I somehow doubt that David Brooks’ glowing endorsement of Barack Obama will darken liberal doubts that he has what it takes to fight for progressive values. Basically, you face the same choice over and over again — is Obama’s undeniable ability to win sympathy and praise from the more mild-mannered and open-minded segments of the right evidence of his internal frailty or is it evidence of his ability to build a dominant political coalition. It counts, in a sense, as “evidence” for either thesis. I’ll admit that I liked Obama from before I ever heard a word from him about politics or policy, so obviously I’m biased, but I see it more in the pro-Obama way.
So the Knight Science Journalism tracker writes an article titled, “Lots of ink and perplexion: Climate happens. But what, exactly, happened at Bali?” The article’s goal is to explain that nobody knows what happened or why — by quoting different explanations from various blogs. He writes (testily):
“The US humiliation angle comes from this little AP piece, brought to our attention by Joe Romm at the rather testy Climate Progress blog. It reports that one small nation’s scolding triggered such a wave of hooting that American delegates promptly pulled in their horns.”
Testy? Testy? Testy? Who’s testy?
Seriously, I suppose it isn’t the worst of epithets, though I confess I’m shooting for snarky, not testy. Also, from a website by journalists, I’d like an explanation of why they think that, rather than just a snide aside. I would argue that for any rational human being who cares about the health and well-being of life on this planet, including ours, being “testy” is about the mildest state of mind one can reasonably have, especially given what Bush has been doing for the past seven years (muzzling climate scientists, blocking international action, and on and on).
Still I must accept the fact that I’ve been dissed by not merely one of the best science journalism tracking websites I have found, but in fact the only one I could find…. I hope that wasn’t too testy.
UPDATE: Earl Killian notes that the entire world got rather testy at Bali, thanks to the Bushies. As one eyewitness put it:
Then occurred one of the most remarkable sounds that has perhaps ever been heard in the annals of international diplomacy–like a collective global groan–descending then to a murmur, then increasing in volume to a full-throated expression of rage and anger and booing and jeering, lasting for a full minute, so that finally the Minister had to call the meeting back to order.
Reuters reports that the “U.S. embassy in Iraq is investigating another deadly shooting incident involving its Blackwater bodyguards — this time of the New York Times’s dog.” The Times’ Baghdad bureau staff said that their office dog, Hentish, was shot by Blackwater bodyguards just prior to a visit by a U.S. diplomat:
Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell said the dog had attacked one of Blackwater’s bomb-sniffer dogs while a security team was sweeping the compound for explosives.
“The K-9 handler made several unsuccessful attempts to get the dog to retreat, including placing himself between the dogs. When those efforts failed, the K-9 handler unfortunately was forced to use a pistol to protect the company’s K-9 and himself,” she said in an e-mail to Reuters.
State Department investigators have made two follow-up visits to the Times compound to investigate the shooting of Hentish.
Jonah Goldberg calls Liberal Fascism a very serious argument that’s never been made before in such detail or with such care, but it seems to me that the Dead Kennedys covered this ground decades ago:
One has to wonder what it is about Jerry Brown’s secret allegiance to fascism that’s allowed him to mount his improbable return to statewide political office.
In a speech on the Senate floor today, Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) paid tribute to Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), who recently announced his resignation. Smith remembered Lott’s “warm slap on our backs” and the “steely look in his eye.” He also defended Lott’s comments in 2002, which heralded the segregationist platform of former senator Strom Thurmond:
I watched over international news as his words were misconstrued, words which we had heard him utter many times in his big warm-heartedness trying to make one of our colleagues, Strom Thurmond, feel good at 100 years old. We knew what he meant. But the wolfpack of the press circled around him, sensed blood in the water, and the exigencies of politics caused a great injustice.
In 2002, however, Smith claimed he was “deeply dismayed” at Lott’s statements about Thurmond.
UPDATE: Former attorney general John Ashcroft remembers Lott as “Lincoln-esque.”
UPDATE II: Sens. Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) also defend Lott’s statements on Sturmond.
UPDATE III: Politico has more samplings of the praise heaped upon Lott today.
Last November, Keith Ellison became the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress. When he announced that he was going to take the oath of office with his hand on the Koran, right-wing talk show host Dennis Prager protested, arguing that Ellison would “embolden Islamic extremists“:
He [Ellison] should not be allowed to do so — not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization. [...]
Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don’t serve in Congress. [...]
Ellison’s (taking the oath on the Koran) will embolden Islamic extremists and make new ones, as Islamists, rightly or wrongly, see the first sign of the realization of their greatest goal — the Islamicization of America.
Prager’s outrage was based on nothing but his own need to create controversy. What’s most interesting is that today — when a Republican candidate, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, is under attack for his Mormon beliefs — Prager seems suddenly concerned about the role religion plays in the political choices of some Americans:
(T)he theological beliefs of a public figure should matter only when one is choosing a theological leader, never a political leader — unless those beliefs form the basis of social and moral values that one abhors. It is very important to know the theological beliefs of one’s clergyman or the head of one’s seminary, but as far as the head of one’s country is concerned, only his moral and social values matter. I would much sooner vote for an agnostic whose values I shared than for a believing Christian or Jew whose values I did not share.
Ah, Dennis, but what if Romney wants to swear-in on The Book of Mormon?
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This John Pekkanen article in Washingtonian is really good. Fortunately, it was also given a really good subtitle, so I can just quote it rather than thinking up my own summary: “After years of health warnings, fewer Americans are smoking. But while Washington is encouraging Americans to quit, it has been helping big tobacco push cigarette smoking in other countries, using trade pacts to force poorer nations to accept American cigarettes and helping cause an epidemic of health-related problems.” Read the whole thing.
I’d been optimistic that the release of the newer National Intelligence Estimate on Iran and the apparent ascendancy of a more rational point of view within the Bush administration might lead to a more cooperative attitude from Russia with regard to the continuing concerns about Iran’s enrichment activities. That seems to not be the case, as Russia goes through with a nuclear fuel delivery that had been stalled for a bit. The Bush administration is taking a restrained line, presumably because they don’t want the Russians to start considering bad behavior on the Iran front an important point of national pride and principle, but this is definitely a step in the wrong direction.
Yesterday at a speech in Virginia, President Bush was forced to correct his own misinformation campaign when a questioner mistakenly said that Iraq currently has nuclear weapons:
Q But I’m concerned about the nations like Iraq, who now have nuclear weapons –
THE PRESIDENT: Iran.
Q Iran and Iraq both.
THE PRESIDENT: Not Iraq. (Laughter.)
Commenting on the exchange, MSNBC’s anchors called it a “light moment” because there’s “nothing like being corrected by the President of the United States.” Bush, however, was the one who needed the correction. The most recent NIE found that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003. As late as April 2006, Bush himself still believed Saddam had WMD.
UPDATE: Mike Link points out the last time Bush joked about the missing WMD, in 2004.