The ISIS Fearmongers

Sep 16 2014 @ 7:03pm

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Elias Groll and Simon Engler round up some of the worst offenders, like Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe:

“ISIS, they are really bad terrorists, they’re so bad even al Qaeda is afraid of them,” Inhofe told a local Fox station last month. “They’re crazy out there and they’re rapidly developing a method of blowing up a major U.S. city and people just can’t believe that’s happening.”

Perhaps Inhofe is right, [counterterrorism chief Matthew] Olsen is wrong, and Islamic State militants are indeed plotting an attack right now inside America’s borders. American intelligence officials have certainly been wrong before about the threat posed by terror groups, and the Islamic State has alarmingly large numbers of fighters with American passports who could return to the U.S. to carry out strikes here at home. But the phrase “rapidly developing a method of blowing up a major U.S. city” goes far beyond what experts inside and outside of government say about the group’s capabilities. There is no substance here, only speculation likely designed to inspire fear and drum up support for military action.

Weigel examines the partisan implications of threat inflation:

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Poseur Alert

Sep 16 2014 @ 6:41pm

“As a friend put it to me: A tattoo isn’t the Word made flesh, but the flesh made word. It may strike old-fashioned types as pedestrian narcissism and adolescent conformity, and sometimes it surely is. But in a deeper and more troubling way, it is canny and subversive artifice, spiced with a moralistic claim to personal liberation. A tattoo is a personal statement but also an anthropological position that accords with the prevailing transvaluations of our time. It’s a wholly successful one, too, judging from the entertainment and sports worlds, and youth culture. With the mainstreaming of tattoos, another factor in the natural order falls away, yet one more inversion of nature and culture, natural law and human desire. That’s not an outcome the rationalizer’s regret. It’s precisely the point,” – Mark Bauerlein.

Face Of The Day

Sep 16 2014 @ 6:15pm

Scottish Referndum Debate Continues As Vote Is Too Close To Call

“Yes” campaigners take part in a demonstration in Buchanan Street in Renfrew, Scotland on September 16, 2014. Just two days of campaigning remain before polling stations open and voters across the country will hold Scotland’s future in their hands. By Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images.

The Other NFL Abuse Scandal

Sep 16 2014 @ 5:39pm

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has been accused of beating his kid. Amy Davidson runs through what appears to have happened:

This preschooler wasn’t paddled or, as Peterson put it to police, “swatted”; he was whipped with a stick and left with open wounds on his body. It’s also not obvious that Peterson has been at all straightforward. (This is something a jury or judge will work out.) In his statement, Peterson said, “I have to live with the fact that when I disciplined my son the way I was disciplined as a child, I caused an injury that I never intended or thought would happen.” This is apparently a reference to the specific wound to the child’s scrotum and a particularly ugly one to the leg. (In another text message, he told the boy’s mother the same thing, adding, “Got him in nuts once I noticed. But I felt so bad, n I’m all tearing that butt up when needed!” He also wrote that she would probably get “mad at me about his leg. I got kinda good wit the tail end of the switch.”) Peterson claimed to the police that he hadn’t noticed that the “tip of the switch and the ridges of the switch were wrapping around” the boy’s thigh.

Amanda Hess, who strongly disapproves of such punishments, notes:

Reactions from around the NFL imply that “love” is a valid reason for beating a child. “I got a ass whippn at 5 with a switch that’s lasted about 40mins and couldn’t sit for 2days. It’s was all love though,” Arizona Cardinals defensive end Darnell Dockett tweeted in Peterson’s defense. Added New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram Jr.: “When I was kid I got so many whoopins I can’t even count! I love both my parents they just wanted me to be the best human possible!”

Khadijah Costley White asks for less emphasis on race:

[I]f you think the media coverage of men like Ray Rice or Adrian Peterson make black people look bad, then just think what it looks like when you defend and justify their abuse. …

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US-POLITICS-CLINTON

Yishai Schwartz offers up one, arguing that the president’s approach to ISIS has been perfectly coherent, and not just a reaction to the beheading videos or polls:

Obama began ramping up interventions in Iraq well before these murders, and he did so in response to substantive strategic realities. It was in mid-June that Islamic State militants routed the far larger and better-equipped units of the Iraqi army. Only days later, reports began to surface that President Obama had offered air strikes in support of the Iraqi military, but made them conditional on Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s resignation. On August 7, IS militants seized the crucial Mosul Dam.

The same day, profound humanitarian and strategic considerations forced President Obama to compromise somewhat on pressuring Maliki, as he authorized his first air strikes to protect the besieged Yezidi population and to bolster buckling Kurdish forces. Around the same time, the U.S. began to build the international coalition against IS that would emerge weeks later. On August 15, Maliki finally caved to international and internal pressure and stepped aside, and on August 17, American forces helped the Kurds retake the Mosul dam. All of this occurred well before the video of Foley’s murder went online.

This chain of events does not look like a sudden reversal after pressure from post-beheading opinion polls. It looks like a roadmap to war …

I guess you can take this to be reassuring – if you believe in a sustained, perpetual US war in Iraq (currently a war that has lasted from 1990 – 2014). Schwartz’s reading of the chronology is also problematic:

a steadily deteriorating strategic situation, an expressed American willingness to strike predicated on the meeting of a condition, the fulfilment of the condition …

But a clear-eyed assessment of the actual situation does not lead many to believe that IS was about to take over all of Iraq. If it were, do you think Turkey would be hanging back? In fact, its capture of Mosul may well have been its high watermark – unless Americanizing the war gives IS a new lease on life. Then “the meeting of a condition”. I think that refers to getting rid of Maliki. But that was not the condition. The condition was a unified, multi-sectarian government in Iraq – which was the point of the “surge” as well. It never happened under the surge – which is why it failed; and it hasn’t happened even as these loons have come close to Baghdad.

Today, the Iraqi parliament could not confirm the new prime minister’s nominations for the defense and interior ministries – the two that really count, and the two that are still a function of Iraq’s permanent sectarian divides. So as the US president commits this country to war in defense of “Iraq”, the same “Iraq” is so divided it cannot form the government that Obama explicitly said was a prerequisite. Which means it was not a prerequisite. It was more bullshit for an open-ended war with no Plan B that had already been decided upon.

To me, that does not seem something that we elected Obama to do. Au contraire. I will add a couple more points: General Dempsey today filled in the blanks for what happens after the current “strategy” fails:

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Mental Health Break

Sep 16 2014 @ 4:20pm

Hailing a high-five:

(Hat tip: Lauren Evans)

Busted With An Eggcorn

Sep 16 2014 @ 3:54pm

Well this is embarrassing. I’ve been righteously hauled in front of the language observers for the following boo-boo:

But it could give the neocons a new leash on life, a way to invigorate their exhausted ideological engines. (Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Dish, July 9, 2007)

Of course, I should have written lease on life. But for some reason, the sound of the word in my head came out as “leash” on the screen. This is what is called an “eggcorn”, a term new to me but a lovely neologism. An “eggcorn” is essentially a malapropism that apes the sound of a word: so someone once wrote the term “eggcorn” to mean “acorn”. Among some other examples:

When all was set and done, the missed shot didn’t mean anything but the impact from the opposing crowd was felt throughout every inch of Crisler Arena. (The Michigan Daily, Feb. 11, 2010)

First it was the far right, which signaled out “Spongebob” for promoting a gay and global-warming agendas. (Daniel Frankel, Reuters/The Wrap, Sep. 11, 2011)

I found an eggcorn at brunch yesterday! My boyfriend asked me if I liked the holiday sauce on my poached eggs. I asked him to repeat himself so I could be sure of what I’d heard. Once I told him the actual name of the sauce, he said that he’d always wondered what holiday the sauce was originally from.

The United States is a country with a prosperous past, but also one straddled with an uncommonly uncertain future. (Philip Mooney, Daily Princetonian, Nov. 28, 2011)

My personal fave:

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The View From Your Window

Sep 16 2014 @ 3:38pm

Pensacola-FL-650pm

Pensacola, Florida, 6.50 pm

Desperately Seeking Moderates, Ctd

Sep 16 2014 @ 3:22pm

The House is working on an authorization to arm the “moderate” Syrian rebels:

The House Armed Services Committee has drafted an amendment to grant authorization to the President to arm and train Syrian rebels opposed to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS). There are some strings attached, including requiring that the Pentagon report to Congress 15 days before it plans to train and equip the rebels, and provide subsequent updates to relevant committees every 90 days. The language will be included as an amendment to a government funding bill that needs to pass Congress by the end of the month to avert a partial government shut down. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), a key member of the House GOP whip team, said the amendment will pass this week.

But these “moderates” we’re supposed to be counting on seem to be on their last legs, to the point that a major American support group for them disbanded last month:

On August 19, the Syrian Support Group, which had previously arranged a few shipments of nonlethal aid to the Free Syrian Army, sent a letter to donors explaining why the group was shutting its doors. “Over the last year, the political winds have changed,” the letter read. “The rise of ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra [an Al Qaeda-affiliated opposition force in Syria] and the internal divisions among rebel forces on the ground have complicated our efforts to provide direct support.”

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Ukraine Splits The Difference

Sep 16 2014 @ 2:59pm

The Ukrainian parliament had two big items on its agenda today:

In a vote synchronized with the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Ukrainian lawmakers unanimously approved the association pact over objections from Russia, which fears the loss of a market for its goods and damage to its economy from an influx of European products through Ukraine. … Earlier Tuesday, legislators voted behind closed doors to approve two bills granting amnesty to rebels and greater autonomy for eastern regions as part of an effort to consolidate a tenuous Sept. 5 cease-fire and end the fighting in eastern Ukraine. The decision on Tuesday to enshrine in law an amnesty and a framework for self-rule in the east represented a major concession to Russia that in many ways gave the Kremlin what it had been seeking since early in the conflict, long before the violence broadened and thousands died.

Bershidsky doubts Ukrainians will thank Poroshenko for this:

That, in effect, is Ukraine’s signature under the creation of a frozen conflict area.

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