Another Victory for the Human Extinction Movement

It’s just incredible that, by all evidence, the Soviets set up, and the Russian government may still be operating, a doomsday machine. For one thing, the logic for setting it up is rather flawed. It seems like a waste of nukes to use them to blow up the entire planet, given that in any given case, the vast majority of the nuclear detonations would be totally useless for deterrence. Moreover, it’s surprising that the Soviets were able to place the weapons in enough places worldwide to cause human extinction. But the kicker, as Ron Rosenbaum says in the Slate piece, is still the point made by the title character in Dr. Strangelove: if the Soviets spent the time, money, and effort setting up this system, then why the hell didn’t they tell anybody? The whole mechanism is useless if it’s kept secret. I don’t doubt that the system was/is actually in place, but the motives behind the apparent sequence of events are baffling.

The Senators Warner

It’s kind of hard to believe that Sen. John Warner (R-VA) only joined the Senate in 1979; he seems like far more of an elder statesman than that. But no longer – he’ll be retiring at the end of the term, setting up Mark Warner to beat down Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) or (this would be fun) Jim Gilmore in the general. It’s amazing to think that as of January 5, 2009, the governor and two Senators from Virginia will all be Democrats. That’s a quick transformation.

I Do Not Think That Means What You Think It Means

This seems to be the latest Republican argument against a pullout:

[Rep. Jon Porter (R-NV)], who returned Tuesday from his fourth trip to Iraq, met with U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Iraqi Deputy President Tariq al-Hashimi and Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh.
“To a person, they said there would be genocide, gas prices in the U.S. would rise to eight or nine dollars a gallon, al-Qaida would continue its expansion, and Iran would take over that portion of the world if we leave,” Porter said Wednesday in a phone interview from Las Vegas.

All of these claims are pretty clearly false. al-Qaeda is thriving because of, not in spite of, the occupation; Iran would, indeed, back Shi’ite militias and parties, but it’s not like they’re not doing that currently; and it’s laughable that a pullout would damage the Iraqi oil export industry enough to provoke a tripling of the gas price. But this last argument intrigues me. Supposing it were true, it should be a reason to get the hell out, not to stay. Oil prices skyrocketing to $9 a gallon would be an amazing, fantastic development; it would encourage massive conservation and prompt the development and distribution of alternative energy sources like there was no tomorrow. Moreover, achieving that price through a very popular policy, like a withdrawal from Iraq, is obviously preferable to achieving it through a very unpopular one, like a big gas tax. So here’s hoping that by some miracle, Rep. Porter is right, and we start paying up the wazoo for oil once we’re out of Iraq.

The Carlson Clarification

Tucker Carlson, on the apparently-not-a-gay-bashing incident:

Let me be clear about an incident I referred to on MSNBC last night: In the mid-1980s, while I was a high school student, a man physically grabbed me in a men’s room in Washington, DC. I yelled, pulled away from him and ran out of the room. Twenty-five minutes later, a friend of mine and I returned to the men’s room. The man was still there, presumably waiting to do to someone else what he had done to me. My friend and I seized the man and held him until a security guard arrived.
Several bloggers have characterized this is a sort of gay bashing. That’s absurd, and an insult to anybody who has fought back against an unsolicited sexual attack. I wasn’t angry with the man because he was gay. I was angry because he assaulted me.

He wasn’t clear about this on the show, for reasons that are now evident, but I’m willing to trust him and say that this really was an attempted rape on the part of the gay guy. In that case, my apologies to Carlson. It was an unfortunate event, and it was too bad that a spectacle was made out of it.

They Are The Pipettes

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Have you heard the Pipettes? If not, that’s understandable. Their debut album, appropriately titled We Are the Pipettes, is only available in the U.S. through import. It used to be available at eMusic, which is how I got a hold of it, but it’s gone now.
It’s too bad, really. The Pipettes sound like the long lost love child of Phil Spector and Kathleen Hanna, and their debut is 30 minutes of feminist girl-group pop bliss. Don’t believe me? Listen to its most successful single, “Pull Shapes”:

Yep, the Pipettes are pretty fantastic. Which is why it’s fortunate that Interscope has announced that it will release We Are the Pipettes stateside on October 2nd, with a North American (and Japanese, and Australian) tour to follow. What’s more, the U.S. edition will add two new tracks, so even impatient folks like me might need to shell out for it. But I don’t mind; The Pipettes are the kind of band whose albums I don’t mind buying for just two songs. They’re just that good.

Main Defender

Allow me to echo the many people pointing out the blatant hypocrisy of John McCain, Norm Coleman, and Pete Hoekstra calling for Larry Craig to resign without making the same demand of David Vitter. Moreover, let me go further and say that neither Vitter nor Craig should resign. As the cases of Clinton, Barney Frank, and Gerry Studds all show, being involved in a sordid and socially verboten sexual relationship does not, in and of itself, render someone a bad lawmaker. This isn’t to say that either Vitter or Craig are actually, well, good lawmakers. They’re not, but that has much more to do with their mutual proclivity for voting in lockstep with the Republican leadership than with their taboo sexual interests. I would be more than happy to support their resignations if they were to be based on, say, their support for the war, but resignations based on sexual behavior just seem silly.