Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
- The Iraq war ends with a whisper.
- After the second round of voting in Egypt, there have been protests for accused military abuse of an activist.
- Putin takes to the airwaves following protests against his rule. The Economist sat down with an author to discuss.
- The chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court says the events surrounded the death of former Libyan despot, Muammar Qaddafi, may constitute a war crime. The chief prosecutor is about 2 months behind Ben.
- Japan has declared the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor has reached "cold shutdown" which doesn't mean it isn't still a major hazard.
- Not even Batman can see a Chinese activist living in unofficial, but definitive isolation.
- The final GOP debate before the Iowa caucuses was last night, and was a rather tepid affair by all accounts but The Fix has winners and losers. NPR chronicles how Team Obama is rehearsing in Iowa.
- Congress has managed to keep government open again, but jobless benefits and the payroll tax still hangs in the balance.
- Christopher Hitchens has died at 62.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
- TIME named "The Protester" as its Person of the Year, 2011. Indeed, it was.
- Zardari is out of the hospital but he is not headed back to Pakistan yet.
- There have been a spate of right-wing attacks in Israel. Meanwhile, Tom Friedman penned an Op-Ed in the New York Times that has him getting the Walt/Mearsheimer treatment.
- The Obama Administration lifted its veto threat against the NDAA after some of the offensive provisions were altered. It's still a truly bad bill, though -- and it's about to become a bad law.
- Mitt Romney, wealthy man, calls Newt Gingrich a wealthy man. I'm convinced that either could equally well represent the interest of the
- Leading with an image of Santorum, Bachmann, and Perry, Politico asks if GOP underdogs can shakeup Iowa. Answer: no. Hell, Intrade gives Ron Paul a better shot at winning than Romney.
- Iran is sending its intelligence chief to Saudi Arabia to dispute the U.S. claims of the plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S.
- SecDef Panetta says we're winning against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
- The second round of Egypt's rather complicated voting process is underway.
- As the U.S. leaves, tension builds in Kirkuk, Iraq.
- A Putin loyalist won't claim his seat in the Russian Doma.
- The House passes a spending bill almost entirely along party lines. Compromise, we don't has it.
- Love and marriage is apparently an institution you can disparage, or at least the marriage part.
- Christiane Amanpour's run on This Week will end and George Stephanopoulos will return.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Stanley Fish puts clear words to the reason I was initially drawn to law school--and one of my greatest laments of law school in practice. I was fortunate in this pursuit in so far as I found a way to make it as reflective as possible. Many of my compatriots were not so. Instead, there's was by happenstance or design a more practical approach. One more in line with that of Segal's critique than of Leiter's response. I think many of them are pleased with this outcome but it certainly was not my preferred route. That said, it is much easier, I think, to experience law school as a practicum--mine, at least, was prefigured in that manner. Mr. Fish:
In his response to Segal’s essay, Brian Leiter, a professor of law at the University of Chicago, rejects the question of whether what one learns in law school is of any help: “The criterion of scholarly inquiry is whether it makes a contribution to knowledge and understanding, not whether it ‘helps.’” Leiter adds that what he calls “genuine” knowledge often does help with “a host of concrete and practical problems.” But he refuses (rightly, I think) to justify the academic study of law on that basis, for, he explains, “it is the central premise of a research institution that the measure of its achievement is the quality of the scholarship, i.e. its contribution to knowledge — whether of law or biology or literature — not its practical payoff in the short-term.”
The emphasis on practical short-term payoffs has already laid waste to the traditional project of the liberal arts, which may not survive. Is the law next? The law is surely a practice but it is also a subject, and if it ceases to be a subject — ceases to be an object of analysis in classrooms and in law reviews — its practice will be diminished. When a Times editorial declares that “[l]aw is now regarded as a means rather than an end, a tool for solving problems” rather than something of interest in its own right, one wants to say more’s the pity.
- UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has asked the UN Security Council to refer Syria to the ICC. The UN's number for Syrian's killed since the uprising/crackdown began has been revised up to 5,000.
- Iran has turned down a U.S. request to return the downed RQ-170 surveillance drone.
- Nearly a year after Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire, setting off the Arab Spring, Tunisia has a new president.
Monday, December 12, 2011
- Twelve members of Al Qaeda (AQAP?) escaped from a prison in Aden. They dug a 6 meter long tunnel to do so. The last time this happened, the escapees went on to form Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
- In a briefing with PM Nuri al-Maliki, President Obama affirmed the U.S. commitment to Iraq beyond the U.S. withdrawal.
Jay-ZMikhail Prokhorov will run again Putin.
- Residents of Homs warn of an impending massacre.
- Iran claims to be finishing gleaning data from the US drone they captured last week. In other drone news Ben has published just this morning an article about flying drones and losing hearts and minds.
- As the U.S. forces continue to leave Iraq, Prime Minister Maliki will meet with President Obama at the White House today to try and better define the "post-war" relationship with Iraq.
- Syrians (a few of them) go to the polls today for local elections, but protests and violence continue.
- Pakistan has decided to continue the ban on NATO supply trucks through the country, though presumably armed militants are free to pass.
- British PM Cameron will go to Parliament (best described here) today to explain his veto of the proposed changes to the EU's Lisbon treaty.
- Several inmates in a Yemeni jail, including several Al Qaeda figures, have tunneled out.
- The GOP candidates debated again over the weekend, Romney made a bet, Newt's a winner, but neither would beat Obama in South Carolina right now.
- Speaking of Obama, he spoke with 60 Minutes, had a great boat analogy.
- Congress is quietly working to keep the government running. Oh that that didn't sound so absurd.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
- Drones as the escalation vis a vis Iran.
- A blast has disrupted an oil pipeline near Homs in Syria, and in an interview with Barbara Walters Syria's President Assad tries to distance himself from the the violent actions of the military in responding to protests that may yet become full scale rebellion.
- The Euro may be facing its Waterloo, if a different Frenchman isn't able to get traction with the proposal he put together with Angela Merkel.
- The UN envoys meeting in Durban, South Africa edge closer to a fund to combat the effects of climate change.
- America's war of choice is coming to a close. Thanks to all those men and women who served in Iraq, apologies for the political leadership you had to endure.
- My former governor gets 14 years and joins his gubernatorial predecessor behind bars.
- The GOP will debate in Iowa on Saturday and Politico says this is to decide the "alpha dog."
- Cantor vs. Boehner...again...
- The Machinists Union approves a contract extension with Boeing, which will end the rancor over Boeing's union evading actions to move some production to South Carolina.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
- Mexico foiled a bizarre plot to smuggle in one Qaddafi's sons.
- She did it again. Secretary Clinton has, not for the first time in her life, stood up for human rights--specifically, by demanding the expansion of who benefits from human to come closer to the whole human family.
- Pakistan's president has left Pakistan inspiring rumors and fears that a coup is imminent. Friend of the blog, Kalsoom, addressed the duality of man in this regard this morning.
- Kenneth Pollack has been reading DCExile.
- The FDA's moves to expand access to the "morning after" pill has been stymied by HHS.
- 'All aboard the Gingrich express!' CNN/Time poll has Gingrich in first place in 3 of 4 early primary states. In New Hampshire, the loan holdout, Gingrich has added 21 points to his measure of support while Romney has lost 5, since the poll was last conducted a month ago. Mike Allen explains why it's for real real.
- K Street was #Occupied. Also, check out some of the excellent art spawned by the #Occupy movement.
- Finally, today is the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor--a date that has lived in infamy and one that set off a chain of events leading to a fair amount of the world we see today.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
- A bombing in Kabul at a Shiite shrine has left at least 54 dead.
- The drone that's currently in Iran's possession belongs to the CIA and hosts sensitive technology.
- In Kinshasa, the mood is tense as the results in the recent election there are set to be released.
- The head of Hezbollah made a rare public appearance in Beirut.
- Democrats have scaled back the payroll tax extension, but still insist that a payroll tax for almost all Americans be paid by a small surtax on the small group of Americans making over $1 million dollars a year. Republicans have balked at the trade off. ** Editorial Note: This is the big philosophical divide playing out. On the one hand, Democrats want to give families that are struggling a break, but they want to pay for it so their asking millionaires to pay a bit more. Republicans feel like any tax increase is bad.**
- Obama's deployment of the National Guard to the US-Mexico border, a drastic increase in ground forces despite GOP nominee statements, has led to the capture of over 25,000 illegal immigrants, but has cost $160 million. That breaks out to $6,271 per each person captured and many are wondering if it's worth the price tag.
- Gingrich is the clear front runner in Iowa, and The Fix says Romney has an Iowa problem, but that wasn't a state Romney was ever going to push to hard in. If he falls behind in New Hampshire then he'll have problems. In the meantime he can be comforted by the money of billionaires.
Monday, December 5, 2011
- For the first time, researchers at NASA's Ames Research Center have found a planet in the middle of the habitable zone. The researchers believe the surface temperature of the planet to be about 70F but the planet's composition is currently unknown.
- Iran has placed the IRGC on alert as tensions between the West and Iran rise, even as the U.S. tries to pour cold water on the idea of a strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.
- S&P placed 15 Eurozone countries--including France and Germany--on negative watch.
- Sectarian violence persists in Iraq.
- Several articles have appeared in recent days discussing the constant presence of Israeli drones over Gaza -- the drones are attended by a loud, constant buzzing sound.
- The US drone lost over Iran may not have been downed by a cyber attack.
- The Postal Service, yet laboring under an artificial, Congressionally imposed deficit, will slow service and cut 28,000 jobs. Ridiculous. Only ideologues would purposely break a profitable entity and force it to reduce services to actually make it ineffective (rendering a myth a reality). Reminds me a bit of FEMA under Browny, or the whole federal regulatory apparatus under the Bush administration.
- Mike Gundy is an idiot. Oklahoma State barely beat A&M (A&M of course was beaten by Arkansas, which was trounced by LSU)-- there's not a chance in hell OSU could beat LSU.
- SCOTUS takes an interesting First Amendment suit involving a man who was arrested for berating and touch then-VP Cheney.
- Iran claims to have shot down a surveillance drone that crossed into Iranian airspace and the U.S. has confirmed that a drone had been lost. There is some immediate concern that if a drone is in Iranian control, it could reveal some U.S. military secrets. The statement by the U.S. indicates the drone was flying over western Afghanistan and got lost.
- Karzai projects that Afghanistan will be reliant on foreign aid until 2025 at the Bonn Conference, which has been hampered by the absence of the Taliban and Pakistan.
- Syria has reacted positively, but notably has not approved, an Arab League request to send observers into the country.
- The Euro crisis drags on, but Sarkozy and Merkel gather to hammer out a way forward. Meanwhile, in Ireland, the prime minster is warning it will get worse on the emerald isle before it will get better.
- Congress gets to work (hopefully) ahead of a holiday recess that might bring coal to the stockings of the unemployed and higher taxes to the working.
- Occupy DC turns into a confrontation.
- Cain suspends his campaign, but he can still raise money. Some of which might be going to the man he is rumored to want to endorse, Newt. Meanwhile, Newt's GOP critics have gone quiet.
Friday, December 2, 2011
- The UN Human Rights chief is urging the protection of Syrians.
- Gbagbo's lawyer decries his client's treatment, as the former president is transferred to the Hague to face charges at the ICC.
- Camp Victory is returned to the Iraqis.
- The German chancellor has said reforming the EU will take a long time and a renewed commitment for greater integration. It's an interesting position from the head of state who's country has born the brunt of propping up weaker economies.
- I'm dreaming of a white Christmas and a World Cup in Qatar? (bonus question mark)
- Two competing proposals to extend the payroll tax cuts and pay for the loss of revenue failed in the Senate yesterday. Democrats wanted to extend the payroll tax cuts, but put a 3.25% tax on millionaires to make up for lost revenue, while Republicans wanted to freeze the pay of federal employees and cut programs.
- The Senate did pass a $622 defense bill, but it needs reconciled in conference and even then may be vetoed by Obama.
- Herman Cain's star continues to fade as he tells the New Hampshire Union Leader that he did not tell his wife about his relationship with Ginger White, even though Cain was giving Ginger money to cover her bills. He continues to deny a sexual affair. Meanwhile, in the GOP primary, the gloves are coming off.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
- Al-Qaeda is holding hostage a U.S. aid expert; Zawahri consciously links this hostage to both drone strikes and U.S. detention policy.
- The TFG, the fictitious Somali government that bears the imprimatur of the international community, is along with North Korea the most corrupt regime in the world. Well done, all. Other highlights: Iraq is the 8th most corrupt state in the world. See the whole list here.
- The U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights says Syria is in a civil war. From the reporting I've seen, the violence in Syria does not seem to rise to the level of armed conflict--this seems more rhetorical to me.
- That this resulted in a deadlock is terrifying.
- Ken Cuccinelli will run for Governor of Virginia in 2013.
- Ray Kelly was honored with 2011 Bull Connor Award (h/t GD).
- Apple ditches Carrier IQ.
- The Wall Street Journal carries the opposition research water for the Romney Campaign.
- Optimism is short lived as the upswing in markets yesterday after news of a Euro rescue trends downwards on new reports of slow European growth.
- It was also Sanctions Day in the EU yesterday as the union approved new sanctions on Iran, in respond to the storming of the UK embassy, and on Syria, in response for the excessive force the despotic government has used to quell unrest.
- The former envoy to the U.S. for Pakistan has been banned from leaving the country as the Supreme Court investigates his involvement with a memo seeking U.S. help in weakening the Pakistani military.
- Gary Locke, U.S. Ambassador to China, rock star. Seriously?
- The rise of the surveillance technology industry and its rise in keeping dictators in place comes under question.
- Police closed the Occupy encampments in Los Angeles and Philadelphia leaving scant few encampments left. As the movement occupies less and less, it struggles to figure out its next move.
- Romney faces the unexpected in Gingrich, but Ron Paul helps in a new ad that pushes Gingrich's "serial hypocrisy." A similar phrase was made at the political round table on Meet the Press this past Sunday.
Posted by Jason at 8:55 AM
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
- Britain closed its embassy in Tehran and expelled Iran's delegation to the UK in response to yesterday's attack.
- Evidently the Egyptian coup government will be challenged by the Muslim Brotherhood.
- Israel has relented in its illegal sequestration of Palestinian Authority taxes.
- U.S. stocks rose 4% on news of central bank intervention to stave off Europe's crisis.
- Gingrich has broken into Romney's consciousness--and his remarks. An Insider Advantage poll of likely Republican primary voters in Florida yesterday put Gingrich at 41 -- +24 on Romney; a 27 point swing since the last IA poll was conducted at the first of October.
- Herman Cain's foreign policy vision received some criticism from us and from others (h/t Nick). His reassessment shows no sign of leading to his withdrawal from the race.
- Oh, good, there's a key-logger built into Android (and Blackberry). This Wired article is quite good (includes a video by the developer who discovered the logger that is worth watching) and raises questions about wiretapping violations.
- And Politico discovers that the wet-behind-the-ears, right wing ideologues who were elected in 2010 were--brace yourselves, now--filled with unrealistic expectations.
Herman Cain released his vision of U.S. foreign policy this week. The primary document containing his vision weighs in at just6.5 pages. In that brief space, Mr. Cain really simply assesses U.S. relations with a handful of states. In an even briefer brochure, Cain lays out his “pillars” of U.S. foreign policy. In the short exposition of his philosophy he notes that his is a “pragmatic and principled approach.” One might suggest the two are necessarily contradictory. If Mr. Cain has found a way to resolve the apparent contradiction between principle and pragmatism, it is certainly worth some description that his foreign policy vision currently lacks.
These pillars consist of platitudes that, unsurprisingly, don’t address any real issues or problems. For example, the pillar “Reassert U.S. Leadership” includes “reassure our friends and deter our adversaries.” Outstanding, Mr. Cain; your nuanced perspective on the world would do George Kennan proud. Let us not bother with any sort of criteria or principles to assess who is a friend and who is an ally. Let us instead skip to the chase and reassure our friends and deter our adversaries. How might we do that? Are we not currently providing assurance to our friends?
This pillar also includes, “re-examin[ing] our role in the United Nations.” Obviously, this trope is meant to be red meat to the anti-UN constituency of the GOP base. There is no indication of what this would entail—though, as a member of that base, we are supposed to infer this would mean quitting the UN—no indication of the criteria used to reassess our position, no indication of what the better position would be. Indeed, as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, vested with a veto, there is no better position to have within the United Nations. Oddly, in his exposition, Cain declares he will “never relegate the U.S.A. to being just another country in the United Nations.” The U.S. is of course not “just another country”—it’s one of five possessing a veto. So far as this Editor knows, there is no move afoot to make it one.
Further, it is unclear to this Editor, at least, how quitting the UN—again, presumably the inference we are to draw, as members of the GOP base—exhibits leadership, unless we are leading the U.N. to its demise. Of course, a number of our friends—e.g., the United Kingdom, classified as “special relationship”—apparently buy into the utility of the United Nations. This Editor is not sure how leading the U.N. to its demise would reassure our friends.
Another pillar, “Restore Our Global Competitiveness,” is really focused on domestic policy and includes implementing the 9-9-9 plan, making free trade work for the United States, outgrowing our competitors, and ending our dependence on overseas oil. With the exception of implementing the 9-9-9 plan, there is no indication of how any of these would be implemented in practice. Although, improving our global competitiveness is a worthy goal, this Editor would like to see more details. Additionally, the 9-9-9 plan reportedly increases the tax burden on poor Americans, how this improves our global competitiveness is lost on this Editor.
The third and final pillar of Mr. Cain’s plan, “Counter Urgent Threats” is quite specific in its goals but, unfortunately, light on details. This pillar includes stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, fixing border security “for real,” and shielding us against “cyber and electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) attacks.” There is no indication as to why cyber attacks and EMP attacks are lumped together. They both deal with (vaguely) electronics, but beyond that they are totally different. It is nice to see, however, that Newt Gingrich’s reference to EMP attacks in the last debate has penetrated the public consciousness enough that Mr. Cain felt it necessary to address.
Perhaps the most controversial portion of Mr. Cain’s foreign policy vision is his taxonomy of nations. Cain has categorized select nations into the following categories “special relationship,” “friend and ally,” “friend and partner,” “friend,” “strategic partner,” “danger and opportunity,” “competitor,” “rival,” and “adversary regime.”
Friend and Ally
Canada, Israel, Japan
Friend and Partner
Danger and Opportunity
Iran, North Korea, Venezuela
This taxonomy of nation-states is certainly more nuanced than President Bush’s dichotomy—with us or against us—but it is hardly nuanced. What makes Mexico merely a Friend and Partner rather than a Friend and Ally? Why is Egypt, like Pakistan, a Danger and Opportunity? What does that mean for uncategorized Tunisia? But what strikes me most is that Israel is lumped in as merely a Friend and Ally with Canada and Japan. This is an odd downgrade for a candidate in a field that has been falling over itself to be the greatest friend to Israel (particularly, the right wing of Israel) imaginable. That too is worth some explanation.
- Secretary Clinton visits Myanmar today becoming the first secretary of state to visit the country in more then 50 years. The visit is hoped to jump start at democratization in the country that has been ruled by an oppressive and secretive military junta since 1962.
- Lebanon's prime minister has transferred Lebanese funds to the Hariri Tribunal in a move he claims isn't a victory for any specific party, but which still threatens to collapse the government.
- Following the ransacking of the British embassy in Tehran, reportedly by Basij militia members, Norway and Britain have withdrawn an unspecified number of staff from their embassies there. The incident has also exposed the deep fissures within the Iranian political class and surely made many observers consider the Iranian Hostage Crisis, which began in 1979.
- Back in the UK proper, public sector strikes have begun to protest pension reforms and austerity measures.
- Turkey, Syria's largest trading partner, has implemented sanctions on members of the Syrian regime freezing assets held in Turkish banks.
- Earmarks are bad, except when they're for your district, at least that appears to be what the Republican leadership thinks as it ignores its own declared moratorium on seeking the pork.
- Police in Los Angeles raided the Occupy LA camp and arrested 200.
- Congress took a baby step toward immigration reform as a measure passed the House that would end country specific worker visa caps.
- American Airlines, the only airline that remained solvent after 9/11, has now declared bankruptcy. I can't help but think the declaration went like this.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
- An Iranian student demonstration protesting British sanctions morphed into an assault on the British embassy in Tehran. Foreign Secretary William Hague says the Iranian regime is responsible for its failure to defend the embassy -- he is absolutely correct.
- The ICC--one of several international institutions lately testing its strength--issued a warrant for Laurent Gbagbo. Cote d'Ivoire
is expected tohas already turned him over.
- Serbian Kosovars attacked NATO peacekeepers. The President of Serbia has condemned these Serbs and asked that they abandon the barricades because it is harming Serbia's bid for EU membership. That's pretty incredible given the import of Kosovo to Serbia's national mythology (and given what rough shape the EU is in).
- A new Rasmussen poll has Gingrich up to 24 in New Hampshire--just 10 points behind Romney and 16 points better than he polled a month ago. Nate Silver thinks the 8-week gap between New Hampshire and Super Tuesday will break Gingrich's Big Mo should he win New Hampshire (h/t CH).
- Herman Cain, on the other hand, is reported to be reassessing his candidacy. Announcing this to senior staff on a conference call this morning, Cain noted that he had reassessed his candidacy following earlier sexual harrassment allegations.
- Jay Newton Small of TIME argues that Michele Bachmann is angling to be Romney's Veep in the Sarah Palin-John McCain model.
- The Udall Amendment was defeated today so the NDAA remains terrible and Congress is, for the sake of political points, actually weakening our ability to address terrorism.
- Finally, the Monkey Cage posted this graphic the other day -- note the inflection point in Cain's favorability rating; note also that Cain was the only candidate aside from Gingrich to have generally positive favorability trend:
- In a blow to an internationally facilitated resolution in Afghanistan, Pakistan will not attend a conference in Bonn in protest over the NATO airstrike that killed 24. However, so far this hasn't impacted the anticipated U.S. drawdown in the country which will remove 40,000 soldiers by the end of 2012.
- Al-Shabab has banned several NGOs and aid groups, putting thousands of refugees at risk if they can't get the supplies they need to survive.
- The "pilots" of the 21st century.
- The Malaysian government has passed a ban on street protests.
- Newt Gingrich has taken a big lead over his GOP rivals in recent polling in South Carolina, where a recent poll shows he has over twice the support of Romney or Cain. Of course, Cain has other issues as his studiously uninformed approach to foreign policy is immediately followed by accusations of a 13 year affair, which is alleged to have ended just as Cain's presidential campaign began.
- All I want for Christmas is for Congress to help the unemployed out. Tell you what, in the spirit of giving let's help the states out too.
Monday, November 28, 2011
- The imbroglio following the ISAF airstrike on Pakistani border posts has gone from bad to worse, as TIME reports that the airstrike lasted for two hours and continued even after Pakistani officials pleaded with NATO to stop.
- A UN Human Rights Commission report states that Syria has committed crimes against humanity in its ongoing crackdown on dissidents. Syria was sanctioned by the Arab League over the weekend. And there are reports that Syrian troops fired on civilians trying to flee across the Jordanian frontier yesterday. Syria appears to be doing its damnedest to anger all of its neighbors and achieve even greater isolation.
- Must read on George Kennan from The New Yorker (h/t EH).
- FP profiles Pakistan's new ambassadress to the United States.
- Johnathan Martin at Politico agrees with DCExile's assessment of Gingrich's place in the GOP field.
- Gov. Perry has won the coveted endorsement of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio, Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, holds outsized importance among conservatives (Maricopa County has a population of 3.8 million) due to his incredibly hardline stance on immigration. He was a key ally of recently recalled Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, architect of the infamous and unconstitutional S.B. 1070.
- Rep. Barney Frank will not be seeking reelection.
- Gov. Sam Brownback apologizes for his staff being a bunch of tattletails (and for their trampling on free speech). Actually, for my money, the overzealous staffer is forgivable--the Shawnee Mission Public School system on the other hand needs a lesson in civics and some PR help.
- The NBA lockout is over.
In general, I am a proponent of decorum and civility—particularly, in the public sphere. In these pages, I have voiced my displeasure with breaches of decorum like that of Rep. Joe Wilson when he shouted at the President. And, though this blog has a progressive slant, my ire in this respect is non-partisan or, perhaps, bipartisan. Which brings me to the incident on Jimmy Fallon’s show last Monday.
For those of you who do not know, Rep. Michele Bachmann appeared on Jimmy Fallon’s late night show last Monday. The Roots are the house band for Jimmy Fallon and, during their tenure, they have established a tradition of playing entrance music customized for particular guests. For Michele Bachmann, the Roots played “Lyin’ Ass Bitch.” Both Fallon and NBC have apologized since and, reportedly, the Roots were severely reprimanded.
Now, the Republican field has been subject to a fair amount of derision from this blog—and ole crazy eyes has been no exception. There is much to mock about these characters and few could argue that Bachmann in particular is deserved of kid gloves. She is indeed a liar—she emits falsehoods about the President, his policies, and their effects on thecountry seemingly with every breath. She is building a career on paranoia and sensationalism; she is a demagogue; and she has built her career on terrorizing the American people into voting for her out of fear. Her attacks on the President are unsupported—indeed, unsupportable—and one could be forgiven for wishing upon her turnabout as fair play.
Yet, Bachmann is a member of Congress and a candidate for the Presidency. Estimably, she has dedicated her life to public service—even if she does not honor it as such. She served as an attorney for the IRS and now she serves in Congress. That dedication alone is worthy of respect. What’s more, though, she was invited to be a guest on the Jimmy Fallon show. The bare rules of etiquette and hospitality dictate that she be accorded respect on not be subject to insult by her hosts. Like it or not, the Roots, in the employ of NBC, were her hosts. Worse, they did not challenge her on the veracity of particular statements, they did not engage her in debate, they did not give her an opportunity to respond. No, she was made the butt of a joke she likely did not even understand (this Editor doubts that Rep. Bachmann was able to recognize the song, let alone identify its name to decode the insult). Certainly, anyone who survived high school can sympathize with this scenario.
This Editor has no love lost for Rep. Bachmann. But he believes the behavior of the Roots late Monday night to be abhorrent. He would rather like a great deal more civility in American politics—this desire extends to Michele Bachmann even if she is unlikely to behave civilly herself and will instead continue to peddle lies and misrepresentations about the President.