Gracious Statesmanship and other short notes

Reflecting on the Republican response to Muammar Qaddafi’s death, following so soon after the death of Osama bin Laden, The New Yorker’s David Remnick wrote:

If a Republican had been responsible for the foreign-policy markers of the past three years, the Party would be commissioning statues. In Tripoli, Benghazi, and Surt, last week, Obama won words of praise; on Republican debate platforms, there was only mindless posturing.

And, noticing the same phenomenon among the Party’s Congressional leaders, Jon Stewart asked: “Is there no Republican that can be gracious and statesmanlike in this situation?”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Apparently not. But that’s just ordinary partisan politics, right? Democrats who were running against an incumbent Republican president would be the same way. Wouldn’t they?

Well, no. About 30 seconds with the Google led me to what Howard Dean said after Saddam Hussein was captured in December, 2003:

This is a great day of pride in the American military and a great day for the Iraqis and a great day for the American people. President Bush deserves a day of celebration.


So the American war in Iraq is finally going to end on December 31, when our last troops leave.

Juan Cole explains why things turned out this way, even though hawks in the administration and elsewhere clearly wanted to keep thousands of American troops in Iraq indefinitely: When the UN Security Council’s resolution recognizing the US as the occupying power in Iraq expired at the end of 2008, the Bush administration negotiated a status-of-forces agreement (SOFA) with the new Iraqi government. The Iraqis insisted on some deadline, so President Bush accepted 2011, confident that the US could renegotiate later.

When President Obama tried to negotiate an extension, the hang-up was the issue of “extraterritoriality” — American troops’ immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts. It would have been political suicide for the Iraqi government to grant that.

Why? Because all Iraqis remember the Nisoor Square massacre when Blackwater security guards killed 17 Baghdad civilians in a mistaken shooting spree. Extraterritoriality meant that Iraqi courts couldn’t touch them, and then an American court let them go. No Iraqi politician is going to let that happen again.

Personally, I’ll be glad to have our troops out of Iraq. But if you’re not happy, put the blame where it belongs: on Blackwater’s trigger-happy mercenaries.


Meteor Blades objects to wrap-ups that call the Iraq War a mistake.

Planning for invasion, the concoction of evidence, the ignoring of counter-advice, and the lying to Congress, to the United Nations and to the American people were not “mistakes.”

The war, he writes, was a pre-meditated crime, not a mistake. In a just world, the perpetrators “would some time ago have arrived in shackles at The Hague.”


Harold Camping’s prediction of the Rapture last May got a lot of attention, especially when it didn’t happen. (Or maybe it did, and there were just a lot fewer real Christians than everybody thought — and Camping himself wasn’t one of them.) But the Rapture was always just a prelude to the End of the World, kind of like when “last call” is announced before a bar closes. The real EotW was scheduled for last Friday.

Still here? Back to the drawing board.


Can’t decide between living in a forest or in an urban high-rise? Why not move to Milan and do both?


American feminist bra-burning is a historical myth, but Japanese environmentalist bra-burning is happening now. It even sounds like a pretty good idea.


Hunter on Daily Kos explains Occupy Wall Street to pundits who refuse to understand it.


Thom Hartmann explains the way in which OWS has already succeeded: It forced the media to remember the unemployed, who had been almost completely forgotten during the manufactured “debt-ceiling crisis” last summer.


Occupy Wall Street continues to be a great source of visual humor, most of which just adds to the movement.

And some older images are having a revival:


But the funniest thing I saw this week was this piece by Bad Lip Reading:

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  • By Vampires « The Weekly Sift on October 24, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    […] Gracious Statesmanship and other short notes. Why can’t Republicans be as gracious about President Obama’s successes as Democrats were in 2003? We have Blackwater to thank for getting our troops out of Iraq. Meteor Blades says that the Iraq War was a crime, not a mistake. Still no End of the World. A vertical forest in Milan. Bra-burning in Japan. Where Occupy Wall Street has already succeeded. OWS humor. And Bad Lip Reading’s Mitt Romney video. […]

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