When asked if obeying an unlawful order was not itself an unlawful act, he said, “I believe that is true. If you are asking why I did not stand up to them when I was given the orders, I will have to say that I was a second lieutenant getting orders from my commander and I followed them — foolishly, I guess.” Calley then said that was not an excuse; it was just what happened.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Men may be recoiling from "Julie and Julia." At the Anaheim Hills, California showing Kathy and I attended, women predominated by a ratio of three to one. Too bad. It would be a great resource for marital (and premartial) counselors trying to teach couples what mutuality actually looks like. In a short, touching scene, Julie learns that her sister is having a baby. Her joy turns quickly to anguish; she and Paul never had children, though the movie doesn't reveal why. Tucci comforts her gently and wordlessly. Later, when her cookbook is rejected by a publisher, he says, "F--- 'em." Couples who fail to support one another during everyday crises: All too common. Couples who stand united again the maelstrom of a chaotic, sometimes unjust world: Priceless.
World historical events enliven without overwhelming the parallel stories. Julie Powell worked with survivors of Sept. 11, while Paul Child had a brush with Joe McCarthy's witch hunt. For Julie, the cooking project is therapy after long, dispiriting days. Though he successfully dodged McCarthy, Child finds himself wondering what his career has really added up to, which enables Julia to be the comforter.
Tucci and Streep have better chemistry than Adams and Messina, not surprisingly, since one of the movie's narratives is how Julie masters the art of being as easygoing and upbeat as Julia. Streep's relentlessly cheerful Julia Child grew on me. At first, she sounded like Dan Akroyd, whose famous Julia Child skit from SNL's glory days was wisely featured in the movie. By the end, you're saying, as usual, that she's a genius, especially when she's turning on postwar Paris with her smile. Adams, whose only scene with Streep is pictured above, admirably portrays an anxious 21st century American with ADD. Her best bit of ensemble acting is over a lunch with three narcissistic, greedy girlfriends, a "Sex And The City Goes To Hell" moment that Julie transcends, like Carrie, by getting her book and movie.
I think Josh Marshall is to some extent overthinking his analysis of Mike Huckabee’s claim that “generally Evangelicals are so much more supportive of Israel than the American Jewish community.” Everything he writes about Christian Zionist eschatology, the apocalypse, and Revisionist Zionism is true. But the larger truth is just that Evangelicals, on average, despite the fact that an intuitive reading of the Gospels points in a different direction, are just generally inclined toward an affection for violence, brutality, and authoritarianism.I guess that's why so many Christian evangelicals are supporters of China, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, and Iran.
Social-networking sites like Facebook and MySpace may provide people with a false sense of connection that ultimately increases loneliness in people who feel alone. These sites should serve as a supplement, but not replacement for, face-to-face interaction, Cacioppo says. He compares connecting on a Web site to eating celery: "It feels good immediately, but it doesn't give you the same sustenance," he says. For people who feel satisfied and loved in their day-to-day life, social media can be a reassuring extension. For those who are already lonely, Facebook status updates are just a reminder of how much better everyone else is at making friends and having fun.
Michael J. Bugeja, a professor of communications at Iowa State University and author of Interpersonal Divide: The Search for Community in a Technological Age, says that the encroachment of digital communication into our social lives can amplify feelings of isolation. He describes texting or Twittering in the presence of others as a "prescription for loneliness." Such behavior, he says, sends the message that someone somewhere else is more important. "The human heart is suffering from lack of authentic interaction," he says. "Just being able to engage genuinely and politely with your neighbors is a better fix than Xanax could ever affect for mental stability."
Hat tip to Caffeinated Politics
We...have to tell the defenders of...Section 1233 of H.R. 3200 that it is not quite as benign as they pretend. To offer government reimbursement to any doctor who gives end-of-life counseling -- whether or not the patient asked for it -- is to create an incentive for such a chat.
What do you think such a chat would be like? Do you think the doctor will go on and on about the fantastic new million-dollar high-tech gizmo that can prolong the patient's otherwise hopeless condition for another six months? Or do you think he's going to talk about -- as the bill specifically spells out -- hospice care and palliative care and other ways of letting go of life?...
[W]hy get Medicare to pay the doctor to do the counseling? Because we know that if this white-coated authority whose chosen vocation is curing and healing is the one opening your mind to hospice and palliative care, we've nudged you ever so slightly toward letting go.
It's not an outrage. It's surely not a death panel. But it is subtle pressure applied by society through your doctor. And when you include it in a health care reform whose major objective is to bend the cost curve downward, you have to be a fool or a knave to deny that it's intended to gently point you in a certain direction, toward the corner of the sick room where stands a ghostly figure, scythe in hand, offering release.
As newspapers across the country struggle with declining readership and advertising revenue, News Corp. executives have been meeting in recent weeks with publishers about forming a consortium that would charge for news distributed online and on portable devices -- and potentially stem the rising tide of red ink.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
LBJ would have:
A list of every member of Congress on his desk
He would be on the telephone with members (and their key staffers) constantly. "Your President really needs your vote on this bill"
He would have a list of every special request every member wanted---from WH tours to appointment of federal jobs and commissions
He would make phone call or have an in-person personal visit with every member individually or in a group. Charts, graphs, coffee. They would get the Johnson Treatment as nobody else could give it.
He would have a willingness to horse-trade with every member
He would keep list of people who support each member financially. A call to each to tell them to get the vote of that representative. (Arthur Krim, Lew Wasserman)
He would have Billy Graham calling Baptists, Cardinal Cushing calling Catholics, Dr. King calling blacks, Henry Gonzales calling Hispanics, Henry Ford and David Rockefeller calling Republicans.
He would get Jack Valenti to call the Pope if it would help.
He would have speeches written for members for the Congressional Record and hometown newspapers.
He would use up White House liquor having nightcaps with the leaders and key votes of BOTH parties.
Each of them would take home cufflinks, watches, signed photos, and perhaps even a pledge to come raise money for their next reelection
He would be sending gifts to children and grandchildren of members.
He would walk around the South Lawn with reporters telling them why this was important to their own families.
He would send every aide in The White House to see every member of the House and Senate. He would send me to see Senator Russell and Carl Vinson because I am a Georgian.
He would call Kay Graham, Frank Stanton, Robert Kintner, and the heads of every network.
He would go to pray at six different churches.
He would do newspaper, radio and TV interviews. Especially with Merriman Smith, Hugh Sidey, Sid Davis, Forrest Boyd, Ray Scherer, Helen Thomas, Marianne Means, Walter Cronkite, Phil Potter, Bob Novak.
He would threaten, cajole, flirt, flatter, hug, and get the bill passed.
Lyricist Stipe's reference to Jesus and his teachings has always intrigued me, as does his song "Let Me In," which, though generally taken to be about Stipe's friend the late Kurt Cobain, includes this allusion to the post-Resurrection events described in John 21:1-13:
I only wish that I could hear you whisper down,
Mister fisherman, to a less peculiar ground.
He gathered up his loved ones and he brought them all around
To say goodbye, nice try.
[F]our of his more hawkish ministers...chose to tour several of the “illegal” settlement-outposts on the West Bank which the government has pledged to dismantle. These settlements were not illegal, the leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party declared. Moshe Ya’alon of the Likud, one of Mr Netanyahu’s two vice-prime ministers, said the government should seriously consider restoring the settlement of Homesh which Israel dismantled as part of Ariel Sharon’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza and the northern West Bank in 2005. Mr Netanyahu’s office said nothing.
The Rev. Canon John Taylor, vicar of St. John Chrysostom Church in Rancho Santa Margarita and former director of the Nixon library, said the facility, which opened in 1990, was a wonderful setting for the gathering because like Anglicans, Nixon, the 37th U.S. President, was "a centrist. He was betwixt and between … what Nixon called enlightened realism or pragmatic idealism" is possibly a way forward for the church as well, with our polarized politics."
Taylor noted that Nixon was between two poles in American politics. "He was not welcomed by the far right of the Republican Party" because of his opening to China, improving relations with the Soviet Union and establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as relatively enlightened views on civil rights in the 1950s and forward, Taylor said.
Nor was he welcome "on the left in American politics because of the Vietnam War and his especially aggressive anti-communism early in his career."
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
According to conventional wisdom, the world economy will regain its vitality once China consumes more and America consumes less. But as both countries apply that prescription, it will inevitably alter the political framework. As Chinese exports to America decline and China shifts the emphasis of its economy to greater consumption and to increased infrastructure spending, a different economic order will emerge. China will be less dependent on the American market, while the growing dependence of neighboring countries on Chinese markets will increase China's political influence. Political cooperation, in shaping a new world order, must increasingly compensate for the shift in trade patterns.
In the 1970s, RN and Kissinger famously revamped U.S.-Soviet relations in response to a similar trend, or so they thought -- a decline in U.S. dominance matched with an improvement in Moscow's strategic position. Detente, as it was called, was good for the world, though it exposed Kissinger to withering fire from conservatives who charged that he'd waved the white flag too soon in the Cold War. He's also probably right, as he argues in this piece, that the U.S. and China should take the lead role in fashioning what sounds like an embryonic Pacific Rim Common Market:
While the center of gravity of international affairs shifts to Asia, and America finds a new role distinct from hegemony yet compatible with leadership, we need a vision of a Pacific structure based on close cooperation between America and China but also broad enough to enable other countries bordering the Pacific to fulfill their aspiration.
And yet beware militant neo-neocons lying in wait to play the soft-on-China card against President Obama. Not everyone agrees with Kissinger that another Cold War wouldn't be an absolutely grand idea.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
U.S. policy toward communists and socialists in Latin America during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s is one of many subjects deserving some next-generation scholarship, which is to say scholarship uncolored by Vietnam-era passions and grievances. For instance, what did the Nixon Administration really do in Chile, especially in connection with the 1973 military coup in which Allende lost his life, and what didn't it do? Wikipedia seems to weigh the available evidence fairly. It will undoubtedly be a hot topic when the records of the Nixon White House arrive at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda next year.
As for the bigger picture, Central and South America are now predominantly free. The West won the Cold War without a nuclear war. If these outcomes are deemed salutary, let's at least keep them in mind while probing the seamy aspects of the tactical skirmishes over Cuba, Chile, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.
When he finally comes to the big question--is there in fact a God who is pulling humanity toward morality?--he suddenly becomes humble and retiring. The existence of God, he plaintively concludes, is "a question that I'm unqualified to answer." What? With all this possible and purported evidence of divinity tugging at his sleeve, he still will not decide? Why doesn't Wright accept the thrust of his own arguments? Is he peddling a reassurance to others that does not work for himself?
Monday, August 17, 2009
The number of Jewish settlers in the Palestinian territories has more than doubled since 1993, but the numbers are misleading. The fastest-growing cohort—nearly one third—are the ultra-Orthodox, who tend to be far less hawkish than the ultranationalists removed from Gaza in 2005. Another third are "economic settlers," who moved to the West Bank for the cheap rents and short commutes to Jerusalem. Many could probably be persuaded to leave with the right financial incentives. And for all the talk of "natural growth," only 9,602 babies were born to settlers in 2007, while 17,007 newcomers moved in, according to Peace Now. Raising barriers to further immigration could have a big impact.