Daily Archives: Friday, March 27, 2009

And…today’s music

a quite incredible outtake from The Last Waltz

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Music, etc

Here is some wonderful footage I’d never seen of Paul Simon and John Lennon and Andy Williams.

Nate Silver and the Republican “budget”

The bright man lives here

Quote of the day – “Eugene Robinson’s tasteful euphemisms” category

“Dude you just got owned. He just made you his … companion.”

Watch it here:

h/t Crooks and Liars

Today’s quality snark

Matt Duss and Think Progress has a wonderful piece on the Kristol/Kagan attempt to rebrand their in-the-toilet ideology.

Project For The Rehabilitarion of Neoconservatism

What do you do if your previous organization — and the ideology behind it — has become inextricably bound in the public’s imagination to one of the worst foreign policy blunders in American history? Obviously, shut it down, and start a new organization with a new name.

The Foreign Policy Initiative lists Robert Kagan, Bill Kristol, and Dan Senor on its board of directors, so no prizes for guessing what they’re about (more power, less appeasement, stronger wills.) Kagan and Kristol need no introduction, they’re the Tick and Arthur of disastrously counterproductive military adventurism. Given the staggering costs in American blood, treasure, security, and reputation incurred by their boundless enthusiasm for blowing stuff up, you might think they’d have had the decency to retreat to a Tibetan monastery by now, but sadly no. The way it works in Washington is, if you’re willing to argue for more defense spending, you’ll always find someone willing to fund your think tank.

Dan Senor is less known to the general public, but familiar to those who’ve followed the Iraq debacle closely. From 2003 to 2004, Senor served as a Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman under Paul Bremer. After that smashing success, Senor returned to Washington, where, among other things, in September 2004 he helped write speeches for Iraqi interim prime minister Ayad Allawi’s U.S. visit, and then apparently went on television to praise those speeches as evidence of Bush’s accomplishments in Iraq.

On March 31, FPI holds its first public event, Afghanistan: Planning For Success, though, given the heavy representation of Iraq war advocates, I think a far better title would be Afghanistan: Dealing With The Huge Problems Created By Many Of The People On This Very Stage. The broad consensus among national security analysts and aid officials is that the diversion of troops and resources toward Iraq beginning in 2002 was one of the main reasons the Taliban and Al Qaeda were able to to re-establish themselves in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border areas, facilitating the collapse of the country back into insurgent warfare. Having failed to complete the mission in Afghanistan, Bush and the Iraq hawks handed the Obama administration a war that promises to be as difficult and costly as Iraq has been -– if not more. It’s deeply absurd that some of the people most responsible for the crisis in Afghanistan would now presume to tell us how to deal with it.

NY house seat

There’s a special election next Tuesday for the House seat held by Kirsten Gillibrand (who vacated it to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate). After a period with the Republican candidate (Tedisco) well up over the Dem candidate (Murphy) the gap began to narrow and now a new poll puts Murphy ahead. This seat had been held by Republicans since ’79 until Gillibrand (a blue dog dem) won it. The concensus was that this seat would likely fall to the Republicans which had tradtionally held the seat.

The Republicans really want to win this for the ‘optics’ of it. It’s not just that another loss would be hurtful on top of all the others but rather than, if Tedisco were to win the seat, this would provide “evidence” (not really, of course, but propaganda plays a different game) that infatuation with Obama and Democrats is over and Americans are now turning back to the known and the trusted Republicans…that sort of thing.

Chaz Freeman and the “Israel Lobby”

This matter is still echoing around.  But there are good reasons that it is as this very good piece from The Forward and reproduced at Ha’aretz details:

The pro-Israel lobby – ‘alive, well, and bipartisan?’

The fight is over. Chas Freeman, the outspoken Israel critic appointed to chair the National Intelligence Council, is out. And now, both sides in the explosive firefight that broke out over his appointment are battling to frame the narrative over what it all meant.

For some of Freeman’s critics, the bottom line is what counts. “This shows the pro-Israel lobby is alive and well, and bipartisan,” declared Jonathan Tobin, executive editor of the neoconservative journal Commentary, at a public forum just five days after Freeman’s March 10 withdrawal…But critics, interestingly, are celebrating the bright light the Freeman issue shone on their own questioning of American policy toward Israel and on their claims that the pro-Israel lobby routinely uses its clout to ensure that dissenters gain no foothold. They say their attempt to discuss the Israel lobby issue won a legitimacy it never had before.

…AIPAC’s former director of foreign policy, Steve Rosen, who used his blog to lead the fight against Freeman’s appointment, saw it differently. Rosen, who once famously described the lobby as a night flower that “thrives in the dark and dies in the sun,” made clear that the public exposure did not serve the pro-Israel lobby’s interests.

“I’m sure AIPAC was happy when Freeman withdrew, but they might also be worried by the high profile of the Freeman issue,” he said.

Full piece at the link above.  Highly recommended.