War credits

by John Q on September 14, 2007

Now that everyone has finally agreed that Iraq is another Vietnam, we can move on to the next point which is that, having lost the war, the war party in the US is going to blame their domestic opponents, just like they did after Vietnam.[1] The only difference is that the war-peace divide now matches the partisan division between Republicans and Democrats.

In this setting, the idea of looking for a compromise is just silly. The Republicans have made it clear that they don’t want one. Even the dwindling group of alleged moderates aren’t going to vote for anything that would seriously constrain Bush. So, the Democrats can choose between acting to stop the war now, or inheriting it in 2009 [2] . There’s no possibility of pushing anything serious past the Senate filibuster, let alone override a veto.

The only real option, apart from continued acquiescence, is for Congress to fulfil its constitutional role and refuse to pay more for this endless war, starting with the $50 billion in supplementary funding Bush is asking for. There’s no need for any Republican votes, just for the Democrats to stick together and stand firm. That hasn’t been the Democratic way for a long time, but maybe its time now. Certainly, the majority of Americans want to get out of Iraq, just as, in the end, they wanted out of Vietnam.

1. In this context, it’s notable that despite the revisionism of the war party, there’s no evidence that Americans have changed their minds about Vietnam. The great majority still see it as a mistake, just as they did when the war ended

2, I suppose the counterargument is that, by doing what they were elected to do in 2006, the Democrats will wreck their presidential and congressional chances in 2008. If so, perhaps they should give up now.

Economists, journalists and European welfare states

by Henry Farrell on September 14, 2007

This “Dean Baker piece”:http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/beat_the_press_archive?month=09&year=2007&base_name=nyt_libels_germany_on_unemploy from a few days ago on how the _New York Times_ misrepresents the German welfare state got some well deserved attention. While I wholeheartedly agree with Baker’s basic point, I think that he perhaps lets the economics profession off the hook a little too easily. [click to continue…]

Celeb-spotting on Aer Lingus/Aer Arann

by Maria on September 14, 2007

You never know who you’ll run into on the way from Brussels to Kerry. In the check-in line at Zaventem, I met John Bruton, former Fine Gael Taoiseach and now the EU’s ambassador to the US. On Wednesday night, he had treated the Brussels branch of Fine Gael to his pungent and witty take on US/EU relations, and he was still in flying form. In the lounge, I was gently ribbed for my blueshirtedness by Fianna Fail MEPs Sean O’Neachtain and Liam Aylward. Both MEPs had been reading The Four Glorious Years, 1917 – 1921, an institutional account of the foundation of the Irish State by a civil servant of the time. They warmly recommended the book, saying you wouldn’t know the writer was a Dev man till the last chapter. Now this is something I just love about Irish politicians.
[click to continue…]

The Droodification of TV

by John Holbo on September 14, 2007

By general acclaim, it’s a fairly Golden age for TV. Thanks to HBO, but also for other reasons. Mostly it has to do with improved story-telling, due to whole season or multi-season story arcs, made possible largely by the DVD market, I suppose. Shows are being made to be sold as season-length packages. The effect on quality is salutary, but there are two risks. First, the show runs too long. A good story is undone – the early promise retroactively debased – by writers forced to drag it out; keep the golden goose laying past her prime. Second, a good show may be canceled, leaving the audience unable to finish the damn story.

Example: Invasion (2005) – which I’m considering buying for the typical Holbonic reason that it’s marked down 60%. (As a purchaser, I am indifferent – swayed neither in favor or against – by the consideration that it is written/produced by former teen idol Shaun Cassidy.) Who here has watched it? Any good? It seems to have won a solid fan-base, but not enough to stave off cancellation – supposedly due to a slow start, and being about a hurricane at the time of Katrina.

I like a good SF yarn. I don’t really like the thought of a cliffhanger with no resolution. But these sorts of no-end productions are actually becoming more common – the Edwin Droodification of TV, if you will. Which reminds me. I happened to catch a bit of a memorable Doctor Who episode a year ago – which I now learn is “The Unquiet Dead”. Charles Dickens is in it, and – inspired by the creepy, gaseous Gelth he has met – he promises to finish Drood, making the murderer a ‘blue elemental’. Maybe it could turn out, conversely, that there is a somewhat hypocritical family of Victorian snobs from Cloisterham under the water (!). Or something.

Let us discuss the state of TV, the long story arc, the advantages and risks that accrue thereto.