October 15, 2013, 7:06 pm
The House GOP got its singing chops on today:
When reports surfaced that House Republicans sang “Amazing Grace” during a Tuesday morning meeting, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) responded with a laugh.
“Isn’t that usually sung at funerals?” he joked with reporters.
But it turned out Connolly was more right than he realized. Right after the GOP conference sang the hymn — all three verses, according to one lawmaker — the meeting turned into a funeral for the latest proposal put forward by party leaders for raising the debt ceiling and ending the government shutdown
The first time as tragedy…
October 13, 2013, 7:57 pm
From the Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union, 1860:
These ends it endeavored to accomplish by a Federal Government, in which each State was recognized as an equal, and had separate control over its own institutions. The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights, by giving them the right to represent, and burthening them with direct taxes for three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor.
We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our…
October 12, 2013, 5:02 pm
Rep. John Fleming, (R-LA):
Perhaps he sees this as the best opportunity for him to win the House in 2014. It’s very clear to us he does not now, and never had, any intentions of negotiating.
Perhaps he was fooled by the part where President Obama said he wouldn’t negotiate until the government was reopened. Easy mistake, really.
October 11, 2013, 5:33 pm
Ezra Klein makes a nice point about the GOP’s profound strategic stupidity:
It’s hard to overstate the magnitude of the GOP’s strategic failure here: Obamacare’s launch has been awful. More than a week after the federal insurance marketplaces opened, most people can’t purchase insurance on the first try. But Republicans have chosen such a wildly unpopular strategy to oppose it that they’ve helped both Obamacare and its author in the polls.
It takes a great deal to be more political inept than the Democrats, but the Republicans have somehow managed it.
October 11, 2013, 5:04 pm
From Peter Baker’s profile of the Bush-Cheney relationship:
A few weeks before Barack Obama’s inauguration, Joshua Bolten invited all of his predecessors to his office in the West Wing to meet with his successor, Rahm Emanuel. Thirteen of the living 16 men to have served as chief of staff attended, including Cheney, who was Gerald Ford’s top assistant. They went around the table one by one, offering advice. When Cheney’s turn came up, a devilish look crossed his face. “Whatever you do,” he said, “make sure you’ve got the vice president under control.”
The further irony, of course, is JOE BIDEN!
October 10, 2013, 2:23 am
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%
October 8, 2013, 3:53 pm
Answers to some questions on the shutdown:
So why is the government shut down?
Because of the Republicans. Unwilling to accept that both Houses of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the electorate have signed off on the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), the Republicans – notably the House GOP and the Koch Brothers™ – have decided to take the US government and the global economy hostage to demand that health care be defunded.
But, wait, aren’t the Democrats refusing to negotiate?
Yes, in the sense that when your teenager threatens to burn the house down unless they can go out past 10 pm, you don’t “negotiate” with them. No, in the sense that the Democrats aren’t actually demanding anything in this situation except, well, that the GOP not drive the car off a cliff. Also, no, in the sense that President Obama has made the quite reasonable decision that if he caves on anything…
October 6, 2013, 3:00 pm
From the New York Times, titled “Libyan Government Demands Explanation After U.S. Raid:”
A day after American commandos carried out raids in two African countries aimed at capturing fugitive terrorist suspects, Libya’s interim government on Sunday demanded an explanation from Washington for what it called the “kidnapping” of a Libyan suspect
“Yes, we violated Libyan sovereignty. Yes, we kidnaped a Libyan citizen. No, you can’t have him back. No, we’re not apologizing. Yes, we might do something similar in the future.”
I mean, come on, can we just go straight to the condemnation?
October 4, 2013, 5:37 pm
Galrahn, over at Information Dissemination, suggests that the Obama administration never had any intent of striking at Syria:
These two pictures combined tell us something important: The President of the United States never intended to conduct military strikes against Syria in response to the chemical weapons attack that took place on August 21st. He was bluffing. The President was never playing chess, but he was never playing checkers either; President Obama was playing poker.
His analysis is based on looking at US military capabilities in the Eastern Mediterranean. To mount a strike on Syria would have required ships with substantial amount of firepower, either in the form of cruise missiles or aircraft. The latter was unlikely, as the Syrian air defenses could be expected to inflict casualties on manned aircraft, a political problem for President Obama. That limits the use of air…
October 3, 2013, 1:30 pm
“We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”
–Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-IN.
To steal one of Brad DeLong’s memes, why, oh why, can’t we have a better Republican party?
October 1, 2013, 10:00 am
An article at Salon notes that American soldiers and marines have anthropomorphized their battlefield robots, bestowing both names and emotions upon them:
As the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts have unfolded, the military has been expanding its use of robots on the battlefield. Often, these mechanical helpmates are deployed to carry out high-risk tasks related to the inspection, detection, and defusing of explosives. Their benefits are obvious: They save human lives, cannot be harmed by biological or chemical weapons, and don’t get tired or emotional. But are soldiers becoming too invested in their AI buddies? And could such sentimental attachment cloud their decision-making?
Julie Carpenter, a recent Ph.D. in education from the University of Washington, will explore this question in an upcoming book about human/robot interrelations. She interviewed 23 explosive ordnance personnel—2…
September 30, 2013, 1:23 pm
Ah, company towns raise their heads again:
“We had to sleep on the floor in overcrowded apartments,” said Allen, while paying their boss rent that sometimes exceeded the low wages and limited hours he provided them. “After getting a paycheck of zero dollars and zero cents” due to rent being deducted, said Allen, “we would still be getting texts from his wife saying that we still have balance of x amount” in remaining rent unpaid. When workers began organizing, he said, “we were threatened in writing from our boss.”
Company towns, like Pullman, Chicago, at least (sometimes) had a progressive (if paternalistic) sense of improving the workers’ lives. Today’s story isn’t quite the full company town experience, but it shares the essential problem: giving entirely too much leverage over workers to the company, with the firm serving as both employer and landlord. The…
September 27, 2013, 5:15 pm
The Northwest Passage is open for cargo:
A large sea freighter completed a voyage through the hazardous Arctic Northwest Passage for the first time on Friday as global warming opens routes that mariners have wanted for centuries.
The quest for the Northwest Passage has been going on for centuries, and has even been immortalized in a TV series. Now, global warming has opened up the route. While smaller ships have managed the trip before, the Nordic Orion is the largest cargo ship to make it.
Henry Hudson would be pleased, if anyone knew where he was.
September 19, 2013, 9:34 pm
A 1907 photograph of American warships:
“Uncle Sam’s Peace Doves”: ships being readied for Teddy Roosevelt to send them around the world. The Great White Fleet, as they later came to be known, were new American warships,
on a mission of peace, and a mission of warning. America was powerful, now.
The warning was particularly for Japan, who had lately beaten the Russians soundly in the Russo-Japanese War, and who, Teddy Roosevelt thought, might need to have their memories refreshed. “I thought it a good idea,” Roosevelt said, “that the Japanese should know that there were fleets of the white races which were totally different from the fleet of [the Russians].”
September 11, 2013, 7:19 pm
Lovely spot for a canal you’ve got there
The world began in 1945. Or so many American pundits would have you believe. The predisposition is actually a bit more complicated than that: American history, pundit-style, often starts with the Revolution and Founding Fathers, jumps briefly to the Civil War (Gettysburg!), and then segues directly to Pearl Harbor, D-Day, and then the Cold War. That tendency has been on display in the Syria debate. James Fallows points to a Walter Shapiro article on President Obama’s decision to go to Congress for approval over Syria, which starts Presidential “evisceration” of Congress’ war-making abilities with Harry Truman:
For more than six decades, the war-making powers of Congress have been eviscerated by presidents of both parties. Which brings us back to Truman, who in 1950 balked at asking a Congress weary after World War II for approval to…