This Is How To Deal With Iran

Through casual homoeroticism:

I cannot believe that they got Adam Levine and (especially) Jake Gyllenhaal to do that.
P.S. The video’s been pulled from YouTube, and from NBC’s page. It’s interesting that NBC doesn’t seem to want people watching its shows. Even when it uploads them itself.
P.P.S. A non-NBC copy is up on YouTube, and I’ve added it. Enjoy.

It’s Funny, Because They’re Friends

Have we really gotten to this point? Is it now really acceptable for bloggers to be attacked not because of what they actually, you know, say, but because of who they hang out with? In truth, this bashing of the so-called D.C. blogging elite began in earnest earlier this month at Sadly, No!, which felt that the fact that Megan McArdle, Matt Yglesias, and Ezra Klein know each other outside of blogs renders their ideas and writing totally bunk. Because Sadly, No! is, first and foremost, a classy place.
I didn’t feel the need to comment at the time, since it seemed like an outgrowth of the sort of doctrinarian McArdle-bashing that Matt Zeitlin dispatched so well. But now, due to a lighthearted Garance Franke-Ruta post, it’s getting out of hand.
So let’s put this as simply as possible. I do not care in the slightest who the friends of the bloggers I read are, and neither should you. If you’re too lazy or stupid to engage their arguments without resorting to personal attacks, that’s your problem. If you think Yglesias is insufficiently progressive or partisan, argue why. If you think McArdle doesn’t adequately account for the justice issues at hand with health care (and I certainly do), explain why. If instead you bravely take on their cocktail hour guests, you’re showing yourself to be a petty asshole unworthy of the readership of all respectable persons.

9/11 Has Made Us Stupid

I’m not generally much of a fan of the Moustache of Understanding. His disinclination to dig in to actual trade agreements, and his thus ill-informed boosting of globalization, gives serious free-traders like Jagdish Bhagwati and Paul Krugman a bad name. Moreover, he’s provided “liberal” cover for far too many Bush administration initiatives; see here for a particularly egregious example. At best, he’s a free-market Lou Dobbs; at worst, he’s the NYT‘s David Broder.
But not today. After starting out with a nice Onion reference (for satisfying the yoots), he really digs in:

We don’t need another president of 9/11. We need a president for 9/12. I will only vote for the 9/12 candidate.
What does that mean? This: 9/11 has made us stupid. I honor, and weep for, all those murdered on that day. But our reaction to 9/11 — mine included — has knocked America completely out of balance, and it is time to get things right again.
It is not that I thought we had new enemies that day and now I don’t. Yes, in the wake of 9/11, we need new precautions, new barriers. But we also need our old habits and sense of openness. For me, the candidate of 9/12 is the one who will not only understand who our enemies are, but who we are.
Before 9/11, the world thought America’s slogan was: “Where anything is possible for anybody.” But that is not our global brand anymore. Our government has been exporting fear, not hope: “Give me your tired, your poor and your fingerprints.”
You may think Guantánamo Bay is a prison camp in Cuba for Al Qaeda terrorists. A lot of the world thinks it’s a place we send visitors who don’t give the right answers at immigration. I will not vote for any candidate who is not committed to dismantling Guantánamo Bay and replacing it with a free field hospital for poor Cubans. Guantánamo Bay is the anti-Statue of Liberty.

I’d love to see us salvage something decent in Iraq that might help tilt the Middle East onto a more progressive pathway. That was and is necessary to improve our security. But sometimes the necessary is impossible — and we just can’t keep chasing that rainbow this way.

We can’t afford to keep being this stupid! We have got to get our groove back. We need a president who will unite us around a common purpose, not a common enemy. Al Qaeda is about 9/11. We are about 9/12, we are about the Fourth of July — which is why I hope that anyone who runs on the 9/11 platform gets trounced.

I have my issues with this piece. I don’t think we need a president of 9/12; if anything, 9/12 was the day we went from mournful to vengeful. And I think some of Friedman’s tangents about infrastructure and tourism (which I’ve left out) can come across as petty. But still, for the same man who said that we needed to invade Iraq to tell them to “suck on this” to write such a nakedly emotional plea to overcome the terrorism hype and reclaim America’s place in the world is heartening. Friedman deserves credit where it’s due, and it’s certainly due here.

A Dream Deferred Denied

Few hypothetical general election match-ups make me quite as happy as the possibility of an Obama-Gingrich melee. It’s the pinnacle of the old kind of politics versus the pinnacle of a new kind, the 1990s incarnate versus the 2010s incarnate. If there’s any candidate who would crumble under the weight of Obama’s anti-Washington, anti-corruption, anti-divisiveness message, it’s Gingrich.
Alas, though Gingrich had begun, in his own dysfunctional and bizarre way, to inch towards a run, he’s wussed out:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will not run for president in 2008 after determining he could not legally explore a bid and remain as head of his tax-exempt political organization, a spokesman said Saturday.
“Newt is not running,” spokesman Rick Tyler said. “It is legally impermissible for him to continue on as chairman of American Solutions (for Winning the Future) and to explore a campaign for president.”

Oh come on. You can think of a better excuse. I bet you some college YAF-er wouldn’t so much as drop out if he got the opportunity (ahem) to lead American Solutions (for Winning the Future). Moreover, wasn’t the whole point of American Solution (for Winning the Future) to provide the intellectual and organizational backup for a potential Gingrich presidential run? It’s like if Biden had chosen not to run to spend more time with Unite Our States. There’s a long-standing, natural progression from vanity PAC, to exploratory committee, to presidential campaign, Mr. Gingrich, and you have broken it. For shame.
P.S. I used to think that there was nothing so pretentious as a song whose self-identified importance necessitates the use of parentheses in the title. It turns out that when that song is a self-promoting nonprofit group, it’s even worse.

The Debate

It was a lot of fun to have a political event of this magnitude in my hometown. Obviously, I can’t go into a lot of detail about the campaign activities, but I think the campaign represented itself well.
As for the debate itself, I’m wondering if Howard Fineman, Pat Buchanan, Steve Benen, Dana Goldstein and I all watched the same debate. I watched a debate where Hillary repeatedly refused to answer questions on issues from Iran to Social Security, antagonized the moderator ad nauseum, and made a trivial, but revelatory, gaffe about flip-flopping between backing the Cubs and the Yankees. They watched a debate where Hillary somehow did well. I watched a debate where Obama articulately and specifically laid out his policies on withdrawal, Social Security, and torture; they watched one where he was tired and boring. I watched a debate where John Edwards had a meltdown in front of Tim Russert when forced to defend his haircuts, house, and hedge fund work. They watched one where he moved himself to parity with Obama. I don’t know how one could read it how they did, but there you have it.
There’s this unfortunate perception, accentuated by this debate, that Hillary is somehow inevitable. Nothing could be further from the truth. Poll results are shaky and ephemeral; fundraising numbers aren’t, and in that arena Obama is simply crushing Hillary to an extent that has people like Drew Cline, the Union-Leader‘s primary election blogger, saying that he doubts the polls are even accurate. I’d go further. Read the fine print behind the much-hullaballoed poll showing Hillary leading Obama 43% to 20%. Only 13% of people polled knew who they were going to vote for. 28% were leaning one way, but the majority, 55%, had no idea whatsoever. When 55% of the electorate is totally undecided, “if the election were today” questions are completely and utterly meaningless. And this is with known quantities like Hillary and Edwards in the race. When 87% of the public isn’t backing the candidates they know, they probably have a reason, which leaves an opening for a new face like Obama to get their support. Long story short, Hillary doesn’t have this sewn up by any means. With 87% of votes still in play, it’s still anyone’s game. More importantly, it’s likely to be the game of someone new to national politics, someone like Obama.

Out of Touch? Moi?

Completely by accident, I just caught some of the Heroes season premiere. I had never seen the show before because, well, it didn’t seem interesting. But it also didn’t seem unremittingly awful. Which it turned out to be. Seriously, why do people watch this? What is entertaining about a randomly time-traveling Japanese guy and a teenage girl adjusting to a new school? I truly cannot understand the appeal.

“Laughed In His Face”

You know why it was a good idea for Columbia to invite Ahmadinejad? This is why:

In response to a question partly about the treatment of gays in Iran, Ahmadinejad just denied that there are gays in Iran.

In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country. We don’t have that in our country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I do not know who has told you that we have it.

The audience at once booed and laughed in his face; even Ahmadinejad seemed slightly ashamed. Quite an extraordinary moment.

This is how you win a war of ideas: by directly engaging the opposing side and showing them how ridiculous their ideas really are. Of course, Bush probably doesn’t agree; he’s too busy wondering how Ahmadinejad got such a perfect country.