Monthly Archives: August 2011

And then there were eight

Tim Pawlenty drops out of the presidential race this morning.

Practically speaking, there may still be nine candidates left, depending on what’s going on in Sarah Palin’s inscrutable mind.

Key moments from last night’s debate

I didn’t get the chance to watch the Republican presidential debate on FOX last night, where it seems that Bret Baier and Chris Wallace did a great job of asking tough (if at times off-topic) questions. But I’ve caught up on the highlights and the reactions, and here are a few of what seemed like the important (or funny, or depressing) points to me.

1. When asked for a show of hands as to who would walk away from a budget deal that contained a 10-to-1 ratio of spending cuts to tax increases, every single one of the eight Republican candidates raised their hands. Every single one of them claimed to oppose a 10-to-1 deal on the grounds that it isn’t good enough. I don’t think the below video needs any additional commentary; it speaks for itself.

2. Ron Paul thoroughly schooled Rick Santorum on Iran. Santorum’s incoherent foreign policy was no match for Ron Paul’s common-sense advice to simply try to imagine putting oneself in Iran’s shoes, surrounded as it is by nuclear threats, to determine why it might be so interested (assuming that it is) in pursuing nuclear weapons capabilities.

3. Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann took the gloves off last night (something Pawlenty was accused of being unable or unwilling to do in relation to Mitt Romney and “Obamneycare” in the previous debate). While looking a little more feisty this time around, T-Paw nevertheless wasn’t able to do much damage, as Bachmann ably pivoted with some sharp-edged comebacks of her own. (It almost goes without saying that neither of the two showed even the slightest glimpses of ability to govern, preferring instead to boast of their uncompromising positions on everything, but such is the nature of the primaries, and especially so with today’s GOP.) I’m not certain what Bachmann achieves by going head-to-head with Pawlenty, though, since he’s possibly on the verge of being forced out due to lack of traction, and she’s running at or near the top in polls.

4. I’m a bit torn on this one: Far be it from me to agree with Newt Gingrich on anything, but he may have a point here. While I do think that Wallace and Baier largely seemed to do an admirable job of asking questions that voters wanted to hear, Gingrich was understandably (also, self-servingly) frustrated with questions that pertained more to campaign dynamics and gossip than actual policy positions. Given the frequent insanity on policy positions emanating from all the Republican candidates (Gingrich himself being perhaps the most notable in that regard), I can’t say I entirely disagree with his take on the questions.

5. Jon Huntsman. Whatever happened to this guy?

Just an observation

From the New York Times today:

The BBC and other British news organizations reported Tuesday that the police may be permitted to use rubber bullets for the first time as part of the government’s strengthened response to any resumption of the mayhem. David Lammy, Britain’s intellectual-property minister, also called for a suspension of Blackberry’s encrypted instant message service. Many rioters, exploiting that service, had been able to organize mobs and outmaneuver the police, who were ill-equipped to monitor it. [emphasis mine] “It is unfortunate, but for the very short term, London can’t have a night like the last,” Mr. Lammy said in a Twitter post.

This sounds awfully familiar. It is also, as Andrew Sullivan would likely dub it, Greenwald bait.

It goes without saying that most aspects of the London riots are entirely different than those that have been taking place all over the Middle East this year. Nevertheless, it is sometimes helpful to remind ourselves what exactly separates “us” from “them,” as a preemptive guard against a gradual erosion of civil liberties. We’ve learned that lesson the hard way in the United States since 9/11 — and perhaps more depressingly, many have yet to grasp it.

On Glenn Greenwald, Israel, and The Godfather III

Over the last several days, I’ve been commenting on the blog Sad Red Earth, run by A. Jay Adler. The post, guest-written by Rob H., that sparked the extensive comments was titled “Glenn Greenwald’s False Accusation Against The New York Times.” In it, Rob accused Glenn Greenwald, a political blogger on Salon.com, of falsely attributing anti-Muslim bias to the New York Times, which ran a headline immediately after the recent Oslo attacks stating, “Powerful Explosions Hit Oslo; Jihadis Claim Responsibility.”

Greenwald wrote that “for much of the day…the featured headline on The New York Times online front page strongly suggested that Muslims were responsible for the attacks on Oslo.” In reality, Rob countered, “the truth turned out to be that the headline he sharply criticized in two columns — over two days — was only online for about two hours, and NOT ‘much of the day.’ I confirmed this with a Senior Editor at The Times by simply sending him an email inquiring about the headline in question.”

First of all, assuming Rob is telling the truth (and I have no reason to believe otherwise), one should give credit where credit is due. Rob was right, and Greenwald was wrong. In fact, not only was he wrong, but his misinformation looks a bit suspicious: it’s difficult to mistake two hours for most of a day without some pretty severe preconceived biases.

The comments section of Rob’s post soon spun off into a million different directions, however, only some of which were related to the original subject. In general, the comments either supported or rebutted one of the following topics:

1) Glenn Greenwald “often makes mistakes and even admits it while declaring he’ll make many more.” He is thus irresponsible and unreliable as a writer/thinker, and is guilty of committing the same journalistic crimes as those he so often pillories.

2) Greenwald’s “worse [sic] trait is that, in Chomsky style, he truly sees the U.S. as nothing but a force of evil in the world, an [sic] also has this nasty little habit of advancing explicitly anti-Semitic arguments.”

3) As A. Jay put it, “Which is it – you want something ‘out of’ our relationship with Israel that you think we don’t get, or you morally can’t ‘stomach’ Israel? You can’t stomach Syria either, but at least you’re not paying for the upset, and that’s bottom line? And there are not other bases upon which to distinguish between then two and upon which to base our relations with them?”

4) The Godfather III. Don’t ask; I’ll explain later on in this post.

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