In his column last week, New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt wrote that, in his opinion, it was “a mistake” to hire Weekly Standard editor William Kristol as a columnist because of his calls to prosecute the paper, but that it was not “the worst idea ever.” In his “My Word” segment yesterday, Fox News host John Gibson attacked Hoyt over the column, asking “if The Times can’t take an argument with Kristol, how can it face down Al Qaeda?” Watch it:
“Nobody’s been right all the time on Iraq, but Senator John McCain has been less wrong than most,” writes the New York Times’ Roger Cohen — a self-proclaimed “liberal interventionist” — in a column titled, “A Center Called McCain.”
Cohen derives his argument straight from McCain’s talking points. McCain is “flesh and blood” and “straight-talking and “tends to defy categorization,” in Cohen’s words.
Instead of substantively examining McCain’s record, Cohen glosses over it. He claims that “McCain has scored points for being consistent and forthright on the war.” But McCain’s record shows how dishonest he has been with the public. In 2003, he proclaimed:
“I believe, Katie, that the Iraqi people will greet us as liberators.” [NBC, 3/20/03]
Months later, McCain quietly tried to clear himself from blame:
“The whole situation was underestimated by the administration and, frankly, the military, as well.” [MSNBC, 2/25/04]
Cohen writes of McCain, “He knew a bungled war when he saw one and pressed early for increased force levels.” Indeed, McCain was an early advocate of the escalation, but he has shown a tragic inability to understand the complexities of Iraq:
“We’re not going to get into house-to-house fighting in Baghdad. We may have to take out buildings, but we’re not going to have a bloodletting of trading American bodies for Iraqi bodies.” [CNN, 9/29/02]
“There’s not a history of clashes that are violent between Sunnis and Shias. So I think they can probably get along.” [MSNBC, 4/23/03]
“Overall, I think a year from now, we will have made a fair amount of progress if we stay the course.” [The Hill, 12/8/05]
Slate’s Jack Shafer said that Cohen’s writing on foreign policy “establishes new standards for the aggressive pursuit of the trite.” Matt Yglesias adds, “On the Cohen standard, by contrast, if we take any bad situation and just render it very chaotic that counts as a good idea.”
It is this attitude that makes Roger Cohen even more wrong that most.
Via Tyler Cowen, a neat map that renames US states after countries that have similar GDPs to the state in question. Note that Iran, allegedly about to embark on a campaign of world domination, has the same approximate level of economic output as Alabama. Elsewhere in the region, Saudi Arabia is like Tennessee, Israel is like Oregon, and Turkey is like Washington. I don’t like Alabama’s odds in a big for hegemony against those three. Puts things in perspective.
TPM’s Greg Sargent notes that in a recent interview with Beliefnet, Mike Huckabee equated homosexuality with bestiality. Asked whether he wanted to bring the Constitution into conformity with the Bible, the former Arkansas Governor answered this way:
Well, I don’t think that’s a radical view to say we’re going to affirm marriage. I think the radical view is to say that we’re going to change the definition of marriage so that it can mean two men, two women, a man and three women, a man and a child, a man and animal.
Americablog has more.
Use of airstrikes way up in Iraq. Colin Kahl forecasts even more in the future:
“Part of this is announcing our presence to the adversary,” said Kahl, who recently returned from a trip to the air operations center. “Across this calendar year you will see a reduction in U.S. forces, so there will be fewer troops to support Iraqi forces. One would expect a continued level of airstrikes because of offensive operations, and as U.S. forces begin to draw down you may see even more airstrikes.”
Increased reliance on firepower as a substitute for adequate manpower strikes me as a classic COIN no-no, but Kahl seems to approve and even told USA Today last week that due to increased carefulness, the civil toll is being reduced: “You saw a lot more damage to the civilian population in 2004 than you’re seeing now. Even though you have a huge uptick in offensive operations, it looks like the military is taking greater care not to harm civilians.” Obviously, I hope that’s right. It’s my understanding, however, that the Defense Department still doesn’t count civilian casualties so I don’t really understand how they would know whether or not you’re seeing a reduction in damage to the civilian population. In my book, the first step in “taking greater care” to avoid something is to measure what’s happening.
Jonah Goldberg appeared on the Daily Show last night to tout his new book, “Liberal Fascism.” Jon Stewart spent 18 minutes disputing the premise of Goldberg’s book (which was condensed down into a six-minute clip), asking at one point in exasperation, “How is organic food fascist?” and “I must say you totally misrepresent what progressive means.” Watch it:
So VC Vinod Khosla is not happy with with my recent attack on his (willful) ignorance, “VC Khosla blows his credibility dissing plug-ins.” Grist has given the billionaire a platform to defend himself, but he just spouts even more nonsense in the bizarrely titled post, “Pragmatists v. environmentalists, part I”:
I have been accused of dissing hybrids. I was mostly discussing Prius-type parallel hybrids and all the support they get, when one can get the same carbon reduction by buying a cheaper, similar-sized and -featured car and buying $10 worth of carbon credits. I was objecting to greenwashing (powered by a large marketing machine) that suggests hybrids can solve our problems….
Corn ethanol, which has been heavily maligned in the mainstream media, reduces carbon emissions (on a per-mile-driven basis) by almost the same amount as today’s typical hybrid….
The Prius is the corn ethanol of hybrid cars….
Seriously! This is like one of those newspaper puzzles: Can you spot all the errors?
1. Anyone who thinks buying offsets and a Prius-sized non-hybrid is equal from a carbon perspective to buying a Prius has no clue about climate, offsets or carbon. Offsets are so transparently dubious, I made them a separate category on Climate Progress. Burning petroleum and releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere where much of it will last for centuries cannot be undone by, say, planting some trees or buying some cheap RECs, which are probably the most popular U.S. offsets.
2. The Prius is in fact a parallel-series hybrid, with lots of other intelligent design features absent from most other hybrids (see this Scientific American article), which makes it easily the most fuel-efficient no-compromise affordable hybrid ever built. Easily. And it will pay for itself in fuel savings at current gas prices (with the carbon savings for free), something you won’t be able to say about cellulosic ethanol for a long time.
3. Nobody “suggests hybrids can solve our problem” — Vinod, please provide even two links to support this absurd straw man. But they are a key part of the solution — as I will discuss in a subsequent post. Indeed, nobody I have ever met (other than maybe Vinod) suggests cellulosic ethanol can solve our problems without either hybrids or more likely plug ins (and I was a major advocate and funder of cellulosic ethanol long before Vinod jumped on the bandwagon, pushed the driver off, and tried to take over the reins — Vinod has the fanaticism typical of the newly converted).
4. “Corn ethanol, which has been heavily maligned in the mainstream media” — actually corn ethanol has been heavily maligned in the scientific and policy literature. Why? Its benefits are small if not nonexistent, whereas its drawbacks are large, as I explain at length in this article. Indeed, it now appears that corn ethanol is actually driving up tropical deforestation (!) and it may even increase total greenhouse gas emissions, as one recent scientific analysis argues. I think the most defensible statement one can make today is that, most corn ethanol probably provides no net climate benefit compared to gasoline. And if corn ethanol once had a role accelerating the transition to cellulosic ethanol, thanks to recent energy legislation it has simply become Frankenstein’s monster.
5. “Corn ethanol … reduces carbon emissions (on a per-mile-driven basis) by almost the same amount as today’s typical hybrid.” No. As I’ve said, most corn ethanol probably has no net carbon emissions reductions, if all of its impacts were fully accounted for. And don’t let Khosla’s clever wording — “today’s typical hybrid” — confuse the issue:. The Prius is not a typical hybrid. It is the best hybrid by far, and it cuts carbon emissions 50% compared to a comparably-sized non-hybrid (which corn ethanol does not come close to even under incomplete life-cycle analyses). Yes “today’s typical hybrid” probably only cuts emissions 25%, but that’s because a) it isn’t as well-designed as the Prius and b) a number of manufacturers used some or all of the efficiency gains to increase acceleration (you know who you are, Honda). That is hardly justification for dissing the Prius, as Khosla does (“it is no different than Gucci bags”). Quite the reverse. The Prius should be praised and the Accord V6 “muscle hybrid” condemned. But of course there’s no need to do that since the marketplace has spoken: The Prius is the best- and fastest-selling hybrid (by far) whereas Honda discontinued the Accord V6 because of poor sales. Hmm, I never realized that Gucci made the best- and fastest-selling bags in the world….
5. Corn ethanol is the Hummer of alternative fuels. ‘Nuff said.
6. “Pragmatists v. environmentalists.” As if. Khosla is no pragmatist. And I am not now nor have I ever been an environmentalist. Energy pragmatists like me are happy Khosla is dropping big bucks on cellulosic ethanol, but are far more sober about its potential. I don’t believe even 10% of the energy technology community shares Khosla’s view, whereas at least that many think cellulosic ethanol is a going to be a small part of the solution. The vast majority hope it can be a big part of the solution, but know the jury is out. An interesting story will illustrate my point:
”The Democratic Party, I believe, respectfully, has left the strongest roots of its foreign policy and national security,” Lieberman said, adding that McCain “has always believed that Israel is our natural ally, from the beginning of its modern existence to this day in the war against Islamic extremists and terrorists.”
Now I assume that most practical Democratic Party politicians are going to want to deny that there’s any real difference between the parties here. But I think Lieberman’s probably correct to see a disagreement here between people with the Lieberman/McCain worldview and sensible people. As Lieberman/McCain see it, Israel has long been the subject of terrorist attacks perpetrated by Muslims. Then, on September 11, 2001 the United States was hit by Muslim terrorists. Ergo, the US and Israel are allies in a common war against a common threat.
On a different, more accurate account, while there are unquestionably some points of ideological similarity between Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda these should all be seen as separate entities with discrete agendas. It’s a huge mistake to, for example, assume that every Hamas militant or supporter shares anything resembling the grandiose overall al-Qaeda vision. Hamas and Hezbollah both arise in the context of concrete national conflicts and thus have different textures and aims from al-Qaeda (and, for that matter, from each other). The effort to run all these groups together has been a useful way for Israeli politicians to try to secure US support for their policies, and has been politically expedient for many American politicians, but it’s ultimately founded on serious analytical errors and, as such, doesn’t lead either Israel or the United States to adopt smart policies that serves our respective countries respective interests.
For instance, assaults increase by about 9% when a community hosts a college football game, vandalism increases by about 18%, and DUIs increase by about 13%. We also find evidence that upsets result in larger increases in crime than games that do not produce an upset. For instance, an upset loss at home is associated with a 112% increase in assaults and a 61% increase in vandalism. We discuss these results in the context of psychological theories of fan aggression.
Strange but, it seems, true.
In May 2006, Fox News host John Gibson sparked controversy when he claimed on air that “twenty-five years and the majority of the population is Hispanic” because “Hispanics are having more kids than others” and “white people are having fewer.” Worried about the demographic shift in America, Gibson urged his audience to “do your duty. Make more babies.”
On his radio show yesterday, Gibson returned to the controversy, touting an Associated Press article about the “baby boomlet” in the U.S. in 2006 as vindication for his call that “the dominant, or largest, population sector, which is Caucasians” should “make more babies.” Declaring “I was right,” Gibson celebrated the increased birth rate of “non-Hispanic white women”:
“The nearly 4.3 million births in 2006 were mostly due to a bigger population, especially a growing number of Hispanics. That group accounted for nearly one-quarter of all U.S. births.” As you can tell, Hispanics are doing the hard work of child raising. “But non-Hispanic white women and other racial and ethnic groups were” also “having more babies, too.” A big round of applause for all of you out there having those babies.
Claiming that “people were following my advice,” Gibson exclaimed that he was “not only right,” but “prescient” and that it was time for “a John Gibson victory lap.” Listen to it:
Gibson also complained about his critics who called him a “racist” for his May 2006 comments. “I was simply saying look what happened in Europe,” said Gibson. Immigrants “having kids like crazy” meant “England wasn’t looking so British anymore” because “Anglos” and “selfish white people weren’t going through the hard work of having babies.”
Demonstrating a lack of self-awareness, Gibson closed the segment by asking his “drooling left wing” critics if they “still think I’m a racist.”
Transcript: Read more