Monday Mashup (12/7/09)

  • 1) In case anyone somehow isn’t aware of it, today is the 68th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and in yesterday’s New York Times, writer James Bradley blamed the attack on…Theodore Roosevelt.

    Really.

    Bradley makes the case here that, while brokering peace in the Russo-Japanese War (for which Roosevelt won a Nobel Prize, and thus earning wingnut enmity I’m sure for a president then as now), Roosevelt secretly encouraged Japanese imperialist ambitions which culminated in the attack on Pearl Harbor while TR’s fifth cousin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, occupied the White House.

    Well, I think this critique of Bradley’s book “The Imperial Cruise,” about some kind of secret deal supposedly brokered by Roosevelt war secretary William Howard Taft which allowed for Japanese expansion, echoes much of what was wrong with Bradley’s Times column yesterday, notably that “Bradley says these agreements later came to light and then were forgotten by Americans. But he doesn’t explain why, in the 1930s, imperial Japan would act on the secret words of a man dead for more than a decade and out of office since 1909.”

    Of course, you could argue that Japan launched war against the U.S. because it thought we would immediately seek peace, not wishing to fight a “second front” since we were readying for war in Europe. And of course, there are those who thought FDR surreptitiously sought a way to involve us and allowed Pearl Harbor to happen (which I also disagree with, along with the notion of TR’s blame).

    But those latter two explanations are cold comfort to conspiracy theorists, since they don’t have the burden of the cold, hard logic of reality.

  • 2) Also in yesterday’s New York Times magazine, Matt Bai decried here the revolving door of sorts between the political and pundit class in Washington, D.C. (though, seriously, if it were any other way, he would have a lot less to write about, wouldn’t he?).

    And in so doing, he tells us the following…

    All of this has created an upside-down dynamic in Washington. For most of the country’s existence, prospective candidates have relied on their news-media ties to catapult them into office. As far back as the 19th century, the newspaperman Horace Greeley used his New York Tribune as a platform for his political career; more recently, Ronald Reagan made his radio commentaries the basis for a campaign agenda. Now, however, we may be confronting the opposite phenomenon: some politicians seem to seek office mostly for the purpose of landing on TV. How else to adequately explain the calculated outrageousness of obscure backbenchers like the Republican congresswoman Michele Bachmann (who said Obama was practicing “economic Marxism” and worried that the census could lead to another internment of American citizens) and her Democratic colleague Alan Grayson (who called one lobbyist a “whore” and other Republicans “knuckle-dragging Neanderthals”)?

    Of course, Bai could have told us that Grayson apologized (as noted here), but Bai chose not to do so. And to be fair, Moon Unit Bachmann apologized for calling Obama “anti-American” here, though it should be noted that she was still running for re-election in ‘08 at the time.

  • 3) Also, I was not able to find the following online from David Herszenhorn of the New York Times, though it did appear in the Sunday print edition (about how our poor, put-upon U.S. Senators actually had to work Sunday on health care legislation, and what it did to their schedules of Sunday worship – and no, I don’t know why this is considered to be “news” either)…

    As the Senate geared up for its first weekend of debate on the health care legislation, lawmakers made plans to break from the rituals of governing to allow time for the rituals of religion.

    Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut and an observant Jew, was prepared to vote on Saturday the Jewish Sabbath, following his longtime custom when it comes to important issues, said a spokesman, Marshall Wittmann. Mr. Lieberman would walk to the Capitol, not drive.

    And the Republican leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who is a Baptist, has secured an agreement from Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader (strange that “majority leader” was initial lower case in H.’s story, since it’s a title), Democrat of Nevada and a Mormon, that senators will have Sunday morning off so they can go to church.

    “I think it very likely that we wouldn’t come in until noon or somewhere around noon on Sunday,” Mr. Reid said.

    At the same time, St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church on Capitol Hill has warned parishioners that because the Senate planned to be in session Sunday, they might not have access to a government parking lot that is normally used for parishioners.

    Oh, and by the way, this snark is noteworthy…

    The Senate Republicans’ appeal for time to go to church is just about the only Republican procedural request that Democrats have not suggested was a stalling tactic.

    Still, the calendar between now and the end of the year looks tighter than ever. Even with time off for Sabbath services, there is no sign of a day of rest anytime soon.

    Awww, poor babies!

    And by the way, maybe Herszenhorn didn’t see this from Politico (they actually get some reporting right every now and then, usually when Mike Allen isn’t involved), but it describes a memo circulated by Senate Repug Judd Gregg on doing whatever it could to “stall” on the matter of health care reform in particular (h/t Think Progress). So given that, I don’t know why it should be assumed that the Repugs wouldn’t do all they could to slow legislation.

    And in another Herszenhorn column on health care reform (particularly the public option and the “opt out” provision – I know why all Senate Repugs and some Democrats are fighting it, but given its overwhelming support, their antics are particularly despicable), he concludes with the following…

    Two pivotal centrists, Senators Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, and Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, said they could not support any of these proposals being floated by Democrats.

    “The public option is really a government-created and government-run insurance company,” Mr. Lieberman said. “It won’t help a single poor person get insurance.”

    It really is true about how The Last Honest Man is allowed to lie with impunity, my fellow prisoners.

    And I must admit that I really don’t know how directly to respond to such a bogus charge, except to point to this column from Chris Hayes of The Nation, in which he tells us the following…

    Red, rural states would almost all probably opt out and yet it’s rural America that needs the public option the most. As the Center for Community Change points out in a new report [PDF] people who live in rural areas are a) more likely to be underinsured, because fewer people receive insurance from their employers and b) live in markets where there is essentially no competition. In Alabama one health insurance company has 90% market share, in South Dakota, it’s two companies. It’s under these circumstances where the public option is most needed.

    And it should also be noted here that Holy Joe has thus far refused to appear on The Rachel Maddow Show to defend his claims against the public option and health care reform in general, so that tells you how ridiculous his arguments truly are.

  • 4) And speaking of ridiculous, CNN pundit Mary Matalin tells us the following here…

    Washington (CNN) – A leading Republican strategist and one-time aide to former Vice President Cheney said Sunday that President Obama’s recently announced decision to send an additional 30, 000 troops to Afghanistan is “a reassertion of the Bush doctrine.”

    “The [Bush] doctrine is no safe havens [for terrorists intent on harming the United States] and we go after those that provide a harbor [for such terrorists]. That’s the doctrine,” Republican strategist Mary Matalin explained Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.

    The problem for Democrats,” Matalin also said Sunday, “is that they’ve bashed Bush strategy and tactics for so long and now they have to embrace them because they’re the only ones that do work.”

    Oh, that’s funny!

    In the matter of “Bush strategy and tactics,” let’s compare how our current chief executive has arrived at his own war strategy (whether you agree with it or not, and truth be told, I don’t), versus his predecessor.

    First, here is an excerpt from a Times story by Peter Baker which tells us the following…

    The three-month review that led to the escalate-then-exit strategy is a case study in decision making in the Obama White House — intense, methodical, rigorous, earnest and at times deeply frustrating for nearly all involved. It was a virtual seminar in Afghanistan and Pakistan, led by a president described by one participant as something “between a college professor and a gentle cross-examiner.”

    Mr. Obama peppered advisers with questions and showed an insatiable demand for information, taxing analysts who prepared three dozen intelligence reports for him and Pentagon staff members who churned out thousands of pages of documents.

    Now, let’s take a Tragical History Tour back about five and a half years concerning Obama’s predecessor (in a Times column by Bob Herbert)…

    Condi Rice was in Washington trying to pass her oral exam before the 9/11 commission yesterday, and the president was on vacation in Texas. As usual, they were in close agreement, this time on the fact that neither they nor anyone else in this remarkably aloof and arrogant administration is responsible for the tragic mess unfolding in Iraq, and its implications for the worldwide war on terror.

    The president called Ms. Rice from his pickup truck on the ranch to tell her she had done a great job before the panel.

    It doesn’t get more surreal than that.

    Mr. President, there’s a war on. You might consider hopping a plane to Washington.

    It’s hard to imagine that the news out of Iraq could be more dreadful. After the loss of at least 634 American troops and the expenditure of countless billions of dollars, we’ve succeeded in getting the various Iraqi factions to hate us more than they hate each other. And terrorists are leaping on the situation in Iraq like rats feasting on a mound of exposed cheese.

    The administration has no real plan on how to proceed. It doesn’t know how many troops are needed. It doesn’t know, in the long term, where they will come from. It doesn’t know whether it can meet the June 30 deadline for turning over sovereignty to the Iraqis. (It doesn’t know what sovereignty in this context even means. June 30 was an arbitrary date selected with this year’s presidential campaign in mind.) It doesn’t have a cadre of Iraqi leaders to accept the handoff of sovereignty. And so on.

    When you open the door to get a look at the Bush policy on Iraq, you find yourself staring into an empty room.

    Meanwhile, people are dying.

    But just remember that Obama has copied “Bush’s strategy and tactics.”

    And just to remind us, Matalin said this on CNN.

    We’ll have to “leave it there.”

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    One Response to Monday Mashup (12/7/09)

    1. nikolaykotev says:

      Dear Mrs (Mr)!
      I want to show you my Blog “The wars. Afghan…” with Url address http://nikg.wordpress.com/ . In the blog you can see photos from the contemporary war in Afghanistan, after 2003 and my scientific aricles about the history of Afghanistan in the end of XX century .
      Best wishes
      Nikolay Kotev

      Dear Mrs (Mr)!
      I want to show you my new Blog “Military Diplomacy” with Url address http://nkotev.wordpress.com . The blog is for the diplomatic history and foreign policy during the Second World War. You can see also the Zhukov`s Berlin`s Strategic operation in photos.
      Best wishes
      Nikolay Kotev

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