Friday, May 06, 2011
The new Birther line of attack... Part II

A friend writes in: "I would be careful about politicizing the photo decision; I think the President made the right decision for same reasons outlined here by James Bowman (who is a conservative), but (a) wish Obama had articulated as well as Bowman and (b) respect though disagree with impulse to see the photos."

I don't think I was politicizing the photo decision, only pointing fingers at certain individulas who were politicizing the photo decision. But the reader is right in general. The Bowman piece is short and eloquent. A sample:
Those who would celebrate in a more exuberant fashion, even to the point of "spiking the ball," as our President put it in respect of publishing the photos of the dead man, may feel an understandable joy at (Osama's) demise, but translating that joy into public action has implications for the national honor. I may, of course, be wrong, but I think that honor is better served, as honor so often is, by understatement than overstatement in the expression of our joy.

Update -- Mitt agrees with Obama's photo decision. Good for him, though his reasoning is not the same as Bowman's. ... I'm officially flip-flopping. The president should stand firm on his initial decision and impulse, rather than caving to partisan cynics and conspiracy theorists.
Thursday, May 05, 2011
The new Birther line of attack: Show us the Osama photos!

Knowing they can't criticize the president for what most everyone agrees was a well-run operation to find and kill Osama Bin Laden, some on the right are now criticizing President Obama's decision not to release photos of the dead terrorist. The same president who effectively just ordered the assassination of a mass murderer is presumed to be a wimp until he releases the photos, damn it! ...

Sound familiar? Of course it does. It's right out of the Birthers' new playbook: The president is presumed guilty of some silly charge until he releases a long-form birth certificate/school grades/Osama photo etc. The Birther tactic, in turn, can trace its lineage to the Swift Boat assaults of 2004, i.e. attack a perceived strength, diminishing it as much as possible, regardless of the ludicrousness of the charges. This is what's unfolding now -- and will continue to unfold in coming days and weeks and months.

Another frustrating part of the ginned up post-raid drama: The president keeps falling for these tricks. Eventually, he's going to be forced to release the photos. We all know this. At the very least, they'll be leaked somehow. Though I understand the immediate rationale for not releasing the photos, they should be thrown out there to quash the arguments of hyper-partisan cynics and conspiracy theorists alike. End the silly dispute now. ...

As for the varying accounts about the raid coming out of the White House, it's mildly disturbing. The behind-the-scenes/get-the-story-straight PR component of the raid has been horrible. But I chalk it up mostly to the natural confusion associated with such intense events. As a friend recently wrote to moi:
I realize this is an enormously complicated and stressful situation. In my personal experience, the more powerful the individual, the more ambiguous and indirect the conversations - under conditions of stress, the opportunity for confusion and misinterpretation goes way up.

I think the President is clearly struggling with this, and understandably so. The stress in the situation room pictures, and in his remarks at the Monday night dinner, were obvious. This stress/struggle is surely one reason for the decision not to release the photos (aside from backlash, remembering response to the Saddam 'tooth inspection' photo).

On a separate, much less serious note - how many more shambolic press conferences before Jay Carney returns to the dreaded private sector?
I'll wager he leaves during the summer when few are paying close attention.
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
Seeing the future -- not

Reader No. 1 comments on this Megan McArdle post about predictions: "A great reminder of how randomness and regression to the mean persist in all walks of life."
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
The hunt for Osama

The NYT has the best blow-by-blow account yet of the raid on Osama's compound.

Update -- From Reader No. 1:
Robert Wright wrote a superb book about Al-Qaeda and bin Laden, The Looming Tower, so his comments in New Yorker are particularly worth noting.

Some good thoughts and questions from Toby Harnden.
Monday, May 02, 2011
Curt Schilling upset at Osama's Muslim burial

He later backed off his rant. But he was only muttering out loud something most of us were wondering too. Why the hell did we dispose of the body within 24 hours in accordance to Muslim law? But Curt himself provides the answer to that question: If showing disrespect had led to the killing of even one American, it wouldn't have been worth it. ...
Osama Bin Laden and the dog that didn't bark

One of the pieces of evidence used to determine Osama Bin Laden's whereabouts didn't physically exist: There were no phone or Internet lines to his mansion, raising curious-incident suspicions. ... If a movie is ever made about the Navy SEAL team that raided Osama's home (and, of course, there will be movies), Hub Blog has a suggestion: Start the flick with an old mood-setting film clip of the botched Iranian hostage-rescue mission in 1980. The Desert One debacle led directly to formation of SEAL Team Six, providing yet another Jimmy Carter-contrast angle to yesterday's events. ...
Osama Bin Laden: Crime and punishment

As gruesome as it may sound, I'm glad he was taken down by human beings, not drones. His last views and thoughts were that of American soldiers finally bringing justice to him. ... But the punishment could have been greater: "They should have captured Bin Laden alive & and made him continually go through airport security 4 the rest of his life." ... That would have been cruel, unusual and probably unconstitutional.
Sunday, May 01, 2011
Measuring happiness in the All-American City

Somerville is asking residents, via census questions, how happy they are in life. It's not a bad idea. But why do I have a hunch that responses will merely confirm the need for more standard playbook hipness? Bike paths, outdoor cafes, 'green' spaces, etc. etc.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
'This is not Wisconsin' Part II

The NYT has a good summary piece about the House's move to curtail public unions' bargaining rights.

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