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Archive for April, 2006

Yankton Beware.

Hoopleheads rejoice: As seen just before the Sopranos this evening (although tonight’s teaser was slightly different), Deadwood‘s return to our humble province is just around the cornerUpdate: Ok, here’s the one from last night.

Powell: Told You So.

“‘The president’s military advisers felt that the size of the force was adequate; they may still feel that years later. Some of us don’t. I don’t,’ Powell said. ‘In my perspective, I would have preferred more troops, but you know, this conflict is not over.‘” In a slap at Rumsfeld, Cheney, and his other one-time nemeses in the Dubya White House, former Secretary of State Colin Powell airs some of his grievances with the build-up to war in Iraq. “‘At the time, the president was listening to those who were supposed to be providing him with military advice,’ Powell said. ‘They were anticipating a different kind of immediate aftermath of the fall of Baghdad; it turned out to be not exactly as they had anticipated.’

Transatlantic Supermen.

Some actors with big shoes to fill make their online premieres today: Brandon Routh shows off his Kryptonian flying skills in this Superman Returns-tie-in Coke commercial, and new 007 Daniel Craig dons the tux for this French teaser for Casino Royale.

Settin’ my dial on the radio.

“Don’t call it a comeback, he been here for years, rocking his peers, putting ’em in fear, making tears rain down like a monsoon, explosions overpowerin’, over the competition LL Cool J is towering. LL Cool J — stands for Ladies Love Cool J.” On the eve of the premiere of his new XM “Theme Time Radio Hour” (which premieres Wednesday,) Bob Dylan shares some of his early show playlists (organized around themes such as the weather, mothers, drinking, and cars) and his on-air comments about some favorite selections.

Godspeed, Galbraith.


In all life one should comfort the afflicted, but verily, also, one should afflict the comfortable, and especially when they are comfortably, contentedly, even happily wrong.R.I.P. John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006), a giant of 20th century economics and politics, and the wry conscience of an affluent society.

Coming In from the Cold (War).

“[F]or all their practical failures, conservatives have at least told a coherent political story, with deep historical roots, about what keeps America safe and what makes it great. Liberals, by contrast, have offered adjectives drawn from focus groups and policy proposals linked by no larger theme.” In keeping with the intellectual territory he staked out after the 2004 election, former TNR editor Peter Beinart makes the case for a return to Cold War liberalism in a NYT excerpt of his new book, The Good Fight (also discussed in the recent Atlantic Monthly.)

I couldn’t agree more with Beinart’s paragraph above, but I don’t think the lack of a sufficiently robust national security emphasis is really the defining element missing among today’s Dems. Are there really Democrats out there who don’t agree with Beinart’s three main assessments here, that (a) America faces a real enemy in Al Qaeda and other fundamentalist terror networks, (b) our foreign policy should be less hubristic and more attuned to both local contingency and international institutions, and (c) our national sense of self should emphasize our own fallibility at times? Beinart would probably target the MoveOn crowd, but as Eric Alterman noted in the last round of this back-and-forth, that’s just a DLC straw man, roughly akin to Joe Klein’s cadre of phantom lefty consultants in the last update.

Plus, I think there are two significant historical problems with the Cold War liberalism Beinart unreservedly espouses, which he fails to discuss here. For one, Cold War liberals could very easily be seen as best inattentive to and — at worst complicit in — the excesses of McCarthyism. If the enemy abroad becomes the central defining focus of your national narrative, then the enemy within is undoubtedly going to start eating at you as well. For another, (and as John Gaddis, among others, has pointed out) — for all its early sense of diplomatic complexity and limited, realistic goals — the Cold War liberalism Beinart promotes all too readily (d)evolved into the guiding rationale for wildly wrongheaded foreign policy interventions, most notably in Vietnam. (You’d think Beinart would pay more lip service to this issue, particularly as he himself made much the same mistake in shilling for the Iraq war in The New Republic.)

In short, I agree with Beinart’s assessment that the Dems lack a sense of usable past, but the problems with his argument can be encapsulated by his ideal of a what a good, hawkish, Cold War liberal Democrat should look like these days: That, if Beinart’s tenure at TNR is any indication, would be Joe Lieberman, a politician who’s not only been flagrantly cheerleading for the administration during the current war, but has exhibited little interest in today’s wartime civil liberties issues. Simply put, Joe Lieberman would hardly be my choice of template for the Democratic party. (Who would? That’s easy: Russ Feingold, who’s displayed a strong commitment to preserving both national security and civil liberties at home, while arguing for a more level-headed, less-in-your-face American foreign policy.)

Speaking Truthiness to Power.

I believe that the government that governs best is a government that governs least, and by these standards we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq.” In a must-watch (or at least must-read) event, the inimitable Stephen Colbert took it to Dubya hard at last night’s White House Correspondent’s dinner, and Bush, according to press reports, was not amused. Great stuff throughout:

* “I believe in pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. I believe it is possible — I saw this guy do it once in Cirque du Soleil. It was magical. And though I am a committed Christian, I believe that everyone has the right to their own religion, be it Hindu, Jewish or Muslim. I believe our infinite paths to accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior.

* “Now, I know there’s some polls out there saying this man has a 32% approval rating. But guys like us, we don’t pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in ‘reality.’ And reality has a well-known liberal bias…Sir pay no attention to the people who say the glass is half empty, because 32% means it’s 2/3 empty. There’s still some liquid in that glass is my point, but I wouldn’t drink it. The last third is usually backwash.

* “I stand by this man. I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world.

* “I’m sorry, but this reading initiative. I’ve never been a fan of books. I don’t trust them. They’re all fact, no heart. I mean, they’re elitist telling us what is or isn’t true, what did or didn’t happen. What’s Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was built in 1914. If I want to say it was built in 1941, that’s my right as an American. I’m with the president, let history decide what did or did not happen. The greatest thing about this man is he’s steady. You know where he stands. He believes the same thing Wednesday, that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday.

* “But the rest of you, what are you thinking, reporting on N.S.A. wiretapping or secret prisons in Eastern Europe? Those things are secret for a very important reason, they’re superdepressing. And if that’s your goal, well, misery accomplished. Over the last five years you people were so good over tax cuts, W.M.D. intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn’t want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out. Those were good times, as far as we knew.

* “But, listen, let’s review the rules. Here’s how it works. The President makes decisions, he’s the decider. The Press Secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Put them through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know, fiction.

* “I mean, nothing satisfies you. Everybody asks for personnel changes. So the White House has personnel changes. Then you write they’re just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. First of all, that is a terrible metaphor. This administration is not sinking. This administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg.

* “See who we’ve got here tonight. General Mowsly, Air Force Chief of Staff. General Peter Pace. They still support Rumsfeld. You guys aren’t retired yet, right? Right, they still support Rumsfeld.

* “Jesse Jackson is here. I had him on the show. Very interesting and challenging interview. You can ask him anything, but he’s going to say what he wants at the pace that he wants. It’s like boxing a glacier. Enjoy that metaphor, because your grandchildren will have no idea what a glacier is.” (Note: YouTube has smaller clips, too.)

Duke of Desire?

Those many Republicans banking on public inattention to the sordid tales of GOP corruption may not want to pick up today’s Post anytime soon — Sex has entered the equation. “Federal authorities are investigating allegations that a California defense contractor arranged for a Washington area limousine company to provide prostitutes to convicted former congressman Randy ‘Duke’ Cunningham (R-Calif.) and possibly other lawmakers, sources familiar with the probe said yesterday.” Uh, oh…DC just loves a good sex scandal, right, guys? Update: The limousine firm in question denies the allegations.

Ney to Pay.

In related news, federal authorities expand their probe into Casino Jack flunky and former House GOP higher-up Bob Ney. “Court papers filed in recent months show that prosecutors have lined up at least four cooperating witnesses against the Ohio congressman: Abramoff, former congressional aides Michael Scanlon and Tony C. Rudy, and businessman Adam Kidan. All have pleaded guilty to various conspiracy, fraud or public corruption charges.

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