Virtual Front Page, Monday, October 17, 2011

Here’s a quick one:

  1. Europe Knocks Wind Out of Stocks (WSJ) — Gee, and just when I thought things were getting better. I’m getting tired of Europe being all feckless and everything…
  2. US pullout leaves Pakistan vulnerable to insurgents (The Guardian) I chose the Guardian story, but there were several interesting Pakistan (POCK-ee-stahn, as the pres says) stories out there today with different angles, such as this one in the NYT, and this one in the WashPost. The collective effect of them is ominous. The NYT one probably more than any other — Tensions Flare as G.I.’s Take Fire Out of Pakistan.
  3. U.S. Debated Cyberwarfare in Attack Plan on Libya (NYT) — I suppose we’re nearing the day when “Special Ops” could be replaced by “Special Geeks.”
  4. Israel-Palestinian Prisoner Swap Stirs Strong Debate (NPR) It’s 500 Palestinians prisoners for one Israeli soldier. Which would make me, were I on the Palestinian side, think really long and hard about which side values human life more. Oh, and one of the 500 is this little monster — the bloody-hands-waving guy.
  5. Occupy Columbia protesters still at State House ( — That was as of Sunday night. And I can report that they were there when I came back from Rotary after 2 p.m. Must have been about six of them. I could hear the Establishment crying out in terror, even with the car windows closed.
  6. ‘Worst fears realized’: Lattimore out for season (The State) — No, really — that was the actual LEDE headline in the paper this morning. In a font much bolder than usual. In the same position most newspapers would use to tell you if there were a nuclear war imminent. “Worst fears realized.” Hey, I’m sorry he’s hurt, and not just because he was a delight to watch, a really talented young man. But let’s get a grip. I mean, I’m putting it here because I agree people want to read about it, but still…

46 thoughts on “Virtual Front Page, Monday, October 17, 2011

  1. Brad

    Did I think the stock market story was the most important? No, I think the next two were bigger, but more because they were trends than actual occurrences, and I like to adhere to the convention that a lede story should be an actual occurrence.

    Although if I’d picked the NYT story on Pakistan, that could have been the lede. I’m still waffling about it. But at some point, in the news biz, you go ahead and make a decision…

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    “I couldn’t hear the Establishment crying out in terror, even with the car windows closed.”

    Snarky and unworthy of you. They are polite and sincere. You should consider being likewise.

  3. Maude Lebowski

    The Israel-Hamas swap is actually over 1,000 Palestinians for 1 Israeli. There is no question about which side values life more.

  4. Brad

    Oops. I meant to say, “I COULD hear the Establishment crying out in terror…”

    Kathryn, I’ve been very open about the fact that I consider such demonstrations to be a waste of time. My tone here is consistent with that. It’s also consistent with the tone I use a LOT in commenting on headlines.

    If I were to go on about how polite and sincere they are, would you not think I was condescendingly patting them on the head?

  5. Steven Davis

    If the homeless in Columbia aren’t allowed to occupy the State House grounds overnight why are the Occupy Columbia members? How are they allowed to hold a rally on these grounds without a permit, a permit that any other group would be required to obtain or be removed by force if needed?

  6. bud

    The Lattimore headline was a bit much. Wouldn’t “worst fears” include something life-threatening? Still in this football crazy town it’s certainly bad news and probably worthy of a small mention on the front page during a slow news day.

  7. bud

    Seriously Brad, the OWS demonstrations a waste of time? A waste of time is ranting about the damn Confederate battle flag on the state house grounds. Now that is a genuine, bonafide, complete, utter, total, thorough, 100% waste of time. The OWS stuff can actually have an impact on real lives. It’s a movement with spunk, tenacity against a real problem – economic injustice. It’s too bad that our European bretheren are getting carried away with burning cars and such but so far in this country the protests have been almost 100% non-violent.

  8. Elliott

    I’m not surprised Occupy Columbia is not big in the capital city. There are too many establishment types there. I hope the Occupiers will get working people in other parts of the country to think before the vote. Just because you agree with a candidate on putting prayer back in the schools or keeping gay marriage illegal doesn’t mean you should vote for this candidate. Our congress is full of people who use social issues to get the working-man’s vote, and then fail to represent him. These congressmen continue to represent the wealthiest 1%. I hope the Occupy group will bring back congressmen who represent the voters who elected them.

  9. Brad

    Bud, I’m happy for you and Elliott that you’re so very certain about things, but let me point something out to you:

    I know what I want. I want the flag of our state’s front lawn. The OWS folks haven’t been able to explain to us, after five weeks, what they want.

    That not only points to an important difference between us; it shows how street protest is a lousy way to express complex ideas.

  10. bud

    The OWS folks haven’t been able to explain to us, after five weeks, what they want.

    I’ve heard that from Fox and other conservative outlets as a way to marginalize the movement. Specifics will come. But right now just listen to the angst within the movement. They’re in the phase of reform that begins by calling attention to the problem of economic injustice. Those signs that say “I’m the 99%” speak volumes about what the problem is.

    Admittedly the movement doesn’t have a simple solution the way the Vietnam problem did in the 60s. It was clear that the grassroots movement wanted to bring our soldiers home from a misguided military adventure in a foreign land. It also had a component dealing with the injustice of the draft. Both of those concrete goals ultimately came to fruition.

    I suggest to all those who insist the OWS movement has no specifics – keep watching. Leaders will emerge and the Democrats will do as they always do force positive change against the rants and whines of the GOP. But it will take time. Sadly movements of importance like this do take time.

  11. Steven Davis

    How did they come up with the 99% figure? I’m not in the 1%, but don’t agree with the 99%ers, especially the bottom 2%ers who don’t have anything better to do than sit around all day in a protest and looking for a handout.

  12. Brad

    Bud, several points:

    — I haven’t heard it on Fox News. My TV doesn’t even get that, or any of the 24-hour “news” channels. I read it in the NYT yesterday. Saw it in the WashPost today. And seemingly you agree with it, since you go on to say “Specifics will come.”
    — “Listen to the angst.” Really? Is that what this is about? Hey, I lost a 35-year career just as I was entering what should have been my peak earning years. My wife had stage 4 cancer a few years ago, and still has to take medications to keep it from coming back. I’ve been through the highs and lows of raising five kids. I worry about my grandchildren. I don’t need these confused kids to tell me about angst. Either they come up with something specific to tell me, or they should go home.
    — Vietnam did not have a “simple solution,” however simple the aims of the protesters may have been. Vietnam fell, the victors sent people to “re-educations camps,” and precipitated the Boat People crisis. Cambodia fell into genocidal chaos. The Domino Theory wasn’t so absurd after all.
    — Just to clarify, by “injustice of the draft,” are you referring to the injustice of it being easy to dodge if you had resources, or are you saying a draft itself is unjust?
    — When you say, “movements of importance like this,” how do you know it IS a movement of importance, since no clear aims have emerged? Is it just that taking to the streets to express angst is so important, like that nut in “Network” (“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” — which always seemed pretty pointless to me.) In that case, then the Tea Party should qualify. They’re pretty ticked off, too. Perhaps even angst-ridden. But also, very confused about the world.

  13. Brad

    And Kathryn — kidding aside, I’m truly sorry if I hurt any of those kids’ feelings. I mean that. It was not my intention.

    If you prefer that I take it seriously, well, that’s what I just did in the response to Bud.

  14. Lynn T

    “The Domino Theory wasn’t so absurd after all.”

    Yes it was. That idea was specifically that the fall of Vietnam would precipitate a long-term regional slide into the grip of international communism. There has certainly been a lot of disruption of various kinds there (not unusual, sad to say), but I sure don’t see a threatening communist monolith in southeast Asia today.

  15. Steven Davis

    Brad all you had to say was “no” once to those kids to hurt their feelings. They aren’t called Generation Entitlement (rather than Generation XI) for nothing.

  16. bud

    Wow Brad. I didn’t mean to imply that you, or anyone else, hasn’t had challenges. All I’m saying is this movement IS specific in it’s overall mission and in time will be more specific in the legislative actions it will support. I find their frustrations honest and worthy of protest. That’s all.

  17. bud

    Of course The domino theory was completely absurd. All the nations of the world didn’t fall to the Communists. In fact the dominos actually fell the other way.

  18. Brad

    I was simply making the point that I don’t think these kids — and the ones I saw Sunday night, which was the largest number of them I’ve seen since I wasn’t downtown Saturday, were kids (my eldest granddaughter recognized some of her older friends as we passed by) — have all that much to teach me about angst or about struggling to make a living, or all that much of anything.

    I say that knowing that many, many kids have had stresses growing up that I would have had a really hard time dealing with at their ages. Very angst-producing. But that doesn’t endow them with authority on public policy, especially when they’re not offering us anything in that regard.

    And as I say, it seems unlikely they could teach me much about angst as it relates to public policy, or the economy, or any of that. Doesn’t mean it’s not POSSIBLE that they could — any of us can learn from each other at any time — I just haven’t seen them offer anything but street theater so far.

  19. Brad

    And I don’t recall anything about the Domino Theory referring to all the nations of the world. I remember it being about Southeast Asia. Maybe I just heard it in a different form from the way you did.

    It WAS, of course, about the whole world in the grand, strategic sense. Here’s the story of the world’s greatest conflict of the post-1945 period: Our strategy in the Cold War was containment of the Soviet Union and global Marxism. Our involvement in Vietnam wasn’t some separate struggle, but an integrated expression of that overall strategy.

    In the end, the strategy worked, despite the tactical retreat in Southeast Asia. We won the Cold War. That’s the big picture. That doesn’t mean there were not costs in that retreat in that theater.

  20. Brad

    Just because a domino doesn’t stay down doesn’t mean it didn’t fall.

    And that’s what the argument was about. Antiwar people scoffed that nothing bad would happen to the people of the region or to U.S. interests if we pulled out of Vietnam. That was wrong.

    There are consequences for NOT doing things, just as there are consequences for DOING things.

    Antiwar protesters, then and now, project (intentionally or not) a belief that everything in the world would be hunky-dory if the U.S. would just stay out, or get out. That’s wrong-headed. There are always consequences. The debate is over the lesser of two weevils.

  21. Brad

    By the way, while I don’t see Wikipedia as absolutely authoritative, it’s understanding of Domino Theory was pretty similar to mine: “if one state in a region came under the influence of communism, then the surrounding countries would follow.”

    It was a different way of describing the strategy of containment.

    An interesting thing about that. Containment was a consensus strategy, embraced in one way or another by left and right, however intense the debate over Vietnam.

    I wrote a column back around the time we went into Iraq about containment. By that time, it was the one global strategy that liberals could articulate. After all, it was the underpinning of our mini-Cold War (which sometimes turned hot, when he shot at our planes flying no-fly-zone duty) with Saddam between 1991 and 2003.

    This is driving me nuts… I can’t find a good column I did on this point back in, I think, ’03. It was about a lecture given by Dr. Alan Brinkley. I saw it on C-SPAN or something. He was talking about how liberals like himself were sort of helpless to stop the neocons in debates in serious foreign policy circles at that time, because the neocons had a post-Cold War strategy and liberals did not — they were still clinging to containment. And what Bush was proposing to do left containment behind as a Cold War relic, strategically speaking.

    It was an interesting, very frank, speech. Wish I could find my column about it.

  22. bud

    Brad, I don’t think these OWS folks are targeting people like you. I do think they’re targeting people that occupy the political middle by demonstrating there are issues being ignored by others such as the Tea Party. My take is that this will sway some thinking and give those of us a forum for progressive debating points that have been largely ignored by political leaders of both parties. Heck there has been far more attention paid to the less important problem of the nation’s deficit than there has of the much more critical unemployment problem. The fact that so many on the right and the Rotary Club types are so critical is a good indicator that it’s working.

  23. Steven Davis

    @Kathryn – So you’re saying that if homeless people said they were there expressing their right to free speech they’d be welcome to stay overnight on the grounds?

    Where’s the permit that is required to rally on the grounds?

    @bud – I’m critical of them, because I don’t see what they’re doing as anything constructive or deconstructive… they’re just there. Fortunately I only have to see them as I drive past them to and from work. I do chuckle a little when I see them though, they’re trying so hard and wanting people to think they’re just like the demonstrators of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Bring on the water cannons and dogs. Hell bring on the National Guard.

  24. Brad

    When I refer to “repressive tolerance,” I’m using it in a more contemporary sense, though, than the way Marcuse used it. I’m not entirely sure after all these years WHAT Marcuse meant, and am not inclined to go back and refresh my memory.

    What it makes me think of is a quote in James Michener’s book about Kent State, speaking of the Ohio Guard. It’s been a long time since I’ve read it, but as I recall, he quoted a Black Power kind of activist as complaining about white culture absorbing, and watering down, black culture (or his conception of black culture, which was edgy). He predicted that if things continued as they were going, before long Madison Avenue would air an ad saying “The new Ford: It’s a real mother____er.”

    We’re almost there, man, we’re almost there.

    Anyway, I use “repressive tolerance” as a concept closely related to co-option. The allegedly repressive society takes all the steam out of a revolutionary movement by tolerating it, and even by incorporating elements of it into the mainstream…

  25. Doug Ross

    @Brad – read you column on “Rotary Club Types”. I know you hang out with a lot of different people… but who would say are your 3-5 best friends (aside from your wife). Who can you call at 2:00 in the morning if you need help? Who do you vacation with aside from your family?

  26. Brad

    Nobody. On the vacationing thing.

    You have to understand, most of my friends are people I’ve worked with — or people I’ve dealt with through work. And I’ve always spent pretty much all the time I need to with them AT work.

    For decades now, I’ve spent practically all of my waking hours, at work, with those people. To the point of greatly neglecting my family, which is the great self-reproach of my life. And I felt that way even before the organization I had devoted all that time to canned me. That just sort of added to the regret.

    But when I have NOT been at work, I’ve spent all my time with my family. Oh, I will very rarely get together with Robert Ariail or somebody for a beer. But then, it’s still people I USED to work with — like lunch with Jeff Miller the other day.

    I have a big family, and if I could spend 24 hours a day with them, it wouldn’t be enough. Not for me.

  27. Brad

    Just not the Ohio National Guard. We don’t want anybody to get hurt.

    But Steven’s comment reminded me of a thought I had reading the paper this morning…

    I’m thinking of the demonstrator who said, “I fully expected dudes in SWAT gear,” but was pleasantly surprised at how nice the cops have been to him and the other protesters.

    I wonder: Was he really pleased, or was he — or at least some of them — disappointed? Were none of them hoping for a LITTLE oppression, to justify them in being there? Maybe I’m just thinking old school, about what was once known as the New Left. Marcuse and Brown. “Repressive tolerance.” All that.

  28. Brad

    Oh, also — some people have friends from childhood. Not me, not really. I mean, Burl and I are blogging buds, but the funny thing is that we’re closer now, through the blog, than we were in school. We only knew each other very briefly back then. I only attended that school one year, and didn’t get to know him until the end of the year.

    There are three or four people I was friends with going to our high school reunion, which I think is this weekend. I’d like to see Burl, and I’d like to see Steve Clark (last seen, from a distance, running as a super-conservative Republican for Congress in Texas). And one or two others, people I haven’t spoken to since 1971 or ’72 at the latest.

    Burl’s the only one from my high school class I’m in touch with.

    But I’m not going. I hope they have a great time, though…

  29. Brad

    Wait, I may have told a lie… does being Facebook friends count as being “in touch”? In that case, I’m in touch with two or three others from that class. But only in the sense of having run across their names, sending a friend request, and getting approved. Except Kurt Rebello. I think I exchanged a message or two with him, about the reunion. Before I’d decided not to go.

  30. Doug Ross

    Matt Taibbi from Rolling Stone who has been by far the leading journalist covering Wall Street since the collapse had these five specific objectives that the OWS group should push for:

    I know this is a long cut-and-paste, but it outlines specific actions Congress could take.. #2 and #4 would be a great start:

    “1. Break up the monopolies. The so-called “Too Big to Fail” financial companies – now sometimes called by the more accurate term “Systemically Dangerous Institutions” – are a direct threat to national security. They are above the law and above market consequence, making them more dangerous and unaccountable than a thousand mafias combined. There are about 20 such firms in America, and they need to be dismantled; a good start would be to repeal the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and mandate the separation of insurance companies, investment banks and commercial banks.

    2. Pay for your own bailouts. A tax of 0.1 percent on all trades of stocks and bonds and a 0.01 percent tax on all trades of derivatives would generate enough revenue to pay us back for the bailouts, and still have plenty left over to fight the deficits the banks claim to be so worried about. It would also deter the endless chase for instant profits through computerized insider-trading schemes like High Frequency Trading, and force Wall Street to go back to the job it’s supposed to be doing, i.e., making sober investments in job-creating businesses and watching them grow.

    3. No public money for private lobbying. A company that receives a public bailout should not be allowed to use the taxpayer’s own money to lobby against him. You can either suck on the public teat or influence the next presidential race, but you can’t do both. Butt out for once and let the people choose the next president and Congress.

    4. Tax hedge-fund gamblers. For starters, we need an immediate repeal of the preposterous and indefensible carried-interest tax break, which allows hedge-fund titans like Stevie Cohen and John Paulson to pay taxes of only 15 percent on their billions in gambling income, while ordinary Americans pay twice that for teaching kids and putting out fires. I defy any politician to stand up and defend that loophole during an election year.

    5. Change the way bankers get paid. We need new laws preventing Wall Street executives from getting bonuses upfront for deals that might blow up in all of our faces later. It should be: You make a deal today, you get company stock you can redeem two or three years from now. That forces everyone to be invested in his own company’s long-term health – no more Joe Cassanos pocketing multimillion-dollar bonuses for destroying the AIGs of the world.”

  31. Brad

    Hey, I found that strategy column! Here’s probably the most important thought regarding the vacuum left by the containment strategy, in Prof. Brinkley’s concluding remarks:

    “(T)here is at the moment no clear and coherent alternative model for American foreign policy. There is an instinctive return to the containment idea among some people, there’s an instinctive embrace of all sorts of idealistic-sounding multilateral slogans, but I have yet to see the production by liberals or people on the left of a coherent alternative foreign policy that would allow those of us who are opposed to the powerful model being presented by this administration to debate effectively. Um, thank you very much.”

    Mind you, he was speaking as an antiwar liberal, just before Baghdad fell, or right when it fell, in 2003.

  32. Kathryn Fenner

    @ Steven:
    “@Kathryn – So you’re saying that if homeless people said they were there expressing their right to free speech they’d be welcome to stay overnight on the grounds?”

    No, I’m not saying that. Free speech rights are very specifically delineated by the Supremes, and are very broad, but not limitless. They may include advertising and campaign contributions.

    I do expect that homeless people are more than welcome to participate in the rally.

    and what would be so awful about letting them sleep there all night anyway? They have to be somewhere.

  33. Brad

    Doug, what do you think about those proposals? Or more to the point, what do the OWS people think about them.

    On item 2 — haven’t some of the companies repaid TARP funds? I’m not sure. I just know there was talk at one point about some companies doing that so as to get out from under regulation, or something… I don’t recall exactly now.

  34. Doug Ross

    I especially like #2 not for the payback aspect of it (I doubt all bailout funds to all parties have been paid back)… the part I like about it is that it would hopefully slow down the churn that Wall Street generates now due to computerized trading. There is no logical reason why the stock market should swing up or down by a percentage point or more every day. As Taibbi notes Wall Street should be about investing in sound businesses for the long term, not making millions of trades to eke out fractions that accumulate into large sums. The volatility of the stock market rewards those traders making all sorts of bets/hedges that go beyond my understanding.

    Tax each trade a small amount and the individual investor is unharmed ($1.00 for every hundred shares is reasonable). I would also change capital gains taxes to exempt profits for stocks held more than a year. Reward investors and limit speculators.

  35. Lynn T

    “Antiwar people scoffed that nothing bad would happen to the people of the region or to U.S. interests if we pulled out of Vietnam. That was wrong.”

    I don’t recall that claim being made. I do recall the claim being made that the bad things that were happening in southeast Asia were not ultimately about an international communist conspiracy that would take over the region in our absence (the claim of the Domino theorists), but were about regional issues and problems that we could not cure, however hard we tried. It was also claimed that painful as the unfolding of events might be in southeast Asia, the U.S. was not threatened in any existential way. Those who held that view included not just political theorists, but my husband who did his research on the issue wearing jungle boots in the Mekong Delta. And they were right. Lots of nasty things happened, we tried for years before we left and couldn’t stop any of them, and the effect on the U.S. when those nasty things happened after we left was relatively minimal.

  36. bud

    Lynn, compared to the agent orange, Mia Lai massacre and carpet bombings the post US era was indeed relatively mild.

  37. Steven Davis

    bud – What is your personal problem with the US military? I’d like to know where your comments come from. You’re against the military and against anyone who has succeeded in life. Why is that exactly?

  38. Doug Ross


    You don’t understand. When we kill innocent people it is in the name of truth, justice, and the American way so it makes it relatively okay. You gotta measure our intent, not our actions.

    Now put on your flag pin, tie your yellow ribbon to the old oak tree, and support the mission of democracy everywhere… no matter the cost.

  39. Brad

    (Addressing a comment I won’t approve, because of the way it speaks to another commenter:)

    Steven, that’s up to you. I’m not banning Bud. If he speaks of you the way you spoke of him in a couple of recent comments, his comments won’t be approved, either. But I’m not banning him.

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