Re: Screw Butter; Where's the Guns?

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Defense spending goes in large part to middle class people designing and building building tanks and airplanes and boats and buildings and etc etc etc, so be aware that there are going to be unemployment effects from any measurable cuts in defense.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 12:19 AM
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building building building buildings malkovich building building masturbate building


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 12:19 AM
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Why should we be looking for cuts in the federal budget at this exact moment?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 12:22 AM
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re: 3

Well, the current view in the UK, from both main parties, seems to be that while they disagree about the need for budget cuts now [there's a Keynesian versus non-Keynesian debate going on] both of them are pretty sure that budget cuts will be needed in the future in order to pay back the fecking HUGE cost of the various bank/financial-sector bailouts and stimulus plans.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 12:27 AM
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3: I'm looking for spending that's silly. The WaPo series on Murtha seems to be knocking on the door I'm tapping. I assume there are other examples, so I'm asking.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 12:28 AM
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Cutting defense spending can be done* without cutting or even keeping level other types of spending.

*By which I mean physically possible.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 12:33 AM
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Is it like Republican Night on unfogged or something?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 12:33 AM
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There is of course always already a problem with calling it "Defense spending" when much of it isn't really about "defending ourselves". So there's that rub, too


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 12:36 AM
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7: I'm angling to kill Defense spending. How Republican is that?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 12:38 AM
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Spending less money on defense is not in any way complicated. As #1 says, most of the money goes to middle-class and/or working class people building tanks or airplanes or bombs or whatever, so the politicians for the districts in which those jobs reside will get very angry and fight back when you try.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 12:38 AM
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re: 7

On the 2-axis charts of political viewpoints, where the Republicans appear over one side, there's a little picture of me over on the other side holding an axe and a lovingly crafted icon of Nestor Makhno.

Cutting government spending doesn't generally have to be a right-wing position -- it depends which budgets you cut, and when. The right-wing position, of course, is to talk a load of shit about cutting budgets while screwing the poor and robbing as much of the budget for themselves and their cronies as possible.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 12:39 AM
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You are talking Revolution, Stanley, you are talking October 1917.

Won't happen otherwise.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 12:41 AM
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But while waiting for the revolution:

Supplemental Whip Count ...Firedoglake

I hope everybody realizes how serious the attempt of progressives and the netroots to defeat the supplemental was.

Giving Obama a loss on a essential military spending bill?

Humiliating him in front of the world elite community with a defeat on IMF funding? So that Obama goes to every World meeting with the words:"If Congress gives me permission?"

Some of us want to destroy his presidency. Dead fucking serious.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 12:49 AM
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7: I'm talking about how you can keep or increase spending elsewhere, regardless of what you do with military spending.

McClatchy ran a story recently on Californians moving to Oklahoma, pushed by, among other things, both boom (high home prices) and bust (high unemployment) and pulled by, among other things, Oklahoma's lower cost of living and relative stability. The threads will now converge:

Oklahoma City's economy is diverse, but its three biggest drivers are energy, government and defense, industries that generally tend to be stable. Several of the largest natural gas companies in the nation are based here. So is Tinker Air Force Base, which employs tens of thousands.

Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 12:49 AM
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I hasten to remind the assembled that there is a hair issue at hand.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 12:55 AM
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As long as the US is committed to empire, there won't ever be substantial cuts in defence spendings, just smaller increases in spending derided as cuts. If you look at what kind of programmes have been cancelled in the last two decades it's all stuff that's nice, but not essential and in deep trouble already for one reason or another: the Crusader artillery system, the Comache "stealth" helicopter, the navy's A-12 attack plane, "star wars".

There are several such programmes currently still running that are plausible candidates for cutting: the V-22 Osprey, the F-35 (but likely to be an export winner as the F-22 is too expensive and important for export), the navy's DD-1000 and arsenal ship. Cancelling those would save money, but would also mean replacement programmes eating most of that savings. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

The real savings would come from just pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan, which is costing something like half a billion dollars a day iirc.

More would come from downsizing the military from its current overwhelming superiority in nuclear and conventional warfare into soemthing more on par with every other country's forces. Get rid of most of the overseas bases, nuclear weapons, aircraft carriers undsoweiter and you can save a shitload of money.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 12:55 AM
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"I don't know, Prime Minister, if I can actually promise those fighter planes. I'll have to talk to Congress"

"Well, Mr Obama, perhaps I should send someone to talk to Reid and Pelosi. In the meantime, we will just study your request for a while. Would you like to tour the gardens with my daughter?"

These Foreign Policy defeats absolutely ruin Presidencies. We failed. Next time.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 12:56 AM
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Reason to destroy Obama six months in?

Well, he'll still be around, it's just that Congress won'y pay him much attention. And the house democrats now believe we can get better more progressive legislation without Obama.

Obama isn't exactly getting us Republican or Blue Dog votes, is he? So what is he good for?

And his own policies are very far from progressive.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 1:02 AM
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From what I've always been told, shampooing and showering more than twice a week in bad for your skin and hair. I'm not going to do any reaearch but I bet a penny whatever you're referring to is probably corporate disinformation.

But science never have any impact on cultural norms on hygiene, if they did no one shave their armpits or pubic hair.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 3:48 AM
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Showering's too damn nice to only do twice a week though.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 3:49 AM
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Certainly, for many/most people washing their hair too often leads to dry/frizzy hair.

When I had really long hair I used to only wash it* once a week, twice in summer. Any more than that and it looked horrible.

* with shampoo, I mean, not just rinsing it in the shower.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 3:53 AM
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Stanley, can't you comb your hair in the shower while wet without wash/cond? Also, I'm not sure if I believe you on the tangle-tangle. I have thick curly hair to my shoulders and I comb it (with or without wash/cond) maybe once a week if I remember. I think I went a year once without combing it at all. It's not really tangly; it just feels tangly at first compared to combing it all the time. But I get less breakage and it isn't as frizzy.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 4:13 AM
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re: 22

Mine used to mat into dreads if I didn't brush/detangle it fairly regularly. I used to use an 'afro comb' to do it, as the tines on a normal comb were too close together.

I went on holiday for a week in really hot sun once and didn't comb it, and came back with very blonde dreads [my hair is brown normally]. Took ages to detangle.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 4:33 AM
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There are several such programmes currently still running that are plausible candidates for cutting: the V-22 Osprey, the F-35 (but likely to be an export winner as the F-22 is too expensive and important for export), the navy's DD-1000 and arsenal ship. Cancelling those would save money, but would also mean replacement programmes eating most of that savings

True dat, but: arsenal ship was cancelled ages ago, and DD-1000 has been cut back to (IIRC) four hulls, in favour of more DDG-51s. F-35B (the VTOL variant) could and should be cut, because it doesn't work. V-22 isn't bad, though, now the problems have been ironed out; though how the Marines decided they wanted a replacement helicopter that couldn't carry a door gun is beyond me.

It is completely politically possible for the US to cut both the size of the military and military spending dramatically: Bush and Cheney did it in 1989-92, and Clinton carried it on. The Army, for example, went from 20 to 10 divisions in six years, and the Pentagon budget went down sharply.

Sticking with the military theme, the obvious option for Stanley is to go high and tight. It's very difficult to get your hair tangled if it's only half an inch long.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 4:44 AM
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Don't take my advice, Stanley! Maybe it's the curls that keep it from going crazy.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 4:45 AM
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Procurement expenditures are not as big as you'd like to think--in any given year. The real cost is in personnel, operations, maintenance, and retirees. Increasingly, of course, providing health care. Reduce the number of dudes and ladies and you are talking.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 4:47 AM
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The problem with talking about cutting defense in any organized way is that everyone with detailed knowledge of the defense budget is part of the defense establishment, so any specific proposal for cuts gets swarmed by 'experts' saying that those cuts would be insane, and even mentioning them proves you can't be relied on.

Me, I favor getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan, so as not to worry about that cost, and then entering a ten year process of cutting defense 5% per year, and asking the establishment what they want to do with the money we're giving them -- you guys figure out the specific cuts.

And then spend the money on something actually useful that creates an equivalent number of jobs.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 5:27 AM
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Sorry, that was me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 5:27 AM
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24:
It is completely politically possible for the US to cut both the size of the military and military spending dramatically: Bush and Cheney did it in 1989-92, and Clinton carried it on.

True, as peace dividend at the end of the Cold War. Actually, that's the post-war pattern in US defence spending, isn't it, that spending is cut at the end of a war and then gradually creeps up again: WW2, Korea, Vietnam all fit that pattern, with spending dropping down a lot afterwards, though never quite to the same level as it was before.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 5:28 AM
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Getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan is important on ther own non-bugetary merits, but wouldn't it also mean raising the domestic unemployment rate dramatically in the short run?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 5:41 AM
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When my hair's long, I wash it maybe twice a week, and it's better behaved and less tangly than if I washed it daily. I rinse it in the shower, of course, but no soap most days.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 5:42 AM
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Granted that it's cheaper to pay unemployment benefits in Skokie than to support somebody 100% in Bagram.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 5:43 AM
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From what I've always been told, shampooing and showering more than twice a week in bad for your skin and hair.

For the record, highly person-dependent. But as a general rule, yeah.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 6:07 AM
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Getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan is important on ther own non-budgetary merits, but wouldn't it also mean raising the domestic unemployment rate dramatically in the short run?

Probably not with regard to the regular forces, which haven't actually expanded very much since the start of the war (1.41 million in early 2002; 1.45 million now) - getting out wouldn't mean layoffs, just more time to train, etc, just as they were doing before 2001.
With regard to the reserves, if they weren't going away then employers wouldn't have to hire temp staff to replace them, which I suppose might have some impact, but a) compared to the total workforce the number of reservists deployed is fairly small and b) it might well be counteracted by the increase in efficiency of not losing trained staff for 18 months at a time.

So: no, not significantly, I think.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 6:29 AM
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We are not leaving Iraq & Afghanistan, at least in any way that decreases defense spending. In fact, you can now add Pakistan and Iran to our hegemonic protectorate.

It is about the oil;the Caspian Sea and Central Asia;political stability in the Gulf States;reserve currency;Empire.

Intermittently, Rome stopped the bread part of panem & circenses in the 2nd(3rd) century, and gave the Christians an opening. But they still supported Empire for centuries.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 6:38 AM
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Look, OPEC is slowly inching base prce up, now the target is arounf 75. and cars will get more efficient etc.

But fighter jets won't, and there are no nuclear or electric F-22s on the horizon. We are not taking any chances on running out of fuel for our air supremacy. Not the slightest risk at all.

We are going to occupy the Middle East forever.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 6:45 AM
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32: Granted that it's cheaper to pay unemployment benefits in Skokie than to support somebody 100% in Bagram.
Yeah, by an order of magnitude:
"Cost of deploying one U.S. soldier for one year in Iraq - $390,000 (Congressional Research Service)"


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 6:57 AM
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37: At least; it's twice as expensive to maintain troops in Afghanistan. Turns out shipping supplies to a modern port is a lot cheaper than driving them in trucks through the Khyber Pass.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 7:01 AM
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36: We are going to occupy the Middle East forever.
Yes, but "we" does a lot of work in that statement. Unless "we" encompasses S. African and Filipino mercenaries, there's already a lot of "not-we" occupying the ME. Not to mention the Texians.
"Forever" is also a bit iffy. There is an upper limit to how long fossil fuels can be profitably extracted in that region. Maybe it's 10 years, maybe it's 50. Nobody really believes it's as much as 100, do they?
Read your Mutual Aid -- empires always fall.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 7:04 AM
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"Fighter jets" understates the strategic problem; transport ships and tanks. Anybody know the history of WWII? Germany to Georgia and Japan to Indonesia? Oil is everything in modern war. Everything.

39:I don't think the Pentagon really wants to trust S Africans with the security of the US. We aren't Rome needing Dacia and Britannia and Africa for an ego boost. The ME is about making our miliary move.

Yeah, forever. The last barrel won't be valuable. It will be indispensable.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 7:13 AM
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But fighter jets won't, and there are no nuclear or electric F-22s on the horizon. We are not taking any chances on running out of fuel for our air supremacy. Not the slightest risk at all.
We are going to occupy the Middle East forever.

bob, not to harsh your mellow (or, rather, mellow your harsh) but those F-22s generally run on kerosene from the US, Canada and Venezuela, not from the Middle East; and fuel cost is a tiny fraction of total running cost; and the US and Canada will produce enough oil to keep the USAF flying for at least the next sixty years; and if the USAF runs out of fuel then so has the entire world's airliner fleet - it's a world market, it's not as though the Saudis or whoever demand end user certificates; and there are, in fact, alternatives to kerosene for aircraft if you have a long enough planning horizon, including but not limited to biodiesel, ethanol, LNG, LH/LOX, and fuel cell electric.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 7:15 AM
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41:Wooot! I stand refuted. I guess I'll go downtoen for the returning vet parade. Let me know. There are lots of other reasons. The Gulf States are not going to take a chance on another Kuwait, not do they think ther can defend themselves.

I know it is popular to think the Empire is like late Britain or Constantine's Rome. More often I think we are Cicero's Rome.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 7:25 AM
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42: "More often I think we are Cicero's Rome."

I keep thinking we're Fellini's Rome.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 7:30 AM
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Maybe Charlton Heston's Rome.

[this is a fun game!]


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 7:32 AM
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Gregory Peck's Rome? That would be fun.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 7:44 AM
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Increasing defense budget;expanding executive.

But I also look at the competition. Our military budget is so relatively large in part because the competition has essentially surrendered. As in the Dutch, Spanish, French giving up on Navies.

When the competition surrenders, that is the beginning of Empire, not the end.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 7:51 AM
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46: So the U.S. is like Athens before the Peloponnesian War if the Persians suddenly collapsed and the Spartans were an intermural flag football squad.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 7:54 AM
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Personally, I think the US is Michael Palin's Wome.

When the competition surrenders, that is the beginning of Empire, not the end.

Rome had Persia. Spain had Portugal and the Netherlands. The Dutch had England and Spain. Britain had France and Russia and Germany and America. France had Britain and Germany.

What possible historical empire are you thinking of, that did not have competition?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 7:54 AM
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America is half Jim Rome and half Roman Polanski.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:04 AM
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Rome wasn't misanalogized in a day.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:07 AM
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48:Persia? Are you kidding? Antioch was nice, but Syria and Palestine were never more than egoistic pains in the butt. Persia didn't even dent the India trade. Egypt , Gaul, Spain were where the money was. If you want to talk problems, the NE frontier Danube was where the fighting was.

I don't remember Britain having trouble in Africa, India, China until the late 19th century:Leopold and Bismarck's Germany. Spain and France cost them money, but didn't get in their way.

Competition is about when you lose.

I want evidence about America in relative decline. We took Iraq on a whim.

China is very productive; and they pay tribute.

The beginning of Empire.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:10 AM
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48: Biguth Dickuth? I have a gweat fwiend in WOME named Biguth Dickuth!


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:10 AM
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Speaking of Rome, I kind of want a Vespa. I rarely travel over ten miles a day and I hate cycling, so I'm thinking scooter with a giant windshield so I can arrive at work with really dirty pants and perfect hair.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:11 AM
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52: Waterboarding? Well, okay then! Line on the left, one bucket each!

Spain and France cost them money, but didn't get in their way.

Nice one, bob. I can't argue with that; I honestly don't know how to discuss history with someone who apparently has never heard of the Napoleonic Wars.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:23 AM
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How about shutting down all US bases in Europe? That ought to be good for a few percent reduction in costs, with the bonus of making military adventures in the ME that much more difficult.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:27 AM
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Y'all are young.

I remember the 50s-70s, when we were fighting wars and proxy wars all over the world. Fricking Cuba was a problem we had to devote resources to. Egypt and Syria had problematic militaries. That was the age of conquest and hegemonic establishment, not the peak of Empire. We had a draft, we had high taxes.

Now we dominate, and the world pays tribute. No end in sight, really.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:28 AM
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55: Plus deepening the recession in Europe. (I agree about closing the bases. I'm just pointing out the closing bases in Europe will irk Europe.)


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:29 AM
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Second chart down. We can cut a lot of shit.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:29 AM
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How about shutting down all US bases in Europe?

I'd be all on board for shutting down every US base not on actual US territory and reducing the size of the military to just enough to defend our actual borders, but I fear that perhaps not even Kucinich stands with me on that one.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:30 AM
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59: Kucinich is standing with you. It's just that he's so short, it's hard to tell.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:31 AM
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He should have his towering wife do his standing for him, then.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:33 AM
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61: That would work. I always notice redheads.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:34 AM
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54.2:I have heard of those wars. I thought Britain won.

Do you have any idea of how much of the slave trade was French before the Revolution? The history of the world textile market (cotton,silk) before and after Napoleon?

The Napoleonic Wars didn't break Britain. They built it.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:35 AM
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Bob really is psycho, isn't he?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:36 AM
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I rinse it in the shower, of course, but no soap most days.

I try to wash mine 3 times a week, but I don't rinse it in the shower. I suppose that this is gross, but I find that blowdrying it--having it blow dried by a professional is a different story--makes it all frizzy and dry. That means that I have to wash it at night, air dry it and then straighten it in the morning with a flat iron. I also find that I usually need to leave conditioner on for at least 10 minutes if I want it to work.

When I'm in a real hurry, I will wash it in the morning and pull it back in a bun wet, but I don't like to do that in the winter.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:37 AM
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63: The theory of hegemonic stability seems to be what you are getting at. Britian won the war and because its victory stood unchallenged from 1814 until whenever you want to call Prussia/Germany a serious challenger.

But, the fact that Britain emerged relatively stronger hardly negates the fact that France was a potentially mortal threat.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:38 AM
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The problem with talking about cutting defense in any organized way is that everyone with detailed knowledge of the defense budget is part of the defense establishment, so any specific proposal for cuts gets swarmed by 'experts' saying that those cuts would be insane, and even mentioning them proves you can't be relied on.

Why doesn't this work when it's teachers and nurses talking about the insanity of cutting social spending?

(I'm being rhetorical.)(It's always a good sign when you have to say you were being rhetorical. Like having to explain your jokes and then having the other person say "Oh, that is funny then.")


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:38 AM
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Divert 90 percent of the Air Force budget into the social safety net and public works. The Army and Navy both fly planes of their own in support roles anyway, and we can keep the remaining 10 percent of the institution around as a shell to gear up again relatively easily for the next time it's needed, whenever that happens to be, but outside a conventional war it does more harm than good. The savings would pay for national health care, high-speed rail, better public transportation in major cities, repairing aging infrastructure, wind farms, solar farms, organic farms, local farms, funding for public schools and colleges, and equestrian grants. All of which would employ a lot of RIFed Air Force vets. Note that eliminating the air force would still leave us with a military budget roughly twice those of China and Russia combined.

This is politically difficult, obviously, and any change of this size would grind some gears, but other than that I don't see any downside.

53
I'm thinking scooter with a giant windshield so I can arrive at work with really dirty pants and perfect hair.

If you're counting on the windshield to protect your hair, then I assume you're skipping the helmet.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:38 AM
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Martin has it exactly right. The wars. I can't believe this is even a question.

As for occupying the ME, it's probably going to be fragmentary and dominated by some combinations of foreign powers well into the future. (After fossil fuels run out, much of the region is still ideal for producing the only other real prospect for maintaining modern economies which is solar power, Arabia in particular.) Those dynamics are going to change with succeeding decades. Most of it will be a matter of indirect influence, as the US has already demonstrated the madness of trying to directly occupy the region (cf. the utter failure to pacify Iraq, a failure so total that the Surge was praised as "working" for coinciding with a mere slowdown in lethal violence, a slowdown that more probably has to do with the completion of campaigns of ethnic cleansing that the war unleashed). Though the example of Iraq is so closely identified with cartoonish incompetence and deception that someone is bound to try again on the rationale that competent leadership could get it right.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:40 AM
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Also, I really don't like taking showers except for washing my hair. I much prefer baths.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:41 AM
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Britain had a few serious (pretty one-sided, in fact) naval campaigns (Egypt, India, even America) during the Napoleonic Wars.

When was the next tough British Naval battle after 1815?

Anyway, these history lessons are nice, but I still need to be shown that the US is going to be cutting military spending anytime soon. It usually takes a major military defeat. Show me where that happens.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:42 AM
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What can possibly be done to foster a sense of solidarity between the rich elite and the masses? Like a sense of solidarity within the members of the rich elite, which contains the masses? How do you possibly get the rich to give a shit about the poor?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:43 AM
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Also, let me just say how much I loathe Tony Blankley of the Washington Times. I may hate him more than other Republican pundits. He seems to be included on NPR and the McLaughlin group a lot.

The last time I heard him on the radio, possibly on the Diane Rehm show, he was arguing that we need to up defense spending considerably.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:44 AM
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Just feeling politically gloomy. But I really am curious.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:44 AM
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64:I am not the one dreaming of cuts in military spending based on zero evidence.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:46 AM
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72, 74: As near as I can tell, the best way to make the rich feel a sense of solidarity with the masses is to have a society with a common ethnicity.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:46 AM
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72:Big war with draft.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:46 AM
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Tony Blankley was on Diane Rehm all the time (IYKWIMAITTYD) when I lived in DC and listened to that show. Hate.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:48 AM
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How do you possibly get the rich to give a shit about the poor?

By making them genuinely terrified that the poor are going to take their shit and/or kill them. That seems to be the most successful historical model, with the noblesse oblige model a distance second.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:48 AM
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re: 76

I suspect that's a load of shite. It's one of those tropes that right-wingers trot out about places like Sweden.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:49 AM
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71: "I still need to be shown that the US is going to be cutting military spending anytime soon. It usually takes a major military defeat."

The U.S. has cut its military spending after victories. It did so after WWII and the Cold War. (Note: Aside from cutting European bases and some of the more elaborate weapons systems, I'm not an advocate of a smaller military.)


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:50 AM
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What can possibly be done to foster a sense of solidarity between the rich elite and the masses?

You mean false consciousness on the part of the rich? Not gonna happen except for a few fringe cases. The rich have the best-developed sense of class solidarity by far.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:50 AM
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81 was me. Sorry.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:53 AM
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80: Year ago, when I was in graduate school, it was generally accepted. I have no idea if new research has refuted the finding, but I doubt it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:55 AM
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64: it's like talking to a crazy street person.

80: I agree. There are endless examples of monoethnic societies with huge class divisions, and multiethnic societies with tremendous class solidarity.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:56 AM
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re: 84

Really? Despite the fact that there are loads of examples of hugely stratified but ethnically homogenous societies in which the rich exploit and abuse the working classes? And that some of the most egalitarian societies are actually quite racially/ethnically heterogeneous?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:57 AM
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Pwned with near identical vocabulary by ajay.

[That is probably the result of our ethnic homogeneity]


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:57 AM
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71: I don't see much evidence of impending cuts either, but Iraq and Afghanistan count as major defeats. Not conventional military defeats, but certainly failures of pacification that few people going forward will want to be associated with. Most Americans still don't understand what Iraq has done to the people serving there. (Not like I think anyone who hasn't been there can fully understand, but it's possible to get at least a rough feel of what it's been like for them and it isn't pretty. Unfortunately, the whole of the American political spectrum is so wrapped up in pro-military pieties that finding people interested in acknowledging that uncomfortable stuff will be hard.)

72: A bit of enlightened self-interest never hurts. America already did manage this trick to some extent between the New Deal and the Seventies, when liberalism was largely ascendant. Then conservatism and "globalism" came to dominate the next cycle and convinced rich people that they'd produce so much wealth that you really didn't have to worry about poor people and all that silly "class" stuff, or even things like citizenship and civic feeling. Guess what? You do. The return of responsible citizenship is the most plausible hook.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:59 AM
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Anyone have links on the showering 2X/week being best? Been having this debate with the parental counterparts who think Rory must shower daily...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:02 AM
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showering 2X/week being best?

Showering daily is a bit Roman, isn't it.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:04 AM
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The fact that Iraq is not pacified just shows that we don't feel we need a peaceful Iraq. It isn't as if Iraq is going to become an industrial powerhouse like Japan or Germany. I don't even know if we need to keep the oil flowing. More valuable in the ground.

Iraq is occupied, under control, not a threat, a nice platform. Very cheaply too, no draft, no tax increase. Obviously, Iran and Pakistan are next, though actual invasion may not be necessary.

If anybody thinks Empire is my preference, you're the one that is crazy. I though I was infamous for saying I'd turn my country into a parking lot. I hate my country.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:06 AM
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what Iraq has done to the people serving there

DS HATES THE TROOPS. Why don't you just move to Canada or something?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:07 AM
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89: IIRC your kidsharing arrangement, letting UNG demand daily showers while she's with him, while you don't require them at all, would put you right in the 2-3/week zone, yes? Drop off a stinky kid, pick up a clean one.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:07 AM
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85, 86: I was thinking more along the lines of Putnam's work showing that, within the U.S., higher ethnic diversity leads to less charity, more distrust, less involvement, etc.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:09 AM
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91: The fact that Iraq is not pacified just shows that we don't feel we need a peaceful Iraq.

Case of giving too much credit. It was obviously preferable for US interests to actually be able to pacify and dictate events in the territory they were occupying. If you're going to use a region as a platform, it's not to your advantage that it also be a warzone in which you have to move in heavily armed convoys.

Iraq is occupied, under control, not a threat, a nice platform.

Iraq is occupied, not remotely under control and was never a threat, and is costing obscene amounts of daily cash as a platform.

Very cheaply too, no draft, no tax increase.

The attempt to wage the Iraq war without a draft put massive strain on the American military. The attempt to wage it entirely through borrowing was arguably a major factor in the economic crisis.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:09 AM
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88:I don't see much evidence of impending cuts either, but Iraq and Afghanistan count as major defeats

Sudan 1870 was a humiliating defeat. Khartoum. Zulus. Russians to Japanese 1905. Vietnam.

Iraq a major defeat? You're nuts. We're still there, and not taking big casualties. Tens of thousands big.

We are not even breaking a sweat for Empire.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:12 AM
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re: 94

That's a bit parochial, no? Even within the US, when policy making takes place a larger scale than that.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:14 AM
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Speaking of Rome, I kind of want a Vespa.

Hey, the Dodge dealer in the beautiful Albert Kahn Industrial Modern building on Baum is shut down, and Vespa has already taken over the showroom. C'mon down.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:14 AM
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93: Yeah, more or less. That doesn't, however, ward off the "OMG you are such a horrible mother for never making your child bathe!" nor the issue of Rory getting mixed messages. Also, it's very important to me to know [whether] I'm right.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:15 AM
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97: Pittsburgh has convinced me that you can never be too parochial. Tip O'Neill was right.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:15 AM
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What, you think we have a big military?

1% of the population under arms? 5% of GDP?

Are those historically big numbers for an Empire fighting wars of expansion?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:17 AM
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I certainly didn't bathe every day growing up, Di. And I don't now, either. And getting in the river counts as getting clean.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:18 AM
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88 is an example of what I've been trying to promote as the Big Monkey Reverse Difference Principle.

The regular difference principle says that you should tolerate inequality to the extent that it benefits the worst off. This is nice, but designed to appeal to people who don't realize that they are powerful.

The Big Monkey Reverse Difference Principle says that you should tolerate equality to the extent that it benefits the best off. This is an idea that can actually be used to appeal to real actual powerful people.

(I got the idea for the BMRDP when I realized that Kim Jong Il would probably have a much nicer harem if his people were actually fed regularly.)


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:20 AM
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96: Bah, Sudan and the Zulus were blips.

Vietnam wasn't a conventional defeat any more than Iraq is. The US military didn't lose a single conventional engagement in that war. Nevertheless it was a clear military failure. Battlefield medicine is more advanced today and KIA figures are smaller (though your mental and physical wounded are over a hundred thousand, how much over nobody is sure), but in every other way -- more expensive, more chaotic, more humiliating, more strategically disastrous, a more total failure to win a scintilla of local credibility -- Iraq is Vietnam on roids.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:21 AM
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re: 101

Those %s are certainly larger than the British Empire, even at its peak. In fact, they are larger by a lot. You don't actually know what you are talking about, bob.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:22 AM
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103: I am always baffled that the rich elite don't realize they'd be so much richer and eliter if their masses were healthier and better educated, ie that the cost effectiveness of having healthy public schools and healthcare will pay great dividends.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:24 AM
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Iraq is Vietnam on roids.

On hemorrhoids.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:25 AM
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re: 106

That's not how it works, I don't think. The key thing is to be richer, not to be rich. It's positional.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:26 AM
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99 - At some point it's important for her to get mixed messages, though maybe not yet. I'm not a parent (thank the Gods), so my advice is rubbish, but I think that dealing with mixed messages is an important life skill. The stuff you can't fuck around with is (IMO) a strong moral center and a sense of agency. Everything else is details.

Also, of course you're right. It's well known that Ugly Naked People are unreliable judges of motherin' skillz.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:27 AM
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108: You're totally right, but it's depressing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:28 AM
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Where does the shower twice a week thing come from, anyway? This is the first I've heard of it, of course people should shower daily.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:29 AM
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getting in the river counts as getting clean*

*Offer void in Jakarta.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:30 AM
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104:That was Sudan, France. Do I have the battle wrong? Wait. It's Sedan. Sorry.

I kinda agree with the rest oof 104, at least as dar as casualties. But I disagree about the mission in the Iraq. The following isn't orginial, but I forget where I got it.

"What if the Legions come?"

Cheney was a bit of a classicist. The Romans maintained their empire with terror. They would keep a minimal garrison, and if the Provinces got frisky, they would move a legion or few along the roads and fuck it all up. Fuck it all up. The merchants and farmers soon had a goal:keep the Legions away.

The point was to fuck Iraq all up.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:30 AM
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108: This is the key - it's not wealth, it's social status that counts. This is also one reason why economics is a bullshit discipline, since it fails to account for the fact that in terms of desirability to the veldt-mind doubling one's own income and halving everyone else's are roughly equivalent.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:31 AM
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(I've heard of not washing your hair daily but that's different.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:31 AM
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I only shower after I exercise, so if I've been busy for a few days, I get stinky. A thin layer of spit-up never hurt anyone.

Hawaiian Punch gets this nasty, nasty neck cheese in her neck creases, from accumulated spit-up. It is so foul. You'd think it would make us bathe her more often, but no.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:34 AM
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113: See, I think when they were choppering Chalabi in in the early stages, we were seeing what the original plan was supposed to be. It was going to be like Afghanistan (which at the time had seemed like a masterstroke): wipe out the other guy with a minimum amount of fighting, be "greeted as a liberator," put your chosen client in place, build some nice bases and have some nice photo-ops and then the rest of the country can go to hell if it likes, you've got the pieces you need in place.

That strategy would have unravelled eventually -- like it is in Afghanistan -- but it would have looked good for a while, the occupation would at least have had a sort of honeymoon period. In Iraq that never even had a chance to take root, which left the US improvising from day one and trying to pretend that whatever happened was what they planned all along. "The Surge worked" and "we'll step down while they step up" are just the latest bits of improvisation, to make retreat palatable.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:38 AM
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87: Porridge wogs of the world unite!

bob, stop digging, please.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:41 AM
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116: You can pull this off if you're a pretty slip of a young thing. But we mustn't have this shower-a-couple-times-a-week thing catch on any more widely than that. Because I have to take public transit, and I have to stand next to these people, and believe me, they need to shower.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:45 AM
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re: 119

Depends a lot on the person and the environment, I think.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:47 AM
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117:You're reading minds and listening to what liars and assholes said, on or off record. I don't assume incompetence.

If they sent stupid wingnut kids to manage the rebuilding, it is most logical to presume they simply never gave a shit, not that they actually thought Ledeen's kid would do a terrific job. They wanted a mess.

That they said or acted like they trusted Chalabi doesn't mean they trusted Chalabi.

I didn't listen to their bullshit. I tried to see what was happening.

For one thing, I think Iraq was a deliberate money sink, just to explode the deficit. Starve the beast.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:47 AM
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116: If that cheese was left on Rory's skin for more than 10 minutes or so, she'd get a horrible rash. She has her mother's fragile skin. A liberal coating of A&D ointment, however, was sufficient protection.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:48 AM
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so if I've been getting busy for a few days, I get stinky


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:48 AM
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121: And then the Free Masons take over?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:51 AM
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That strategy would have unravelled eventually -- like it is in Afghanistan

Jeez, you think they really had confidence in Karzai and his peshmergas? They were not stupid or insane, they were evil.

The rest of us may have forgotten, but the Pentagon remembers George Marshall and the right way to occupy and rebuild a country. That they didn't do it shows they didn't really want it.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:52 AM
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re: 125

You know, institutions change over time. The Pentagon as much as anywhere else.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:53 AM
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Fixing the defense budget is pretty simple, all you need to do is:

1) Pull out of active duty in Iraq (already lost that one pretty much irrevocably) and Afghanistan (losing that one is a certainty without efforts unlikely to be supported popularly or financially. It would be an order of magnitude more expensive in $$ and probably lives, at the minimum)

2) Kill off the Air Force. It was never such a good idea anyway, and it's existence maintains a lot of bizarre programs and overlap in other branches. Of course this will mean slight increase in air capability for army and navy, but you don't need much. What we have now is largely ineffectual, arguably negatively effectual in conflicts like iraq and afghanistan. That's pretty much the short to mid-term future too.

3) Reduce the 750ish worldwide bases. Toss everything small and marginally useful. getting to 10% of that total would be good but unlikely. Cutting it to 200 or so would be quite manageable.

4) kill off most of the next gen development programs. Offer federal assistance for defense contract corporate divisions to transition to more useful technology production. Most of the justification for these programs is self generating. Stop being the primary global engine for defense tech advances. Spend enough in this area to keep up and maintain a reasonable advantage. Stop being the particular assholes who are pushing the envelope (which has been primarily the US role in global arms since the 50s,)


Posted by: never happen | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:53 AM
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121: I'm speculating about motives, so are you. Your speculation involves trying to discern a clever master plan behind what appears to be incompetence. My speculation is that what appears to be incompetence, is so.

My speculation involves fewer leaps and I think is likelier to be right. These are people who didn't know the difference between a Shiite and a Sunni before they invaded Iraq, who were fond of boasting about how later generations were going to build statues to them and write songs about them. I find it very hard to believe that any of them actually set out to make themselves look like fools and incompetents. I find it easy to believe that they were arrogant and self-blinded enough not to realize what fools and incompetents they were being.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:56 AM
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The key thing is to be richer, not to be rich. It's positional.

People desire both positional and non-positional goods. In promoting the reverse difference principle we just need to focus on the non-positional goods: more whores! bigger boobies!

I'm certain this can win over the ruling class.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:56 AM
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I would strongly prefer to stand next to clean imperialist babies on the bus.

Re: The McManus Doctrine
We're really talking apples and oranges here. The fallacy the right falls into is that exceptional US material conditions advance an exceptional moral position. The fallacy bob is falling into is that our similarly dismal moral position means that we're materially identical to every other empire. Few of the other empires had anything like our huge internal subject populations. None of them had our truly global reach. None of them had iPods. The harder the come, the harder they fall, one and all. This is not your Father's Oldsmobile. Everything could devolve really quickly, and maybe not especially violently, especially if the nearly-worst-case scenarios of Peak Oil and Global Climate Change come to pass. Or we could go out in a blaze of glory. Bang, whimper -- we don't know for sure. But I don't think the specifics of the British or Persian experiences are going to be much of a guide for what we can expect.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:57 AM
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I want my whores to each have more boobies.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:58 AM
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124 to 123.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:58 AM
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"Sudan, France"... "Karzai and his peshmergas"... "Cheney was a bit of a classicist"... "Britain's serious naval campaign in India"... "1% of the population under arms? 5% of GDP? Are those historically big numbers?"

This must be how it felt to have a conversation with George W. Bush.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 10:01 AM
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125: Jeez, you think they really had confidence in Karzai and his peshmergas?

"Peshmerga"? Wrong country, innit?

I think they had confidence in Karzai as a puppet and in a non-aggression pact with the Northern Alliance, which was all they needed and which after all did work for a while with minimum effort and resources. Substitute Chalabi in for Karzai and the Shiites in for the Northern Alliance, and you can see a possible thinking process that would have led to the approach we saw in Iraq.

They were not stupid or insane, they were evil.

Not mutually exclusive categories by any means.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 10:01 AM
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128:Your speculation involves trying to discern a clever master plan

They didn't need a clever master plan. They just needed to go in and wreck the place.

The Golden Horde used this brilliant plan for centuries to get booty & tribute.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 10:05 AM
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Could we please stop using the word "evil"? What is that even supposed to mean? We know that by their own lights, the Repugs aren't "evil" -- they've got an ideology that says that people with the most power have to do horrible things to the powerless, so that the people with a little bit of power can sleep soundly at night. You can cover a multitude of Nagasakis and My Lais with an ideology like that. On the domestic front, they've got an ideology that says that when the weak suffer, they get their one chance at ennoblement, and when the powerful suffer it's manifestly unfair, because they wouldn't be powerful if they weren't already noble. Hence welfare reform and the current austerity measures.

"Evil" just elides the actual political choices that we all need to make.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 10:09 AM
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I have to stand next to these people, and believe me, they need to shower.

Word.

I'd also like to see some kind of "hose down the hobo" program around here. Some of these guys have an impressive level of stink. You'd think drinking all that mouthwash might help, but it doesn't.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 10:09 AM
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DS, there was also apparently little or no significant effort to put known-to-be competent people in the important positions there, rather it seems to have been mostly a patronage rush and contractor free for all. This failure so complete that I think mere incompetence doesn't cover it. They were incompetent, sure, but this also belies a basic fact of the prioritization going on in the administration's (and beyond) mind -- reconstruction, building functional infrastructure and institutions; this stuff was a sound byte for the US news, but not ever a real priority on the ground. You don't send hapless inexperienced nobodies, however loyal, off to hold hold the purse strings if you really care. You don't let contractors manage themselves completely, either.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 10:09 AM
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135: No, wrecking the place led to this wonderful billion-dollar-a-day "platform" you have where American troops are stuck moving in convoy between fortresses. They didn't need that. The model was supposed to be Korea or Germany, where American troops don't get shot at every time they lift their heads. That's why they spent a long time trying not to admit that that's what happened. They only started trying to pretend that the catastrophe constituted "success" when they could no longer pretend they hadn't failed.

The Golden Horde wasn't trying to govern the territories it was raiding.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 10:10 AM
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re; 135

None of the major historical empires just went in and wrecked the place.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 10:11 AM
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140: Even the Vikings stopped going in and wrecking the place if they came back more than every few years.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 10:12 AM
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Eh, the theory was clearly to whack Saddam on the head, then look around at other similar countries and say "get in our way, and you're next." With a sideshow of funneling money to their friends.

And cutting military spending is conceptually incredibly simple - just spend less money and have a smaller military. Dealing with the companies who will lose their business and the people who will lose their jobs is the hard part.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 10:15 AM
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Reduce the 750ish worldwide bases. Toss everything small and marginally useful. getting to 10% of that total would be good but unlikely. Cutting it to 200 or so would be quite manageable.

This is where the capture described way up above is problematic. I don't have the faintest clue what would be a realistic set of priorities for cutting overseas bases, and the people who might don't want to see it done.

Obviously, it's hugely dependent on what your end goals are, but let's take a set of goals that would, rhetorically, get supermajority support from the American people: something like "Able to defend our allies, keep an eye on rivals, and rapidly/effectively deploy wherever we're needed."*

So what would that mean in terms of actual bases world wide? How many naval bases in the Pacific, for instance? Right now we have military bases in every nation in NATO, which is plainly silly, given that Europe faces no foreseeable territorial threats. But does that make 0 the right number? A couple biggies in demilitarized Germany? Or do logistics/strategy mean that 10k soldiers in each of 15 European countries is more worthwhile than 3 bases with 50k each? I have no idea, but I'd love to know.

* Obviously all of us on the Left could take that kind of thing apart, but my point is that this is what the American people say they want, and is, conceptually, a realistic mission statement. And it would still accommodate a huge reduction in forces.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 10:15 AM
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138: DS, there was also apparently little or no significant effort to put known-to-be competent people in the important positions there, rather it seems to have been mostly a patronage rush and contractor free for all. This failure so complete that I think mere incompetence doesn't cover it.

Oh, there can be no doubt that there was a plan in place to loot the country as much as possible under the guise of "reconstruction," specifically for Republican interests and their connected businesses. That's perfectly obvious, and dovetails with how the GOP had by that point come to regard the world: the party and its insiders trumped all. The role of the local puppets was to maintain the veneer of order and legitimacy while that happened; what wasn't, I think, part of the plan was for that veneer to be stripped away almost immediately, never to return. I think they really did expect that Chalabi would lead the Shiite majority to relatively stabilize the country while they did their thing.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 10:18 AM
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Re: "Golden Horde" and "Vikings"

See, this is where the doom and gloom outlook becomes counterproductive. Even the scariest raiders in history eventually get coopted. They fuck shit up for a century or two, but then they wind up creating social democracies and annoying SWPLs with their online insults. Longships and stirrups, once so terrifying, give way to yoghurt and blue christmas plates.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 10:18 AM
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what wasn't, I think, part of the plan was for that veneer to be stripped away almost immediately, never to return.

I believe this is true, yes. But it doesn't cover everything. Having just gone in a kicked the crap out of a countries infrastructure, institutions, beaurocratic and military structures, you have an extremely good idea of how limited their remaining capabilities are to deal with the resultant mess. If you were serious about restructuring and fixing some of these problems, you would be serious about putting competent people in a position to do something about. There is no sign that this was even attempted.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 10:24 AM
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I think all the evidence seems to be that they were a combination of incredibly greedy and venal and very very very very stupid.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 10:25 AM
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To follow up to 146. Obviously it's in the GOP et. al's culture to reward insiders, funnel money to friends etc., valuing loyalty over competence to fairly extreme level.

However, given only the pool of people that meets this expectation, they could have done a vastly better job of putting competent people in place in Iraq, and they chose not to. This shows their priority for having their more capable people doing other things.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 10:29 AM
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having their more capable people doing other things.

Such as FEMA.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 10:49 AM
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148: What were their more capable people doing?


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 10:59 AM
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Trading derivatives on Wall Street.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 11:12 AM
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Whereas our more capable people comment here.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 11:21 AM
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"Evil" just elides the actual political choices that we all need to make.

Not for me. You don't try to convert or convince it, you don't negotiate with it, you don't bribe or threaten it. You don't decimate it and hope you're safe.

Works great for me.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 11:21 AM
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... they were a combination of incredibly greedy and venal and very very very very stupid.

Also vain. Welcome to our fallen world. Can I get you a soda or something?



Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 11:41 AM
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Works great for me.

As is so manifestly evident.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 11:42 AM
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154: If the world is fallen and venal, I'm going to at least need beer.


Posted by: rob h-c | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 11:43 AM
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This post is already google's top hit for "screw butter". On a related note, a google image search on "screw butter" returns a couple pages of bewildering (and surprisingly work-safe) results that seem to have no relationship to either butter or screws.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 12:16 PM
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157: That is an interesting group. However, Stallone looking (presumably unintentionally) like The Joker may be NSFHumans. I was intrigued enough by the laser engravers to do a text search and found "screw butter" contained within this marvelous bit of impenetrable translationese:

Second, each machine after use, it is necessary to pay attention to clean-up must be platform and drive system on the dust cleared, regular (weekly) on the transmission system (X, Y, Z axis) fuel lubrication. (Note: X, Y, Z axis rod maintenance with oil; some additional high-speed screw butter; winter temperature is too low if the working environment screw, rod (square or circular guide rail) of the gasoline should be carried out wash clean, then add the oil, otherwise it will create some resistance to the machine drive is too large and lead to the wrong machines.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 12:24 PM
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This post is already google's top hit for "screw butter".

I have arrived!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 12:34 PM
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146: We're talking about Republicans, remember? Problems of governance will either fix themselves -- through family values and the magic of the Market, which you're generously introducing in the form of Halliburton no-bid contracts -- or can be spun away, or will only affect poor people who are morally and inherently not worth noticing.

Sounds cartoonish, but I think we've got a pretty strong body of evidence right now that that's the actual belief structure going on: that as long as you have the appearance of governance in place, you don't need real governance, it's a frill or an interference with making money for the people who deserve to make money. They were able to build this belief because they came from a political milieu accustomed to pretending it was credible, and have spent decades telling themselves ever more elaborate versions of it. It became "true" through repetition, never mind that the real world falsifies it.

I was surprised at the abject failure of Hurricane Katrina response, I'd expected them to seize on that as a political opportunity. But if you subscribe to the above belief structure, you just don't think that way. Hurricane Katrina affected poor people, and the right sort of people were probably going to make money from it. What's the big deal?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 12:47 PM
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(Notice, BTW, that this same pattern was followed in Afghanistan. Once Karzai and the Northern Alliance was in place, that was pretty much it; there was at best a token American commitment to any form of "restructuring" thereafter, which to the limited extent it has taken place is the product of fits-and-starts efforts by various international partners. Afghanistan just happened to take longer to visibly deteriorate.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 12:51 PM
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16

The real savings would come from just pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan, which is costing something like half a billion dollars a day iirc.

I agree with this. It is strange how this seems to have been taken off the table as soon as we got a Democratic President.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 1:10 PM
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I honestly may have lost track, but aren't we in the process of pulling out of Iraq? Slower than I'd like, but I understood that was happening over the course of this year.

Afghanistan, I can't argue about.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 1:16 PM
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163: It's supposed to be pull-out from the cities and town by later this summer, pull-out from the country at large by 2011. Some people are skeptical that second step will happen, but I think it will... unfortunately because Obama appears to be serious about sinking more resources into Afghanistan.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 1:18 PM
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What were their more capable people doing?

Afaics, mostly in the revolving door with wall street, oil & gas, think tanks, defense contracters, also places like Blackwater ... some of the latter might even have shown up in the ME to manage lucrative contracts, but nothing that was actually useful to Iraq, per se. Policy work and drafting legislation, playing here at home with Senate and Congress. Not getting their boots dirty. Not directing programs in Iraq, at any rate.


such as FEMA

Where on earth did you ever get the sense that FEMA was a priority for them, or in particular even that N.O. was a (non-superfical) priority for FEMA.?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 1:25 PM
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165.1: IOW, all the stuff they actually value.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 1:27 PM
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Where on earth did you ever get the sense that FEMA was a priority for them, or in particular even that N.O. was a (non-superfical) priority for FEMA.?

Standpipe's blog.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 1:28 PM
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163

According to this we are drawing down in Iraq but:

Mr. Obama plans to seek more money for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from a separate fund outside the Pentagon's base budget, which will also grow beyond the 2009 spending plan of $513 billion. The separate "war costs" budget proposal for 2010 could reach $130 billion to $140 billion, officials said.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 1:28 PM
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It is strange how this seems to have been taken off the table as soon as we got a Democratic President.

To me, this reads as fifty percent trollish, and one hundred percent right.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 1:31 PM
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Well, except for the 'this' and the 'off the table'. Where half of the policy you're talking about (getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan) is the express policy of the administration, it's not precisely off the table.

The Afghanistan bit is pissing me off, I admit. I have no idea what good is expected to come of our continued presence there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 1:36 PM
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169: Thanks, I thought it was just me.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 1:40 PM
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IOW, all the stuff they actually value.

Precisely. But it is also how you figure out what is actually prioritized, rather than what is put forth publicly as priorities. Sometimes they align, but sometimes they're in opposition. Such as Iraq.


I have no idea what good is expected to come of our continued presence there.

At this point I expect it's nothing useful, with the kind of investment that Americans are likely to accept.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 1:42 PM
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Wait, did anyone seriously expect Obama to actually pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan this year? Rather than pay it some lip service and mess about with the definition of "active duty".

I think the push in Afghanistan is a bit surprising, but can't imagine how anyone realistically thought there would be anything but a long draw down and dithering about basing.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 1:44 PM
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Wait, did anyone seriously expect Obama to actually pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan this year?

No, but some parts of the protest kabuki are pretty vital. If everyone quiets down and expects Hopey McChangey to just TCOB in practical time, you lose the pressuring outrage that holds his feet to the fire.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 1:47 PM
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172.1: Which perhaps just tells you -- I'm pretty sure it just tells you -- that they think they can focus their efforts on think-tanks and lobbying and contracts because the other stuff will take care of itself. It's not the same thing as saying they were deliberately driving for catastrophe; though certainly they're happy to profit from catastrophe when it happens, catastrophe generated an electoral shitstorm for them that they cannot have wanted.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 1:47 PM
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I may be naive (oh, all right, I am naive) but I am actually expecting the August 2010 deadline to mean something significant -- that there will be many fewer troops in Iraq as of that date. I'm not hoping for none, but I am expecting a big change from today.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 1:49 PM
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It's not the same thing as saying they were deliberately driving for catastrophe;

I think we pretty much agree on this, really. I will note that deliberately not doing anything to avoid predictable catastrophe isn't the same thing as driving for it --- but it isn't nothing.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 1:50 PM
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176: I really do think the August deadline is just about pull-out from the urban centres. I don't think it has anything to do with how many troops there are in Iraq, that's the 2011 deadline. Maybe I'm wrong about this.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 2:02 PM
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Here's the February speech setting forth that August deadline. In context, it sounds as if he's talking about getting troops out of the country before that date:

As a candidate for President, I made clear my support for a timeline of 16 months to carry out this drawdown, while pledging to consult closely with our military commanders upon taking office to ensure that we preserve the gains we've made and protect our troops. Those consultations are now complete, and I have chosen a timeline that will remove our combat brigades over the next 18 months.

Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.

That may have been changed by a later statement I missed, or he may simply not do what he said he will. But I'm pretty comfortable reading that speech as a whole saying that by the end of August, 2010, our forces in Iraq will be much smaller than they are now.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 2:08 PM
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179: this is where you can play numbers games with the meaning of things like "combat troops" etc, who are always a small (25% ?) number of total. I don't think anything in that speech commits to large factual drawdown, and is consistent with shipping the sharp end of the stick somewhat over to Afghanistan but leaving a lot of people in Iraq.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 2:13 PM
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What about this paragraph?

After we remove our combat brigades, our mission will change from combat to supporting the Iraqi government and its Security Forces as they take the absolute lead in securing their country. As I have long said, we will retain a transitional force to carry out three distinct functions: training, equipping, and advising Iraqi Security Forces as long as they remain non-sectarian; conducting targeted counter-terrorism missions; and protecting our ongoing civilian and military efforts within Iraq. Initially, this force will likely be made up of 35-50,000 U.S. troops.

That sounds like a soft commitment to a headcount of 50K or fewer as of August 2010 ("Initially").


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 2:15 PM
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179: Bit of weaselling there. Notice how he doesn't say anything about where the combat brigades will be removed to? The "combat mission in Iraq" will end... not the mission in Iraq. Most of the fighting in Iraq has happened, of course, in the cities and towns.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 2:16 PM
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181: That's the most obvious reading, and probably the one you're meant to take away at first glance. But in the end what he really winds up saying there is that there will be 35 - 50K troops participating in "transition." He sort of implies they'll be the only troops in Iraq but he doesn't really say so.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 2:18 PM
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173
Wait, did anyone seriously expect Obama to actually pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan this year?

Just right-wingers. So they can accuse him of defeatism and, later, accuse him of breaking campaign promises he didn't make.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 2:19 PM
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50k troops in August 2010 is approximately 50k more troops than were there pre-invasion.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 2:24 PM
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And abortion stops a beating heart.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 2:24 PM
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183: Huh. I think you're letting him off the hook too easily there. While there's no guarantee that he'll actually do what he says he will, if, as of August 2010, we hadn't removed a significant number of troops from Iraq, and if (unlikely, but work with me here) Obama were trying to justify this to me with arguments like the ones you're making ("No, I said I'd 'remove' our combat brigades, but I didn't say I'd 'remove' them from the actual country of Iraq. Oh, and I said the 'transitional force' would be around 50K after that 'removal' but I didn't say the 'transitional force' would be the only US force in Iraq.") I would laugh in his face and say something along the lines of "Liar liar pants on fire."

The weasel-room you're finding is impossibly small -- he really can't both leave all our troops in Iraq and plausibly claim to have done what he said he would in that speech.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 2:29 PM
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I would laugh in his face and say something along the lines of "Liar liar pants on fire."

That would show him.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 2:30 PM
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188: I'm not claiming it would have any policy effect, I'm just saying that the suggested reading of the February speech is strained to the point of dishonesty.

185: True, and it sucks.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 2:32 PM
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he really can't both leave all our troops in Iraq and plausibly claim to have done what he said he would in that speech.

He's a politician, LB. Plausibility is not the standard he's trying for.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 2:34 PM
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190 was a little unfair. I know what you're getting at LB, I just think that the weasling is somewhat unavoidable. But he didn't commit to something more concrete because he didn't want to be held to it (or to breaking it).


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 2:38 PM
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189: Suggested reading of the speech is meant precisely to indicate possible dishonesty. What I'm saying is: start practicing the laughing-in-his-face thing.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 2:38 PM
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But he didn't commit to something more concrete because he didn't want to be held to it (or to breaking it).

The point of the 'laughing in the face' bit is that I think that speech was concrete enough that it would be ludicrous for him to use any ambiguity in it as a defense when he does anything different. I don't know what he's actually going to do, and am fully prepared to be disappointed by someone new. But that speech isn't genuinely ambiguous to someone speaking English in a natural manner, and while I wouldn't be surprised if Obama does something other than what he said he would, I'd be very surprised if he bothered to use ambiguity that weak to justify it.

192: Dishonesty's possible (and, I agree, not terribly unlikely) no matter what he said. But at this point, what he said is what we've got to work with.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 2:43 PM
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||
Help Me Mineshaft! I need some insight from parents, especially newish ones. After a bout of deep introspection I finally realized why I dread going to visit my BFF: I'm fucking sick of kids and especially of hearing parents talk about their kids. Every time I spend significant amounts of time (hours, not days) around the young children of friends and family I'm unhappy for days afterwards. I feel a deep sense of obligation towards the children concerned, and I fake the kindly uncle thing, but it's draining.

There is, of course, all manner of backstory about dreams dashed and all that shit, but that's not the point. I have to figure out a gentle way to explain to my friend that while I'd gladly help him dispose of dead bodies without asking questions, there is no way I'm spending my precious vacation time with his kids. A major complicating factor is his explicit desire for his kids to spend time around me as he considers me a positive role model.

I can't do the obvious thing and just tell him I'm a child molester, since we're close enough that he'd already know. So how to approach this delicately? It'd be a lot easier if it was a long standing generalized hatred of children, but the reality is that it's a fairly recent thing involving specifically children I'm expected to have some sort of personal connection with. IOW, I don't hate all kids, I just can't stand being around *your* kids, oh best beloved. But it's nothing personal.
|>


Posted by: Hieronymus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 3:12 PM
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I can't do the obvious thing and just tell him I'm a child molester

Show, don't tell


Posted by: Your English teacher | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 3:16 PM
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194: You've gotta just say it, but you can say things like "I love your kids but I just find it draining to interact with them! They're awesome, I'm just a heartless monster!"


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 3:18 PM
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What H-L said. Also, accept that this means a lot less time with your friend -- he probably doesn't have kid-free time to spend with you. If you say this, and then you don't see him for six months, you can't take that personally: either suck it up and deal with the kids, or look forward to renewing the friendship when they're teenagers who don't need babysitting.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 3:21 PM
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...and especially of hearing parents talk about their kids.

This is something it takes a while for some (particularly new) parents to sort out. It seems particularly bad when an entire cohort of friends goes into the baby-making business en masse (say, 1.3 years after graduation, or whatever).

I've twice had friends go through a phase when they had young children when the entirety of our interaction for months was characterized by a combination of them complaining about how everything in their life revolved around a 3 year old and how it was great to have a conversation that wasn't about kids and playdates and whatnot --- and their complete inability to talk about anything else.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 3:33 PM
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Heck, mine are nine and seven and they're still a very, very large part of my headspace -- they're the first thing that comes to mind when someone says 'how was your weekend'.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 3:37 PM
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199: Yeah, it's understandable.

It just weird to have someone spend the first 10 minutes with you telling you how great it is to get away from the land of the little people, and the next 2 hours bringing it with them.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 3:40 PM
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Talking about getting away from the land of the little people is of course just a roundabout way of talking about the kids. Of course people will then spend the rest of the available time doing more talking about the kids.

When friends have kids, it really throws into sharp relief whether you had much in common with them before the kids. Before the kids, it's possible for friends to get by without making too much in the way of meaningful conversation. After the kids, you'd better have something of pretty direct interest to say in order to displace the kids as a subject.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 3:46 PM
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Suddenly, I'm consumed with insecurity about whether I drone on about Sally and Newt too much here. Other kids are dull, but they're unusually compelling, right?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 3:48 PM
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202: All other people's kids are dull. And all parents love them. It's okay, that's how the world is supposed to work.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 3:49 PM
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202 reminds me... How's Sally like the GI Jane look?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 3:53 PM
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202: perish the thought


There is some truth to 201, but I think also it's the shock of the whole thing. It's a pretty major shift in the lives of new parents, and in some ways the worst of it is not the first year or two. You start off with friends who are chronically sleep deprived and carrying a little person around, but pretty much their old selves, the real restructuring of their lives comes a bit later, I think.

It takes some longer to get their heads around it than others. In a weird way it's like having a friend going through a messy divorce or whatever. For a little while it is the focus of everything for them, and they can't step out of it.

Of course sometimes the kids are just compelling, like Sally and Newt. Just kidding LB, I don't think you drone on at all.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 3:54 PM
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202: Stories about other people's kids are much less tiring than the kids themselves.

Recently Jammies had band practice at our house for the first time, with his friend who has a two year old and a five year old, who also came over.

I knew I'd be watching the kids, plus Hawaiian Punch, but I was very irritated that the parent hadn't brought anything for the kids to do. We do not have anything to occupy small children with. It was two hours of "That's a baby moniter. Sure you can play with it. I can't show you how it works because my hands are full of Hawaiian Punch. That's a hair dryer. Sure you can play with it. No, the cat doesn't like that," while the usual baby tendings to boot.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 3:55 PM
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This is why I don't spend much time with my brother. I'm extremely fond of him, but his kids (and wife) are generally more than I can take. The kids are fine without their parents, and vice versa, but the combination is pretty excruciating.

And no, there's no non-awkward way of handling it.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 4:08 PM
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207: Every happy family is obnoxious in its own way. And unhappy families are just awkward.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 4:19 PM
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Hieronymous, perhaps you could shift your role from "the positive role model that I like to have around my kids" to "the friend who I don't see that much, but when he does, actually hires me a babysitter as a gift so I can feel free to hang out."

I don't actually know anyone who does this, but it seems like a thing that could be done.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 4:42 PM
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209: I've done this, but not habitually or often enough to become "the friend who hires us a babysitter".


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 4:48 PM
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Getting a babysitter is just namby pamby paternalism. Tell your BFF to let those kids go Galt, while you two go out on the town.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 4:53 PM
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I generally get pretty sucked in to whatever my latest interest is and talk about it compulsively. I assume I'll do that about kids, but since that will just displace endless talk about the minutia of powerlifting, I don't see how it will make me less interesting to my friends.

H, since you're already introspecting, would you want to figure out whether you would rather forfeit time with your friend for the foreseeable future or address whatever recent thing left you sad about seeing your friends' kids?

I'm not usually one to recommend inner work, preferring instead to change my life around to avoid consequences. But it looks to me like you're facing a trade-off, so maybe pick whichever is easier?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 5:13 PM
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Re the conversation about kids thing...one of (the many) things that scares me about having kids is this weird infantilization that seems to hit some people. The entire house full of toys and plastic crap, Disney videos always on in the background, dinners at Chuck E. Cheese and vacations at kid-land type places. I remember my parents still drinking cocktails, having dinner parties, and telling us to shut up and get the hell out from underfoot when adults were over. God forbid we left toys downstairs when there were guests. What happened? Is this kind of thing necessary?

Oh, and on the talking about kids...the very worst offenders on this are post-retirement old people. It's like, let me tell you about my major remaining connection to life and the world! Hard to begrudge them though.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 5:32 PM
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The entire house full of toys and plastic crap, Disney videos always on in the background, dinners at Chuck E. Cheese and vacations at kid-land type places.

Meh. Its all just part of a single global pattern As people become more affluent, they have fewer children later in life and invest more in each child. Your parents planned dinner parties and shooed you upstairs for the same reason they didn't wait until they were 30 to have children.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 5:47 PM
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Your parents...shooed you upstairs for the same reason they didn't wait until they were 30 to have children

Because they were incorrigible horndoggers?


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 5:50 PM
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201.2: When friends have kids, it really throws into sharp relief whether you had much in common with them before the kids. Before the kids, it's possible for friends to get by without making too much in the way of meaningful conversation. After the kids, you'd better have something of pretty direct interest to say in order to displace the kids as a subject.

This is a depressing way to look at it: surely the friends who now have kids were (or might have been) perfectly interesting before the kids. It's just that now they're obsessed, by their kids. It doesn't matter how fascinating what you have to say is; the new parents have tunnel vision, or hearing in this case.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 6:08 PM
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206:

That's a hair dryer. Sure you can play with it. No, the cat doesn't like that.

is making me laugh.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 6:13 PM
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200: If you were talking to someone who'd just gotten out of prison, I bet that even though they were glad to have gotten out, they would keep talking about it.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 7:55 PM
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No, I think 201.2 gets it pretty much right. There are friends with whom I still discuss lots of non-kid stuff, and friends with whom there's really not much to talk about except kids, because before all we ever talked about was sports or work or whatever.

I would note that most people are not sparkling conversationalists, and time spent with friends is much more* about companionship and activity than actual vibrant discussion.

* as a percentage, not nec. about value or importance


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:48 PM
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Also, LB gets at an important dynamic in 199: since, in purely practical terms, your non-work revolves around the kids (either being with them or making a significant effort not to be with them), they're right on top of your head. I find that catchup discussions with distant friends have to go for awhile before we starting talking about non-kid stuff. We get there, but it would require conscious effort not to start off with the news from Kidland.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 8:51 PM
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I'm still interesting! I'm still interesting!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:10 PM
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Other people's kids suck. It's true for everybody.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:16 PM
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219.1: I still can't parse it this way. The friends I've drifted away from since they've had kids are not ones I feel were probably always uninteresting. They've just become so invested in their kid thing that they their radar doesn't extend outside that. I'm sad about that, of course, but I couldn't meet them there.

I don't have kids, though, so I don't know what it would be like to also have kids and talk to other kid-having folks about something besides kid-having.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:26 PM
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I find it interesting that people I've known for 10 years and more have lately been asking me if I have kids. Guess I don't talk about them enough.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 9:43 PM
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I must belatedly defend the Golden Horde, or possibly reveal my out-of-date understanding of them... but they were a invade-and-settle culture, not a raid-and-leave one. Seems to me they should have inherited Genghis Khan's laws ('proud that under his rule a virgin carrying a bag of gold could walk across the empire unmolested').


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 10:26 PM
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If you were talking to someone who'd just gotten out of prison, I bet that even though they were glad to have gotten out, they would keep talking about it.

Not in my experience, fwiw.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 10:40 PM
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225:Yes. I was thinking of the Golden Horde history with the Rus, which was based on tribute enforced with raids.

Looked them up a little this evening at Wiki.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 10:43 PM
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one of (the many) things that scares me about having kids is this weird infantilization that seems to hit some people. The entire house full of toys and plastic crap, Disney videos always on in the background, dinners at Chuck E. Cheese and vacations at kid-land type places.

Don't fear the reaper, PGD (fear of having kids = fear of confronting one's inevitable and inexorable mortality, I believe; or perhaps it's more a fear of confronting limits, when our culture tells us [wrongly, as it turns out] that the possibilities are limitless). Honestly, the plastic crap phase is temporary, and there are various and sundry workarounds even during that unfortunate phase.

(When my son was 3 days old, I finally knew, I mean really knew for the first time ever, and at a bone-deep level, that someday I must die. The thought of surviving my infant filled me with distress, and even moved me to tears [well, the postpartum hormonal cocktail, but still]. It was like I finally understood Marx on the 18th Brumaire!).

(Where's Emerson? Does anybody know?)


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 11:11 PM
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MC, I don't know about Emerson aside from that Jesus McQ was in touch with him, but he, Jesus, is out of town now, though reachable via email, I believe. So if you're worried I guess we can execute a bat signalling sequence.

Oh. You did see the subthread a little while ago that Emerson has moved to Portland? In transition.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 11:26 PM
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I like to think that Emerson is building his long-dreamt-of pig farm.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 11:31 PM
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Emerson met a life partner, fell in love, and now they live across the hall from some Mexican dude and his bass-playing girlfriend in the Bay area.

I didn't see it coming either, but such is RomCom.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 11:33 PM
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226: Fucker. I knew you were going to ruin my joke of comparing having kids with prison by invoking some actual experience of knowing someone who'd just gotten out of prison.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-17-09 11:36 PM
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I must belatedly defend the Golden Horde, or possibly reveal my out-of-date understanding of them... but they were a invade-and-settle culture, not a raid-and-leave one. Seems to me they should have inherited Genghis Khan's laws ('proud that under his rule a virgin carrying a bag of gold could walk across the empire unmolested').

I'm not really making an argument ad Hitlerum here, but this phrase reminded me of one of the most frequently heard cliches from old people in Germany about the Third Reich: "A grandmother* could cross the street at night with 10,000 Marks in her purse and never worry for a moment."

IME this was as common as "But he built the Autobahnen," and "Every able-bodied man had a job, even if it only paid five marks a day," combined.

*One could argue that the virgin versus grandmother thing reflects the achievement of a higher level of public safety under the Mongols.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 06-18-09 8:08 AM
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"A grandmother* could cross the street at night with 10,000 Marks in her purse and never worry for a moment."

"Oh yeah? Well, I think old Mrs Goldstein might disagree with that."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-18-09 8:33 AM
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Maori and pacific island populations are a mainstay of our rugby.

Because there isn't a very obvious way that that is racist...

(Rule Britannia! Britannia rule the waves! Britons never never never will be slaves!)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 06-18-09 8:39 AM
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Fucker. I knew you were going to ruin my joke of comparing having kids with prison by invoking some actual experience of knowing someone who'd just gotten out of prison.

I guess I've become predictable. Oh well. It's a conversation I've had dozens of times though, so the mismatch jarred.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 06-18-09 8:45 AM
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one of (the many) things that scares me about having kids is this weird infantilization that seems to hit some people. The entire house full of toys and plastic crap, Disney videos always on in the background, dinners at Chuck E. Cheese and vacations at kid-land type places.

Everyone I knew who worried whether their life would be consumed by plastic crap found the small person who precipitated the purchase of plastic crap to be worth the change in decor.

My experience with friends who have small children is that the desire for adult conversation isn't as much about the content of the conversation as it is about the participants in the conversation. Even if you're talking about the kids, the point is that you're not talking to the kids, and your adult conversational partner isn't going to ask for a sippy cup of milk and probably can use more than one consonant clearly.

I have to say that I find other people's children interesting, so I'm probably a minority in this conversation, but I think that one job of a good friend of a newish parent is going to be to listen to conversations about kids. This helps keep the new parent sane and happy, especially if the new parent is a newly socially isolated stay-at-home mom. No one should have to do that if they don't want, but I think if one doesn't want to do that, the friendship is going to cool. At least, I can't see an easy way to convey that you're not interested in a central part of someone's life without conveying that you're not all that interested in the person.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-18-09 9:23 AM
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I agree with 237. Talking to grownups is different from talking to kids. I was actually surprised to find that I do, in fact, find the children of my friends interesting, which certainly makes our interactions a lot more pleasant.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-18-09 9:28 AM
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It makes me sad to know that many of my friends don't feel the same way -- I've heard them complaining about talking to other friends about their young children, so I know that if I have kids, I'm going to have to do a lot of self-censoring with them. Oh well.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-18-09 9:30 AM
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Their attitudes might shift.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-18-09 9:33 AM
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...the entire house full of toys and plastic crap

I'm not sure how humanity managed to raise its progeny to adulthood before the advent of blow-molding technology.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 06-18-09 9:35 AM
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I've heard them complaining about talking to other friends about their young children

Is it a complaint about talking about their children at all, or about talking about nothing but that? The former seems unreasonably rigid, the latter understandable.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 06-18-09 9:41 AM
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I'm not sure how humanity managed to raise its progeny to adulthood before the advent of blow-molding technology.

By exploiting their parents' awesome tatting and whittling skills.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-18-09 9:55 AM
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233: Fair enough, with the Mrs Goldstein caveat. (Although hasn't someone established that Mussolini didn't make the trains run on time, he inspired everyone to lie about it? Which could also have been the case for the Great Mongol.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 06-18-09 2:11 PM
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