine, then, the question is worth following up on, which Jake Tapper did.

Then, when that blank was filled in for you by the captain himself, and the authoritative version turned out to contradict your assumption, rather than question whether you made a mistake in mentally filling in that blank, you instead concluded that Obama had actually exaggerated in a way that sounds totally f#@&ing ridiculous upon a moment's reflection.

The simple application of Occam's Razor would have prevented this whole argument.

"The simple application of Occam's Razor would have prevented this whole argument."

I don't want to pick on Von, but we've engaged in this dynamic numerous times over the years now. From my POV, at least, Von misreads something, whether by Hilzoy, or Obama, or someone else, and then when several people suggest in varying degrees of emphasis that he's misread, and working under a mistaken understanding of the passage in question, he digs in and explains why everyone else is wrong, often explaining that in fact he meant this other thing, which is exactly what he wrote in the first place, and anyone who doesn't see this is either dim or dishonest or intentionally not seeing that which is obviously true.

From Von's POV, of course -- and I'm naturally not trying to speak for him, and he's free and able to put it in his own words -- he consistently makes an obviously correct observation, which a bunch of people inexplicably, or out of bias, or for some other invalid reason, simply don't see, and are entirely wrongheaded, and sometimes rude, in arguing their ridiculous denial of the obvious truth.

Regardless of the Objective Truth of this dynamic, and what the Truly Fair Interpretation is -- and obviously I'm no more objective than anyone else, and amn't claiming to be -- I'll certainly observe that it's a very familiar dynamic, now several years in the making, seen time and again between Von and Some Of Us.

Gary- I think you should avoid trying to read my mind in the future. You are amazingly bad at it.

[...] But come on, if I get a chance to bust your stones I’m not going to jump on it? Hah!
Quit jumping on my stones. Quit it!

Quit it!

Okay, then.

No, quit it.

Ok.

But, really, is this not a serious story? Or this? What do you and Von think of the way Matt put it here?

Do you guys know my old blog pal Matt Welch? (Who literally wrote the book on McCain.)

(I think Matt W. is missing that the economy, unless it significantly improves, will also be a major part of the campaign, and that that also won't favor McCain, to put it mildly. It's certainly currently the #1 issue in every poll with most every category, and not the war, which I doubt will be the #1 issue, or even the #2 issue, unless Iraq melts down spectacularly dramatically, or regional war breaks out, between now and the election.)

Speaking of Afghanistan, Elizabeth Rubin reports from there, again, with a long NY Times Magazine piece as an embed with Battle Company of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.

(About three and a half years ago I linked to another excellent Rubin piece, although she's written a number of such others.)

I posted a link to this [SEE BELOW] Elizabeth Rubin piece, but it's caught in the spam trap, due to a number of other links.

Wait until the right blogs see this by the morning:

[...] One full-moon night I was sitting outside a sandbag-reinforced hut with Kearney when a young sergeant stepped out hauling the garbage. He looked around at the illuminated mountains, the dust, the rocks, the garbage bin. The monkeys were screeching. “I hate this country!” he shouted. Then he smiled and walked back into the hut. “He’s on medication,” Kearney said quietly to me.

Then another soldier walked by and shouted, “Hey, I’m with you, sir!” and Kearney said to me, “Prozac. Serious P.T.S.D. from last tour.” Another one popped out of the HQ cursing and muttering. “Medicated,” Kearney said. “Last tour, if you didn’t give him information, he’d burn down your house. He killed so many people. He’s checked out.”

As I went to get some hot chocolate in the dining tent, the peaceful night was shattered by mortars, rockets and machine-gun fire banging and bursting around us. It was a coordinated attack on all the fire bases. It didn’t take long to understand why so many soldiers were taking antidepressants. The soldiers were on a 15-month tour that included just 18 days off. Many of them were “stop-lossed,” meaning their contracts were extended because the army is stretched so thin. You are not allowed to refuse these extensions. And they felt eclipsed by Iraq. As Sgt. Erick Gallardo put it: “We don’t get supplies, assets. We scrounge for everything and live a lot more rugged. But we know the war is here. We got unfinished business.”

Will this get through the spam filter? I can hardly take the suspense.

Also, first SNL in months.

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Okay, now I'll make it a dead paste of the URL, since it didn't go through with a working actual link.
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Okay, crap, just go to the NY Times Magazine section.

Crap, can I post at all?

Great, than I recommend going to the New York Times website and the Magazine and reading Elizabeth Rubin's piece as an embed in Afghanistan, which Typepad has kidnapped half a dozen attempted other comments from me about.

In the Nedra Pickler article that John Thullen & TPM pointed out, I noticed this quote by Roger Stone:
"Many Americans will find the three things offensive. Barack Obama is out of the McGovern wing of the party, and he is part of the blame America first crowd."

There are three kinds of people, those who can count and those who can't.

And as a consequence, they didn't have enough ammunition; they didn't have enough humvees. They were actually capturing Taliban weapons because it was easier to get Taliban weapons than it was for them to get properly equipped by our current commander in chief.

A few comments on this "English lesson" :)

1) The differences between spoken and written English can be huge. OCSteve was correct to point out the emphasis in the spoken Obama statement. The "capturing" sentence is not a separate sentence at all. It flows and in fact is a conclusion to the preceding sentence. It emphasizes the affirmative act of going and getting weapons.

2)"Capture" implies taking something by force or design. It implies going after weapons, whether as part of a mission or as a mission by itself. It denotes an affirmative act, not just collecting weapons abandoned by the Taliban. As used here, it does not denote picking up the newspaper because it is easier than going to the news stand. It implies there probably isn't a paper at the news stand, so we had better "capture" one here.

3) That Von's interpretation is the most reasonable, IMHO, is also shown by the fact that in Tapper's "fact check" the Captain felt it necessary to emphasize that "[t]he purpose of going after the Taliban was not to get their weapons." Why the clarification if Obama's statement was not most susceptible to exactly that interpretation? I fully realize that an alternate explanation is that the Captain is simply setting the milbloggers straight. But that explanation simply avoids the common sense "hearing" of Obama's statement. The Captain was correcting Obama.

4) Obama was dead wrong about the lack of ammunition. And the lack of ammunition comment lead directly to the "capturing" comment-it created the need. It makes the "capturing" seem much more than casual.

Final comment: national security is huge with me and with a lot of conservative voters. I am very concerned about who will be the next CIC. If Obama wants to reach across the aisle and win in the general, this sort of comment isn't going to help. We can parse all we want. It only ignores the simple fact that Obama had it wrong (or at least not completely right).

bc: national security is huge to me too. That's why I plan to vote for the only person who got the biggest foreign policy decision of the last decade right, not the one who wants our troops stuck in Iraq for a hundred years, while the army breaks and the treasury is bled dry and our soldiers and Iraqis die.

Hilzoy: I can appreciate that point and understand why you and others consider that a huge point in Obama's favor. I'm more concerned about where we go from here and I'm not convinced Obama has that right. However, that is a topic for another day. My only point here was that this was no small detail to simply brush aside. Presidential candidates need to get the facts correct on the military, especially when using anecdotes to make a point.

I would think the frustrating thing for an Obama supporter would be that he had Hillary right where he wanted her. He didn't need the anecdote. If he stated the facts as he received them from staff, I'm sure they're feeling his wrath now.

Using a dictionary I don't find a necessity of "capture" implying violence. For me it is the most neutral term for "getting something belonging to the enemy". When I read the "capture Taliban weapons" remark I thought of two possibilities: 1) Collecting the weapons of fallen or fled enemies (and maybe putting them to use), 2) use the contents of discovered enemy weapon caches. What I did not think of is Battle of the Bulge strategies, relying on enemy supplies for the success of the mission (effectively making fuel dumps the primary objectives).
---
What are the bets that the captain's name will be leaked soon and that he can kiss his career goodbye on dubious charges (while we will be treated by our right-wing patriots to more saucy details about the pink-commie 5th columnists that have infiltrated our (actually not mine) sacred armed saviours)?
I also expect that there will be demands of charging him with treason for giving military secrets to the enemy (independent of claims that the whole supply shortage story is a lie in the first place).
---
Maybe one could buy a bit more ammo for training, if some of the more exotic and/or expensive toys could be postponed or cancelled.

In the Nedra Pickler article that John Thullen & TPM pointed out, I noticed this quote by Roger Stone:
"Many Americans will find the three things offensive. Barack Obama is out of the McGovern wing of the party, and he is part of the blame America first crowd."

There are three kinds of people, those who can count and those who can't.

Maybe, but don't be so sure which kind you are.

Or are two kinds of people, those who read carefully, and those who don't.

The preceding paragraphs:

Sen. Barack Obama's refusal to wear an American flag lapel pin along with a photo of him not putting his hand over his heart during the National Anthem led conservatives on Internet and in the media to question his patriotism.

Now Obama's wife, Michelle, has drawn their ire, too, for saying recently that she's really proud of her country for the first time in her adult life.

Conservative consultants say that combined, the cases could be an issue for Obama in the general election if he wins the nomination, especially as he runs against Vietnam war hero Sen. John McCain.

Stone's quote refers to the antecedents:
1. "refusal to wear an American flag lapel pin"

2. "a photo of him not putting his hand over his heart during the National Anthem"

3. "Now Obama's wife, Michelle, has drawn their ire, too, for saying recently that she's really proud of her country for the first time in her adult life."

HTH.

(It's actually two kinds of people: those who don't read carefully and make mistakes, and those who read carefully and only make fewer mistakes.)

Incidentally, I have no idea why some of my later, abbreviated, comments, have been released from the spam trap, but not the main earlier one the others were trying to supplement. Oh, well.

In the Nedra Pickler article that John Thullen & TPM pointed out, I noticed this quote by Roger Stone:
"Many Americans will find the three things offensive. Barack Obama is out of the McGovern wing of the party, and he is part of the blame America first crowd."

There are three kinds of people, those who can count and those who can't.

Maybe, but don't be so sure which kind you are.

Or are two kinds of people, those who read carefully, and those who don't.

The preceding paragraphs:

Sen. Barack Obama's refusal to wear an American flag lapel pin along with a photo of him not putting his hand over his heart during the National Anthem led conservatives on Internet and in the media to question his patriotism.

Now Obama's wife, Michelle, has drawn their ire, too, for saying recently that she's really proud of her country for the first time in her adult life.

Conservative consultants say that combined, the cases could be an issue for Obama in the general election if he wins the nomination, especially as he runs against Vietnam war hero Sen. John McCain.

Stone's quote refers to the antecedents:
1. "refusal to wear an American flag lapel pin"

2. "a photo of him not putting his hand over his heart during the National Anthem"

3. "Now Obama's wife, Michelle, has drawn their ire, too, for saying recently that she's really proud of her country for the first time in her adult life."

HTH.

(It's actually two kinds of people: those who don't read carefully and make mistakes, and those who read carefully and only make fewer mistakes.)

Incidentally, I have no idea why some of my later, abbreviated, comments, have been released from the spam trap, but not the main earlier one the others were trying to supplement. Oh, well.

And why the heck is this blocked, when there are no links at all?

This is crazy. Now comments with no links of any kind are being rejected as spam?

The above comment was stuck in the spam trap for about 20 minutes. Despite, you'll notice, having no links.

Subsequent to that, I found that there was nothing I could write, while still making sure there were no Typepad cookies surviving, and no matter what I put in the ID fields, that wouldn't get the "this is being held as spam" response.

Will this post? It's another test. It would be nice to not have to keep doing this each time, and to have to spend 10-20 minutes making 7 efforts to get a single comment to post.

On substance, I have to say that Obama has a little trouble coming not because of the Pledge thing, which is a calumny, but because he genuinely said that he never puts his hand over his heart during the National Anthem, because his grandfather taught him you're supposed to just stand there.

But his grandfather taught him wrong; official flag code, as stated in the U.S. code, is, in fact, to put your hand over your heart during the Anthem (if you're a civilian). That he, a U.S. Senator, didn't know that, is something he'll take hits over.) (I'm not including a link, of course, since that's forbidden, which helps discourse ever so much.)

Now the fun of seeing if I've wasted more time on another comment that won't post, or requires ten more tries, and won't show up without e-mail correspondence.

Presidential candidates need to get the facts correct on the military, especially when using anecdotes to make a point.

no they don't. at least, not if they're Republican.

    "We have seen a steady erosion of American power and an unsteady exercise of American influence. Our military is low on parts, pay and morale. If called on by the commander-in-chief today, two entire divisions of the Army would have to report, 'Not ready for duty, sir.'"

    GWB, paragon of deceit

reaction to this blatant lie, from the oh-so-soldier-supportive 101st chairborne? beautiful silence.

I thought Mike Huckabee did a good job of living up to the claim that he has a good sense of humor.

--mysterious gf man

On substance, I have to say that Obama has a little trouble coming not because of the Pledge thing, which is a calumny, but because he genuinely said that he never puts his hand over his heart during the National Anthem, because his grandfather taught him you're supposed to just stand there.

If so, that strikes me as once again being fetishistic about patriotism--you can't be patriotic unless you do it exactly with this attitude and exactly with this body language and exactly with this stance. Reminds me about the debates among comic book fanboys about it's not REALLY Batman unless he loses the yellow chest emblem or it's not really the Blue Beetle unless it's Ted Kord or...

"If so, that strikes me as once again being fetishistic about patriotism"

Of course. Obviously, whether you put your hand over your heart, or stand at respectful attention, so long as you have the attitude of respect, it has no affect on your judgment regarding policy, or anything else. Of course.

But fetishizing and looking for any avenue of attack is what these folks do, and in this case at least they'll be factually correct, so we'll hear about it; that's all I'm saying. And there will be some voters who just hear that, and to whom it will make a difference. People often vote on trivia; it's just the way it is.

Batman is better without the yellow target on his chest, but I can live with it; it's the way his character is portrayed that's crucial; his costume, not so much.

Dan Garrett is the original Blue Beetle, so certainly it doesn't have to be Ted Kord. But if it's Ted Kord, better that Keith Giffen write him.

I'm looking forward to the animated Justice League: New Frontier, too.

but because he genuinely said that he never puts his hand over his heart during the National Anthem, because his grandfather taught him you're supposed to just stand there.

Bizarro World got all pissy about this several months back, pointing out the United States Code has a recommended way of paying respect to the flag during the national anthem, including putting hand on heart.* Unsurprisingly, this meant that Obama was sleeping with Kruschev, or something.

Surprisingly, several people popped up on that thread to say that they had been taught the same thing - no hand on heart for anthem. Unfazed, the wingnuts, they were.

*Their fealty to the USC was cute. If someone asked them whether Congress should be able to tell them how to address the flag, I imagine lots of them would say "hell no!"

I always thought that the "hand over heart" was for the pledge, standing respectfully was for the anthem.

You know, I knew that my lousy public speaking skills & lousy poker face, & trail of comments on this very site ruled out politics for me, to say nothing of the whole "she loves terrorists" thing. But I didn't realize that, oh, not memorizing the flag code, and my extensive ties to the Weather Underground, sufficed (in 2006, I spoke at a thing at Northwestern with one of the Chicago professors Obama is accused of associating with.).

Maybe we can start demanding that presidential candidates release their library records to make sure they haven't checked out any suspicious literature.

"Surprisingly, several people popped up on that thread to say that they had been taught the same thing - no hand on heart for anthem."

It is ignorant. And does bespeak of a cultural separation. I mean, I learned to put my hand on my heart for the anthem at around age 4 or 6 or so, and that's as a red diaper baby in Brooklyn, NY, who got sent to the Vice-Principal's office in 3rd or 4th grade (I forget which just now) after a long argument with the teacher wherein I insisted that the Supreme Court had ruled as regards the Jehovah's Witnesses that saying the pledge couldn't be compulsory; my parents got called in, and I got yelled at a lot before, after a week or more, the district superintendent over-rode the principal and endlessly-feared vice-principal (Mr. Amdur) to say that I was right.

(I spent large chunks of elementary school arguing with my teachers, and explaining where they're wrong; in 4th grade I also made a practice of hauling two large general reference books of my own, so I had proof when I raised my hand to correct the teacher, as I did more or less constantly that year, and less contantly in later years, after I realized that this was not a grand way to make friends and influence people. But I mention this knowing people will find it shockingly out of character, and impossible to believe I could have been like like that. ;-)) (I was equally a snot in earlier years, at home, correcting the grownups, who were full of misconceptions and incorrect facts, which I knew from my reading a bunch of new books every week. But I gave up telling them they were wrong pretty soon -- mostly -- well, less, anyway -- and just kept it to myself. Er, more than before.)

But I was also a Cub Scout, Weblo, and Boy Scout, so not knowing that you put your hand on your heart for the anthem would have been inconceivable to me by age 7.

So it is damned ignorant.

But we live in vast numbers of subcultures, and lots of folks were never Scouts, and no nothing of this sort of stuff, and could care less, and that's fine, too. People are ignorant of all sorts of things, and if it's not important in your environment, it isn't.

But it doesn't help when you're running for political office, and asking for the votes of people to whom such ignorance is upsetting and meaningful.

And it's not entirely lunatic to look a bit of askance at such ignorance when you're in a community where it is important. It's a small thing, but it does have just enough real connections to larger issues to make it not completely insane to at least mention it. Symbols do matter, and for defensible reasons.

To conclude from not knowing about putting one hand's on one heart for the National Anthem, however, that someone is seriously not patriotic, or anything like that, however, would be completely insane. Mostly it just means that Barack Obama's grandfather got a bit of trivia wrong, and that's all; that's pretty damn trivial itself.

Katherine: "I always thought that the 'hand over heart' was for the pledge, standing respectfully was for the anthem."

That's wrong, of course.

What does the flag code say about scribbling on flags? Is that unpatriotic? How about trampling on one?

But I was also a Cub Scout, Weblo, and Boy Scout, so not knowing that you put your hand on your heart for the anthem would have been inconceivable to me by age 7. So it is damned ignorant.

You see, I don't get this. Why do you put your hand on your heart for the anthem? I see your cite to the U.S.C., but all it says that those present "should" stand at attention facing the flag, not "shall" or "must" etc. Nor does it purport to impose any penalties for violations (that I can see, unconstitutional as they would be).

I mean, my father was in the army and he taught me the same thing Obama's grandfather taught him - stand at attention for the anthem and if you're wearing a hat, take it off. No hand on heart. Really, this was so fully ingrained in me that I used to look at people with their hand on their hearts and think they were stupid.

Maybe it's a midwest thing.

And also note that, IIRC, the "flag code" was passed circa WWII, we seemed to along fine with our patriotism and conduct during the anthem just fine before that (not that I was around for any of that, of course).

"You see, I don't get this. Why do you put your hand on your heart for the anthem?"

Because it's what's done. Why bother with the anthem at all? Why bother standing? It's custom. It's a symbol of being a citizen of a particular country.

It's not mandatory, of course.

The next logical question would be "why follow or have customs?," but I think I won't try to answer that one.

As for symbols of patriotism, I see nothing admirable about either regarding them as ultra-important and more important than the freedoms and meanings of our Constitution, or in putting a lot of importance on making sure to disdain such symbols and sneer at them, or the people to whom they are important, perhaps because of their associations with the deaths of a sibling, a parent, a grandparent, a family tradition, or just because of how they grew up.

Symbols, and patriotism, have their place, and like all things should be used wisely and appropriately, rather than otherwise.

I don't know how this thread got off on a tangent regarding Michelle Obama's thesis, but my general reaction is: race relations in the 80s were pretty f'ed up. Not as f'ed up as before the 80s, but still. They are less f'ed up today, for which we should be glad. But it seems kinda crazy to assume that the 80s were just like today, only with worse hair -- which is an assumption that a lot of the criticisms of Ms. O's thesis seems to be based on.

Also, for Chrissake, she was a lot younger then. Perspectives change.

Jesus F. Christ Gary, I realize I'm wrong, but you're being ridiculous. Membership in the boy scouts is not compulsory, reading the flag code is downright uncommon, & the informal ways that most people learn these things--public elementary school, parents, grandparents--are apparently not fully aware of protocol.

Because it's what's done

clearly, it's not "what's done" everywhere.

I don't know how this thread got off on a tangent regarding Michelle Obama's thesis, but my general reaction is: race relations in the 80s were pretty f'ed up. Not as f'ed up as before the 80s, but still. They are less f'ed up today, for which we should be glad. But it seems kinda crazy to assume that the 80s were just like today, only with worse hair -- which is an assumption that a lot of the criticisms of Ms. O's thesis seems to be based on.

Also, for Chrissake, she was a lot younger then. Perspectives change.

Well, then, you're a flip-flopper then....

(Also...a lot of her critics seem bound and determined to be like THEY were in the 1980s--toddlers and pre-schoolers. And their tantrums haven't improved a bit...)

I feel the same way about putting ketchup on eggs. It's just unnatural.

BC comment this morning at 4:07 a.m. captures my concerns regarding an Obama foreign policy exactly -- although I'm more concerned his "without preconditions" statements (which also tends to get parsed endlessly and generally turned into "without some preconditions but with others that I'm sure he intended but simply didn't mention" by Obama's more thoughtful supporters) (e.g., Hilzoy, MY, Publius).

But, as BC also notes, this is a discussion for another day.

I'm more concerned with McCain thinking that Pervez Musharraf is "legitimately elected" & responsible for saving Pakistan from being a "failed state." Publicly wishing for Castro's death is lousy public diplomacy for the sake of scoring politicial points domestically, too.

More of the same.

"Jesus F. Christ Gary, I realize I'm wrong, but you're being ridiculous."

?

How so? I wrote:

[...] Of course. Obviously, whether you put your hand over your heart, or stand at respectful attention, so long as you have the attitude of respect, it has no affect on your judgment regarding policy, or anything else. Of course.

[...]

But we live in vast numbers of subcultures, and lots of folks were never Scouts, and no nothing of this sort of stuff, and could care less, and that's fine, too. People are ignorant of all sorts of things, and if it's not important in your environment, it isn't.

[...]

To conclude from not knowing about putting one hand's on one heart for the National Anthem, however, that someone is seriously not patriotic, or anything like that, however, would be completely insane. Mostly it just means that Barack Obama's grandfather got a bit of trivia wrong, and that's all; that's pretty damn trivial itself.

[...]

It's not mandatory, of course.

What's ridiculous?

And why are you telling me things like "Membership in the boy scouts is not compulsory, reading the flag code is downright uncommon," that I already stated?

cleek:

Because it's what's done

clearly, it's not "what's done" everywhere.

I don't follow how this is a sequitur to the question "Why do you put your hand on your heart for the anthem?"

It seems to be a non-sequitur. What's your answer as to why most people stand up for the national anthem when at a ball game, or put their hands on their heart, or say the pledge of allegiance, rather than "because it's what's done, it's custom"?

Sometimes it feels like people are just trying to start a pointless and meaningless argument over nothing whatever.

(And sometimes it feels like people just don't feel agreed with strongly enough, and they want to badger you into more emphatic language, as if that meant your agreement was more meaningful and comforting.)

"although I'm more concerned his 'without preconditions' statements"

You didn't like what he said about it in the debate yesterday, or other times in the past month?

Can you be more specific, please? (I'm assuming you're not talking about stuff from months ago, as if he'd never said anything on the topic ever again.)

What do you find objectionable about his current stance on that, as regards his language last night, for instance?

Sometimes it feels like people are just trying to start a pointless and meaningless argument over nothing whatever.

indeed. hence the topic this thread references.

I can't see a single thing wrong with meeting people without preconditions. It would be different if Obama had said what Albright et al tried to pretend that he had said, namely that he planned to meet without preparations. That would be ludicrous.

I'll just quickly note that, while I put my hand over my heart during the anthem, the crowds where I've done it have generally been split between those who do and those who don't. More power to them, says I. I sure as hell don't do it because of some code, though; I do it because it feels right to me, pure and simple. All I ask of others in the crowd is a modicum of silence and respect for the tradition, even if they don't partake themselves.

Which reminds me, I've never said the Pledge of Allegiance and anyone who tries to make me can go f*ck themselves. My love for this country is no-one else's goddamn business, and I refuse to kowtow to others' idolatrous prostrations. Any country which requires such public demonstrations of loyalty, IMO, needs to look to true patriotism instead of reflexive jingoism.

YMMV, of course.

"Obviously, whether you put your hand over your heart, or stand at respectful attention, so long as you have the attitude of respect, it has no affect on your judgment regarding policy, or anything else."

Eek. Effect. It has no effect.

And, of course, people are free to sit on their ass and thumb their noses, if they prefer. I wouldn't respect that, but I wouldn't care beyond that, either.

von: I don't know how this thread got off on a tangent regarding Michelle Obama's thesis, but my general reaction is: race relations in the 80s were pretty f'ed up. Not as f'ed up as before the 80s, but still.

I dunno; race relations at Princeton were probably as f'ed up in the 80s as at any point in its history. Militancy travelled slowly back in those days. And god only knows how hard it was to be a black woman at Princeton, seeing as how we weren't fully integrated gender-wise until 1991 or thereabouts (depending on where one wants to draw the line).

[hilzoy would know this better than I; by the time I got there, the gender discrimination was a distant memory, even though some of the seniors had been present for it. Talk about swept away by the tides of history.]

I'm more concerned with McCain thinking that Pervez Musharraf is "legitimately elected" & responsible for saving Pakistan from being a "failed state."

McCain's carefully crafted statement, of which these two statements were part, was an excellent example of realpolitik, hedging bets, and advancing America's interests.

Publicly wishing for Castro's death is lousy public diplomacy for the sake of scoring politicial points domestically, too.

That's pandering that can be done without cost: Even if he didn't say it, that's obviously the US view and, moreover, there are a heck of a lot of other countries that would be more than happy to see Castro die.

Now, criticism of the "Ba-ba-ba-bomb Iran" stuff is legitimate. But these two statements aren't problematic in the least.

Yes, von, I know how fond you are of "our bastards" arguments. Suspect others will disagree & find the comments interesting.

Gary: you know what? You're totally right. I woke up on the wrong side of bed re: lapel pin patriotism, & completely overlooked your comment about how his grandfather just made a minor protocol error. Instead of misdirecting that sort of crankiness I should outsource it to John Cole; he's clearly better at it & .

I'm more concerned with McCain thinking that Pervez Musharraf is "legitimately elected" & responsible for saving Pakistan from being a "failed state."

McCain's carefully crafted statement, of which these two statements were part, was an excellent example of realpolitik, hedging bets, and advancing America's interests.

Von, could you explain how either Musharraf was "legitimately elected," or why it's in our interest for someone in McCain's position to say so?

Because I don't have a clue as to how it is so; maybe that's just me, of course.

I mean, just about no one in Pakistan thinks Musharraf was legitimately elected, so an American politican who does seems to be clearly supporting a largely-hated-and-despised dictator, who moreover is on the eminent verge of being thrown out of power.

So it looks to me like a wildly destructive and incredibly foolish thing to say, aligning us even further, as it does, with a hated loser. It's just about all downside; what's the upside?

But since your view is obviously very different, I encourage you to explain it further, if you'd be so kind as to take a few moments. If so, thanks.

"who moreover is on the eminent verge of being thrown out of power."

Should be "imminent verge of being thrown entirely out of power."

Anarch, I don't have any specific knowledge re: Princeton, so my comment was general.

I can't see a single thing wrong with meeting people without preconditions. It would be different if Obama had said what Albright et al tried to pretend that he had said, namely that he planned to meet without preparations. That would be ludicrous.

Preparations that would, presumably, include preconditions -- meet with Bob, my undersecretary, first; let's talk about an agenda; no, we will not be devoting the entire meeting to US human rights violations; etc.; etc. And, thus, my prior point:

"[Obama's without preconditions statemant] tends to get parsed endlessly and generally turned into "without some preconditions but with others that I'm sure he intended but simply didn't mention" by Obama's more thoughtful supporters) (e.g., Hilzoy, MY, Publius)."

We can get into whether Obama's version of "without preconditions" is wise or not on an appropriate thread.

Gary, are you really so unclear on this subject? Hilzoy seems to know exactly what I'm talking about -- even to the point of identifying and pre-rebutting a simplistic criticism of Obama's statement (Albright's statement).

Yes, von, I know how fond you are of "our bastards" arguments. Suspect others will disagree & find the comments interesting.

No, not "our bastards." We have no permanent bastards, "ours" or "theirs"; we have only bastards necessary for our interest.

After all this time, Katherine, I figured you'd know where I stand on this one.

Von, could you explain how either Musharraf was "legitimately elected," or why it's in our interest for someone in McCain's position to say so?

I can answer that by example. Assume McCain said:

"I believe that Musharraf was not legitimately elected. [Or, in response to a question asking whether M. was legitimately elected: "no" or "no comment"]."

Recall, too, that McCain didn't offer his assessment. He was asked.

"We can get into whether Obama's version of 'without preconditions' is wise or not on an appropriate thread."

What, is there a rule about not doing it here and now? But do feel free to start another thread, as you like, of course.

Meanwhile: "Gary, are you really so unclear on this subject?"

As to what you think? Yeah. Why is it you just about never actually answer any questions I ask you?

It's a perfectly simple question: "Von, could you explain how either Musharraf was 'legitimately elected,' or why it's in our interest for someone in McCain's position to say so?"

Why not just answer it?

Secondly, Here's a transcript of last night. Here's what Obama said:

[...] MS. BROWN: Senator Obama, just to follow up, you had said in a previous CNN debate that you would meet with the leaders of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, among others. So presumably you would be willing to meet with the new leader of Cuba.

SEN. OBAMA: That's correct. Now, keep in mind that the starting point for our policy in -- in Cuba should be the liberty of the Cuban people. And I think we recognize that that liberty has not existed throughout the Castro regime. And we now have an opportunity to potentially change the relationship between the United States and Cuba, after over half a century.

I would meet without preconditions, although Senator Clinton is right that there has to be preparation. It is very important for us to make sure that there was an agenda and on that agenda was human rights, releasing of political prisoners, opening up the press. And that preparation might take some time.

But I do think that it is important for the United States not just to talk to its friends but also to talk to its enemies.

In fact, that's where diplomacy makes the biggest difference. (Applause.)

One other thing that I've said as a show of good faith, that we're interested in pursuing potentially a new relationship, what I've called for is a loosening of the restrictions on remittances from family members to the people of Cuba as well as travel restrictions for family members who want to visit their family members in Cuba. And I think that initiating that change in policy as a start and then suggesting that an agenda get set up is something that could be useful, but I would not normalize relations until we started seeing some of the progress that Senator Clinton talked about.

MS. BROWN: But that's different from your position back in 2003. You called U.S. policy towards Cuba a miserable failure, and you supported normalizing relations. So you've back-tracked now.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, the -- I support the eventual normalization, and it's absolutely true that I think our policy has been a failure.

I mean, the fact is is that during my entire lifetime -- and Senator Clinton's entire lifetime you essentially have seen a Cuba that has been isolated but has not made progress when it comes to the issues of political rights and personal freedoms that are so important to the people of Cuba.

So I think that we have to shift policy. I think our goal has to be ultimately normalization, but that's going to happen in steps.

And the first step, as I said, is changing our rules with respect to remittances and with respect to travel. And then I think it is important for us to have the direct contact not just in Cuba, but I think this principle applies generally. I'm -- I recall what John F. Kennedy once said, that we should never negotiate out of fear, but we should never fear to negotiate. And this moment, this opportunity when Fidel Castro has finally stepped down I think is one that we should try to take advantage of. (Applause.)

[...]

SEN. OBAMA: I think, as I've said before, preparation is actually absolutely critical in any meeting. And I think it is absolutely true that either of us would step back from some of the Bush unilateralism that's caused so much damage.

But I do think it is important, precisely because the Bush administration has done so much damage to American foreign relations, that the president take a more active role in diplomacy than might have been true 20 or 30 years ago.

Because the problem isn't -- is if we think that meeting with the president is a privilege that has to be earned, I think that reinforces the sense that we stand above the rest of the world at this point in time, and I think that it's important for us, in undoing the damage that has been done over the last seven years, for the president to be willing to take that extra step. That's the kind of step that I would like to take as president of the United States. (Cheers, applause.)

So, what's your specific objection?

Sorry, I hadn't yet seen this:

I can answer that by example. Assume McCain said:

"I believe that Musharraf was not legitimately elected. [Or, in response to a question asking whether M. was legitimately elected: "no" or "no comment"]."

Recall, too, that McCain didn't offer his assessment. He was asked.

I don't see how the second is relevant.

As to the first, let me restate: do you really think that McCain's statement is helpful, rather than highly destructive, to our interests in Pakistan, insofar as it further convinces Pakistanis that we are indifferent to their interests, and care only about having a hated dicator doing our bidding? If so, why?

Do you disagree that Musharraf is largely despised in Pakistan? Do you dispute that he's on the verge of being removed from power entirely? Do you dispute that the U.S. needs to do its best to find other Pakistanis to work with, and that that the U.S. government's focus, at Bush's direction, on Musharaff, has been very destructive in that regard, and that as a result we're extremely late in doing much about it?

In any case, if McCain had said "it seems clear that it's the view of the majority of Pakistan's voters, as expressed in last week's elections, that General Musharaff's rewriting of the Constitution to his liking, his firing of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and most of the Supreme Court, in favor of pliable replacements, his institution of Emergency Rule, and the elections he held under them, were all illegitimate, but now we see new, and apparently fair, elections, and we applaud that and look forward to working with the new government of Pakistan," that that would have been deeply problematic?

McCain's carefully crafted statement, of which these two statements were part, was an excellent example of realpolitik, hedging bets, and advancing America's interests.

I, like Gary, would be interested in an explanation of this, because I really don't see it.

As regards Obama's stance on meeting with enemies, how does it compare, in your opinion, Von, to Nixon's opening talks with Mao, or Eisenhower seeking summits with Khrushchev, or even George W. Bush sending Donald Rumsfeld to shake hands with Saddam Hussein?

Katherine : Jesus F. Christ Gary

Hmm, I always thought it was middle initial H. At least that is how my mom screamed it at me.

On the hand over the heart thing – it is a ding with me.


Katherine – I’m still willing to respond to you if you want to tell me where I did this: “double standards people apply to left- & right-of center politicians.”

"Katherine – I’m still willing to respond to you if you want to tell me where I did this: 'double standards people apply to left- & right-of center politicians.'"

Is it inappropriate to cite stuff from other blogs? (Or for me to cite it?)

Like where you say here that you think there is "some reality behind it" in referring to:

"We have lost intelligence information this past week as a direct result of the uncertainty created by Congress' failure to act," McConnell and Mukasey wrote to Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.), chairman of the House intelligence committee. "Because of this uncertainty, some partners have reduced cooperation."

The two officials noted that some companies have "delayed or refused compliance" with requests to add surveillance targets to general orders that were approved before the law expired. They did not provide further details.

The double standard is that no matter how many times Democrats explain that this is nonsense, that the only possible non-cooperation due to not being immunized from breaking the law would be cooperating with breaking the law, you don't believe the Democrats, but you do believe political appointees of the Bush Administration at least to the level of figuring there must be something to what they say, and you should split the difference somewhere in between.

The double standard would be finding evidence in the past seven years, or longer, to support dividing your credence this way.

Actually, the H is supposed to be from the IHS that you often see in churches, which is related to the Greek letters for Christ. So your mom was right. But I'm sure you knew that ;^)

Along such lines, lj, I'm pretty sure the F. stands for 'Fish' in this case. Although it'd be cool if it was 'Fricative'.

fwiw, on Pakistan: M. is indeed widely despised. Delightfully, one of the reasons he is widely despised -- though there are others -- is that he is seen as our puppet. We have lost an enormous amount of room to maneuver in that country as a result of this administration's embrace of a dictator, refusal to contemplate working with anyone else, and of course our failure to actually get the AQ leadership when we had the chance, which is why we have to keep pressuring Musharraf to send his army after his own people (as it is seen there.)

"Legitimately elected" is a joke, and an insult to the intelligence of Pakistanis. And it will be perceived that way. -- I mean, I was there when Tom Tancredo made his idiotic remark about bombing Mecca and Medina, and I spent a truly amazing amount of time trying to convince people -- ordinary people, not just the professionals I was mostly working with -- that Tom Tancredo was a lunatic who had no serious chance of winning the Presidency. (His idea of building a wall between the US and Canada helped a lot in convincing people that he did not need to be taken seriously. People found that idea uproariously funny. I didn't tell them about the wall with Mexico unless asked.)

actually, the "H" in Jesus H. Christ stands for "Howard".

remember the Lord's Prayer?

Our Father, Who Art in Heaven, Howard be thy name.

[ducks, runs]

Did anyone think there wouldn't be a Wikipedia page?

Actually, the H is supposed to be from the IHS that you often see in churches, which is related to the Greek letters for Christ. So your mom was right. But I'm sure you knew that ;^)

Yeesh, you'd think an edumacated group like this would know the obvious: It's Jesus Henry Christ. The Romans even put it over his cross: INRI!

Concerning hand-over-heart
I think until WW2 it was arm lifted and directed towards flag. But since that looked quite similar to the "Roman" (or German or fascist) salute, it was replaced by the gesture used now.
Btw, the person wording the pledge should be flogged for putting the flag in front of the republic (it should be, if at all: "I pledge my allegiance to the republic and the flag as its visible symbol" or something like that). I am very happy that over here we got completely rid of things like that and I would refuse to participate (standing up out of respect when the anthem is played on official occasions is imo something different)

Gary: The double standard would be finding evidence in the past seven years, or longer, to support dividing your credence this way.

What do you call the standard that assumes a man is a liar simply because he was nominated by Bush? Because Bush has in fact appointed incompetent cronies does not actually mean that anyone he appoints is an incompetent crony.

Mike McConnell has served the country for over 40 years. Did Bill Clinton have a liar as Director of the NSA? I don’t have any reason to question his integrity – if you do share it and I’ll reevaluate.

I would say that the double standard would be believing anything that Democrats “explain” while assuming that anything a Bush appointee has to say is a lie.

"What do you call the standard that assumes a man is a liar simply because he was nominated by Bush?" Realism? :) couldn't resist.

Seriously Bush appoints dishonest cronies because that is the type of person he wants beneath him. If someone honest and competent got one of these jobs it would be a mistake which indicated a lack of vetting and which would most likely cost Bush and his friends money.

Did you catch Mitch McConnell weaselling when asked if waterboarding would be torture if it were done to him?

I don't think all Democrats are honest. You have to spend some time figuring out who you want to trust. I just find it strange that an apparently sentient conserative like yourself hasn't noticed that this bunch of Republicans lies an incredible amount. Its like they get paid by the lie or something. Crazy. Anyway have a nice day.

OCSteve: What do you call the standard that assumes a man is a liar simply because he was nominated by Bush?

Experience.

As previously mentioned, I really do think that many of these discussions should occur on an appropriate thread that has an appropriate topic.* So here's my final word on it, in response to Gary and Anarch. McCain's original statement on M/Pakistan (responding to suggestion by Gov. Richardson that we cut off dealings):

...But the challenges that face America today are a myriad of national security issues, the latest in Pakistan that you discussed earlier with Bill Richardson.

I know Musharraf. I met with him on numerous occasions. I know the area. I've been to Waziristan. I know these issues. I know how to handle them. And I've been involved in all these issues for, as I say, the last two decades. And that's the area that I think will, at the end of the day, convince the voters here in New Hampshire that I'm the most qualified, especially on national security, of any of the candidates.

WALLACE: So be specific. I mean, this is one of the real-time crises a president has to face.

MCCAIN: Sure.

WALLACE: So you're in the president's seat. Richardson says he would threaten to cut off all U.S. aid. Would you?

MCCAIN: No, because if you play that last card and it doesn't work, then obviously you have no leverage whatsoever. I think that Musharraf, by — agreeing to the elections in February is a step forward. It's not what we want, but it's a step forward. But look. You've got to put this — Chris, the situation in the context of the last 20 years or 30 years. Pakistan was a failed state. It was a failed state under Benazir Bhutto. Her husband was convicted of corruption.

Musharraf came to power to replace a failed state. There is significant elements within the Pakistani army and in Pakistan itself of radical Islamic extremism. We all know about the sanctuary in Waziristan that was provided by Musharraf. One of the reasons for that was difficulties within his own army because of the high casualties that he was taking there. I think we should appreciate if Pakistan collapses into a radical Islamic state, then our chances of building democracy and freedom in Afghanistan are in severe jeopardy, and democracy and freedom throughout the region are in great jeopardy.

So this is a very delicate time. I would be doing intensive behind-the-scenes negotiations, and I would do my best to convince Musharraf that the best thing for him, as well as the future of Pakistan, is to go ahead and schedule these elections and move forward with the democratic process. But to issue ultimatums and threats right now that may result in damage to United States national security I think is inappropriate.

I would remind you when we thought it was the best thing to do for the shah of Iran to leave Iran. There were some unintended consequences associated with that.

More recently, McCain stated:

“Although not unexpected, [the results] certainly are going to present a challenge for us to deal with the new government of Pakistan. I believe that whoever runs that country, we have a common interest in defeating the Taliban and having good relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he said. “So far they have had a fair election according to observers that are there and that’s good. We look forward to dealing with the new government of Pakistan and certainly we appreciate the relationship we have with President Musharraf and hope to maintain that.”

And:

On Pakistan, McCain called Musharraf "a good ally" but said he had made "mistakes," particularly in firing Supreme Court justices. He suggested the election results were largely because of the "tragedy of Benazir Bhutto," rather than a reaction against Musharraf, and expressed the hope that the United States can work with the new government cooperatively. "We have to understand that Afghanistan is an enormous challenge right now and we need Pakistan to help us," he said.

These more recent comments have also been para-reportedly-phrased as follows (which para-reportedly-phrasing seems to be the basis for Katherine's, Anarch's and Gary's complaints):

NEW YORK, Feb 20 (APP): US Senator John McCain, the Republican Party presidential hopeful, has rejected calls for the resignation of President Pervez Musharraf following Monday’s elections, saying he is a “legitimately elected” Pakistani leader.

“I think he’s a legitimately elected president, and we’ll see what the dynamic of the new parliament is,” said McCain, who is on a campaign swing across the United States for the party nomination that is nearly in his bag.

During campaign stops in the states of Wisconsin and Ohio on Tuesday, Sen. McCain was asked by reporters for his comments on the outcome of Pakistan’s election in which opposition political parties scored major gains.

“The results in Pakistan, although not unexpected, certainly are going to present a challenge for us to deal with a new government in Pakistan,” he said, according to a transcript of his remarks published in The New York Times Wednesday.

“I believe that whoever runs the country, we have a common interest in defeating the Taliban and having good relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Later in Columbus, Ohio, McCain called Musharraf “a good ally”, but said he (Musharraf) had made some “mistakes,”.

He suggested the election results were largely because of the “tragedy of Benazir Bhutto,” rather than a reaction against President Musharraf, and expressed the hope the United States can work with the new government cooperatively.

“We have to understand that Afghanistan is an enormous challenge right now and we need Pakistan to help us,” he said.

The only one of those comments that is not particularly well-crafted is the bastardized version that some reporter paraphrased -- and even that version isn't really all that bad.

*Given Gary's past policing of threats for OTness, figured that he at least would agree. But, of course, there is that charming Gary style.

I'll be happy to transfer this over to a new thread, should you so desire, von. Last question here, and I'm only asking because my (admittedly small) research couldn't figure this out: do you know where this

“I think he’s a legitimately elected president, and we’ll see what the dynamic of the new parliament is,”

came from? I find it hard to believe that a reporter flat-out invented that quote -- which is sort of what you imply -- but I haven't been able to find an actual transcript of the speech in question.

Also, as a final aside, this:

I would remind you when we thought it was the best thing to do for the shah of Iran to leave Iran. There were some unintended consequences associated with that.

disturbs me immensely, but for reasons that should be elaborated in a different forum.

PS: How's the vonlet doing? Happy, healthy, well-rested, etc?

Von: "*Given Gary's past policing of threats for OTness, figured that he at least would agree."

Say what? I'm aware of dozens of times I've expressed the view in comments that I'm unaware of any rules on ObWi restricting people's topics of conversation.

I'm aware of no times that I've engaged in "past policing of threats for OTness."

Perhaps I've forgotten what I've believe, which is my never having noticed any kind of "on topic" rule at ObWi, and that I've stated this over and over and over and over and over again here, without ever, to my notice, being contradicted by any blogowner (and since I usually say something like "unless someone can point out such a rule from a blogowner than I've not noticed," I've solicited such a pointer countless times).

My online imprinting/"training" came on Usenet in the mid-Nineties; some newsgroups were strictly subject-oriented, and their subculture strongly emphasized staying on-topic, and chastizing people for going off-topic.

But the newsgroups I spent most of my time on had the philosophy of rec.arts.sf.fandom, where the "topic" wasn't "sf fandom," but "whatever sf fans want to talk about." And thus there was no such thing as "off-topic."

That set the pattern for my preferred style of conversation, which is natural, since it was a simple extension of identical amateur press association conversation, which is precisely the same as these exchanges, except for being done in print, and distributed more slowly, be it every few hours, or every week, or every two weeks, or every month, or quarterly.

So my view has always been prejudiced against scoldings about being "off-topic," save, of course, for places where it's appropriate. A place with a rule, or just a consistent culture/ethic/suggestion, discouraging or suggesting people stick to a topic is such a place, and there are many, and that's great, and I'm all for those places enforcing those rules.

Which is why I've consistently expressed puzzlement here whenever anyone said someone shouldn't go "off-topic," because so far as I know, there is no such rule, and never has been.

And I've brought the subject up dozens and dozens of times. Dozens have times someone has said apologized for going "off-topic," and I've expressed a variant of "so far as I know, there is no such rule around here: am I wrong?"

Which is why I know I have no habit of ever telling anyone they're "off-topic" here. Because since 2004, I've voiced the opposite view over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

Please cite, with links, some of these past "past policing of threats for OTness" I've made in your universe, Von.

Because I'm completely wtf are you talking about?

WTF? WTF?

What on earth are you talking about?

To be clear, I'd seriously like a reply, when you have a moment, von.

Because what you've said here about me is a big huge untrue thing (which you then went on to add "But, of course, there is that charming Gary style," as if, somehow, because you're telling a big fib about me, and I'm acting consistently, and not in accordance with your fib, I'm being dishonest or untoward in some way; speaking of charming styles).

I request you withdraw your false claim, and I would appreciate an apology. Thanks.

came from? I find it hard to believe that a reporter flat-out invented that quote -- which is sort of what you imply -- but I haven't been able to find an actual transcript of the speech in question.

I honestly have no idea. I don't dispute that McCain said it, but I get the sense that some context is missing. Certainly, it's not 100% consistent with what McCain said prior or subsequently, including in the very same statement.

PS: How's the vonlet doing? Happy, healthy, well-rested, etc?

Very well (and thanks for asking)! He just turned 2 and he's very, very big into Thomas the Tank Engine.

Gary, when I refer to "that charming Gary style," I'm thinking in part of posts similar to yours at 2:10 and 2:32 p.m. Which are charmingly Gary-ish. Kind of like: Fly. Sledgehammer. Repeat.

As for this particular fly: There are any number of threads in which you suggested that a particular comment belonged elsewhere. I'll flag it for you the next time it occurs.

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