Friday, September 4, 2015

West of Eden, and hopefully on the way north

Aylan Kurdi alive, apparently threatening the cultural integrity of Mr. Orbán's continent, though I don't quite see that. Photo via The Independent.
I've heard of governments hating foreign refugees so much they'd seal the border with a razor-wire fence, or a Great Wall as the case may be, so they can't get in, but I've never heard of one like the Hungarian Fidesz regime that won't let them out either.

Why are there 500 Syrians stuck on a train in the town of Bicske, and thousands more haunting the central station in Budapest? When crypto-fascist* prime minister Viktor Orbán says,
“Those arriving have been raised in another religion, and represent a radically different culture. Most of them are not Christians, but Muslims,” he said. “This is an important question, because Europe and European identity is rooted in Christianity.
“Is it not worrying in itself that European Christianity is now barely able to keep Europe Christian? There is no alternative, and we have no option but to defend our borders.”
Not because the migrants want to be the guests of such a narrow-minded and unwelcoming government. They're just passing through on their way to Germany, which has agreed to take on 800,000 refugees. Hungary is holding them under the theory that they are legally required to herd them into camps.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

We're only human

Image via Don Zeigler.
Spent a ridiculous amount of time playing BooMan's new game:
Here's an exercise. Tell me your answers to following questions. Which Republican presidential candidate:
1. is the funniest.
2. is the smartest.
3. seems like the most decent person.
4. would you drink a beer with (if you had to).
5. is the most gifted politician?
And then the opposite—the least funny, the dumbest, and so on. My solution is over the fold:

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

David Brooks, the Prime Offender

Elliott Dexter and Pauline Garon in Cecil B. DeMille's Adam's Rib (1923). 
David Brooks, "Hillary Clinton, the Great Defender", September 1 2015:
Hillary Clinton has obviously had a bad summer. She’s losing in New Hampshire to Bernie Sanders, even among women. She’s barely leading him in Iowa. In a Quinnipiac poll of potential general election matchups, she’s beating Donald Trump by only four points, 45 to 41, and she’s beating Marco Rubio by only one point.
David Brooks has obviously had a bad summer. In moral philosophy, he consistently loses to columnists who actually have a point of view, however repellent, like Ross Douthat; in a shocking turnaround, he's even losing to Douthat in wry cynicism—the smile-pout that has long been his signature moue (Ross is a Hansel come to challenge Brooks's Zoolander). In a head-to-head test of how he is viewed by economists, he gets considerably less respect than Thomas L. Friedman, and is barely more positively regarded than Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post.

The conventional view on the pandit cocktail circuit is that he horribly mishandled the fabricated-data scandal that accompanied the launch of his campaign book, The Road to Character. That's part of it, especially since (unlike, say, just for example, Hillary Clinton) he had clearly done something unethical, but popular opinion shows a more pervasive personal set of weaknesses, portraying him variously as a tool of the Likud Party; a hypocritical moralizer asking people to live their family, work, and religious lives in a way he has been completely unable to do himself; and an ignorant twit. He—

Monday, August 31, 2015

"This is not rocket science, at the front end"

As the Maine goes... No, wait.

Correction, in its entirety (August 28 2015) on the story about Parchin:
VIENNA (AP) — In a story Aug. 19 about an arrangement over alleged past nuclear weapons work between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency, The Associated Press erroneously referred to Parchin as a "nuclear site. In fact, it's a military site where some believe nuclear work occurred.

A corrected version of the story is below:

An unusual secret agreement with a U.N. agency will allow Iran to use its own experts to inspect a site allegedly used to develop nuclear arms, according to a document seen by The Associated Press.

The revelation is sure to roil critics who argue the deal is built on trust of the Iranians.

The investigation of the Parchin military site by the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency is linked to a broader probe of nuclear weapons allegations.
Interesting that they—or author George Jahn—evidently didn't allow a copy editor to look at the text long enough to close the quotation marks in the first paragraph, or uncontract the "it's", which I don't think is AP style (though their style guide seems not to be too specific on that score). You suppose it's (I use contractions freely, as you know) because inside every copy editor is a fact checker screaming to be let out?

It is a somewhat unsatisfactory correction for a couple of reasons:

Grammar as Propaganda

"Building this tower is working! Why would you stop?" Pieter Bruegel the elder, 1563, via Wikipedia.

National Review night manager Jim Geraghty doing some sweeping while the TV's on:
Notice Sanders talks about the awesome power of sanctions, and then applauds a deal that takes away sanctions on Iran. The sanctions were working
They're very fond of saying this, and it's an interesting case of a bit of English grammar being used to smear grease all over the window so we can't see what they're doing in there.

What does it mean to say "the sanctions were working"? The link they provide, to an article by Suzanne Maloney at Markaz, the Brookings Institution Middle East blog,  March 2014 and about how sanctions against Russia over the Crimea seizure might not "work", is pretty clear:

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Cheap shots: Twitter edition

Image via Azimuth.
Like it's going to embarrass him? I didn't think The Donald was much of a blusher.


West of Eden: Give a soldier a flower

Tahrir Square, August 7, photo by Khalid Mohammed/AP.
Scenes from Baghdad over the past week, h/t Nancy Le Tourneau for pointing to them. It seems there is some real mass politics taking place in the Iraqi capital and the mainly Shi'ite cities to the south, with huge demonstrations protesting corruption and the failure of government to provide essential services, in particular the electricity supply (in the global-warming hottest year in history), which is apparently still failing all the time the way it did ten years ago at the height of the war. The Times just picked the story up (from Reuters) today.

Return of the Stupid Shit Caucus (like they went somewhere?)

Agnes Ayres and Rudolph Valentino in George Melford's The Sheik (1921).
Verbatim David Brooks, "When ISIS rapists win", August 28 2015:
President Obama has said that ISIS stands for nothing but savagery. That’s clearly incorrect.
Aw, Mom, do I have to?

OK, OK, incorrect in what sense? What are you, Politifact? By what metric would you determine the truth or falsity of that statement?

And by the way when did Obama say it? You put a link there as if to lead us to your source, but it just leads to the Times Obama Navigator page, and a search button whose closest result is your column today.

FBI director James Comey has called the Da'esh forces "savages", White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough has said that their killings show they "stand for nothing" tout court. Secretary of State John Kerry called the killing of Stephen Sotloff "an act of of medieval savagery by a coward hiding behind a mask."  At the United Nations last September, Obama must have been referencing the Da'esh indirectly as the contrast when he told young Muslims, "You come from a great tradition that stands for education, not ignorance; innovation, not destruction; the dignity of life, not murder." But that's as close as it comes.

He has used "barbaric" in association with a "nothing but" account:

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Annals of Derp: Deadlier by the Dozen

Image by Kaioden/DeviantArt.
On the awful shooting of Alison Parker and Adam Ward in Roanoake, the Vixen and a whole series of important posts by Steve. There's nothing for me to say but to repeat that we need better gun control and better mental health care, both.

Oh wait, someone's speaking up for the white murderers who always get called racists after they kill black people, and yet nobody's calling this BLACK GAY killer of white people names, what's up with that, Gunga Dinesh?


A-and speaking of white killers who are always getting called racists...