Thursday, May 21, 2015

We have always been at war with Eastasia

It's really not a secret! Map via Wikipedia.
Via NPR, the violent attack of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on US historians Pamela Crossley, Mark Elliot, James Millward, and others, for work published between 1997 and 2004 suggesting, in the trend known as the "new Qing history" that the Manchu empire of the Qing dynasty is not the same thing as China, the country it conquered in 1644 and occupied until 1912 along with other conquests such as Tibet, Mongolia, eastern Turkestan (now known as Xinjiang), and Taiwan.

Because such a view could give people the idea that Tibet, Xinjiang, and Taiwan were not part of China before 1644 (they weren't) and that Tibetans, Uyghurs, and native Taiwanese are not eternally Chinese (they aren't), and indeed that there can be permanent Chinese communities in places (like Taiwan) that aren't China. Thus historian Li Zhiting writes (cited at the China Media Project, University of Hong Kong),

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What have I learned from my mistakes?

Denial skills that will last a lifetime!

Victor Varconi and Elinor Fair in Cecil B. De Mille's The Volga Boatman (1926). Via.
David Brooks writes:
Suppose you had a chance to take a time machine trip back to Iraq in 1968? You could smother the infant Rafid Ahmed Alwan in his cradle, so that he'd never grow up to be the informant Curveball who made up the story about Iraq's mobile biological weapons labs (actually trailer units for pasteurizing milk and generating hydrogen), which didn't convince the German agents who interrogated him but did convince Tony Blair, who didn't.
Without Curveball there would have been no Iraq War, right, because nobody in the United States ever imagined invading Iraq to overthrow its government until then—not until the slam dunk evidence of Saddam Hussein's imaginary weapons of mass destruction assembled itself spontaneously in the corridors of Langley and Dick Cheney said to himself, "My God! Apparently this man is a threat!"
Because it's just like Hitler, really.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Maybe they meant "influenced by a blunt"

Image by duh at Thom Hartmann.

Headline at Washington Post Wonkbook:
Lindsey Graham’s comments on drones were very blunt
What the newly declared presidential candidate said:
"If I’m president of the United States and you’re thinking about joining al-Qaeda or ISIL [Islamic State], I’m not gonna call a judge," Graham said. "I’m gonna call a drone and we will kill you."

Sunday, May 17, 2015

How dishonest is Ross Douthat? A charitable view

Fernando Botero, Nuncio (1970). WikiArt
Monsignor Ross Douthat, Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street, leaps as is his wont to the defense of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops against an affront by the sociologist Robert Putnam:
“Over the last 30 years,” Harvard’s Robert Putnam told The Washington Post, “most organized religion has focused on issues regarding sexual morality, such as abortion, gay marriage, all of those. I’m not saying if that’s good or bad, but that’s what they’ve been using all their resources for ... It’s been entirely focused on issues of homosexuality and contraception and not at all focused on issues of poverty.”
Worse, President Obama, speaking alongside Putnam at the Catholic-Evangelical Leadership Summit on Overcoming Poverty at Georgetown University, seemed to agree with him:

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Annals of Derp: Down to Slavery

Paul Moreno's very remarkable argument in The Federalist, in which he claims that
[t]he gay-rights movement has followed not the trajectory of the anti-slavery movement, but of those who supported slavery
starts off not with gay rights or support for slavery, but with polygyny among the early Latter-Day Saints and its opponents:

Friday, May 15, 2015

Annals of derp: Urban planning

Alexander Avenue in Mott Haven, South Bronx. Fort Apache was a really long time ago, before the regulation started to set in. Photo by Michael Kamber/New York Times.
Stupidest thing I heard this morning, on WNYC radio:
The quaint little homes in the charming nooks and crannies of our nation's major cities are costing us billions, according to one economic report.
The economists who did the study found that the U.S. economy would be 9.5 percent bigger, if only three of the country's most productive cities — New York City, San Francisco and San Jose — could squeeze in more people. All they'd need to do is allow developers to knock down those beautiful Brooklyn brownstones and historic Victorians in San Francisco and build taller apartments and condos like other cities allow.
The experts discussing the study on the air allowed as how nothing was likely to ameliorate this unhappy situation, seeing as how people in East New York and Mott Haven treasure the exclusivity and charm of their quaint, walkable neighborhoods so much, but it didn't occur to them to question the researchers' assumption that the aim of producing growth would justify destroying Park Slope. And it didn't occur to them to wonder whether if there might be something wrong with the methodology of a paper that advocates the urban planning strategy that gave the world Lagos and Jakarta.

It's the left thing to do!

Oxen moving lumber down skid road in Mendocino County before the railway. As non-fast a track as you'd want to see. Mendocino Coast Model Railroad and Historical Society.
I think I may be able to figure out what's stopping me from joining in on the hate for TPP, and spread it out in a clear enough fashion that somebody can explain to me why I'm wrong; it doesn't start so much with what's in the treaty—what do I know about trade policy?—as with the language the opponents are using, which sounds to me a lot like propaganda, for example with Senator Warren at NPR on Tuesday on the subject of the provision that upsets her the most, the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism:
Look, I have three objections. The first is that the president is asking us to vote to grease the skids on a trade deal that has largely been negotiated, but that is still held in secret.

The second is that we know that corporations under this deal are going to get to sue countries for regulations they don't like and that the decisions are not going to be made by courts, they're going to be made by private lawyers.

And the third problem is that he wants us to vote on a six-year, grease-the-skids deal.
Well, there you go, that's two, two-and-a-half tops. But she knows very well that the deal is not exactly secret from her (she's been allowed to read it, though apparently not to take notes), and will not have been secret from anybody for at least 60 days by the time she actually does get to vote on it, up to 90 if the Senate behaves according to coffee-cooling tradition. And when it gets there she can vote against it, as can the other 99 Senators. The skids may be greased, but no sled can get through a brick wall, even if it has six years to do it with.

Thursday, May 14, 2015


Casey Jones (1863-1900), Lokomotivführer.
Case of both sides posturing in Washington after tragedy strikes? That's kind of how the Times sees it:
As investigators picked through the rubble on Wednesday morning, Democratic lawmakers in Washington angrily demanded an increase in Amtrak funding, calling Tuesday night’s accident a result of congressional failure to support the rail system. Republicans refused, defeating the request in a morning committee hearing and accusing Democrats of using a tragedy for political reasons.