Tidbits, 6/29

Random thoughts on a Wednesday:

* All the guest bloggers have popped in to say “hi” and will start blogging in earnest on Friday. I do have to say it’s a little weird to click onto the page and see an entry I don’t remember writing — because I didn’t — but I imagine I’ll get used to it. Everyone else seems to be okay with it.

* In case you’re wondering, I managed to get all the autographing done yesterday, which means I have one more thing to add to my list of Things I’ve Done You Probably Haven’t: signed my name more than 1,500 times in a single day. Surprisingly, my right hand did not snap off at the wrist, so that’s all to the good.

* I’ve been listening to the new Fountains of Wayne album today, and I suspect that the boys in the band have gotten a little too infatuated with their own verbal cleverness, which I suppose is a danger when you are in fact the smartest band in the room. The most recent Ivy album, however (which features FOW member Adam Schlesinger), is pretty damn tasty so far. I’m listening to both on Rhapsody, which remains my pick as possibly the greatest InterWeb invention evah, since I can listen to tons of music until my ears pop for just $10 a month (Yahoo Music does the same thing for even cheaper – $5 to $7 a month depending on the plan you buy — but I don’t like the interface, and I can afford the extra $3 a month not to be annoyed).

In case one wonders whether this means that I will never buy music again, I’ll note that I am downloading Welcome Interstate Managers even as I write this, because being underwhelmed by the new FOW reminded me that I liked the last album hugely and kept meaning to buy it, and yet I hadn’t. Well, now I have (on iTunes, so I can suck it into the iPod when I want). Have a cup of coffee on me, Fountains of Wayne!

For all that, I have recently been seriously considering getting a Creative Zen Micro for the express purpose taking advantage of Rhapsody’s downloadable ability — you can download rented tracks onto a Zen Micro and take them with you where you go. I am not philosophically opposed to the concept of renting music, and to be entirely honest, the reason I’d do something like that is to have handy access to music I already own on CD that I haven’t already ripped. For example, I have a whole bunch of Brain Eno ambient music, as does Rhapsody, and it’s just a hell of a lot easier to call it up on Rhapsody (or, alternately, download it and take it with me when I go) than it is to dig the CD out of storage and burn it. I don’t want to have to buy all that music again, which I would have to do with iTunes — I’m not that lazy — but having a rented version? Sure, why not.

It is annoying that I would have to get a Zen Micro to do this, since I already have an iPod mini, and it would be nice just to use that instead, but that’s Apple for you. Anyway, the iPod actually belongs to Krissy, who is very, uh, proprietary toward it; I had to negotiate to borrow it last weekend when I went on a trip. The only drawback with the Zen Micro would be that I wouldn’t be able to load up the albums I’ve bought on iTunes (again, thanks to Apple’s buttheaded-ness), but as I can use download rented versions from Rhapsody, eh, who cares.

While I’m thinking about it, last weekend was the first time I had a chance to really spend time with the iPod, and you know what? Those earbuds well and truly suck. I ended up ditching them for a more comfortable pair of headphones. This is another example of Apple aesthetics getting in the way of actual usage, although to be fair to the iPod mini itself, it is a sweet little machine.

* I didn’t watch Bush’s speech last night because I honestly didn’t expect him to say anything of any use, and judging from the transcripts, I was not wrong to do else with my time. What I think is telling is the fact that hauling out 9/11 didn’t seem to do the President much good this time around; people have lived with the Iraq war long enough now to have become used to the idea that there really never was was a connection between 9/11 and our tromping through Baghdad so Dubya could avenge his dad. I don’t see how the national opinion of the value of the Iraq war is going to get any better from here on out, and while I don’t think most Americans actually support leaving Iraq at the moment as it is (i.e., vulnerable to the terrorists whose supposed relationship with the former government was the “reason” we went in), I also think they think they got sold a bill of goods, and they’re not all too pleased at the fella who sold it to them, at the cost of more than 1,500 American lives to this point. In short, I don’t think Dubya’s going to get any more popular between now and 2008, and I can’t say as I think this is a bad thing.

* Good on Canada — looks like soon anyone there will be able to marry anyone else they choose, as long as they stick to the “one spouse to a customer” rule. In other news, it’s been well over a year since people could marry members of their own sex in Massachusetts, and yet my own marriage has yet to be threatened — even once! — by the fact. I keep checking, of course, ever-vigilant that the forces of same-sex matrimony are tearing apart my own relationship, but strangely, they don’t seem much interested in me or my marriage. Honestly, I feel a little ripped-off about that. I was promised wholesale marriage discord by the religious conservatives! Where’s my refund?

36 thoughts on “Tidbits, 6/29

  1. I was at the Boston Gay Pride Parade, and I can assure you that there were many calls to “destroy John Scalzi’s marriage.” The “Gay Grandfathers” in particular were all over you.

  2. From CNN:

    “Saddam Hussein and people like him were very much involved in 9/11,” Rep. Robin Hayes said.

    Told no investigation had ever found evidence to link Saddam and 9/11, Hayes responded, “I’m sorry, but you must have looked in the wrong places.”

    Sadly, there are still some people who remain snookered by Bush’s rhetoric. Sigh.

  3. Hayes responded, “I’m sorry, but you must have looked in the wrong places.”

    And doesn’t someone somewhere have to be more than a little embarrassed that they voted for someone that stupid.

    Personally, I’d like to thank him for reminding me that there are people out there who have no interest in the truth.

  4. “Hayes responded, “I’m sorry, but you must have looked in the wrong places.””

    Hey! I heard that one before! Bigfoot hunters and UFO buffs! (You haven’t found proof of [insert questionable phenomenom here] because you haven’t looked in the right places.] Yeah, that’s it. The WMD’s were snuck into Area 51 after it was closed so those pesky devils could hide them right under our noses.

    Those clever bastards!

  5. The Zen Micro is a sweet little machine, I’ve got a Zen Xtra, its a huge hulking Mp3 player, but its got a better DAC and outputs a much nicer more balanced sound that the iPods, I tried out a friends with my headphones (Shure E2C’s inear buds) and there was a noticeable difference, just not the same depth or clarity with the iPod as with my Zen.

  6. John, I suspect the reason why the guest bloggers haven’t fazed us readers as much is because, well, up until now none of us have written the posts, so it’s not nearly as jarring. :-)

  7. I must say, John, what a wonderful idea to have guest bloggers on your page. We NEVER get bored of your ramblings, however, the interest level is rising…

  8. John:
    I don’t see how the national opinion of the value of the Iraq war is going to get any better from here on out

    Assuming you mean the predominant national opinion (there are many opinions of the war within the nation), I don’t see how it can’t get better, given how bad it is now.

    What amazes me is that after predicting a long, hard slog through Afghanistan, a Vietnam-like loss of life while invading Baghdad, the impossibility of ever finding Hussein, our inability to establish an Iraqi government, Iraq’s inability to hold elections, the Iraqi people’s unwillingness to accept the new government, and that government’s inability to draft a constitution, people still have the nerve to predict that the nascent democracy they’ve got now will ultimately fail. Not only that, but everyone assumes that (this time) they’re right!

    I said it before & I’ll say it again. If, in ten years, the U.S. and Iraq have normal diplomatic relations in the way the U.S. and Russia have today, GWB will be looked upon as a genius (a la Ronald Reagan) and the Iraqi invasion will be looked upon as a great success. All of the squabbling that’s going on now will fade into history if the results are there…

    More John:
    In short, I don’t think Dubya’s going to get any more popular between now and 2008, and I can’t say as I think this is a bad thing.

    This is the part that makes me smack my forehead Homer Simpson-style. OF COURSE that’s a bad thing. He’s the President of the United States. Why on earth would it be a good thing for him to remain unpopular for 3+ years? What purpose does it serve? It’s not like he’s running for a third term.

    I agree that an increase in popularity is unlikely (too many of the bets he’s made will take a lot more than 3 years to play out – if they ever do), but would I be disappointed if it came to pass? Hardly…

  9. “Why on earth would it be a good thing for him to remain unpopular for 3+ years?”

    For one thing? Bye-bye Republican majority in at least one chamber of Congress. Which would be an excellent thing. For another, a lesser chance of some of his more pea-brained schemes getting rammed through Congress or otherwise being enacted. The man’s been a terrible president, so don’t expect me to cry sad boo-hoo tears at him paying the piper, or the possibility that his unpopularity will impede his “effectivness” at whatever other damn fool thing he’s got up his sleeve.

    “GWB will be looked upon as a genius (a la Ronald Reagan) ”

    (rolls eyes)

    The day I call Ronald Reagan a genius is the day I put my hand in a wood shredder. I’m not a Reagan hater, but for God’s sake. The man was dim even before the Alzheimers began to kick in in his second term. The fact that people have worked hard to give the impression the man was a genius is one of the contributing factors to the fact that we’ve got easily the stupidest, smuggest and most intellectually incurious president in 80 years perambulating through the White House today.

  10. “…GWB will be looked upon as a genius (a la Ronald Reagan)…”

    Talk about defining genius down.

  11. If, in ten years, the U.S. and Iraq have normal diplomatic relations in the way the U.S. and Russia have today, GWB will be looked upon as a genius (a la Ronald Reagan) and the Iraqi invasion will be looked upon as a great success.

    Just as now that we have normal diplomatic relations with Vietnam, LBJ is looked on as a genius and the Vietnam war is now considered to have been a great success.

    *cough*

  12. Not that I’m all that interested in starting a debate here (oh crap but here I go anyway), but a friend of mine on another blog pointed out that while we went to war with Germany and Italy back in the 40’s, there weren’t any Germans or Italians connected with the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

    I think the importance of Iraq (or at least the military importance) is lost on a lot of people, because they’re focusing on Iraq’s connections with 9/11, or with Al Qaida, or the oil. From a sheer military and national defense perspective, it’s an ideal position. American civilians are no longer a target. American military (and Iraq military and civilians) are now targets. It’s easier for radicalized militants to go jump the Syrian (or Iranian or Saudi or Turkish or Blankistan) border in an attempt to go kill some Americans (and now their Iraqi brothers) than it is for them to jump on a slow boat to America. It’s a wonderful old trick (probably pre-dates Sun-tzu). If you’re tired of your enemy attacking something you own, give him another irresistable, hardened, skilled target to throw themselves against. Basically, leave them no choice but to attack your new position (and die in the process of doing so).

    In the meantime, you’ve given your old enemy a new government (under the guise of democracy), and now your enemies are fighting each other. The added bonus is that borderline unstable governments (like Iran) now have an “example” of democracy that’s slowly but painfully working. If you’re lucky (and I doubt anyone’s holding their breath for this), Iran overthrows itself. Since we’ve rolled into Iraq, Libya’s begun to “play ball” and Lebanon (at least I think it was Lebanon) has ousted Syria from their land. I think it’s working, but obviously, people’s opinions differ.

    The only problem, is that you can’t sell this tactic (or theory in this case) to the American public.

  13. Yes, I’m sure Dubya stayed up nights, reading Sun-Tzu, Bowler.

    “The only problem, is that you can’t sell this tactic (or theory in this case) to the American public.”

    Well, it’s because it’s a really crappy theory, that’s why — a nice retro-fitting ass cover, to be sure, and kudos to the neo-con who thought it up when it became clear we were stuck swatting at an insurgency we didn’t expect to find (even though, as mentioned, the unholy alliance between Iraq and terrorists was one of the ostensible reasons for going into Iraq). But its relationship to reality is iffy at best.

    One of the things that profoundly irritates me about the “flypaper” theory is that it conveniently ignores the possibility (and I use “possibility” as a polite fiction; the word that should be used is “fact”) that the US invasion of Iraq has increased the number of polarized Muslims and Arabs, expanding the recruiting pool far beyond what it would have been without the Iraq invasion. So any net gain from a “flypaper” retrofit rationalization is almost certainly lost through the net increase of people determined to strike back at the US.

    Given what a truly crappy job this Administration has done with Homeland Security, incidentally, I find your faith that “American civilians are no longer targets” charmingly naive. Don’t get me wrong — I hope you’re right. But I don’t really think the bad guys have stopped looking for ways to hit us at home, and the fact that no terrorist incident has occured in the US since 9/11 means as little as the fact that prior to 9/11, no major terrorist incident had occured in the US since the first Trade Center bombing in the early 90s.

  14. Bowler says: Not that I’m all that interested in starting a debate here (oh crap but here I go anyway), but a friend of mine on another blog pointed out that while we went to war with Germany and Italy back in the 40’s, there weren’t any Germans or Italians connected with the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

    Well, there was the bit where Hitler (or rather, Hitler’s Germany) declared war on the U.S.A. 4 days after Pearl Harbor, which might account for at least some of the American presence in the European theater.

    I think for your metaphor to be relevant, Hussein would have mobilized the Iraqi military in war on September 15th 2001. An event which, if it occurred, has been carefully hushed for no obvious reason.

  15. what scott said. plus, japan was officially allied with germany and italy when the us declared war on japan. so no one had to err through the desert in search of wmds that didn’t exist to try to either prove a connection that didn’t exist, or to try to give an independent reason for declaring war.

    plus, you know, all the pictures of various fascist heads of state meeting with each other and shaking hands ‘n’ stuff. plus, the plan outlined in “mein kampf”. plus, you know, the, like, apparent marching into territory that’s not yours ‘n’ stuff, like poland and ethiopia and china.

    little bit different.

  16. Hayes responded, “I’m sorry, but you must have looked in the wrong places.”

    Well, since Rep. Hayes is obviously pulling his information right out of his ass, I for one, refuse to look there.

  17. > I keep checking, of course, ever-vigilant that the forces of same-sex matrimony are tearing apart my own relationship, but strangely, they don’t seem much interested in me or my marriage. Honestly, I feel a little ripped-off about that. I was promised wholesale marriage discord by the religious conservatives!

    Are you willing to settle for (somewhat religious definitely) conservatives opposing solomnization of marriages by the government? They probably won’t be interested in tearing apart your relationship, but the discord is there.</tongue-in-cheek>

  18. For one thing? Bye-bye Republican majority in at least one chamber of Congress. Which would be an excellent thing.

    I happen to agree with you that a split government is more effective (see Clinton, 1994-2000), but in purely political terms, Bush’s unpopularity has served the Republicans pretty well so far. To wit: an (unheard of) increase in seats during the 2002 midterms, a win in 2004 despite the lowest approval rating for an incumbent in recent memory, and an unusually high (record?) number of Republican governors. Not one of the 50 states currently has a Democratic governor and two Democratic senators (California did until Gray Davis got himself booted). Political punishment for supporting the war has also seemed to spare Tony Blair in England and Hamid Karsai in Afghanistan. Conversely, the EU leaders that so vehemently stood against the war have recently failed to garner the waves of public support they were hoping for from their respective electorates.

    But let’s pretend that none of the above has occurred (or, more likely, that all of it was somehow orchestrated by Karl Rove), and Bush’s unpopularity is a sure sign of doom for the current Republican leaders. It sounds like you’re saying that you’d prefer the government to limp along in ineffectual failure for at least a year, just so GWB can get what’s coming to him. That still strikes me as cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    The day I call Ronald Reagan a genius is the day I put my hand in a wood shredder.

    I didn’t say he was a genius. I said he’s thought of as a genius. That’s not the same thing at all.

    At any rate, I’m glad Gorbachev didn’t feel the way you do. Although, by the above logic, we’d have been better off if the Soviet Union had hung around a little longer so that Mike Dukakis could have beaten George H.W. Bush…

  19. ” (and I use “possibility” as a polite fiction; the word that should be used is “fact”) that the US invasion of Iraq has increased the number of polarized Muslims and Arabs,…”

    Being from Turkey, I can most definitely say that it is a fact. All the people I have known to have very mild political views now have strong bias against the American Government because of Iraq.

  20. The only drawback with the Zen Micro would be that I wouldn’t be able to load up the albums I’ve bought on iTunes (again, thanks to Apple’s buttheaded-ness), but as I can use download rented versions from Rhapsody, eh, who cares.

    However, you can actually “fix” the apple DRM issue by using Hymm.

    I can now listen to my iTunes as MP3 on my iAudio player.

  21. John:

    You do know that the “new” FoW album is just a bunch of old B-sides and outtakes (plus a couple of new songs to get the completists to buy the CD), right? I wouldn’t be expecting too much from it.

    (Although: FoW definitely should have listened to their record company in 1999 when it wanted them to release their version of “…Baby One More Time” as a single. They wouldn’t have had to wait four more years for a big hit.)

  22. John Fratus: Actually, no, I didn’t know that. But it makes perfect sense, now that you mention it. Thanks for the clarification.

    Brian Greenburg:

    “It sounds like you’re saying that you’d prefer the government to limp along in ineffectual failure for at least a year.”

    If by “ineffectual failure” you mean “Bush has a hard time enacting his beef-witted agenda,” then yes, that would suit me just fine. I think it’s a fine thing that the Democrats have finally grown a pair and Congressional Republicans have begun to distance themselves from this administration. You’re apparently under the impression that having this administration be effective in its agenda is a good thing. It’s not.

    “Bush’s unpopularity has served the Republicans pretty well so far.”

    Brian, you’re so much smarter than this that this utterly ridiculous statement is an embarassment.

    First, the fact Bush was elected at all was because of a concerted, multi-decade effort to grow the conservative — a project of which he was the beneficiary, not an active participant. Please do recall that he lost the popular vote in 2000. Second, to be utterly callous about it, Bush was handed an extrordinary political tool in 9/11, and his people wielded it well, if by “well” one means “to partisan advantage”; the GOP would have had to work hard to have lost seats. Let us also note that even with this form of popularity, a 100,000 vote swing in a single state (Ohio) would have cost him his second election and made him the first “war-time” president to lose an election (Johnson didn’t run in ’68, if you recall).

    What’s different now is that Americans have apparently begun to have their fill of GOP-amped war hysteria, and the decades-long conservative movement has arguably peaked (or is very near its peak), thank God. It also appears that the Democrats, who for better or worse are the opposition, have begun acting more intelligently in terms of being an opposition. In this atmosphere, a 43% approval rating is not a good thing for a President to have.

    “I didn’t say he was a genius. I said he’s thought of as a genius.”

    Crap. He’s only thought of as a genius by people who have an extreme poverty of understanding of what the word “genius” means. Certainly he’s touted as a genuis by a certain brand of conservative, but as I said before, this sort of reality-bending dumbassery is a contributing factor toward having the current dimbulb in office.

    “I’m glad Gorbachev didn’t feel the way you do.”

    You know, people who are under the impression that the Soviet Union collapsed because of Reagan remind me of the people who are under the impression that Germany was defeated in WWII by the United States, which is to say in both cases they appear to have a lovely and convenient gap of knowledge about what was going on in the USSR at the time.

    I’m content to give Reagan his due in this area — he did matter, and the world is a better place without the USSR than with it. But it does not follow that Reagan’s plan for dealing the Soviets, and the subsequent and massive federal deficit it accrued, was a work of genius. If Gorbachev wants to publicly declare Reagan a genius, that’s fine with me, although personally I’m not aware of him actually saying something along that line. However, Gorbachev does have a vested interest in his association with Reagan these days.

    Re: the rest of your last paragraph — please do pull your head out, Brian. I celebrate and cherish the fact your political views differ from mine, and I’m glad you’re here to air those views. But if someone who held the same political views as me said something that stupid, I’ll tell him to pull his head out, too.

  23. You know, people who are under the impression that the Soviet Union collapsed because of Reagan remind me of the people who are under the impression that Germany was defeated in WWII by the United States, which is to say in both cases they appear to have a lovely and convenient gap of knowledge about what was going on in the USSR at the time.

    A stellar example of two of the reasons I read this blog daily: clear thinking and clear writing.

    Regarding earbuds: I’ve been very happy with these. They’re very comfortable, deliver good bass response, and keep out ambient sound. That may not be what you want, but I find them invaluable at work, where I have to concentrate in a busy and very noisy office:

    http://www.koss.com/koss/kossweb.nsf/04ProductDetailCall?ReadForm&Portable+Stereophones^SPARKPLUG

  24. “Well, it’s because it’s a really crappy theory, that’s why — a nice retro-fitting ass cover, to be sure, and kudos to the neo-con who thought it up when it became clear we were stuck swatting at an insurgency we didn’t expect to find (even though, as mentioned, the unholy alliance between Iraq and terrorists was one of the ostensible reasons for going into Iraq).”

    Well, I don’t consider myself a neo-con, and it’s my theory. I didn’t read it anywhere. I don’t agree much with W’s social policies, and I’m fence-sitting on his economic ones, but I think the military ones are fairly sound.

    To say that we weren’t expecting an insurgency is to actually say you weren’t expecting one. I guarantee you the military knew one was coming. There was an insurgency in Germany. There was one in Japan. There’s no way around them. No matter how much you prepare, no matter how many vests or armored up Humvees you send, they’re going to be successful at some point or other. The idea that we could squash an insurgency in anything under a decade or generation gap is unfortunate. Yeah, we were sold on a year, but would we have accepted “this is going to take a decade, folks?” Probably not.

    At any rate, I realize we’re not going to see eye to eye on this one.

  25. Brian, you’re so much smarter than this that this utterly ridiculous statement is an embarassment

    Hmmm…I’m thinking the appropriate response here is “Thanks?”

    Please do recall that he lost the popular vote in 2000.
    the GOP would have had to work hard to have lost seats.
    a 100,000 vote swing in a single state (Ohio) would have cost him his second election

    I didn’t include the 2000 election in my post because a) it happened before the war began, and the subject was the war’s effect on Republican success at the polls, and b) someone always brings up the popular vote as a way of refuting any conclusion one might draw from it. That being said, you can’t point to the popular vote in 2000, and then draw conclusions from the claim that Bush would have lost in 2004 with 100,000 fewer votes in Ohio. Had that happened, he’d have lost the election with a popular vote victory of ~3 million votes, more than five times the margin Gore had in 2000.

    As to the GOP gaining seats in the 2002 midterms, the run-up to war in Iraq was in full swing by then, and an angry electorate could have “voted the bums out” if they so chose. The sitting president’s party has lost seats in the House in all but two of the midterms in the 20th century (1932 & 1998) – that includes wars, various international crises, and all manner of domestic/economic ups and downs.

    My point is this: despite the extremely vocal opposition view, the actual elections show that there is (at least) a silent plurality in the country that supports the president & his policies. And that pattern seems to be evident in other countries as well.

    If Gorbachev wants to publicly declare Reagan a genius, that’s fine with me, although personally I’m not aware of him actually saying something along that line. However, Gorbachev does have a vested interest in his association with Reagan these days.

    Gorbachev on Reagan:
    “I deem Ronald Reagan a great president, with whom the Soviet leadership was able to launch a very difficult but important dialogue. [He was] a statesman who, despite all disagreements that existed between our countries at the time, displayed foresight and determination to meet our proposals halfway and change our relations for the better. [He helped] stop the nuclear race, start scrapping nuclear weapons, and arrange normal relations between our countries. I do not know how other statesmen would have acted at that moment, because the situation was too difficult. Reagan, whom many considered extremely rightist, dared to make these steps, and this is his most important deed.”

    My use of the word “genius” took us astride my point, though. How about this: Despite fierce opposition to his policies at the time, Reagan is generally thought of as successful in his dealings with the USSR, because of how things have played out since. If things play out similarly in Iraq, GWB will be similarly thought of as successful with regards to Iraq.

    Re: the rest of your last paragraph — please do pull your head out, Brian.

    OK, the Dukakis crack was hyperbole and I deserve exactly what I got. My humble apologies.

  26. Bowler:

    “Well, I don’t consider myself a neo-con, and it’s my theory.”

    This theory’s been tossed about in neo-con circles for some time as the flypaper theory, and while I entirely accept you may have thought of the theory independently, Bowler, I regret to say it doesn’t make it any less crappy a theory.

    “To say that we weren’t expecting an insurgency is to actually say you weren’t expecting one.”

    I’m not entirely sure I follow this logic here, Bowler, as I was most certainly expecting insurgents. Alas, I am not the Secretary of Defense, who apparently didn’t, or at the very least whose troop apportionment for the Iraq mission appeared to be predicated on an overly-optimistic assessment of insurgency strength.

    It’s entirely possible the military felt the insurgency strength would be as strong as it is; would they had a Secretary of Defense who wasn’t so keen on showing how a smaller US force could do the job just as well as a larger force (i.e. one that was not spread so thin), and thus deprived the military of the people and resources it needed to do its mission as effectively as it is capable of doing it, given adequate people and resources.

    Brian Greenberg: Gorbachev’s praise of Reagan in your quote is very nice, but indeed says nothing about “genius.” It’s also a press statement on the occasion of his death, so the context is not trivial. Aside from a few jerks, very few prominent people had anything bad to say about him in the near proximity of his passing.

    “My use of the word ‘genius’ took us astride my point, though.”

    Now, now. Go back and read what you wrote. The “genius” comment is indeed your point (or more accurately, one of two you wanted to make). Your latter point, which you reformulated in your last post, stands independent of the “genius” assertion — that GWB stands a very good chance of being thought of a successful in regards to Iraq if things turn out well. And I agree this is entirely possible, and in terms of the larger picture I’m hard-pressed to see this as a bad thing, since I for one would like to have some stability in the region. If the “cost” of that is that Dubya looks good, by all means let’s pay the price.

    However, in the meantime I do think it entirely worth asking whether what we have done in Iraq has been done as well and as intelligently as possible, and if not, who should take responsiblity for it. As I have pointed out many times, I was not opposed to the US entering Iraq, but that doesn’t mean I believe that we’ve done a bang-up job post-invasion, or that the clearly-erroneous rationales we were provided for doing so, and those who put them forward, should be given a pass.

    In my opinion, Dubya’s not paying for having invaded Iraq, he’s paying for having done such a poor job at staying there. That’s a legitimate payment for him to make, and if the result is that it costs him a substantial amount of his political capital in other areas as well as in his administration of Iraq, that’s just the way it works.

  27. Wow, good discussion…

    If you want to separate my description of Reagan’s reputation as “genius” from the credit he’s received for dealing with the Soviets, then I’m very happy to concede the former point.

    All I was trying to convey was that not only was he successful in dealing with the Soviets, but his actions were harshly (and to a large extent, wrongly) criticized at the time. In retrospect, he had a clearer vision of how the future would play out than his contemporaries. Perhaps “visionary” is a better word than “genius.” Or perhaps it’s just as bad. What do I know – you’re the writer. ;-)

    In any case, if Iraq becomes the next Russia (and I grant you, that’s still a big “if”), I think history will view GWB the same way. Right now, those who make this point, tend to make it in terms of “maybe George Bush will get lucky.” I think that will change over time.

  28. All I was trying to convey was that not only was [Reagan] successful in dealing with the Soviets, but his actions were harshly (and to a large extent, wrongly) criticized at the time. In retrospect, he had a clearer vision of how the future would play out than his contemporaries.

    Reagan, like the six presidents who preceded him, was playing out the script that George Kennan wrote in the late forties. I’ll give him credit for not blowing his lines. If that fits your definition of great leadership, so be it.

  29. On the subject of Apple’s “butt-headedness:”

    Apple is a hardware company; people seem to forget that. They don’t own or operate the iTunes music store, they lease the name to a third-party vendor (who take the lion’s share of the profits made from iTMS.)

    iTunes and iTMS exist for one reason: to drive iPod sales. Opening up the iPod would be great for consumers (and iPod’s competitors), but under Apple’s current model, it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

  30. Wow. It’s not often that I show up at a party and there are so many people beating up on Brian that I don’t want to take a swing at him myself. So I’ll take a pass here, but I think it’s highly likely that I’ll be using my Saturday soapbox to put this thread on the Big Board.

    BTW, John, it’ll be a hoot if you’re as active in the comments of your guests as you have been here. Of course, that sort of obviates the whole “taking time off” thing.

    One thing I’ll note, in passing: Reagan’s Evil Empire speech was given on the same night that NATO began a global unannounced war games exercise. Announcements were typically made to prevent misunderstandings. The Soviets took the word “evil” in conjunction with seeing massive troop movements to mean that we were about to attack, and went to their equivalent of maximum DEFCON. Our satellites picked up the activity and we responded in kind.

    The situation was defused with large amounts of back-channel diplomacy, mostly being everyone saying, “No, we do NOT intend to kill you all tonight.” This incident is widely regarded as second only to the Cuban Missile Crisis as the point where we nearly exterminated each other in an all-out nuclear war. You can draw your own conclusions about what I feel this says about the Great Communicator.

  31. If you can’t move your iTunes files, you’re not trying hard enough.

    Burn AAC files to CD. Pause to laugh at your cleverness. Click on CD in iTunes. Convert selected files to MP3. Pause for another chuckle about how smart you are. Move MP3s any gosh-darned place you want.

    You’re welcome. It also provides a lovely backup in case your AACs or hard drive develop personal problems.

  32. “If you can’t move your iTunes files, you’re not trying hard enough.”

    Well, of course I know how — it’s just easier to do it the other way. And I’m all about the easy.

  33. John, just get JHymn. It automatically unlocks your legally purchased AAC files, and it keeps all the metadata (including your ratings, album art, &c) intact. Then it’s simple to add them to Krissy’s iPod mini. I routinely use it so my wife and I can easily swap music between our Macs and various iPods. See http://hymn-project.org/jhymndoc/.

  34. Brian: Not one of the 50 states currently has a Democratic governor and two Democratic senators (California did until Gray Davis got himself booted).

    OK, so I’m late to this little party, but it’s worth noting that Illinois has a democratic governor (Rod Blagojevich) and two democrtic senators (Dick Durbin and Barack Obama).

    On Gray Davis – he was the victim of an orchestrated smear campaign that took advantage of Enron’s illegal price-gouging. Arnold’s approval rating (37%) is fourth-worst in the history of California – Davis was worst (22%), followed by Pete Wilson (33%) and Pat Brown (35%). Only Davis was made to face a recall election; Wilson and Brown both won re-election.

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