Friday, June 29, 2007
RIP Barry L. Beyerstein.
--Spencer Ackerman
thursday's child is sunday's clown:
The new subtitle is The Totalitarian Temptation from Hegel to Whole Foods. Someone named Brad Plummer has done a good job inquiring about the connection between Whole Foods and the jackboot of the state. But perhaps the focus on Whole Foods obscures the deeper, burning question: what does Jonah Goldberg know about Hegel? Will we get a run-through of Marx's debt to Hegel, and totalitarianism's debt to Marx? It's possible, but that would hardly be a very serious thoughtful argument that has never been made in such detail or with such care.
--Spencer Ackerman
Saturday, June 23, 2007
read your math, hold your head:
Woo, Sara! Read this.
--Spencer Ackerman
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
like asking an orphan to shut the fuck up:
It's been forever since I posted here, what with all the Muckraking, but Andrew points to a stunning revelation about one of Mitt Romney's children. Says Tagg Romney:
The column claims we are more Brady Bunch than Simpsons, obviously oblivious to the fact that I get most of my expressions from Ned Flanders, that Ben named his high school band (he was a drummer) after Milhouse (who in turn was named after Richard Milhouse Nixon, in whose cabinet my grandfather served as Secretary of HUD), that my son Thomas is as mischevious as Bart and my daughter Allie as smart as Lisa, or that my son Joe has an appetite for jelly doughnuts. (My emphasis)
Oh, if only. The Only Milhouse That Matters was a Satan-worshipping hardcore band from Long Island in the mid-90s. Do Mormons have the equivalent of Rumspringa? Was that a Romney child at the PWAC?
--Spencer Ackerman
Saturday, June 02, 2007
no peace talks!:
Nizar Latif scores an interview with Moqtada for the Independent on Sunday. No questions are answered about the course of Sadr's Sunni outreach. Instead, Sadr reiterates his bread and butter message: No, No, U.S.A., etc etc.

"The Americans have tried to kill me in the past, but have failed... It is certain that the Americans still want me dead and are still trying to assassinate me.

"I am an Iraqi, I am a Muslim, I am free and I reject all forms of occupation. I want to help the Iraqi people. This is everything the Americans hate."

What's barometrically significant, given Sadr's stance, is that he continues to call for a timetable [for the U.S.] to leave this country," rather than simply taking the less complicated out-now stance. "We must know that they are leaving, and we must know when," he tells Latif. So he would like, but we're not, despite the rationalizations of the Washington Post's edit page to portray the push for an indefinite U.S. presence in Iraq as a mission of responsible governance. It's unlikely that Sadr, in the middle of jockeying for power within Shiite Iraq, would take this position unless he sensed that the Shiites don't want the U.S. out just this instant -- that is to say, if they didn't quite understandably fear what will happen in the wake of a U.S. withdrawal. Since Sadr's back in the spotlight, the way his rhetoric changes (or doesn't) on this subject in the wake of the South Korea Declaration will be worth watching.

Also barometrically significant: Sadr distances himself from Iran (later in the interview) but embraces Hezbollah:

Mr Sadr, whose rise to become one of the most influential figures in Iraq
coincided with the US overthrow of Saddam, said his movement sought to follow
the example of Hizbollah, the Shia armed resistance movement in Lebanon.
"Hizbollah and the Mahdi Army are two sides of the same coin," he said. "We are
together in the same trench against the forces of evil."

It may be hard in the U.S. to understand how someone can revere Hezbollah and be lukewarm on Iran, but it's a coherent position. Hezbollah fights Israel and drives the Shiite community in Lebanon. Iran has a fraught history with Iraq -- to say the least -- and severely complicates Shiite Arabs' relations with their Sunni neighbors more broadly. It's likely that Sadr is underplaying his own connections to the Iran, but, again, reading Sadr as a cipher text for his constituents is what's important here.

--Spencer Ackerman
out of gas, out of road:
Things not to do during a two-and-a-half-day swing through Hawaii to visit family: watch the Yankees implode in the seventh inning against the Red Sox. Why pitch Scott Proctor knowing that he can't use the inside corner or face a multi-game ejection?

Other things not to do, etc.: misapply sunscreen and misjudge the intensity of the midday sun above Oahu while lazily soaking up Michael Chabon's Yiddish Policeman's Union. My midsection resembles improperly seared seafood.

Worth doing: get a crash course in sushi preparation from your very patient aunt and an advisory on poke from the gentleman behind the poke station in Costco. Snorkle alongside a massive sea turtle, avoiding his plot to lure you out into the briny depths of the Pacific and bite your face off. Also, note that shortly after you touch down, Bob Gates reaffirms that the plan in Iraq is to stay -- in some force posture or other -- forever.

--Spencer Ackerman