Chalmers Johnson has died. I read Sorrows of Empire in college, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge of him. This is a pretty good overview of his work.
I remember not being impressed with Sorrows. That’s probably a function of what I wanted out of it: a good argument that there was such a thing as an American empire. His definition was looser than mine was, so I wasn’t happy. Plus, he ventured awfully close to 9/11 conspiracy theory. Thinking back, though, it was a better book than I gave it credit for. The extent to which we have military bases around the world is really astonishing and it does us little good. His warnings about what our foreign policy will lead us to resonate with me more now, as I’m less focused on intentionality and more on consequences. I also didn’t realize that Johnson was Right wing, which is a nice commentary on how Left and Right foreign policy critiques can sound pretty similar.
At this point, I think of him more like Andrew Bacevich: probably correct, but I wish he wasn’t.
That’s what I’m going to do from now on. Name posts sequentially by year.
First, this blog is now hosted by wordpress.com. Because it’s cheaper. Pretty much every link to a single post on this blog is now broken. Exciting.
Second, Dinesh D’Souza is clearly insane. Not, like, normal conservative insane. But truly, madly, deeply insane. But he is an extreme example of why conservatives are such poor political analysts right now. Their sense of proportion (and just basic reality) is completely warped by their need to believe the other side is out to destroy the country and that they are the guardians of truth, justice, and apple pie. The idea that Obama is a pretty basic corporate liberal with no grand plans for radical reform simply doesn’t compute.
But of course, we have 9% unemployment, so Republicans will win big in November. Then they’ll likely implode. It could be spectacular, but not great for the country.
How is this not awesome? Conservapedia has a Conservative Bible Project going. Because the people who do the NIV translation are a bunch of feminist liberals. Seriously. So they’re going to translate the KJV into more modern English.
For example, one of their suggestions from Mark is to replace Pharisees with “intellectuals” or “skeptical teachers.” One instance:
Jesus perceived immediately what the intellectual types were thinking, and he asked them, “Why are you so hostile to this?
If one of your goals is to enhance the intellectual force of the Bible, the phrase “intellectual types” isn’t helping.
(for reference, here’s what the NRSV translation is: “At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, ‘Why do you raise such questions in your hearts?”)
This is also an obvious example of the flaws in what they’re doing (flaws? no way!). The fact is that Jesus’ conflict with the Pharisees is a conflict with a conservative religious establishment. The Pharisees are representatives of the ruling priests (from what I’ve read, anyway). Jesus’ is rebelling against a religious establishment, which is not a particularly conservative move. Characterizing the representatives of that establishment as “intellectuals,” which undoubtedly conjures up an image of anti-capitalist radicals in academia who want to destroy the very foundation of our country in their minds, is a bit misleading. Jesus is rebelling against tradition and is trying to shake the foundations of the contemporary religious establishment. You can make a better case that he’s analogous to their view of intellectuals. It would be stupid to do so, but less so than the Conservapedia alternative.
That’s not to say that verse is inconsistent with conservatism, just that using it to score conservative points obscures what Mark is describing. The world is too complicated to impose narrow ideological categorization on every event. Conservapedians, can’t handle that.
But we really already knew that, didn’t we?
Apparently. Did you know this person at The Corner can’t read her own chart? It’s true. Just look at the giant bar in the middle (2008’s projected budget deficit) and try to square it with “[e]ach year under Obama is worse than any year under Bush.” I’m pretty sure Bush was president last year.
This also invalidates her second point, but less humorously so.
UPDATE: This is what I get for ignoring how easy that was. Dave points out in comments that the graph is mislabeled and 2009 is the big bar in the middle. Of course, you can still point out that FY2009 includes TARP and the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac subsidies, both of which were Bush policies and a substantial portion of the projected increase. Not to mention the general economic deterioration which is difficult to blame on anyone. But that still means I should pay more attention.
I wonder if replying to emails I get at work with a Snopes link would cause problems.
In other news, you should read this. Of course, I’ve never read any Ayn Rand, so maybe I should shut up. I’ve sort of half meant to read a book of hers, in the same way that I half consider reading a Twilight book: I would feel better about considering them dreck. Alas, I have better things to do.
I think I’m less surprised by the “death panels” and related nonsense about health care reform. It’s a leap that’s surprisingly easy for them, no matter how insane it is. For example, this was said about me in 2004:
I’m glad I’m old – maybe I’ll get to die naturally before his generation wants to kill me off.
That comment was prompted by my support of John Kerry and abortion rights. I said nothing relating to even euthanasia.
The far Right has been primed to believe the Left is a death cult. Abortion is the classic example with the rhetoric about encouraging a “culture of life.” It stands to reason that those opposing you are participating in a culture of death. Terri Schiavo is a more recent example; the Right went nuts claiming she was alive and Leftists were supporting her murder. Ramesh Ponnuru wrote a book called The Party of Death, for crying out loud.
The fact is that the far Right in this country already has a mental landscape that is perfect for these claims to take root. Existential issues with death, worries about increasing secularism, a deeply held belief that we’re participating in genocide, and the the fervent paranoia that accompanies Democratic presidents all work together to produce this kind of insanity. Honestly, could anything less absurd come of this?
It’s been buried in an avalanche of inanity since yesterday, but this post at The Corner was a real gem:
Four years from now, Mitt Romney will be president of the United States. … Point Two: The Republicans always nominate for president the candidate who’s next in line, even if that person is deeply unpopular (e.g., the GOP base’s hatred for John McCain did not prevent him from being nominated; he was the guy who lost to Bush in 2000, ergo…). In 2008, the runner-up was Romney.
You know, you would think Republicans who are so attached to the “we always nominate the next guy in line” thing would know which guy was the runner up last year. It was Huckabee.
Now that that’s out of the way, you can go back to reading about Iran on some other blog. Apparently they had some sort of election. I’m so glad McCain isn’t president right now.
So the big news today is Arlen Specter switching parties. I’m not particularly excited, but hey, it annoys Republicans, so how bad could it be?
Glenn Greenwald has some thoughts. They’re mostly good points, though I must note that saying “it is mystifying why [Democrats] would want to build their majority by embracing politicians who reject most of their ostensible views” and “Arlen Specter is one of the worst, most soul-less, most belief-free individuals in politics” is a little odd. I think the latter explains the former. Those who switch parties do drift in that direction (Jeffords being a good example). So given that Specter does seem fairly principle-free, I think Democrats can reasonably expect Specter to become relatively solid Democratic vote in the future. He won’t be the next Ted Kennedy, but he probably won’t be the next Ben Nelson, either. Though that’s unfair to Nelson, who seems to have some principles. Evan Bayh, maybe?
Michael Ledeen thinks we should be worried about Iranian diplomats in Nicaragua. Iran has “easy entry” into the U.S. from there the article he links states that Iran uses Hizbollah to attack its enemies from their embassies, so clearly they’re gearing up for a proxy war against us.
I assume Ledeen’s next post is going to be about how we need to start covertly funding counter-revolutionaries to destabilize Ortega’s government, which is just a
Soviet Iranian proxy. Luckily, he’s just the person to connect us to some Islamic radicals we can sell weapons to to cover the cost.
Mark Hemingway is an idiot. That’s what I assume from this, anyway. He quotes this approvingly:
Abstinence-only education doesn’t actually exist. It’s a term used by critics of abstinence education rather than purveyors, who prefer, simply, abstinence education. The term “abstinence-only” attempts to create the perception that abstinence education is a narrow and unrealistic approach. While such loaded terms are to be expected of activists, the media usage of the term is regrettable.
Seriously? I thought the purpose of that term was to describe it accurately. Abstinence education is included in all sex educations programs. “Activists” object to programs that teach abstinence exclusively. They’re not against abstinence education. The unique feature is the “only” part of abstinence-only sex education. Conservatives want to try and hide behind inaccurate language and make their unrealistic social engineering scheme look less stupid.
There’s another quote in the article he cites that’s pretty interesting:
The liberal caricature of abstinence education is of school marms rapping the knuckles of teens and telling them—day after day—not to have sex. In fact, a review of curricula for abstinence education programs shows surprisingly little about sex—and a lot about building self-esteem, understanding risky behavior, finding responsible partners, and growing a family.
I don’t know, I though most of us were aware that these people try to dress up their lies with supposedly engaging activities. I had to sit through a presentation promoting abstinence alone in high school (this was separate from our normal sex ed class, which also included abstinence). It certainly wasn’t school marms imploring us to not have sex, but it was still absurd.
I can’t believe conservatives are still on this bandwagon. Oh wait, yes I can. They love to use the phrase “social engineering” to describe liberal social programs, but they’re all too happy to try out common sense-defying schemes when their magic book says so. Never mind that we know they don’t work. If we just close our eyes and wish hard enough (also known as praying), human nature will magically change! Any time now. Really.