The powers that be in the Wizards front office decided that my 21 game ticket package should include neither of DC’s home games against the Celtic, and I’m now doubly-pissed that I missed the game when it turns out to be a big upset against the erstwhile top team in the league.
Shortly after Blackwater guards shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians on Sept. 16, the firm “repaired and repainted its trucks immediately,” essentially “destroy[ing] evidence that Justice Department investigators hoped to examine.” Blackwater responded that any repairs “would have been done at the government’s direction.” The State Department refused to comment.
Looks like a big win for Chris Dodd and his allies in the blogosphere as Harry Reid looks to be backing down on FISA stuff.
The 2008 U.S. elections are attracting an “eager” audience worldwide. This past week, for example, major British newspapers “devoted more than 87 pages to news of the U.S. primaries, including 22 front-page stories.” Much of the enthusiasm, according to the Washington Post, is for the end of the Bush presidency:
But much of the enthusiasm comes from anticipation of President Bush’s departure, according to several analysts. U.S. prestige and popularity in much of the world have sunk to historic lows since Bush took office, over such issues as the Iraq war and climate change. Many analysts said the election has created high expectations that the new president will be more in tune with the rest of the world.
“In many capitals people have been waiting for this change for some time,” said Rosa Balfour, a senior analyst at the European Policy Center, a Brussels-based research group.
Der Spiegel is not impressed with George W. Bush’s last minute Israel-Palestine efforts:
The world in which politicians smile at each other, in which all kinds of promises are made and donations are pledged, is merely a virtual world. Next to it stands the real life arena of terrorists, settlers and fanatics. The real and virtual worlds are totally separate — like two parallel lines, they will only meet in eternity.
I tend to agree, but I’ve been convinced by people active in these issues that it’s important to provide positive reenforcement. Bush is moving in the right direction and deserves to secure some credit for his troubles.
Iraq’s parliament met “one of the main political benchmarks set by the United States” today, passing a law “to ease restrictions on mostly Sunni Arab members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath party returning to public life.” Reuters reports:
“The law has been passed. We see it as a very good sign of progress and it will greatly benefit Baathists. It was passed smoothly and opposition was small,” said Rasheed al-Azzawi, a Sunni member of the committee which helped modify some of the language of the law.
The Accountability and Justice bill replaces the De-Baathification law, which Sunnis have long complained amounted to collective punishment against their sect.
The new law will allow thousands of former party members to apply for reinstatement in the civil service and military, while pensions will be given to a smaller group of more senior members still banned from public life.
As recently as last month, when the bill came up for discussion, it “was met with angry protests from Shiite lawmakers.”
I liked Steven Pinker’s New York Times Magazine article on the “moral sense” a great deal, though I to some extent share Will Wilkinson’s concern that Pinker winds up trying to steal a base. I don’t, however, think the objections raised at The American Scene by Peter Suderman, Matt Frost, and Jim Manzi quite hold up.
I think if you want to properly understand what Pinker’s up to, it’s worth thinking about something else: Math. When we do math, we talk a lot about numbers. We don’t talk about numerals, the concrete typographical signifiers of numbers. “V” is a numeral (a Roman numeral) as is “5″ but they both stand for the number that you get when you add the number represented by the numeral “4″ to the number represented by the numeral “1.” In short, unlike numerals, number are abstract entities. From a certain point of view, this can make the whole enterprise of math come to seem very mysterious. If the numbers are abstract, how can we interact with them causally? And if we can’t interact with them causally, how can know anything about them? One can easily stumble into the view that either all this math talk is just so much BS, or else that there is some heavenly Realm of the Numbers where they live and send us messages through the ether.
To the best of my knowledge, Jim Pinkerton is America’s tallest political pundit by a pretty wide margin, big enough to be an NBA swingman, in my judgment (no idea about his game, don’t actually know the guy, but have been in an elevator with him). He’s also hopping aboard Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign where he’s supposed to add some policy substance to the folksy populism and stuff about Chuck Norris:
A Newsday columnist and Fox News contributor, Pinkerton worked in both the Reagan and Bush 41 White Houses as well as the presidential campaigns of each. As a respected voice among right-leaning pundits, he’ll bring instant credibility to a campaign that has drawn scorn from the conservative establishment.
Maybe. But depending on how you look at it, Pinkerton is some combination of too interesting, too honest, and too wacky to really add credibility to a GOP primary campaign. Consider his April 2004 column slamming George W. Bush for failing to react more forcefully to the CIA’s summer 2001 warnings about the likelihood of an al-Qaeda attack. The base has gotten disillusioned with Bush, but I still don’t think they’re ready to hear that the hero of 9/11′s incompetence played a role in leaving the country so vulnerable to attack.
He’s a member of the “Futurists Board” of the Lifeboat Foundation, an organization that advocates for “effective nanotechnological defensive strategies, and even self-sustaining space colonies in case the other defensive strategies fail.” He’s a contributing editor at The American Conservative, the paleocon magazine, and recently has been waxing orthodox with a heavy emphasis on his anti-immigration views. But back in 2005, he wrote a column titled “Slaughter of Sunni Foes is Inevitable” which made some arguments that are rather at odds with the current logic of the Awakening strategy:
When will the anti-American violence in Iraq end? It will end when we unleash the Shia Arab Muslims and the Kurds to finish the job, all the way to the bloody extreme. We’re not ready for such unleashing just yet, but we’re getting close.
Advocacy of genocide as a counterinsurgency strategy aside, hiring Pinkerton is a big step forward for Huckabee. He’s a smart guy with a lot of ideas. But he’s a very unorthodox thinker many of whose ideas are at odds with the prevailing CW in the conservative camp (sometimes in a good way, other times, as with the aforementioned counterinsurgency-by-genocide in not so good ways) and it strikes me as unlikely that this will really endear Huckabee to institutional conservatism.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has released a new ad for his 2008 re-election campaign, heralding himself as a “Godfather of Green” and an “environmental champion.”
McConnell’s environmental stewardship, according to the ad, consists of securing a $38 million earmark for city parks in Louisville and the creation of the Jefferson Memorial Forest, which features a Mitch McConnell Loop Trail.
McConnell may know how to bring home the pork for his constituents, but that hardly qualifies him as an “environmental champion.” McConnell had a zero percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters during the 109th Congress, and has earned only a 7% lifetime rating.
A look at some of his actions that have earned him such a dismal rating:
– McConnell led the fight to block the renewable electricity standard and the green tax package from the 2007 energy bill, calling them “millstones.”
– McConnell has repeatedly voted against Senate bills recognizing global warming, including a “sense of the Senate” amendment expressing “the need…to address global climate change through comprehensive and cost-effective national measures and through the negotiation of fair and binding international commitments.”
– McConnell helped notorious global warming denier Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) try to block Al Gore’s “Live Earth” concert in Washington, DC, by raising an objection to the resolution allowing the concert to take place on the capitol’s West Front.
McConnell’s anti-environmental stance means he faces the “the single biggest vulnerability for the Republicans,” in the words of Republican strategist Frank Luntz.