May 30, 2004

Holiday Fun  

posted by Scott @ 10:43 AM
Want to team up with Hulk Hogan, Christopher Reeve and Howard Dean and take on a duct tape wielding Tom Ridge and the rest of the Bush cabinet (who have incidentally have enlisted the services of Voltron)? Then check out this flash game. It's bizarre and completely over the top, but a good laugh and actually quite creative. The scene in which Voltron sodomizes the Statue of Liberty makes it not necessarily work-friendly.
[via The Filibuster]

May 27, 2004


posted by Scott @ 5:43 PM
The Mighty Reason Man nails all of our favorite right wing bloggers. I almost fell off my chair reading this fake Instapundit post:

THE MEDIA'S WAR ON THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION continues unabated. Recent events have combined with the media's anti-Bush agenda to paint a misleadingly dark picture of Iraq. If you received all your news from CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox News, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, The Army Times, The Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, USA Today, the Sacremento Bee, the San Jose Mercury News, The Orlando Sentinel, The Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News, The Lansing State Journal, the Dallas Morning News, the Boston Globe, the Houston Chronicle, UPI, Reuters, or the Associated Press, you would be under the impression that things are pretty bleak in Iraq.

Fortunately, Michael Ubaldi has several blog posts explaining how good it actually is over there. Just keep scrolling.

posted at 05:23 PM by Glenn Reynolds

The rest is hilarious as well.

via This Modern World

May 26, 2004

More on the Golden Boy 

posted by Scott @ 7:08 PM
The best article about Obama to date is in the latest New Yorker. Money quote:
Paul Simon was the most respected political figure in the state for decades. He was a liberal Democrat who came from a conservative downstate region where his name remains political gold. The universal explanation for Simon’s near-universal popularity is “integrity,” and this spring I heard the word a lot from people discussing Obama. It refers to consistency and incorruptibility, but also to a refusal to resort to smear politics. The cultural and political distance between Chicago’s South Side and southern Illinois is vast—Cairo is closer to Little Rock than it is to Chicago, “and not just geographically,” as Obama likes to say. Voters in such disparate places will never agree on affirmative action, gun control, or many other issues that Obama has taken clear positions on. And yet, in a state with a population that is only fifteen per cent African-American, he needs to campaign hard downstate, far from his base, making his pitch on economic issues and personal appeal.

Well, I think it's fair to say that he has the personal appeal thing down pat. As for striking the right chord on economic issues, that's up to down-staters to realize that Ryan and the rest of the far right don't have their interest in mind.

Blogging About Blogging 

posted by Scott @ 7:00 PM
Two decent articles about blogging: here and here. The Times piece is a bit depressing in parts. As may be noticed, I don't update all the time. After reading about some of these people, rather than feeling guilty about this I think this makes me normal. [hat tip goes to Ben]

A good ending to an otherwise boring day 

posted by Scott @ 2:41 PM
I usually don't admit to many people that I am sort of a fan of Fox's 24. Why? Because generally it's a silly show that is ridiculously stretched out by 24 different 'shocking' plot arcs. I spend a good amount of the time yelling at the screen for the show's inaccuracies and ludicrous attempts to make everything suspenseful. But the writing is usually decent, which makes me think that it would be a perfect show if it was called 12 or 7: the fact that it has to sustain itself for 24 episodes seems like an inherent design flaw. But as network TV shows go, 24 is pretty decent and like the seasons before a few of the portions of the show (mostly the last few episodes) were quite good. I started to get interested again toward the end when people started bleeding out of their orifices, and overall I loved the fact that Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) was pretty unlikable this season (taking a page from the greatness of the Tony Soprano character). The always hilarious Heather Havrilesky sums it all up:
Questions still remain, of course. What will become of President Palmer (Dennis Haysbert), now that he's no longer running for reelection? What will Palmer do, aside from appearing in ads for Allstate? Will he and Jack really become bestest friends like he promised? Will Kim and Chase's love go sour when they're changing diapers instead of sneakily instant messaging each other all day long? And most important, why has Kim spent the entire season in a pantsuit?

May 25, 2004

News Roundup: Stalker Edition 

posted by Ruby @ 11:18 PM
With Friends Like This, Who Needs Democrats?

We're the suckers

Senate race has political feuding, Captain Video

Ryan gives Obama a shadow

Ryan aide to give Obama more space

Ryan pulling back Obama's stalker, but not far enough

Cartoon of the Shadowing 

posted by Ruby @ 10:59 PM
From the Springfield State Register

On Soiled Coat Tails....... 

posted by Scott @ 5:46 PM
Jack Ryan tows the Bush party line on the war in Iraq in his interview with Jeff Berkowitz.

Berkowitz: Well, No. 1, your opponent opposed this war from the get go. Barack Obama has argued that there was no imminent danger, that we should have worked with other countries, that we should have worked multi-laterally, that we should have contained Saddam Hussein. What do you say to that?

Ryan: I think it is a very risky proposition; We found this [out] on 9/11. [it is a] very risky proposition to wait until something is imminent. When would we have stopped the terrorists under that theory who attacked us on 9/11? What we learned from 9/11 is better [to] be proactive, better there than here, better now than later and remember the first rule of government is to make sure that we keep our children and our families safe from harm

Hmm, 9/11 and Iraq? I wasn't aware that there was any, any, evidence connecting the two. That's because there isn't. In fact, General Zinni and other hawks like Brent Scowcroft have not only repeatedly said that Iraq was sufficiently contained, but that the war in Iraq has taken away from the real 'War on Terrorism.' Notice how Ryan here isn't even able to pretend that Iraq has anything to do with stopping Al Qaeda inspired terrorism. He just sticks 9/11 and Iraq the same sentence and hopes that he can scare people into buying his point. Every time you hear a supporter of the war link it to 9/11 in any way, stop them immediately and ask them to spell out what they mean. Otherwise they can keep up this dangerous rhetorical slight of hand.

May 24, 2004

Random Acts of Illogic 

posted by Scott @ 8:50 PM
With a few days to settle, the backlash has begun by some Illinois bloggers declaring the Ryan stalker incident a nonstory. Jeff Trigg at Random Acts of Kindness is leading the effort. The general tenor of his post is that the Obama "people" have gone too far and made a mountain out of molehill with this story. While he may have a point that the news media didn't properly clarify that videotaping opponents is a common campaigning tactic (though the talking heads on Chicago Tonight last week made this explicitly clear), his criticism quickly devolves into blaming the Obama Campaign for fanning the flames with reader comments on its blog. Referring to the editing of the comment section of his blog, RAOK chides Obama for not issuing some sort of formal apology:

There's nothing wrong with Obama taking the comments down, but I'll note he didn't offer an apology to Ryan's hired-gun or Ryan for his supporters crossing the line.

Why would the Obama campaign have to apologize for the comments that readers of its blog leave on their site? For all anyone knows these could be Ryan supporters posing as Obama loyalists or just hooligans posting these comments. Though it is of good taste for blogs to take down unfounded or stupid comments, there's no obligation to do so. It's a comment board meant to be a log of unedited reader responses. Why anyone would take them for fact is bizarre, and it's certainly not the fault of the Obama camp that people fell for these rumors. When I read the comments under that particular blog post, I had a good chuckle. Beyond the handslapping of supporters over a story that made Ryan look bad, the metamorphosis of the story from the Ryan worker waiting outside of the bathroom for Obama to in the end helping him shake off was like an online version of telephone. Why RAOK concludes that Obama is somehow culpable for this is beyond me. RAOK even concedes that one of the more ridiculous exaggerations, that the Ryan worker is a skinhead, came from the Illinois Leader comment board. Should the Obama campaign apologize for that as well? Or should Leader. The point is that comment boards are public forums with no accountability. I say read them as such, get your news from reputable sources.
Now I agree with RAOK that the story was not as big as it may have been projected to be. But the news cycle on the campaign is slow lately and, well, from what has been reported this Ryan worker was acting quite zealous and sketchy. As for Ryan having no role in this guys actions, well it is his campaign, and he's responsible as much as anything under his name should be.
This was a story and it got the attention it did because of the timing and because frankly this video taping comes off as a very creepy practice. Add an even creepier campaign worker and the thing has legs. Whether video taping has precedent with other campaigns or not, Ryan's employment of it crossed some sort of line. It's his fault for hiring a worker who clearly wasn't savvy and subtle enough not to attract attention to himself.

Update: ArchPundit makes an even more convincing case on why this IS a story. Check it out.

Update: RAOK responds to us both.

May 23, 2004

EuroPolis: Hungary a piece of the missile defense puzzle? 

posted by Paul Smith @ 4:06 AM
Several sources are reporting that Hungary has been approached by Americans looking to have the Central European nation host Patriot missile batteries as part of a missile defense shield. The Hungarian government is vehemently denying this, however:
Népszabadság [a left-leaning publication] claimed US defense analysts and senior officials from Hungary's Foreign Ministry and the PMO engaged in high-level talks on deploying certain elements of US-manufactured Patriot PAC-3 missile batteries and/or radar stations in Hungary.

Adding to the speculation, specialist publication Jane's Defense Weekly has reported that several US allies in this region have been approached on the subject, which is reportedly being initiated in a bid to guard against the potential of ballistic missiles being launched by states listed as being among the "Axis of Evil". […]

Hungarian defense analysts, who spoke to Népszabadság "on condition of anonymity", said that Hungary's geographical location made it an ideal candidate for such missiles which could potentially be used to destroy hostile missiles from Iran or North Korea while they are still in the upper layers of the atmosphere. --Budapest Sun
As I noted before, the Bush team is quietly going about its business abroad putting the pieces of the missile defense folly in place, and they can more or less hide in plain sight with Iraq absolutely (and of course justifiably) dominating the American press. Since most domestic U.S. polling excludes questions of missile defense, it's hard to know what Americans think of it, but in my humble opinion I would venture to say that if they knew it was proceeding apace without debate, most people would be rather skeptical of yet another '80s retread.

EuroPolis: Hungarians want soldiers out of Iraq 

posted by Paul Smith @ 3:52 AM
In Budapest for a brief stop (had I planned this trip a bit more efficiently, I'd be spending a much longer time here: a beautiful, beautiful city) … from the English-language Budapest Sun:
What started off as broad political support for the Hungarian deployment in Iraq has seemingly developed into a maelstrom of mixed political and public opinion.

The Hungarian Gallup Institute conducted a poll at the end of April which showed nearly 77% of Hungarians were in favor of calling back the soldiers serving in Iraq. A mere 15% felt that the Hungarian contingent should continue its efforts.

The poll was conducted before reports on the torture of Iraqi prisoners broke in the world media.
The Hungarian political parties are mostly divided on the issue of whether to maintain a troop presence in Iraq, with the ruling Socialist party stating that the abuse at Abu Ghraib should not affect the decision. But with opposition parties using falling support for the mission to their political benefit, it will become increasingly difficult for the Socialists to remain at least nominally committed.
The Hungarian soldiers' mandate expires at the end of the year. Both the parliamentary parties and the government itself were prepared to take part in four-party talks in order to reach a "careful, balanced consensus", the leaders said. There are currently 290 Hungarian transport troops serving in Iraq.

May 22, 2004

EuroPolis: Croatia, final thoughts 

posted by Paul Smith @ 3:10 AM
Croatia has a promising future, and superficially seems prosperous (cf. consumer prices relatively in line with what you'd find in the West, a booming tourist industry). But it has a structural jobs problem, with unemployment hovering around 20%. Mostly this stems from a government that has been stuck between the old economic patterns of its Yugoslav past and the demands for "reform" that are short-hand for privatization and fiscal austerity for the benefit of foreign investment. This has by now become a familiar story, but it does seem even to this liberal observer that the unions and their supporters, who are justifiably using their strength to block measures that would rob them of their power and safety nets, will need to reform themselves in order to survive. The nation cannot truly prosper on tourist dollars alone. With the European Union swallowing up its neighbors all around -- Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic -- Croatia can ill-afford to be stuck with one foot in the old ways if it wants both the growth that the country seems primed to enjoy and a smooth transition to EU membership. Participation in history's largest democratic market of nations seems unambiguously a positive development for a country with the courage to see a free and democratic future and fight off the Serbs to make it happen.

May 21, 2004

The State of Rock 

posted by Scott @ 9:53 PM
Nick Hornby thoughtfully laments the state of today's music without sounding like a whining old timer. Though I consider it one of the best albums in recent years, his assessment of Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot may have a ring of truth to it:

But part of the point of it is that its creators don't want to engage with the mainstream, or no longer think that it's possible to do so, and as a consequence cult status is preordained rather than accidental. In this sense, the squeaks and bleeps scattered all over the lovely songs on the last Wilco album sound less like experimentation, and more like a despairing audio suicide note.

Definitely take the time to read the whole thing. BTW I think the new Wilco, A Ghost Is Born, is really mediocre. Some good tracks but on the whole forgettable. Who told Jeff Tweedy he can solo? And the lyrics have sadly become stilted:

Oh, hold back
Oh, don't invite me
Once in Germany someone said nein

I guess not every album can be a classic. Sigh

What Were They Thinking? Vol. 17 

posted by Scott @ 6:16 PM
Oh boy is this a disaster for the Ryan campaign. This story is absolutely everywhere: TPM, Atrios, Zorn. And why? Because it is such a ridiculous move on Ryan's part. How could assigning an aide to follow around and tape the opponent, where there is press constantly hovering around, be seen as anything but a disaster waiting to happen? Add to that that this particular chap was particularly zealous about it and you've got a bit fat PR raspberry. I can't wait for the Ryan campaign to sing the song of a victim of dirty politics when that divorce file surfaces. Can't wait.

Update: The Illinois Leader takes the high road and blaims the Trib. Now that's classy.

Cole Bodyslams Sullivan 

posted by Scott @ 5:40 PM
Finally, someone puts Andrew Sullivan in his place. Not just for making idiotic assumptions about middle eastern politics and culture to make his case for war but for generally being an ad homonym wielding bully. Go Juan!

Scheiber on Obama 

posted by Scott @ 1:17 PM
TNR's Noam Scheiber offers and in depth and illuminating read on Obama's candidacy. I'll comment on it later in the day. A must read.

Ryan aide shadows Obama at every step 

posted by Paul Smith @ 9:35 AM
I find this embarrassing for the Ryan campaign
Like most elected officials in Springfield, Obama is out in the open as he mixes with the public and wades through crowds on his way to and from legislative hearings, rallies and debates in the House and Senate chambers. Right behind him virtually every moment is Justin Warfel, the 24-year-old Ryan staffer who is documenting virtually every move Obama makes.

"The young man who has been following me down here is literally a foot away," Obama said. "So I can't have a call. If I'm calling my wife on the phone, he's got a tape recorder in my face."

It is common for political candidates to dispatch aides to monitor campaign activities of opponents. Many also make use of researchers who pore over the private lives and public records of rivals, looking for flaws to exploit.

But Warfel's up-close-and-personal shadowing of Obama appears to step it up a notch.

An aide to Obama said Warfel went so far Thursday as to interrupt Obama while he was talking to constituents and "heckle him a little bit."
Ostensibly, the Ryan campaign is saying that they're only monitoring Barack to make sure he has a "consistent" message, but what they're actually doing is just gotcha politics, or rather trying to create a gotcha moment, upset or provoke the Senator, try to catch him in a slip and yell "Aha!" This is just degrading behavior, unworthly of a campaign for the nation's highest deliberative body. The Ryan campaign clearly knows what trouble it's in, desparately hoping for the notoriously cool-and-collected Obama to make a mistake, in effect acknowledging that they can't go head-to-head on the issues and character. And so what if he does slip? What does that prove? How are you going to spin it, Ryan folks? Will you be proud of yourselves then? In a hard, months-long race, anybody is going to display moments of human frailty. Then again, perhaps Barack should get used to this, as a political celebrity there are bound to be the fair share of paparazzi and gawkers.

May 20, 2004

EuroPolis: Croatia is the new black 

posted by Paul Smith @ 2:23 PM
Croatia is unique in that it appears to be the Balkan country with the most "going for it" in purely Western benchmarks. The government is a parliamentary democracy as of 1999. It has been an active participant in the War Crimes Tribunal, helping to extradite Serbs accused of war crimes. It is eager to join the European Union, and has taken preliminary steps towards this end, including signing a stablization pact with the EU. But really what sets it apart is that Westerners just really want to tour an exciting new place, and they don't have to worry about antipersonnel mines and ethnic unrest. It has a thriving tourist industry, accounting for nearly 1/4 of GDP. Zagreb, while not yet a world-class mid-sized metropolis like Geneva or Prague, is very cosmopolitan, has excellent architecture and energetic feel. The interior countryside is lush and rolling and features fine wine-making. ("Croatia is the new Tuscany.") One town I passed through seemed built entirely on about a dozen or so waterfalls, a remarkable sight. Dubrovnik, where I sit now, is a stunning jewel of a coastal resort town, jutting out into the clear blue waters of the Adriatic. There's no reason to believe the Dalmatian coast (yes, there are Dalmatian dogs here) won't become another Riveria or Cinque Terra. Croatians are good-natured and friendly. So what's not to like? Well, it's not exactly a well-kept secret, as evidenced by the throngs of cruise ship evacuees I pushed through on my walk along the city walls. So it may already be "too late" for those seeking an unspoilt, virgin new land. But who cares about all that? That's an impossibility any longer. It's still a beautiful and beguiling country. With all due respect to Walker Percy, I didn't come here to try to transcend the immanence of my Western self (though I have with varying degrees of unconcious and intent made an effort to blend in as a native, with my Slavic good-looks and Euro-trash/hipster dress :) -- I just wanted a vacation.

Jon Stewart's commencement address to William & Mary 

posted by Paul Smith @ 2:23 PM
Him funny!
And the real world is not a restoration. If you see people in the real world making bricks out of straw and water, those people are not colonial re-enactors—they are poor. Help them.

Obama Blog: It's about time 

posted by Paul Smith @ 4:31 AM
Even in Croatia you can't avoid the exciting world of Illinois politics. Glad to see the Obama team has finally brought their campaign into the 21st century with the new blog. It even garnered a nice mention on the ridiculously popular TPM. Congrats to all who made it happen.

May 17, 2004

Stay the course... 

posted by Paul Smith @ 8:44 AM
A great political cartoon that would make a great campaign ad, Mr. Kerry.

May 16, 2004

New Lefty Illinois Blog 

posted by Scott @ 6:10 PM
Check out this new political blog, Progressive Illinois, which is yet another good source of commentary for the ongoing local and national races.

EuroPolis: Negroponte for VP 

posted by Paul Smith @ 1:52 PM
Seen on a t-shirt in a haute couture store window in Zagreb:
Ollie North for President
I'm at a loss to decipher the levels of irony here. Croats speak a lot of English, which would seem to rule out fetishization of the words, like what happens in Japan to American phrases. Who knows, maybe they just like the guy!

Political Turnover in India 

posted by Scott @ 12:44 PM
Though the BJP had tempered itself of its nationalistic tendancies to some degree in recent years (and downplayed it almost completely in its reelection campaign), Congress' win last week is an enormous step in getting India back on a sane and progressive path. One good example, and one that as a student of Indian history especially pleases me, is that the BJP project of rewriting Indian history textbooks to fit their jingoistic nationlistic agenda will certainly be derailed. For assessments of what this election may mean for India's future check out everyone's two favorite India essayists, Arundhati Roy and Salman Rushdie.

May 15, 2004

EuroPolis: Better living through mobile 

posted by Paul Smith @ 10:53 AM
T-Mobile's slogan in the States, "Get More," is rather contentless compared to their English-language slogan here in Vienna:
"For a better world for you"

EuroPolis: Not With Me! 

posted by Paul Smith @ 10:31 AM
The first thing that popped out from the background noise in Vienna were these political posters of a beaming, pleasant-seeming blonde man; they're all up and down the major straßes. The guy's name is Dr. Hans Kronberger, and he's the Freedom Party candidate for Austrian president in the upcoming June 13 election. What's unsettling about the posters are the three rotating messages they feature, including:
Turkei in die EU? Mit mir nicht! (Turkey in the E.U.? Not with me!)
Now, it's not surprising to see this sort of not-so-thinly-veiled xenophobia, especially given this country's far and recent pasts. It's just a bit unsettling to see it so nonchantly plastered all over a major cosmopolitan city. (I'll just briefly mention posters from another candidate that feature what I believe to be a Turkish man cartoonishly rendered with fangs, the obvious implication being that immigrants are vampires on the society, and this is from the Green Party candidate! Does anyone know if I'm missing the point on these?)


posted by Paul Smith @ 10:23 AM
I'm in Eastern Europe for two weeks -- Croatia, Hungary and Poland -- and I'll be posting my impressions of the local politics and curiosities. I'm starting this trip with a brief stay in Vienna, of which I'll have more on in a moment.

May 13, 2004

Obama one of the Dean Dozen 

posted by Paul Smith @ 12:19 PM
Howard Dean's new organization, Democracy for America, has come out with a list of 12 candidates it will endorse in upcoming elections. The list is comprised of candidates the organization feels "represent the spirit of grassroots democracy." More endorsements are forthcoming, including incumbents, which were excluded from this initial list.

Barack Obama made the cut:
The Dean Dozen

Barack Obama for United States Senate from Illinois. In the race to regain control of the U.S. Senate, Democrats have few better chances to pick up a seat than in Illinois. DFA volunteers all over Illinois helped Obama win his primary, now it's time to help him win the general. Stay tuned: I will be on the trail with Barack soon.
That last line from Gov. Dean himself. Interesting. Word has it that Obama campaign manager Jim Cauley has met with former Dean campaign guru Joe Trippi and other foot soldiers from the Dean experiment recently, who are eager to use Barack's campaign to prove that the Dean thing wasn't just about Dean, i.e., the methods -- Internet-based communications, community building, and fundraisings -- can translate to other full-throated, progressive Democratic candidates.

May 11, 2004

Obama leads on all fronts (except GOP, of course) 

posted by Paul Smith @ 11:30 AM
I'm not seeing a whole lot of polling data on this race yet, but according to the Wilson Research Strategies group, Obama maintains a nice lead:
Obama has 16 point lead in Illinois Senate Contest

Obama [leads] Republican Jack Ryan by a healthy margin 44% to 28%, with other candidates combining for less than 5% and 18% still undecided. […]

"Clearly, if Ryan has any hope of making this a competitive race he must do two things, first continue to grow his lead with Republicans and find a way to communicate with Independents," Adams said. "With 33% of those surveyed self describing as independents, the Independent vote will play a crucial part of any winning coalition and right now Obama is doing a better job of winning their trust."
Undecideds are a higher percentage than the margin Obama holds, but they'd all have to break to Ryan. That doesn't seem too likely considering:
Obama has a commanding lead among Independent voters leading 44% to 15% among those self described as being registered Independent. Obama also leads Ryan among men 41% to 31% and women 46% to 24%.
The race will certainly tighten, and Obama's campaign will try to downplay the significance of polls like these, but from where things stand, it's difficult to imagine a scenario where Ryan pulls this one out.

May 03, 2004

New Email Address 

posted by Scott @ 1:43 PM
Contact us at our new gmail account:


Kitchen Fresh Chicken? 

posted by Scott @ 1:35 PM
This article in Slate about KFC's attempt to rename itself is just too funny.

Lest We Forget...... 

posted by Scott @ 12:47 PM
......there's a Senate race afoot. Here are some news items to get you up to speed on the latest developments.

Denny’s calendar

Stand on labor sets Ryan apart

Ex-school board chief Chico starts law firm Hey Gery, how about taking down that billboard on 90/94. It's just sad now.

Obama has center in his sights

Serious Senate Races

Jack Ryan Says He'll Avoid Negative Campaign

Vice President Durbin?

Ryan Criticizes Obama on Supporting Tax Increases

Ryan spent less than Dem Obama in winning GOP nod

Campaign dirt alone not enough to bury a candidate

Ryan, Obama side by side in race for election funds

Jack Ryan is Anything But Behind

Our Trusty Leader  

posted by Scott @ 12:19 PM
For a truly specious series of arguments check out John F. Biver's defense of the war in Iraq and by extention his backing of Jack Ryan in the Illinois Reader. It's a perfect case study in how to construct an argument using false premises. Here's just a few:

~there was proof that Iraq was an imminent and immediate threat to U.S. security,
~Iraq is somehow connected to the Islamic radicalism targeted by the U.S.'s "War on Terrorism,"
~Obama is critical of the war only because Bush lied about WMDs and not because the war dilutes resources needed to tackle real terrorist threats to the U.S.,

And there's plenty more. True conservatives should be ashamed by such poor reasoning. Moreover, from the events of this month it really does appear to be true that only "international institutions and alliances legitimize the use of American military power." Even if you think that the war was justified as Biver does, a smart hawk would know that stabilizing a country via occupation has just as much to do with appearing legitimate as having sufficient military power. It only takes an isolated incident (but maybe not) like that in Abu Ghraib prison to turn the whole population against you. And of course Biver touts the coalition of 30 countries as evidence that we didn't go in alone. Please Mr. Biver, look me straight in the eyes and repeat that with a straight face.
I took a formal logic class back in college and one of our assignments was to find fallacious arguments in print media. This one would have gotten me an A+.

This Seems Stupid to Me 

posted by Scott @ 11:50 AM
The Daily Herald muses that a playoff bound Cubs could be a critical factor in the November election:

"Cub factor: The fall campaign season typically starts after Labor Day, but there's one factor the U.S. Senate candidates have to consider this time around: the Chicago Cubs.

If the Cubs live up to their promise, they could make a run deep into the playoffs. Should they make it to the World Series, the Chicago media, and plenty of other people, would give a lot of attention to that.

That would be a good thing for whichever candidate held a lead in the race at that point. On the other hand, Republican Senate hopeful Jack Ryan and Democratic opponent Barack Obama would have a guaranteed huge audience to run TV ads at during each playoff game."

I love baseball myself and I realize what a huge event it would be in Chicago should the Cubs make it to the World Series (I'm originally from Boston so I know about championship droughts), but I can't seriously imagine it having much effect on the election. Sure baseball may compete for the top story on the local news and papers, but a.> I think voters are smart enough to separate their enthusiasm for the Cubs with that of the election and b.> that our news outlets have enough credibility that they wouldn't forget about one of the most important elections in years just because of a baseball series. I love BSing about campaign strategy as much as anyone, but I think that the importance of this factor should be sent back to left field where it came from. [Hey now!, (rimshot!) thanks I'll be here all week.]

May 02, 2004

Michael Ignatieff in the Times magazine 

posted by Paul Smith @ 9:25 PM
One of the few bright spots of public discourse in the run-up to war last year was an appearance on Charlie Rose by Michael Ignatieff and Jonathan Schell, a thoughtful debate on the merits of the conflict (Ignatieff pro, Schell con) argued respectfully and without a trace of rancor. As a strong partisan with my heels dug in against the war, Ignatieff wasn't going to change my mind, but I came away for the first time acknowledging there was an intelligent framework to be made in its favor (instead of just a hodge-podge of seemingly unrelated rationales that felt like cover for ulterior motives), or at least that there was a proponent whom I could respect.

Ignatieff displays his intellectual honesty and clarity again in a piece in today's Times Sunday Magazine, entitled Lesser Evils: What it will cost us to succeed in the war on terror. I don't necessarily agree with all of his premises or conclusions -- his proposed solution to the question of the necessity of torture strikes me as a somewhat cynical condescension to the rule of law -- but he proves himself a worthy thinker by provoking and reasoning through a number of difficult and disturbing issues.

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