The Senate is paralyzed, Paul Kane of the Washington Postpoints out. Why? Personalities:
Senators say that they increasingly feel like pawns caught between Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), whose deep personal and political antagonisms have almost immobilized the Senate. The two men so distrust each other, and each is so determined to deny the other even the smallest political success, that their approach to running the Senate has been reduced to a campaign of mutually assured dysfunction.
“Mutually assured dysfunction” is nicely turned, and Kane goes on for several paragraphs about Senators discussing the personal antagonism between Reid and McConnell and several interventions which have taken place to try and resolve things.
The real reason doesn’t emerge until much later:
Much of that hopelessness has to do with the aspirations…
I’d like to revise and extend my previous post, because handing over serious surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) to a bunch of incompetent amateurs* is not the work of a smart man. Bringing down a civilian airliner (and adding nearly 300 more deaths to the ongoing tragedy in the Ukraine) is such a monumentally stupid thing to do that it boggles the mind. Every single country with someone on that plane now has cause to be enraged with Russia. The European countries that had shied away from imposing harsh sanctions on Russia now have to be reconsidering it, as does the United States.
In the long term, it may not end up changing the ultimate result, but it will delay Russia being forgiven and likely cost it more in economic damages. For what? There’s no earthly advantage to be gained from destroying a civilian airliner for anyone involved. …
Now that he’s sown chaos in Ukraine—but uneager to participate in someone else’s civil war—President Vladimir Putin has thrown the rebels under the bus. In June, rebel leader Igor Strelkov said that “Putin betrayed us,” and that betrayal has only deepened as Kiev launched its all-out offensive last week. Moscow, having started all this, has offered no help to the rebels.
That Putin. He’s quite the guy, isn’t he? It appears that he eventually figured out that Ukraine wasn’t going to fall neatly into his lap, and the cost of fomenting an all-out war there was simply too great.
Maybe. But look at the result: Russia has neatly acquired the Crimea, stirred up enough trouble in Ukraine that Western governments have largely stopped…
President Obama is — according to a recent survey — the worst American President since World War II:
He narrowly beats out his predecessor, George W. Bush, 33% – 28%.
I’m sure that each one of the 1446 respondents worked their way carefully through each postwar President, mentally cataloguing their performance. Did LBJ’s Great Society counterbalance his Vietnam debacle? Was Eisenhower’s saber-rattling an effective foreign policy? Was Truman justified in trying to nationalize the steel industry to stop a strike? How heavily to weigh Nixon’s opening of China against his criminality in Watergate? Reagan and PATCO, supply side, end of the Cold War, Iran-Contra? Clinton and don’t ask don’t tell, welfare reform, economic growth, Monica Lewinsky. Bush9/11AfganistanIraqMedicaidSurge. Obamacarebenghazililyledbetteryoudidntbuildthatlibyasyria.
Is back, and Politico thinks that he’s worth quoting on Iraq:
“This is the education of Barack Obama, but it’s coming at a very high cost to the Syrian people to the Iraqi people [and] to the American national interest,” said Doug Feith, a top Pentagon official during the George W. Bush administration.
“They were pretty blasé,” Feith said of the Obama team. “The president didn’t take seriously the warnings of what would happen if we withdrew and he liked the political benefits of being able to say that we’re completely out.”
Just to remind yourself of how hopelessly incompetent Douglas Feith was during the Iraq War, I offer this and this. You could also just go with Tommy Franks’ evaluation, used for the title of this post, and be done with it.
When an MSNBC interviewer asked David Brat, the economics professor at Randolph-Macon College who toppled Eric Cantor in a primary challenge Tuesday, whether he opposed the minimum wage, he responded on Wednesday, “Um, I don’t have a well-crafted response on that one.”
The political class is billing it as a gaffe. But Mr. Brat’s fellow economists would probably be far more generous.
Assessing the evidence on the effects of the minimum wage is a tricky business, and the evidence isn’t strong enough to support the certainties that pundits seem to demand.
Well, that’s nice. I’m sure when David Brat has to take a vote on the issue, his lack of decisiveness will serve his constituents well. Policymakers don’t have the luxury of scholars; they have to decide, even in the absence of firm evidence. Should David …
Shostakovich, though well established as one of the principal composers of the Soviet Union, ran afoul of the censors with the opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (1936), unedifying in its story and violent in its musical language. His 4th Symphony was already in rehearsal when he was persuaded to withdraw it — it doesn’t have a story to criticize, but the music is vast in scope and magnificently aggressive, exhilarating today but hardly the populist affirmation the Party and its Leader were starting to be clear they were looking for. Shostakovich went back to the drawing board to write…
Imperial powers gain much of their strength from their global networks. The British – by owning the oceans in the 19th century – controlled how much of the world’s commerce moved. In that same century, much of the world’s information moved over British telegraph networks. They gave Britain power. The Zimmerman Telegram, which had much to do with bringing the United States into World War I against Germany, went through a telegraph clearing house in London, where the British intercepted it, decoded it, and passed it on to the United States, much to Germany’s dismay.
So, too, with what the United States is doing now. The National Security Agency could not gather much of the information it did if global networks of communication were not dominated by American companies. Thus, Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, could quickly get secret information on her opponents’ negotiating…
Job reports. In the latest form of blog posts/newspaper articles, we have the “The jobs report is good/bad on the surface, but bad/good underneath” genre. We got a bumpercrop of it after today’s release. Yes, I know that today’s report was not of unalloyed good cheer, but 288,000 jobs added is a solid result for this economy, as it squelches along in an era obsessed with austerity.
Benghazi is back (as if it ever left!) because Hillary Clinton is (probably) running for President in 2016. Benghazi will be an issue until she has finished with her second term.
Evil Plane Seat Booking Behavior. From Tuesday’s New York Times “A child and his mother almost did me in once [on a plane flight]. I love children. Children are great. But recently I had the middle seat between a mother and her little boy. I thought it was strange …
Shorter John Cassidy: Putin may have a set of motivations that are rational by his lights, but I think he’s crazy:
Putin is a Russian nationalist[*] through and through, and, historically, an important part of Russian nationalism has been expansionism. When you are dealing with a something as combustible as that, you can’t always rely on rational behavior to prevail.
The problem with Cassidy’s article is that logic that he ascribes to Putin actually makes perfect sense. Putin may think that the short-term economic and political costs of annexing the Crimea (and possibly Eastern Ukraine) is worth the longer term benefit of fully recovering the best port in the Black Sea, taking a large chunk of population and resources, and generally showing Eastern Europe and Central Asia that Russia is still a power with which to be reckoned. The rump Ukraine, he…
The Department of the Navy is advertising a summer internship as a “Student Trainee Laborer.” It is paid, admittedly, but doesn’t strike me as a particularly educational experience:
This position is that of a Student Trainee (Laborer) assigned to perform a combination of tasks requiring little or no special skill, experience or training. The work requires primarily physical effort and involves use of common hand tools and power equipment.
Loads and unloads heavy boxes, bulky supplies and materials to and from trucks, hand trucks and dollies.
Performs a multitude of ground maintenance such as maintaining and preparing lawn area, removing weeds and debris, grass, tree and shrub maintenance.
Moves and arranges furniture.
Luckily, your graduate education will, in fact, work as qualification:
2) Any of the following educational institutions or curricula that have been accredited by an…
Tens of thousands of city residents and U.S. Army soldiers here will evacuate their homes, offices and barracks Thursday as military explosives experts, seasoned by duty in Afghanistan, attempt to disarm a gargantuan bomb that was among thousands dropped during a single Allied mission 70 years ago.
Covering it with a wooden box seems…inadequate, somehow.
This is what it looks like, going off:
And what the bombing raid that dropped it in 1944 might have looked like:
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This blog is a blog about history, Yiddishkeit, and the Muppets, neither exclusively nor necessarily in that order. And as William Gibson said about this very blog (no, really), “History can save your ass.” Yiddishkeit and the Muppets are just extras.
is the associate director of the Cornell in Washington program and a senior lecturer at Cornell University. He teaches courses on European history, modern military history, guerrilla war, and the role of popular will in waging war.
is a professor of history at UC Davis. He is the author of A River and Its City: The Nature of Landscape in New Orleans, which won the Abbott Lowell Cummings Prize in 2004, and his new book, A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek, will be published by Harvard University Press in fall 2012.
is a professor of history at UC Davis. She is the author of Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11 (Oxford, 2009); Red Spy Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth Bentley (North Carolina, 2002); and Challenging the Secret Government: The Post-Watergate Investigations of the CIA and FBI (North Carolina, 1996).