Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Legalism: No foul, no harm

Spoiler alert: I'm going to be working my way down to Obama here, but it's going to take a while...

Antonin Scalia. "The law is the true embodiment/Of everything that's excellent./It has no kind of fault or flaw,/and I, my lords, embody the law."
As everybody knows, in August 2009, when the Supreme Court ordered a Georgia judge to examine evidence that Troy Davis, convicted of murdering an off-duty police officer in 1989, was innocent, Justice Antonin Scalia dissented on memorable grounds:

Monday, September 15, 2014

Rejoinders: Postscript

Orphan's Picnic, 1935. Via Mothgirlwings.
Saturday, I invited readers to fuck David Brooks, by which I meant of course that they should ignore him (or at least use protection!), but that was before I took a hard look at the article by Peter Baker in Sunday's dead-tree Times (and its echo by Michael Calderone in the HuffPost), which puts Brooks's Friday column, along with Friedman on Sunday, in a somewhat different light, since it turns out that Brooks and Friedman both attended an off-the-record chat with President Obama in which the president spoke to journalists about his plans to degrade-and-destroy the Islamic State-in-Waiting.

That suggests that what our two heroes are urging on Obama—Friedman, to follow his instinct for caution; Brooks, to abandon his instinct for "reluctance" in favor of passionate, Leaderly wrongness—is based on a real interaction allowing them to judge what his instincts are. I mean, that he's told them he's reluctant, right there in the White House, and they've believed him. So far, so good.

Baker himself confirms this from his own reporting (which did not include talking to anybody from the Times, of course, who would never reveal to a living soul anything that they had ever heard from anyone off the record, especially if the living soul was another Times employee, because ever since old Bush went to grass they've been following the rule book pretty strenuously):

Sunday, September 14, 2014

In re Bobbleheads

It'd kill you to put her on once? Photo by John Shinkle/Politico.
“I think that for a 78-year-old senator, he . . . remains a strong and important voice in American politics and a relevant voice in American politics,” says Feist, whose “unscientific” analysis is that McCain hasn’t been appearing on CNN more recently than he has over the past couple of decades (fact-checkable!). (Via Erik Wempel at WaPo
That's it! It's the qualifier, "for a 78-year-old senator". There's some kind of weird obligation to feature a senator who was born in 1936, and McCain is the most strong, important, and relevant one who makes the cut?

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Aleppo, late August. Photo by AFP/AMC/Zein Rifai via the Daily Star.

Apparently the "Syrian moderates" have decided they'd rather not have any US weapons after all:
Syrian rebels and jihadists from the Islamic State have agreed a non-aggression pact for the first time in a suburb of the capital Damascus, a monitoring group said on Friday.

Obamacare Tragedy Watch: Arizona Byways

There's something terribly wrong with the editing of this video from GOP TV Clips, especially in its later parts when humble Joe Higgins the suffering family man, whose insurance premiums have doubled thanks to Obamacare, is off screen. But I'm not technically prepared to say what it is. What I am prepared to say...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Cheap shots and wonk Chucks

Carlson in Snuggie. Image by Politico.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson suggested over the weekend that laws regulating military-style semiautomatic rifles did not make sense ..."We should be clear for our viewers, assault weapon is a made up term," Carlson replied. "And there really is no such thing as an assault weapon." (Crooks & Liars)
The thing is, as a number of people were quick to point out, all terms are made-up terms. The question is whether it finds something coherent to apply itself to. For example, as the ngram below shows, "assault weapon" has been pretty successful since it was introduced in 1917, while "sniveling weasel", first showing up in 1989, has been somewhat iffy:

I'd love to help out, but I've been kind of busy.

Well played, that monarch:
In Jordan, the state news agency reported that in a meeting about the extremists on Wednesday, King Abdullah II had told Secretary of State John Kerry “that the Palestinian cause remains the core of the conflict in the region” and that Jordan was focusing on the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.
It's true, you know. I guess back in July, when Gaza was under attack,  nobody could have imagined the United States would want to gather a coalition of Sunni powers to attack the Sunni Caliphate that had improbably declared itself on June 29.  But it could have been predicted that they might want to do it for some purpose or other.

As long as the US remains the chief patron and enabler of Israel's violent rule over the Palestinian territories, it's going to be hard for the other countries in the region to take our country seriously as the world's purveyor of peace and freedom.
Looking for survivors and bodies at the Qassam Mosque. Photo by Paolo Pellegrin/Magna, for the New York Times.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A sharper reader?

"Chicka chicka boom boom, will there be enough room?" Not included as snark, this is a really great book. And a sharp reader has broad tastes. Photo by Getty Images.
Professor Cole asks a question you might not have seen coming:
What if Obama is a sharper reader of the Middle East than his critics give him credit for? He knows ISIL is likely not going away, just as, after 13 years, the Taliban have not. US military action may even prolong the lifetime of these groups (that is one argument about AQAP) even as it keeps them from taking more territory.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


I'm typing, watching TV, and listening to an entirely extraneous conversation at the same time. If the following sounds paranoid, that may be because you're assuming wrongly that it's coherent. Or it may actually be paranoid.

1. I wonder what's the role of Iran, and I wonder what's the role of the CIA? The latter don't count as "boots on the ground", right? (They wear these little ninja slippers.)

Speechwriter: Gosh, that's a great line, Mr. President!
Obama: Sure, kid. But will it pass the Chuck Todd Test?
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