Wolraich: Obama at the Gates of... Gates
Dr. C: In Praise of Writing Binges
Maiello: Gatsby Doesn't Grate
Happy Bastille Day, mes amis. And Lafayette, thanks for the solid.
In honor of the quatorze juillet, here's Serge Gainsbourg:
And for those who prefer La Marseillaise old-school, Casablanca still does it best.
Friday morning I was in Cleveland, where all the news was about LeBron James. That afternoon, I got on a plane and flew to Not Cleveland in order to attend a wedding. Now I'm back.
The wedding was delightful, except for one thing. Several people I spoke with were firmly convinced that the city of Cleveland was basically on fire. They were grateful that I had gotten out of town "before they burn it down." I blame ESPN for this.
(Or, Lessons the British Army Taught Us)
Part II: Let the War Drag On and On [Read more]
PART I: Kill Civilians
The Senate Armed Services Committee is apparently very concerned about our rules of engagement in Afghanistan. Before they confirm General David Petraeus to the Afghanistan command, they want to make sure that he will loosen up those rules of engagement to allow more airstrikes and more artillery strikes. He has made soothing voices to the effect that he will be sure not to hold back the heavy firepower too strictly.
If you tune out the upcoming storm of spin, distraction and hype, what just happened is very simple: a general whose strategy has failed has tried to tie the Commander-in-Chief's hands by running to the press. McChrystal's goal was to create a political situation inside the Beltway in which the President would face problematic amounts of criticism if he changed either the unsuccessful strategy or the unsuccessful commander.
It's insubordination in an attempt to conceal failure, the full McClellan. It is a threat both to our Constitutional traditions and to the proper military defense of our nation.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that lower taxes and smaller government lead to economic growth, while higher taxes and bigger government hold the economy back. And like many truths that are universally acknowledged, it is frequently contradicted by easily observable facts and that makes no difference. Economics especially seems to be full of these ironclad universal rules that only hold true some of the time, in elegantly controlled micro-economic examples. The rest of the time these "truths" are obviously not true, and no one would be fool enough to behave as if they were true except when it's time to set crucial government policy. [Read more]
Let me start with this: I don't want Nikki Haley to be Governor of South Carolina. No way. No how. I don't especially want her to win her primary, and I would actively root for her defeat in the general election. But the way Haley is being treated is dead wrong.
I don't want Haley to become Governor because I think her ideas are mistaken and misguided. I don't think modern conservatism leads to good policies. So, I hope she loses. But the question of whether or not she's perfectly faithful to her husband has nothing to do with what kind of leader she would be.
Israel has always needed its friends. And now that Israeli forces have killed nine civilians on the high seas, and Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defense Minister, has followed up by blaming the aid flotilla to Gaza for "political provocation", Israel is going to need its allies' friendship more than ever. Over the next few days, there is going to be a loud outcry from some quarters inside the United States that the US is not backing Israel enough, that they are letting Israel down. [Read more]
Has been said better by the immaculate Jay Smooth (below the jump):
I will add that for a guy who presents himself as "principled," Paul put on a virtual clinic of sophomoric logical fallacies. I could probably teach a class session on dirty arguments just with his responses to Maddow: ad hominem! straw man! cheap appeals to sentiment! (Meanwhile, Maddow was doing what I would tell every student to do: stick to established facts and ask questions about them. She's no cheap shot artist; she stuck to Paul's own public statements.)
Rand Paul was impressive, but not in the good way.
The Boston Globe has a story about juvenile offenders in Western Massachusetts being sentenced to act Shakespeare as an alternative to jail or community service. Lenox's Shakespeare & Company troupe, a Berkshires institution, has a special program just for these wayward youth. It's written as a feel-good story, live theater and immortal poetry as a roundabout path to rehabilitation. But I'll admit I had two instant and inappropriate responses.
The amount of oil spilling into the Gulf Coast boggles the mind. And looking at one offshore well destroying such a huge swath of fragile ecologies, it's easy to think, "Man, there's more oil down there than I thought. I see what those 'drill, baby, drill types' were talking about."
But here's my question: how much oil is that compared to America's energy needs? If all of that oil had gone into refineries instead of into the Gulf and our wetlands, how long would it keep our cars and lights and internet servers going?
Today, Ann Gerhart at the Washington Post came right out and said it: Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court is suspect because she is not a mother. So that dog whistle I was complaining about? It's a steam whistle now, very audible and very shrill.
I'm not going to link to the Gerhart's post, because bad behavior should not be rewarded with traffic. If you want to find it on the WaPo opinions page, her title is "The Supreme Court Needs More Mothers." No, I am not making that up.
Here is Gerhart's ringing conclusion: [Read more]
Suddenly, with the Elena Kagan nomination, careerism is a terrible thing.
Friends of Elena Kagan grudgingly admitted on Wednesday that the Supreme Court nominee was unmarried not because of her orientation but because American men are absolutely terrible in bed.
"Maybe we shouldn't have said anything," said an embarrassed law-school classmate of the 50-year-old Solicitor General. "We didn't want for the men Elena's dated to feel inadequate simply because they are."
Experts disagreed whether or not the approximately 700,000 available adult men whom Kagan has met since she began college constituted a representative sample, but all agreed that Kagan has faced what one called "a perfect storm" of erotic ineptitude, a confluence of clumsy bedroom technique, poor stamina, and general inattention to female pleasure. [Read more]
One day in high school, I casually infuriated one of the other boys. (We were all boys, and therefore the place was so full of adolescent macho boneheads that I didn't even notice I was one of them.) He had made a physically aggressive gesture toward me in the parking lot, and rather than simply ignoring him, as a mature person would have, I had responded with a calculated show of disregard, making it insultingly plain that I didn't take his threats, or him, seriously. The next day after school he found me in an empty hallway, and (from ten or fifteen feet away) threatened to beat me up if I ever did that again. Except that he pretended to think that he was talking to my brother.
Flavia has a post that makes me laugh. She recently went to see a Shakespeare comedy produced by a regional theater company, who staged it in modern dress, worked to keep the piece "accessible and appealing," and used some good, old-fashioned slapstick. In short, the production was straight out of the standard Shakespearean-performance playbook: faithful to the text but using costumes and set as an interpretive gloss. At the end of the evening Flavia overheard a number of other playgoers who had enjoyed themselves enormously but were under the impression that they'd seen an adaptation, rather than Shakespeare's play. [Read more]
Ezra Klein recently tried to answer the question "Why is Goldman Sachs full of Ivy Leaguers?" by interviewing a Harvard/Goldman alum. (h/t to a righteously repulsed DougJ). But Wall Street's love affair with Harvard and Yale isn't just a question of why Ivy Leaguers go to Wall Street (the question Ezra begins with). [Read more]