Wednesday Night Links, V. 2

(Note to Gordo: I swear I’m not trying to undercut you)

Via Winds of Change: Callimachus writes a superb post documenting the rank uselessness of the CIA. While the anti-CIA arguments I’m most familiar with come from the far left and concentrate on its atrocities in Latin America, Callimachus does a better job by focusing on its failure as an intelligence agency.

Illegal domestic spying? The CIA had been at it for decades. It’s no coincidence that most of the Watergate burglars had ties to the CIA. The agency’s 1963 manual on interrogation and the 1980s coercive techniques manual are enlightening reading for people who think this sort of thing only happens when George W. Bush is president. The latter publication’s problems were compounded by poor translation for use in Central America, where the English “neutralize” unintentionally acquired a darker sense when rendered in Spanish.(…)

The agency, using expensive, super-secret spy satellites, never could get a viable picture of Soviet military activity. Meanwhile a Defense Intelligence Agency executive named William Lee cobbled together a workable model of the Soviet military economy by augmenting the meager secret sources with perfectly unclassified books, periodicals, government documents, and newspaper clippings. After the end of the Cold War, Soviet documents affirmed the accuracy of Lee’s estimate of the Soviet military burden (about 28 percent of the USSR’s GDP in 1988) over the CIA’s (about 14 percent).

That the CIA has been engaging in domestic spying and torture for decades is the main reason I wasn’t outraged when Congress voted to retroactively legalize the abuses of Guantánamo Bay. Why should I be outraged at something that’s been standard operating procedure since the early days of the Cold War? It’s like being outraged at the shocking discovery that people get robbed.

In other news, Liz Funk wrote an exceedingly dumb article about bars that attract young women in order to boost their image among older men. The article’s bad writing, the wrong arguments about rape, the anti-feminist shibboleths, and the author’s anti-feminist history have caused the feminist blogosphere to rain torrential criticism on Funk. As usual, the one who makes sense the most is Lindsay, who manages to extract some discussion-worthy argument from the junk.

Contriving to get one subset of the clientele completely wasted isn’t in the best interests of customers or the neighborhood. People who live in club-filled New York neighborhood of Chelsea are sick of people puking on their steps because clubs keep serving wasted kids for sport.

I don’t see any problem with reasonable alcohol promotions intended to attract certain types of otherwise legal customers. (IMO, the federal laws should be changed to put 18-year-olds in the the legal drinker category, but until then, laws should be upheld in a gender-neutral fashion.)


This is big business, and club owners aren’t giving young girls free drinks out of the goodness of their hearts. So, allowing owners to flout the law in pursuit of underage female customers sends an ugly message: Male amusement is more important than public safety.

The only non-creepy thing I can say about this is that the bars I’ve gone to would’ve given me a drink if I’d asked for one. That said, although I think it’s good that puritan age limits are not enforced in New York, selective enforcement is worse than both no enforcement and universal enforcement.

Ann notes that anti-choicers are turning to infighting between the more extreme faction that harasses women and argues with ten times enlarged pictures of 18-week-old fetuses, and the more moderate faction that couches its position in pro-woman rhetoric.

And while we’re back to talking about South Dakota, it’s worth mentioning this item from the Christian press in which prominent anti-choicer Leslee Unruh admits that during the campaign she faced more harassment from hardline “pro-lifers” than from pro-choicers.

“When you’re running a pro-life campaign the last thing you need is pro-lifers who have a different strategy and won’t respect the people in the state,” Unruh said.”The pro-life community can’t continue to do this,” she added. “When someone works as hard as I have for 22 years, the outside pro-lifers coming in and bringing trucks and (bringing) anger and hate—that affects the community.”


3 Responses to Wednesday Night Links, V. 2

  1. gordo says:

    “The bars I’ve gone to would’ve given me a drink if I’d asked for one.”

    I visited NYC when I was 14, and was served a beer. I was still getting carded in Seattle at age 24.

  2. Alon Levy says:

    When I went to Victoria, Katie noted to me that I couldn’t even walk with her through the aisle at a liquor store, but rather had to leave alone without getting anything. I snarked, “And I thought that leaving the US would result in fewer puritanical restrictions on booze.”

  3. SLC says:

    Somewhat off topic but related to a previous thread, is the following link to a column by George Will on theminimum wage (he’s against it of course).

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