Friday, November 30, 2007

Scott Horton on Joe Klein

Scott Horton is shrill:

"Salon 1, TIME 0": the Bush Administration’s FISA apologists work feverishly to exploit the intellectually lazy. I am very surprised and very disappointed to see Joe Klein in that crowd. And disappointing as that discovery was, what followed was even worse. Time’s follow-up to the well-deserved criticism has been defensive and its concessions of factual error grudging. And all of this reflects not so much an error on the part of Klein as the Time editors. This has been an extremely bad week for Joe Klein. But it doesn’t change my positive opinion of him and his abilities. And if he’ll just give us another work of the quality of Primary Colors, I’ll forgive him entirely.

Update.... I expected a “grudging” correction. But this isn’t a correction at all, it’s an acceptance of a world of divided red and blue realities. Perhaps next Time will tell us that Republicans believe that WMDs were found in Iraq, but Democrats do not. The word for this and other excuses offered up by Klein in the last few days is simple: unprofessional. This isn’t coming from the journalist I have known and respected for so many years. Something has happened.

Time Magazine Drives Jane Hamsher Shrill!

She writes:

Firedoglake - Firedoglake weblog » Honest Criticism vs. Right Wing Bullying: All Things Aren’t Equal: It’s rather shocking to see how discombobulated Time Magazine has become over the whole Joe Klein/FISA debacle. Did they learn nothing from the Washington Post’s Deborah Howell episode? If they thought they could get away with jamming their fingers in their ears and singing “la la la I can’t hear you,” the Chicago Tribune just stuck it to them by printing a genuine correction to the Klein abomination:

A Time magazine essay by Joe Klein that was excerpted on the editorial page Wednesday incorrectly stated that the House Democratic version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act would require a court approval of individual foreign surveillance targets. It does not.

When I was calling around trying to find out what the editing process at Time was on the piece, I asked several people about how a column actually gets into print there. I’ll spare you the story of everyone sitting around the conference table pitching their ideas (”I think I’ll take the Democrats to task for being lax on national security this week…” “Oh, Joe! Such golden insights…that’s why we pay you the big money…”) and skip right to the part where everybody in the building is worried about the right wing beating them up for being too liberal.

This is a Very Serious Concern for the editorial class at Time Magazine. On the other hand, liberals such as ourselves calling out Klein for being wildly inaccurate and a dupe for Republican hacks (as well as his vanity-soaked editors, who won’t allow the magazine to acknowledge the mistake even after Klein did so himself) are considered a giant pain in the ass. It does, however, accommodate everyone’s desire to shrugs their shoulders, pat themselves on the back and conclude that if they’re being criticized by both sides they’re probably doing everything right. They then retreat to the bar and hope eventually everyone will just shut up and it will all blow over.

There is a systemic problem of perspective here. These critiques are not equal. When Greenwald called out Klein, it was based on his column’s demonstrable factual inaccuracy. Glenn is a noted First Amendment lawyer who has written two books addressing the subject of FISA law. You can’t just dismiss him by calling him a partisan and shrieking until he goes away. His analysis needs to be addressed on a point-by-point basis, and a failure to do so will get you Paul Lukasiak in your comment section.

The right wing, on the other hand, becomes incensed when someone does not subscribe to their narrative and dares to challenge (or even meaningfully question) those in authority. The Pravda-like cheerleading on behalf of the state that this encourages should be highly objectionable to every journalist interested in the perpetuation of a free press, especially since the wingnuts would like to see anyone who does not respond to that authority with basset-like obedience subjected to the annihilation of William Wallace.

Case in point. I’m on the RedState mailing list, and this is the email I got from them today:

Dear RedState Reader:

RedState is calling for CNN to fire Sam Feist, their political director; and David Bohrman, Senior Vice President and Executive Producer of the debate.

During last night’s debate, which CNN billed as “a Republican debate, and the goal was to let Republican voters see their candidates,” CNN either knowingly or incompetently allowed hardcore left wing activists to plant questions and Anderson Cooper willingly gave one of those activists a soapbox so he could harass the Republican candidates about military policy.

Simple googling would have revealed these left wing activists.

Had CNN done its homework, this would not have happened. They either willfully let it happen, or incompetently bungled it. Either way, heads should roll.

Likewise, we hope one or more of the GOP Presidential candidates will call for a do-over debate on substantive policy issues.

You can read our Directors post here.

All the best,

Erick Erickson, Editor,

When the Democratic YouTube debates were broadcast, we were delighted by the fact that candidates were being asked honest and tough questions by real people, including right wing gun nuts. Nobody complained, we were happy that the questions weren’t being asked by media hogs who had their own agenda (see Russert, Tim). The fact that the Republicans could not stand up to that kind of discussion, which did not take place within their hermetically sealed world view, was something people predicted at the time. Last night’s embarrassment came not because of liberal questions, but rather because the GOP has an exceptionally poor lineup pandering to an extreme, delusional minority.

The Time Magazine folks can look to these bullies for their journalistic etiquette cues at their own peril. Stenography is certainly the path of least resistance these days, but the copious amounts of alcohol required to obliterate one’s professional pride in the process can be a bit hard on the internal organs.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Isaac Chotiner Becomes Even Shriller!

Speaking truth appears to be becoming a habit for him:

THE NEW REPUBLIC | Blogs: Rock Bottom : Earlier I alluded to David Samuels' dreadful profile of Condoleezza Rice in The Atlantic last year, but now it seems that Samuels has topped himself with a disgraceful and incoherent piece on the state of American Jewry. After classily referring to the "less-evolved" parts of the world, Samuels jumps right into his thesis, which is that American Jews are under constant attack:

Yes, Jewish life in America remains a flowering paradise compared with the realities of being a Jew in contemporary Britain or France. But it is impossible to ignore the fact that America has changed, too. At bookstores in major airports, I am no longer surprised to be greeted by a pictures of a smiling former U.S. president comparing Israel to the loathsome apartheid government of South Africa, or a Harvard professor explaining how a small but powerful coterie of Jews is responsible for the misfortunes that have befallen America in the Middle East.

The horror, the horror--Jimmy Carter has published a bad book. Then this:

Lobbyists for AIPAC are being put on trial for the crime of gossiping with U.S. government officials over lunch, an offense of which every single foreign lobbyist in Washington--and every working journalist--is guilty. Again, the American Jewish community is silent, for fear of making things worse.

Is Samuels implying that the lobbyists were put on trial simply because they were Jewish? There is no evidence for this, but who cares? And anyway, Samuels is busy taking the entire weight of American Judaism and placing it firmly on his shoulders:

Every American Jew has been quietly putting together their own pocket-sized file of stories they would rather not tell the children. There is the story...

"Every" American Jew? That's quite an ambitious statement. Finally:

In private, I hear it is simply too painful and depressing to contemplate the idea that there will be no easy peace between Israel and the Palestinians, that American Jews have become scapegoats for popular unease about terrorism, that political anti-Semitism has become normative thought among large sectors of the global intelligentsia, or that the tension between Israel and the United States will continue to grow as a future administration seeks a way out of the present morass in Iraq and comes to terms with a nuclear-armed Iran.

One wonders who Samuels is spending his time with, and thus who is telling him these things. Regardless, it's an astonishingly bad essay.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Condi Rice and Elizabeth Bumiller Drive Isaac Chotiner Shrill!

Isaac Chotiner raves:

Condi Media Watch: Today's edition comes courtesy of Elisabeth Bumiller, whose front page NYT story discusses Rice's "evolution" on the matter of U.S. engagement in Middle East peace talks. Bumiller's piece has all the hallmarks we've come to know and expect from gushing Condi profiles. First, an early sentence (which the author must know is grossly exaggerated) about Rice's committment to some particular cause:

Nearly seven tumultuous years later, Ms. Rice, as secretary of state, has led the Bush administration to a startling turnaround and is now thrusting the United States as forcefully as Mr. Clinton once did into the role of mediator between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Bumiller really believes this? Next, we have the supposed "causes" of Rice's views:

Ms. Rice’s thinking on the Middle East changed for several reasons, her aides said. She has been under increasing pressure to get involved in the peace negotiations from European and Arab leaders whose support she needs for the campaign of diplomatic and economic pressures on Iran. She considers it equally important, her aides said, to shore up the moderate leadership of Mr. Abbas, who is facing a sharp internal challenge from the more militant Hamas faction.

Then, the all-too-telling anecdote:

Ms. Rice, who had heralded the election as a symbol of the new stirrings of democracy in the Middle East, was so blindsided by the victory that she was startled when she saw a crawl of words on her television screen while exercising on her elliptical trainer the morning after the election: “In wake of Hamas victory, Palestinian cabinet resigns.”

“I thought, ‘Well, that’s not right,’” Ms. Rice recalled. When the crawl continued, she got off the elliptical trainer and called the State Department.

“I said, ‘What happened in the Palestinian elections?’” Ms. Rice recalled. “And they said, ‘Oh, Hamas won.’ And I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, Hamas won?’”

Oh dear. Finally,  the belated admission that the reasons behind Rice's "maturation" are very easily explained. 

Since then, Ms. Rice has made eight trips to the region, and her supporters say she remains determined against the odds. “She knows very well if she doesn’t do anything, she will be Iraq,” a European diplomat and a friend of hers said.

For the best/worst example of this sort of hagiography, be sure and check out David Samuels' profile from last year.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Paul Krugman on George W. Bush and Mark Halperin Sitting in a Tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G

Paul Krugman writes:

On coming across: Why I’m not a proper political journalist:: In his op-ed today, Mark Halperin describes George W. Bush during the 2000 campaign as follows:

He came across as a man of principle who did not lust for the White House; he was surrounded by disciplined loyalists who created a cheerful cult of personality about their candidate.

Meanwhile, I didn’t do the up-close-and-personal stuff; I looked at what he actually said about policy. And from my point of view he “came across” as someone who lied, systematically and consistently, about taxes and Social Security. I did notice the cult of personality — but it scared me:

This suggests a terrible prospect. Soon we may have a president who lost the popular vote, who won the electoral vote only after bitter controversy, who needs to act with unprecedented humility and discretion to avoid ripping the country apart. But he will have surrounded himself with obsequious courtiers.

But you see, I’m just a shrill Bush-basher; we should leave judgments about character up to the professionals who thought Bush was a bluff, honest guy you’d like to have a beer with.

Ph'nglui Mglw'nafh Krugman R'lyeh Wagn'nagl Fhtagn!! Krugman Fhtagn!! KRUGMAN FHTAGN!!!!

One thing worthy of note. Carlyle Group CEO David Rubenstein's reaction to George W. Bush:

David Rubenstein: you know if you said to me, name 25 million people who would maybe be President of the United States, he wouldn't have been in that category...

That was the reaction of everybody not on Bush's payroll who has met Bush I have talked to--everybody except our elite Beltway press, that is.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

CNN Has Driven Josh Marshall Shrill

He wants to close CNN down:

Talking Points Memo | Can We Just Close Down CNN?: Probably like a lot of people I was stunned at the amazingly lame and I'd say fairly offensive diamonds or pearls question that closed out last night's debate. I'd assumed they'd just given the last question to a complete dingbat. Seems CNN got the girl to ask that one rather than a question about Yucca Mountain. Just to be clear, I'm not above a few cutesy or fun questions. But it's a friggin' presidential debate. And don't ask the first competitive female candidate for president her jewelry preferences.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Defense Secretary Robert Gates Makes Stan Collender Shrill!

Stan Collender writes:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates Sells His Soul | Capital Gains and Games: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates yesterday became the latest member of the Bush cabinet to say something that can easily be proven wrong to support the White House. As reported in the Washington Post, Gates said that a delay in getting the funds requested by the president for Iraq and Afghanistan would soon force him to start laying off employees and ceasing operations at bases. Gates should know better, and should know that someone would quickly call him out on this. A 140-year old law, the Food and Forage Act (41 U.S.C. § 11), which was put in place during the Civil War, allows the Pentagon to spend what it needs even when no appropriation has been enacted. According to law firm Holland and Knight , which published a brief note about this back in 2001:

Under the Anti-Deficiency Act (31 U.S.C. § 1341), a contracting officer is prohibited from making or authorizing an expenditure or obligation exceeding an appropriation. An exception, however, is found at 41 U.S.C. § 11, The Food and Forage Act, which permits a DoD contracting officer to incur an obligation in excess of an appropriation for food, fuel, forage and related items necessary to meet current year needs.

Gates' phony prediction of dire consequences if Congress did not provide the money requested by the White House soon was nothing more than a PR ploy. It will accomplish nothing. What's really disappointing about this is that Gates up to now has mostly tried to stay above he fray. He has acted as if his personal credibility, which his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, squandered, was vitally important to his and the military's overall success. He even seemed to break with the White House on a number of issues and took harder stances than the administration wanted him to take. This statement shows that Gates has decided that his credibility is not as important as it used to be.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

David Broder Drives Matthew Yglesias Even Shriller!

It is remarkable that the presses that print the Washington Post continue to run. One would think that nature itself would rebel against such unholiness:

Matthew Yglesias: "The American People": David Broder is a prominent newspaper columnist. He also obviously doesn't care for Bill Clinton. And that's what's going to happen now and again -- prominent columnist dislikes prominent politician. But for some reason instead of Broder saying that he, Broder, has some kind of problem with Clinton followed by an explanation of the nature of his beef -- an argument about Bill Clinton -- warns us darkly that "The former president's intervention" on the campaign trail in South Carolina raises "the prospect of a dual presidency" which "will test the tolerance of the American people far more severely than the possibility of the first female president -- or, for that matter, the first black president."

Broder doesn't go on to try to present any research or data to back up that claim. And why should he? After all, in this context "the American people" doesn't refer to the people who live in America, rather it means David Broder or, possibly, Broder plus some of his friends who, acting in their capacity as The Great and the Good, eschew the first person (plural or singular!) and write instead in the voice of "the American people." But the real American people like Bill Clinton, liked him throughout the impeachment farce, liked him throughout the alleged "Clinton fatigue" era, like him today, would have elected him to a third term, etc., etc. etc.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Most Americans Are Shrill!

55% of voters are members of the shrill, unbalanced cult that believes that George W. Bush has committed impeachable offenses:

Think Progress » Majority believe Bush has committed impeachable offenses: A new American Research Group poll finds that 55 percent of voters believe President Bush has “abused his powers” in a manner that rises “to the level of impeachable offenses under the Constitution,” yet just 34 percent believe he should actually be impeached. Fifty-two percent say that Vice President Cheney has similarly abused his powers, with 43 percent supporting impeachment.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Paul Berman Defies Description

The evil and sinister Atrios does something nobody should ever do: he forces us to read Paul Berman from 2004. Never beneath the dead, uncaring stars has so much mendacity, stupidity, disconnection from reality, and incompetence been compressed into such a small space. It is a dimension-warping singularity of horror:

Liberal hawks reconsider the Iraq war. - By Paul Berman: The war [in Iraq] was brought on... by the mass totalitarian movement of the Muslim world-—the totalitarian movement that, in its radical Islamist and Baathist wings, had fostered a cult of indiscriminate killing and suicide. The true strategic goal of such a war can only be to discourage and defeat that movement.... What would be a complete victory? The rise of liberal societies and liberal ideas. That is because the opposite of totalitarianism is liberalism. And so, our goal has had to be: to damage and discourage the Muslim totalitarians and to hearten and aid the Muslim liberals.

Are these strategic goals so impossible to see? On Sept. 10, 2001, the totalitarian wave in the Muslim world appeared to be at high tide... the most gruesome tyrannies were in power, in the name of sundry versions of the totalitarian ideology....

And today? The larger totalitarian movement in the Muslim world has been dealt two very powerful blows. The Taliban no longer rules Afghanistan and has been reduced to a guerrilla insurgency. The Baath in Iraq has likewise been reduced to a guerrilla insurgency. Some 45 million Afghanis and Iraqis, who had previously been confined to the lowest ranks of hell, are now engaged in a very tough fight—a fight in which there is at least a plausible hope of achieving a better society, animated by liberal values... liberal-minded Afghanis and Iraqis have been given a somewhat shaky boost... which can only encourage their fellow-thinkers in other parts of the Muslim world. Strategic goals? These are the strategic goals.

Why don't people understand these goals and accomplishments?... The blame, a lot of it, does fall on Bush, who... has given a very muddy picture of the reasons for war.... But some of the blame falls as well on the anti-Bush naifs who pretend not to hear when anyone speaks about the larger reasons and goals—the people who pretend that WMD and non-existent conspiracies were the only reasons for war and pretend that the only serious goals were the arrests of a couple of men, or the achieving of a magical utopia tomorrow, and pretend that if war has still not ended, we have gotten nowhere at all.... [T]he prospects of the totalitarian movement are looking a lot less healthy today than they did on Sept. 10, 2001 and the prospects of Muslim liberalism are looking up, somewhat.

Fred Kaplan writes, "Please, don't talk to me about the crack Polish division." I can't help myself—-I've got to talk about it. To see Polish troops taking part in the overthrow of Baathist tyranny is, in my eyes, hugely inspiring. No country on Earth has fought harder over the decades against totalitarianism than Poland, and the Poles are fighting now. Poland is not a rich country, and every society contributes what it can (if it chooses to contribute at all). But the Poles are contributing.... They are the enemies of totalitarianism. They... understand what so many people find difficult to understand: In Iraq as in Afghanistan, a liberal war is going on—-liberal in the philosophical sense, meaning liberty.

Andrew Sullivan Drives Ankush Shrill!

Ankush writes:

Ezra Klein: Sullivan on Obama: I should've taken Charles Kaiser's advice and skipped Andrew Sullivan's cover story for The Atlantic, about how Barack Obama is the second coming of Christ.  It is a stunningly bad piece of work -- reductive, overwrought, bloated, and, perhaps above all, patronizing. 

The setup doubles as an example of numerous overblown passages in the piece:

At its best, the Obama candidacy is about ending a war—not so much the war in Iraq, which now has a mo decade—but the war within America that has prevailed since Vietnam and that shows dangerous signs of intensifying, a nonviolent civil war that has crippled America at the very time the world needs it most. It is a war about war—and about culture and about religion and about race. And in that war, Obama—and Obama alone—offers the possibility of a truce.

Needless to say, Sullivan can hardly provide actual proof for all of the steps in this argument, even if you substituted more modest adjectives for the grandiose ones he's used.  But proof, in a piece like this, is beside the point.  The Atlantic is giving us access to the mind of a serious thinker who is writing about Big Ideas.  The exercise needn't be marred by serious reporting or  self-reflection.

Nor, apparently, meaningful editing of any sort.  Setting aside the sheer length -- 6,300 frequently repetitive words -- the piece is fraught with ridiculous claims. Sullivan tells us, on the issue of health care, that "[b]etween the boogeyman of 'Big Government' and the alleged threat of the drug companies, the practical differences [between the political parties] are more matters of nuance than ideology. Yes, there are policy disagreements, but in the wake of the Bush administration, they are underwhelming."  This, as readers of this blog no doubt know, is not true, just like it's not true that "Democrats are merely favoring more cost controls on drug and insurance companies."  (There is, after all, the small matter of universal health care.)  Sullivan informs us that "[i]f Roe were to fall, the primary impact would be the end of a system more liberal than any in Europe in favor of one more in sync with the varied views that exist across this country."  He seems unaware that Congress has power to regulate abortion; overturning Roe does not simply turn the issue over to the states.  Sullivan tells us that "Islamist terror . . . could pose an existential danger to the West."  This is just silly.  Rest assured, everyone, the West will continue to exist.

Much of Sullivan's piece reads like a pitch from the candidate's camp itself: Obama, "and Obama alone," can move us beyond this unprecedentedly rancorous moment in our politics.  Sullivan's uncritical embrace of this argument is not particularly surprising.  As Kaiser puts it, "Barack is Andrew's latest infatuation. The fact that Sullivan's previous love objects have included Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, the war in Iraq, and unsafe sex makes this endorsement slightly less exciting for the rest of us." 

The more novel part of Sullivan's argument goes like this: 

What does he offer? First and foremost: his face. Think of it as the most effective potential re-branding of the United States since Reagan. Such a re-branding is not trivial—it’s central to an effective war strategy.


Consider this hypothetical. It’s November 2008. A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees that this man—Barack Hussein Obama—is the new face of America. In one simple image, America’s soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm. A brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama’s face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can.

It's tempting to ignore the ridiculously overblown language -- "first and foremost," "not a notch, but a logarithm," "close" to "the crudest but most effective weapon," " in ways no words can" -- but this is the argument.  Sullivan doesn't give us his own account of what it is that "fuels Islamist ideology" -- like so much else, one suspects he hasn't thought it through; the casual lumping together of disparate groups with disparate motivations is the first clue -- but it's not difficult to sketch simple rejoinders to some possible claims.  If they hate us because we're not fundamentalist Muslims, another Christian president, however brown-skinned, isn't going to do the trick; if they hate us because we support Israel, occupy parts of the Middle East, or otherwise do things they don't like, they might want to see some actual policy changes before they quit on the whole militancy thing at the first sight of a brown-skinned man.  This isn't to say that Obama's election wouldn't be a powerful indication of progress in America's racial politics, or that this wouldn't help us somewhat on the international stage, but we see here Sullivan's tendency to take a decent idea and magnify it to a preposterous scale.  (Hence, the end of AIDS.)

At bottom, however, Sullivan may simply be engaged in projection:

Earlier this fall, I attended an Obama speech in Washington on tax policy that underwhelmed on delivery; his address was wooden, stilted, even tedious. It was only after I left the hotel that it occurred to me that I’d just been bored on tax policy by a national black leader. That I should have been struck by this was born in my own racial stereotypes, of course. But it won me over.

Do his "racial stereotypes" involve non-white people being unable to talk about tax policy?  In any event, others with non-aesthetic concerns (even those Islamist ideologues) will look beyond Obama's face.  They may be interested, for instance, in his actual policies -- though they will need to turn to sources outside of Sullivan's piece to learn anything about them.

The remarkable thing here is that I'm an admirer of Obama's, so I'm hardly opposed to people writing about how much they like him.  But The Atlantic can do better than this -- much better than this.  I remain baffled as to why purportedly serious publications treat Sullivan with such high regard. 

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Economic Analyses of David Malpass Claim Another Victim

Barry Ritholtz is shrill:

The Big Picture | Quote of the Day: Malpass (WTF?) on the Dollar : In the WSJ Op-ed section today, David Malpass seems ti be having a hard time figuring out why the Greenback is in trouble.

He's our Quote of the Day:

Dollar weakness is neutralizing the positive effects of the Federal Reserve's interest-rate cuts. As the dollar spirals downward, weakened by Washington's indifference and market expectations of more rate cuts, liquidity drains from the U.S. into inflation hedges like gold and, in the case of entrepreneurship and risk-taking capital, to countries with strengthening currencies. This drain undercuts the growth impact of the Fed's recent rate cuts, complicating the recovery from the August credit-market turbulence. Question: What's harder to sell than a complex loan during a credit crunch? A dollar-denominated one.

No, no, no, no, no!

Its not the that Fed cuts are being neutalized by the weak dollar -- its the Fed cuts are CAUSING THE WEAK DOLLLAR.

(Yes, I am getting shrill)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Always Lowering the Level of the Debate, Aren't You Kevin?

Kevin Drum has decided to run a worst weblog post of all time contest:

The Washington Monthly: All-Time Wingnuttiest Blog Post Contest:

While the rest of the blogosphere concerns itself with the worthy task of choosing the all-time best blog posts, I'm keeping my focus where it belongs: on the all-time worst blog posts. And thanks to help from my commenters, plus commenters over at FDL and John Cole's place, we now have an official list of nominees.

A note on methodology: Several prose stylings that seem like they ought to be on the ballot missed out because intensive research by the PA staff determined that they weren't actually blog posts. "Objectively pro-terrorist" deserves recognition, for example, but it came from a Michael Kelly column, not a blog post. Ditto for "The decadent Left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead — and may well mount a fifth column," which Andrew Sullivan wrote for the Sunday Times, not his blog. Or John Derbyshire's musings on women over the age of 20. And "Lucky Duckies" was a Wall Street Journal editorial. Since this contest is all about blog wingnuttery, these contenders were sadly but firmly disqualified....

All-Time Wingnuttiest Blog Post Contest...

Ann Althouse: "Let's take a closer look at those breasts."

Steven Den Beste (shortly before the Iraq war started): "It's the waiting that wears."

John Derbyshire (after the Virginia Tech shootings): "Where was the spirit of self-defense here?....It's not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons."

Ben Domenech: "Pachyderms in the Mist"

Kim du Toit: "The Pussification of the Western Male"

Pam "Atlas Shrugs" Geller: "My Sharia!"

Jonah Goldberg (before Katrina): "Attn: Superdome Residents....grow gills...."

Robert Hahn: "I will suggest that President Bush understands money better than any President we have ever had."

Hugh Hewitt: "I'm sitting in the Empire State Building...."

John Hinderaker: "It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius...."

Michelle Malkin: "The Defeatocrats Cheer"

Glenn Reynolds: "Maybe we should rise above the temptation to point out that claims of a 'quagmire' were wrong....Nah."

Lee Siegel: "The Origins of Blogofascism"

Bill Whittle (after Katrina): "Tribes"

Unfortunately, U.S.S. Clueless author Steven den Beste is attempting to rig the contest by cutting off access to his entry--whether in the hopes of winning or losing or even what "winning" and "losing" this contest really mean not being clear. But here is a flavor:

USS Clueless - The guiding philosphy behind the EU: Just what, exactly, is the European Union really supposed to be?... The answer is that the purpose of the European Union is to roll back the post-war experiment in western Europe with capitalist representative democracy, and to restore Europe to its rightful place at the center of the world's stage by displacing the US as the predominant power in the world. The driving motivation behind it is a religious belief, along with a nostalgia for past greatness, profound distrust of the masses, and resentment of American power and influence, as well as outright fear of what America might decide to do with its unprecedented position in the world....

Out of [American intervention in WWII and NATO], Western Europe got fifty years of freedom, peace and rising prosperity. I know of no case in history of a military occupation which was as benign and beneficial to the occupied nations. But there was a price to be paid. Europe got freedom, peace, prosperity, but also apathy, decadence and insignificance. It paid the price in a drastic reduction of power and prestige.... There is no better way to make a proud man hate you than to give him charity and assistance and for him to know that he must rely on it. He may be grateful for each individual act of kindness, but he will resent his dependency and hate you for constantly reminding him of his weakness....

Added to this was a secular religion called Marxism, which had strongly influenced European political thought for the previous hundred years and which remained powerful and persuasive for some, who clung to it with a fervor usually seen in the most die-hard fundamentalists of Christianity or Islam.... Extremist Muslims have come to hate the US not only because our way of life and our beliefs are nearly diametrically opposite to what their religion says is a virtuous life, but also because we're drastically more successful than they are. America is a living heresy; we live lives filled with sin, and somehow or other we seem to escape the punishment of Allah (though there's always hope for tomorrow if only they pray hard enough). There can, of course, be only one explanation: we're being protected by Satan. And thus opposition to the US is a holy war, because America is blasphemy just by existing.

And to orthodox Marxists, America is also blasphemy. Our capitalist system refuses to self-destruct the way Marx predicted it would. America found an answer to the problem Marx identified.... And so it is that European Socialists hate America for the same reason the Muslim extremists do: This isn't what The Prophet said would happen. We were promised that we would win!...

And here is Steven den Beste in the Wall Street Journal:*

From the Wall Street Journal editorial page: There's another year and a half in Mr. Bush's current term, and by the end of it [November 2006], [Iraq] will either be a complete shambles or else it will clearly be on the road to success, and I think it's unlikely to be a shambles.... [I]f there's anything you should know about Americans by now, it's that we're problem solvers.... We stuck with the occupations of Germany and Japan for 50 years. I feel confident we'll stick with this, too.

Much of the reputation we've gained in the world comes from how we act when we're not challenged. There's steel in us, too, but we don't show it much. It only really comes out in war, and when we've been at peace for several decades there's a tendency to think that we used to have that kind of steel, but that we don't any longer. That's wrong, and every generation the world learns that anew. Going into World War II, many in Europe said that Americans used to be willing to fight back in the days of Lincoln but had become decadent and soft. History proves otherwise, of course.

That steel is still there, it's just that we don't feel any need to show it when it isn't needed. But when the issues are sufficiently important to us, we'll still make major sacrifices. The memory of 9/11 runs deep. I'm becoming convinced that few in Europe truly understand just what that really meant to us, the anger and the hatred it raised. It's not the kind of thing we get over. We're not going to forget it. We haven't forgotten Pearl Harbor, either. That doesn't mean we consider Japan an enemy, but it does mean that we did what we needed to in order to make sure Japan would never do anything like that to us again. When we truly decide to solve a problem, we try to solve it permanently. And we're not going to forget 9/11. On some level or another, it's going to be a major political issue here for the next few decades, until we're convinced that the danger is gone. Arab extremism is no longer something that happens a long ways away and that we can ignore, so we aren't going to. It is their problem, but 9/11 made it ours. Now we'll solve it....

[T]he one thing we're not going to do is to surrender. We'll try to solve this as humanely as we can, but solve it we must, and I believe that this nation will do whatever it needs to in order to remove the danger facing it. If an American city gets nuked by a terrorist, things are going to get extremely ugly. So even America-haters in Europe had better hope that this works, because the alternative is much worse. (Which is a really good reason why they'd also better stop trying to make it fail.)

Right now the Democrats are running around like chickens with their heads cut off, in thrall to their extreme wing, and trying to peddle a message full of recriminations. But they'll soon realize that their message of hatred, panic and shame isn't selling to the majority of voters here, and they'll either fade into political insignificance for the next 20 years, or (far more likely) the idiots will get marginalized and more-practical voices will emerge. Within a year, the argument will no longer be about whether we should have gone in. It will be about what we should do next.

The Democrats won't have any influence until they actually look toward the future and start talking about what they think we actually should do. Bitching about what actually happened will get them headlines, but it isn't ultimately going to get them enough votes to win. And I think that they know it...

It's time to turn over the microphone to Daniel Davies:

D-squared Digest -- FOR bigger pies and shorter hours and AGAINST more or less everything else: [P]eople don't necessarily want a Smarter Stephen den Beste. Part of the joy is watching a man who knows nothing about anything except the innards of mobile phones trying to understand a complicated world around him with no sources of information other than the Internet. What people want is a Shorter Stephen den Beste; one that doesn't take about ten thousand words to get from A to halfway through the downstroke of B. So I'll be posting one-sentence summaries of posts on the USS Clueless, on a reasonably regular basis, until I get bored. Here's today's batch:

  • I've never served in uniform.
  • My dislike of the French is independent of any facts about the world.