Category Archives: lamentations

June 15, 2014, 6:52 pm

The “End of History”

Francis Fukuyama still doesn’t understand either.

December 6, 2013, 2:49 am

The Man In The Arena

Teddy Roosevelt, 1910:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Nelson Mandela gave this passage to the captain of the South African Rugby team in 1995, shortly before the team won the …

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November 10, 2013, 4:00 pm

Mi·nu·ti·ae – The Small, Precise, Or Trivial Details Of Something


Things Michael Kinsley remarks on in his review of Double Down: Game Change 2012 by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann: Big words; excrement; umbrage politics; jargon; campaign journalists; trivial reporting; professional consultants; vomit; gaffes; horse-race reporting.

Things that Michael Kinsley leaves out of his review of Double Down: Game Change 2012 by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann: Race (no, a paragraph at the end doesn’t suffice); partisanship; the federal government’s dysfunction and its effect on elections; the federal government’s dysfunction and its effect on policy; the Tea Party; income inequality; the Occupy Movement; the national security state and Obama’s capture by it; the effect of micro targeting on elections; and I’m sure I could keep going if I felt like it.

The most valuable reviewing space in the United States – the front page of the New York Times

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October 10, 2013, 2:23 am

The Crazification Factor

Still germane:

Obama vs. Alan Keyes. Keyes was from out of state, so you can eliminate any established political base; both candidates were black, so you can factor out racism; and Keyes was plainly, obviously, completely crazy. Batshit crazy. Head-trauma crazy. But 27% of the population of Illinois voted for him. They put party identification, personal prejudice, whatever ahead of rational judgement. Hell, even like 5% of Democrats voted for him. That’s crazy behaviour. I think you have to assume a 27% Crazification Factor in any population.

The GOP’s approval rating at the moment? 28%

July 31, 2013, 4:37 pm

Stop Your Vessel Immediately! (aka “Slutbag” in Signal Flags)

Because the Tenured Radical requested it:


Source. Shockingly, there is no flag code specifically for “slutbag,” so the above spells it out letter for letter. Some of the flags have larger meanings that might be useful for everyone involved: “You should stop your vessel immediately.” “You are running into danger.” “Do not pass ahead of me.” “I am taking in, discharging, or carrying dangerous cargo.” “I require a pilot.” I leave it to the reader to figure out how they apply.

April 18, 2013, 8:34 pm

Always The Woman’s Fault

Because, of course, Mark Sanford was simply the hapless soldier, stuck in a minefield (on the Appalachian Trail, probably):

Indeed, while Jenny has never come out and publicly opposed Mark’s congressional candidacy — choosing to remain officially neutral — she’s waged a brutally effective passive-aggressive campaign against it. Whether it was revealing to me that Mark had shamelessly asked her to manage his election bid; or telling the Washington Post that, until the night Mark’s fiancée showed up onstage at his victory party in April, one of her sons had never met the woman; or just generally making it known that she is furious that he’s running, Jenny has done a masterful job of keeping her ex-husband’s past (and not-so-past) transgressions in the news. She has seeded the ground with political land mines, stood back, and waited for Mark to step on one.

The conniving…

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January 16, 2013, 6:28 pm

Small Things Give Away Much

Last Friday, on my way to the Library of Congress to do some research, I passed this protest getting organized. Naturally, because this blog is all about breaking news (well, for a historian, mentioning it less a week later constitutes ‘breaking’), I took photographs:

Photo 1

The discussion over Guantanamo has been loud and heated over the decade and more of its existence, but I will note two small things I think give away a lot. First, the prisoners were put at Guantanamo largely so as to avoid the legal oversight of the US justice system and keep those prisoners outside of the law. Second, those prisoners at Guantanamo were tortured but the United States could not call it that for a long time, instead cloaking the torture in euphemisms.

If you look closely at the photographs, you will see that what looks like the front of the Supreme Court building is, in fact, a giant facade…

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August 15, 2012, 5:40 pm

Embarrassing Correction of the Day

Well, that was a doozy. Monday, amidst the general piling-on of Fareed Zakaria (for reasons good and proper, I should note), the Washington Post breathlessly ran a story headlined “More questions raised about Fareed Zakaria’s work”:

Zakaria’s 2008 book, “The Post-American World,” contains a quote from former Intel Corp. chief executive Andy Grove about the nation’s economic power. “America is in danger of following Europe down the tubes, and the worst part is that nobody knows it,” Grove says in Zakaria’s book. “They’re all in denial, patting themselves on the back as the Titanic heads straight for the iceberg full speed ahead.” The first edition of Zakaria’s book, which became a bestseller, makes no mention of the comment’s source, nor does a paperback version of “Post-American World” published in 2009.

Thief of quotes!

Except, well, no, as David Frum

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June 26, 2012, 2:08 pm

Consistency is the Hobgoblin Of Little Minds. Antonin Scalia has a Giant, Giant Mind.

So, if I understand Antonin Scalia correctly, states are sovereign when it comes to excluding suspicious people from their borders, but not when it means excluding suspicious corporate money from their borders.

Scalia in SB 1070 dissent:

Today’s opinion…deprives States of what most would consider the defining characteristic of sovereignty: the power to exclude from the sovereign’s territory people who have no right to be there. Neither the Constitution itself nor even any law passed by Congress supports this result. I dissent.

Unsigned opinion (with which Scalia concurred) reversing the Montana Supreme Court:

The question presented in this case is whether the holding of Citizens United applies to the Montana state law. There can be no serious doubt that it does.

My favorite analysis of this included the phrase “Citing materials taken from the Internet as recently as last Friday,…

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November 9, 2011, 7:58 pm

Too Late

Tumblr lud4q0VSxs1qzpapgo1 500


By the way, this has been somewhat in the public record since April. Where was the media? ESPN? Hello?

June 24, 2010, 5:07 am

Will this well end well?

There oughta be an axiom of regulation, that if you’re changing the rules in such a way that will make you sound grossly culpable when something goes wrong, you shouldn’t do it.

June 23, 2010, 8:45 pm

natural prayer

I had a vaguely negative impression (mainly received rather than first-hand) of Herman Melville’s abilities as a poet; but “Shiloh” is pretty strong.

Skimming lightly, wheeling still,
    The swallows fly low
Over the field in clouded days,
    The forest-field of Shiloh —
Over the field where April rain
Solaced the parched ones stretched in pain
Through the pause of night
That followed the Sunday fight
    Around the church of Shiloh —
The church so lone, the log-built one,
That echoed to many a parting groan
        And natural prayer
    Of dying foemen mingled there —
Foemen at morn, but friends at eve —
    Fame or country least their care:
(What like a bullet can undeceive!)
    But now they lie low,
While over them the swallows skim,
    And all is hushed at Shiloh.

A military sentimentality I can get behind. The density of rhyme is certainly artificial, and the…

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June 19, 2010, 6:19 am

First draft of history.

An excellent chronicle by Sean Flynn in the July GQ of the events on and around the Deepwater Horizon just before and just after the explosion. I’ve put some excerpts below the fold but the whole thing is worth reading.


May 26, 2010, 3:33 pm

Let's hope this "top kill" works

Via Steve Benen, an awesome or rather horrific photo-set of the oil’s arrival on the Louisiana coast.

We hear about fears of its effects on the American Gulf coast, and of what might happen as it moves out into the Atlantic — but has there been much discussion of its effects on other Caribbean countries? This map, for instance, shows that it’s expected to move past Havana and the north coast of Cuba.

Update 5/27: optimistic reports.

November 30, 2009, 4:58 pm

Historical analogies are deprecated, but…

Bill Moyers has first-hand experience with things like this:

BILL MOYERS: Now in a different world, at a different time, and with a different president, we face the prospect of enlarging a different war. But once again we’re fighting in remote provinces against an enemy who can bleed us slowly and wait us out, because he will still be there when we are gone.

Once again, we are caught between warring factions in a country where other foreign powers fail before us. Once again, every setback brings a call for more troops, although no one can say how long they will be there or what it means to win. Once again, the government we are trying to help is hopelessly corrupt and incompetent.

And once again, a President pushing for critical change at home is being pressured to stop dithering, be tough, show he’s got the guts, by sending young people seven thousand miles from home to fight…

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