Bummertown Thursday, dudes. There's a death toll of 20,000 in China, some 2 million displaced people in Burma (and a newly-passed referendum ensures they will all remain comprehensively and brutally oppressed!) and longest and most depressing of all, a not brief Times cover story on John McCain and All The Places In The World That Have Sucked Since The Seventies. "I'd rather lose an election than a war," he says, which kind of hits the nail on the head; with apologies to Lauryn Hill, we might win some but we really lost one, and maybe Creighton Abrams was the right guy at the wrong time and maybe that's just how it rolls in these war situations but whatever happens the next few years, Dreamy Team or no, are going to continue sucking. SinisterRouge is doing penance, Jim McGreevey's entering the seminary, and "sweetiegate", and the Anna Nicole autopsy report-inspired cocktail of psychotropic drugs the Department of Homeland Security is currently feeding deportees, are all discussed by me and cynical Megan after the jump.
MEGAN: So, want to talk a little about the hotness quotient of Obama and Edwards on stage together? Because it was hot. I actually watched the speech, and usually I just listen while typing on my computer but Edwards looked so damn cute. He had this look on his face when he got on stage like, whoa, this is a big rally and these people are screaming and I'm not used to it but I think I like it.
MOE: Yeah, I think I sufficiently reveled in that yesterday evening. Apparently it cut off a discussion of my friend Ben's book on NPR. I'd love to hear what Elizabeth has to say though. It's so crazy to think that they've been this political partnership for his entire career and they can't see eye-to-eye on this one. Was that 41-point gap in West Virginia what finally dragged him in? I've been reading, like, other stuff this morning.
MEGAN: I'm not sure why she's not on board except that maybe she really likes Hillary Clinton more than Obama? But someone other than me hit the nail on the head yesterday — if he waited any longer, he wouldn't have been any big deal to the campaign, and I think he wanted it to be high profile when he did do it. I mean, he did it in Michigan, so it's a way to endorse that, in his mind, doesn't affect the remaining primaries.
MOE: For instance by some achievement of sheer "clicking on new tabs" fatigue I got through Matt Bai's epic Times Magazine cover story on John McCain's foreign policy beliefs. I also read most of this profile of his wingman/ghostwriter Mark Salter in today's Journal. Here is what I learned: some people think John McCain doesn't hate war enough because the whole time they were romping around the country trying in vain to tell the difference between VC from "South Vietnamese civilian ally" he was at torture camp learning to channeling his hate for, to paraphrase Glenn Beck, all those small people who were different from him.
MEGAN: Ah, yes, torture makes you love the war, check.
MOE: But Matt Bai seems to think he learned his foreign policy in...academia! At the National War College after he got home from torture camp. He looks at David Petreaus as the modern-day Creighton Abrams, who John McCain thinks might have won the war if they hadn't spent the first fifteen years or whatever fucking it up.
"It's a little bit eerily reminiscent, in that search-and-destroy is basically the same tactic that Rumsfeld, Casey, Sanchez, et al. employed," McCain told me, referring to George Casey and Ricardo Sanchez, the two previous generals to command coalition forces in Iraq. "Go out, kill bad people and then go back to base. That's basically what search-and-destroy was. We obviously failed to learn that lesson in history." In McCain's war, then, David Petraeus, the more innovative general who took over in 2007, is now playing the part of Abrams, pursuing a winning strategy that needs only the patience of the American people and their government to ultimately succeed.
MOE: Yeah, good luck with that John.
MOE: And while were on the subject of reading epic works of journalism somewhat unsuited to the needs of the ADD generation: Careless Detention: Medical Care In Immigrant Prisons has been fun eh?
MEGAN: Success is what exactly? This is sort of my problem. What exactly are we going to achieve there? What are we trying to achieve there? Are we just going to be a really expensive wall between the warring factions for twenty years so they get tired of wanting to kill each other and decide to cooperate? Because they're human. Humans don't get tired of trying to kill each other.
MEGAN: Oh, yeah, that WaPo series has been great. I liked especially the part where they drug detainees to make them more docile for transport. That seems really legal and ethical and shit.
MOE: Well, ha ha ha but generally I disagree.
MEGAN: I think I'm more of a pessimist about human nature than you in general.
MOE: Like, I think you genearlly have to be really poor and really bored.
MOE: Well you know how the astrology works on that.
MEGAN: So, since we're not really poor by world standards, does that mean the US is really bored?
MOE: Well, who are most of our homicide victims/perpetrators? They're not the plutocracy, you know?
MEGAN: Well, but the ones who make the decisions about going to war are...
MOE: They're the disposables generally. I mean, I've covered cops. And yeah, there's a lot of boredom there.
MOE: Well sure. I mean, remember how it used to thrill Rumsfeld to say the word "kill"?
MEGAN: Yeah, I can see that. I thought about being a cop for a while, but then I would've had to have gotten into really good shape or something. Plus I don't like wearing a uniform and my parents didn't think someone with my temperment should have a gun on them.
MEGAN: Do you remember how the dude refused to have a chair in his office? Craaaazy dude.
MOE: I mean, that's another thing. Our troops: 4,000 have died. According to this Forbes story the national homicide rate was 5.7 per 100,000 people in 2006, and that's probably risen slightly. How many is that? I can't do math. Meanwhile a million Iraqis have died since the war began, and a lot of that has been us — not generally Haditha or Eggnog massacres but just basically air strikes and shit, but a lot of that has also been sectarian violence, and that is only exacerbated when people have no money, no job, a ton of fear, and shit all to do.
MEGAN: It's like 15,000 people, given the population of 280 million, I think, but I suck at math when hungover.
MOE: Economic development, as much as I like to say "yeah fuck that whole scam", can be a very positive thing. That said — god this is a depressing IM — as the this story about how the dearth of Good Samaritans and/or any sort of civil society in China is kind of part of the reason a government can't really rely on economic development alone.
For the first few hours, Mr. Deng called for help. He spoke from under a deep pile of broken concrete slabs to his mother and his wife, Qin Ke. "I told him I would get him out," says Ms. Qin, whose legs were gashed as she dug in the debris. "But he said he was too badly hurt. He said he wouldn't make it. He told me not to wait for him." Overwhelmed by the scale of the damage, China's emergency workers have engaged in triage, focusing resources on flattened schools and other places with large concentrations of casualties. That has forced many in the quake-ravaged region such as Ms. Deng largely to fend for themselves, relying for assistance only on that bedrock institution of rural Chinese society: the extended family.
MOE: The woman got her brother to fly in from Harbin — which is expensive and a pain in the ass — but there were no neighbors to help.
MEGAN: Because the neighbors were all buried, too? Or just gone?
MOE: Oh and speaking of uplifting topics should we maybe go back to the immigration detention story for a sec? Naturally the only piece I read all the way through was the one about drugs. Like drugs? Get deported!
Internal government records show that most sedated deportees, such as Ade, received a cocktail of three drugs that included Haldol, also known as haloperidol, a medication normally used to treat schizophrenia and other acute psychotic states. Of the 53 deportees without a mental illness who were drugged in 2007, The Post's analysis found, 50 were injected with Haldol, sometimes in large amounts.
Haldol gained notoriety in the Soviet Union, where it was often given to political dissidents imprisoned in psychiatric hospitals. "In the history of oppression, using haloperidol is kind of like detaining people in Abu Ghraib," the infamous prison in Iraq, said Nigel Rodley, who teaches international human rights law at the University of Essex in Britain and is a former United Nations special investigator on torture
MOE: In their defense they also got a lot of Ativan.
MEGAN: Awww, torture! It's not just for enemy combatants anymore! God bless America.
MOE: And re the quake — where the death toll is now 20,000 — you get the sense from the story that some neighbors were gone, some were buried, some just couldn't be bothered...I mean, it's true that the extended family is the most important kind of societal structure in China. Regard for one's fellow citizens is a tricky thing, although the widening income gap is, I kind of think, creating a kind of solidarity among the working classes.
MEGAN: That's not just Alanis-ironic that the thing that is creating solidarity among the proletariat in Communist China is the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots. No wonder the Chinese government is all into suppressing dissent among the people they're fucking over! They've totes read their Marx and they know what happens in societies when the bourgeoisie oppression of the people reaches a climax...
MOE: So, what else. Did you read Misogyny I Won't Miss? It's the most viewed thing on the Post website. It is sort of a poor-man's "Goodbye To All That Part II", not to sound classist! Or anti-man!
MEGAN: I did read it. Oh, Marie. Clinton nutcrackers aren't going anywhere. Sadly, neither is Bill Kristol or men who still hate the ex wives they fucked over but don't want to pay any spousal or child support to because their actions shouldn't have consequences. Speaking of, did you see that Jim McGreevey is claiming poverty in his divorce because he's "entered the seminary" and, um, put all his money and assets in his gay life partner's name because then Dina can't get it because they're not married?
MOE: (Hey, I wonder what this guy would say about all those people dying in DHS custody?!
MOE: The SEMINARY?
MEGAN: Anyway, dudes like that, but straight, hate all women that remind them of their exes out of a sense of guilt and powerlessness, I think. Sort of like how John Cleese said it would be worth every penny to be rid of his ex.
MEGAN: YES! The seminary.
MOE: Oh FOR FUCKS SAKE
MEGAN: McGreevey? You did the girl wrong. Stop making it worse.
MOE: Okay, remainders. Obama said "sweetie" is a bad habit. (Personally but I am biased I love calling people "sweets" and would not have been offended but understand um why you could be.) Some guy is arguing Hillary Clinton will be "unstoppable" in her pursuit of the VP nomination and, wait, what? And what is happening to Edwards' pledged delegates? (They can do whatever they want; what does it mean, answer me Megan!) and finally, Obama is going on Bill O'Reilly. And here's the best nugget from that Mark Salter profile I mentioned earlier:
Last Thursday, he came out swinging against Sen. Obama after the Democrat said Sen. McCain was "losing his bearings." Mr. Salter complained publicly that the Democratic front-runner's comment was a "not particularly clever way of raising John McCain's age." The jab, he said, was "typical of the Obama style of campaigning."
The Obama camp fired back at Mr. Salter. "Clearly, losing one's bearings has no relation to age, given this bizarre rant that Mark Salter just sent out," said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.
MOE: (Speaking of, is there a Mark McKinnon Quitwatch on?)
MEGAN: Edwards' pledged delegates can go where ever, but they are likely to go for Obama.
MEGAN: Also, by the way, the Congressional GOP is on the skids and the NRCC is, in effect, telling candidates to raise their own damn money.
MEGAN: And voting for McCain over Obama would be a terrible mistake says Hillary, so all you HRC supporters should listen to your candidate and pull the lever, or else the rest of us will be blaming you in November.