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Wow! What a concept! This morning, Tom Ricks put up a guest column that suggests the appropriate sanction for Russia and Putin would be to stop flights to Moscow from participating nations' airports and to deny landing rights for flights originating in Moscow.

Tom Ricks, who writes the Best Defense column on Foreign Policy magazine blog, arguably writes some of the most interesting ideas about our current bloated military. (Linky:

Ricks has also shown a journalistic generosity of spirit towards members of the military, allowing them to write guest columns.  This column is written by a retired Air Force pilot, former military intelligence officer and consultant to the FAA on safety issues. In short, it is an informed piece with some fascinating ideas about "public goods" and nuanced proposals.

In place of escalating the Cool War between the West and Russia, his proposal is a neatly appropriate response that I thought was, like many brilliant ideas, simple and elegant.


Is stopping flights in and out of Moscow an appropriate and effective response for downing MH-17?

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It's bad enough that our culture has been coarsened by militarization, official torture and all the rest. But for even a mediocre publication like the Huffington Post to have a series of videos of cats jumping and missing - cat pratfalls, as it were -- is disgusting.

Seriously people, the cat shown on the main page goes to jump in quite a tall cardboard box. It misses the center of the box and hits the back edge, causing the empty box to fall over. The cat takes the fall on its front paws, flips over, and smacks hard on its back on a hardwood floor.

hahahahahahaha, isn't that funny?

Well, no. I think that fall hurt. No, the cat didn't seem to be injured and almost certainly didn't require treatment.

Still, I was appalled and didn't watch the rest of the video. And I was even more appalled that out of the 68 comments, I saw only two that showed any kind of empathy at all. Isn't that sad?

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Tue Dec 25, 2012 at 07:57 PM PST

Whisper has had enough Christmas

by Roadette


Get ready. An inflammatory article is likely to provide the ammunition for Romney's attack on Obama in the next debate. Surprisingly (or maybe not), the heavy weapons have been deployed by an Obama supporter, a former foreign policy insider whose motives can only be inferred. She labels the Obama national security and foreign policy team as "dysfunctional...a disappointment," characterized by a strategy that has "lost its way, whose approach to Syria has amounted to "anxious thumb-twiddling."

The column was posted yesterday on a Foreign Policy magazine blog called By Other Means, penned by Rosa Brooks. According to her bio, she's a law professor at Georgetown University. She was a counselor to the U.S. defense undersecretary for policy from 2009 to 2011 and previously served as a senior advisor at the State Department. In 2004, she was a foreign policy advisor to the Kerry-Edwards campaign.

The post is undoubtedly over the top, even intemperate. And I do not doubt for a minute that the points she makes will spit from Romney's mouth in Monday's debate.

Today, she posted another blog. headlined "A Washington Apology," which actually means a non-apology apology. The "apology" starts with this sentence:  "I am an exceptionally poor crystal ball reader, so I have been a little taken aback by the amount of comment, both positive and negative, provoked by my column on the dysfunctionality of the Obama foreign policy team." In short, Ms. Brooks is not sorry she wrote what she did. At the end of the post, we learn that the only part of the blog for which she is truly sorry is that the screed appears to be one-sided, in that she failed to include some good things the Obama administration accomplished.

More beneath the orange croissant...

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Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 05:45 PM PDT


by Roadette

Let's keep our eyes on the prize, people. Are we in this election to win a debate...and what does "winning" it mean, anyway? That we revel in a white-faced and shaking Romney, dissolving into a puddle of quivering jelly behind the podium? That our guy walks off the stage with arms waving in the air, the crowd screaming a victory chant? (Actually, it would be pleasurable, but keep reading to consider the cost.)

Ah, winning -- Almost all the pundits, both right and left, and many diaries here are certain that Romney won the debate and that Obama lost. But not everyone agrees. For example, some diaries have pointed out that the final word has not yet been said, that there is more yet to come, the final word has not yet been said and that Obama's behavior is part of a bigger plan and here.

If you think about it, is there any reason to win a debate, other than as one of the gazillion steps needed to win an election?

As a thought experiment, let's begin by reviewing the state of play:
     -The Romney campaign has been a "rolling catastrophe," as described by Repub writer Peggy Noonan. Sure, there have been a few high spots for RR adherents -- a couple of good debates, Romney's acceptance speech at the RNC Convention, for example.
     -The Obama campaign has been a precisely calibrated re-election machine that has had us all on a high for a couple of months straight.

Would you bet on the consistent player who is always ahead or the inconsistent always-behinder? And if you placed the Obama bet, what strategic considerations would give you confidence in it?

Follow over the orange fleur-de-lis...


Obama's performance in the first 2012 Presidential debate was:

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Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 03:54 PM PDT

A day with David Gregory

by Roadette

Self-centered. Self-serving. Smug. Fawning. Incurious.

Back in 2006, I was a video tracker for the Jim Webb senatorial campaign in Virginia against George "Macaca" Allen. I spent many days with Allen and his staffers, as well as with the journalists covering the last month of the hotly-contested race. David Gregory coptered in for a day to get the latest (and to suck up).

Allen was surrounded with sleazoids and out-and-out thugs. I am not kidding, the atmosphere around this weak-dick candidate was reminiscent of 1932 Germany. Allen himself seemed somewhat unbalanced, probably gobsmacked by the earlier Macaca incident. He has patches of red on his cheeks and seemed physically weak and uncertain. He appeared much like Romney does today -- alternately overly energetic then lethargic, always uncomfortable.

A tracker has an ambivalent job. I can say that the tracker for Allen, who followed Jim Webb, was treated with a short of bemused tolerance and personal respect. Indeed, he became something of a bellwether of the effectiveness of events. He was invited to open events, provided with schedules, and informed when events were private.

This was not the behavior of the Allen campaign. See video I shot of the middle school antics of the Allen campaign here and here.

Follow me over the croissant for more about the day I tried to give David Gregory a news tip.

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Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 05:57 PM PDT

Elizabeth Warren's weak debate

by Roadette

I take no pleasure in writing this, but I'd like to provide honest feedback from a supporter, a huge fan. I know it might not sound like it, but hear me out, because I think it is important for Warren and her campaign to hear it.

I have worked in political campaign messaging for awhile, as well as been a journalist and a TV script writer. Both my husband and I are professors of communication. I say all this because we've both spent a lot of time evaluating performance.

EW did well at the beginning and was very strong in the early sequence of comments on women's health. So why were my husband and I dismayed by Warren's overall performance in the debate against Scott Brown?

Follow us over the orange croissant...

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Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 06:30 PM PDT

Made in the USA button

by Roadette


I have an email from the Obama campaign, asking me to donate $5 to the campaign to the the button. I think it's great, and would like to have a badge for my Facebook page. Does anyone know who I can contact in the campaign to make that suggestion?

There are so many things to like about this promotion...

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Fri Aug 24, 2012 at 12:19 AM PDT

S**t Romney says...

by Roadette

I read a diary here about Harry Truman's stump speech and was stunned at how well it fit this election cycle. Wow!

It made me think about how a little rewrite would make a perfect platform for the Romney campaign. I went to and made a little animation. I tried to use the embed code on DK, but something about it won't work.

So you can view the animation here.  (Be sure to press the "Play" arrow.) For free and for fun...enjoy!    


Believe me, I'm no Bush lover, but I hope Obama 1) invites the JPL Curiosity rover to the White House for a celebration and 2) when he does that, expresses thanks to the Bush 43, Clinton, Bush 41...all the way back to the Kennedy administration for a shared vision of America in space.

It would be a welcome relief to the nasty, petty partisanship of the Presidential race and would let Obama strut his classy stuff and be...well, Presidential.

This is a moment of which we can all be proud. Some of the scientists and engineers in that room had tears rolling down their cheeks. There are clearly many people there who have spent decades of their lives for this event.

Congratulations for a job brilliantly done! And a hearty hi-ho to all of us...those who worked on it, those of us who paid for it, and those of us who watched and cheered!


Fri Aug 03, 2012 at 09:43 PM PDT

Romney’s Taxes & Negative Capability

by Roadette

The long-running, multi-episode story of the Republican presumptive nominee’s taxes has burst back into flame with Harry Reid’s incendiary announcement that he was informed that Romney didn’t pay any federal income taxes for 10 years.

One reason for this turn of events is something in story theory called “negative capability.” It means that an important hole in the story exists, so that some essential piece of the story is missing, perhaps even a whole chapter or sequence of events. From a storyteller’s point of view, this gap affords users/audience members an opportunity to fill in the blank with their own fantasies, ideas, or imaginings about what might have happened.

The negative capability of the black hole of Mitt’s missing tax returns has spawned an industry of speculation, generating more pages than the returns-in-absentia  would have comprised. But there’s something else missing, something that the more you think about it, the curioser it gets.

The starting point is in 2008, when Romney turned in his returns to the McCain staff for VP vetting…

(follow the screed over the orange croissant)


Why hasn't McCain defended Romney more vigorously?

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In 2006, I volunteered as a video tracker for the senatorial campaign of Jim Webb in Virginia. I took leave from my teaching job in October of that year, went to Virginia (from California), and stayed there for a month. I rented a car for that month, and probably averaged 200 miles a day over the 30-day period. Some of the footage was used in Webb commercials.

George Allen's staff were little short of thugs. Indeed, they later knocked a blogger around, smashing him into a glass door, and pushing him to the ground. They were physical enough towards me that their actions pissed off the reporters coveriing Allen. They surrounded me in a bubble and gave me shooting room, warding off the GA jerks. I got some good vid though, and put 'em on Youtube.

Gee, that was so much fun, I'd like to sign up again...Can anyone help me find out which staffer I might call to volunteer for the Elizabeth Warren campaign?

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