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...

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

It's on his hat

Image via annieli.
Trump supporter at a Frank Luntz focus group explaining her preference to the horrified old ratfucker:
“We know his goal is to make America great again,” one woman said. “It’s on his hat, and we see it every time it’s on TV."
Cue up the music! To the tune of

Cheap shot: Rebranding

Update 8/30:Welcome Crooks, Liars, and the People Who Love Them—thanks, Batocchio!
For those who can't get enough Trumpery, check out the Official Rectification of Names (shoop, shoop, shoop, shoop) Trump Song!

Drawing by Nick Anderson.
Charles C.W. (Crispy Wings) Cooke:
Know what else ”happened here”? By first explaining why he had Ramos removed, and then by bringing him back and debating with him for a while, Trump regained the moral high ground. As the Daily Mail reports, Trump did not banish Ramos. Rather, he let him return, and then he “proceeded to take questions . . . about immigration policy, the term ‘anchor babies’ and security at the Mexican border.” 
That's a good emperor: no banishment, just a temporary exile until the offender learns his lesson. Cookie really hates Trump ("resembling a man who hoped to discover whether methamphetamine or LSD served as the best accompaniment to a mostly whisky diet"), but he'll always defend his prerogative of ordering journalists around, at least if the journalist belongs to the Spanish-speaking persuasion.

And works for an organization that had the nerve to dissociate itself from a business deal with the vile billionaire after the v.b. mortally insulted its entire audience—

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Thin, relativistic, and ephemeral

18-foot fork in the road by Ken Marshall, Pasadena, Los Angeles Times, November 2009. Photo by Wakitu via Flickr. 
David Brooks writes, "The Big Decisions", New York Times, August 25, 2015:
Suppose you had a chance to become a vampire. Or suppose you had a chance to run for Senate. But I repeat myself.
No, seriously, the vampire question is one of those whimsical little devices used by professional philosophers to get a fix on how we should live our lives. And let's say it isn't a standard-issue evil Dracula type of vampire, for the sake of argument, but a stylish and benign vampire, what the philosopher L.A. Paul referred to before an editor got hold of the draft as a "vegetarian vampire", who only drinks free-range, organic, humanely slaughtered animal blood, bear with me here, and it turns out lots of your friends and relatives have done it already and are really happy with their decision, which gives them immortality, immense power, heightened sensory experience, companionship, and meaning. But once you do it there's no going back. I added the companionship and meaning part myself.

Monday, August 24, 2015

West of Eden: Trolling from the Times

Image via All Hat No Cattle.
The good news is that the more educated Iran trolls, such as the New York Times's David Sanger and Michael Gordon (remember him?), have finally pretty much acknowledged that the JCPOA deal will prevent Iran from building a nuclear device over the next 15 years; they don't quite come out and say it, but they've pretty much stopped suggesting it won't. The bad news is that they're doubling down on the "problem" of what might happen in 2031:
the flip side is that after 15 years, Iran would be allowed to produce reactor-grade fuel on an industrial scale using far more advanced centrifuges. That may mean that the warning time if Iran decided to race for a bomb would shrink to weeks, according to a recent Brookings Institution analysis by Robert J. Einhorn, a former member of the American negotiating team.

Critics say that by that time, Iran’s economy would be stronger, as would its ability to withstand economic sanctions, and its nuclear installations probably would be better protected by air defense systems, which Iran is expected to buy from Russia.
Critics are wrong:

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Cheap shots: It's gone, boom!

Image via Arizona Star.
The former neurosurgeon ate at the Silver Saddle Steakhouse on the south side's East Benson Highway, a day after speaking to thousands of people at the Phoenix Convention Center.
He drew national attention as well, after commenting later in the day that he supports the use of military drone strikes to help secure the border....
In January, comedian/actor/director/screenwriter Adam Sandler stopped in to the Silver Saddle to have dinner with his sister.
That Silver Saddle wouldn't by any chance be an advertiser or anything, would it, Star?

Anyhow, what does Dr. Ben Carson mean by "drones" in his stump speech, as at his Phoenix rally last Tuesday?
“What I have said consistently is that we need [to] seal our borders,” he said. “We can use a whole series of things to do that, not just fences and walls, but electronic surveillance and drones.”
I mean, given that US Customs and Border Patrol has been using surveillance drones since 2005, to virtually no effect, although they have managed to crash 23 unmanned planes, one 100 yards from somebody's house in Nogales? What use other than surveillance did he have in mind? He wasn't planning to kill anybody, was he? He wasn't planning to use armed military drones, in clear violation of the Posse Comitatus law (funny trick for a small-government Constitutional conservative, I must say), was he?

She writes beyond parody

Maureeen Dowd, in her fourth column devoted to Donald Trump since August 8 (i.e., every column she's written since August 8 plus one spillover piece last week when she had too much material to fit in):
He lives beyond parody....
There is nothing that excites Trump the candidate more than crowing that he has a great big crowd and Jeb has a teeny weeny crowd. He sounded orgasmic as he described to the New Hampshire town hall that his Alabama event this weekend had to be moved from a room that held 1,000 to a room that held 2,000 to a convention center to a stadium.
So overwhelmed with the thought of the

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Cheap shot: Kathryn Jean

John Seven: The Saints Of Exhalation Aspire To Preserve The Breath Of Happy Children for The (Privatized) Good Of All!
Don't hold your breath, at least if you're a saint.
For the rest of you kids, never mind.

West of Eden: Note

Kosher pizzeria in the Jewish compound of Isfahan. Photo by Larry Cohler-Esses.
Not feeling snarky or clever for the last day or two, sorry. Very pleased, though, about my congresscritter.
If you want to communicate with your representative on the subject of Iran, in a large-scale physical way, is organizing a series of encounters  on Wednesday. Check it out here.

Meanwhile, if you haven't been reading the extraordinary reporting by Larry Cohler-Esses in the Forward, "A Jewish Journalist's Exclusive Look Inside Iran", you should be. Even more the latest installment, on the lives of the 9000 Jews still living in the Islamic Republic:

Jews’ place in Iranian society is perhaps vouchsafed most by the Jewish community’s own willingness to fight for its right to that place. Its leaders do so while avoiding any challenge to the fundamental legitimacy of Iran’s regime. But it is not a quiet or quiescent Jewish leadership.

Also in the Forward, in the editorial pages, a remarkable piece on "How Anti-Obama Zealots Have Gone Off the Rails on Iran Deal" including a little snark at the expense of war criminal Elliott Abrams:
Abrams was perturbed at Obama’s claim at [American University] that “many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal.” Obama warned that if there’s no deal, they’ll soon be calling for war against Iran. Abrams was incensed. He had every right to be. He was one of the most prominent people arguing for war in 2003 and opposing the Iran deal now. Who better than he to deny the charges?
And Juan Cole for the horrifying story of the three times Netanyahu and his then defense minister Ehud Barak almost went to war against Iran in 2010-12, fortunately blocked by the cabinet. (When people wonder how not signing the Iran nuclear deal could lead to war, you could point out how many times it almost did already.)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Pyke's Pique

Updated 8/21/2015

Elefanisi Beach, Crete.
Bizarrely misconceived headline at ThinkProgress:

Greece’s Radical Leftist Prime Minister Resigns In Defeat

Government officials told reporters Thursday that Tsipras will turn in his official resignation papers this afternoon and call for a new parliamentary election on September 20th. Tsipras hung on for weeks longer than eccentric Finance Minister Yannis Varoufakis, who motorcycled off into the sunset immediately after a July referendum that appeared to put Greece on the verge of exiting the European Union.
In the weeks since that vote, cooler heads prevailed and struck a deal to keep Greece in the currency group... The deal is a catastrophic defeat for Tsipras’ administration, and observers believed it was likely he would lose his job one way or another from the time that he reluctantly called for lawmakers to approve the bailout.
I don't think the writer, Alan Pyke, has a very clear idea of how parliamentary systems work. And it's a howl of Eeyore Caucus despair: on the assumption that Tsipras making a deal must have betrayed the international left by refusing to exercise his Green Lantern powers (he's just as bad as Obama!) because didn't he promise us the Revolution? (No.)

Biden her time

#NotAllJenniferRubins. Jennifer Rubin, the talented and good-hearted one, as Edie Sedgwick in Oliver Stone's 1991 The Doors
Jennifer Rubin pushing a Biden candidacy May 20, June 8July 1, July 22, and most recently yesterday, with some outstanding campaign advice, competing for general tastelessness with Maureen Dowd:
We now know Beau wanted his father to run for office. It may be too emotionally grueling and even off-putting for Biden to invoke his deceased son, but Jill Biden, a tremendous political asset in her own right, can do it. 
Obviously it would be grotesquely tacky for you to exploit this family tragedy in the service of your political ambitions, but hey, you can let your wife do it for you!

What is it with this strange Rubinian passion for a candidate whose every policy she would despise (Biden is one of the strongest voices in the Obama administration against Israel's illegal West Bank settlements and in favor of Palestinian rights, which is why Binyamin Netanyahu made his famous attempt to humiliate him in 2010), and who probably can't win in any case?

I was inclined to chalk it up to Clinton hatred based on a self-hating misogyny like Dowd's, but maybe it's Republican strategic thinking—that Biden is the only person who could win the nomination and then lose the election (because of the false, but widely comedian-spread, belief among the public that he's a buffoon).

The effect on me is to make me feel more positive about Clinton, really—especially now that she's been doing some of that moving left from Obama, with the plan to make college debt-free (less ideal than Sanders's, obviously, but legislatively more achievable) and her new opposition to Alaska oil drilling. Anybody who is so hated as she is by these journalistic harpies do has to be good..

But as an obsession on Rubin's part, it's spectacularly weird.

Cross-posted at No More Mister Nice Blog.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Updated 8/22/2015

These people know what they're doing. Image via Nima Shirazi.
Just a quicky backgrounder on the Iran scandale du jour—
—based on information posted last Sunday at the Arms Control Law blog from Dr. Yousaf Butt, nuclear physicist and senior scientific advisor to the British American Security Information Council (BASIC) in London:

1. The alleged research IAEA wants to check out at the Parchin site, involving the testing of conventional, not nuclear, explosives, was done if it was done at all before 2005; so the fear that the Iranians are suddenly hustling to clean it up is not quite realistic, and if it's about nuclear research that would be nuclear research that they gave up 12 or 13 years ago, not any active program.

Well, I just happen to have the Fourteenth Amendment right here with me, and...

Italian immigrants at Ellis Island, 1905. Photo by  Lewis Hine via Locust St.
Sam Stein and Amanda Terkel at HuffPost, on support among the GOP clown car for Steve King's bill to end birthright citizenship in the US:
When Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul first ran for the Senate in 2010, he said he didn't "think the 14th Amendment was meant to apply to illegal aliens."
Matter of fact, he was right about that, though possibly not for the right reasons: it wasn't meant to apply to "illegal aliens" because they didn't exist when the 14th Amendment was adopted in 1868. There was no law restricting the presence of noncitizens on US soil until Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 (starting off with an explicitly racist bang). It clearly applied to legal aliens, but that was the only kind of aliens we had.

When the question did come up, it was with reference to the Chinese Exclusion Acts, in United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1898), a US citizen born around 1871 to Chinese immigrant parents in San Francisco who had traveled outside the country and was being denied re-entry. The Supreme Court ruled
that the citizenship language in the Fourteenth Amendment encompassed essentially everyone born in the U.S.—even the U.S.-born children of foreigners—and could not be limited in its effect by an act of Congress.
That is, an act such as the Chinese Exclusion Act. Or Representative King's unconstitutional bill. It applied to the children of undocumented migrants as soon as anybody thought to ask the question, and it still does. (Paul, along with Graham, now calls for a new constitutional amendment to "fix" the "problem" according to Stein and Terkel, which is at least not legally illiterate; Trump, Walker, and Jindal double down on idiocy, and Santorum seems to think birthright citizenship is already illegal but nobody noticed.)

Cross-posted at No More Mister Nice Blog. Update: NTodd has the particulars of the Senate debate over the 14th Amendment, May 1866, when proponents made clear that the birthright citizenship provision was indeed meant to apply to children of (specifically Chinese) immigrants. 

Annals of Derp: The Fatuous Party

Gary Cooper and Mary Brian in Victor Fleming's The Virginian (1929).
So, what with David Brooks being on vacation, the Times is having trouble making its August silliness quota, and normally dignified persons like economics writer David Leonhardt have to pitch in—here's Leonhardt giving some publicity to W. Bradford Wilcox, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and the director of the Home Economics Project of AEI and the Institute for Family Studies, trying to scare up some evidence against the well-known finding of Naomi Cahn and June Carbone, in their 2010 study Red Families V. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture, that (in Leonhardt's words)
Liberal attitudes toward gender equality, sexual orientation and education all seem to foster stronger, more stable family lives.
How can that be? cry the conservatives, in some panic. Don't we have all the family values? And they rush out foraging for data.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Got paranoia? Update

Toilet in Tobermory, Ontario, via Dima's Corner.
I haven't wanted to dive into this toilet for quite a long time, because it's really not my subject, but I happened to notice a silly falsehood from Mark Rumold for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, at Professor Cole's place:
Reports today in the New York Times and ProPublica confirm what EFF’s Jewel v. NSA lawsuit has claimed since 2008—that the NSA and AT&T have collaborated to build a domestic surveillance infrastructure, resulting in unconstitutional seizure and search of of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of Americans’ Internet communications.
Well, no, they don't confirm that at all. Yes, the tight relationship between NSA and AT&T seems to be demonstrated, but as the Times introduction to the documents makes clear,

Monday Cheap Shots

Via Democratic Underground.
And the Wolf Blitzer award for making the blindingly obvious sound even less interesting than it is goes to...
Wait, what was the first way? That he has funnier hair?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

White House Fool Report: Flashback to 2013

Ubungo Plaza Symbion Power Plant in Tanzania in July. The ball is a sOccket, which collects the kinetic energy expended in playing with it, and can then be used to charge an LED. Image via PopSugar.
Yesterday Nancy LeTourneau at Washington Monthly was summarizing Obama's diplomatic technique as it emerges from recent interviews he's given to Max Fisher, David Remnick, and Thomas "Mystax Mirabilis" Friedman:
Getting your paragraph right by staying true to your North Star, combined with the self-confidence to take calculated risks, creates openings that can lead to transformative change.
Decades from now we’ll be bearing the fruit of openings this President has made possible with that kind of wisdom.
Today she takes up the same theme with particular reference to the ongoing progress reported in last week's Times that may be leading to a resolution of the Syrian conflicts through rapprochements with Russia and Iran and the development of a pressure on Bashar al-Assad that Assad won't be able to resist (it won't push him, at least not immediately, out of government).

It strikes me that I had some ideas along these lines in something I wrote a couple of years ago about his governing style in general (applied to the then big issues of the Syria "Red Line" maneuvers and the nomination of a new Fed chair), suggesting it ought to be analogized to soccer rather than NFL football:
In soccer, nobody is an exclusively offensive player, or exclusively defensive either (even the goalkeeper puts the ball into play). Opportunities to score are extremely rare, and the players spend most of their time trying vainly to create them while preventing the opposition from doing the same. Opportunities for a set-piece score are rarer still; while the set-piece plays are lovely to watch and fascinating in the way they alter the situation, they generally fail, and most goals are driven through a hole in the configuration that just appears, seen by no one but the striker, and will disappear again almost instantly if it isn't caught: like the chance to shoot a coffee cup off the roof of someone's car from a train window. In football, if the commentator says, "Now for the field goal attempt," odds are about one to one that there will be a field goal attempt after the commercial break. In soccer, any such prediction would be as foolish as Dylan Byers.

It would be wrong to say that President Obama is playing 11-dimensional soccer; it would be more accurate to say he is playing an undetermined number of simultaneous soccer games taking place on a single field. Or three or four fields at most. He needs to set up the situations without knowing exactly what he is going to do with them when the time is ripe.
It was a pretty good piece! And clever in the discussion of Syria policy back then to foresee how it might reverberate into the kind of huge development in Iran that we have just been seeing, and which we now see may echo back to Syria.


Julian Bond (1940-2015) organizing sometime in the early 1960s, via Georgia Encylopedia.
R.I.P. Julian Bond. NPR had a beautiful interview on the civil rights titan with his dear friend and sometime political opponent Congressman John Lewis.


Also important on NPR this morning, two pieces on the European refugee crisis, one heartbreaking interview with a Médecins Sans Frontières emergency rescue coordinator, one breakdown of the numbers and what they mean. The latter was drier, but more shocking as you consider what they represent, the extraordinary callousness of the international community: in Calais, there are 3000 refugees mostly from Syria trying to make their way into the UK, to howls of aggrieved protest from Prime Minister Cameron and the nativist British right, but the rest of Europe is holding 250,000 refugees—Britain really can't help out with approximately 1% of the total? And then Europe moans over its 250,000, but comparatively impoverished Turkey is taking care of two million all by itself, or four times the total for the world's richest continent.

Then again, in Syria itself there are now, according to the latest USAID report, 7.6 million internally displaced persons, almost a third of the population (of course the population would be larger if not for the four million refugees outside the country). The US is the largest single donor of cash assistance, having spent $4,110,566,565 since the conflict began in March 2011, but had actually taken in fewer than 1000 refugees by last May (compared to 6000 in Brazil), because why? Because we're too scared, as explained by

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Fake's Progress

Conservative mental health care. From William Hogarth's A Rake's Progress (1732-33), via Wikipedia.
Editorial at the National Review:
Fervent gun-controllers and cynical political observers sometimes deride efforts to reform America’s mental-health system as a distracting, even unhelpful, answer to the problem of mass shootings. This is unfair, as no small number of young men who commit unspeakable acts of violence do indeed have diagnosable serious mental illnesses. But it is also ignorant, because fixing our mental-health system is also a response to everyday mass suffering — to the burden that serious mental illness presents for the 7 million or so Americans, many of them on the streets or in prison, who have serious illnesses, and the families and communities that want to help them.
Who's cynical, excuse me?

Thursday, August 13, 2015


Collegium Hungaricum, Dorotheenstrasse, Mitte.
Last time I was in Europe at all was more than 25 years ago, as the amazing events that changed the structure of the continent were just getting under way in Poland and Hungary in particular, and not paying a lot of attention to them yet—on a last junket for the magazine I'd just quit working for; I went to a fashion show in Milan, a perfume launch in Antibes, a jewelry thing in Paris, and a watch thing in Geneva, and in between showed the young helpmeet around selected bits of a couple of other places to the best of my ability, which was not in fact very great, because my superior skill in languages and my cultural preparation were not matched by my knowledge of what to do with luggage or taxi drivers, or ability to dress in a way appropriate to the wine I might know how to order, or an appropriate amount of money for that matter, because although a junket it was not that generous a junket, but we had a great time.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Lift that barge, clutch them pearls

Update: Welcome Mike's Blog Round Up readers!
Erich Erichssohn, in it up to his neck. Via Welcome to Pottersville.
I'm about to do something I hope I'm never compelled to do again: agree about something with famed Iraq combat attorney (well, maybe that's not what it's called, but he gives the impression it's a thing) and National Review hack David French, who writes:
Approximately 98 percent of the professional politicians, pundits, and consultants embroiled in the conversation over Trump’s comments about Kelly, in which he may or may not have said that her tough questions at Thursday’s GOP debate were due to menstruation, are most assuredly not “offended” or “outraged” by his words. Quite the opposite: In the political world, there is something like an electric shock of glee that passes through the community when someone says something “outrageous.” Controversy is energizing. Consultants, candidates, and pundits immediately begin working the angles...

Sunday, August 9, 2015


Berlin Kreuzberg, 8/8/2015.
I should have said something—I'm on a short and spectacularly different holiday, wholly frivolous and with no work or family business, just me and the helpmeet, and blogging will be relatively light or lite as the case may be. I wanted to put this picture up yesterday but the phone it was shot with has been very mysterious and uncommunicative, and it's taken me some time to work out how to make it behave.

Missed the self-described "debate" when everything was up in the air, or at least I was! Though we looked at a Guardian highlight reel and I read a little bit here and there. We did watch Jon Stewart's farewell in the Comedy Central segment-by-segment version on one of the laptops and were suitably sentimental. Like Marco Rubio, I plan to not comment on everything Donald Trump says, although not for the same reason (he is clearly terrified of appearing to have disagreed with the Count of Combover).

Victimless espionage

Spy vs. Spy, Gangnam style. Image (with animation!) by Makatako at Deviant Art.
Yeah, that's the problem:
But the investigation takes place in an administration that has taken an especially hard line on the handling of classified information.

Scott Gration, ambassador to Kenya, resigned after a 2012 inspector general’s report accused him of flouting government rules, including the requirement that he use State Department email. “He has willfully disregarded Department regulations on the use of commercial email for official government business,” the report said.

Friday, August 7, 2015


Louis Wohlheim in Sam Taylor's Tempest (1928). Via MoviesSilently.
Here's world-famous military historian David Brooks with his analysis of the agreement between Iran and the P5 + 1 powers, as a defeat for the allies on a par with the worst US defeats of the past half century:
The purpose of war, military or economic, is to get your enemy to do something it would rather not do. Over the past several years the United States and other Western powers have engaged in an economic, clandestine and political war against Iran to force it to give up its nuclear program....
There have now been three big U.S. strategic defeats over the past several decades: Vietnam, Iraq and now Iran.
Well, now, for starters, I think we can recognize that definition, as coming from Major-General von Clausewitz: war is "an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfill our will", and I think we need to note very clearly that this applies to the aggressor, not to those who oppose an aggressor. And I can assure Mr. Brooks that if the governments of Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China had understood that they were supposed to be carrying on a Clausewitzian war against Iran they would have objected very strongly and let it be known, because it's, um, illegal, according to chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

West of Eden: Eight Heritage fails—OK, seven and a half

The Heritage Foundation, Washington, D.C. (Nah, it's a set design for The Fall of the House of Usher. by Mluisa Paci at Béhance).

Oh dear Flying Spaghetti Monster, here's a clickbait listicle from the Heritage Foundation,

8 Things Obama Got Wrong on the Iran Deal

bylined Michaela Dodge, "specializes in missile defense, nuclear weapons modernization and arms control as policy analyst for defense and strategic policy in The Heritage Foundation’s Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies". I'll bet she does, and what you got, Michaela?

  1. The president stated that, “Between now and the congressional vote in September, you are going to hear a lot of arguments against this deal, backed by tens of millions of dollars in advertising.”
This assertion is flat out wrong.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

White House Fool Report: In your heart you know he's left

FarmAid 2005 via Kate McKinnon.
Happy Afterbirthday, Mr. President! And happy to hear you saying the right things:
He said hard-liners in Iran who chant “death to America” are “making common cause with the Republican caucus.”
“If the rhetoric in these ads and the accompanying commentary sounds familiar, it should,” Mr. Obama said. “Many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal.”
As well as pleased to welcome Senators Tim Kaine, Barbara Boxer, and Ben Nelson to the Doing the Right Thing caucus on the Iran nuclear accord. Senator Schumer? Chuck? Are you there, Chuck?

There are more Marxist Obots out there, I'm glad to say, starting with one really wonderful one, the Middle East expert Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss. He made such a lovely statement:
Of course it depends how you define left, but on several issues I care deeply about, from opening Cuba to healthcare to racial justice to, most important, the Iran deal, Obama is pushing the country left, trying to solidify gains that will make his presidency historic. Palestine was also clearly on that list, given his description of the humiliations of the occupation in Cairo in ’09, but he was stopped cold by the Israel lobby and did not have the political smarts to know how to take it on, or the political base to be able to maneuver.
Now he seems much freer. His speech to the White House Correspondents dinner where he had an “anger translator” who expressed racial resentment, his “bucket” (Fuck it) list where he said he didn’t give a shit about any political consideration, his inspiring performance in Charleston, his mastery at the press conference two weeks ago in answering criticisms of his Iran deal and the signs that he is solidifying support in the Congress, and his visit to the El Reno prison at which he stated There but for the grace of God go I and many of you too, motioning at the reporters—these are great political moments for me, they show someone who wants to use what power he has to do good in what time he has left. The era of passivity and fecklessness is coming to an end.
Read the whole thing, with Michael Smith's cranky Nobot response.

Told you so

Sagano bamboo forest, Maui. Image via Nimbus Eco.
Well, maybe not exactly. I didn't tell you the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations were going to blow up in Maui and the chances of an agreement this year more or less ended, and how it's going to happen in presidential year 2016 I certainly don't know.

But I did tell you repeatedly that this wasn't what it's been presented by some self-denominated leftists as being, a vast corporate conspiracy to impose its will on the humans of the Pacific Rim, but a struggle among twelve governments, each seeking a different agenda, and there was no telling how it was going to turn out; and that interpreting the WikiLeaked documents without studying the brackets, as some kind of precise preview of what the final draft might contain, was an elementary error: they were documents of disagreement.

And it was inevitably not the eager demonstrators or Senator Warren that stopped it, or at any rate postponed it for a good long time, but that obscure and unradical institution the Australian Senate; or at least, as John Quiggin of Crooked Timber is explaining for anyone who wants to know, the Australian Senate is probably the biggest single obstacle: