Monday, April 21, 2008

Even when right, she's wrong


The Ministry of Propaganda White House on War: Yglesias made his mandatory pretend sane post of the week, this time about how the Bush Admin is known to be doing bad things to pump up support for the war and there's probably worse we haven't yet heard about. Megan is willing to allow that this is true, but she's not having this whole "the Bush Admin is largely composed of conscious war criminals" line of thought.

We're not seeing the Bush administration trying to manage the media because of the kind of war this is--they were doing it back when the war was extremely popular, too.
So, if you're in an abusive relationship it's not the abuser's fault for being that way if the relationship was happy at first. Yeah, I'm being a bit unfair, but you haven't seen this yet
There's a weird tendency to diagnose a bunch of different aspects of war as being somehow unique to the sort of war we're fighting now. When I did that Bloggingheads debate with Glenn Greenwald, he kept speaking of torture as being an inevitable result of "aggressive war". But this is silly. War crimes are not a special characteristic of the invading side; we did lots of things in World War II that would now be recognized as war crimes (Dresden, Tokyo), as well as number of run-of-the-mill war crimes like shooting inconvenient POWs and desecrating bodies. Nor was Sherman's March to the Sea strictly within the Geneva Conventions. People who are trying to kill each other tend to get sloppy about the niceties of things like not slapping around your prisoners for information--whether they are the invader or the invadee [sic].
(Oy, that bloggingheads bit. There's some whoppers in it, like when Megan uses the abject stupidity of one of her most devoted readers to show the public is dumb, so I don't want to give up on it, but neither do I want to finish watching it. Argh.) Silly Glenn Greenwald, thinking that just because this is the first time the American government has "legally" and effectively publicly tortured people there's something notable about it. And just because the Geneva Conventions were written after WWII (and the Civil War, to be clear), to address mistakes made on both sides, though of course publicly focusing on Axis misdeeds, doesn't mean we haven't learned from past mistakes and tried, unsuccessfully, as Vietnam and Cambodia showed, to clean up our act. After all, the first Bush Admin had to use massive amounts of torture to make the first Gulf War last about 15 minutes, not careful planning, overwhelming force, and comparative compassion for the opposing side, at least once they surrendered. Look, this is war, and if random innocent people across the globe are kidnapped based on faulty intelligence and rendered into the "care" of torturers for years at a time, that's just how war has always been. Sure, it's "bad", but have some perspective.

Leading indicators?:
Banana Republic and J-Crew seem to be having literally non-stop sales; the day after one ends, another sale notice appears in my mailbox. And the gimmicks are getting more complicated--a 20% discount is disguised by promising $10 off for every $50 you spend. Also, some of their sale items have been there for months. Hardly surprising, since Gap Inc reports sales declines. Can I haul out the "R word" yet? Please? Please?
Not until Krugman is fired for doing the same. He's been chicken littling it for years, almost as if he understood that the economic policies of this Admin were leading us to ruin. If only he'd known to wait until the clothing stores Megan likes announced off-peak sales, a hitherto unknown phenomenon that only careful market watchers like Megan would even think to connect to overall economic problems.

School loan crunch:
I've been asking myself that about student loans for quite some time. It's still not clear to me how much, if at all, they benefit the students they are supposed to help. It seems at least equally plausible that they're simply feeding the tuition inflation which makes it impossible for a normal kid to work his way through college--that is, that all the benefits of the student loans are not being appropriated by the students, but by the faculty and administration, and the non-borrowing students, who get to enjoy the shiny new facilities that tuition inflation helps pay for.
Yep, rising tuition costs only hurt those who have to take out loans to meet them. You see, no one has ever been turned down for financial aid because, say, their parents make too much to qualify, yet still too little to afford tuition. And it's not a hardship on any family who manages it to pay, what, 150-200k for 4-5 years of undergrad tuition and housing at a non-state school. Oy.

Light day, all things considered, tho last week would be hard for her to match.


Clever Pseudonym said...

"Nor was Sherman's March to the Sea strictly within the Geneva Conventions."

I have to laugh at that. Out loud.

And the word is "invaded," Megan. Not "invadee." Nice to know the Atlantic is letting their journalists make up words now.

Margalis said...

It is somewhat amusing how all the economic "chicken littles" were exactly right. I guess they were "right for the wrong reasons."

"Right for the wrong reasons" and "wrong for the right reasons" have become my new favorite phrases. Talk about your catch-all justifications.

M. Bouffant said...

[T]he non-borrowing students, who get to enjoy the shiny new facilities that tuition inflation helps pay for.

Uh, don't the borrowing students get to use (or "enjoy") the "shiny new facilities" as well as the non-borrowers? Or is there some sort of two-tier thing going on in the world of education as well as in the real world?

NutellaonToast said...

Also, schools take a portion of all grants that scientists get as well as charge them for their offices, phones, labs, etc.

Oh, and they pay for facilities.

d'oh, facts again.

NutellaonToast said...

oops, I should learn to read. nevermind