May 31, 2010

Another Ship Headed To Gaza; Israel Says It's Ready
— Gabriel Malor

And the name of the ship...

Israel's Army Radio reported that the MV Rachel Corrie, a converted merchant ship, would reach Gazan waters by Wednesday.

A Marine lieutenant who was not named told Army Radio that he expected an easy takeover of the ship.

"We as a unit are studying, and we will carry out professional investigations to reach conclusions," the lieutenant said, referring to a skirmish in which his unit shot nine international activists aboard the Turkish ferry.

"And we will also be ready for the Rachel Corrie," he added.

Not superstitious at all, these guys...

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 08:30 PM | Comments (122)
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Overnight Open Thread - Memorial Day Edition
— Maetenloch

REMEMBER THEM

If you are able, save for them a place inside of you and one backward glance when you are leaving, for the places they can no longer go.

Be not ashamed to say you loved them, though you may or may not always have. Take what they have left and what they have taught you with their dying and keep it with your own.

And in that time when men decide and feel safe to call the war insane, take one moment to embrace those gentle heroes you left behind.

Written January 1, 1970 by Major Michael Davis O'Donnell
Dak To, South Vietnam

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Major O'Donnell was Killed in Action in Cambodia on March 24, 1970. His remains were recovered in 1998 and interred in Arlington National Cemetery on August 16, 2001. more...

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Game 2 Of The Stanley Cup Playoffs - Chicago v. Philadelphia
— DrewM

Because nothing says Memorial Day weekend like, er, hockey.

The NHL is enjoying great ratings (so long as you grade on a curve) but as a Rangers fan, this is a painful series. Any time Flyers fans have hope is depressing.


On the upside, at least there's at least one Origianal Six team in the finals and the Blackhawks do have one of the greatest logos in all of sports.

Game 1 was great if you like the Blackhawks and/or a lot of scoring, not so great if you actually like hockey. Hopefully game 2 will feature some actual defense and maybe even a little goaltending.


After Game 2 be sure to check out Moron Hockey, the blog tmi3rd started and don't update enough, for series to date recap.

People joke about the toughness/craziness of hockey players (especially at playoff time). One of the guys playing tonight is Duncan Keith of the Blackhawks. He took a puck in the mouth in the conference clinching win over San Jose. He missed a few shifts, came back to play and then did an interview. more...

Posted by: DrewM at 03:32 PM | Comments (176)
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A Gene Simmons Tribute To The US Military
— LauraW

Couple years old but new to me. Wow, these guys and gals look like they had a great time.

Thanks to Tom M! And thanks to Mr. Simmons. That was way wicked cool.

Posted by: LauraW at 01:52 PM | Comments (71)
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Obama Resets At Andrews AFB
— Dave in Texas

He got washed out in Chicago.

I don't blame him for pulling up there, the threat of thunderstorms and lightning isn't something to take lightly.

You know? I would have sworn I saw a Twitter post by NBC's Chuck Todd this morning, explaining to us how other Presidents have skipped Arlington on Memorial Day. Like GWB skipped out on Arlington in 2002.

To deliver a speech at Normandy, on May 27 2002.


I likely got that wrong, and I apologize to Chuck Todd for that.


According to ExJon, VP Joe did a respectable job at Arlington today.

Posted by: Dave in Texas at 01:13 PM | Comments (109)
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The Metamorphosis (with apologies to Franz Kafka)
— Monty

One morning, as Monty was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in his bed he had been changed into a monstrous gold bug.

One of my abiding fascinations has been with the concept of money. What exactly is money, anyway? Why is gold deemed to be valuable? How is the "value" of money set? Who or what determines what a service or good costs?

These turn out to be vastly complicated questions that have spawned legions of philosophers, statisticians, and economists over the millennia to figure them out. That we continue to have financial crises shows that these philosophers and economists still don't understand the subject as well as they'd like to. more...

Posted by: Monty at 08:19 AM | Comments (326)
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Memorial Day, 2010
— Dave in Texas

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"It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they have, thus far, so nobly carried on. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Also, DrewM sent me this today, a petition to name a U.S. Navy ship in honor of Lt. John W. Finn.

Also: A little closer to my neck of the woods, I believe this photograph of the 4th Infantry Division Memorial at Ft. Hood was taken this past Thursday. Something has been added.

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Posted by: Dave in Texas at 07:15 AM | Comments (44)
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"Peace Activists" Attack Israeli Soldiers Attempting to Divert Blockade Runners
— Gabriel Malor

Word filtered out last night that there had been casualties, including some deaths, on the pointless, Turkey-backed flotilla attempting to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. The "peace activists" had been warned that they must divert to Ashdod where the supplies they intended to deliver would be searched for weapons and then trucked to Gaza.

They refused, choosing to make a political statement rather than deliver much-needed food and medical supplies to Gaza. They got their wish. The IDF released this video (embedded below) of the so-called peace activists attacking IDF soldiers as they board one of the ships. They attacked with guns, knives, and improvised weapons.

According to initial reports, these events resulted in the deaths of nine demonstrators and seven naval personnel were injured, some from gunfire and some from various other weapons. Two of the soldiers are moderately wounded and the remainder sustained light injuries. All of the injured, Israelis and foreigners have been evacuated by helicopter to hospitals in Israel.
Reports from IDF forces on the scene are that it seems as if part of the participants onboard the ships were planning to lynch the forces.

The flotilla is now under IDF control and headed for Ashdod. The peace activists got their PR message, at the pointless cost of nine lives. The Gazans will eventually get their supplies anyay. The Israeli blockade will continue. And the Israelis will get another scolding from the "international community."

Later: About this whole "international waters" bit that the activists are bleating about, it doesn't make a difference where the ships were seized.

Even assuming that the activists are correct and that the ships were taken in international waters, there's no "safe" spot for blockade runners. Israel has no duty to wait until its own waters are breached, not when the blockade runners have announced their intentions and set sail.

Israel gave the activists every opportunity to turn aside, both before they assembled and after the made a run for the blockade. The activists aren't bothering to pretend that they were planning to do anything other than challenge the Israeli blockade. They can hardly complain when the Israelis take them at their word.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 06:46 AM | Comments (312)
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May 30, 2010

Memorial day vignettes
— Purple Avenger

When I was a very small boy some of my first memories are of a neighbor, Jake, who was in his 70's. Jake was a WWI vet who'd been mustard gassed in one of those meat grinder battles of WWI. He moved a little slow for a guy in his 70's because he had a collapsed lung and the other one wasn't perfect either due to the Mustard gassing.

My dad was Navy in WWII and worked the electrical maintenance of a LST. He got the all expenses paid tour of North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. He never talked much about the war, but when he did it was still an emotional thing for him 50+ years later.

Apparently, as the Army and Marines pushed forward, Navy guys maintained much of the logistics tail. One story he told on rare occasion was of a 900 mile forced drive across North Africa driving a deuce and a half full of ammo. 3 days, 7x24 with no sleep through treacherous mountains on a twisting one lane dirt road. Any trucks that broke down weren't repaired, they were just shoved off the cliff and the convoy kept moving. Several trucks drove off the cliff accidentally when the drivers could stay awake no longer and fell asleep at the wheel. That convoy affected him so deeply, for the rest of his life my dad had a strong aversion to driving any significant distance.
more...

Posted by: Purple Avenger at 09:31 PM | Comments (179)
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Overnight Open Thread
— Maetenloch

Welcome to the Sunday that's really a Saturday.

The Top 10 War Movies of All Time
Ok I could live with all their choices except for Inglorious Basterds, which I actually liked but wouldn't consider an all time classic. Plus the list left off A Bridge Too Far and Hamburger Hill, two well done movies that rarely get the credit they deserve.

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And here Jules Crittendon gives his take on great war movies and even gives a shout out to our own Arthur K. He includes The Purple Heart a movie about the trial and atrocities committed on the captured pilots of the Doolittle Raid. I remember seeing it on TV as a little kid and I can still recall some of the dramatic scenes from it. Crittendon also mentions Run Silent, Run Deep which is one of the few classics that I haven't seen. I have read the book which is excellent. Not to worry the movie is now in my Netflix queue. more...

Posted by: Maetenloch at 04:41 PM | Comments (1141)
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Memorial Day gun pron: What is your Favorite weapon? [dri]
— Open Blogger

Hello fellow morans. I recently purchased an FN 57 pistol. It resides under my pillow patiently waiting for the coming 2nd American revolution or the possible zombie Apocalypse, which ever comes first. My question for the discussion thread is: What weapon do you carry or depend on to protect you and your loved ones from the shit that may soon befall us?

Posted by: Open Blogger at 02:14 PM | Comments (525)
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The Fruit of Islam "Don't Have No Comment"
— Gabriel Malor

No, really, Louis Farrakhan's private security force thugz call themselves the Fruit of Islam and they went nutso at the press covering President Obama in Chicago last night.

Byron York shares the pool reporter's email. Apparently, the Fruits thought the reporters, with their Secret Service escort, might be CIA spying on Farrakhan's tax-exempt mansion, which is just around the block from the Obamas' house.

Paranoia? Check.
Paramilitary? Check.
Religious? Check.
Not paying taxes? Check.

It think the press found Napolitano's extremists.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 07:31 AM | Comments (415)
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Sunday Book Thread: Children's Books
— Monty

I can remember the first book I ever read very clearly: Virginia Lee Burton's Mike Mulligan and His Steam-Shovel. My mother had read it to me hundreds of times before I was able to read it myself, but it was the endless love of that book that motivated me to learn to read it myself.

Another one of my favorites was H. A. Rey's Curious George books. My first brush with the school authorities came in Kindergarten, where I snuck away from craft-time to read the adventures of Curious George. (Who wants to finger-paint when you can read about a curious chimp and a man in a yellow hat?) Mrs. Miller, my teacher, took note of this incident and bought me my own copy of the book out of her own pocket.

But of all the kid's books I can remember reading, one stands out: Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. It was this book more than any other that lives on in my memory: hesitant but eager-to-please Mole; Ratty who lives by the river and takes Mole for a ride in his boat; friendly old Badger who takes Mole and Ratty into his home on a cold winter day; and my hero the madcap Mister Toad of Toad Hall. Even as a kid I knew that this was literature of a very high order. I never could get very enthused about Winnie the Pooh after reading The Wind in the Willows.

Later, when I was older, I came across Richard Adams' Watership Down, and felt that it made an interesting companion-piece of Grahame's earlier work. The Wind in the Willows was about kindness, and friendship, and sticking with your friends; Watership Down taught the older child deeper truths about anger, and pain, and fear, and even death.

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May 29, 2010

Funny Dennis Hopper Clip
— Ace

The real Dennis Hopper, not a character he's playing.

The Gospel of Dennis: Thanks to Deety. Some twack is whining that we're "worshipping" "Hollywood filth" like The Hopper, so, to spite him, we are.

The Last Performance... given by His Weirdness, Dennis Hopper. Hopper here stars in Death of a Salesman.

Truly an unforgettable talent.


Posted by: Ace at 08:44 PM | Comments (221)
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Overnight Open Thread
— Maetenloch

Hey all it's ONT time!

Say Does Anyone Remember What Bones McCoy Did On The Enterprise?
Oh yeah - he was a doctor as he reminded the crew in practically every episode.

more...

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Michael Caine, Conservative (Sorta)
— Ace

Not to Step On Dennis Hopper's Obituary, But... I've been looking for some reason to link this interview with Tory and Cameron-supporter Michael Caine.

Gun to my head, forcing me to choose, he's my favorite all-time actor.

He says he's supporting conservatives just because he supported Labor previously, but Hopper said something like that too, and I'm not sure if this isn't just to cushion the blow to his lefty fans.

Several interesting things in the interview:

AVC: [Violent vigilatne movie "Harry Brown," Caine's next film] has drawn criticism for presenting what some have called a “Daily Mail take” on things—that it’s tabloid fear-mongering.

MC: That was exactly the reaction. Because one of the things is that if you’re a Socialist newspaper, well, the Socialists have been in power for 12 years, and these are the very poorest people in England, and this is what’s happened to them. So you’ve got to say it’s a load of crap. [Laughs.]

AVC: How did Harry Brown influence your recent coming out as an official spokesman for the Conservative Party?

MC: That came out because they actually had a charity that was trying to take care of these people. This wasn’t something that [Conservative Party leader David] Cameron was going to do if he became Prime Minister; it’s been up and running for ages, and Cameron is part of it. But there’s also another reason—that is, that I don’t belong to any political party. If anybody’s been in too long, I vote for the next lot. [The Labour Party] has been in for three terms now, and I always think that it’s too long. I voted for Maggie Thatcher, and when she’d been in for two terms, I voted for Tony Blair. Now he’s been in too long, and we wound up with Gordon Brown. We didn’t even vote for him. So I thought I’d vote for Cameron this time. But then I told him, “You’ve only got two terms, as well.”

AVC: You told him that to his face?

MC: Yeah, I did. I think we should all vote like that. Otherwise we’re just the slaves of any political party. We should vote for the welfare of the country, not for the welfare of the party.

...

AVC: But do you think the movie might actually encourage an “us against them” mentality rather than “we should help these people”? The audience I saw it with cheered every time you killed someone.

MC: No, I don’t think so at all, because in the cinema the people we’re killing are really bad people. Let’s put it another way: 80 percent of any gang is not there to attack someone. They’re there so no one will attack them. We’re aiming at that 80 percent that you could possibly save, if you want to put it that way. There are quite a high percentage of people in there who are sociopaths, psychopaths, or hardened criminals who you’re not going to reeducate. All we want to do is reeducate the ones who are too scared. [Laughs.]

...

AVC: You’ve spent a good chunk of your career playing likeable criminals, killers, and cads. What’s your secret to making those kinds of characters appealing?

MC: Well, nobody’s a criminal to himself. You see, I never play a criminal like a bad person. It’s like the con man in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels: He’s fooling old ladies for their money and all that. But he never saw himself as [a criminal]. He just saw himself as some kind of romantic figure, which is funny.

AVC: Do you find the more amoral a character, the more interesting it is to play?

MC: Oh yeah, they are more interesting to play. I don’t want to play saints. I don’t think I’d know how to play one, because I’m not one. [Laughs.]

AVC: When you were first coming up, you represented the rough-and-tumble, Cockney, working-class man—the antithesis to more “proper” British heroes. Do you think that those class divisions still exist in pop culture?

MC: No. We broke those down in the ’60s. You have to remember that before people like me came along, the only time you ever saw a Cockney in the movie was either as a thug or a subservient servant of some kind. You never saw [Cockney] heroes until John Osborne wrote Look Back In Anger—the first working-class hero I remember. For instance, in England, all war films were about officers, which is why my lot—my young guys—we all watched American war films. All American war films are about privates. From Here To Eternity, The Naked And The Dead—it’s all about privates. Every British war film was about officers. But I eventually wound up in a play called The Long And The Short And The Tall, which was the first play for the stage ever written about private soldiers. So that was where we broke the class thing down.

I really like that last bit-- Britain really does have that tradition of only writing books and making movies about the upper class (or at least "respectable" middle class).

That's why Robin Hood -- as obvious and iconic a member of the yeomanry, or proto-middle class, as there ever was in all of history (or historic fiction)-- was of course transformed into Lord of Loxley in plays, and then movies, a very dumb conceit that continues to the present day.

And is what's wrong (among dozens and dozens of other things) with the new Ridley Scott Robin Hood -- yeah, sort of, he's a yeoman, but then they still want to make him Lord of Loxley and so have a big boring convoluted patch of the movie which makes him become Lord of Loxley by invitation and deception, and also then they establish that he seems to be the son of a baron or some other nobleman.

It spends the first half hour establishing him as a yeoman commoner, and then the next hour fighting itself to back-door him into the nobility. I felt like Russel Crowe had wanted to make him a yeoman, and Ridley Scott wanted to make him a lord, yet again (or vice versa), and the compromise they found was to make him both, which wouldn't be that objectionable, except they wasted my time for over an hour with this wishy-washy partly-one-but-really-the-other nonsense.

Worst movie I ever saw in the theater -- don't see Robin Hood. I could not wait for it to be over, and I had that feeling within 50 minutes.

It was so bad I could never get down to a proper review, because I just kept noodling in my head all the things that were fundamentally wrong with it, and there were too many to detail.

See Iron Man 2 (more of the same, almost as good; not great, but neither was the first one, actually) and, yes, MacGruber, which is very funny and well done, but is not for everyone -- it earns every inch of its R rating with filthy jokes and scatological humor.

Posted by: Ace at 11:53 AM | Comments (224)
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Dennis Hopper, Actor, Icon, Unexpected Conservative, Dead at 74
— Ace

Strange and compelling man.

And a conservative, too, as weird it is to imagine him as such.

But Hopper is still part of the counterculture -- only in liberal, Democratic Los Angeles, that means being a registered Republican.

"I've always been political," Hopper says, "but I haven't always been a Republican. I was with Martin Luther King [and] at the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley. I was a hippie. I was probably as Left as you could get without being a Communist."

Asked what happened, Hopper says, "I read too much Thomas Jefferson and decided that every 25 years you needed to have a change if you're really going to have a republic, and the Democrats had been in power too long."

This was about the time that Ronald Reagan was campaigning for the 1980 presidential election.

"I never cared for Reagan, very honestly," Hopper says. "I thought he was a bad actor. I never thought he was a great communicator, didn't think he was a great speaker.

"But the idea of changing the Congress, changing the Senate, getting the Democrats out, getting the Republicans in, also the idea of having less government -- which didn't seem to work out."

What began as a philosophy of political change turned into a change of political philosophy.

"The idea of less government," Hopper says, "more individual freedom, is something that I liked. I started believing it. So I started voting. I voted that time for Reagan, and I've voted on the straight Republican ticket ever since. I don't go to meetings, I don't go to things. I just go to the polls and do it."

He adds, "I think I just made the natural curve. You've got to start one place and go all the way around."

Hopper has discovered that, while many in Los Angeles pride themselves on their tolerance, some things still ruffle their feathers.

"The controversy about me," Hopper says, "I don't think it's going to stop me. However, a lot of people treat me differently, and they do bring it up. I'll be at a dinner party, and somebody will say, 'Well, you couldn't be thinking that ...' And then you realize that everybody at the table is looking at you, and they're like, 'You're kidding! You're not really for Bush.' And it goes around the table."

Greatest Stand-Off and F-You Ever: Content warning -- Hopper goes there in attempting to insult his Sicilian executioner.

"No -- I'm quotin', it's history, it's written."

When I wrote this post, I wanted to add that I get a strange, unconfirmed vibe that Walken swings conservative too -- and I couldn't remember why when I thought of Hopper I immediately thought of Walken, too.

Now I see, thanks to a commenter, why I made that connection. These two are linked forever by this scene.


Posted by: Ace at 11:38 AM | Comments (110)
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Shocker: Court Destroyed Evidence That Landrieu's Phones Were Working Fine, Just As O'Keefe Endeavored to Establish
— Ace

Hmmmm...

Patterico says he cannot think of any legal principle that justifies the destruction of copyrighted work with a clear relevance to political debate.

I can, sort of, but it doesn't apply: There is the basic notion that a criminal shall not profit from his crimes. But a general notion is not actually a law; a law is specific, and very detailed about what the circumstances must be for a criminal's first amendment rights -- to, say, write a book about his murder spree and collect royalties from it -- to be so abridged.

Obviously, no law covers the instant situation, so where did the court get its authority to do this?

A possibility is that the court or prosecutors demanded just this as part of the plea agreement -- but that begs the next question: In that case, why did the court or prosecutors decide that protecting a Democrat from damaging information collected in a sting was a priority that rivaled dispassionate execution of justice?

Where did they get the idea that among their duties was sparing Mary Landrieu from the political fallout of the revelation of a damaging lie?

Why is this their concern at all? Certainly no code of ethics commands this.

Seems to me they volunteered to make part of their official duties playing damage-control and running interference for Senator Landrieu. And the reason for this is so obvious that I can't even ask the rhetorical question about it without offending my own intelligence.

This is very similar to the basic rules of leaks: If a leak damages a Republican, the leak is considered legitimate and the story is the content of the leak itself.

If, however, a leak damages a Democrat, the leak is considered illegitimate and not fit for public discussion and the story is instead about the lack of ethics and political maneuvering and general skullduggery that resulted in the leak.

James O'Keefe and his henchmen discovered something important about a political actor. Had that political actor been a Republican, the entire nation would be celebrating his craftiness and fearlessness in exposing a lie, with the media cheerleading this response, even if he had to (barely) bend the law to accomplishment.

But the actor was a Democrat, and so the story is about the penny-ante lawbreaking that ferreted out the information.

And not only that, the information itself is destroyed. By court order. The apparatus of the state rising up with alacrity and menace to protect a member of government from accountability to the public.


Posted by: Ace at 10:57 AM | Comments (51)
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Uh-Oh: "Junk Shot" Fails; "Top Kill" Halted and Being Reevaluated
— Ace

At the current moment: Mission Not Accomplished. Damn hole not plugged.

BP engineers failed again to plug the gushing oil well on Saturday, a technician working on the project said, representing another setback in a series of unsuccessful procedures the company has tried to stem the flow spreading into the Gulf of Mexico.

BP made a third attempt Friday night at what is termed the “junk shot,” a procedure that involves pumping odds and ends like plastic cubes, knotted rope and golf balls into the blowout preventer, the five-story safety device atop the well. The maneuver is complementary to the heavily scrutinized effort known as a top kill, which began four days ago and involves pumping heavy mud into the well to counteract the push of the escaping oil. If the well is sealed, the company plans to then fill it with cement.

The technician working on the project said Saturday that the top kill procedure had been halted and that a review of the data was under way.

“Right now, I would not be optimistic,” said the technician, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the effort. But he added that if another attempt at the junk shot were to succeed, “that would turn things around.”

BP said Saturday that it would not comment on the technician’s assertions.

At a news conference on Saturday morning, Doug Suttles, BP’s chief operating officer, said it was too soon to tell whether the procedure was working. He said it was a process of stopping, starting and re-evaluating.

“We are looking at this continuously,” he said. “If we believe it will work, we should stay with it as long as it takes,” he said. “If we think it won’t, we will go on to the next.”

It's not even slowing the spill:

"I don't think the amount of oil coming out has changed," Doug Suttles, the London-based oil giant's chief operating officer, acknowledged as oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico for the 40th day.

...

The top kill maneuver started on Wednesday and involves pumping heavy fluids and other material into the well shaft to stifle the flow, then sealing it with cement. BP initially said it would take 24 to 48 hours to know if it would work, but Suttles sounded less than confident on Saturday.

There's an interesting and useful debate among conservatives about whether to maintain their own intellectual consistency or demagogue the hell out of this, as liberals have done and will continue doing until the end of time.

Should we note that the President is not all-powerful, and that sometimes things are simply beyond his control, and that it's a childish view of the world to believe the President can fix serious problems simply by thinking real hard about them, being smart, and barking out orders in a clipped and authoritative voice?

I don't think I need to remind anyone that this was the standard of presidential expectations during the Bush years, as far as Iraq and Katrina and every other damn thing too.

Or should we take a more adult and nuanced view, taking into consideration our own arguments through the Bush years that sometimes things just get bad and not everything is chargeable as a defect in presidential leadership?

And also, as a reader urges on me: That this is a primarily a problem for BP, not the federal government, and if we believe in free market capitalism, it's either up to BP to fix this thing or simply go bankrupt from liability?

I don't really buy that last bit at all, because the government is taxed with putting out fires and arresting criminals and defending our borders and rescuing those lost at sea and handling the aftermath of disasters. I reject this idea that the basic functions of any government are really the functions of private actors and private enterprise. That takes libertarianism to an anarchist extreme.

But the debate is being had, and is useful.

Anyone can probably guess my own reaction: I am in favor of the sort of intellectual consistency that says if the Democrats and media forced a certain rule on Bush (even against our objections), then they won that debate, and they established a precedent, and that precedent applies equally (if vindictively) to President Present.

I believe in a politics that abides by the judicial notion of precedent. If a court establishes a rule, then that is the rule to be followed in the future. It doesn't matter if we (the judges in the minority) argued for a different rule and objected to the rule that prevailed. We lost. A rule was established, and that rule should be followed.

We cannot and should not allow a vindictive rule to be pressed against our favorites, over our objections, and then, when our opponents are caught in the brutal operation of that rule, argue again against precedent to reassert the rule we wanted initially and let our opponent off the hook.

Nope, not for me. This is the rule you wanted; this is the rule you shall have.

Charles Krauthammer, I think, takes this position too:

In the end, speeches will make no difference. If BP can cap the well in time to prevent an absolute calamity in the Gulf, the president will escape politically. If it doesn't -- if the gusher isn't stopped before the relief wells are completed in August -- it will become Obama's Katrina.

That will be unfair, because Obama is no more responsible for the damage caused by this than Bush was for the damage caused by Katrina. But that's the nature of American politics and its presidential cult of personality: We expect our presidents to play Superman. Helplessness, however undeniable, is no defense.

Moreover, Obama has never been overly modest about his own powers. Two years ago next week, he declared that history will mark his ascent to the presidency as the moment when "our planet began to heal" and "the rise of the oceans began to slow."

Well, when you anoint yourself King Canute, you mustnt be surprised when your subjects expect you to command the tides.

Lower that ocean, Mr. President. Lower that ocean by 5000 feet so you can walk on the ocean's surface, dry, and just plug that hole like you'd turn off a sink's water.

They say the Constitution is not a suicide pact. Neither is consistency a suicide pact. If Bush and Obama were competing in the Olympics in the high jump, and the liberals set the bar at 9 feet for Bush, we cannot permit them to set the bar at three feet for Obama.

Nine feet is the mark. I didn't argue for that high bar for success under Bush, but, the mark having been established, I'll be damned if I'm going to let it be lowered for King Obama.

"But That Makes Us Just as Guilty Of a Double-Standard As the Liberals!" A lot of conservatives say this sort of thing, and it annoys me.

That may be true in some situations -- but not all.

First of all, I wouldn't fetishize consistency as a virtue. Believe in it, yes. Fetishize it, no, because at the end of the day, we are all inconsistent and urge rules that act in our favor and different rules for our opponents, and to not accept this fundamental flaw in human nature, to believe oneself immune from it, is to indulge in a vanity.

I suppose one could and should fight this impulse, and at least keep it in check -- but one also has to keep in mind that this becomes a less important consideration when one's opponents aren't doing the same. That is, if one's opponents are engaging in staggering hypocrisy and double-standards, one is a sap to maintain such standards perfectly for oneself.

But there's a much more important and persuasive argument than "They do it too!" (which is, admittedly, a childish impulse).

And it gets to the idea of precedent again. The important thing in a courtroom as far as future rules and future behavior is not what principle you argued for, but rather what principle actually carried the day and is thus established as the rule-going-forward.

If I'm a lawyer in the year 1400, I might argue against the "excited utterance" exception to hearsay rule. I might be utterly unconvinced by my opponent's suggestion that if an utterance is "excited" it is vested with some intrinsic reassurance of its truthfulness -- excitement, after all, can be faked.

But if I lose on that point, and the exception is established (as it was), I'd be a fool to not take advantage of that exception to the rule when it benefited me. I would be a fool, and a sap, and a chump, to accept that rule, imposed on me by the judge, when it damaged me, and then self-impose the opposite rule on myself, and not take advantage of the precedent, when the judge's ruling could benefit me.

A lot of the times, when conservatives, attempting something like rigor of intellectual consistency, say "But then we'd be hypocrites!," they are utterly failing to consider which rule actually prevailed in court -- the court of public opinion and the court of media coverage and the court of political consequences.

Yes, we argued passionately for a different rule. But we lost, and a new rule was established. This is the rule, then, going forward for all parties, and we shouldn't permit Democrats alone to take advantage of the rule, or, if it's a vindictive rule, we shouldn't allow Republicans alone to suffer from it.

If a Republican president is caught lying under oath about an affair that occurred during his tenure in the Oval Office, that is not an impeachable offense.* Yes, I know damn well I argued the opposite in 1998. But so what? I argued the opposite proposition, but I lost in that fight; the rule I had to live with, along with everyone else, was that the president was permitted to do this and retain his office.

This isn't hypocrisy: This is simply accepting that as we fight and argue certain precedents for future conduct are established, certain rules-going-forward laid out.

We can't allow our opponents to endlessly establish one rule for themselves, loose and easy, and another rule, stringent and vindictive, for ourselves.

A rule for presidential conduct in disaster prevention and disaster containment has been established. Liberals urged this rule. They prevailed on it.

It now applies to them as well. Precedent is established, and a rule is in place.

I am not a hypocrite for noticing the historical fact that a rule was in fact established.


* Well, technically, the rule established is that it's impeachment-level but not conviction-and-removal-level.

However, given that the point of an impeachment is to conduct a trial, and we already know what the outcome of that trial should be (acquittal), there hardly seems any point in going through the motions of impeachment, either.

Posted by: Ace at 10:21 AM | Comments (251)
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Saturday Silly
— Gabriel Malor

What's up in your world?

Via Cubachi.

This is an open thread.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 08:46 AM | Comments (102)
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