American Culture

Nota Bene #36

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Jeff Huber at Pen and Sword: The Russia-Georgia conflict “looks more like the relatively heroic measures Big Daddy Bush took in the first Iraq war. If the Bush administration spin merchants were working for the Russians, the story would go that mean old Georgia decided to beat up on poor little South Ossetia and Abkhazia and the big strong Russians swept in to save the day for the underdogs, just like America did when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.” Who else but the Commander (Huber) would have thought to make that analogy?

From “McCain’s Focus on Georgia Raises Question of Propriety” in the Washington Post: “‘We talk about how there’s only one president at a time, so the idea that you would send your own emissaries [is] very risky and can send mixed messages to foreign governments,’ said Lawrence Korb, a Reagan Defense Department official who now acts as an informal adviser to the Obama campaign. ‘They accused Obama of being presumptuous, but he didn’t do anything close to this.'”

Helena Cobban (at her sarcastic best) of Just World News writes of the Russia-Georgia conflict: “At such a watershed point, we should be more relieved than ever that over the past 63 years the world’s governments have created and sustained an entire network of globe-circling institutions, led by the United Nations, that are primed and ready to help ease all the tensions that a shift like the present one represents. . . . So where the heck has UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon been over the past eight days?”

At Asia Times Onine, Kaveh Afrasiabi writes of the “Unforeseen consequence for Iran” of the Russia-Georgia conflict: “. . . no matter how cordial present Iran-Russia relations may be, the big neighbor’s power and increasing militarism impacts Iran’s national security calculus and may strengthen the arguments of those who are in favor of a nuclear defense strategy.” In the interim, “Tehran has settled for a quiet diplomacy, as a passive bystander, thus causing an attrition of its image as a regional player.”

In an unpublished paper for his national security think tank, writes Gareth Porter, Colin Kahl “advocated that the U.S. should keep 60,000 to 80,000 troops in Iraq into late 2010 in what he called a ‘sustainable over-watch posture‘.” Just doesn’t roll off the tongue like its predecessor: the Surge.

Bernard Avishai and Reza Aslan in the Washington Post: “Iran presents the West with a kind of real-life chess game, and the advocates of a preemptive Israeli attack only understand checkers.”

Linda McQuaig of the Toronto Star on our complacency about nuclear danger: “Peace advocates Anatol Rapoport and Leonard Johnson (a retired Canadian general) compare our society to the cells of a body in the process of committing suicide. All the cells keep operating normally, each doing its own job, even as the person writes a suicide note, puts a gun in his mouth and prepares to pull the trigger.” Denial is no defense against a nuclear holocaust.

Matt Stoller at Open Left quoting Senator Russ Feingold on John McCain and Barack Obama: “They both have the intellectual ability and the maturity to form judgments about important policy issues. I’d feel comfortable with both of them in there as president.”

Stoller comments: “There are literally no competent progressive elites. If you asked average Democrats who they believe are good leaders, they might mention Al Gore, Russ Feingold, or Barbara Boxer. These are the best we have. We’re supposed to be a political movement, but how can this movement continue to exist without any elected leadership that gets our mix of partisanship and populism, and couples it with a bullshit detector against insiders like McCain?”

Meanwhile, what’s with Feingold? His comments were a virtual stab in Obama’s back.

Psychologist and neuroscientist Drew Westen is taking the gloves off: “I suggest we use the blogosphere to teach journalists a lesson about privacy, humility, and humiliation, and put them on notice that if they continue to practice gutter journalism, bloggers will publish the same kind of data on them that they publish on politicians. . . . My guess is that media enthusiasm for sex scandals would drop within days of the first report (replete with photos) on the sexual indiscretions of a television news anchor or reporter.”

Listen to a digital photography expert speaking with film-maker Errol Morris at his New York Times blog: “This is why all the Loch Ness monster and ghost images are always so tiny and grainy, because then you can’t see the signs of tampering. With low-res images it’s much harder to detect a fake. Definitely, when we have a high-res original image, we are much better at it.”

From “Get Rielle” by Justin Juvenal on Salon: “We can only guess what attracted Edwards to Hunter.” But “”Before John Edwards’ mistress was a journalistic curiosity, she was a literary inspiration. Rielle Hunter was the model for the drug-addled Alison Poole, a vapid and endearing Manhattan party girl who appeared in at least three novels by two of the bright lights on the ’80s literary scene, Jay McInerney and Bret Easton Ellis.” Ever see her on YouTube? Though she’s aging, there’s no denying she’s cute.

In “Why I Hate Beauty” at Alternet, Michael Levine and Hara Estroff Marano write: “‘There appears to be something about male teachers who come in daily contact with teenaged women that increases the likelihood of being currently divorced or separated,’ [sociologist Sataoshi] Kanazawa says. He adds that these men remain unmarried because any adult women they might meet and date after their divorce would pale in comparison to the pretty young things constantly around them.”


Rafat Ali in a Washington Post blog, “Bolt Of Lightning Doesn’t Fall Anywhere Near“: “Michael Phelps who? In what is probably the greatest moment in this Olympics, Usain Bolt of Jamaica won gold 100m dash in 9.69 seconds, a new world record.” Yet “ has a lame text story online, and . . . a lamer Getty Images-supplied photo slideshow. Not that we were expecting anything different from NBC today, but it does add up to the growing frustration with the [network’s coverage].” Before it was shown on TV, we watched the race on the French video site, Daily Motion (since NBC wouldn’t let YouTube host it). Bolt covered so much ground so fast, it looked less like a 100-meter dash than a 60.

From the : “In other Olympic news, China’s hopes for winning more medals in women’s gymnastics were dashed when one of their leading gymnasts vanished down a bathtub drain on Tuesday.”

Paul Schwartz of the New York Post: “The first culture shock for Favre after so many years in Green Bay will be the cost of living. ‘Get an E-Z Pass as soon as possible,’ said O’Hara.” New York Giant beat reporters can always turn to center Sean O’Hara for a quote.

At, Michael Lombardi writes: “As Bill Parcells used to tell me, the reason we are in the business is for the sounds of silence when you win on the road in the NFL.”

Manny Being Manny Department

George King at the New York Post: “Having successfully orchestrated his divorce from Boston and his landing in with the Dodgers, Manny Ramirez would like to make life miserable for the Red Sox during the next few seasons. According to people who have spoken to the eccentric outfielder since he was dealt to L.A. on July 31, Ramirez wants to sign a free-agent deal with the Yankees this offseason and get 19 chances a year to punish Boston.”

1 reply »

  1. I hadn’t noticed Ban’s silence, but that’s an interesting question. (the UN should have been put somewhere besides New York)

    While i’m no Red Sox Nation member, i really don’t like the Yankees. Manny would be a perfect fit there.