Maiello: Defeat the Press
Miami Fans Mistakenly Chant "Let's Go Eat" During Playoff Game
A week ago, with barely a pause for breath, advocates of torture began claiming that torturing prisoners had been the key to finding Osama bin Laden. Indeed, some complained that the Obama Administration had been insufficiently deferential to the torturers from the last regime.
They made this assertion with no real evidence and no solid facts. This should surprise no one. If they were interested in facts or evidence, they would not advocate torture.
Here's the thing to remember:
Torture is not about discovering the truth.
Torture is about imposing the torturer's version of reality on others.
So, Barack Obama has given in to the birther lunatics -- or rather, to their enablers in the national press -- and released his long-form birth certificate. Which of course, won't stop the lunatic birthers. But it's not clear that Obama actually intends it to. This is in many ways a classic Obama move. Obama does seem justly and genuinely exasperated with the press corps, but he also likes to position himself as the reasonable alternative to unreasonable opponents.
There's sad news from Princeton where a lecturer who was apparently in danger of losing his job has taken his own life. That's a terrible thing.
A number of his students (and other supporters) are campaigning to make Princeton explain more about the events preceding his death, and especially about the danger that he was about to lose his job. That is a very understandable desire. On the other hand, Princeton is very unlikely to do any such thing unless it's in response to a subpoena, and they're right. That will make Princeton look secretive and authoritarian and inhumane, but Princeton will just have to take it.
I spent last weekend at the major annual conference in my field -- a national, nay international nerdapalooza of the highest order, and one of the major events on my yearly work calendar. Sunday night I caught a red-eye home and went straight from the airport to work. (This means that I have now grown up to be like Clark Kent in the sense that I have changed my clothes at the workplace.) After teaching, prepping, and meeting with students for five hours or so, I had a long department meeting and then a little committee work to take care of. It pretty much defined the split that runs down the middle of the typical professor's career. [Read more]
never talk about Biden becoming President?
If you really didn't believe that Barack Obama was Consitutionally eligible for office, wouldn't that make Biden (who shared Obama's fat majority in the Electoral College) President? Yet that never comes up.
Even if you were magical thinker enough to believe that Biden, by running on an ineligible man's ticket were ALSO somehow disqualified from office, wouldn't that make the Speaker of the House President? I can see how that notion might be unpalatable to Republican activists when Pelosi was Speaker, but now that there's a Republican Speaker you hear exactly the same amount of nothing about it.
Where's the Birther movement demanding that Boehner be sworn in as President?
The New York Times takes a look at the contract disputes that have been delaying production of Mad Men. (But Deadline Hollywood suggests that the show is now a go, even though the fight with series creator Matt Weiner is not over.)
What's enlightening is the nature of the dispute. The network is ready to make Weiner very, very rich. But they demand that he turn in a slightly shittier product. From the Times:
One of the frequent talking points about the Libyan rebels is that they only have about a thousand trained soldiers in their ranks. As the meme went around, it sometimes turned into only 1000 soldiers, period, which is clearly not true. And the "1000 men" meme has been used to shore up certain anti-intervention talking points, even though it undermines others.
The most obvious use of the "only 1000 soldiers" point was to imply that intervention was hopeless, because there was no way the rebels could win. That argument doesn't look as good this morning, after the rebels have taken Ajdabiya and pushed onward, but things might swing against the rebels again in a few days or weeks. [Read more]
Barack Obama's decision to join the attack on Libya is very much of a piece with his Nobel Prize acceptance speech. There are various grounds on which a reasonable person could object to the Libya strikes (diplomatic reasons, military reasons, pragmatic reasons, reasons of consistency, even Constitutional reasons). But the decision absolutely fits within a coherent and very traditional moral philosophy. Obama walked through most of the key points of that position in his Nobel Prize speech, with one important omission. That omission is perhaps the key to understanding his conduct as a war leader.
Barry Ritholtz reports that Roger Ailes, the president of Fox News, may soon be indicted on federal charges. Judith Regan has alleged in civil court filings that Ailes pressured her to lie to federal agents who were doing a background check on her ex-boyfriend, Bernard Kerik. (That's Kerik who was once nominated to be head of Homeland Security and who is now in prison. That Kerik.) Allegedly, Regan has audiotape of Ailes pressuring her.
I went to see The King's Speech, because it was nominated for all those awards and because Monday is Five Dollar Night. I like the actors in it a lot, but I'm glad I didn't spend more than five dollars. The King's Speech may well win the Oscar for Best Picture, but that just goes to show that you don't need originality, drama, artistic perception or a compelling story to win an Oscar.
From the opening moments of that film I was forced to think, once again, a thought that's been building up slowly and irresistibly over the past several years of movie-going:
I am really, really tired of the Great Depression looking so goddamned pretty.
Here's the deal: how much money you get paid is based on how much other people get paid. This is a fact of life. Your paycheck is based on what other people get in other jobs like yours, and what other people in your area make, and what other people with your qualifications make. The price of those people's work sets the price of replacing you if you quit your job. If you make less than they make, it can only be so much less. If you make more than they make, it's only realistically going to be so much more. If you're making too much less than similar workers, it will be cheaper to give you a raise than to replace you. If you're making too much more, it will be cheaper to hire someone else. You may feel like your paycheck is just between you and your boss. [Read more]
Joanne Siegel has passed away. She was the model for the first sketches of Lois Lane and the wife of Superman's co-creator, Jerry Siegel. That gives her the best claim to being Lois Lane that any real person has ever had. In her later years, she was a fierce advocate for her husband's intellectual property claims. I've thought a lot about the Superman creators over the years, and part of me is tempted only to blog about intellectual property. But the truth is that Lois Lane has probably shaped the course of my adult life more than any other fictional character has, without me thinking about it.
Some of the folks who read me at Dagblog may have come to suspect over time that "Doctor Cleveland" may not be my actual name. Meanwhile, readers who have actually met me in three dimensions may have thought (but been too polite to say) that the name "Doctor Cleveland" is a pretty lame disguise.
Yes, it is. It is a ridiculously lame disguise. And while I've never blogged about why that is, I think this is as good a time as any to explain.
The protest movement in Egypt has suddenly alerted many Westerners to the existence of the Muslim Brotherhood, a newish group who did not emerge in Egypt until almost the end of the Coolidge Administration. Furthermore, this fast-breaking development has alerted Western pundits, bloggers, and politicians to the urgent need to say something about the Muslim Brotherhood. [Read more]
There's an old chestnut that says that two democracies have never gone to war. It's not quite true, or only true if you aggressively redefine "democracy" until you've fallen into the "no-true-Scotsman" fallacy. ("No true democracy ever goes to war with another ...." ) But it is an instructive half-truth: functional democracies very rarely go to war with one another.
We've been talking a lot lately about civility, for obvious and painful reasons. And our public conversation on that topic tends to go astray pretty quickly, because we don't all mean the same thing when we say "civility," and often aren't even sure what we mean by the word ourselves.
I haven't blogged about Tucson because it left me sickened and sad, and because Articleman said it all better than I could have. Anyway, I had nothing to say. Violence like this is a terrible, terrible thing. Everyone should be against civil bloodshed. What else could there be to say?
But now, apparently, many public voices are focused on how horrible it is to "gain political advantage" from violence, by which they mean gaining political advantage from violence directed against one's own side. But gaining political advantage from violence against your opponents is evidently great.
Critics of higher education in America generally present themselves as modernizing reformers. They claim America's universities are hidebound, outmoded, and fundamentally inefficient. Maybe, maybe not. It's an easy charge to make about an institution, like the Western university, which is several centuries old, and tends to sound plausible no matter the merits of the particular case. "It's the 21st century," the standard argument goes, "so it's time to get rid of anachronisms like tenured faculty/four-year bachelor's degrees/foreign language departments/semesters/public funding for state universities." This "out with the old, in with the new" argument sounds logical when it actually is logical, but also when it's not. [Read more]