Tag Archives: nuclear

The very lamest excuse of the 2016 Presidential election

Since November 8, we’ve been treated to no end of explanation for Donald Trump’s triumph over Hillary Clinton. Certain segments of the media have branded these “excuses” “lame“, and point to their own preferred explanations. But I’m not here to evaluate the validity of various claims that are essentially unprovable; I’d rather focus on lame excuses that are more verifiably so: ones that self-evidently lack explanatory power to the degree that they could have only been offered to the public in bad faith.

It is difficult to produce an excuse for the race’s outcome that fell unambiguously into this category; political scientists and pundits may debate what actually happened for years to come. So, without further ado, I would like to focus your attention on a slightly different category: the lamest excuse offered by the Hillary campaign for something other than the race’s final outcome.

A few weeks ago, the New York Times treated its readers to a strong contender for the title:

Continue reading The very lamest excuse of the 2016 Presidential election

Making sense of Lewis Black’s pre-election prophecy

One month before the election, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart holdover correspondent Lewis Black turned up on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah to record a fresh segment of Back in Black. He highlighted how few Americans choose to vote and urged eligible voters to overcome personal distaste for both candidates:

Continue reading Making sense of Lewis Black’s pre-election prophecy

The right way to fact-check President Trump

During the election, media organizations were forced to create new and inventive ways to communicate Donald Trump’s new and inventive relationship with the truth. Here’s one famous example:

Such efforts went over so well that some people have clamored for the networks to deploy such correctives on a more regular basis:

Continue reading The right way to fact-check President Trump

The whole world needs to relax about the new North Korean rocket-launch site

The first headline I saw this morning informed me that North Korea recently upgraded its rocket-launch facilities to accommodate, as you might expect, bigger rockets. The Wall Street Journal has more:

Should a decision be made soon to do so in Pyongyang—and we have no evidence that one has—a rocket could be launched by the end of 2014.

Many similar reports focused on the possibility that the site is now better-equipped to attack the United States, as North Korea has expressed interest in doing before:

Continue reading The whole world needs to relax about the new North Korean rocket-launch site

5 ways ISIS is actively reducing its carbon footprint

The ever-insightful Clickhole chimed in last week with a piece titled 5 Ways ISIS Can Reduce Its Carbon Footprint. All you need to know about the piece is right there in the headline, but — if you insist — here is a condensed list of the supplied suggestions:

  1. Purchase carbon offsets
  2. Reduce number of security checkpoints
  3. Avoid setting oil wells on fire
  4. Eat locally
  5. Take public transportation

The exercise was transparently ridiculous — as if anything with the word “Islamic” in the title needs any help going green. But if that doesn’t convince you, here are 5 things the Islamic State is already doing to help reduce the threat of climate change, in no particular order:

Continue reading 5 ways ISIS is actively reducing its carbon footprint

J Street might have carved the worst pumpkin of all time. All time.

A much-appreciated anonymous tip this afternoon (through the Paper Treiger Feedback Form) alerted me to the existence of an article that appeared today in the Washington Free Beacon, J Street Loses Pumpkin Carving Contest. Here’s the gist:

Continue reading J Street might have carved the worst pumpkin of all time. All time.

Why the nuclear option wouldn’t have been apocalyptic

[Headline updated to reflect the fact that a deal was reached to avert filibuster reform. The rest of this post was written before that happened.]

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Harry Reid is ready to exercise the “nuclear option” to force filibuster reform:

In a Monday speech at the Center for American Progress, the Senate majority leader announced his readiness to invoke the so-called nuclear option and push through filibuster reform on a procedural vote.

Reid, citing the refusal of Senate Republicans to allow up-or-down votes on seven of the president’s nominees, including Tom Perez to be secretary of Labor and Gina McCarthy to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, said, “The Senate is broken and needs to be fixed,” and emphasized “I am prepared to take whatever actions necessary” to do so.

As the Senate inches to within reach of DEFCON 0, Reid seems to have discounted the risk that the schtick he’s about to pull will come back to bite him and other Senate Democrats in the ass [pun intended]:

“I’d actually look at what’s going on today rather than have some hypothetical in the future.”

I suppose bluffing is a good negotiating tactic, but that future — Nate Silver felt compelled to chime in — might be coming sooner than Reid would like. Yesterday, the Sultan of Stat took to Five Thirty Eight for the first time in five days to predict that control of the Senate after 2014 (the coming election) looks like a tossup:

A race-by-race analysis of the Senate, in fact, suggests that Republicans might now be close to even-money to win control of the chamber after next year’s elections. Our best guess, after assigning probabilities of the likelihood of a G.O.P. pickup in each state, is that Republicans will end up with somewhere between 50 and 51 Senate seats after 2014, putting them right on the threshold of a majority.

The post didn’t explicitly mention the nuclear option or filibuster reform, or anything else about the current Senate, but the implication was clear: Reid should be careful what he wishes for.

That said, I’m not so sure that conclusion is correct. On the one hand, Silver doesn’t predict that Republicans will take the Senate in 2014, and the smaller the Democratic majority, the more important will be its ability to break the filibuster. But his post also serves as an obvious reminder that in changing the rules, the Democrats risk ceding power to an inevitable Republican majority — if not in 2014, then sometime soon thereafter. And that’s precisely what Republicans are counting on to call Reid’s bluff (and continue blocking executive branch nominees). Said Lamar Alexander (R-TN):

“It might be a Democratic train going through the Senate now, but a year and a half from now, it might be the tea party express and some of them might not like that.”

Incorrect, Mr. Alexander: all of them will not like that. Still, Alexander makes a terrifyingly good point about control of the Senate, and it’s certainly something that should give Reid pause before he reaches for that big red button.

But I want to focus on something else Alexander said that actually undermines this line of argument:

Continue reading Why the nuclear option wouldn’t have been apocalyptic

What really happened to American hiker “missing” in paradise?

$1.2 million evaporated on a flight from Switzerland to New York.

Edward Snowden is doing his best to disappear on a flight from Moscow to Ecuador.

And at Snowden’s destination, August Reiger just pulled off a vanishing act of his own.

The 18 year-old National Merit Scholar (lol) and high school valedictorian disappeared from an Ecuadorian bathroom a hiking trail in Banos, Ecuador, just minutes ahead of his family. I initially took interest in the case soon after Reiger disappeared because if you say “August Reiger” out loud, he basically shares my last name — days before Barack Obama followed suit and designated him a “missing patriot.” (I was a bit ahead of the curve, is what I’m saying.)

At first, the disappearance seemed like a complete mystery. The family and government officials offered no leads:

“Whatever happened to him was in the space of five or 10 minutes. We were right behind him,” his father says. “He couldn’t have gotten lost. The whole of the trail is visible from the hotel. You can see the way down. It’s a tourist area, and it’s not isolated at all. If he was hurt on the trail, somebody would have seen him.”

Police, firefighters, volunteers, and even the military have been searching for the teen; his father says authorities believe he either fell off a ledge or was kidnapped. [Editor’s note: authorities apparently have very limited imaginations. He could have also been eaten by a jaguar.]

But like any good game of Clue, the passage of time helps eliminate certain possibilities. For one thing, we know he didn’t fall off the cliff (or become dinner for a jaguar) because he was spotted Monday night in a truck headed for the Amazon — alive. For another, it seems unlikely he was kidnapped: the family has not been contacted by kidnappers, nor have they been asked for a ransom.

Of course, ruling out those options leave one other obvious alternative: that Reiger ran away. That possibility struck some who knew him as unlikely:

Close cousin to August Reiger, Laura Laporte, said their family is small and close.

“He’s sweet,” Laporte said. “People love him. He has big plans.”

She wants everyone to know the family believes Reiger disappearing on his own terms is out of the question.

“What we know in our hearts is that he’s not runaway,” Laporte said. “I have read that a couple of places that some people feel like he has done this intentionally. We know August and that’s just not something that could have been possible.”

Well add another notch to your Reiger counter: Paper Treiger is another place that suspects he did this intentionally. I arrived that conclusion through a combination of the process of elimination — not a cliff, not a jaguar, and not a kidnapping — and logical deduction. That logic kicked in when I came across one other quote intended to reassure the public that August did not run away — but which, in fact, accomplished precisely the opposite:

“He has got a full ride scholarship to OU [University of Oklahoma — I know it’s backwards, but at least it’s kosher]; he’s got a full life waiting for him in OKC.”

Did you just say Oklahoma City? Run, August. Run.

Good news out of Iran: maybe this country is not the Great Satan, after all

Jeffrey Goldberg and I go way back — in fact, we go back to the third post ever published on this blog.

OK, so the artist formerly known as Goldblog has no idea who I am, or that we go way back, but if he did, he’d know this: when you see his name on Paper Treiger, it’s usually a safe bet that I disagree with whatever it is he had to say.

Not this time; for once, we actually agree on something.

On Friday, I cynically predicted that the Iranian election would be won by whoever earned the most votes — on Ayatollah Khamenei’s ballot. And today, while the rest of the civilized world celebrated the victory of certified moderate candidate Hassan Rouhani, Jeffrey remained less-than-impressed:

Continue reading Good news out of Iran: maybe this country is not the Great Satan, after all